SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
PWTorch contributor Mike McMahon reviews this week’s Impact episode featuring the quarterfinals of the TNA Title tournament. Plus, an interview with Dixie Carter previewing the final two rounds.
TNA Impact Wrestling
December 9, 2015
Taped in Orlando, Fla.
Aired on Destination America
Report by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonPW)
Impact Wrestling opens with a video hyping what we’ll see tonight, including: Eric Young vs. Tigre Uno, Mahabali Shera vs. Lashley, Matt Hardy vs. Jessie Godderz, and Davey Richards vs. Ethan Carter III.
Josh Mathews and The Pope welcome us to the show from inside their studio. Mathews again promotes the quarterfinals tonight in the World Title Series, with four advancing to the semifinals by the end of the show.
Pope says it’s going to be a whirlwind of action and he can’t wait to see what happens.
Mathews throws to a video that builds up the Lashley vs. Mahabali Shera match. The video plays to the size of both men, noting that Shera is on a mission. Tonight, Shera will look to prove that he belongs but Lashley, who has destroyed everything in his path, stands in his way.
Back in the arena, Shera is making his ring entrance, again dancing to the ring despite coming out for the most important match of his career.
[Reax: Didn’t WWE do a dancing gimmick with Great Khali at one point? When he was with Natalya, I believe. Shera looks just as serious as he’s making these ridiculous entrances.]
Lashley is out next looking like an MMA fighter, though smiling more than he does when he makes his ring walks in Bellator. Still, it’s a digestible difference, with Shera dancing and looking goofy on his way to the ring. By comparison, Lashley has on an Impact baseball hat and hooded sweatshirt and despite smiling and slapping hands, looks much more serious.
1 — MAHABALI SHERA vs. BOBBY LASHLEY — World Title Series Quarterfinal
Shera slams Lashley with a clothesline right at the start of the bell and he looks very aggressive to start the match, which is the exact opposite you would expect if you were watching this show for the first time and watched his ring walk.
Shera whips Lashley to the turnbuckle and follows with a splash in the corner and then goes to choke Lashley.
Shera climbs to the second rope in front of Lashley and instead of attacking, begins dancing. Lashley throws him to the mat and immediately takes control of the match, choking Shera on the second rope. Lashley hits a bodyslam and goes for a cover, but Shera kicks out at two.
[Commercial Break at 9:09]
Back from the break, Lashley is still in control but on the outside of the ring, slamming Shera into the barricade. Shera begins to fight back with some punches, but Lashley runs Shera into the ring steps.
Lashley climbs back into the ring to break the 10 count and goes for a dive off the apron, but Shera catches him on the outside and slams Lashley on the outside of the ring. Lashley with an overhand right. Shera hits another overhand right and then a clothesline.
Shera picks up Lashley and hits a bodyslam on the outside, then climbs into the ring to break the ten count but comes right back out. Shera smashes Lashley’s face onto the apron and then rolls him into the ring.
[Q2] Shera charges Lashley, but Lashley counters with an elbow. Shera downs Lashley with a tackle. Shera stands over Lashley instead of attacking. Lashley gets to his feet and Shera lifts him up for a press slam. Lashley is struggling to get up and Shera goes for a Sky High but Lashley counters. Lashley hits the ropes and then hits a spear for the win.
WINNER: Bobby Lashley via pinfall in 10 minutes.
Post-match: Lashley celebrates as Mathews and Pope update the brackets. Lashley will face the winner of ECIII vs. Davey Richards.
[Reax: They told a good story here. They definitely got over Shera’s strength and size, as he physically manhandled Lashley more than anyone I can remember in TNA in a long time. But, they also played up Shera’s inexperience, especially in that spot in the corner where Lashley hit a powerbomb while Shera danced in the corner.]
In-studio: Pope says that when you talk about Lashley, you’re talking about a guy who is dominating. Pope says when you talk about his attributes you need to talk about his power and it’s almost unmatched in the ring. The speed coupled with the power makes Lashley unstoppable, Pope said.
[Reax: Pope said Lashley’s strength is unmatched, right after a match where Lashley was physically manhandled for large stretches.]
Mathews looks at the rest of the bracket tonight and throws to a video hyping Eric Young vs. Tigre Uno.
[Commercial Break at 9:20]
Back from the break, TNA hypes an interview with Dixie Carter airing later tonight. In this clip, she said she respects Matt Hardy for vacating the title because the title needs to be won the right way. Dixie said whoever wins the World Title Series will have deserved it.
Josh Mathews then shows highlights of Jessie Godderz vs. Awesome Kong from last week.
Backstage: Jessie Godderz says Matt Hardy is the reason we’re here. Godderz said his group and Awesome Kong all learned not to mess with him. He said that tonight, he’ll show Matt Hardy what he’s made of. Godderz said tonight, everyone will know what the man is capable of.
2 — TNA X Division champion TIGRE UNO vs. ERIC YOUNG — World Title Series Quarterfinal
[Q3] Before the match officially kicked off, Young grabs the mic and said he’s going to the next round no matter what. He said his next step is off Tigre Uno’s back. Young told Tigre he doesn’t want to be in the ring when the bell rings, and he advises Tigre to leave.
Tigre Uno then climbs out of the ring and out on the apron. E.Y. turns his back to yell at the crowd as Tigre Uno springboards into the ring and the match is underway. E.Y. immediately bails to the outside.
Back in the ring, Tigre hits a huracanrana. E.Y. takes back control of the match with a chop. He leapfrogs Tigre and the X-Division champion comes back with a chop of his own. E.Y. hits a bodyslam off the ropes and goes for a cover, but Tigre kicks out at two. E.Y. runs Tigre Uno into the corner and begins to bury his forearm into Tigre’s back over and over. E.Y. hits a backbreaker.
[Commercial Break at 9:33]
Back from the break, E.Y. lands a stomp on Tigre’s chest and then grabs a headlock on the mat. Tigre hits the ropes after battling out of the headlock, but E.Y. drops him with an elbow. Pope notes that E.Y. is trying to lean on Tigre in an attempt to slow him down.
E.Y. tosses Tigre Uno to the outside and fires a chop before rolling Tigre Uno back into the ring. He goes for a cover, but Tigre again kicks out at two. E.Y. hits a bodyslam and some boots. He then climbs to the top rope, but misses on a moonsault.
E.Y. doesn’t seem too affected by it, and he rolls to the outside. Tigre Uno comes flying off the apron with a huracanrana on the outside. He rolls E.Y. back into the ring and connects with a flying wishbone leg drop off the top. Now both men are on the turnbuckle. Tigre hits a huracanrana off the top, but E.Y. again kicks out at two.
Tigre goes for a standing huracanrana, but E.Y. catches him, goes for a powerbomb and then tries a cover with his feet on the ropes but Tigre kicks out. E.Y. then hits a piledriver for the win.
WINNER: Eric Young via pinfall in 12 minutes.
Post-match: E.Y. is grabbing his elbow, it appears, but raises his arm in victory as Mathews updates the bracket. Mathews wonders if E.Y. will piledrive his way to the World Title? E.Y. will face the winner of Matt Hardy vs. Jessie Godderz.
In-studio: Pope says that E.Y. is the most unpredictable left in the tournament, and his moveset is dangerous, including his piledriver. He calls it an advantage. He also says that E.Y. has an advantage in experience because he’s a former World Champion.
Pope talked about Godderz’s youth and how toppling Matt Hardy would get him to the next level. Pope says one thing is for sure, and that is Hardy has been on a quest to regain the World Title.
[Q4] Mathews throws to a video that takes a closer look at the upcoming Hardy-Godderz match, essentially showing highlights of Hardy and Godderz throughout the World Title Series thus far.
Backstage: Matt Hardy said we started with 32, and now we’re down to eight. He said Godderz is younger and stronger than he is. Hardy said the only person around TNA that can call themselves “the man” is the World Champion, and that’s what he plans on being again.
Up Next: Matt Hardy vs. Jessie Godderz
[Commercial Break at 9:47]
Backstage: E.Y. said he gave Tigre a chance as a man to leave and live to fight another day and stay healthy. But Tigre chose to attack him. He called Tigre “foreign scum.” He said that happened to Tigre is his fault, not E.Y.’s. E.Y. said these were warm-up matches for him. He said that this was a warning.
[Reax: Eric Young is a really good heel. He’s basically a 5-foot-10 version of 1995’s Psycho Sid, but as ridiculous as he can be at times, it’s helped shed the image of the goofy comedy character he was for years. Right now, there might not be a better heel in TNA. ECIII is coming along and he’s getting there, but even he sometimes comes across as being too cool. There’s no redeeming factor about E.Y.’s character.]
In-studio: Pope is picking Davey Richards over ECIII later tonight.
3 — JESSIE GODDERZ vs. MATT HARDY — World Title Series Quarterfinal
The match starts with a lock-up and Hardy grabs a side headlock, taking Godderz to the mat. Godderz powers Hardy off him and looks agitated as he glares towards Hardy.
Another lock-up and Hardy has Godderz’s arm and he’s snapping on a wristlock. Godderz gets out of it with a bodyslam. Pope says that going toe-to-toe with Matt Hardy is not a smart strategy for Godderz in this match.
[Q5 — second hour] Godderz goes to scoop Hardy, but Hardy reverses into some bodyslams of his own, hitting three in a row. Hardy mocks Godderz in the ring by flexing. Godderz comes after him, but Hardy chucks him into the corner.
Hardy drops Godderz with a side Russian Legsweep. Godderz back up with a knee to Hardy’s mid-section. The match spills to the outside and Hardy hits a big right hand. Hardy hits a few more rights. Hardy grabs Godderz again but Godderz runs him into the steps. Godderz when connects with an enormous standing dropkick as the referee checks on Hardy.
[Commercial Break at 10:02]
Back from the break, Godderz has control of the match in the ring. Godderz bends Hardy’s spine over his knee with a backbreaker and then drives his knee into Hardy’s spine on the mat.
Back to his feet, Hardy responds with a few slaps. Godderz wraps on a bear hug and Pope points out that this will put pressure on Hardy’s back.
Hardy powers out, then hits the ropes, but Godderz counters with a scoop slam. Godderz is really aggressive, landing elbows and then begins to choke out Hardy on the rope.
Godderz continues to work out Hardy’s back, driving his shoulder into Hardy’s spine in the corner. Godderz wraps on another bear hug. Pope smartly points out that this is all an attempt by Godderz to work over Hardy for an Adonis Crab.
Godderz wraps up Hardy on the mat and continues to drive his knees into Hardy’s back after using the ropes for torque. Hardy is on his feet and breaks the hold by elbowing Godderz’s hands. Hardy hits a side effect. Godderz gets up first and charges Hardy, but Hardy counters with an elbow. Hardy drops Godderz with a sleeper slam.
Hardy drives his shoulder into Godderz’s gut in the corner. Hardy connects with a right hand. On the turnbuckle, Godderz gets Hardy’s off him with body shots. Hardy goes to the second rope and hits an elbow to Godderz’s head for a two count. Hardy sells his back as he goes for a Twist of Fate, but Godderz fights free and levels Hardy with a dropkick. Hardy kicks out.
Godderz grabs Hardy in the middle of the ring and tries to roll him over into an Adonis Crab, but hardy grabs the bottom rope. Godderz lets go as Earl Hebner reaches four on his count, and then Godderz delivers multiple kicks.
Godderz has Hardy on his shoulders, but Hardy fights free and connects with a Twist of Fate for the win.
WINNER: Matt Hardy via pinfall in 18 minutes.
[Reax: That was as good as Godderz has looked in a TNA ring. There were large portions of the match where Godderz was in control and driving the ship. He worked over Hardy’s back to set up his finisher, and it was a really simple match. But, TNA did a lot here to build Godderz. The question is whether or not they follow-up on it with the upcoming TV tapings, or if they’ll have the World Title Series exist in a vacuum. Godderz, Robbie E., and D.J. Z have all been elevated in losses during this tournament.]
Post-match: Mathews in the studio updates the brackets again. Pope said that Hardy has been on a roll and you can’t not talk about that hot streak moving forward. Pope also said that Hardy has passion on his side.
[Q6] Pope also talked about the Twist of Fate, and how this match proved it can come out of nowhere at any given time.
Next: An interview with Dixie Carter.
[Commercial Break at 10:16]
Back from the break, Mathews and Dixie Carter are sitting for an interview. Dixie said that the year had a little bit of everything. She said the year included a lot of action, shocking returns, and some controversy.
Dixie pointed to Drew Galloway’s debut in the U.K. as being one of the highlights of the year. Dixie said that Galloway has everything it took to be a real leader in the locker room.
Mathews asked Dixie about ECIII and what happened after Bound for Glory. Dixie said he needs to get over the entitlement part of being in “this family” in “this industry.” Dixie said she respects Matt Hardy so much for what he did winning the World Title in his hometown, and it was a real special moment. But it wasn’t as clean as Matt wanted it, and it deserved to be pristine and won the right way.
Dixie said what she’s loved the most about the World Title Series is that everyone has had a chance to step up. Anyone who felt like they were held back before had a chance to come in here and win. Dixie said the Knockouts are the best women wrestlers in the industry.
Josh asked Dixie about the finals, and she dropped news that the semi-finals and finals of the World Title Series will be held on the live Jan. 5 episode. Mathews then threw to a highlight clip of the entire World Title Series.
[Reax: That makes sense. We’ll have to see if TNA has enough content to fill the final three episodes on Destination America, though it seems plausible that they could air a bunch of first-run, random matches next week and then clip shows on Dec. 23 and 30, with the holiday weeks likely leading to fewer viewers.]
[Q7] Next week: Group Future 4 vs. Group X-Division in an eight-man tag. Also, Eddie Edwards, Mr. Anderson, Rockstar Spud, and Bobby Roode in action.
[Commercial Break at 10:30]
Back from the break, Davey Richards is making his entrance into the arena as Mathews throws to a video package highlighting Davey Richards and Ethan Carter III’s run through the World Title Series.
4 — DAVEY RICHARDS vs. ETHAN CARTER III (w/Tyrus) — World Title Series Quarterfinal
Before the match, ECIII said that tonight, they would separate the men from the boys. Richards grab the mic and said that tonight, he is at a disadvantage. He doesn’t have a rich aunt, a “killer spray tan,” or a big overgrown bodyguard. Richards said he would kick ECIII’s head off his shoulders.
The match begins with a lock-up. Richards has early control in the match, locking on ECIII’s arm. ECIII begins to power back with a left hand. Off the ropes, Richards hits a dropkick and ECIII rolls to the outside. Tyrus distracts Richards from the outside while ECIII was down on the outside. ECIII comes back into the ring and smashes a forearm.
[Commercial Break at 10:44]
[Q8] Back from the break, ECIII drops a forearm on Richards from the outside. Now back in the ring, ECIII delivers a kick. He sets up Richards in the corner and again throws boots to Richards.
ECIII plays to the crowd for a moment and it allows Richards time to throw some rights, but ECIII quickly gets him back on the mat. Mathews said it’s smart for ECIII to slow down Richards.
ECIII sends Richards crashing to the mat with a forearm over his back. Mathews said that Dixie Carter and Billy Corgan said the World Title Series would have no “shenanigans” but there have been “shenanigans” in most of ECIII’s matches thanks to Tyrus.
ECIII misses a chop in the corner and Richards fires back with quick kicks. Richards goes for a splash in the corner but misses. ECIII goes for a cover but Richards kicks out. ECIII again grabs Richards’s head as Mathews says he’s once again trying to slow down Richards.
Richards and ECIII are standing and trading punches. ECIII charges Richards, but Richards ducks and drops the rope, sending ECIII to the outside. Richards dives out on Tyrus and then hits two suicide dives on ECIII on the outside. Richards hits a missile dropkick, but ECIII kicks out.
Richards lands kicks to ECIII’s chest. He goes for another kick, but ECIII catches his foot. Back to his feet, Richards hits a kick to ECIII’s head and a German Suplex but ECIII kicks out.
Richards sets up ECIII and goes to the top. ECIII moves and hits a clothesline. Richards kicks out of a cover. ECIII goes up to the top this time. Richards cuts him off, though, and also goes up the turnbuckle. ECIII with body shots on the top rope. Richards blocks it and fires several headbutts. Richards has ECIII set up on top for a superplex. He hits the superplex, rolls through it, and then hits a second suplex, but ECIII kicks out.
Richards goes for a kick, but ECIII ducks it. ECIII hits the One-Percenter that spikes Richards on his head for the win.
WINNER: Ethan Carter III via pinfall in 17 minutes.
Post-match: Mathews finalizes the brackets. Matt Hardy vs. Eric Young and Ethan Carter III vs. Bobby Lashley, with the two winners meeting in the finals. That will all take place Jan. 5.
Richards is shown barely getting back up as ECIII walks to the back looking like he’s been through a battle.
Next week: All four semifinalists will go face-to-face one more time before the semifinals and finals.
[Final Thoughts: Barring a surprise, it seems likely we’ll see Matt Hardy vs. ECIII in the finals of the World Title Series. They’ve been building to this re-match since the series kicked off, and I’m not sure why they would get away from it now.
As stated above, for many of the wrestlers involved in the World Title Series, it will be about how well TNA follows up on their development throughout this tournament. Davey Richards vs. ECIII on this show was excellent, and Richards joins a long list of guys who have been elevated in this tournament. I’d also include Jessie Godderz, Robbie E. and D.J. Z, just to name a few.
Godderz and Robbie E., in particular, went from after-thoughts to two guys who hung in there with main-eventers. That’s something TNA needs to continue to build on and protect these guys during the next TV tapings.
It might also be tempting to put Robbie E. and Godderz together in a program stemming from their break-up, and that might work, but it would work better if they wait it out and give each guy a feud they can go out and win.]