Submitted by Stephen Lyon from Manchester, England, UK
– TNA returned to Manchester, England, for night one of their three night annual U.K. tour. Two episodes of IMPACT WRESTLING were taped this evening, said to air on February 2nd and 9th.
– The 20,000 capacity Manchester Arena appeared to be greatly cut down and curtained off for a 5000 capacity (only a small part of the lower tier only open), and I’d estimate a crowd of 3000 (possibly less). It wasn’t full for what they set up and there were lots of empty seats. The crowd were very hot at key points in the show, but it was a long show (a 4 hour taping) and a lot of people left during the 4th hour, presumably to catch the last bus or train home. I think there was only 1500 fans left for the main event of the taping, and the show started at 7pm and finished at 10:50pm.
Mark Andrews beat Will Ospreay
Match went 5 minutes. After they made such a big deal about featuring British wrestlers on the taping, not only did Big Damo & Jimmy Havoc not appear tonight (despite tweeting earlier that they were both in Manchester), Will Ospreay was only featured in a five minute opening match spotfest that’s not even going to air on IMPACT. Match was okay but not a patch on their PWG stuff. This was a huge disappointment in many respects, and a waste of Ospreay’s talents.
February 2nd (February 7th in the UK) IMPACT:
– They aired an Ethan Carter 3 pretaped promo in his mansion, taped ‘earlier in the week’, where Carter cut a terrific babyface promo, acknowledging he’s been an jerk in the past, but saying the defeat to Hardy had been a wake up call, and that he was flying to England to get his revenge. I’m guessing they aired this to condition the live crowd as to him being a babyface during the show, to ensure the ‘right reactions’ occurred. This was really well done.
– IMPACT opened with a Matt Hardy interview. The TNA Champion was accompanied by Reby Sky, and Tyrus was carrying little Maxel. Hardy was heavily booed and cut a great heel promo, demanding that Dixie Carter fire EC3 later in the show.
Bobby Lashley beat Bram
Eric Young accompanied Bram to the ring, and his interference backfired when he tried to hit Lashley with a chair and hit Bram instead. Lashley speared both and pinned Bram.
– Kurt Angle came out to a huge pop for a farewell interview. Mike Bennett & Maria interrupted and insulted him. Bennett challenged Angle, but Angle decked him, saying he’d only wrestle people he respected, and said his opponent tonight was Drew Galloway. Galloway then appeared on the entrance ramp before returning to the back.
X Division Champion Trevor Lee beat Tigre Uno to retain
Lee was accompanied by Shane Helms.
Beer Money beat Decay by D.Q.
Beer Money came out for an interview to a big pop. James Storm rode a scooter-like vehicle called a ‘Bruiser Cruiser’ to the ring. They mentioned their Feast or Fired Tag Title shot briefcase and challenged the Wolves to a title match tonight. Decay came out instead and challenged Beer Money to a fight. To the match, Storm had Crazzy Stevie pinned, only for Abyss to pull the ref out for the D.Q. Decay put the boots to both Roode & Storm afterwards, with the Wolves running in for the save. Wolves cut a promo on Decay, demanding their belts back, which Decay had stolen. Wolves offered Decay a tag title match. Abyss agreed, as long as it was a Monsters Ball match ‘next week’ (taped later).
– Grado came out of the crowd in his wrestling gear, acknowledging he’d been fired and was disappointed he couldn’t wrestle tonight. He then claimed that he’d been screwed, and had proof, pulling out an envelope. Eli Drake interrupted him and both Drake and two security guys chased Grado out of the ring and to the back, Benny Hill-style. It was fairly amusing and the crowd ate it up. Grado got a good reaction.
Jade beat Madison Rayne
Rebel & Marti attacked Rayne afterwards, and Gail Kim ran out for the save.
Drew Galloway beat Kurt Angle
This turned into a pretty good 15 minute match. Finish saw Galloway escape from the ankle lock and apply his own submission move for the win. Afterwards, the pair embraced. Angle looked choked up afterwards, looking at the crowd.
Finish of the first show saw Hardy, Reby and Tyrus in the ring (no Maxel this time), confronting Dixie Carter who came out. Hardy pleaded with Dixie to fire EC3, bringing up all the terrible things EC3 had done in the past. Rockstar Spud came out to a big pop. Spud was wearing a bright red suit with the POP TV logo on the back. Spud told Hardy that EC3 had done most of the terrible things to him, Spud, but that EC3 shouldn’t be fired because he can back it up in the ring, and claimed EC3 was still undefeated, unpinned and unsubmitted. Tyrus decked Spud. As the heels were about to attack Dixie, EC3 came out to the biggest reaction of the night. He stood at the top of the ramp, ripped off his suit then ran down the aisle. He nailed 2 security guards, then Tyrus, but once he made it to the ring, Hardy ran away. Crowd loved EC3, singing along to his music and waving their arms in the air.
Taped for the February 9th (February 14th in the UK) IMPACT:
Mike Bennett beat Mark Andrews
Good match. Bennett was beating on Andrews after the match and Galloway ran out for the save.
Eric Young went to double countout with James Storm
Nothing match. Afterwards, Young & Bram brawled with Roode & Storm into the crowd and into the concourses.
Mahabili Shera & ‘ODARG The Great’ beat Eli Drake & Jesse Godderz
‘ODARG The Great’ was the ‘fired’ Grado under a mask, ‘Odarg’ obviously being ‘Grado’ spelt backwards. Odarg came out to the same Madonna ‘Like A Prayer’ theme song, with ‘ODARG’ written across his singlet like Grado’s regular singlet. Everyone in the crowd knew it was Grado, not that it wasn’t obvious anyway. On the surface this seems dumb, but it was played for comedy and the crowd ate it up. Odarg pinned Drake, but his mask came off at one point during the match.
– EC3 came out for an interview, and ended up brawling with both Matt Hardy and Tyrus. Hardy & Tyrus challenged EC3 to a tag match later.
TNA Tag Champions The Wolves beat Decay in a Monsters Ball match to retain (and regain physical possession of the belts).
This was a wild hardcore match, with chairs, tables, ladders, thumb tacks, a barbed wire bat and barbed wire board used. A key spot was the Wolves caught Rosemary trying to interfere, and with Edwards holding her, Richards at first teased using a cheesegrater on her (seriously), then even better, forced a big kiss on her (similar to the Ric Flair/Becky Lynch spot at the Rumble that people raised their eyebrows over, given it’s now 2016). Finish saw Richards give Crazzy Stevie a brainbuster on a chair covered in tacks for the win.
– Jeremy Borash brought out Josh Matthews to wave to the crowd, and also later, Billy Corgan. Corgan did some brief mic work, thanking the crowd.
Gail Kim & Madison Rayne beat Jade & Marti
Afterwards, Rebel beat down the faces, with Velvet Sky making the save. Sky then cut a promo, challenging the Dollhouse to a 3 on 3 ‘Lethal Lockdown’ match, to be taped in London tomorrow.
Ethan Carter 3 & Rockstar Spud beat TNA World Champion Matt Hardy & Tyrus
Spud came out mid-way through the match as Carter’s partner. Afterwards, Spud simply glared at EC3 then left. The storyline is that although both are now babyfaces, Spud hasn’t forgiven EC3 for the way he mistreated him in the past.
Then in a dark segment to close the show, EC3 brought Spud out again, and told the crowd it was Spud’s birthday tomorrow, leading the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to him. Spud seemed happy, then said, “By the way, I still hate you'” and left.
Overall an entertaining show. It did drag a lot towards the end of the third hour and into the fourth hour. The crowd were enthusiastic at the key moments. It was just sad to see the crowd smaller than it was last year (and the crowd size has decreased every year for the past 2-3 years), with plenty of empty seats visible on all 3 sides of the arena. The main event angle is strong, and they did a terrific job getting EC3 over as the top babyface to the point he was the most over babyface on the show by the end (with the possible exception of Kurt Angle).