TNA Impact Wrestling Report
May 10, 2016
Taped in Orlando, Fla. at Universal Studios
Aired on Pop TV
Report by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonPW), PWTorch contributor
Impact Wrestling opened in the arena, with Josh Mathews and The Pope welcoming us to the show with a wide shot of the arena. Mathews said we have a new No. 1 contender, Bobby Lashley.
Mathews then threw to a video package highlighting last week’s show, including the No. 1 contender match where Lashley beat Jeff Hardy and Mike Bennett.
In-arena: Jeff Hardy makes his entrance. Mathews says that Hardy should have won the No. 1 contender match last week, but Decay’s attack cost him the match. Hardy: “Decay, Decay, Decay. I wrestle every match as if it’s my last. For you, the Creatures! Because together we are an army, we are unstoppable. We the Creatures will succeed. But last week, Decay done me wrong. I had no issues with them.”
Suddenly, the lights go out and Decay’s music hits. Crazzy Steve, Rosemary, and Abyss emerge from backstage. They slowly walk down the ramp. Abyss has the mic first and said that Hardy had plenty of warning. Abyss said the attack wasn’t personal, it was business.
“We actually like you,” Abyss said. “We think you would be a great addition to our family. But your devotion to these pathetic Creatures makes you weak, and I am beautiful!” Crazzy Steve: “Weak, weak, weak. Your Creatures make you weak.”
Hardy asks if they are for real? “The only way you can decay is when you die, and you guys aren’t dead yet but I’m about to kill you,” Hardy said. Rosemary said that Hardy’s pain and suffering fetched a high price, and they were well compensated. Hardy: “Someone paid you? Someone paid Decay?”
Abyss: “That’s what I mean when I say it was all business. But who that person was will reveal themselves at the right time. … In the meantime, Jeffrey, I’d be more concerned with what we’re going to do to you tonight.”
Hardy said that he doesn’t sell out, he sells in. Hardy then jumped Abyss as he climbed into the ring. Steve gets tossed aside by Hardy. Rosemary hits a low blow on Hardy as he attacked Abyss, which gave Decay the upper hand.
James Storm runs down to clear house. Decay runs off before he gets to the ring. Storm: “If I remember correctly, you guys owe me a Tag Team Title rematch.” Storm said he knew a little something about tag-team wrestling, and so did Hardy.
Abyss: “Cowboy. Mr. Storm. Last week we destroyed him for a large prize, but tonight we’ll destroy you both for free.” Hardy said that he’s the weatherman, and Decay is in for a charismatic storm.
[Commercial Break at 9:09]
1 — TNA Tag Team champions THE DECAY (Crazzy Steve & Abyss w/Rosemary) vs. JEFF HARDY & JAMES STORM — Tag Team Title match
Storm goes for an early cover after an underhook suplex for a two count. Storm hits a neckbreaker for another two count after some boots. After kicking out, Steve rolls over and tags in Abyss.
Storm fires up some right hands on Abyss and lands a kick. That sets up a series of two clotheslines, which doesn’t knock Abyss down. A third clothesline off the rope drops Abyss for a two count.
[Q2] Mathews notes that Hardy is “drinking a beer at ringside.” … It turns out he’s just drinking a bottle of water. Decay takes back control in the ring. Abyss chokeslams Steve on top of Storm. Abyss splashes Storm in the corner.
Hardy and Steve both tag in. Hardy goes for a Twist of Fate but Steve ducks out of it and tags in Abyss. Hardy then hits a Twist of Fate on Abyss. Hardy takes off his shirt and climbs to the top rope. As he gets to the top, the lights go out.
When the lights come back on, Willow, Hardy’s alter-ego, is on the stage twirling an umbrella. Hardy looks confused as Steve and Abyss roll in and spit mist in his face, which leads to a Blackhole Slam and the pin.
After the match, Storm attends to Hardy as Decay celebrates. Mathews shows replays of the finish, including Willow’s appearance on the stage.
WINNER: Decay retains the Tag Titles at 6:16.
[Reax: It seems clear to anyone who has watched Impact for the last several months, that logic leads to Matt Hardy being Willow. However there are some interesting possibilities for TNA if they want to go in a different direction. They didn’t know this at the time, but with several WWE contracts recently expired, if they wanted to drag this out until those 90-day non-compete clauses are expired, this could be an avenue to bring someone new into the company. Willow is under a mask, of course. But the story needs to be right. All signs point to it being Matt Hardy, though. As for the promo prior to the match, Hardy’s “I’m about to kill you” line was a little too much. That terminology is usually avoided in pro wrestling, and with good reason. It was cringe-worthy more than anything else.]
Video: Highlights from Lashley’s win last week to become No. 1 contender is shown.
Backstage: Galloway says that he doesn’t like Lashley, and he knows the feeling is mutual. Galloway said that he’s happy Lashley is No. 1 contender, because there is no ducking him. Galloway said he’s going to the ring, and he wants Lashley to meet him there. Galloway said he wants Lashley to remember when he was a man, because he’s going to the ring to call him out.
[Commercial Break at 9:24]
Backstage: Jeff Hardy screams that he’s the only Willow as he has a towel on his eyes. Hardy said that he will reveal Willow’s face tonight.
[Reax: That’s as mad as we’ve seen Jeff Hardy on television in a while, which is odd. He didn’t seem that upset when his title opportunity was taken away, but someone dressed in a Willow costume has him that upset?]
Video: Maria and Mike Bennett are at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston taking in a Smashing Pumpkins concert. Maria shows off her VIP tag. This video appears to be recorded by Maria and Bennett on an iPhone.
Highlights of the concert are shown.
Backstage, Maria knocks on Billy Corgan’s door. Corgan said that stuff was happening under Maria’s leadership with the Knockouts Division. Maria said that Bennett also has some great ideas, and that they should talk. Corgan said he doesn’t have a lot of time, but they sat down to talk as Maria noticed the video was still recording and she stopped it.
[Reax: This show was back on April 9. On a personal note, I was there and it was a good show. The Pumpkins are still a very good band to see live. This was an acoustic set — the entire tour is — and Corgan covered Space Oddity by David Bowie as well as Angie from the Rolling Stones. Good show if it’s in your town … okay, back to regular-scheduled wrestling.]
[Q3] In-arena: Drew Galloway is coming to the ring. Galloway said when he won the TNA World Title, he promised he would be different. He said he would defend it against anyone at any time.”
Galloway then got straight to the point, calling out Lashley. Lashley comes right out to the ring, wearing an American Top Team shirt. Lashley: “You finally grew a set? What is it, do you finally respect me or are you afraid of me? Which one is it?”
Galloway: “For such a big guy, you’re like a ghost sometimes. You come and go as you please. … You’re a dangerous man, Bobby. I know that first hand. I know you’re dangerous and the fact that you’re a coward on top of that makes you that much more dangerous. But I’m going to look you in the eye and tell you that I’m not afraid of you.”
Lashley said that he has been hurting the entire TNA roster. Lashley then asks how Galloway’s ribs feel. “I am the only real fighter around here,” Lashley said. “After I’ve done all the things I’ve done to you, you’re still here and I respect that. I’m inspired. I’m so inspired by you that I’m going to come here and take this title off your hands.”
Galloway said that he almost lost the TNA Title to Tyrus because of Lashley. Galloway said he doesn’t play games, and Lashley will never break him. Galloway: “Look at me. Now that I finally have your attention, you’re No. 1 contender, we got ourselves a ring, why don’t we fight for this title right now!”
Lashley said that he has Galloway rattled, “just like Kurt.” Lashley said he would beat Galloway in record time tonight. He said that he would give Galloway a week, and then they would have their title match.
Galloway said that he wants to fight tonight, and Lashley said that he was the baddest man on the roster, and Galloway was making a mistake. Lashley again said that Galloway had one week, and when the week was over, he was taking his title back.
[Reax: Not a great promo from Lashley, not that it’s a surprise at this point. It’s clearly the biggest weakness in his presentation. Lashley calling himself “the only real fighter on the roster” obviously buries the rest of the talent. While yes, it’s true, it’s not something that should be pointed out. It’s not adding to the match between Lashley and Galloway, all it’s doing is essentially embarrassing the audience. You’re basically making fun of your own audience, reminding them that they’re watching “fake” wrestling while Lashley also fights “for real” with Bellator. Just poor verbiage.
It also wasn’t clear why Lashley, the heel, wouldn’t want to take his shot at the TNA Title tonight, rather than wait for one week. Although that could be explained next week if there were some interference, for example, leading to Lashley explaining that he needed a week to get it organized, or something.]
Ringside: Mathews and Pope talk about the segment. Pope says that Galloway needs to be the champion he is, and stop Lashley in his tracks.
Eli Drake’s music hits. He comes out on the stage while Galloway is still in the ring. He said that if Lashley didn’t want to take an opportunity, he would. Drake said that he came to Impact to claim gold. Drake said that the TNA World Title belongs to him.
Galloway said that Drake picked the wrong night and the wrong guy. Galloway said he came here for a fight, and he’s having a fight. Galloway ran down and met Drake on the aisle as a brawl takes place. Mathews said it’s official, it’s a World Championship match and it will happen next. The show goes to break as the brawl continues.
[Commercial Break at 9:40]
2 — TNA World Hvt. champion DREW GALLOWAY vs. ELI DRAKE — TNA World Hvt. Title match
Back from the break, the match is already underway. Drake hits a powerslam and an elbow drop for a two count. Drake gets into a mount and throws right hands. Drake tries to throw Galloway into the corner but Galloway reverses it and sends Drake to the outside. Galloway follows and the fight is taking place on the outside of the ring.
[Q4] Galloway throws a series of chops. Galloway heads back in the ring and tries to bring in Drake but Drake pulls his neck down over the rope. Drake goes to the top and leaps off, but Galloway catches him for a belly-to-belly suplex.
Drake and Galloway trade punches before Galloway sends him crashing to the mat with a right hand. Galloway hits a flying clothesline from the top rope. Galloway lands a powerslam for a two count.
Galloway heads back up to the top rope but Drake springs into action, catching Galloway for a superplex off the top rope for a two count. Drake goes to the outside and grabs the TNA World Title. He carries it into the ring, which forces Brian Hebner to take it away. While the ref takes it away, Drake goes for his briefcase, but Hebner catches it last second. As that is taken away, Galloway hits a Claymore for the win.
After the match, Lashley hits the ring and blindsides Galloway with a spear. Lashley then grabs the TNA World Hvt. Title and poses with it in the ring.
WINNER: Drew Galloway in about 10:23 of television time with a commercial.
[Reax: Nice touch with Drake purposely grabbing the belt to distract the referee in order to try to create an opportunity for him to use the briefcase. That’s one of those little things that can really add to a match. The crowd wasn’t all that into this match, it seemed, but Drake didn’t look out of place at all.]
Backstage: ECIII says that he is a businessman, and tonight he has business with Mike Bennett. He said he’s heading to the ring in his gear and he’s not leaving until he gets what he wants … a re-match.
[Commercial Break at 9:52]
Backstage: Knockouts champion Jade and Gail Kim walk into Maria’s dressing room. Maria said that she wanted to see both of them. She said she hopes that Jade and Gail learned their lessons. Maria said that she needed a match tonight and Jade and Gail were okay with that. Maria said that Sienna would be going with them to make sure the match was good. She said she wanted “one of those five-star matches that Davey M. guy is always talking about.”
[Reax: The purpose of a match should be about winning and losing. Pro wrestling everywhere needs to remember this. Giving off the impression that a kayfabe authority figure wants a “good match” or a “five-star match” instead of worrying about who wins and who loses is not a good look.]
In-arena: ECIII goes to the ring. The crowd is chanting loudly for him and he lets them go. He says that he won’t break up that chant. ECIII said he was undefeated, but now he’s a man with a vendetta. He called out Mike Bennett.
[Q5 — second hour] Mike Bennett comes out on the stage with Maria. Maria: “Ethan, you got that introduction wrong.” Maria tried to do her intro but ECIII interrupted and said he wasn’t there to talk to Maria, he was there to talk to Bennett.
Bennett said that he has moved on because he needs nothing from ECIII. ECIII makes fun of Bennett for wearing his sunglasses indoors. ECIII said that Bennett has an ego, and he knows it because he had one.
Bennett said his ego was the size of the sun. “Look at me, look at my wife! You’re damn right I have an ego because I beat the unbeatable. I beat ECIII.” ECIII said he’d like a re-match … right now.
Maria: “Ethan, I thought you might be relentless about this, so I talked to my good friend Billy Corgan. My wonderful, strong husband gave him a great idea …” Bennett said that he and ECIII are, in fact, very similar. He said after he beat ECIII, he knew that ECIII would not stop until he got a rematch. Bennett said that ECIII’s demons eat him up inside.
Bennett said that he offers the ECIII Story, the Road to Redemption. Bennett said that he is going to line up all the demons in ECIII’s past, and if he can defeat those demons, he’ll give ECIII a re-match. ECIII: “Michael, I’ve been playing the game my entire adult life … deal.”
Bennett said that tonight, that path to redemption begins. He said that tonight, there will be a Sides Sides of Steel match, but ECIII will need to wait to find out his opponent.
Video: Highlights of the Tag Team Title match from earlier, including Willow’s appearance, are shown.
[Commercial Break at 10:08]
3 — KO champion JADE vs. GAIL KIM — Knockouts Title match
Sienna is at ringside for this match. Jade has a side headlock to start the match. Gail hits a tackle off the rope. Jade then hip tosses Gail and they square off for a second time.
[Q6] Jade goes for a body scissors but Jade kicks out at two. Gail and Jade trade pin attempts all with kickouts at two. Pope said that both women are trying for the quick pin. Mathews says it’s hard to tell a story during this match with so many nearfalls early in the match.
Gail and Jade trade forearms in the middle of the ring. Gail has Jade backed up into the corner for more forearms. Jade hits a German Suplex into a bridge for a two count.
Gail tries for a backslide but Jade gets out of it. Gail hits a clothesline. Jade locks in an armbar but they’re tied up in the ropes which forces a break at four. Gail dropkicks Jade to the outside. Gail hits a crossbody off the second rope to the outside of the ring.
Sienna looks on as Gail rolls Jade back into the ring. Gail goes over and says something to Sienna which allows Jade time for a dive to the outside. Sienna then attacks Jade on the outside, tossing her into the steel steps.
WINNER: Gail Kim via disqualification at 5:27; Jade retains the KO Title.
After the match, Gail Kim tops from the ring apron on Sienna and then throws right hands. However, Sienna recovers and whips Gail into the ringpost. Sienna rolls Gail into the ring and lays her out in the middle.
Video: Al Snow is at a wrestling school and said that this is how it used to be. Snow said that this is the exception. He said anyone can just walk right into the wrestling business now, and Shera and Grado are a prime example of that. Snow said he would do whatever it takes to keep his sport the way it is.
Snow said he’s going to be like Donald Trump. He’s making America great again by not allowing everyone to be in it, and that’s what he’s going to do with pro wrestling, and it starts with Shera and Grado.
[Reax: Al Snow isn’t going to just “let anyone into this business.” Except the several dozen people standing around the ring in the background during this video.]
[Commercial Break at 10:24]
Backstage: ECIII runs past a camera and says Bennett better be ready.
In-arena: Al Snow comes to the ring, followed by Mahabali Shera.
4 — AL SNOW vs. MAHABALI SHERA
Shera runs to the ring and chases Snow to the outside. Shera chases Snow but Snow catches him with a boot as they go back to the inside.
[Q7] Snow rolls to the outside with a foreign object. It’s hard to make out what it is but he hits Shera in the throat behind the referee’s back. While the ref checks his rights, Snow hides the object in his mouth.
Snow unrolls the tape in his wrist and uses it to choke out Shera. Earl Hebner is a step behind Snow at every turn, as Snow finds ways to cheat in the match. Snow tosses Shera to the outside. Snow rolls out and chops Shera after pounding his back on the outside, while having Shera bent over the steps. Snow smashes Shera’s arm and hand on the steel steps.
With Hebner distracted, Snow takes out brass knuckles but Grado runs to ringside in order to distract him. That allows Shera to hit a Sky High for the win. After the match, Shera and Grado celebrate on the aisle. Snow is livid inside the ring.
WINNER: Mahabali Shera at 4:59.
[Reax: Al Snow seems like an odd choice for this grizzled vet storyline, considering his past as a Tough Enough trainer with WWE. Perhaps that’s part of the hypocrisy, although if it is, the announcers should be explaining that on television. Instead we’re just told about how nice of a guy Snow used to be.
It just seems that there are some other free agents who might be better suited in that role. Snow is making it work the best he can, but with someone like Bob Holly not working for a TV company, bringing him in to play that role might make more sense, especially with the “smart” crowd TNA is going after with this program. That’s no offense to Snow, who has been really good. It just seems like a forced fit.]
Backstage: Jeff Hardy is screaming for Willow. After turning a corner, he finds him. He takes Willow’s umbrella and begins to beat him with it, yelling that he is the only Willow in creation as the show crashes to a break.
[Commercial Break at 10:35]
Backstage, the attack continues. Out of nowhere, a second Willow attacks to help the first Willow. From behind, the first Willow hits Hardy with a chair and then delivers a chair shot to the head while Hardy was down. All three Willows — apparently there were three — then converge around Hardy.
[Reax: Man, chairs to the head are hard to watch. It doesn’t matter if it differentiates TNA from WWE, with what we know today about concussions, those things shouldn’t be allowed. Period.]
In-arena: ECIII makes his way to the ring for tonight’s main event. He’ll be facing a mystery opponent inside six sides of steel. Maria appears on the stage to introduce ECIII’s opponent. She asks if the crowd believes in the Miracle? Bennett comes out next. Mathews says we’ll know ECIII’s opponent after the break.
[Commercial Break at 10:44] [Q8 …]
[.. Q8] Back from the break, Bennett introduces Rockstar Spud as ECIII’s opponent. Bennett: “Ethan, Lethal Lockdown. Remember how it felt when that steel cage door crushed your skull? The demon who did that, Rockstar Spud …”
Spud comes to the ring with new entrance music … “Zero” by The Smashing Pumpkins. That’s the song that inspired the iconic t-shirt that just about any teenage fan of rock music in the 90’s had.
5 — ETHAN CARTER III vs. ROCKSTAR SPUD — cage match
Spud runs to the ring and they start with a brawl all over the cage. ECIII runs Spud into corners and sides of the cage. Spud takes off his belt and chokes ECIII with it before he’s able to break by backing Spud into the corner. ECIII splashes Spud in the corner. Spud then tries to escape up the cage wall but ECIII catches him.
Spud tries again to escape the top but ECIII catches him again. Spud bites ECIII’s face to try to get him off. ECIII is able to push ECIII back to the met. Spud gets over the top of the cage but ECIII runs up and catches him, pulling him back to the top of the cage before press-slamming Spud off the top of the cage. Spud appeared to drag his head/face on the cage on the way down? That looked painful. ECIII hits the One-Percenter for a pin.
After the match, Earl Hebner raises ECIII’s hand as Bennett stands at the top of the stage and applauds ECIII’s win.
WINNER: Ethan Carter III at 8:28 via pinfall.
[Reax: Good showcase match for ECIII. Spud had his moments but ECIII picked up a fairly convincing win, as he should in this situation.]
Mathews signs off by reminding us that next week, Drew Galloway will defend the TNA World Title against Bobby Lashley. A video package hyping that main event closes Impact.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Strong show, albeit with some holes, such as not booking a main event until the top of the hour. Bennett was kept strong as a character despite not wrestling and the build and hype for Galloway-Lashley next week has been strong, despite Lashley’s so-so promos. That’s not all on Lashley, either. The content hasn’t been great, as explained above.
TNA continues to do a nice job threading the shows together. Week to week, you know what to expect and for the most past — as was the case tonight — they have something booked for next week before this week’s show goes off the air. When it’s a big title match, like next week, that’s even better.
Still, nothing seems to be moving the needle for TNA from a ratings standpoint. That will take time, but TNA pulling in less viewers than it did on Destination America has to be considered a disappointment. Part of that is network prestige.
Personally speaking, one major problem (at least in my market) is a lack of an HD feed. Pop is on Comcast Xfinity here in the Boston area in standard definition only. If not for searching out Pop after learning of TNA’s move there, I would have never known I received the network. If it’s not in HD, I’m not watching it. The more clearance Pop gets, if that’s in the cards, the better for TNA, obviously. Especially HD clearances, because I’m willing to be I’m not along in my “HD only” viewing habit.]