The go-home edition of TNA Impact Wrestling before next week’s No Surrender PPV didn’t feature much in the way of in-ring action. Instead, this episode was focused on nudging storylines forward, the long-awaited return of Jeff Hardy, and the induction of Jeff Jarrett into the TNA Hall of Fame.
Austin Aries and Rockstar Spud: A strong segment to open the show, Austin Aries came out and was back to being the arrogant “Greatest Man who Ever Lived” superstar that made fans love him in TNA to begin with. He demanded to know why Bully Ray didn’t put him in the No. 1 contenders’ match, and when offered a chance to challenge for the X-Division title he responded with “been there, done that”, saying it was a title for guys like Rockstar Spud, who then made his way down to the ring. Spud is best when portrayed as the feisty underdog, and he was great here in standing up to Aries, challenging him to a match for next week at No Surrender. If Arieswins, he gets Spud’s name. If Spud wins, Aries is gone from the company. Obviously this is a setup for Aries’ departure, but TNA has found a good way to send him off in style while pushing Spud, who is arguably the company’s top babyface right now. On the downside, this was a lot of time spent on a match being set up for a future date.
Eric Young defeated Chris Melendez (w/ Kurt Angle): This gets a positive chairshot simply for the way Eric Young continues to decimate Melendez with piledrivers week in and week out. He continues to play up his crazy side with more vigor than he’s shown in a long time, and his venom is especially stinging towards Melendez for some reason. It remains to be seen where Melendez goes from here. He’s not having long enough matches to show any development in the ring, and there’s a limited upside to him, anyway. He may continue to be used as a pawn in the ongoing feud between Young and Kurt Angle, which should culminate when Angle returns from injury.
Magnus and Mickie James defeated James Storm and Serena: The feud itself is absolutely a “missed spot”, but this match deserves credit for the hard work by all involved, and an impressive return by Serena. She looked as if she hasn’t missed a beat, unlike Mickie James who seemed a little rusty. With Magnus, Storm, and James all leaving the company, Serena did enough that TNA may consider keeping her around for the long-term. The broadcast team did a good job of selling the long history between both women, and that proved to be a more compelling angle than Storm trying to break up James and Magnus’ marriage.
The return of Jeff Hardy: The “Charismatic Enigma” made his anticipated return to TNA after a two-month absence due to a broken leg, and Jeff was greeted enthusiastically by the live crowd. Jeff Hardy has always shared a unique bond with his fans, and it was infectious watching him reconnect with them. He showed a ton of confidence on the mic, not always his strong suit, and played up the role of the supportive brother to Matt Hardy, who is challenging EC3 for the World Heavyweight Championship. TNA made Jeff’s return a big deal, which is what a superstar of his level deserves. Jeff told EC3 that his overconfidence would be his downfall, a meaningful statement coming from Jeff, considering the heel title reign he had in TNA some years ago.
Jeff Jarrett’s Induction into the Hall of Fame: A long time coming, and TNA treated their founder what the respect due him, having the entire locker room watching from the stage. They didn’t do the most obvious thing which would have been to have someone run-in and disrupt the celebration. Instead they let Jarrett, who was obviously touched by the honor, go on uninterrupted as he thanked everyone he could think of. The most touching moments came when he talked about his wife Karen and their children, and then when he choked up while talking about his long-time friend Mike Tenay, who was there as well. He also talked about the TNA Knockouts Division, the tag division, and the wrestlers from the past who helped his career.
Matt Hardy and EC3: The only one in the arena who didn’t know Matt Hardy would choose Full Metal Mayhem (TNA’s version of TLC) as the match stipulation was EC3. The added twist is that nobody will be allowed at ringside, an odd choice to make considering his brother Jeff’s sudden return. The problem with this segment is that Matt has become just another generic babyface character, and his promo backs up that assertion. He spoke about the people just like EC3 who told him and his brother Jeff that they couldn’t achieve anything, but that they always find a way. It would resonate more if EC3 and Matt had a more personal rivalry than they do, but there simply hasn’t been enough time invested for that to be the case.
Brooke defeated Marti Bell (w/ the Dollhouse): Lousy, throwaway 4-minute Knockouts match. Brooke’s title reign has been utterly forgettable thus far, making TNA’s decision to end Taryn Terrell’s historic title reign more questionable. At this point, Brooke is secondary to the leather-garbed Gail Kim, whose music played and distracted the Dollhouse long enough for Brooke to gain the win. This has been a frequent occurrence, with Brooke needing some kind of help from Gail to be victorious.
Ken Anderson and Bram: TNA replayed some of the interview with Anderson in which he was disillusioned with the wrestling business because of Bram’s brutality. A taped segment featuring Bram’s response was aired, in which the maniacal superstar told Anderson to basically say goodbye to his family because he won’t be coming home after No Surrender. Bram and Eric Young should probably be forming a tag team at this point because they are playing the same character. Bram is really good in the role and he can definitely go in the ring, but what is this feud really about? If Anderson wins, what happens next? Is his career validated by a win over Bram? If he loses, does he retire? TNA has played out that storyline far too many times for it to be effective.
Tigre Uno: That media hype TNA was hoping for after Tigre Uno challenged Donald Trump last week didn’t happen. It didn’t make a blip on the national radar, and now this week they casually blow the whole thing off with a quickie promo from Uno. There are better things for the X-Division champion to be doing. The first segment of the show had Austin Aries totally write-off the title as being for lesser competitors. Where was Uno then? TNA missed the boat in getting over Uno as a credible champion by wasting time hanging on to Donald Trump’s coattails.