By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Kurt Angle def. MVP in a Street Fight
The opening video package was extremely well done and gave the show an all-new feel before it even began. The brawl was a little random, but for the fans in the arena (where I was in attendance!), it was insane. It got everyone riled up and Lashley, Eric Young, Magnus and Low-Ki were all brawling where I was sitting (upper balcony near the commentators). I was disappointed it didn't make television for whatever reason, but it was still cool, nevertheless. We (the crowd) remained hot for the subsequent match between Angle and MVP. These two are capable of a wrestling classic, but for Angle's first no disqualification match back, it was fun while it lasted. A excellent way of kicking off the show all around.
TNA World Tag Team Champions James Storm and Abyss def. The Wolves
Perhaps I'm biased because I was there (and the same can be said for the remainder of this review), but I thought this was a very fun matchup. I'm not a huge fan of The Revolution since it feels like a huge cast of misfits, but at least it's something differently. More importantly, Storm is superb in this cult leader role, even if it is very Bray Wyatt-esque. The Wolves diving through the ropes four times in a row was an exciting spot and the crowd loved them. The Hardys interfering wasn't too necessary, but I'm sure it sets up a multi-team match for Friday's tapings (as well as Hardys vs. Wolves at the Thursday tapings).
Ethan Carter III Shaved Jeremy Borash's Head
EC3 has improved leaps and bounds as a heel and the heat he received from us/the crowd was impressive. He was very intense in his promo and Rockstar Spud and Jeremy Borash played the sympathetic babyface figures well. EC3 gets great heat from shaving JB's head and props to JB for actually going through with it. Will Spud be the one to finally beat EC3? I don't know if I'd be on board with that, but we'll see in due time.
Austin Aries def. Low-Ki to Win the X-Division Championship
My only real complaint about this match was that it didn't have any prior build behind it. Yes, Low-Ki (like all the other champs) was forced to defend his title, but what made Aries worthy of a shot? This match was excellent and I really enjoyed it, but it could have meant a lot more if they made it matter by building on past issues or establishing a story between them. As an Aries fan, I popped for him winning the belt, but most of his reigns since his first one have all been quick and forgettable. Why should fans believe this reign is going to be any different?
Knockouts Champion Taryn Terrell Won a Battle Royal; Awesome Kong Returned
The Battle Royal itself was decent at best, but it was basically what you'd expect it to be. The eliminations were quick and painless for the most part. The only real story told was Brooke, who got a nice pop, coming down and attacking Robbie E at ringside during the bout for his comments beforehand about him dumping her. It's a simple story that I have no problem with. I was hoping they'd make Robbie into a more serious character upon his return, but maybe that will happen over time. Anyway, Awesome Kong's return was... well, awesome! The place came unglued when the lights came back on and she was standing in the middle of the ring. As someone who had no idea she was in the building, it came as a major shocker to me and the entire audience exploded in excitement. I never thought she'd be back after she was apparently on bad terms with management for many years. They may be positioning her vs. Havok as the big matchup, but in all honesty, I'm more looking forward to another rematch between her and Gail Kim.
Lashley def. Bobby Roode to Win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship
The commentators did a very good job of hyping up the match throughout the night (in the TV version, we never heard from the commentators once in the building) and giving it a big fight feel. That said, I didn't feel like it matched the quality of their previous encounters. It was still a very solid match, but viewers were waiting for interference when MVP, Kenny King and their two goons were shown walking to the ring. I didn't have a huge problem with it at the time it happened, but I can understand the complaints that they should have delivered a straight forward clean finish to their first main event in the new year on the new network. Regardless of what you thought of it, it was a very noteworthy way of going off the air with the heel turns of Eric Young, Samoa Joe and Low-Ki. I'm just very interested in seeing how they explain it since they were all sworn enemies of MVP at one point.
Having been there live, I thought this show was fantastic. All the action was entertaining and it was made newsworthy by the two title changes, Awesome Kong's return and everything else. It was important to usher in a new era now that Impact Wrestling is on Destination American and it definitely felt like they did that. The new look of the logo, opening theme, stage and especially the commentary team all added to the feeling that it's a new day for TNA. Some say the finish to the main event ruined that, but I'll reserve judgement until we see where it goes. This was one of the best wrestling shows I've ever attended and it was an extremely enjoyable experience. I'm excited for TNA's future and hope they can maintain this momentum going forward.