By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Kurt Angle Challenged TNA World Heavyweight Champion Matt Hardy; Beer Money, The Wolves, Eric Young & Bram, and Abyss & Crazzy Steve Brawled
There was so much going on in this segment that I was tempted to call it convuluted, but everything managed to come together fairly well. Firstly, Hardy did a decent job of addressing Jeff's "injury" from last week and he continues to shine in his new role as the lead heel. I'm not sure if Young's championship claims were supposed to foreshadow anything between him and Hardy for down the line, but Angle's promo set up the championship main event nicely. The brawl that ensured with the tag teams was also effective in building to the Hardcore War and this was a good sneak peak of was to come later in the night.
Lashley def. Aiden O'Shea
Correct me if I'm wrong, O'Shea debuted in TNA at Bound for Glory, but TNA has yet to properly introduce him to the audience. Therefore, I have zero reason to care about him. The match was essentially a squash as it should have been. The story surrounding Raquel is interesting, and while I know for a fact that her in-ring skills have improved since her Tough Enough days, her acting ability leaves something to be desired. Hopefully she'll improve over time as this angle with Lashley progresses.
Knockouts Champion Gail Kim Interrupted Maria
I don't how wise it was to have Maria's promo immediately follow Raquel's segment because her acting skills blow Raquel's out of the water. It never ceases to amaze me how far she has come in the last decade from her days as Raw's clueless backstage interviewer. I really enjoyed her interaction with Kim, though it makes me wonder whether we are in for a feud between them. Maria wasn't in the ring much in Ring of Honor, but she could be a prominent player in the TNA Knockouts division. And God knows we need more fresh blood in said division.
Decay, Eric Young and Bram def. World Tag Team Champions The Wolves and Beer Money in a Hardcore War Match
Essentially, this was a Lethal Lockdown match without the cage. I'm typically not a fan of these type of matches because they're so overdone, but the four teams involved made it work to the best of their ability. They made good use of the hardcore stipulation and I'm slowly warming up the tandem of Abyss and Crazzy Steve. Giving the heels the win was the right move as it put heat on them going into their respective rivalries.
Drew Galloway def. Tyrus by Disqualification
I'm well-aware that Tyrus is supposed to be the whipping boy for whoever he's working for, but I've always thought he has the potential to be more than that. I say that because it seems as if he never wins any of his matches despite being a monster of a man. He and Galloway had a brief albeit forgettable match in the time they were allotted, but at least it set up a feud between Galloway and Mike Bennett. That could be great as long as they don't fall victim to even-steven booking.
Trevor Lee def. Tigre Uno to Win the X-Division Championship
Well, they swerved me. I was convinced Shane Helms was wrestling on this show and I'm happy it ended up being Lee instead for a few different reasons. It not only saves the match between Helms and Uno for a later date, but it establishes Lee as a credible competitor from the get-go. We saw a little of him during the Global Force Wrestling invasion in the fall and it's cool he's back as an X-Division wrestler. Hopefully we get to know more about him in the weeks ahead.
TNA World Heavyweight Champion Matt Hardy def. Kurt Angle
This was the first Angle match in a way that didn't feel so formulaic. As noted, Hardy has settled into his heel role quite nicely and that showed in this match as he attempted to take every out he could to retain his title. The finish almost came out of nowhere, which might have been for the better because it was unpredictable, but perhaps this match would have had more of a big fight feel if it was promoted a week ahead of time. On a side note, I loved the pre-match backstage segment with Angle and Lashley and I liked how their pending matchup didn't come across like an afterthought.
The quality of the TV product has only increased since the start of the year and it's encouraging that there are a multitude of stories worth getting invested in at the moment. Ethan Carter III's interview on this show was excellent and his eventual rematch with Hardy should be great with the roles reversed this time around. The X-Division, tag team and even Knockouts pictures have gotten more intriguing as of late and this edition of Impact Wrestling set that in motion. I'm not sure how long it will be before the United Kingdom tapings will air (perhaps as early as next week?), but those fans are always amazing, so I'm highly anticipated those set of shows.