By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Austin Aries def. Sonjay Dutt and Chris Sabin in a Triple Threat Match
This match looked a lot better on paper and unfortunately didn't live up to its full potential. All three competitors are great workers, but the bout was poorly executed. Dutt transitioning from face to heel mid-match was strange, and thus the live crowd didn't know how to react. There were some entertaining antics in the match, but there wasn't enough focus on the actual wrestling. The ending came prematurely and left a sour taste in the mouth of this viewer, leaving me thinking what this could have been had they not goofed around so much. Comedy in wrestling is fun to an extent, but not when it is overdone.
Ethan Carter III def. Dewey Barnes
This is one "rivalry" I did not wish to relive on this show. Carter cut an effective heel promo prior to the bout to garner some nice heat, but the match itself was a complete squash as expected. I don't mind an occasional squash match, but the fact EC3 has faced the same two people (Norv Fernum and Barnes) over and over again bores me to tears. However, I shouldn't have expected any differently given that this is a pay-per-view that was taped at the end of December when he was still directionless.
Bully Ray def. Tommy Dreamer in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
Say what you will about Dreamer's weight, but he can still very much go in the ring. Sure, he was a bit sloppy at times (particularly with selling Ray's finisher at the end), but it was an otherwise impressive showing from Dreamer. It was a wildly entertaining brawl and the live crowd was into the action, but it is a shame that the commentators, specifically Mike Tenay, weren't more enthusiastic about the big spots. I strongly disliked the finish with Dreamer teasing to light the table on fire only for Ray to recuperate and win, as we have seen it plenty of times in the past and we all know by now that the table won't actually be lit on fire.
Bad Influence and Velvet Sky def. The Bro-Mans and Lei'D Tapa with Eric Young as the Special Guest Referee
The pre-match promo was humorous... that is, until The Bro-Mans got involved. Their act annoys me to an end, and it is hard to find anything they are involved in entertaining. The match was decent, but ultimately forgettable. It was refreshing to see Bad Influence portray babyfaces for once, and I think they can really get over with audiences if they do ultimately turn face officially down the road. Young can be hit or miss more often than not, but I found him hilarious here.
Jeff Hardy def. Abyss in a Monster's Ball Match
As shown in the pre-match footage, these two had some brutal matches back in the day. Granted, there were no flaming tables this time around, but they still took one another to their absolute limit. They made excellent use of the extreme environment and I applaud them for their effort. However, the thumbtack spots are always hard to watch, especially here when they right into the back of Hardy's head and it was blatantly obvious he was in serious pain. Still, the finishing Swanton Bomb to Abyss on the barbwire boards was a very cool visual and a great way to conclude the contest.
Kurt Angle def. Mr. Anderson
Given the history between these two, I expected a better match. It was solid while it lasted, but it never really felt like they got out of first gear. It was an awkward dynamic as well with Anderson acting like a tweener, so the live crowd was flat for a majority of the match. Angle kicking out of the Mic Check only to follow up with the Angle Slam for the win was mind boggling. It came out of nowhere and made Anderson look weak as a result.
Bobby Roode def. James Storm in a Last Man Standing Match
I may bit a bias considering this was/is my favorite feud in TNA history, but even I am getting exhausted of seeing these two face each other. This had to be the third or fourth time they have faced off at a One Night Only event. Nonetheless, it was a great match that lived up to the hype. There were some dull moments, but is to be expected in a Last Man Standing match. They told a stellar story at the end with Storm getting a brutal beating at the hands of Roode, but must every one of their matches end with a beer bottle shot to the head? I can recall only one time Storm actually decisively defeated Roode, and that was at 2012's Bound For Glory pay-per-view. Roode continues to dominate in this never-ending feud.
TNA World Heavyweight Champion Magnus def. Samoa Joe
Per usual, the two worked a very good match. They had awesome chemistry with one another during their series of matches in late 2012 and proved that once again here. However, TNA couldn't help themselves when it came to delivering a dirty finish. Magnus has been so poorly booking since capturing the title that he has zero credibility as champion, which is a total shame. I surely hope this isn't what TNA has in mind for when the two face off at Lockdown next month.
Similar to Hardcore Justice 3, taping this event from an arena other than the Impact Zone definitely made it more enjoyable. The crowd was likely for most of the show and made for a fun environment. I had high hopes for this show after seeing the lineup and while it didn't exactly deliver, it was still solid as a whole. Many of the matches were underwhelming, but the only bouts that are worth the purchase are Bully Ray vs. Tommy Dreamer, Jeff Hardy vs. Abyss, and James Storm vs. Bobby Roode. Everything else was decent to mediocre, which is what we usually get from these One Night Only events.
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