Tonight's IMPACT Wrestling broadcast was the go-home edition to what looks like an extremely engaging and entertaining event this weekend. Let's get right into the TNA Blog Zone and discuss tonight's show as we all make our way to Lockdown this Sunday.
OUR NEW FAVORITE WRESTLER: SAMUEL SHAW
Come on, you cannot deny your interest peaking at everything Samuel Shaw does on screen. Tonight was no exception, taking the lead in his feud with Mr. Anderson heading into Sunday's event. Even in his match against Eric Young, which was a no contest, Shaw and Anderson took it to one another in a very well developed story for both competitors. Speaking of the match, the environment served it's purpose. It wasn't about Eric Young Vs. Samuel Shaw, it was all about how TNA builds up the Lockdown match. I would've preferred if Samuel Shaw took the win in order to have in-ring momentum, but it was after the match that gripped us. Taking out Anderson on the outside to cause the no contest in his match, searching for Christy Hemme in the back (nonchalantly entering the Knockouts dressing room and scaring Velvet Sky) and getting into it one last time with Anderson who wore a wig to trick Shaw. Shaw and Anderson stole the show tonight without question. It should be an interesting match at Lockdown that should really showcase what Samuel can bring in terms of developing his character in the ring.
THE EC3 SYNDROME
"WE'RE PRINTING PAPER!" was such a funny line from EC3. It's good to see this kind of EC3 on IMPACT Wrestling. As much as the privileged character was boss, this more open and free(?) demeanor is entertaining and leaves you investing in his future in TNA. Angle took the beating from EC3 and calls their match at Lockdown into question. If I had to guess, it will be reported that Angle has suffered too much of an injury and will not participate Sunday. While EC3 gloats, MVP books a replacement opponent. We all know of Kurt Angle's knee surgery and his aspirations to return after Lockdown. Things can certainly change and Angle may appear to compete, but it may not be wise. A strong showing by EC3 tonight in another example of the new generation in TNA leading the veterans in a feud.
After countless months, Kenny King returns to IMPACT Wrestling television via a video package advertising The King of the Night (if I remember the text at the end of the video package correctly). Very good to see Kenny King being brought back under a tweak to his character. I imagine he will be involved in the X-Division once again. Hopefully, he will be used prominently enough and the X-Division can start to mean something again.
Willow continues to build interest within the TNA fanbase. It feels as if they are bringing back Jeff Hardy and Willow as two separate entities, but I hope if they do go that route that it is acknowledged that Willow is Jeff Hardy and Jeff Hardy is Willow. We will know more possibly at Lockdown, but it would make more sense to look into the Willow situation after Sunday night.
A BETTER NIGHT FOR THE KNOCKOUTS
Tonight's Knockouts match was a much better showing than last week. Gail Kim, Lei'D Tapa and The Alpha Female took on TNA Knockouts Champion Madison Rayne, ODB and Velvet Sky. Team Rayne took the win after Sky pinned Alpha Female. It was a solid match with better flow and a much better use of everyone ringside. As I mentioned in my Booking IMPACT! article, my only gripe is Madison Rayne not getting the victory for her team. As she is the champion, she should have a stronger presence. She is booked to face Gail Kim on Sunday in a championship contest, so this should have been the focal point of tonight's Knockouts contest. A solid match, but could have been made better with a quick backstage promo from Gail and company or vice versa. We need to care for the Knockouts champion and the division, so let's hope Sunday's match will tell a great story with the action between Kim and Rayne.
GUNNER & JAMES STORM/ MAGNUS & SAMOA JOE GET READY FOR SUNDAY
Finishing the in-ring promo portion of the night, Gunner/ James Storm and Magnus/ Samoa Joe met in separate segments with their respective opponents to further build Lockdown. For Gunner and James Storm, their confrontation last week was much stronger and was enough to sell their match. Tonight felt a bit more like filler material just to get the point across that they don't like each other and they will face off on Sunday. It would have been more effective if there were two separate backstage interviews with each taking verbal jabs at one another and their own predictions for their match. Samoa Joe and Magnus had a predictable segment in the ring as they shared some final words (and a choke to Magnus) before Lockdown. Nothing special or news worthy in this segment, but it was a traditional face to face between two competitors vying for the heavyweight title at a major pay-per-view. This match should be the second to last match as the Lethal Lockdown event is taking precedence in the main event scene.
TEAM ROODE GETS THE ADVANTAGE AT LOCKDOWN IN A SIX-MAN ELIMINATION TAG VICTORY
What opened the show ended the show. This entire situation was booked very well with Team MVP showing their weakness heading into Sunday night. This doesn't give the impression that a Team MVP victory is predictable. Davey Richards is hurt and Jeff Hardy is returning but hasn't been on TNA television in some time. Speaking of Davey Richards, tonight was his night to shine and showcase is skills in the ring in a singles capacity, so to speak. He didn't look out of place squaring off against Bobby Roode for the deciding fall in the match and has the look and unquestionable skill set to be world champion should he decide to venture that route. Even with the shoulder problem, he held is own and proved to be a main event player. For Team Roode, there is enough distrust between Roode and Aries that even if they are able to focus on getting the win for the team Sunday, there could be a huge miscommunication that causes Team Roode to fall to Team MVP. They have the man advantage at Lockdown after tonight's win, plus we have to consider what Dixie has in store. It's easy to see both teams winning, but it's so much harder to see both teams losing. A tough one, but we make our way to Lockdown with high anticipation and a hunger for great wrestling action.
RATING AND FINAL THOUGHTS
Tonight's IMPACT Wrestling receives a B-. The strongest build was given to the Lethal Lockdown match between Team Roode and Team MVP and that's justified considering the stakes. Samuel Shaw and Anderson received very good build as well; however, there could have been a little better handling of the Knockouts championship match and all other matches on the card this Sunday. Also, as solid as the in-ring bouts were, there was nothing quite memorable except for Davey Richards taking control of the main event and letting his presence shine. It was not a bad show, but for a go-home to what could be an amazing Lockdown, it could have been a bit better and a bit more wrestling match heavy.
Give us your thoughts on tonight's IMPACT Wrestling broadcast as we make our way to Lockdown!