In the topsy, turvy world of Impact Wrestling – bouncing around US networks and creative directions, there has always been one constant; the loyal support of their UK fan following. Achieving massive crowds and bumper TV ratings this side of the pond has been a light at a long, frustrating tunnel for Dixie Carter’s brand of professional wrestling. Me and Dan Lloyd of this parish went to the recent tapings in London at Wembley Arena to see first hand what is going on down TNA’s way.
Now, I do watch TNA most weeks whereas Dan has not seen it in nearly five years – so for him this was a introduction to the newer, less mental, slimmed down TNA; vastly different from the days of Russo et al. When we arrived an hour before the show began, it wasn’t exactly too full and didn’t change much from then until the show began. Bizarrely it only filled up about an hour into the taping, and by then the arena was pretty much full by nights end. An early issue was the fact that this was the second set of tapings this weekend, so two weeks of TV has already been done by this point and they still have one more show from their previous tapings left to air on television. So we are watching shows that still have about a month before their own, so in essence with the LockDown show that they started with, we are watching a lot of feuds end that pretty much have only just started on television. With this as well, you don’t see any backstage segments – it’s just match after match after match with little exposition, it can get a bit jarring. They also showed the same video telling you who their wrestlers are. They showed it four times. It got annoying.
However the match content was pretty solid, opened with a tag team cage match between Beer Money versus Bram and Eric Young. Was a good standard two on two affair with a decent amount of heat between the two, Beer Money going over.
Next we had EC3 (who is now face, some of the crowd had not seen the double turn yet it seems as they booed him) who cut a promo on his opponent tonight for the TNA World Title, the Champ Matt Hardy (who has the creepiest entrance video ever. Seriously). He then called out Spud who was involved for reasons that I assume were explained in the tapings before, Hardy retorts and the crowd got the memo and soon enough were behind EC3. Singing EC3’s theme is fun.
Trevor Lee, the new X Division Champ (he won the belt at the last US taping being the man Shane Helms has brought in to face Tigre Uno in a swerve, you see why this got confusing?) led by his mentor Helms faced off against the former champion Tigre Uno in a fun X Divison cage match. Some lovely high flying high impact moves, topped by a sweet top of the cage cross body by Uno. Trevor Lee goes over with a lovely small package driver.
Up next was the Knockouts Lethal Lockdown match (again, reasons to be explained last night I guess) with the Dollhouse team of Rebel, Jade and Marti Belle (no Awesome Kong, who was sent home following a backstage altercation.) against Velvet Sky, Gail Kim and instead of Madison Rayne who was out due to injury…Maria. Again, I assume this makes sense in taping order. Shock of all shocks, the heel Maria screws over the face team she promised to help and the Dollhouse go over in a pretty good cage weapons match thing. It was pretty stiff.
Kurt Angle came out and cut a promo about how good it was to finish his career in England. He wanted one more match with Lashley, Lashley came out and accepted.
Eli Drake then made his way to the ring and had a match with a man who had the same style, look and music as Grado (yes to dancing about to Like A Prayer), but he was called Odarg the Great. It definitely wasn’t Grado (wink wink). I’ve heard he teamed with Juan Cena in Mexico. Odarg goes over but not without cost as Eli Drake pulled his mask off as he climbed down the cage. He covered his face to protect his career in Mexico. This was a pretty good comedy match.
Jeremy Borash then announced that TNA will be having its own wrestling school in London. Pretty decent way to reach out in the UK more. At some point also, they brought out Earl Hebner to talk to him – and it lasted all of 15 seconds before he ran backstage. It was incredibly weird and pointless.
In the main event of the first taping, Matt Hardy beat EC3 in a cage match thanks to help from Tyrus and a turning Spud! SWERVE-O-RAMA. Spud has seemingly joined the Matt Hardy Brand too.
Dixie Carter and Billy Corgan said things as the cage was taken down for the next taping.
In a match taped for Xplosion, The Wolves defended their tag team titles against Mark Andrews and Will Ospreay from Progress, PWG and any good UK promotion. This had a rushed ending. Mandrews knocked himself out it seems after taking a nasty landing off of a flip hurricanrana. Ospreay carried the rest of the match by himself, to his eternal credit. Luckily Andrews is okay, according to his Twitter.
Up next, for the second show – Abyss with his stablemates in The Decay, Crazzzy Steve and Rosemary defeated JIMMY FLIPPING HAVOC in a no disqualification match. It was a standard Abyss hardcore match, which was a bit of a let-down as if Havoc and Abyss were able to let fly, it could have been phenomenal. I do however, like the new stable Abyss is in. It has a good look to it.
Mike Bennett beat Drew Galloway. Again, it was okay TV contest. Mike Bennett’s music leads to no reaction, they need to think of a new tune for them both.
Eric Young then came out and issued an open challenge for the King Of The Mountain title, and out came another UK wrestling standout in Damo O’Connor. This was a really decent match, with Eric Young winning off of a dangerous looking piledriver. Naughty.
The main event saw Kurt Angle face off with Bobby Roode, in his final match in London. It was good Roode vs Angle match. Nothing outstanding but it saw some solid wrestling, worthy of a main event spot. Angle goes over with the ankle lock.
After the match, Roode took to the mic and put Angle over. James Storm comes out and brings beer for them and milk for Angle which got a nice reaction. It then weirdly transitioned from being about Angle’s retirement to the Wolves vs Beer Money for the tag belts. They also played the Wolves video early for a second and stopped, which was either a prompt so they remembered to call them out or a production screw up. Angle then politely left and that taping ended with the two teams.
They then rounded things off with two matches for those One Night Only Pay-Per-View things. It was ‘Jokers Wild’ lethal lottery tag team stuff, with Jade and Tyrus beating Bobby Lashley and Gail Kim and Eli Drake and James Storm losing to Will Ospreay and Matt Hardy. They were both passable. EC3 then came out, hit a stunner, peoples elbow and The one-percenter to Matt Hardy to send us all home happy
All in all, in spite of the confusing nature of seeing matches that won’t be aired for nearly a month – it was a good show. Nothing to complain about, but nothing to say ‘this is must see’. EC3 is still the best part of the show, and seeing Angle one last time is something to remember forever.
All in all, it was a positive evening.