By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Ethan Carter III Interrupted Matt Hardy; EC3 def. Matt Hardy in a Bound for Glory Playoff Semifinals Match
This totally slipped my mind until someone reminded me of it, but TNA did a storyline similar to this with EC3 and The Hardyz last year when Jeff acted as EC3's servant. TNA TV was such a blur last year that I completely had forgotten about that. Although they are technically recycling the same storyline, it is significantly more entertaining this time around simply because Matt has evolved immensely since then (needless to say). The subsequent match was well-wrestled, and given the history and chemistry these two have together, that came as no surprise. Jeff "unintentionally" costing Matt the match helped further their feud along and put EC3 in the finals of the tourney.
Gail Kim def. Madison Rayne
The commentators kindly reminded us how far these two go back as allies and as adversaries, but to me, that was virtually a sad reminder of how far Rayne has fallen in recent years. She is still a pretty passable worker and this wasn't a bad bout whatsoever, but rather it's difficult to care about her turning for the umpteenth time, and Kim dominating the entire Knockouts division doesn't do anyone any real favors.
Moose def. David Starr
Moose's quick squash matches, in my opinion, were what got him over huge in Ring of Honor, not to mention his catchy entrance music and chant. Yet, he's a heel, so his character traits and motives are confusing to me. He beat the holy hell out of his opponent here when he was on offense, but I was slightly surprised the jobber hit him with as much as he did prior to his loss. Afterward, Mike Bennett and Lashley had a good verbal exchange that led nicely into the next matchup.
TNA World Heavyweight Champion and X-Division Champion Lashley def. DJ Z in a Ladder Match (TNA World Heavyweight Championship Wasn't Defended)
Abyss holding the X-Division title five or so years back marked the death of the division because he had no business holding the belt, and Brian Kendrick eventually beating him for it meant nothing. Lashley being in possession of the strap may look like it's along those same lines, but I like this experiment much more because Lashley has been killing it all year round in TNA, can contest awesome matches and has credibility as champion. This was a prime example of that with DJ Z (who I have never particularly cared for) having a strong showing versus the dual champ even in defeat.
James Storm Interrupted King of the Mountain Champion Eli Drake on 'Fact of Life'
As I've mentioned previously, I am a huge proponent of Drake's and believe he has a major upside as a singles star. He tries too hard sometimes, but other than that, he has all the tools necessary to rise in the ranks in this company. Hell, even Storm put over his potential, and that is one of Storm's best qualities in that a feud with him is beneficial to everyone involved. This was their best encounter to date on the mic and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Drake still did his "dummy" shtick, but he was extra aggressive toward the end and the stakes being heightened for their next championship clash especially piqued my interest.
World Tag Team Champions Decay def. The BroMans in a Monster's Ball Match
Is it really necessary for every Abyss feud to have a Monster's Ball match? I feel like we've already seen a handful so far in 2016 and it's only July. They aren't awful matches, but when overdone, they can grow tiresome. With that in mind, the hardcore elements incorporated into this bout bored me because we have seen it all before, even the thumbtack spot. I was worried that with Rosemary being busy with Bram, Decay would drop the titles, but thankfully that wasn't the case.
Mike Bennett def. Drew Galloway in a Bound for Glory Playoff Semifinals Match
With all that had been teased earlier in the evening, you had to know shenanigans were going down. I also feared their time would get cut short considering how close to the top of the hour the match started, but it exceeded my expectations in being a solid matchup. Not that I didn't think they were capable of such, but they made the most of the time they were allotted. The finish was overbooked, sure, but I didn't have a problem with it because it added fuel to the fire between EC3 and Galloway and it got Bennett in the finals.
I didn't discuss this at any other part in the review and figured I'd save it until the end, but the Rosemary vignettes were fantastic. That was what we should have gotten from her creepy character at the very start! Better late than never, I guess. At any rate, the rest of the show held up very well, and even the matches I didn't care too much about were short and sweet. We're still a few months out from Bound for Glory, but the seeds are already being planted for several matches that are likely to take place at the event, so it's encouraging they are beginning the build early this year.