By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Abyss Attacked Magnus
Opening the show with the backstage segment between MVP, Eric Young and the potential title contenders was interesting, but the rules of how a contender would be named were never made clear. Magnus' promo was logical given that he wasn't given involved in the decision to crown a new No. 1 contender, and I'm not surprised to see his feud with Abyss continue. That isn't to say I'm excited for it, though. It makes sense from a storyline standpoint to keep it going, but both guys are in need of something new at this point.
Bully Ray Addressed Dixie Carter
Having this promo follow-up the opening backstage segment along with the brawl between Magnus and Abyss without a commercial break inbetween was a bit much. Ray's promo was a mere minute long anyway, so why couldn't this have been a backstage segment? It makes sense for him to be angry at Dixie, but you'd like that a great mic worker such as Bully would have more to say. I'm fine with him keeping it short and sweet, but the first ten minutes of the show felt very rushed.
Gunner def. Mr. Anderson
They worked a good match, but I was still massively confused by this point on how the rules of this "tournament" are supposed to work. The crowd didn't have an incentive to cheer one guy over the other, but Anderson received louder cheers than Gunner. Please don't tell me that James Storm's interference means that his feud with Gunner is continuing. However, I assume that because Storm hitting Anderson "by accident" means that he'll be moving into a rivalry with him now. But then why did Storm seem fine with his former arch rival Gunner winning? Did I mention I was massively confused?
Ethan Carter III Faced Rockstar Spud in an "Open Exhibition" Match
The highlight of this entire segment was most definitely seeing Spud in the singlet, which was hilarious. The mocking of amateur wrestling was both comical and unnecessary, but at least it didn't drag on. Kurt Angle cut a decent promo, furthered his feud with EC3 well and hyped their match for next week's show. I don't see that match having a clean finish, but even a dirty win for EC3 could do wonders.
Bobby Roode def. Gunner
Similar to Gunner vs. Anderson, this match had potential, but the crowd wasn't invested in the action and neither was I. They didn't tell much of a story and there wasn't as much drama behind the near-falls as there should have been. It felt like just another match and not one with world title implications. I was surprised to see Gunner take the clean loss given that they've tried hard to protect him as of late, but it was after he already competed earlier in the night and it was also a nice win for Roode.
Bully Ray Confronted Dixie Carter
Although I think he works much better as a heel, at least Ray is the most over babyface in TNA right now. I didn't care for Dixie's mic work, but the fans desperately wanted to see Ray get his hands on her. I didn't expect it to happen (has Dixie ever taken a bump for anyone?), but they teased it nicely to the point where the fans were disappointed to not see it happen. MVP has been teasing a heel turn in recent weeks, but another heel authority figure is the last thing TNA needs at the moment.
Willow def. James Storm by Disqualification
I actually had high hopes for this match considering they haven't worked together much at all in recent years and they ended up having a pretty good match while it lasted. I still think the Willow persona is hindering Jeff Hardy more than it's helping him, but it is what it is. They saved the clean finish for a later date by having Storm intentionally getting himself disqualified, which put good heel heat on him. Unlike most heel, he's ruthless and doesn't try to act "cool". The only thing he needs to change is his lame catchphrase used mostly by teenage girls. Anderson coming out to attack Storm felt rushed and could have waited until next week, but those two could have a good feud. Storm feels so fresh as a heel that the possibilities are endless for him.
X-Division Champion Sanada and World Tag Team Champion The Wolves def. DJ Z and The Bro-Mans
Sanada didn't live up to the hype of being The Wolves' "mystery" partner, but I was fine with his involvement in this match given that his styles meshed nicely with that of The Wolves. The action was fun and quick-paced, yet The Bro-Mans didn't seem to get any offense in at all. Normally, I'd be happy about that, but if they're trying to sell The Bro-Mans as threats to the tag titles for next week, then this was ineffective in that sense. Even still, the finish was pretty cool and The Wolves are slowly regaining their lost momentum. Now let's hope they don't have another week-long reign as champs.
The Beautiful People Mocked the Audience
Selfishly, I enjoyed this segment. Hey, I'm a guy, what can I say? Realistically, it was rather tasteless and made a mockery of the Knockouts division and the title. Speaking of which, had Angelina Love not come out with the belt, you wouldn't have even known a title change happened at Sunday's Sacrifice. The Beautiful People are great at being hot and getting heat, but you can tell Vince Russo was writing this stuff because it's hard to take the women seriously after this. Gail Kim has apparently undergone a face turn and looks to be the next challenger to the Knockouts title. There's that, I guess.
TNA World Heavyweight Champion Eric Young def. Bobby Roode
I really liked how Young played up the fact that he and Roode had history together both as partners and as opponents in his pre-match interview backstage, making the match that much more important in the process. He and Roode had a solid match as expected and similar to at Sacrifice, I was happy that there was no interference or any shenanigans. I said from the start of Young's reign that while he deserved a run with the belt, TNA needed to do a lot to make viewers take him seriously as champion, and it's so far so good. He's beaten credible opponents and it was a nice way to go off the show (with the exception of the Bully Ray video). Also, I'd like to think that Young extending his hand out to Roode during the post-match means that a face turn is in Roode's future, but only time will tell.
The first hour of the show featured nothing noteworthy, but the second hour was slightly better. While I wasn't a fan of how the new contender to the TNA title was crowned, at least the main event felt meaningful and ended the show on a high note. There wasn't much else to like about this episode aside from the fact that the partnership of Magnus and his new buddy "Bram" (Kenneth Cameron from NXT's The Ascension) intrigue me. Plenty was advertised for next week, including a tag team title Ladder match, so I look forward for what's in store on that show.