By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Ethan Carter III Named TNA World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle's Opponent for the Night
It struck me during this segment: why not hold the TNA title match between Angle and EC3 on this "live" show? Obviously, it should have happened at Slammiversary, but if they're desperate for ratings, they might as well have held it on this show instead of waiting until next week because of the live element. Nevertheless, we heard enough talk from these two last week during the contract signing, so I'm glad they kept it short and sweet here. EC3 naming Matt Hardy as Angle's opponent for the night was a surprise since Hardy's a babyface, but the commentators did an effective job of building interest in the main event by saying it'd be the first time they'd ever go one-on-one.
Tigre Uno def. Low Ki and Grado in an Elimination Triple Threat Match to Win the Vacant X-Division Championship
The crowd wasn't behind Grado during his goofy entrance, but he won them over with his in-ring ability during the match. His early elimination was disappointing because I was hoping he would last longer, but the match definitely picked up the pace down the stretch and Tigre Uno and Low Ki delivered fun match in the final few minutes. In fact, I'd go so far to say that this was the best X-Division match I've seen in months, though I realize that's not saying much since the division's been depleted for quite a while. It's great to see TNA finally put a belt on Tigure Uno who I've felt has been underutilized since the day he arrived in the organization early next year. I doubt it will lead to TNA taking the division more seriously going forward, but the title win made for a cool moment, regardless.
Velvet Sky def. Angelina Love to Earn a Spot on the Knockouts Roster
This was yet another match that could have taken place at Slammiversary. Granted, their feud has lit the world on fire or anything, but it would have been a decent addition to the pay-per-view card. This match was fine for what it was and basically what I expected from them, but it felt rushed at points and would have benefited from having more time. The ending outcome was never in doubt, but I'm curious as to whether their rivalry will continue past this point or if this was the blow-off. Also, I applaud Sky for rejuvenating her character be undergoing a makeover, but she lost me when she used the Stunner as her finisher. I get her wanting to come off like a badass, but using the signature move of a legitimate badass in Stone Cold Steve Austin won't do her any favors.
The Dirty Heels def. The Wolves in Match #4 in the Best of Five Series for the Vacant World Tag Team Championship
Similar to Angle vs. EC3, this screamed "desperate for ratings" and would have been better suited for Slammiversary. Don't get me wrong, it was an awesome match and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but how are they ever going to top themselves in the fifth and final match in the series? That said, this was exceptional and these two teams continue to raise the bar every time they face each other. This was their best bout yet, but they'll have tough task of producing something even more special at the pay-per-view.
Jeff Jarrett and Karen Jarrett Returned
Holy crap! Never in a million years would I have seen this coming. I read something about a potential TNA-GFW partnership earlier in the day, but didn't think too much of it until I saw the Jarretts come down to the six-sided ring. It wasn't exactly the "invasion" I thought it would be, but perhaps that's for the better. I'm all for one more match for Jarrett in TNA because as Karen said, he didn't go out in his terms, and as stupid as the King of the Mountain match is, Jarrett's involvement has made it ten times more meaningful.
Vader def. Bram by Disqualification
From one surprise to another, we witnessed the return of Vader! Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Bram calling out names from TNA's past? I can't recall one time Vader was in TNA, but who cares, it was cool to see him! He wasn't sporting his WWE attire, but he fared well for himself and I would've rather preferred Bram picking up the win. Matt Morgan returning was another huge surprise considering I thought he was done with wrestling. I was always high on his potential, but I'd hold out hope as to whether they actually use him right this time around.
Eric Young def. Chris Melendez
The feud between these two hasn't been going on long enough for this match to feel as heated as it should have, but it was well-wrestled for the most part and they contested an average match. It didn't feature anything out of the ordinary, but Young and Melendez made the most of the time they were fine. I was glad Young went over in decisive fashion seeing as how he's coming off a world title feud and he might have been set back a bit from a loss to an undercard competitor in Melendez.
Hernandez Joined the Beat Down Clan
Yet another notable name returning to TNA that I never would have expected. He appeared on Lucha Underground just a few hours earlier! I guess that means he's done with that promotion, but he might be appearing on both programs simultaneously before he isn't done there just yet. I honestly couldn't care less about the on-going feud between The Rising and the Beat Down Clan, but what does have me excited coming out of this is the potential reuniting of LAX once Homicide returns from injury.
TNA World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle def. Matt Hardy (Non-title)
There was only so much they could do in the seven minutes they were given to work with, but they made the most of it and had a good match. It wasn't too spectacular, but it was nice to see Hardy get an impressing showing against the world champ and he looked credible in defeat. The post-match brawl that ensued between Angle and EC3 was standard hype for next week's title match, the biggest possible bout TNA can do right now.
I can't believe they waited this long to make Slammivesary feel special, and while it still doesn't, my interest in the event is significantly higher after this show. It's not a perfect card by any means because it's missing the two matches I was most looking forward to (Angle vs. EC3 and the World Tag Team Championship match) which are instead being held on next week's show, but it has the potential to be enjoyable. As for this episode, it was made newsworthy by the many returns and I look forward to seeing how this shakes up the landscape of TNA in the weeks to come.