MVP Wins #1 Contender’s Gauntlet Battle Royal
While it’s easy to nitpick TNA’s battle royal to determine a #1 Contender for Lashley, it was ultimately a fun match that led to a rare sensible main event storyline. Sure, the event was close enough on the calendar to the Royal Rumble that it was hard not to think about its inspiration. And no, they did not give enough time to the match between entrances to let it build interesting sub-stories. On top of those issues was the confusion about how Mike Tenay’s power rankings had an effect on some, but not all, of the entrance order.
In spite of those quibbles, Impact demonstrated that the battle royal is such a fun gimmick that it’s almost impossible to mess it up. MVP got a cheap win over Kurt Angle in the end to set up the MVP-Lashley title match that has been brewing since the Beat Down Clan turned on the champion. MVP and Lashley have a believable issue and they should wrestle an entertaining title match. When TNA keeps it simple, it makes such a difference.
MVP got to the win with entry #19 out of 20. His teammate Kenny King had no such luck, as he had to start the match with Austin Aries. Several lesser TNA wrestlers who seldom wrestle on TV got to appear in the match, such as Chris Melendez, Crazzy Steve, and Koya. Tyrus took care of most of the also-ran crowd with a solid run that ended when Sanada sprayed him with his green mist.
Contenders like Mr. Anderson and EC3 gave way to leave Aries and Gunner against the whole BDC. They eliminated Gunner shortly before Angle came out as the final entrant. The four-man group wore down the faces and threw Aries to the floor. Angle managed to fight off Samoa Joe, Low Ki, and King to leave himself in the ring with MVP while Lashley looked on from the floor. The rest of the BDC stayed at ringside and distracted Angle. The interference allowed MVP to hit a big boot and knock Angle to the floor to secure the title match for MVP and likely bookend the relationship between the two former friends.
The Wolves and Matt Hardy def. The Revolution
Although it seemed like a great opportunity to use the rest of James Storm’s cult in a match, it’s hard to complain about the solid match that he wrestled with Abyss and Manik on his team. The Wolves used a variety of double teams to overwhelm the Revolution members. When Abyss started to rally, Eddie Edwards saved Davey Richards from the Black Hole Slam. Richards proceeded to stomp Manik and Edwards got the pin.
After the finish, the Revolution got some of the heat back with a gang beating on the babyface team. With Jeff Hardy selling the injury from Lockdown, their opponents had no one to save them.
Mr. Anderson Confronts EC3
Mr. Anderson cut a strong promo on EC3 and lured Tyrus out of the ring to allow Rockstar Spud and Mandrews to jump their adversary. They shaved Tyrus’s head while EC3 ran away to preserve his own scalp. It seems like Anderson might wrestle EC3 with Spud’s hair on the line against EC3, which is a match that makes much more sense than a mismatch between EC3 and Spud. Anderson is the type of well-liked, established wrestler who can help EC3 develop in the ring and in the eyes of the fans.
Drew Galloway Debuts with a Run-in
The BDC ran in to attack Al Snow and Grado after a horrible match born out of British Boot Camp. Drew Galloway (fka McIntyre) ran in to save Grado and Snow, and they collectively chased the BDC away. Galloway has loads of talent and never quite tapped into it in WWE. It would be a shame if his introduction to TNA is wasted on someone as pointless as Grado, although the UK connection between them and the audience for this taping makes some sense.
Taryn Terrell def. Angelina Love
Taryn used a smooth neckbreaker, suplex, and diamond cutter to get a clean win over Love and retain her title. The match was an appetizer for Awesome Kong, who came to the ring to face off with Taryn. Despite Kong’s intimidating presence, Taryn stood up to her and tried to fight back. Nonetheless, she suffered an Implant Buster. It looked like the beating might continue, but Gail Kim came to the ring and her old adversary left.
I liked the segment and think Taryn could work with either woman. On the other hand, she might get lost in the history between Gail and Kong if all three feud with each other.
Eric Young def. Tommy Dreamer
Dreamer challenged Young to a hardcore match to punish him for taking Bobby Roode out of the battle royal. Dreamer quickly covered himself in blood while the match devolved into a sloppy weapons-fest. Although Dreamer superplexed Young through a table, Young recovered and won with a piledriver. The win does nothing for Young. Dreamer belongs in TNA as a special attraction, at best. His body is so worn-down that all of his matches look like garbage.
Bram Threatens Mickie James
Mickie returned to give an update on the health of her husband Magnus. Bram intimidated her and said that he had to open Magnus’s eyes to how weak he had become. It was very difficult to follow the segment because the crowd noise was miced at a much higher volume than Bram. Even if the promo was superb, it would have come off as bush league.