Episode 11, Season 13 “Kurt Angle vs. Lashley: TNA World Heavyweight Championship “
Welcome back to the sequel of my Impact Wrestling review here on TJRWrestling. I just want to thank everyone for the views and great feedback to my debut column last week. I readily admit I was nervous there wouldn’t be an audience for TNA reports after all the changes for the company lately, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the reaction for my column.
I’m excited about this week’s show as we have a card that includes three title matches, one being an Ultimate X match, and a fourth involving my current favorite character/storyline in TNA right now. Even more, none of those are Samoa Joe’s last TNA match, which is also tonight. Since a lot of this week’s episode wasn’t covered last week, I’ll continue to provide you with as much back story as I can, so let’s get to it!
This week’s episode starts with a surprisingly quick video preview of Kurt Angle challenging Lashley tonight for the TNA World Title. In a perfect world, TNA would’ve been able to set this up for a PPV match on a show like Lockdown, or maybe even dragged it out to Slammiversary. However, TNA has to play the cards that are dealt to them and we get this marquee matchup tonight. TNA typically does a tremendous job on their video packages, but this one really came across generic. Make no mistake about it, Angle and Lashley are far and away the top two stars in TNA right now, so this is a huge match for the company and for both participants.
Ultimate X Match for The TNA World Tag Team Championship: The Wolves (c) vs. The Bromans vs. The Revolution (Manik/Sanada)
Tonight’s show is going to start with a bang as we get ready for a 3 team Ultimate X Match. If you’ve never watched TNA before, they’re known for their goofy gimmick matches, but Ultimate X is one of their absolute best. It’s a criss cross X above the ring, either a steel platform or high wire structure, and in the middle is the title(s) that are up for grabs. The creativity shown in these Ultimate X matches take the Ladder Match concept to a new level. The Wolves, coming in as champions, have been my favorite tag team for a very, very long time since their days in Ring of Honor together. They have not lost a step since going into TNA, although have had a hard time getting a storyline to sink their teeth into, no pun intended. They’ve been helping The Hardys in the battle against The Revolution, so that explains how Sanada and Manik got into this match. The Revolution is the best thing going in TNA right now. I’ll go more into detail later in the report when the leader James Storm goes against Matt Hardy, but this is a tremendous stable/angle that I absolutely love. If you need a reason to watch TNA, take it from me that The Revolution should be that reason. I’m not sure how The Bromans got themselves a title match considering one of them lost to a woman last week, but at least Robbie E admitted to DJ Z & Jessie in a backstage segment before the match that he wasn’t ready for this match, so kudos to him to realize he wasn’t worthy of a title match. As long as The Bromans hold their own, this should be a tremendous match.
This Ultimate X match is actually a combination of the steel structure and the wires below it. That could definitely lead to some outstanding spots. Great early spot where Angelina Love, who came out with the Bromans (We still miss you Velvet Sky), tries to distract the Wolves so DJ Z can get the advantage, but he ends up getting thrown over the ropes & Love onto The Revolution. Great work by the challengers to try and eliminate the Wolves which leads to a really fun spot where The Revolution & Bromans end up in a game of chicken against each other as they go for the belts. The Wolves come off the top rope and dropkick the respective member of each team that had the unenvious position of being on their partner’s shoulders. Really creative. Manik was the first one to get close to the belts as he scales the wire, but he is caught by Eddie Edwards in a powerbomb position, which gets turned into a combo with a Davey Richards Backstabber. Awesome move! Sanada and Jessie climb up the same side of the ring, which leads to Jessie getting sprayed in the eyes by Sanada’s green mist. Sanada and Eddie Edwards now battle for that position and Eddie starts to go across, but Sanada grabs a leg, to which Eddie transitions it to a Hurricanrana! Wow, great move there. Davey gives Sanada a big double foot stomp for good measure and the Wolves quickly get back up the wires and grab their titles back to retain.
Winner: Still Tag Team Champions, The Wolves
I wish they would’ve gotten more time for that match, as I didn’t think they used their surroundings to the best of their abilities, but a good match nonetheless. We go straight to Tazz & Josh Matthews in their off site announcing room to discuss the big main event between Angle & Lashley. Tazz predicts we’re going to have a brand new champion tonight. I can’t really explain why, but the shots of Tazz and Matthews in their own room, not in the arena, really bother me. I think I just feel if you’re not gonna have them at ringside, then just have them edit in their commentary later, but don’t show them. I’d love to know what you all think as you read this. I could be convinced I’m wrong. Email me, leave a comment below, or hit me on the Twitter @FriscoKTank.
Back from commercial, we get more preview for the title match. As I said, these are the two biggest names in TNA, so all this hype is deserved. Austin Aries is now headed to the ring with mic in hand. Talk about the most underutilized person on TNA’s roster. Aries is sporting some gnarly bruises on his shoulders and back, and calls out the Beat Down Clan for putting him through a table two weeks ago and stealing his Feast or Fired briefcase that holds a guaranteed TNA World Heavyweight Title match. Feast or Fired is TNA’s alternative to Money in the Bank, except it sucks. Just an awful concept match. Of course I could be bitter about it since that’s what they used to “fire” Velvet Sky to explain why she wasn’t in the company anymore after her contract expired. Nonetheless, Low Ki & Samoa Joe show up with Aries briefcase, Low Ki is also the holder of the X Division Title. Aries challenges Low Ki to a Winner Takes All match for the briefcase and the X Division title, as Low Ki beat Aries for the title. Joe sucker punches Aries and Low Ki says if Aries wants that match, he has to go through Joe first.
Samoa Joe vs. Austin Aries
As stated in my opening statements, this is Samoa Joe’s last match in TNA since this was taped weeks in advance and Joe’s contract has expired since then. NXT, it’s Samoa Joe on Line Two. Since this match was filmed with no intention of it being Joe’s last match, the announcers are not making mention of it. Although, Dixie Carter did send a tweet out about it before the show. She’s sweet like that. Joe in full control early, including a really nice belly to belly throw. It’s almost ironic that Joe is dominating this match and showcasing what he can really do in his last match with the company. The crowd is fully behind Aries as he finally gets some separation with two discus elbows to Joe and a low rope suicide dive onto Joe. But of course as soon as this happens, Low Ki runs Aries into the ringpost and Joe has been DQ’ed. An underwhelming finish to a match that was probably just about to hit that next gear.
Winner by DQ: Austin Aries
After the bell rings, Low Ki & Joe try to double team Aries, but he manages to escape and give Low Ki a discus elbow of his own, giving him time to retain his briefcase. As he leaves the ringside area, here comes Rockstar Spud, heavily bandaged and newly bald, with his X-Division Title briefcase! Aries implores him to go cash it in and he gives the briefcase to Earl Hebner & this is official! Spud immediately hooks Low Ki into The Underdog, which is similar to Brian Kendrick’s Sliced Bread #2, except Spud lands in an RKO position for this move, and we’ve got a 1-2-3! New X-Division Champion!
Winner: New X-Division Champion Rockstar Spud
They almost completely botch the celebration for Spud as no one can find where the belt is to give it to him. He finally grabs it & jumps into the crowd for a great moment, as he has captured his first TNA Championship. I stated last week that Spud gave an MVP Performance in the Hair vs Hair match, and this decision right here was a great way to reward him for that. Who’s to say if he’ll be a long term champion, but just putting the belt on him for a few weeks, keeps him very much in the mix and helps elevate him now that the feud with EC3 is over. I really enjoyed this.
Coming out the other side of the commercial break, we see Lashley warming up for his title defense and then quickly go somewhere backstage where Magnus is destroying Bram for what happened last week with them and Mickie James. Magnus beats him all over the arena and they make their way to the ringside area. Funny that while Magnus is doing his damage, there was an ad on the screen to buy Magnus’ new shirt. So if you’re impressed by this ass kicking, go to ShopTNA.com. That made me laugh. Refs finally come down to separate the two of them, and Mickie James is not far behind. Mickie gets some really nice shot in on Magnus, who finally tries to crawl away. Magnus catches him at the top of the ramp and delivers a brutal powerbomb onto Bram. That looked really painful. Very effective segment to keep this storyline going. The last two weeks for these guys have been very strong.
There was another quick commercial break and after we return, we hear from members of the TNA roster & their thoughts on the main event tonight. There’s a Tommy Dreamer sighting, who I’m such a big fan of, so that was cool.
TNA Knockouts Championship Match: Taryn Terrell (c) vs. Awesome Kong vs. Gail Kim
TNA was building up a woman by the name of Havok as their new version of Awesome Kong, but then they just decided to sign Kong herself and she’s reclaimed her role as the most dominant woman in wrestling. She is truly tremendous. Gail Kim has obviously proven over the years how great she is in the ring, but the wild card in this match is actually the champ herself, Taryn Terrell. For those that don’t know, Taryn is the former WWECW GM, Tiffany. She’s been in TNA for some time now, taking a break after having a baby, but she has developed into quite the wrestler. She has had some real battles with Gail Kim in the past, including a Last Knockout Standing match from Slammiversary 2013 that everyone should go out of their way to see.
Both Kim & Terrell want to be the one who beats Kong, but from the beginning Kong exerts her will on the other ladies and overpowers them both. Taryn goes for a dive from the 2nd rope, but Kong nearly decapitates her with a clothesline in mid air. Kong is simply impressive to watch in action. It’s a real shame the Kharma character in WWE didn’t get to last very long. Taryn gets a quick opening after she moves out of the way from a Kong splash, and follows it up with an RKO, but Kong kicks out. Kong goes to the outside and Gail Kim jumps from the top rope down onto her. That was a really good sequence to get Kong out of the match. Kim & Terrell quickly battle their way up one of the turnbuckles and Kim capitalizes by landing a sweet Sunset Flip Powerbomb. Gail Kim goes for her finisher, Eat Da Feet, but Terrell reverses it into a rollup and 1-2-3, just like that Terrell retains.
Winner: Still TNA Knockouts Champion, Taryn Terrell
I would’ve really liked to see that match go longer as all three can really go as I said before. Hopefully we get this match again with some more time, as they really had some nice sequences lined up for this match. We head backstage and the best thing going in TNA, James Storm, is here to talk about his No DQ match coming up with Matt Hardy. In the summer of 2014, James Storm randomly started targeting Sanada, berating him and trying to break him down. At first it didn’t make much sense, but Storm has taken that angle and transformed it into The Revolution. Storm’s “Island of Misfit Toys” so to speak. He currently has Sanada, Manik, Abyss, and a rookie by the name of Khoya, who they brought in from India. It’s a really great stable with Storm playing the lead of a cult basically. I can’t say enough good things about it. This match comes from a few weeks back when Storm and Abyss were then Tag Champs, fought The Hardys at Lockdown and James Storm took out Jeff Hardy with his cowbell that he carries with him. They wrote this angle to explain why Jeff Hardy wouldn’t be on any of the European shows, since he still can’t travel overseas. It actually turned out to be one of Jeff’s most painful looking falls he’s ever taken, as he landed hard on the steal steps from atop the steel cage door. If you haven’t seen this bump, go out of your way to find it.
We return from break with a really good video package, yet again for Angle vs. Lashley. This video package should’ve been the one that started the show, but at least they’re giving it its just due. Angle is backstage now and asked about the match tonight. Angle says it’s been well over a year since he got his last title shot, and even though it’s against someone as dominate as Lashley, he’s coming to take the title.
No DQ Match: James Storm vs. Matt Hardy
Speak of the devil, they show the fall Jeff Hardy took as Storm makes his way to the ring. So if you haven’t seen the bump, just watch this show. All members of The Revolution are ringside. Hardy starts by littering the ring with steel chairs and trashcans, but Manik cuts him off & Storm gets the early advantage. Matt Hardy goes to the top rope after they trade blows with the trash cans and lids, but Manik cuts him off one more time, crotching him on the top rope. Storm sets up two steel chairs facing each other below them and then proceeds to Superplex Hardy through the chairs. Hardy missed one completely, but landed full force on the other. Abyss hands Storm a bag from underneath the ring and sure enough we have Thumbtacks. Storm goes for another Superplex, but Hardy pushes him off and he lands flush on the thumbtacks. Hardy with a cover, but Storm kicks out at two! Hardy hits a Twist of Fate, but Abyss pulls the ref out of the ring. Hardy has to fight off all members of The Revolution, including a Twist of Fate to Manik on the outside, but as he gets back in, Storm whips him head first into a steel chair that was lodged between the top two turnbuckles. Storm only gets a two count though. This is a really fun, fast paced match so far. Hardy surprises Storm with a second Twist of Fate, but he can’t capitalize. Abyss hands Storm his cowbell while on the other side, Sanana sprays blue mist this time into the face of Hardy. Hardy is then clocked with the cowbell and two Last Call Superkicks.
Winner: James Storm
That was a really enjoyable match, even at only about 7 minutes long. Storm grabs the mic and lets everyone know that “In The Revolution, there’s always room for one more.” This will set up next week’s main event, James Storm vs. the returning Jeff Hardy inside Six Sides of Steel. I’m very much looking forward to that.
TNA World Heavyweight Championship: “The Destroyer” Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Kurt Angle
The entrances for this match start with 34 minutes TV time left, so this should be a spectacular match. Both guys can obviously go. I’m really excited to see Angle in a big match environment again. Both men get the big fight feel entrance, where the camera follows them from the hallways all the way to the entrance ramp. Big fan of when any company does that for a big match such as this. Angle being the company man by wearing a Destination America hoodie to the ring.
Great early action in this match as Lashley uses his quickness to get Angle off his feet, but Angle counters quickly and hits a Belly to Belly, followed by a German Suplex. Angle locks in the Ankle Lock really early, but Lashley is quick to the ropes. Angle follows up by sending Lashley to the outside. There was no feeling out process in this match, they hit the ground running. Both men to the outside, and Lashley flips momentum by dropping Angle over the ringside barricade. The match becomes all Lashley, all the time. Angle hits a desperation shoulder block from the second rope that gives him some separation. Both men look in tremendous shape for this match. Lashley, considering the work he does in MMA for Bellator, does some tremendous work here in TNA. Angle uses the separation he created to deliver 3 more German Suplexes to Lashley. Lashley turns an Angle slam into a monster Spinebuster for a two count. Angle then decides 3 German Suplexes weren’t enough, so he delivers 5 straight to Lashley! Angle is absolutely a machine. Just wow. Lashley doesn’t stay down long though, and hits a running powerslam for another two count. They take their last commercial break at this point.
We return with Lashley aiming for The Spear, but Angle moves and then grabs Lashley in the Ankle Lock again. Lashley rolls through and Angle hits hard on the turnbuckles. Angle counters again though and hits an Angle Slam! If my writing seems way too back and forth, that’s because that’s how the match is going. Great action from both men, it’s hard to keep up! Angle gets a two count and Lashley goes back on the advantage with a delayed vertical suplex and then sets up for The Spear, which he he hits flush. Angle kicks out at the last second! Lashley decides he needs to go to the top rope, but it does not pay off for him as Angle rolls out of the way. Crowd is fully into this match, as am I. Angle now goes to the top rope and hits a cross body block, but Lashley then rolls through and somehow ends up giving Angle his own Ankle Lock! Angle gets the ropes and as Lashley goes to hit him with something else, Angle hits his second Angle Slam! This is tremendous!! Lashley grabs Angle’s arm in a submission, but Angle turns it around into an Ankle lock again, and this time he sits down on it! This could be it. Lashley fights, but after a last grasp, he reluctantly taps out!
Winner: New TNA World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle
Angle, after getting the title handed to him, immediately goes to Lashley and helps him up in a great sign of respect. They show a highlight package of the match and then we get a couple minutes of Angle celebrating his victory and giving the fans high-fives on his way out.
I’m exhausted just writing about that match. That was Kurt Angle and Bobby Lashley at their absolute best. Lashley had the advantage for the first few minutes, but after that first counter from Angle, that match was as back and forth as anything I’ve ever seen. I really hope TNA puts this match in its entirety up on YouTube for more fans to be able to watch. Right now they only have the ending sequence, and that just doesn’t do the match justice. You want more people to watch your product and find your new channel? Get this match out to the masses. This was the second week in a row that Impact had zero fluff or wasted segments, and it really comes across. The question for them is can they carry over this momentum back to their Universal Studio shows. It’ll be interesting to see who steps up as Angle’s next challenger, and again, I’m really looking forward to Storm vs. Hardy in Six Sides of Steel next week.
Thanks again for joining me this week, hope you enjoyed it as much as the first column. Feel free to reach out to me on anything TNA related, and I’ll see you all here again next week as TNA returns to Orlando.