Kurt Angle def. Bobby Lashley to Remain TNA World Champion
TNA referred to Friday’s episode of Impact as “Bell to Bell” and featured a limited number of high profile matches. On the positive side, the focus on four programs helped give the show depth. Conversely, a couple of the matches felt unnecessary because the angles are either played out or poorly developed.
The highlight of the show was the main event rematch between Angle and Lashley. Two weeks ago, Angle beat Lashley to become TNA Champion and this week, Lashley exercised his rematch clause. The match started with about 25 minutes lft in the show and led off with some very intense, physical grappling. The first 10 minutes revolved around mat-based wrestling, which was a refreshing change from what we normally see in modern pro wrestling.
The match got away from the mat-based style when Angle started to put together German suplexes. Lashley responded with a spinebuster and a running powerslam to get a two count. Angle got to his feet and dodged a spear, and then followed it with a belly-to-belly and three Germans. He put the Ankle Lock on Lashley, but he rolled through and sent Angle to the floor where Lashley took control.
Back in the ring, Lashley hit a delayed vertical suplex and a spear for a two count. Angle fought back with an Angle Slam from the second rope for a near fall. He missed a moonsault and Lashley applied an Ankle Lock of his own. Angle freed himself and rolled Lashley up with a schoolboy to get a surprise pin. Given the high-impact moves that preceded it, the schoolboy finish felt a bit underwhelming, but it was a minor part of very good match.
Matches like this one, with lots of mat-based techniques, are rare in the current wrestling world given the paucity of amateur wrestlers in prominent positions. Cody Rhodes and Dolph Ziggler both have significant amateur wrestling experience, but neither was a national star. Although Brock Lesnar has the qualifications, his current style is more akin to his MMA fighting than his NCAA championship wrestling. Angle and Lashley are two of the best grapplers active in professional wrestling, and it’s fun to see them work together. Since both wrestlers excel in amateur-style wrestling, but neither is limited to that style, so they could work many fun matches.
-The next best match of the episode was the opening match between Bobby Roode and Eric Young. Roode hurt his knee early in the match, which put him at a disadvantage given the submission stipulation. He successfully made Young tap to a crossface when the referee was down. Young gained the upper-hand when he used his shin-guard to down Roode and tapped him out with a figure four. The result was a surprise, especially given the fact that Roode had seemingly won this feud several times before.
-The misfiring, convoluted rivalry between Bram and Magnus got even more bizarre in their no-DQ match. Magnus tried to tell Mickie James to leave for her own safety. When Bram targeted her, James Storm came to her rescue completely inexplicably (why on Earth would TNA jeopardize Storm’s outstanding cult-leader character by making him a sympathetic figure?). Even with the distraction, Magnus hit a pair of powerbombs and a side slam to pin Bram. Now, this rivalry is in the same position as Roode-Young because Bram looks like a chump who poses no danger to the hero.
-Gail Kim used Eat Defeat to beat Angelina Love in a competitive match. I appreciate when the women’s division is deep and talented enough for a match not directly related to the title picture to be compelling on its own.
-The Wolves announced that they would have to relinquish their Tag Team Titles due to injury. Neither Eddie Edwards nor Davey Richards is particularly strong on the mic, and this promo was even bad by their standards.
-It is cleverly and opportunistic for TNA to release a new “Best of Sting” DVD to capitalize on Sting’s high-profile match at Wrestlemania.