Well, another week, another report of financial troubles for Impact Wrestling. A few weeks after Destination America issued a press released trumpeting Impact Wrestling’s ratings, Dave Meltzer reported that the network is disappointed in the show’s crushingly low ad revenue (nearly every ad for the show seems like it’s for an “As Seen on TV”/infomercial type product or for another Destination America show). Plus, there was the controversial last minute departure of Impact Wrestling’s color commentator Tazz. And to little surprise, like so many last minute departures from TNA, it partly had to do with late payments. While I think it’s horrible if Tazz did go months without being paid, I don’t think losing him is a crushing blow to the show. Tazz has a great mind for the business and can be a great color commentator when he wants to but he seems like he lost his passion for the product some time time ago and sounded like he was really just there trying to amuse himself way too often on the broadcast.
I should point out though that some members of the TNA roster quickly & loudly refuted the accusations of the company not paying its talent (most notably & loudly, Matt Hardy & Havok). All of these issues about the financial hardships of Impact Wrestling are distracting from the fact that they’re putting on some of their most focused shows ever. It really seems like TNA is turning a corner. Let’s hope it has enough money to afford the gas to get there!
Impact Wrestling Presents Tag Team Gold
April 17th, 2015 (Taped March 16th, 2015)
From The Impact Zone in Orlando, Florida
Announcer: Josh Matthews
Show opens with a video package recapping Eddie Edwards’ injury and The Wolves vacating the tag team titles. Tonight, eight teams compete for the vacant World Tag Team Titles!
Josh Matthews is calling tonight’s show solo. He says Tazz is “on assignment” this week. This commentary must have been taped before Tazz’s release was announced.
It looks like we’re in a different studio this week at Universal Studios. Smaller than usual. Although maybe it was the same one they used last week. I don’t know. TNA seems like it’s moved around a lot for a company that’s only had 5 or 6 TV tapings this year!
Ultimate X Qualifier: The Revolution (James Storm & Khoya) Vs The Hardys
We open our Tag Team Titles tournament with one of the greatest tag team titles of all time…
James Storm & Khoya The Hardys. Josh Matthews talks about the Hardys road to success from the backyards of North Carolina (Josh gives a shout out to Lita, Shane Helms & Shannon Moore) to the greatest stages in pro wrestling. This is a pretty standard tag team match but I like having the most notable team, The Hardys in the opening match to hook in whatever potential casual viewers there are out there. TNA seems like it has a lot invested in Khoya long term and they obviously think he’s the guy who will break them into the potentially massively lucrative market of India. However, right now, Khoya is green as hell and seems like he should be spending time on the indy circuit for a few more years rather than being showcased on national TV. Luckily, TNA seems to try and hide his deficiencies somewhat by putting him in tag and multiman matches. Storm works most of this match. Hardys get the win when Storm accidentally hits Khoya with the Last Call, Matt Hardy hits Storm with the Twist of Fate, and Jeff pins Khoya with the Swanton. B- After the match, Storm angrily berates Khoya even though Storm was the one who cost the team the match while a puzzled Matt & Jeff look on. Random Observation: When did Matt Hardy start dressing like Tommy Dreamer in the ring (black t-shirt & windpants)?
After the match, Jeremy Borash interviews The Hardys. The Hardys haven’t been World Tag Team Champions in eight years and have never been TNA World Tag Team Champions. Matt & Jeff think its their destiny to win these titles!
EY is backstage. He wants another TNA World Title Shot. He deserves a title shot! He’s heading to the ring!
After our break, we see EY storm to the ring in a Kurt Angle t-shirt. He was not pinned last week and he’s the #1 Contender! Kurt Angle saunters out. He’s tired of EY harassing him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. EY’s hating on Angle’s pictures of his breakfast on Instagram!? Cold. Angle says he’ll give EY a damn title shot next week but he wants the old EY, the EY that won the TNA World Title last year! Angle asks if EY’s gonna fight him like a man next week or attack him like a coward? He gives EY a chance to attack him from behind but EY storms off. It seems a little bit too soon to tease EY turning face again (even though I’m 99.9% sure he’s staying a heel) but otherwise effective segment.
Backstage, Low Ki & Kenny King bully Rockstar Spud and say one of them is gonna take back the X-Division Title from the undeserving Spud. Mr. Anderson makes the save and tells them to shaddup. As much as I don’t like Anderson, him and Spud do have a good Nelson Muntz-Martin Prince dynamic.
Ultimate X Qualifier: Mr Anderson & Rockstar Spud Vs The Beatdown Clan (Low Ki & Kenny King)
I like that they distinguished the roles of BDC on this week’s show. MVP was obviously the leader from the beginning now we see that Low Ki & Kenny King are the tag team and Homicide is the loose cannon, enforcer. This match was fine but I was a little bit annoyed that Spud was sort of presented as a hindrance on his team. Spud is obviously a goofy underdog but I think they’re getting dangerously close to making him the joke he was before the EC3 feud. Obviously, he’s not the type of wrestler you want mowing down people Goldberg style (or even Daniel Bryan style) but he proved in the EC3 feud that he can hang with the big guys and his offense should be presented a bit less like a fluke. Beatdown Clan when Low Ki hits the Warrior’s Way on Spud. C+
EC3 & Tyrus are backstage with Bram. EC3 said he has a capable partner in Tyrus but he wanted only the most ruthless man in TNA to be his tag team partner. He wanted Bram. Bram screams about shoving Tigre Uno’s mask down his throat. EC3 laughs that Bram is going bananas and he’s reaping all of the rewards. EC3 & Bram have a really good odd couple dynamic.
Backstage, MVP congrats Low Ki & Kenny King on their victory and talks about how he loves it when a plan comes together. MVP unleashes Homicide on Kurt Angle. He doesn’t want Homicide to have a match with Angle! He wants him to have a street fight with Angle! Homicide pulls out a razor and heads off to find the Olympic Gold Medalist.
Ultimate X Qualifier: EC3 & Bram (with Tyrus) Vs Tigre Uno & Jay Rios
Jay Rios, I think, is making his TNA debut or his debut on Impact Wrestling at least. The young masked luchador shows some impressive agility a few times in this match but seems sort of green and kinda generic looking. That being said, TNA could use another undercard tag team and the kids love masked wrestlers so I’d be fine with more appearances from him & Tigre Uno. This is more or less an extended squash for EC3 & Bram, who throw around the smaller team. Funny finish with Bram hitting the Brighter Side of Suffering and EC3 immediately tagging in to get the pin then celebrating wildly while Bram sulks. C+
Christy Hemme introduces Knockouts Champion Taryn Terrell, Gail Kim, Brooke, Angelina Love, and Madison Rayne. Hemme has a special announcement! Next week’s episode of Impact will be devoted entirely to the Knockouts Division (are we considering Kurt Angle and EY “Knockouts” now?)! Angelina Love is huffy and thinks it should be an Angelina Love episode of Impact. She channels Dave Batista and throws out a “Deal with it!’ Gail Kim, Brooke, Angelina, and Madison will be facing off in a Fatal Fourway to determine the #1 Contender for the Knockouts Title plus Taryn will defend the TNA Knockouts Title against Awesome Kong. At some point, did Brooke’s gimmick turn into overenthusiastic spaz? She’s unusually hyper during this segment.
Awesome Kong comes out and of course, this triggers a huge brawl amongst all of the Knockouts. It culminates with Taryn Terrell diving off the top turnbuckle, outside the ring onto all of the other Knockouts. Nice segment to set up next week’s show. I really got to say I’m liking these themed shows. With only two hours of national TV time a week, it’s good to focus on one specific division sometimes for an entire show.
The BroMans bicker and Robbie E sulks off. Austin Aries & Bobby Roode walk up to Robbie and sarcastically suck up to him and badmouth Jesse. Robbie’s too dumb to get it and thinks the two Former World Champs sincerely think he’s the future face of TNA. Aries & Roode chuckle and then walk off to insincerely boost Jesse’s ego as we go to break. BroMans Vs The Dirty Heels is next.
Ultimate X Qualifier: The BroMans Vs The Dirty Heels
I guess you can tell BroMans are on the way out because DJ Z and Angelina Love aren’t accompanying them to ringside. Not sure why Aries & Roode are referring to themselves as Dirty Heels when they’re faces. Name just seems too cutesy for a serious team. Anyway, this match is surprisingly competitive for a match between a comedy heel tag team that’s about to break up and a one night only reunion of a team comprised of two former World Champions. Roode & Aries win when Aries pins Jesse with the 450 Splash. Dirty Heels are a really fun team and I’m kind of bummed that Matthews kept emphasizing how this was a one night only reunion (which kind of sort emphasizes that they aren’t gonna win the titles). B After the match, Jesse and Robbie E fight. DJ Z runs in to try and pull it apart but it looks like the damage is done. The breakup of the BroMans is wholly unnecessary. I don’t really see the point of splitting them up. They’re a great undercard heel team (who are credible enough to challenge for the titles on occasion) and I don’t think TNA has any plans for them beyond feuding with each other. Hopefully, DJ Z teams up with one of them so they won’t deplete the tag team division even further.
Kurt Angle & Homicide have a brawl on the Universal backlot and fight to the ring. There’s a bunch of backstage workers who just watch this happen nonchalantly (eventually, one guy decides to get out of his chair and jog out of the way half heartedly in an unintentionally funny moment). Just one of those little moments that makes TNA look bush league. It wasn’t like the backstage workers didn’t know any better! I’m 99% sure I saw TNA Executive Vice President John Gaburick just sitting there watching the brawl.
Anyway, mini rant over. Angle & Homicide brawl to the ring. Angle eventually gets the Angle Lock on Homicide, prompting Low Ki, Kenny King, and MVP to run out and beat Angle down. The Rising runs out to make the save and remind us they all exist. They brawl to the back with Low Ki, King, and Homicide. MVP is about to hit Angle with a chairshot but EY runs down and talks him out of it. MVP walks to the back. EY grabs the chair but Angle gets up and EY decides to drop it. Have we seen the old EY? The EY that shamelessly cashed in on the popularity of Daniel Bryan a little over a year ago? Will he win the TNA World Title? FIND OUT NEXT WEEK, FOLKS!
Short video package highlighting the history of the Ultimate X match.
Vignette for the Dollhouse. They’re debuting next week on Impact!
Josh Matthews hypes next week’s show. We then see a promo for next week’s Knockouts special. Night is called “TKO: A Night of Knockouts” (again Kurt Angle and Eric Young are honorary knockouts for the night?)
I’ll point out here that Josh Matthews did a great job calling the show solo. I think the one man commentary team is a placeholder and they’ll get Borash or Al Snow to fill the color commentator role but I wouldn’t mind Matthews calling it by himself every week if commentary’s as good as it was on this show.
Ultimate X for the TNA World Tag Team Titles: EC3 & Bram (with Tyrus) Vs The Hardys Vs The Dirty Heels Vs The Beatdown Clan
This match was pretty damn fun. It’s hard to be innovative when we’ve seen so many of these types of matches but they managed to work in a few spots I hadn’t seen before, did the ones I have seen before well, and generally, everybody played their roles well. I really thought EC3 & Bram were the MVPs of the match. EC3 couldn’t climb because of his still injured arm so he introduced a ladder to the match, which I guess is heresy to some TNA purists but I thought it was fine (especially since it was introduced by a heel) and adds potential for more cool spots. After being an afterthought for the past few months, Tyrus stepped up and had a few good spots in the month. Loved him shaking the structure and knocking everyone off it. EC3 jumping on Tyrus shoulders to grab the titles only to get stopped when Aries jumps off and hits the big guy with the missile dropkick. I’m bummed that it looks like Dirty Heels aren’t back full time. Love to see a Hardys-Dirty Heels match at Slammiversary but I guess they’re gonna go in the direction of Hardys Vs BDC (which could also be interesting given Matt’s past history with MVP). Hardys win the match to become World Tag Team Champions! This is their first TNA World Tag Team titles win and their first World Tag Team Titles since 2007. This is the Hardys’ Eighth World Tag Team titles run overall. Honestly thought that number would be higher. A-. I know some people will think “Why put the titles on the old guys when you already have Angle as World Champ?” but I think it boosts the credibility of the Tag Division having such a legendary team with the belts. Plus The Hardys are pretty much just as good as they were in 2001 so it’s not like you’re putting on the titles on Demolition!
Some minor nitpicks and lackluster undercard matches aside, this was really another pretty damn good show in a time when TNA really needed another damn good show. Maybe not a home run but a solid ground rule double. B+
Next Week on Impact…It’s TKO: A Night of Knockouts! TNA showcases the lovely ladies of the Knockouts division. Taryn Terrell defends the Knockouts Title against the legendary Awesome Kong! Brooke, Gail Kim, Madison Rayne, and Angelina Love face off in a four corners match to determine the #1 Contender for the Knockouts Title! And the debut of the newest Knockouts, The Dollhouse! Plus honorary Knockouts, Kurt Angle and Eric Young fight in a TNA World Title Match in our main event!