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TNA’s Title tournament continued Wednesday night on Impact with all eight First Round matches. TNA cut the field in-half from 32 to 16 wrestlers last week. Now, the single-elimination format begins…
TNA Impact Wrestling
Dec. 2, 2015
Taped in Orlando, Fla.
Aired on Destination America
Report by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonPW)
Impact Wrestling opens with a video package highlight all eight matches we’ll see tonight in the Round of 16 for the World Title Series.
In-studio: Josh Mathews and Pope welcome us to the show. Pope says the level of excitement is at an all-time high. Mathews said there were some tough draws in the Round of 16, including the main event of Lashley vs. Drew Galloway and Matt Hardy vs. Bobby Roode. Pope says anything can happen. Mathews says that if Ronda Rousey can be beaten, anyone can be.
1 — D.J. Z vs. ETHAN CARTER III — Block A
ECIII has Tyrus in his corner for this match. Mathews says that ECIII has continued his path back to the championship throughout this tournament and remains unbeaten. ECIII has a very heavy black wrap on his left arm/elbow.
They start with a lock-up in the corner. ECIII mocks D.J. Z’s D.J. noises. D.J. Z and ECIII trade wristlocks and D.J. Z rolls ECIII into a backslide, but ECIII rolls through it and hits a clothesline. ECIII whips D.J. Z into the ropes, but D.J. Z hits a pop-up dropkick. D.J. Z dives on ECIII on the outside. Mathews questions Tyrus after not warning ECIII that D.J. was coming on the dive.
ECIII kicks D.J. to the outside and Tyrus charges him with a tackle on the outside while the referee is distracted inside the ring. ECIII smashes D.J.’s face into the apron twice and then lands a chop. ECIII continues the assault on the outside before rolling D.J. Z back into the ring.
The pace slows and that plays into ECIII’s hands, using his strength and power to lean on D.J. D.J. then ducks a clothesline and hits a neckbreaker. D.J. Z charges ECIII, but gets lifted to the apron. He holds on the ropes and jumps back in to hit a DDT on ECIII for a two count.
ECIII rakes D.J. Z’s eyes. Mathews says that’s something ECIII has been doing throughout the tournament. D.J. Z tries for a huracanrana, but ECIII reverses into a powerbomb and then hits the One-Percenter for the win.
WINNER: Ethan Carter III via pinfall.
Post-match: Mathews says ECIII is one step closer to the finals as Tyrus climbs back into the ring and stands watch. Tyrus raises ECIII’s hand but doesn’t seem all that excited.
[Reax: Good opening match with a good story to it. They’re again teasing an ECIII-Tyrus breakup down the road, with Mathews pointing out that Tyrus has a title shot in his back pocket that he won at Bound for Glory.]
In-studio: Pope says ECIII is “feeling himself.” Mathews says ECIII will face Bram or Davey Richards. Pope and Mathews talk about Gail Kim vs. Tigre Uno, which is up next.
Backstage: Gail Kim says she has been very vocal about the Knockouts and their place in wrestling. Gali said that she gets to be one of 16 to take it all. Gail said she respects Tigre Uno, but tonight she’s going to show him she’s not another pretty face and she’s there to win it all.
2 — GAIL KIM vs. TIGRE UNO — Block D
The winner of this match will face the winner of Eric Young vs. Kenny King. Tigre Uno has trouble grabbing Gail at the start of the match, and she rolls through his attempts to locker her up early. Tigre Uno ducks a charging Gail Kim in the corner but Gail hits a cross-body. Tigre Uno rolls through it and gets a two count.
Tigre Uno utilizes a submission attempt, but Gail hits a sunset flip for a two count. Now Gail Kim locks in a similar standing submission attempt, but Tigre Uno gets to the ropes in order to break it up and then he drops her to the outside.
Tigre Uno hits a huge cross-body over the top rope and onto Gail Kim on the outside. Tigre picks her up and puts her back in the ring. He climbs up top but Gail knocks him down on the top turnbuckle. Gail Kim then hits a huracanrana off the top rope and then hits a running dropkick and a charging shoulder in the corner.
Gail Kim locks in a figure four around the ringpost. Back in the ring, Tigre Uno reverses an Eat Defeat and Gail tries to roll through a move where Tigre has her on his shoulders, but Tigre Uno holds her down for the pin.
WINNER: Tigre Uno via pinfall.
[Reax: They did the best with what they had here. Some of the moves were a bit uncomfortable, such as the cross-body over the top to the outside which looked like it could have gone really bad.
Back from the break, Mathews goes to highlights from Tigre Uno’s win, including a post-match handshake we didn’t see live.
In-studio: Mathews says Gail Kim should be proud for what she accomplished in the World Title Series.
3 — DAVEY RICHARDS vs. BRAM — Block A
Pope says something about caffeine and how it wakes people up and that’s what Richards is going to do. Pope talks about how Richards won’t have a partner to tag in this match.
Richards ducks a lock-up and tries to lock on a waistlock, but Bram powers out and starts firing Richards into the corners. Bram tosses Richards to the outside. Richards hits a dropkick and then some quick kicks to Bram’s chest on the outside.
Richards rolls Bram back into the ring and fires off left hands in the corner, but Bram picks him up and looks to go for the powerbomb, but Richards drops out of it. Bram charges Richards near the ropes but Richards ducks it and pulls down the top rope, sending Bram to the outside.
Now on the outside, Bram has Richards and drops him face-first on the steps. Bram scoops up Richards and drops him on the apron. Bram continues the assault as the referee’s count hits seven and he rolls Richards back into the ring but then immediately tosses him back outside. Bram charges Richards into the steps and goes for a charge, but Richards reveres with a drop toehold onto the steps. Richards climbs up the steps and hits a stomp off the steps onto Bram’s chest.
Davey rolls Bram back in the ring and hits a missile dropkick off the top rope in the ring. Richards hits a charging forearm and then hits a suplex. Richards goes back up top and hits a stomp, but only gets a two count.
Richards misses a kick and Bram has him on his shoulders and drops him. Bram screaming at Richards to get up. Bram goes for the Brighter Side of Suffering but Richards rolls him up with an inside cradle for the win.
WINNER: Davey Richards via pinfall.
[Reax: They did a good job playing up the contrast in styles in this match. It’s been pretty clear who TNA is trying to protect throughout this tournament. Even in this loss, Bram looked strong with some power moves and also lost on a roll-up pin. Among the wrestlers who have been eliminated, you can clearly see that TNA was intent on protecting guys like Bram and even someone like Robbie E., who lost in the round-robin stage.]
Backstage: Eli Drake talks about his match with Mahabali Shera tonight. Drake said that tonight Drake is where he’s supposed to be. He says Shera is a great dancer and a strong guy, but that doesn’t negate the fact that he’s an idiot. He says Shera is in for a long night.
Back from the break, Drake is already in the ring and Mahabali Shera is making his entrance dancing, of course. Mathews throws to a highlight video of Shera’s journey in the Round of 16 thus far, clearly in an attempt to build up Shera’s credentials.
4 — MAHABALI SHERA vs. ELI DRAKE — Block B
As the match starts, Mathews pumps tickets to TNA’s television taping on Jan. 5. While Mathews did not come out and mention Pop TV, he alluded to the live debut a bit as Shera clotheslined Drake to the outside. Mathews says Shera isn’t polished yet, but he’s strong. Pope said he hopes Shera focuses less on dancing, especially against guys like Eli Drake and he should save the dancing for later.
Back in the ring, Drake lands some kicks and an elbow for a two count. Drake hits a back suplex and then misses a big elbow drop. Drake whips Shera off the rope, but Shera ducks a clothesline and gets back in control, hitting a back body drop.
Shera dances a little and charges Drake, who hits a boot. Drake goes up top, but Shera catches him for a bodyslam and then a Sky High for the win. Post-match: More dancing.
WINNER: Mahabali Shera.
[Reax: Good win for Shera, but why the dancing? If they’re trying to get Shera over as a strong, up-and-coming babyface — and it would appear they are given how he’s been booked and with the pre-match video package — it would be smart to get away from the comedy dancing bit. It’s not helping him and it makes it hard to take him seriously as a contender. It showcases some character, but it makes him look silly and not like a real future main-eventer. It’s also reminiscent of Lance Storm late in his WWE career. He’s dancing, but why? Just because?]
Backstage: Matt Hardy said he didn’t get an easy draw with Bobby Roode in this round. Hardy said his game plan is to do just what he did in his group, which is a Twist of Fate and a win. Hardy said he’s on a journey to win back the World Title. He said his dream to win the World Title will not die.
Back from the break, Pope and Mathews make some picks for the rest of the matches. Pope picks Lashley over Drew Galloway and Matt Hardy over Bobby Roode. Pope then picks Jessie Godderz over Awesome Kong and Eric Young over Kenny King.
5 — MATT HARDY vs. BOBBY ROODE — Block C
Bobby Roode climbs to the outside just as the bell rings as the crowd is chanting loudly for Matt Hardy. Roode back inside the ring and they lock up to start the match. Roode grabs a side headlock and then a shoulder tackle by Roode. Off the rope, Hardy hits a hip toss and Hardy comes back with a tackle and a clothesline.
The match goes to the outside and Hardy gets his arm wrapped around the ringpost. Roode smashes Hardy’s arm, twice, on the steel steps. Roode is notably going very heelish in this match, yelling “how about another one for you!” as he smashed Hardy’s arm on the steps.
In the ring, Roode continues the assault in the corner and then hits a pair of charging clotheslines in the corner. Roode yells at the crowd that this is why he’s the “it factor.” Roode goes to grab Hardy, but Hardy hits quick shots to Roode’s gut. Roode wrestles Hardy to the mat and locks in a crossface, but Hardy makes it to the bottom rope.
Roode goes after Hardy’s arm again, this time with kicks. Back elbow by Roode, but Hardy catches him coming out of the corner with a side effect. Hardy hits a clothesline in the corner but can’t complete a bulldog. Hardy with another clothesline and this time does connect on the bulldog. Hardy covers Roode for a two count. Hardy is favoring his left arm quite a bit.
Hardy goes for a Twist of Fate, but Roode counters into a pin for a two count and then locks in another crossface. Hardy is able to counter this time into a pin but Roode kicks out. Hardy again goes for a Twist of Fate, but can’t complete it. Roode hits a boot in the corner and dives off the rope, but Hardy catches him with a Twist of Fate for the win.
WINNER: Matt Hardy via pinfall.
Post-match: Mathews said that Hardy just keeps on winning. Pope said that’s what Matt Hardy does as they recap the brackets thus far.
[Reax: Hardy has had a lot of momentum throughout this tournament, but they did a good job here of making him look vulnerable against a really strong opponent. Hardy sold his arm great and even in defeat, it kept Roode looking strong as well as putting some sympathy behind Hardy. The crowd was really behind Hardy this entire match.]
Backstage: Drew Galloway says Bound for Glory was supposed to be his night, but this is a second chance. Galloway said this is an innovative tournament. He said Lashley is simply an obstacle. Galloway said he’s the best, and only the best will win.
In-ring: Jessie Godderz has the mic prior to the match with Awesome Kong and says he knows she doesn’t want to wrestle. He says Kong is out there only to touch his body. He asks what more could Kong want than a kiss from him? So he gets ready and sticks his face out for a kiss with Kong, and then …
6 — AWESOME KONG vs. JESSIE GODDERZ — Block C
Kong starts the match with some stiff right hands to Godderz’s face. Kong landed a hip toss and then several shoulder tackles. Godderz gets up in the corner and begins to kick the turnbuckle in frustration. Godderz goes for a splash in the corner, but Kong moves. Kong then hits a splash of her own and follows it with three bodyslams.
Kong sends a smile in the direction of Goddez, who rolls to the outside and is trying to regroup on the outside while yelling at the ringside crowd. Godderz begins to walk up the ramp as if he’s leaving but Kong grabs his tights. Godderz misses an elbow and Kong rolls him back into the ring. Godderz slows Kong down with a thumb to the eye. He goes for a flying tackle, but misses.
Kong rolls Godderz back into the ring. Kong misses a splash and Godderz rolls her up quick for the pinfall. Post-match: Godderz celebrates on the aisle while Kong looks stunned in the ring.
WINNER: Jessie Godderz via pinfall.
[Reax: This match was laid out really well in order to keep Kong strong and also not hurt Jessie too much, giving him the win. Kong was in full control of this entire match until Godderz rolled her up for the pin. She didn’t just look like she belonged, she looked like the better wrestler until the last three seconds.]
Still to come: Lashley vs. Drew Galloway.
Up Next: Eric Young vs. Kenny King.
Back from the break, Pope and Mathews are in their studio breaking down the Kong-Godderz match and question if Godderz has a chance to beat Matt Hardy next week.
7 — KENNY KING vs. ERIC YOUNG — Block D
Young and King lock up to start the match. King with good speed and athleticism with some hip tosses coming out of the lock-up, but Young quickly regains control with a side headlock and then a shoulder tackle off the ropes.
King looks really good in the early portion of this match; better than he has in some of the round-robin matches. King is quick to land a kick on Young in the corner and then a back-elbow. King remains in control with some punches in the corner.
Young snags the rope and catapults King to the outside. Young goes back into the ring looking for a count-out win, but King rolls back in at six. E.Y. immediately jumps on him with some elbows and then tosses him back to the outside.
King climbs back on the apron and Young tries to force him back to the outside with some punches but King hits a side kick to the head. King goes up top but E.Y. cuts him off and sends him crashing to the floor on the outside. E.Y. lands some kicks and again rolls Kenny King to the outside, looking for the count-out win.
King again climbs up to the apron and Eric Young tries to land some right hands. Now King on the apron catapults E.Y. to the outside in an impressive fashion, as Young flew high in the air over the top rope. King follows it with a dive off the apron on the outside of the ring.
King rolls E.Y. in the ring and hits a springboard cross-body. King goes for a roll-up, but Young kicks out at two. E.Y. rakes King’s eyes but King hits a spinebuster for a two count.
Pope wonders if King was able to see where he was and if he got all of the spinebuster. King has E.Y. on his shoulders, but he pulls himself off with the referee as leverage and then hits King with a piledriver for the win. Post-match: Pope says it was a valiant effort by Kenny King as E.Y. celebrates.
WINNER: Eric Young via pinfall.
[Reax: Kenny King looked like a real Superstar in this match. He looked faster and more athletic than Eric Young and showed some good charisma. King has been stuck behind some bigger names in TNA, in particular MVP, and once the company moves to Pop TV next year, he could be a break-out candidate for TNA if he wrestles for TNA again after jumping back to ROH.]
Up Next: Lashley vs. Drew Galloway. TNA airs a video package hyping the main event as they go into commercial break.
Mathews went to highlights of Eric Young’s win back from the break.
Backstage: Eric Young said that no one can stop him. He said all of the momentum is on his side and he’s riding a crazy tidal wave. He pointed to his ear and asked the cameraman if he heard it? It was him winning this whole thing.
In-arena: Christy Hemme is standing by to introduce tonight’s main event. Drew Galloway is out first, followed by Lashley. During ring introductions, Mathews said that Lashley “tore apart his last MMA opponent.”
8 — DREW GALLOWAY vs. BOBBY LASHLEY — Block B
Galloway’s left knee is heavily taped, which Mathews pointed out on commentary as the match began with a collar-and-elbow tie up. Galloway and Lashley shove each other around the ring, with Lashley winning most of the battle.
Lashley takes Galloway down with a waistlock and then tries to apply a rear-naked choke. Lashley was forced to break with Galloway made it to the bottom rope. Another strength test as they lock up and Galloway is forced to the corner. Lashley then hits a number of consecutive elbows.
Lashley goes for a splash in the corner back from the break, but Galloway gets a boot up. Galloway lands a splash in the corner and then a flying clothesline off the top rope.
With the match now on the outside, Galloway is all over Lashley, but Lashley, at the last second, chucks Galloway into the steel stairs. They continue to brawl around the outside of the ring.
Back in the ring, Lashley hits a standing vertical suplex on Galloway, but he kicks out at two. With Galloway hanging over the second rope, Lashley comes in with some MMA-style punches from behind. Lashley goes over the top rope on a missed clothesline and Galloway hits a clothesline on the apron, knocking him to the outside.
Galloway rolls Lashley back in but misses a clothesline. Galloway hits an elbow and Lashley hits a forearm as they trade shots in the middle of the ring before Lashley hits a pair of suplexes. Lashley with a clothesline in the corner but Galloway fires back with a chop. Lashley catches Galloway as he tried to leap frog a charging Lashley in the corner and Lashley hits a powerslam, but only gets a two count.
Lashley misses a clothesline and Galloway lands a neckbreaker for a two count. Lashley misses a charge in the corner. Galloway now has Lashley down and he’s setting up the running boot, but Lashley hits a spear out of nowhere as Galloway was charging for the win.
WINNER: Bobby Lashley via pinfall.
Post-match: Lashley celebrates as Mathews points out that Lashley lost to Galloway for a spot in the Bound for Glory main event. He said that Lashley didn’t forget it and saw the boot coming and was able to reverse it into the spear. Lashley will face Mahabali Shera next week.
[Reax: There were some very good MMA elements in this match, and it was utilized in a way that worked well for pro wrestling. In particular was the sequence early in the match where Lashley had a rear-naked choke applied but Galloway forced a break after reaching the rope, and Mathews talked about the difference between pro wrestling and MMA with the rule to break on the ropes. It was a small nuance, and while not all MMA things translate well to pro wrestling, this was one thing that looked really good.]
Next week’s World Title Series Quarterfinals:
– Lashley vs. Mahabali Shera
– Davey Richards vs. Ethan Carter III
– Matt Hardy vs. Jessie Godderz
– Tigre Uno vs. Eric Young
In-studio: Pope and Mathews talk about the quarterfinals next week. Pope says that it will be interesting to see how it unfolds as Mathews again runs down the matches. Mathews asks Pope for a prediction and Pope again doesn’t make one. Mathews picks Matt Hardy to win the World Title.
[Final Thoughts: Aside from some backstage interviews and some short studio segments, this entire show was wrestling and there were some good matches here. Hardy-Roode and Lashley-Galloway were as good as you would expect. Others, like Kong-Godderz, surprised for what it was.
Next week’s match-ups are somewhat interesting and seem to have less intrigue than some of the Round of 16 matches. At least on paper, many of them seem very predictable.]