Impact opened with a video package dedicated to MVP. And a look at MVP’s seemingly-random association with Kenny King and Bobby Lashley.
Backstage: MVP, King, and Lashley walked by Kazarian, who was on the phone talking to “Chris.” King and Lashley then beat up Kazarian for insulting them. The trio continued walking down the hallway as MVP’s music played.
The trio emerged in the arena as Tenay went heavy on histrionics trying to place a group that formed last week in the pantheon of TNA factions. In the ring, MVP said he is brilliant for putting himself in position to take power and bring in his friends. MVP said when you take in power, sometimes blood must be spilled.
MVP said he knew when he came back to wrestling, he was going to do whatever it took to achieve money, power, and respect. He said he was no longer going to ask for permission or let someone else dictate his career. And his politicking put himself in control. “You don’t have to like it; you just have to accept it.”
MVP handed the mic to King, who said MVP laid out this whole plan months ago. He said he thought MVP lost his mind, but now he thinks he’s a genius. King went back to the Exhibition Match with MVP, saying all that did was throw people off the scent. King continued hyping himself, then MVP calmed him down and took the mic back.
MVP moved on to hyping Bobby Lashley, who spoke quietly off-mic. Lashley said he realized playing politics doesn’t work for him, so when MVP called him with a plan, he put his trust in MVP. Lashley said he sees MVP as a visionary. MVP said you could even call him a god.
Suddenly, The Wolves’s music interrupted to bring out the TNA tag champs. Tenay noted the Wolves were MVP’s first signing in TNA. Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards hit the ring as Taz said who knows what’s going on here. Davey Richards repeated money, power, and respect to MVP, then reminded him that it wasn’t about money, but heart at Lockdown.
MVP told “Eddie” that he didn’t lie to him because he gave them opportunities to be TNA champ and a TV star. He said if it were not for him, they would still be taking 15-hour bus rides in Japan. MVP said the reason why he didn’t cut them in his plan is because he didn’t think they had the stomach for it and were not heartless. Richards shot back at MVP, who replied that he could cut them right now and send them back to the indies working for jabroni promoters, which is where they probably belong.
The Wolves dropped the tag belts, stared down MVP and Co., a fight broke out. The Wolves took a beating being outnumbered, then MVP tossed Davey out of the ring to the floor. On the outside, King lit up Eddie with right hands. MVP then talked on the way out of the ring about this being about power and control. On the stage, MVP lifted Davey to his feet, kind of dragged him to the end of the stage, and Lashley speared Davey off the stage through a gimmicked platform below. King howled in Davey’s face. Agent Al Snow showed up to check on Davey.
Backstage: Eric Young was too late to make the save. Tenay said Young “just arrived” at the building. Why is the TNA champ showing up late to the show? Tenay said they hope to hear from Young tonight.
[ JC's Reax: Just too much about the "wrestling business" and ga-ga that doesn't connect with people who want to see individual stars battling and competing for prestige and titles. It's also not a good idea to signal to the audience that anyone on the national TV wrestling show belongs on a lower-level show, as the TV show should convey that everyone seen from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. EST is a huge star who is worth watching and paying to see in action. It's a lazily-written heel line to knock someone not belonging at the level of the promotion - like Silas Young on the ROH iPPV last week - that needs to be discarded for good. Even if someone does not belong on this level, the perception that everyone belongs on this level should be protected. ]
[Commercial Break at 9:13] [Q2...]
[...Q2] Backstage: A black limo pulled up. Out came Ethan Carter III and TNA president Dixie Carter.
During the Break: Davey Richards was taken away from the building in an ambulance as Eddie Edwards followed closely.
In-ring: TNA World champion Eric Young came to the ring with a scowl on his face. Young breathed heavily into the mic and asked MVP if he wants to bully people, somewhat addressing the attack on fellow babyface champions The Wolves. He said if that’s the way it’s going to be, then that’s fine.
Suddenly, MVP walked out to interrupt. MVP brought out King and Lashley to have his back as Young remained standing in the ring. Young told MVP that he doesn’t like MVP stabbing people in the back and he doesn’t know much about King. Except he’s from Las Vegas and does weird things out there he can’t discuss on the show. Young addressed Lashley, saying he cut his teeth in the wrestling business and is ex-military. He’s going to have to come up with a real good answer not for these people, but his son. Young said his son is going to have to ask Bobby, “Dad, daddy, why is everyone calling him a sell-out?” he said.
MVP said when Lashley is asked that question, he will be riding behind a fancy car after getting to the top. MVP, Lashley, and King then made their way into the ring and said everyone here is motivated by money. He said he’s not sure what Young is motivated by, then repeated the opening segment lines about money, power, and respect.
Young said what motivates him is these people. He then jabbed Lashley in the gut and King attacked Young from behind. MVP watched as Lashley continued to work on Young. Suddenly, Austin Aries’s music played to bring out Aries throwing bombs to the heels. Aries dragged King out of the ring and barricaded him, then flipped over Lashley to strike MVP. Aries lit up MVP with jabs, but Lashley yanked him down to the mat. Aries and Young recovered, then low-bridged Lashley to send him flying over the top rope to the floor.
As the heels recovered ringside, Aries took the mic and encouraged them to jump back in the ring. They did not return, so Aries called MVP a fake, just as he saw when MVP came here. He said he feels somewhat responsible for MVP’s big ego, then MVP turned his back to disrespect Aries and not listen to him.
MVP bombastically declared Aries the “greatest ego that ever lived,” then booked them in a match tonight. As for Young, he’ll let him know who he is facing tonight when he’s ready. Aries and Young stood tall in the ring.
[ JC's Reax: Good promo work from Young, who sounds more like he belongs in the role of fighting babyface champion, even if if he doesn't belong in the top spot without a strong story or journey getting him to this point. ]
Backstage: Bram brought in Magnus to survey what went on in the ring. Bram said he spoke to MVP and booked Magnus in a match against Willow tonight. Magnus noted Bram talks to MVP a lot for someone who has only been here for two weeks. Bram added that it’s Falls Count Anywhere. Magnus replied that he’s getting a little sick of Bram, who asked what he’s going to do about it. Magnus punched him down to the mat and Bram chuckled. He said that’s what he wants. Magnus helped up Bram, who told him to go out there and do that tonight.
Backstage: Knockouts champion Angelina Love said she would like to make an announcement tonight. Tonight, she is issuing an Open Challenge for the KO Title. Gail Kim interrupted and vowed to accept the challenge. Love said she’s not allowed, which set of Gail. A brawl broke out, then people spilled out to separate the Knockouts. “I wasn’t finished!” Angelina said as Gail was hauled away.
[Commercial Break at 9:28] [Q3...]
[...Q3] Back live, the Beautiful People’s music played to bring out Angelina Love, along with Velvet Sky. In the ring, Love said she wants to make one thing perfectly clear. Yes, indeed, she issued an Open Challenge tonight for her title. But, tonight’s challenge excludes all former KO champions. She heelishly said she’s a giver, so she wants to build the future of the division. Seeing that she is the greatest KO champion in the history of TNA, it’s truly an honor of hers to give a young up-and-comer the opportunity of a lifetime. Out came Brittany to accept the challenge.
1 — KO champion ANGELINA LOVE (w/Velvet Sky) vs. BRITTANY — Knockouts Title match
Tenay called this an example of Love ducking the top two challengers for her title, Gail Kim and Madison Rayne, who is still owed a re-match from Sacrifice. As soon as the bell sounded, Love knocked Brittany off the ring apron to jumpstart the match. Of note, the BP’s personal referee, Stiffler, has been given the match assignment tonight. Brittany came back with a close nearfall, making Sky nervous ringside. Sky then distracted Stiffler, who took the bait, and Love KO’ed Brittany for the pin and the win.
Post-match: The BP bagged Brittany with a paper bag over her head. Gail Kim then ran down to the ring to run off the BP.
WINNER: Love at 3:25 to retain the KO Title.
Backstage: Dixie and ECIII brushed aside a lone security member trying to prevent them from entering the building. Dixie told a roving cameraman that she plans to address MVP tonight.
Up Next: MVP vs. Austin Aries in singles action.
[Commercial Break at 9:42]
A Bar: James Storm and Mr. Anderson were randomly at a bar for a conversation. Anderson said he brought him here to do something competitive. Storm was resistant to all of Anderson’s ideas for a friendly competition. Storm suggested a drinking contest, then Anderson called for the bartenders to line up cold drinks.
In-ring: Christy Hemme was standing by to introduce Austin Aries for the next match. MVP was out next without King and Lashley. MVP took his time entering the ring, pausing to pick a fight with someone on the front row. So, Aries came flying off the top with a double axehandle to MVP’s back. Ref Earl Hebner said the heck with it and called for the bell despite the action on the floor.
2 — AUSTIN ARIES vs. MVP
MVP and Aries eventually entered the ring, where Aries landed lefts and rights to the back of MVP’s head. Aries followed with a corner elbow, then corner-mounted MVP for multiple left hand jabs. MVP ducked down to escape, then dumped Aries over the top rope to the outside. Back in the ring, MVP missed with a corner boot, then Aries nailed a left-arm lariat. Aries tried a Brainbuster, but MVP blocked. Aries responded with a discus forearm.
Aries followed with a running dropkick, then nailed a second corner dropkick. Aries tried to follow with a top-rope 450 splash, but Lashley predictably hit the ringside area and shoved Aries off the top for a DQ. Kenny King joined the party to help Lashley beat down Aries. MVP caught his breath, then clutched Aries to talk trash. Suddenly, Eric Young hit the ring and beat up King, but Lashley beat down EY. The heels took out Young with more power offense as Taz wondered aloud who is going to stop these three individuals.
WINNER: Aries via DQ at 3:43.
Post-match: MVP took the mic and asked Young if that hurt. MVP told Young that his opponent tonight is Bobby Lashley. Suddenly, Dixie Carter’s music played. Dixie and ECIII walked out on-stage as MVP sold annoyance by Dixie’s presence. Tenay said a “showdown” between Dixie and MVP is next.
[Commercial Break at 9:55]
[Q5 -- second hour] Impact returned with Dixie mid-conversation with MVP. Dixie said MVP has ignored her calls, emails, and texts. MVP said she sounds like the rest of the women in his life, then noted he banned Dixie from the Impact Zone after the Bully Ray incident. King and Lashley circled Dixie and ECIII as Dixie suggested they take a deep breath and talk this out.
TNA jumpcut to MVP telling Dixie to get to the point of what she wants. Dixie said it’s not about what she wants, but what Dixie can do for MVP. Suddenly, Bully Ray’s music played. Bully stormed the ring and scared Dixie out of the ring as ECIII helped her run away. Dixie shrieked about not being able to run, then ECIII guided her to the stage and up the ramp to the back. On the mic, MVP said he banned both Bully and Dixie from the Impact Zone. “Why are you here?” MVP asked as a lone fan cat-called, “Because no one listens to you.”
Bully entered the ring and said he’s here because there is something he has been meaning to tell MVP for a few weeks. He said he has this message on behalf of himself, everyone in TNA, and every fan that he’s a piece of crap. Bully shouted over MVP that he’s a piece of crap for turning his back on everyone. Bully, playing the role of the pot to the kettle, shouted at MVP that he’s here only because of him.
Bully cut a promo hyping Eric Young working his way from the bottom to the top. MVP mockingly said Bully is going to make him cry. “Since when did you start caring about people?” MVP asked. TNA cut to Lashley jumping Bully before Bully could come up with an answer. MVP, King, and Lashley stood over Bully as Dixie and ECIII re-emerged ringside. Dixie admired the heels’s work on Bully, then MVP left the ring and glared at Dixie and ECIII.
Dixie re-entered the ring and sauntered over to Bully. She stood over Bully and told Ethan to get the tables. ECIII went under the ring to retrieve a table, then slid it into the ring. Bully continued to sell as ECIII slowly set up the table. Bully started to come alive, then Ethan teased a powerbomb, but Bully back-dropped to escape. Bully came face-to-face with Dixie, but Ethan chopblocked Bully. Carter then press-slammed Bully through the table. Dixie and ECIII stood tall over Bully, who sold immense rib pain. Dixie spoke in the third-person that she fears no one, then glared into the hard camera.
Up Next: Magnus vs. Willow in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
[Commercial Break at 10:07]
Moments Ago: Bully Ray confronted Dixie Carter, but MVP and Co. took down Bully. Then, ECIII put Bully through a table.
Backstage: Bully limped down the hallway after Dixie and ECIII, who entered their black limo. It sped off and Bully knelt down on the floor clutching his mid-section.
Impact Zone: Magnus was introduced to the ring with Bram. Willow’s theme played to bring out Jeff Hardy twirling a black & white umbrella down to the ring. Hardy took a lap around the ring, then another lap. He continued to run around ringside, then slowly entered the ring.
3 — JEFF HARDY/WILLOW vs. MAGNUS (w/Bram) — Falls Count Anywhere match
The match quickly moved to the floor, where Magnus scored a nearfall on the floor. Bram then handed Magnus a weapon, but Magnus turned it down. Magnus tried a suplex on the other side of the ring, but Hardy blocked and suplexed Magnus. Back in the ring, Hardy back-elbowed Magnus, then clotheslined him over the top rope to the floor. Hardy splashed Magnus for a nearfall.
Magnus walked up the entrance ramp, avoided a Twist of Fate, and clotheslined Hardy. Bram growled about something, then tried to give Magnus another weapon. Magnus thought it over, sold inner conflict as Bram freaked out in anticipation, then Magnus jabbed Hardy in the gut. Hardy cried like a boy, then Magnus sold not wanting to follow up. Magnus eventually tossed the weapon aside, then walked into a Twist of Fate on the ramp. Hardy covered for the pin and the win as Bram stood by upset and disgusted.
WINNER: Hardy at 4:50.
Padded Room: Gunner was with Sam Shaw, who refused to talk to Gunner. Gunner adjusted his watch as Shaw banged his head against the wall. They started yelling at each other, then Gunner tried to calm things down by saying he has spent plenty of time – PLENTY OF TIME – in a place just like this. Shaw didn’t believe him, but was willing to listen.
Backstage: Eddie Edwards, clutching his stomach, was shown returning to the Impact Zone. Edwards barged through the back door and walked down the hallway as Impact cut to break.
[Commercial Break at 10:21]
Padded Room: Gunner wanted to tell Shaw a story about a friend of his from the Marines. Gunner said some things happened out there. Trauma. His buddy suffered a lot of trauma and woke up screaming and shouting. But, he was there for him. Gunner said he got his buddy committed to a place like this, so he knows what Shaw is going through. Gunner sold agitation that Shaw was seemingly not listening. Gunner said they eventually got him to a place of understanding. He said he thinks Shaw can get better, too. Shaw asked how he can trust Gunner. For starters, they should get the jacket off Shaw. Shaw just stared at him without blinking.
Impact Zone: An empty ring. Eddie Edwards, clutching his stomach, hit the ring sans music. Eddie grabbed a mic and demanded a fight with MVP, King, or Lashley right now. He said he wants one of them or all of them. “Come out here right now!” he shouted. Eddie said he’s not leaving until someone – King hit the ringside area and a fight was on. Eddie lit up King with chops for an ROH flashback.
[Q7] Eddie continued to beat down King with right hands, sending King to the floor. Eddie sold intense anger, then approached King to chuck him into the ring. Eddie slowly entered the ring, allowing King to knee him in the gut. King used the mic to bash Eddie in the head, then chucked Eddie out of the ring to the floor. Ringside, Eddie fought back with right hand strikes. King eye-raked Eddie, who responded with a splash to King. Taz had to remind the audience that this is not a match; just a fight without a referee.
Eddie tried to crack open King’s jaw, then walked away from King, which allowed King to drop Eddie ribs-first into the guardrail. King then re-arranged the ring steps, bashed Eddie into the steps, and followed with a high-grip suplex onto the entrance ramp. King gloated about his work and walked off as Eddie writhed in pain.
A Bar: James Storm and Mr. Anderson were mid-contest. Anderson sold being drunk as Storm told him he’s weak and about to lose $100. Anderson winked to the camera that he’s not really drunk, then handed over some beers to Storm.
[Commercial Break at 10:33]
Backstage: MVP approached referee Brian Hebner. MVP apologized for Kenny King assaulting Brian earlier. MVP told Brian that he will make up for it by putting Brian in the main event slot. MVP asked for Brian to reciprocate by doing the right thing. Brian sold not understanding.
A Bar: Mr. Anderson sold being totally drunk as James Storm sang with him. Anderson then revealed to Storm that he’s a good actor drinking fake beer while Storm has been drinking real beer. Anderson smashed Storm into the beer bottles, shouted, “Revenge!” then knocked him outside of the establishment. Storm sold being KO’ed, then Anderson stuffed a $100 bill in Storm’s mouth.
Backstage: Jeremy Borash was with Eric Young. JB asked Young if he’s in any condition to wrestle tonight. Young said he’s injured and his brain is messed up, but he learns from his mistakes. Lashley will get 100 percent of what he has left and Lashley will find out how crazy he is.
[Commercial Break at 10:41]
[Q8] Impact Zone: Eric Young was introduced first for the main event. Bobby Lashley was out next to face the TNA champ.
4 — TNA World Hvt. champion ERIC YOUNG vs. BOBBY LASHLEY — non-title match
Tenay and Taz discussed MVP sending EY to the ring tonight to soften him up for the TNA Title match at Slammiversary in June. Lashley dominated a weakened Champ early on, targeting Young’s mid-section and lower body. Lashley continued to dominate heading to break.
[Commercial Break at 10:49]
Impact returned seven minutes before the top of the hour with Lashley continuing to work on the Champ. Young tried to fight back with elbow strikes, but Lashley booted him in the gut. Young responded with a corner boot, but Lashley cut him off. More corner boots, then Lashley wanted a Dominator, but Young slipped out and turned Lashley over for a piledriver. Young called for the ending and climbed to the top turnbuckle, but King predictably hit the ring and attacked Young. MVP joined King in going after Young, and the heels crotched Young as MVP told Brian Hebner to do the right thing. Brian opted not to call for a DQ, then Lashley speared Young and hit a Dominator for a three count, which Hebner reluctantly counted.
WINNER: Lashley at 9:31.
Post-match: MVP shook Brian’s hand, then told him to raise Lashley’s arm in the air. Brian obliged, then King pulled some hair off Young’s beard. MVP then lit up Young with right hand blows. Austin Aries suddenly hit the ring with a Kendo Stick and smashed the heels, but Lashley cut off Aries. MVP directed traffic as Tenay said no one is coming to help Aries and Young because they’re intimidated. What a great babyface roster. MVP, King, and Lashley stood tall in the ring as MVP’s music echoed off the walls of the Impact Zone. Impact signed off with Tenay wondering who is going to stop MVP and Co.
FINAL THOUGHTS: TNA’s babyface roster is pitiful. Historically, TNA has booked their faces to either be two-faced, eventually turning heel at some point, taking their ball and going home, cowardly not willing to stand up to heels, or dolts who turn their backs on their opponents moments before getting pinned. There’s a better way to explain why no one came to EY and Aries’s aid than the babyfaces are intimidated by three guys who just formed a faction last week. It’s part of TNA’s booking problem trying to tell these complicated stories with plans and subplots and characters in conflict without getting the simple things correct that resonate the most with their audience.
(Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch)