By Jeremy Peeples, WrestlingObserver.com
Last week, the "bell to bell" episode of Impact delivered yet another excellent Angle-Lashley match, and some solid action between Magnus and Bram and EY and Bobby Roode. They also debuted goofy artwork for the graphics that certainly stood out, even if it was quite amateurish. TNA's now doing a crossover with the crew of Ghost Asylum and the Revolution. Hopefully, we get some shadow activity! Tonight, we get the "Live Tweets" edition of the show.
They hyped up no matches, but did bring that point up - which a shame since we get Gail Kim vs. Kong in a rematch of one of the company's biggest ratings-drawing programs ever.
The show begins with a recap of the BDC's destruction that ties into the debut of Galloway and The Rising - we'll hear from Galloway and his two presently-unnamed allies tonight. We go to Taz and Josh in the booth reading their scripts. Josh talks about the controversial ending to the title match and they show a graphic of it. Kurt Angle comes out and says he wants to deal with the Lashley issue face to face. Lashley comes out and we get a full view of the revamped set with vertical video walls on both sides of the set. TNA should stick with this set whenever possible because it looks good.
Lashley says he looked at the tape and Kurt didn't win. A brief "roll the tape" chant breaks out and and the fans chant "rematch". Lashley asks over and over if that's how Kurt's going to win, and Kurt says he won't back down from a defense. Lashley wants a third match, and much like the Angle-Samoa Joe deal, they're going through way too many matches in this feud. Kurt wants the match, but EY comes out and screeches "no" over and over again. EY says he's number 1 contender via the rankings. Well, since Unlocked no longer airs before Impact, there's no way we could know that.
EY says he's number 1 because he made Roode tap out and we see a tweet from him about how he won the World title one year ago and he'll do it again tonight. EY rakes Lashley's eyes, and he goes for a spear in response, but a low blow and escape leaves Kurt in the spear's path instead. This was pretty good stuff overall, even though this EY character doesn't do much for me.
A Sting DVD ad airs and we get a replay of the Lashley spear to Angle. Angle once again says he'll fight Lashley and says he'll take on both guys tonight. We see a replay of the prior Awesome Kong killing spree video, but with more footage of Gail Kim matches included. Gail is out first in this number one contender's match. Kong comes down and both Josh and Taz put Kong over huge.
Gail Kim vs. Awesome Kong
Gail rushes Kong with forearms and gets bullied into the corner. Gail gets a dropkick to the knee and some forearms to the chest. Outside-in sunset flip by Gail is countered with a sitdown splash and the referee pulls her off. Kong gets a camel clutch and modifies it into a sleeper. Gail lands some leg kicks, but Kong clotheslines her down. Kong lands the chokeslam and it only gets 2. Kong looks ready to destroy her, and it's clear that Kong still has "it" no matter what. Kong goes to expose the buckle and Gail attacks, but gets shrugged off and Kong finally gets the pad off.
Gail counters a chokeslam into a thing resembling a guillotine choke, but gets tossed into the corner and then to the floor. Gail gets a big dropkick to create space. They go into the ring and Gail gets 2 off of a blind crossbody block. Kong tosses her off for trying Eat Defeat, but she misses a charge into the exposed corner and gets schoolgirled for 2. Eat Defeat hits for a 2.5 count. Crowd chants "that was three" and Taz chants "no, it wasn't!" That was Taz's best call all year.
Kong lifts her up top, but gets locked into a triangle choke and turns it into an Awesome Bomb for the win! This was pretty good overall - Kong is physically limited, but has such a presence to her that she doesn't need to do a lot to make the character work.
Mickie thanks James Storm for saving her last week. Storm says he does the right thing and no man is going to hit a woman on his watch. Manik comes up and asks him what's up with Mickie, and Storm smothers him with his muffin and says you should never question them. I'm glad they did this, because 2012 babyface Storm being part of this 2015 cult leader didn't make much sense, but now they've tied the two characters together somewhat. Storm told him to gather the crew for a fight. A graphic makes EY vs. Angle vs. Lashley for the title official for tonight's main event.
Storm is mid-ring with his crew for the fight. Storm says he wanted a Revolution and gave them everything they desire, and they've all failed him. Sanada was kicked out for failing one too many times, and he berates Abyss for losing in the tag title match, while Manik lost in the Ultimate X match. Storm slaps Khoya and he tells him that he made him see the light. There's always room for one more, and tonight, there will be room for one less.
Khoya vs. Abyss vs. Manik
Storm says that the winner will be his partner next week in the tag title tournament. Abyss attacks Khoya, and Abyss goes to pick up the walking stick, but he eats a chair to the back. Manik runs wild on him in the corner. Abyss fights back with a running elbow. Abyss tosses Manik into his rope pose, and just kicks him down to the floor - well, it's about time someone does that. Abyss tosses Khoya over the top and Manik hits a missile dropkick down. Manik turns an Abyss chokeslam into an armbar.
Khoya hits Abyss with the stick before landing some shots to Manik too. Khoya gets the Sky High and earns a win. Khoya's the right guy to win this because he needs the team situation, while the other two are better off outside of it. The Rising is next, but first, we get clips of the Storm/Ghost Asylum deal along with the conclusion. The crew goes around the barn before the Revolution threatens them and...they just leave. Well, that accomplished very little.
The Rising comes out with Eli Drake and MIka - so his crew finally gets names. Drew says he only wanted to be a wrestler and has been wrestling since he was 15 and will do it until he can't walk. Drew thanks the fans and says he'll give the fans the shirt off his back and does. Drew says they're out to make wrestling better, and the fans chant "hashtag better!"
Drew says he couldn't beat the BDC by himself, and he needed his brothers. The former Comacho says he's MIka, the son of Haku - wrestling pumps this his veins and he cuts a good promo about needing to stand up because that's what his father taught him. It's a shame he never got a chance to talk in WWE, because he was impressive here.
Eli Drake is a big jacked-up dude with a five o' clock shadow who has some physical charisma to him. He says The Rising isn't a bunch of superstars - they're a group of wrestlers and that if the BDC is smart, they won't mess with any of them. So far, both partners in The Rising have been impressive with only one chance to really do so. Drew tells MVP that he doesn't run TNA and it's time for a war in Orlando.
The BDC comes down with a new red-heavy lighting scheme and a pair of flags. MVP says The Rising is more like bread or dough, while Ki and MVP says it's more like a yeast infection. MVP says punks jump up to get beat down, and that The Rising will have a tragic fall tonight. Drew does a 3,2, 1 countdown before a brawl breaks out.
The Rising vs. The BDC
During the break, Drew makes a challenge for a match. Eli Drake and Kenny King start it off. King gets a headlock and a shove off leads to a stalemate. King runs into a powerslam for 2. Mika tags in and lands a shot to the ribs of King. MVP, in new black and red Punisher gear comes in. Mika punches him down, and MVP misses the corner kick and eats a neckbreaker for a 1 count. Kenny attacks Mika's knee on the floor and MVP hot shots Myka's chest into the guardrail. MVP goes for three covers and gets 2 off of them. MVP gets a front facelock and tags in Low-Ki for a Mongolian chop to the back.
Josh applauds the BDC for cheating in creative ways, and then Taz is called jaded for having the same view. King gets a tag that the ref didn't see. MVP tags in and lands a shot to Mika's ribs. MVP gets a cocky cover for 2. Mika gets a Samoan drop and tags in Galloway for a big comeback. He runs wild while the crowd goes crazy, but he distracts himself and eats a double boot. Drake comes in and gets a running powerslam setup inverted Codebreaker!
Mika dives onto the heels on the floor. Homicide comes in with his head covered and attacks with a telescopic nightstick. This was a good showcase for newcomers and we get another replay of the Lashley spear to Angle earlier. Angle cuts a promo on his opponent before EY jumps him and says "my" over and over before saying the title goes through him. I get the idea of EY being nuts with this character, but the act is more annoying than anything else.
The trainer meets with Kurt about his neck and asks if he feels okay. Kurt says he's fine, but acts a bit dazed. DJZ is mid-ring to face Davey Richards. Given how this ties into the tag title feud before Eddie's injury, this isn't nearly as random as it appears on the surface. Josh says that the tag titles are in a state of abeyance and the tag team champions will be crowned next week after a series and an Ultimate X match - so it should be a busy night of action.
DJZ vs. Davey Richards
Basic collar and elbow to start before a tumbling exchange and a Davey dropkick gives him an edge. Apron punt prevents DJZ from coming in. DJZ comes in and gets a pop-up dropkick sending Davey to the floor. DJZ only gets 1 before stomping a mudhole in him. Crowd chants "DJ reject" at him. Josh says that DJZ is a popular DJ in Florida. DJZ lands a flapjack, but misses a corkscrew dive. Back and forth punch and forearm exchange is won by Davey with a lariat sending DJZ to the floor and a suicide dive sends them both into the barricade. Missile dropkick leads to a nip up and a kick combo.
Handspring high kick gets 2. DJZ gets a jaw breaker and mocks Davey with a howl. Davey avoids a superplex and misses the double stomp, but gets the Alarm Clock and the Creeping Death spinning buzzsaw kick for the win. After Josh mocked a fan's "The Wolfs" sign, they show it in close-up.
MVP tells the camera guy that if he wants to eavesdrop, he'll give them news - Homicide was always a member and they all make threats to The Rising. They're the Beat Down Clan and they do what they do because they can - this was short and sweet. Kenny King still doesn't quite fit in as a badass, but he's fine in the Buddy Roberts role of resident goofball.
A creepy skit with Jade and Marti Bell airs where they spin around and crush dolls with their heels. It was a Dollhouse Production and they're coming. This was silly in theory, but in execution, they came off as nuts and it worked - TNA's putting a bit of a budget behind things again and it helps vignettes like this. The Hardys come down and Josh talks about how they've never held the TNA World Tag Team titles.
Jeff talks about having his revenge and it's time to something he's never done - become the TNA World Tag Team Champions! Matt says it feels damn good to be in the ring with his brother and it's time for them to be the TNA Tag Team Champions for the first time ever. I thought they should've made more of that during the 3D-Hardys-Wolves series, but at least they're doing it now. Matt says it's time to win the titles and face the best in Impact Wrestling.
EC3 and Tyrus come down. EC3 addresses Matthew and Jeffrey by saying he is the best in TNA and while the Hardys have had a fairly adequate career, he has been undefeated for 18 months and yet has no title shots to show for it. Since he can't get a World Title shot, he'll be interrupted by a loud "Hardy" chant and he'll go for the tag titles instead because he deserves gold. He'll be teaming with a man who just wants to hurt people - Bram. Well, that's a surprise.
You'd expect Tyrus, but Bram should make for better matches. Bram says he's in a bad mood and the thought of teaming with someone makes his skin crawl, and he hates everyone. Another massive "Hardy" chant breaks out and he says that he hates EC3 the least, so he'll just batter the Hardys and the rest of the losers in the back. EC3 says that they're the favorites before Mr. Anderson comes down.
Given his past pairings, he should team up with Chris Melendez for this or Spud. EC3 and Anderson get into an "uh huh/nuh" exchange and Ken just randomly says he's 39. Spud comes down in his new-ish shirt and bowtie-printed shirt. Great bit with Anderson doing his intro and Spud saying "AND ROCKSTAR SPUD!", leading to Ken saying he doesn't go out and wear a bowtie when he's out there. This is a cluster of a tournament and we badly need graphics for it.
Aries comes down saying that a lot of people are saying they're great and deserve to be champions, but he's got a case to prove it and he's the greatest man that ever lived. He'll team up with his former partner, the other half of the Dirty Heels, Bobby Roode. This should be a good tournament...and if you were excited by the thought of it, then surely the clips of the Hardys against a couple of other teams in the Ultimate X match should be entice you to watch it, right? Because otherwise, spoiling the entire tournament would just be stupid.
They show the Tag Team Gold graphic and it's just all of the teams in a cluster. This made it seem like it was just every team in the Ultimate X except for the graphic saying that was the end-game. EY comes out first and Josh says he respects EY for attacking Kurt. Isn't Josh a babyface? Why is he supporting all of these heels being cowards? Lashley comes out to JB hyping him up as THE DESTROYYYYERR. Angle comes down and Taz says that Kurt excels being hurt and proved it by winning an Olympic gold medal with a broken neck. Josh says Kurt passes the eye test and doesn't look banged up. Taz says that Kurt hides it really well.
Eric Young vs. Lashley vs. TNA World Champion Kurt Angle
EY starts by stalling on the floor. Angle gets a go-behind on Lashley while Josh uses WWE math on the percentage Kurt has to retain. Overhead belly to belly by Kurt to Lashley sets up corner uppercuts and punches. EY tells them to fight and they just go out and beat him up with ping pong punches a Hart Attack. EY goes on the floor and Lashley tosses him into a Kurt clothesline for a break.
DA once again airs the Tag Team Gold spoiler video and we get another Sting DVD ad. EY slides under Lashley on the apron, but eats a German. Angles lariats him down in the corner and sends Lashley to the floor. Angle snap suplexes EY down and gets 2. Hector Guerrero @Lazortron tweets about how good Kurt is and EY gets a piledriver for 2 thank to Lashley coming in for a save. Lashley gets a delayed vertical suplex to Kurt and he lands a spear for 2 before EY comes in. EY punches Lashley, who leapfrogs over him before favoring his knee and low bridging EY.
Rolling Germans to Lashley from Kurt mid-ring. Rolling Germans to EY as well. Kurt snaps the strap and locks on the ankle lock to Lashley. Given the leg damage, this move has that much more meaning now. Lashley rolls through and sends him to the floor before EY gets the figure four. Josh says Lashley was in the ankle lock for three minutes and now he's in the figure four. Well, he might've been in both things for a total of three minutes. Lashley gets the rope and forces a break. EY gets a chair and puts it in the corner while the ref is looking at Lashley on the mat.
Lashley clotheslines him down and gets a delayed vertical suplex. Lashley goes for the chair, but EY sidesteps it and Lashley spears the chair with his head. Angle Slam to EY and then to Lashley before hitting the moonsault and winning! Well, if he's going to bust that move out, I'm glad he's at least hitting it and winning with it. This wasn't a classic, but was really good and fun to watch from beginning to end. Kurt holds the title high while his red and blue lighting goes off behind him on the ramp.
EY grabs the chair and attacks before Pillmanizing the left leg of Lashley. He locks on the figure four, and Taz says that EY could be ending Lashley's career. Well, the mere idea of that sounds insane, but they at least did an awesome job of building EY up. This isn't quite the right character to give this kind of push to, but EY is the right guy to get the push. They close the show with more footage of Tag Team Gold. It will be a tournament (still without brackets) and the winning teams go onto Ultimate X. We get a cool close-up of the World Tag Team Titles to close the video out.
This was a pretty good edition of Impact overall. None of the matches were bad, and they were all entertaining and story-furthering. The Rising came off as a bigger deal tonight than ever before and the increased emphasis on the tag team titles was done about as well as could be expected given how rushed this whole situation is. The main event took Lashley out of the main event for a while, but does set up more Lashley-EY matches down the road, and some EY-Angle stuff now. Both of those should result in good matches, so while EY's current character isn't the best, he's a great worker to have in the main event mix.