By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Ethan Carter III Confronted Mike Bennett
What I loved about their feud a few months ago was the strong mic work both of them brought to the table, so this segment played to their respective strengths. The ending outcome of the Bound for Glory Playoff Finals was still in question at this point, so I appreciated how they tried to set up the night's main event in a meaningful manner by rekindling this rivalry. The subsequent brawl that ensued between EC3 and Bennett's heavy Moose was an effective way of establishing that the odds would be stacked against EC3 in his match against Bennett.
James Storm def. Eli Drake to Win the King of the Mountain Championship; TNA World Heavyweight Champion and X-Division Champion Lashley Confronted Storm
Although I couldn't care less about the King of the Mountain Championship, I was slightly surprised this match took place so early in the show and coming off the opening segment like it was a throwaway match. Truth be told, this feud has been built up fairly well and this might have been my favorite Drake match to date. He and Storm worked very well together and produced a great match. Storm winning the gold was a cool moment for him and I enjoyed his verbal exchange with Lashley that followed. As much as I would love to see him regain the world title next week, I assume their match ends with Lashley holding three titles.
Gail Kim def. Knockouts Champion Sienna and Allie in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
Kim is a wonderful wrestler and the best in the division right now hands down, but her "road to redemption" doesn't interest me in the slightest. It is painfully obvious Kim is superior to the rest of the women in the division from a storyline standpoint, so having her steamroll right through them doesn't do anyone any favors. Allie was entertaining in her role here, but having Kim beat the Knockouts Champion in a Handicap match didn't make Sienna look credible whatsoever.
Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy def. Chuck Taylor and JT Dunn
I didn't think I would want to see the Hardy angle continue after Final Deletion, but Matt is so freakin' fantastic with this "Broken" character that I have no complaints. And I love the narrative that he is having Jeff win back the World Tag Team Champions he blames Jeff for losing in the first place, all on his own. This was essentially a Handicap match, but Matt coming in at the end to steal the pin was a classic heel tactic. On a side note, I've seen Dunn wrestle a few times in person before and he's quite good.
Mahabali Shera and Grado def. Al Snow and The Tribunal in a 3-on-2 Handicap Match
Okay, so the previous match was technically a tag team match, but it was treated as if it was a Handicap match. Thus, for those keeping track at home, this was the third Handicap match in a row. Unacceptable in my opinion. And it didn't help that this feud (which is shockingly still going on) has bored me to tears. Shera and Grado are purely comic relief, The Tribunal are extremely generic, and Snow shouldn't be wrestling in 2016. In so many words, this match was a waste.
Ethan Carter III def. Mike Bennett in the Bound for Glory Playoff Finals to Advance to Bound for Glory For the TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Each of their encounters this year have been excellent and this was no exception. I'm usually not high on interference, but I thought the involvement of Maria, Moose and even Eddie Edwards was well done and added to the excitement of the matchup. The constant counters were suspenseful and the final few minutes were fun. Bennett vs. Lashley looked like it was a lock along with EC3 vs. Drew Galloway, but I'm happy they're going with Lashley vs. EC3 instead (presumably). They've been building that bout up all year, and that would also mean Lashley isn't turning face any time soon. Here's hoping that's the direction they're headed in.
I wasn't all that invested in the Bound for Glory Playoffs when the tournament first started, but they did an awesome job of building up the finals throughout the show and the match lived up to the hype. The rest of this episode held up well and several stories were furthered, although the multiple Handicap matches were a bit annoying for me, personally. Other than that, I'm glad they're starting to build toward Bound for Glory this early and it should be a solid show from what is being teased.