By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Mr. Anderson def. Bram
There wasn't anything about this feud at the beginning that stood out as special to me, but they've done a solid job of making Bram out to be a vicious competitor and establishing Anderson as a sympathetic figure with all the times Bram has attacked him. I was confused as to whether this was a No Disqualification match or a standard singles match at some points because they spent some extended time outside the ring, but it was a decent match and the roll-up win at least protected Bram. I was glad he ambushed Anderson afterward to maintain his heat, but it'd be better if he gained some in-ring credibility for himself by picking up credible wins more often.
Khoya/Mahabali Shera Attacked James Storm
Was it just me or did this feel rushed beyond belief? I realize they've been planting the seeds for a while now (and it was apparent when they brought in Shera that they were grooming him to be a top star), but this completely came out of nowhere, and the segment wasn't drawn out as long as it should have (which is weird to write because usually it's the other way around). The match was a whole other mess, but I'll get to that shortly.
Gail Kim def. The Dollhouse in a 3-on-1 Handicap Match
I like how dedicated The Dollhouse is to their wacky characters, but the stable simply doesn't seem to be working out. That's not a slight on their abilities at all but rather their poor booking as of late. They've been made to look very weak more often than not with this being the latest example. They couldn't even beat Kim in a 3-on-1 situation? Really? It doesn't make me want to see Kim vs. Taryn Terrell one-on-one as much as it makes me want to see the stable go away.
Eli Drake def. Drew Galloway
I've spoken before about how this feud isn't doing much for me because it started without a real story, but I appreciated how this was more of a brawl than a match, which was fitting of the feud. It's the little things that make the biggest differences sometimes. I'm assuming this was their first of many matches to come, so I was fine with them holding back a bit. Drake going over was also a wise move because his dirty tactics give him more heat and give him a win from the get-go.
Rockstar Spud def. Austin Aries in a Name vs. Job Match
For a match that had a one week build, this was terrific. I was expecting an excellent match from these two tremendously talented athletes, but this was super strong and a great way of closing out Aries' run in TNA. Aries was rumored to be leaving the organization close to two months ago, so the ending outcome was never in doubt, but they did a nice job of building suspense with all the near-falls and putting Spud over in a huge way. It was great to see Spud back to being showcased after losing direction for a while following his TNA title match with Kurt Angle in June.
Mahabali Shera def. James Storm by Disqualification
Again, I wasn't a fan of this whatsoever. It was bad enough that they rushed to this feud earlier in the evening, but why give away the match so soon? Granted, it was extremely short and ended in a non-finish, but it would have been more logical to wait until next week to get to this chapter in the story. That said, I can't say I'm surprised since Storm has already wrapped up his TNA run and his final match with the company will likely come against Shera in the next few weeks.
TNA World Heavyweight Champion Ethan Carter III def. Matt Hardy in a Full Metal Mayhem Match
After weeks of being booked as a week champion, this was EC3's big breakout match. Hardy can still contest quality matches at this stage of this career, taking a number of wild bumps that added to the excitement of the match. As I've been saying non-stop for the last year, TNA gives away hardcore matches on a near-weekly basis, but this was less about the stipulation than it was the great chemistry Hardy and EC3 had together. It was refreshing to see EC3 go over strong for once and Hardy doesn't lose anything coming out of this.
The first hour of the show, albeit decent, didn't do anything for me personally, but things really started to pick up during the second hour. The Spud vs. Aries match as well as the Full Metal Mayhem main event were both exceptional and well worth going out of your way to watch. Unfortunately, with Bully Ray now out and Jeff Jarrett in, it looks like the speculated Global Force Wrestling invasion will be underway sooner rather than later, so hopefully that doesn't hurt the quality of these shows as I fear it might.