SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
TNA Impact Wrestling Report
May 31, 2016
Taped in Orlando, Fla. at Universal Studios
Aired on Pop TV
Report by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonPW), PWTorch contributor
Impact opened with Dixie Carter talking to someone backstage about what happened last week on May Mayhem. The camera is set back, almost spying on the conversation. She said she understands that people are concerned about what happened. Dixie appears to be talking to a new authority figure, telling the mystery man, whose back is to the camera, that she told Billy Corgan that she has faith in this person, and for tonight, the show is all theirs.
Video: A recap of last week’s show airs, including ECIII vs. Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy winning a ladder match against Rockstar Spud and Tyrus.
In-arena: Mike Bennett and Maria are entering the ring. Josh Mathews welcomes us to the show and says rumors have been swirling all day about who Dixie Carter put in charge of Impact. Pope wonders who the guy or gal is that was put in charge?
Bennett grabs the mic and says that last week things got out of hand. (Bennett is wearing a bright gold jacket with “The Miracle” embroidered on the chest.) Bennett said that he knows someone was put in charge of Impact, but it’s not him because Dixie hasn’t responded to him all week.
Maria said she is the leader of the Knockouts, and if anyone should be in charge of Impact, it should be her. Bennett called out whoever Dixie put in charge of Impact, and out comes ECIII …
Just as this happened, Mathews said that it was just confirmed via Dixie Carter’s Twitter that ECIII is in charge of Impact tonight.
ECIII grabs a mic in the ring and said that Bennett reneged on the deal to get the re-match at Slammiversary. ECIII said that his first order of business was to book himself vs. Bennett at Slammiversary. ECIII said that he wants Bennett at 100 percent, so for tonight, Bennett has the night off from wrestling.
“So it’s going to be like that?” Bennett asked. “Well I’ll tell you what, you already failed running the show because every segment I’m in, ratings go through the roof.” Bennett also said every time he’s in the ring, advertisers throw money at TNA.
ECIII said that Bennett had the night off from wrestling, but not the night off from blue-collar work. ECIII brings out Kenny Smith, the custodian, who brings out a mop and bucket. ECIII said that, for tonight, he has Bennett cleaning toilets.
ECIII said he wasn’t done with Maria, either. He said that Maria upset Impact management, so they appointed ECIII to mediate Maria’s actions. ECIII said that tonight, “toots,” there would be a job evaluation. He said that Gail Kim would come down, and they would see if she deserved the position as head of the Knockouts, or if she would be fired.
ECIII said he was done with them now, so they could go ahead and get out of the ring. “No!” Bennett shouted in ECIII’s face. “Michael, unless you want to have Slammiversary right here and now, get your ass out of this ring,” ECIII said.
“I’m going to leave,” Bennett said, “But only because I want to leave.” As Bennett and Maria leave, Bobby Lashley’s music hits and he walks down the aisle. He enters the ring and has a mic.
“Ethan, we just keep meeting like this,” he said. “You keep sticking your nose in my business, so I’m sticking my nose in your business.” ECIII said that he has relegated his power tonight as well, and he relegated his power to Drew Galloway. Mathews said that it’s pick your poison tonight, as Galloway and Lashley will name opponents for each other.
[ Reax: Impact was so out of control with Dixie Carter in charge last week, that she decided to put a non-objective wrestler in charge. That’s the logic behind the opening of tonight’s show. This was all done so that ECIII could book himself in a match with Bennett at Slammiversary and then make him go clean toilets. TNA could have avoided all of this by just having a strong authority figure in place who could tell Bennett he has no authority to book a “Path of Redemption” for ECIII, and that the match would take place at Slammiversary. ]
[Commercial Break at 9:10]
Back from the break, a video aired hyping Slammiversary for June 12 on PPV.
Backstage: ECIII is showing Mike Bennett the toilets. Bennett is saying that the bathroom smells awful. ECIII goes stall by stall, pointing out which ones have a “No. 1, No. 2, or a No. 4” … ECIII said that this job was, “Well, you get it …”
[Q2] In-ring: Lashley and Galloway are still in the arena. Galloway said that Lashley’s opponent was Bram.
1 — LASHLEY vs. BRAM
Lashley took his time taking off his ring gear before the match. After some early punches, Bram has early control with a punch to the gut in the corner.
Lashley starts to mount a quick comeback throwing right hands and landing knees to the body. Earl Hebner gets in the way and it looked like Bram went to apologize but Lashley throws a takedown by grabbing Bram’s head and slamming him to the mat.
Bram hits a clothesline and a back elbow off the row and then clotheslines Lashley over the top rope out to the floor. Lashley buys time on the outside of the ring. As Bram approaches, Lashley throws a reverse side kick and then tosses Bram into the rail. Lashley begins to choke Bram on the floor. Hebner comes to the outside and tries to get them back inside.
Lashley rolls Bram back into the ring and throws a snap suplex for a two count. Lashley locks on a reverse chinlock. Bram powers his way to his feet and Lashley throws a knee and whips Bram to the corner. Bram puts up a boot as Lashley charges and then hits two running forearms and a running knee into the corner for a two count.
Lashley powers Bram to the corner as Bram goes to pick Lashley up. Bram hits a spinning heel kick for a two count. Lashley reverses a whip into a spinebuster. Lashley runs in for a spear but Bram counters with a forearm. Bram yells something at Lashley and Lashley runs in for a clothesline.
Bram continues to talk trash and Lashley throws another clothesline. Lashley comes in with a steel chair and throws it into Bram’s gut as Hebner calls for the disqualification.
WINNER: Bram via disqualification at 6:24. That’s how you book Bobby Lashley as an unbeatable monster heading into his title match at Slammiversary? He does most of the selling in this match and then needs to use a steel chair to get himself disqualified? That’s something that some chicken-bleep heel does, not a monster like Lashley. That booking is really mind-boggling considering how Lashley has been booked and talked about by the announce team as this unstoppable MMA-fighting monster.
After the match, Lashley spears Bram after Hebner takes away the chair. Lashley sets up Bram for another spear. Lashley has Bram set up for a third spear before Galloway runs in to make the save with a chair. Galloway then chases Lashley out of the arena through the crowd.
Eli Drake’s music then hits and he runs to the ring with his King of the Mountain briefcase.
2 — KOTM champion BRAM vs. ELI DRAKE — King of the Mountain Title match
Drake immediately goes for a pin, but Bram kicks out. Bram hits a right hand before Drake cuts him off and drives him into the corner, throwing knees to Bram’s body and then shoulders to Bram’s midsection.
Drake hits a clothesline for three count. After the match, Drake raises the title over his head and celebrates in the ring while Bram lays flat on his back.
WINNER: Eli Drake via pinfall at 1:17 to win the KOTM Title. Not a terrible segment for Bram, who looked legitimate against Lashley despite that being an odd booking choice. Then here he fights back in the beginning before succumbing to Drake in understandable fashion considering the circumstances.
Video: Earlier today, Robbie E and Jessie Godderz are sitting by a pool. Robbie said that Jessie needs to trust the process to make them a winning team again. Raquel comes up from behind them and tells them that the real key to winning is focus. She then struts around in front of them in a bikini. Jessie says he gets it while Robbie looks confused.
Backstage: ECIII said that the bathroom looks good. Bennett said that he doesn’t deserve this because he’s a superstar. Just then, Hebner comes out of the stall. Bennett calls Hebner a dumb ref and ECIII said that Hebner is a Hall of Famer. ECIII tells Bennett to go with Earl and learn about respect and refereeing, because he’s refereeing the next match.
[Reax: Wasn’t Hebner just in the ring refereeing a match literally 30 seconds ago? Yes, he was. Some of the production and booking decisions in this first 30 minutes have been icky.]
Next: Overhead shots of the Hardy property is shown. Mathews says that Matt invited Jeff to the house to witness him signing the Slammiversary contract.
[Commercial Break at 9:29] [Q3…]
[..Q3] Back from the break, Mathews recaps Lashley getting DQ’ed against Bram and then Drake winning the KOTM Title.
Backstage: Drake is celebrating backstage. A staffer comes up and hands him champagne and glasses. Drake asks them if they want any and then slams the glasses down and begins drinking the champagne out of the bottle. Drake them fills up a few more glasses and immediately knocks them out of the staffers’s hands. Drake looks at the camera and said his celebration party is a private party.
Video: Matt Hardy emerges from his front door. “I have invited the world and Brother Nero to witness his contract signing,” Matt said. “Tonight, on Impact Wrestling, you will witness Brother Nero’s personal Armageddon.”
In-ring: Bennett is in his referee shirt.
3 — ROCKSTAR SPUD & TYRUS vs. THE BRO-MANS (w/Raquel) — Mike Bennett as referee
Prior to the start of the match, Mathews said that he was informed by ECIII that the winner of this match will receive a Tag Title shot at Slammiversary.
Spud and Godderz begin the match. After a tag, Tyrus is leaning on Robbie and tosses him with a fallaway slam. Spud tags in and gives Robbie the boots. Robbie E hits the ropes and Tyrus grabs his hair. Bennett does nothing about it. Godderz yells at Bennett and Bennett yells back.
Tyrus scoops up Robbie E. and drops him on his shoulder. Tyrus then ignores Robbie thanks to Raquel distracting him, which allows Robbie to tag in Godderz. Robbie takes out Tyrus with a dive. Back in the ring, they hit a Bro Down on Spud.
Godderz has Spud locked in a Boston Crab and Spud is tapping. At first Bennett refuses to call for the bell, but after a few seconds, he does and shrugs his shoulders at Spud as if to say, “oh well.”
WINNER: The Bro-Mans at 4:11. Raquel distracting Tyrus kind of leads to a finish. Overall, it was never quite explained why Spud and Tyrus had a chance to earn a Tag Title shot after only being formed as a team one week ago. Another thing that doesn’t really add up, from a logic standpoint, is that ECIII actually hates Spud and Tyrus for turning on him, so why would he, as the person in charge, be the one helping them potentially earn this undeserved title shot? He books them as the heels in a match with a heel referee. Granted Spud tapped and the match went to the BroMans, but it doesn’t make ECIII seem like a person who thinks through these decisions.
Backstage: Maria is on the phone with Billy Corgan when ECIII walks in. ECIII grabs the phone and said she’ll have to call him back and hangs up. Maria said that she needs an answer if Gail Kim will be suspended or fired for attacking her. ECIII said he’ll mediate the entire scenario, next.
[Commercial Break at 9:44] [Q4…]
[…Q4] A video is shown of Jeff Hardy riding his dirt bike around North Carolina, driving to Matt’s house, I presume.
In-ring: Maria is entering the ring. Allie says that Maria cannot do her job without her and Sienna, but ECII kicks Allie and Sienna out of the ring and tells them to get to the back.
Maria said that she was just doing what she thought was right. “So you, as leader of the Knockouts, feel like you’re doing a good job?” ECIII asked. Maria said she is doing a wonderful job, but ECIII said he disagreed.
ECIII brings out Gail Kim, saying that only her opinion matters. “Oh good! Let’s let the wrestlers talk!” Maria said. “If everyone did this, it would be anarchy.”
ECIII said that Maria thinks she’s doing a good job, and Gail doesn’t, so ECIII is here to mediate. ECIII asks Gail what she wants, and Gail said that she knows what the fans want, which is a match against Maria at Slammiversary.
ECIII said he likes that … Maria asks the crowd if that what they want? “Let me remind you that I am your leader!” Maria yelled. ECIII said that Maria is only a leader in theory, and right now she’s being evaluated.
“I just want to do it real bad!” ECIII said. “Maria vs. Gail Kim!” Maria said she is trying to build something and she’s trying to make a future for the Knockouts. “At Slammiversary, it will be the worst night of your life,” Maria said. “ I will submit myself to the wrestling Hall of Fame after I kick your ass!”
ECIII says that Maria has an entourage of “anonymous women,” referring to Allie and Sienna, and right now, they’re in a tag team match against Gail Kim and Jade.
[Reax: Not the slickest of segments. The verbiage felt like an over-scripted WWE promo. Maria was good again as the heel, but the back-and-forth between the three felt like it was jumping around without a lot of easy flow.]
[Commercial Break at 9:55]
Back from the break, Allie and Sienna are setting up for the match. ECIII tells Maria to have a seat next to him and they’ll watch the match.
4 — GAIL KIM & Knockouts champion JADE vs. SIENNA & ALLIE (w/Maria)
Gail will start the match against Allie, who was wearing dress shoes and now is in bare feet along with a skirt and dress shirt. Allie is just screaming as Gail goes on the attack. Allie goes for a punch, but Gail blocks it. Allie rolls away and tags Sienna.
Sienna is working over Gail in the corner. Sienna shows off her strength with a standing vertical suplex for a two count. Sienna for some reason tags Allie back in. She covers Gail for a two count. Gail fires back and Allie scrambles to tag Sienna back in.
Gail blocks Sienna and dives to hit Jade for the “hot” tag, but the crowd doesn’t react much. Jade is on fire, taking out Sienna and then throws a missile dropkick for a two count after Allie breaks it up.
Dropkick from Jade rocks Sienna into the corner. Allie tags in and tries to reason with Jade, but Jade throws forearms to Allie and then a kick to the head. Sienna runs in and tries to set up Jade for something, but Gail takes her out. Jade then drops Allie for the pin. After the match, Gail Kim and Jade celebrate.
WINNER: Gail Kim & Jade at 5:32. Good tag team match. The crowd wasn’t all that into it – there was no reaction for the hot tag – but the match itself was good. Allie’s involvement was well done, with her trying to avoid any ring action unless Gail was down.
Video: Jeff Hardy is shown arriving on his dirt bike at Matt’s house. Reby walks out front with Maxel and said that she’s leaving. She said Matt has lost his mind and she’s done with all of it.
Jeff walks in on Matt playing a piano. “Brother Nero, I knew you would come,” Matt said. “You want me to sign this contract so badly.” Jeff asks Matt what he’s afraid of, and Matt says nothing. Matt said they must go to the sanctuary of their genesis.
“This must end where it all began … follow me,” Matt said.
In-ring: Maria is refusing to leave ringside and Mike Bennett also comes back into the ring as ECIII watches from the stage. “Enough is enough!” Bennett said. “This game is over. I’m done cleaning toilets, I am not a referee. This is over. Your Aunt Dixie doesn’t know what she has in me. I’m a damn superstar. I am not a janitor. I am a wrestler. I am the best wrestler in the world! This is through!”
ECIII said that he’s a pathological liar, and since Bennett said he’s a wrestler, he has an opponent for him. James Storm then heads to the ring. He begins brawling with Bennett as the show crashes to a break.
[Commercial Break at 10:10]
Coming out of the break, TNA airs a spot for the Best of the Asylum Years DVD, with C.M. Punk, A.J. Styles, and Jeff Hardy as the highlighted talent.
5 — JAMES STORM vs. MIKE BENNETT (w/Maria)
Bennett begins the match wearing his jeans, gold jacket, and gold boots. The bell rings as Bennett and Storm brawl in the ring.
[Q6] Bennet clotheslines Storm and throws his jacket to ringside. Bennett whips Storm to the corner and hits a clothesline. Bennett then hits a running boot. Bennett suplexes Storm for a two count.
Bennett throws some punches in the corner. Storm begins a comeback with a neckbreaker. Mathews says Storm is building momentum. Bennett connects with a boot off the rope before Storm rebounds with a side Russian leg sweep. Storm then hits the Eye of the Storm for a two count.
Meanwhile, Mathews said that Lashley picking Galloway’s opponent is still to come tonight.
Storm hits a clothesline. Maria gets on the apron and gives Storm a beer bottle. He looks confused and goes to take the bottle but Maria slaps him, which allowed Bennet to roll him up for a win.
WINNER: Mike Bennett at 6:15. Storm hasn’t been used much on television since Beer Money broke up. TNA reinforces that Bennett needs Maria’s help, like he did against ECIII earlier this year.
After the match, ECIII said that Slammiversay is the one fact. ECIII said that at Slammiversary, he will come to Bennett’s church, punch him in the mouth, and burn his church down. ECIII said he’ll leave Bennett with a kick to the face. Bennett then turned around into a Storm superkick. Storm’s music plays to end the segment as ECIII looks on.
[Commercial Break at 10:23]
In-ring: Al Snow is yelling at the crowd that he knows they are thanking him for saving professional wrestling. The crowd chants “boring!” and Al said he agrees. Pro wrestling is boring right now, but he’s changing that. Snow said that his academy in London is changing that. He said it’s in London because he can’t find anyone in the States.
Snow then introduces The Tribunal, Basille Baracca and Baron Dax (the debuting Sylvester Lefort and Marcus Louis). Snow told them to say hello.
[Q7] “We know about fighting,” Dax said. “We know about revolution. Most importantly, we know how to eliminate those who stand in our way. Now, The Tribunal fights for you. As judge, jury and executioner, we will make sure we bring true reign of terror,” Baracca said.
Snow says that’s class, and that’s what he’s bringing back. “You’re looking at professional athletes,” Snow said. “We don’t need to rely on weapons, unlike Grado. All it took from me was one wrestling move to beat him.”
Snow throws to a replay of him beating Grado last week. “One wrestling move,” he said again. “No weapons.” Grado and Mahabali Shera come to the stage. Grado calls Snow a liar, I think?
Grado tells the truck to roll the footage of Snow using a trash can lid last week after The Tribunal interfered in their match. Snow called Grado liar, claiming that Grado edited the footage and that anyone “can use one of those crazy apps to edit the footage.”
Snow said that Grado’s parents are embarrassed, to which Grado and Shera both said they loved their parents. Snow said that Shera’s mom loves him. Grado and Shera charge the ring and brawl with The Tribunal before Snow runs in with a chair.
Next: Lashley picks Galloway’s opponent.
[Commercial Break at 10:35]
Video: Braxton Sutter (Pepper Parks) is telling his story. He said the day he was offered his TNA contract was one of the best days of his life. He said the day after that, he was able to tell his parents. Sutter said he knows this is what he was put here to do. He said TNA is his life. He said he was told no for a very long time, and he never stopped. He said he didn’t work this long to be mediocre, he wants to be World Hvt. Champion.
Video: Matt Hardy is leading Jeff into a barn on the property. There is really cheesy dramatic music playing in the background. Inside the barn, Matt is standing in a ring and said this will be the ring it all ends in.
In-arena: Drew Galloway makes his way to the ring for a match against an opponent to be picked by Lashley.
[Q8] Lashley comes out to the stage next and announces that Galloway will face all of Decay. Rosemary then leads out TNA tag champs Abyss and Crazzy Steve.
[Commercial Break at 10:45]
6 — TNA World Hvt. champion DREW GALLOWAY vs. DECAY (Abyss & Crazzy Steve & Rosemary) — non-title, three-on-one handicap match
Back from the break, Decay surrounds Galloway and goes on the attack. Galloway drops Steve, but Abyss cuts him off quickly and Galloway rolls to the outside.
Galloway drops Steve over the rail into the crowd and then picks him up and chops him. Abyss tries to make a save, but Galloway chops him too. Rosemary jumps on Galloway, but he seems conflicted about hitting her before Abyss runs in with a boot. Abyss tosses Galloway’s head into the ringpost on the outside. It makes a loud thud on the metal.
Abyss throws Galloway back inside the ring. Steve locks on a chinlock and also bites the back of Galloway’s head before swinging several crossfaces. Abyss tags in and kicks Galloway in the corner. Galloway then tries to fight back with boots in the corner, but Abyss tosses him to the opposite turnbuckle and splashes him.
Abyss tags in Steve, but Galloway hits a double clothesline. Galloway with a forearm to Steve in the corner and then hits a flying clothesline on Abyss. Steve dives at Galloway, but Galloway catches him for a belly-to-belly. Rosemary runs in and rakes her nails across Galloway’s back.
Rosemary throws forearms. Galloway finally grabs her for a DDT, but Steve jumps off the top rope. Galloway catches him and slams him. Galloway goes for a Claymore Kick on Steve, but Abyss intercepts him for a chokeslam. Galloway kicks out at two.
Rosemary goes under the ring to pull out Janice. Lashley then hits the ring and tries to spear Galloway but he ducks out of the way and Lashley hits Abyss. Galloway then tosses Lashley over the top. Galloway hits a Claymore on Abyss and DDTs Steve for the win.
WINNER: Drew Galloway at 6:18. So the monster, Lashley, gets worked over by Bram and gets himself DQ’ed with a chair. Galloway, meanwhile, beats the TNA Tag Team Champions in a handicap match while avoiding Lashley’s interference. Interesting.
Video: Jeff approaches Matt in the ring, but Matt rolls out. Matt puts the contract on a table and signs it. “You will get your right at Slammiversary,” Matt said.
Reby runs in and calls for Jeff. She throws up a doll that Jeff thinks is Maxel, so he catches the doll. Matt then smashes a glass bottle over Jeff’s head and drops in through the table on the outside of the ring that Matt signed the contract on. “It’s over, Brother Nero!” he shouted. “It’s done.”
Final Thoughts: I’ve been a fan of what TNA has done creatively for most of this run on Pop, but this show had a lot of wholes in logic and some poor booking choices heading into Slammiversary.
The Hardy videos from Matt’s home were good in the story it told, but it felt too much like a pre-produced movie. There were overhead shots of the property, staged shots of Jeff riding his bike around town and then the slo-mo of Matt putting Jeff through the table. It just felt too contrived for pro wrestling, though the context of the story they told was a good one. Just the execution could have felt more organic.
There were other logic holes, such as why did Dixie Carter think putting a biased member of the roster in charge was a good way to solve last week’s anarchy?
We hit on some of the other holes above. Why did ECIII give two guys he hates – Spud and Tyrus – an opportunity to win a TNA Tag Title match with a heel as the referee? That doesn’t seem like something he should want to do as a babyface. ECIII didn’t have to be put in charge to book himself against Bennett. TNA could have easily booked the same match with just a strong babyface authority figure.
Why not abandon the Pick Your Poison gimmick and just give Lashley a mid-carder that he can steamroll through, keeping him as a strong legitimate threat to Galloway? Same goes for Galloway. At least they’re treating him well after leaving him laying for several weeks after he won the title, but how do you put Galloway over your tag champions in a handicap match and then book Lashley to wuss out in a 1-on-1 match against Bram? That’s not Lashley’s character. He’s a destroyer. Let him destroy someone and keep him looking like a force that can’t be beat heading into Slammiversary. That makes Galloway, if he does retain and win at Slammiversary, even stronger after that pending victory.