The “flying by the seat of our pants” booking of TNA Impact Wrestling continued on Wednesday night as there was barely any mention of the World Heavyweight Champion, Ethan Carter III. A #1 contenders match was held between two men who haven’t been pushed as legitimate threats; old footage from Slammiversay was aired to fill in the blanks caused by the Hernandez screw-up; a new and unsurprising inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame was announced, and TNA tries to get a piece of the media obsession with Donald Trump.
Eli Drake: When Eli Drake and Micah debuted as part of Drew Galloway’s short-lived faction, The Rising, Drake was the only one who made an impression. His brief promo was passionate and showed flashes of an intense character. However he never got the chance to speak again, largely because TNA dropped the ball on the feud with the BDC, but also becaue Galloway was always the mouthpiece. That made Drake’s heel turn last week and his explanation for it ring true. He quickly established himself as an ambitious, arrogant heel with a legitimate gripe against Galloway. The brawl that followed didn’t amount to much, but if Drake and Galloway are given time to flesh out this rivalry it could grow into the strong mid-card feud TNA desperately needs.
Jeff Jarrett as Hall of Fame Inductee: Nobody should have been shocked to learn that TNA co-founder Jeff Jarrett would be announced as the next Hall of Fame inductee given his recen re-emergence with the company. This positive “chairshot”(maybe it should be a guitar shot in honor of Jarrett) is only for this being long overdue as TNA’s best days were under Jarrett’s regime. His presence continues to make little sense, however, and TNA doesn’t seem to have any idea how to integrate him into the current plans if that is their goal. Mostly this has been a one-sided deal working in favor of Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling promotion.
Bram vs. Magnus in a Street Fight: With the departures of Magnus and James Storm, combined with the Hernandez situation, TNA has found themselves in the position of having a lot of uninspired filler. Unfortunately, this street fight between Bram and Magnus, two bitter enemies, was largely a waste of time because Magnus certainly wouldn’t be getting the victory. The sad thing is, he needed the win since he’s currently embroiled in a deeply personal feud with Storm, and losing to Bram in a flat 6-minute match did nothing to make Magnus look strong. It didn’t really help Bram much, either.
James Storm’s new partner: As part of his soon-to-conclude beef with Magnus and Mickie James, James Storm introduced ex-WWE diva Serena Deeb as his partner for their upcoming mixed tag match. Deeb is a fantastic wrestler, and she spent time (with a shaved head) with CM Punk as part of his Straight Edge Society. But her introduction here lacked any kind of heat, and the fans didn’t seem to know who she was. Storm kicked things off by hitting Magnus over the head with a cowbell, but there’s no storyline reason why he would set up that kind of match. Plus, the eventual departures of both men, and presumably both women, means this feud isn’t getting the necessary push.
Taryn Terrell, Gail Kim, and Brooke: TNA screwed up by ending Taryn Terrell’s historic title reign in a throwaway match with Brooke, and the consequences of that decision were felt this week. Terrell came out with the Dollhouse and ramped up her insanity streak to a new level, freaking out about the loss as well she should, only to have Brooke treat it like nothing. Not the best way to make the title seem important to the audience or set up a championship rivalry. Gail Kim, back in her tight leather Mortal Kombat outfit, proceeded to arrive and beat up the Dollhouse using more circus antics, while Brooke did nothing. So who is the champion feuding with here? Nobody? Is TNA setting up a Triple Threat? There’s no clear direction for the Knockouts Division right now, but at least it’s not quite as bad as the X-Division. Speaking of which…
Eric Young vs. Rockstar Spud in a chain match: Why was this match between two random opponents a chain match? And then why was it only given five minutes to play out? There’s a potentially good feud here between the eternal underdog Spud and the wacko Young, but one gets the feeling this isn’t in the long-term plans. Both men worked hard although the action consisted mostly of punches to sell the “chain” gimmick, but the result was never really in doubt. It was always going to be Young finishing Spud with a piledriver victory. Where do both men go from here, though? Spud has been placed adjacent to the World Title chase, yet never fully a part of it. Young will be spending time with GFW and is treading water after his directionless feud with Chris Melendez.
Tigre Uno challenges Donald Trump: TNA’s desperate bid for attention this week saw X-Division champ Tigre Uno, who hasn’t said two words to the fans since he joined the company, taking time out to challenge Presidential candidate Donald Trump. Trump may be an attention-seeker but don’t count on him being on Impact Wrestling next week. Uno, who is of Mexican descent, took issue with Trump’s claims that Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists. Uno said they are “good workers” who “love their country”, some “even are landlords”, which is a pretty odd thing to get excited about. TNA has been throwing the X-Division wrestlers in one trainwreck Triple Threat or Four-Way match after another while refusing to give any of them time to define their characters. That they felt this was the best way to get the champion over with the fans says a lot about TNA’s creative department.
Matt Hardy vs. Bobby Roode in a table match: Winner becomes #1 contender to face World Champion Ethan Carter III, who had no presence on the show at all. Matt Hardy, who has yet to receive his own theme music (he still uses Jeff’s music), hasn’t been pushed as a legitimate contender for the title, despite solid matches over the last few weeks. Roode was most recently in a Best-of-Five series against The Wolves for the World Tag Team titles. How is he a top contender? Why wouldn’t Drew Galloway, who was the #1 contender just one week ago, be involved in this match? The reason it was made a table match is the only thing that made sense, considering it was put together by new authority figure, Bully Ray, but this was a table match he would have been embarrassed to be a part of. Given only 7-minutes, the match consisted mainly of Hardy and Roode setting up tables rather than providing any real action. Ultimately it ended with a weak spot where Roode fell off the apron onto a table setup much earlier, making Hardy the #1 contender.
Overall Show: Where was Bully Ray in all of this? Wasn’t he just named the new authority figure last week? Where was the World Champion? Where were the World Tag Team champions? Couldn’t they have lengthened the matches rather than filling time by replaying the King of the Mountain match from Slammiversary? This was a directionless edition of Impact Wrestling, and given the continued departures of top talent (MVP recently left the company, as well) it may be some time before they recover.