By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Great Muta, X-Division Champion Sanada and Yasu def. Bad Influence and Chris Sabin in a Steel Cage Match
The match was not at all hyped going into the event to the point where many viewers (myself included) probably didn't even know it was occurring. That's a shame, too, since there is a story to be told between the two teams/promotions, especially with the inclusion of the legendary Great Muta. Speaking of whom, he was obviously limited in his role, but he was fun in his small doses and the crowd was very receptive to him. The match was very well wrestled and everyone involved played their roles well. Sanada's X-Division title win, which was first mentioned on this show, felt like an afterthought, but this wouldn't be the first time that the strap has meant next to nothing.
Dixie Carter Addressed the Audience
This was almost as bad as when The Authority opens up WWE pay-per-views with a promo. Seriously, what was the point? She was terrible on the mic and got more go-away heat than actual heat. She flubbed her lines more than once and her promo went on for far too long. She hyped a special "surprise" for the main event, but that could have easily been established in backstage segments instead of coming out in front of the audience for five minutes and wasting everyone's time.
Samuel Shaw def. Mr. Anderson in a Steel Cage Match
I wasn't a fan of Shaw's character at first, but this feud with Anderson in recent weeks has really grown on me. Anderson seems more motivated than usual and Shaw has been really dedicated to this character. That being said, this match was one giant train wreck. It all started with the stupid "I'm going to professionally end it all" line. Did anyone else find that tasteless? The match itself was forgettable, the ref bump was ridiculous and Christy Hemme being dragged into the cage through the camera hole was brutally bad. I have no problem with Shaw winning since he needed the victory more than Anderson did, but it basically meant nothing after all the craziness that came before it.
Bobby Lashley Returned and Attacked Ethan Carter III
I'm fine with the EC3 vs. Kurt Angle match not going down on this show, but why even bother advertising it if officials had a feeling he might not be able to compete? EC3 garnered good heat from the live crowd and Lashley's return was quite the shocker. He received a great reaction and came off like a major player when performing his signature maneuvers on EC3. It was also smart for this not to be turned into a match, as there was no reason for EC3's undefeated streak to come to an end here without any build behind it. Lashley's last run in TNA was short-lived, so I look forward to seeing what TNA will do with him this time around.
Tigre Uno def. Manik in a Steel Cage Match
While I realize this was Uno's debut and the match was all about him, why not show Manik a little love? I'm pretty sure he hasn't competed since Bound for Glory in October, so it would have been nice for the commentators to at least acknowledge his return to television. Anyway, it was a very fun match that didn't even need a story behind it because unlike the opener, Uno actually received video packages on episodes of Impact Wrestling prior to this point. It was merely a showcase for Uno, but Manik had a few cool spots as well and the finish was fantastic.
Gunner def. James Storm in a Last Man Standing Steel Cage Match
This feud has been hit or miss with me in the last month or so, but this match was much better than I thought it would be. Sure, it was a bit boring early on and I laughed at the "This is awesome" chants it received after only one cool-looking move, but they definitely earned the chant down the stretch with strong near-falls and intense action. They made great use of the weapons in the ring and got the crowd invested in the action. Gunner showed a great deal of personality here and I hope he keeps it going forward. Bonus points go to Storm for the new attire, look and theme, as he needed to evolve his person after turning heel. I didn't see this as being the end of the rivalry, but I guess only time will tell.
Knockouts Champion Madison Rayne def. Gail Kim in a Steel Cage Match
This match might have been worthy of being inside a steel cage had it been featured more prominently in the last month, but because it wasn't, the fans didn't care much at all. To the ladies' credit, they worked hard and delivered a good final few minutes. They are two of the better workers in the division and this was by far their best match together since the feud started. The question now is where both Kim and Rayne go from here.
TNA World Heavyweight Champion Magnus def. Samoa Joe by Knockout in a Steel Cage Match
As expected, Magnus and Joe worked a very solid match filled with enjoyable action. They have always had excellent chemistry dating back to their rivalry in 2012 and this match was no different. However, the result was pretty predictable given how it went on before the Lethal Lockdown match. Regardless, I had no problem with the match until the ending that saw Abyss drag Joe through the canvas before using Janice (the most illogical weapon in all of wrestling) on Joe to help Magnus retain. It was an "Only in TNA" moment that was so asinine that even the live crowd moaned and chanted "bullshit". I didn't want the title to change hands anyway, but the fact Magnus wins every match via interference just makes him weaker and weaker. I'd rather see him cheat on his own than to see someone else interfere (in a cage match, no less) every time. I'm glad Abyss is unmasked since it's a nice change of pace, but I was hoping to see him reunite with Jim Mitchell, not join Dixie Carter's stable.
Team MVP def. Team Dixie in a Lethal Lockdown Match
The match was well structured in getting MVP (the hometown hero) out early and saving the appearances of team captain Bobby Roode and the returning Jeff Hardy/Willow until the end. The fans didn't know how to react to Willow, but I personally thought it was fine. It was blatantly obvious it was Hardy (even the commentators made mention of that), but I appreciate the effort Hardy has put into changing up character a bit. There were several sweet spots throughout the bout, especially down the stretch, but it wasn't a memorable match. It was obvious Bully Ray was turning from the moment he was announced as the special guest referee, but I can't say I'm excited to see him as a face again. He has always worked better as a heel, but I guess we'll see how it plays out on the next episode of Impact Wrestling.
Although I disliked some of the overbooked finishes on this show, at least most of the results made sense, so it's hard to complain about that. Plus, the in-ring action was very solid as a whole and made for an entertaining three hours. Thus, I would not at all call this a terrible pay-per-view, even if I didn't like everything that occurred. At least the show concluded on a high note and left viewers intrigued as to what will happen next in the Dixie vs. MVP storyline. The return of Bobby Lashley was also a highlight. This might not have been a great event, but it definitely exceeded my low expectations, so there's that.