By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Ethan Carter III Interrupted Dixie Carter; Eric Young Attacked Matt Hardy
I suppose it was fitting to kick off TNA's first show on the new network with the company's owner, but the less we get of Carter on TNA TV, the better. Here's hoping that was the last we see of her for a while. EC3 interrupting her, however, made sense from a storyline standpoint and the subsequent brawl between Young and Hardy set the stage for the semifinal matches in the series that would take place over the course of the evening.
Ethan Carter III def. Lashley in a Semifinals Match in the World Title Series
EC3 and Lashley have had several solid matches in the past, but this wans't one of their better bouts. That's not to say it was bad by any stretch, but it didn't live up to the potential it had. I was glad they were given an ample amount of time to have a half-decent contest, but it wasn't exactly a hot match to start the show with. They might have benefited from having Hardy vs. Young take place first so the finals weren't as obvious as they were.
Kurt Angle and Drew Galloway Brawled with Jessie Godderz and Eli Drake
Angle and Galloway had a nice interaction in the ring that effectively hyped their upcoming matches on the UK tour, but I couldn't have cared less about Godderz and Drake coming out. Drake has shown signs of being a star in the past, but he's been always been positioned as an enhancement talent and TNA has given fans zero incentive to care about him. As for Godderz, he comes off as being extremely low-budget and generic, especially his look. Angle and Galloway handled them with ease, so I don't know how that was supposed to get me hyped for their match in addition to what they already said in their respective promos.
Matt Hardy def. Eric Young in a Semifinals Match in the World Title Series
This was the better of the two semifinal matches as Hardy and Young produced a commendable effort. EC3 winning earlier on made the ending outcome fairly predictable, but from an in-ring standpoint, it was a quality contest and Young was made to look credible in defeat. Wasn't Young feuding with Kurt Angle at Bound for Glory? And now he has nothing to say about his retirement?
King of the Mountain Champion Bobby Roode def. Bram; James Storm Returned
Roode's match with Bram was forgettable as they weren't given much time and they didn't gel as well as I thought they would. Bram, to me, has always been a unique character because he's shown promise as a singles competitor in the past, but TNA never seems to know what exactly to do with him. Storm's return wasn't a surprise to anyone who's been keeping up with the "dirt sheets" in recent days, but I'm disappointed he's not sticking with NXT. He's done just about everything there is to do in TNA, but that said, I'm excited for a Beer Money reunion. It's been five years in the making and they can have some great matches with The Wolves.
Knockouts Champion Gail Kim, Velvet Sky and Madison Rayne def. The Dollhouse
I found it odd Angelina Love was initially advertised for the match considering she's seven months pregnant, but Kim was a suitable replacement given her shared hatred for The Dollhouse. The match really wasn't much of note because the feud hasn't been built in months and few of the women involved are actually competent workers. Nevertheless, with Taryn Terrell gone from the company, I liked the swerve of Awesome Kong being revealed as the new leader since she was mostly lost in the shuffle prior to Bound for Glory.
"The Miracle" Mike Bennett and Maria Debuted
There have been rumors regarding Bennett and Marie headed to TNA for a few weeks now, and as much as I enjoyed their time in The Kingdom in Ring of Honor, it's cool to see them embark on a new endeavor. The "miracle" gimmick leaves something to be desired because I'm not exactly sure what they're all about other than them being saviors, but at least we know they have the talent to back up whatever they've been given.
Ethan Carter III def. Matt Hardy to Win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship
I was skeptical of how good this match was going to be when it started ten minutes before the top of the hour, but it ultimately exceeded expectations. They went to their signature spots sooner than I would have liked, but the final few minutes were excellent and I appreciated how it took quite a bit for EC3 to put Hardy away (and vice versa). It's nice EC3 is champion again, but it begs the question why they bothered to take the title off him to begin with. Everyone else got to keep their titles, so why not him? Now the question is who will be next in line to challenge him for the title.
Although this debut show on Pop TV didn't blow me away, I'm tempted to give it a mild thumbs up. The effort was definitely there and they produced a few notable moments with EC3 winning the world title, James Storm returning and Bennett and Maria debuting, but it didn't have that "hot" feel about it. That might simply be because TNA has restarted so many times before that I'm hesitant to start investing in them again. We'll see in the weeks to come, but this was a decent episode on the whole.