8/5/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
EC3 def. Matt Hardy in Full Metal Mayhem to Remain TNA World Champion
The first few months of EC3’s nascent title reign need to capitalize upon his tremendous charisma and translate that into a consistent response from fans. We already know he has a great deal of presence and an ability to talk like few others in the business. At this point, fans need to see him winning matches and doing so convincingly. Wins like that legitimize him as a wrestler, not just a personality.
To that end, Matt Hardy serves a purpose as an established challenger who not only helps EC3 grow in the ring but also improves his standing as a legitimate champion. In this match, he targeted Hardy’s knee, using both traditional wrestling and the various weapons in the ring. He also took a considerable amount of punishment from the chairs, tables, and ladders in and around the ring.
Hardy got close to the belt several times, and the time he got closest, EC3 slammed his knee with a chair to slow his climb. He climbed the other side of the ladder and they traded punches until EC3 used a kick to once again take out the knee. Hardy fell to the mat and EC3 retrieved the belt. I liked that the match had the theme of EC3 working on Hardy’s knee. I also liked that he took as much punishment as he did. It showcases his intelligence and his toughness- two qualities that help mask his sub-optimal athleticism. He cam become a great champion without elite athleticism, and these are the types of developments that help him along that road.
Mahabali Shera def. James Storm by DQ
Early in the show, Storm berated one of his followers in the Revolution by repeatedly belittling and slapping Khoya. Eventually, Khoya snapped and fought back against Storm. He hit his version of the sit-down powerbomb and ripped off his shirt. He yelled at Storm that he would never allow him to berate him or slap him again. He announced a return to his original name, Mahabali Shera, and they were scheduled for a match later in the show.
Storm used the match as an opportunity to continue to assert his dominance. Much of his offense revolved around slaps and other ways to further humiliate Shera. Eventually, Shera snapped again and started to overpower Storm. When it looked like he was about to gain full control of the match, Storm grabbed his cow bell and smashed Shera with it to cause a DQ.
It was a bit awkward to see Storm transition away from his feud with Magnus and Mickie James and back to his cult leader role so abruptly, but it is forgivable because it was the more compelling version of his persona all along. I also understand the idea of a storyline that sees a pupil rebel against his teacher to establish himself as an individual. In what would become a theme for the night, it seemed like the right idea with the wrong guy. I simply don’t see the upside with Shera; aside from his build, he doesn’t even have any skills I would rate as average. There’s always the possibility that he can develop (and having a major Indian star would be valuable to the company), but this is the opposite of bringing him along slowly.
-An off-camera attack incapacitated Bully Ray, making it seem like his departure might have been a work all along. As a result, Jeff Jarrett ominously offered Dixie Carter his services in helping to run Impact. I don’t mind the telegraphed hostile takeover so much as I mind Jarrett as the guy spearheading it. Once again, right idea, wrong guy.
-Perhaps the most egregious example of a questionable wrestler getting a good spot was Rockstar Spud’s win over Austin Aries to send him packing from TNA. I actually liked the Super Underdog as a counter to a back suplex that got Spud the victory. On the other hand, the final win over a distinguished former champion like Aries is a big feather in the cap. To give that bump to a featherweight comedy act who isn’t even a great worker seems like a waste.
-Gail Kim looked on top of her game in her handicap match win over The Dollhouse. She chased Taryn Terrell from the ring to make it a 2-on-1 affair, and then hit Marti Bell Eat Defeat for a decisive win. Gail is not a great female wrestler- she’s a great wrestler. Taryn’s storyline as a champion who always finds an unfair advantage provides enough of a narrative backdrop for her ring work to shine.
-Mr. Anderson beat Bram with a small package as a counter to a suplex. It was a good match, and Bram made sure to get his heat back with a post-match attack with Anderson’s microphone. I think Anderson is a good adversary from Bram, as long as the company makes clear why they are fighting with each other.
-Eli Stone got a cheap win over Drew Galloway with an eye gouge, a handful of tights, and ropes for leverage. While Galloway has a ton of ability, TNA has treated him like he’s coated in Teflon. If the company wants him to be a major star, it has to start treating him like one.