By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Samoa Joe Interrupted Kurt Angle
I've been enjoying Angle as the on-air authority figure so far (granted, it's only been one week) and this was good mic work by him. I understand Joe having tension with Angle given their past history, but his lines about Angle desiring the TNA World Heavyweight Championship worry me. The last time this happened, MVP turned heel, so I hope the same isn't happening with Angle. He's only been in charge one week! Moreover, Joe has been greatly underutilized for so long that his threats to Angle didn't ring true.
TNA World Tag Team Champions The Wolves def. The Bro-Mans and The Menagerie in a Triple Threat Match
What did The Bro-Mans and The Menagerie ever do to earn a tag team title shot? It was nice to see The Wolves defend the titles for once, but the lack of teams in the tag division is painfully apparent. The match was fine for what it was, but the outcome was never in doubt since the focus was all on The Wolves. Why can't their tag team title feud with Bram and Magnus kick off already?
Bobby Roode def. Kenny King in a Street Fight
The brawl before the actual match began was very physical and enjoyable. King looked like Roode's equal throughout and Roode's shoulder injury allowed him to take as much offense as he did. I would have preferred to see the match go longer than a minute, but I suppose the brawl beforehand made up for it. The finish was awkward, but it was a nice win for Roode and I've been really loving his fire and intensity since returning.
Brittany Turned on Madison Rayne
The Knockouts have been involved in various drawn-out segments in recent months and this segment felt like more of the same. That said, I'm thankful that they have stories to work with in the women's division as opposed to in WWE. Brittany's acting was terrible and her heel turn could be seen coming from a mile away, but it was necessary. I'm glad they didn't rush into the heel turn by doing it a month ago. It's also nice to see a women's feud in the division that isn't over a championship.
Ethan Carter III def. Bully Ray in a Tables match
Their Slammiversary match was more hardcore, but this was still a good match. EC3 is actually a very good wrestler, but he doesn't have the chance to show it more often than not because he's usually involved in gimmick matches. The crowd was desperate to see EC3 get put through a table, so that made the match more compelling. Rhino returning was a pleasant surprise (even though it was announced by TNA not too long ago) and it was good for him to be established as a heel right off the bat instead of predictably turning on Ray. It was still soon to break EC3's undefeated streak, so he was able to put his feud with Ray to rest for now and Ray now has a new rival in Rhino.
Gail Kim def. Angelina Love to Win the Knockouts Championship
I found this to be better than their Slammiversary encounter since there were a lot less shenanigans and they had more of a chance to focus on the wrestling. The referee-Knockout shtick has been done to death over the years and I really hope that it comes to an end with Angle now in charge. Kim and Love developed nice chemistry with each other, but I still feel their best bout has yet to come. Love didn't hold the title long enough to make the title change mean something, but here's hoping Kim winning the straps sets up a title match between her and Terrell for Bound for Glory.
TNA World Heavyweight Champion Lashley def. Eric Young
Young's mindset going into this matchup was odd, but it established him as an underdog. No world title match should be less than 10 minutes, but it was good while it lasted. It wasn't much different than any of their other encounters, but at least it had a clean finish this time around. Lashley must be built up as a credible champion, otherwise no one will care when he eventually drops the strap. What's next for Young remains to be seen, but if he goes back to being a comedy character, then the last three months will be considered a waste.
This wasn't a terrible show, but it was by no means as good as it was last week. Rhino's return and the Knockouts title change made it newsworthy, but there were still a handful of strange booking decisions. That said, this episode of Impact Wrestling didn't derail the strong momentum TNA has going right now and I'm still very much excited for what's in store in coming weeks.