By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Jeff Hardy def. Eric Young in a No. 1 Contender's Match For the TNA World Heavyweight Championship
As entertaining as Matt Hardy's heel promos have been, it was a refreshing change of pace to have a match kick off the show for once. Young was the one who put Jeff Hardy out of action the last time we saw him on TV, so he was a logical opponent for him. The added stipulation of the winner advancing to the main event title match definitely made it more interesting, though it was weird for Dixie Carter to potentially award Young (had he won) for injuring Hardy. They contested a good match and it set the stage for the main event nicely.
Mike Bennett and Maria def. Drew Galloway and Knockouts Champion Gail Kim
This match was more about furthering the feud between Kim and Maria than it was about furthering the feud between Galloway and Bennett, but I liked it. TNA is wise to refrain from having Kim and Maria come in contact and saving that for a bigger moment down the line as it will mean more as a result. The match itself was well wrestled and Maria is better when she's limited, so I'm curious to see how she fares against Kim when they eventually go one-on-one.
Lashley Attacked Josh Mathews and D'Angelo Dinero
For the past month or so, Lashley has looked the best he has since his first run as TNA World Heavyweight Champion two years ago. He is a natural heel and plays the part to perfection. He cut another convincing promo here about being the best and most dominant athlete this business has to offer and the attacks on Mathews and The Pope were a great touch. For what it's worth, I have no desire to see Lashley feud with Pope, but I don't think that's the direction they're headed in, anyway, so there's nothing to worry about.
Decay def. World Tag Team Champions Beer Money and Eddie Edwards
It's encouraging that Decay didn't lose all their credibility coming off their loss to The Wolves a few weeks back and are still in contention for the tag titles. Is TNA stealing a page out of Lucha Underground's book by doing intergender matches now? In their defense, Rosemary barely got involved, so it wasn't an issue. Decay scoring the win was the right move as it sets them up as future challengers to the straps and gets their momentum back on track.
Grado def. Eli Drake in a Ladder Match to Earn a TNA Contract
I've made it quite clear in recent weeks that I haven't been a fan of this feud at all, but this was a better-than-expected payoff if that's what it was designed to be. If there was video proof of Drake switching the cases, then why wasn't Grado automatically given his job back? And why is Drake able to keep the King of the Mountain Championship shot? Those two things confused me, but needless to say, this was the best bout Grado and Drake have had to date and hopefully it was their last.
TNA World Heavyweight Champion Matt Hardy vs. Ethan Carter III vs. Jeff Hardy in a Triple Threat Match Ended in a No Contest
The addition of Jeff Hardy to this match was an excellent idea for a number of ideas. Firstly, we didn't get the same singles match between Matt Hardy and EC3 that we have already seen countless times since the summer. Secondly, it allowed for the possibility of Jeff winning yet not pinning EC3. Granted, it was riddled with interference like a typical TNA main event, but future feuds were established with Hardy and Young (which I'm glad they haven't moved past so soon) and EC3, Tyrus and Rockstar Spud. I assumed Jeff would return to the ring and win the match, but what happened next I never saw coming...
Drew Galloway def. Matt Hardy to Win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship
I had completely forgotten about Galloway being able to cash in his Feast or Fired briefcase, so that was a genuine surprise for me. I'm ecstatic to see Galloway finally win "the big one" that he has deserved for some time now and he should make for a superb top babyface in TNA, but at the same time, Hardy was just finding his stride as the heel world champion, so it felt premature to take the title off him right now. We'll see where this goes in the weeks ahead, but at the very least, there are an exciting amount of possibilities for the world title picture going forward.
I don't know if this edition of Impact Wrestling was actually "live" or if aired on tape delay, but it doesn't matter because the quality of the show was awesome. I've been singing the praises of the TNA televised product since their move to Pop TV (despite it not reflecting in the ratings) and this episode showed that there is quite a bit to be enthusiastic about in TNA at the moment. Several fresh feuds are being set up, thus making the next few weeks of TV must-see.