Segment 4: Sonjay Dutt vs. Mannik
Positives: Sonjay Dutt is, in his own way, one of the most over wrestlers in the eleven-year history of TNA. He understands how to have an “X Division match,” which is a minor miracle consider how poorly that term has been defined over the years.
Mannik helped fill out his resume as X Division Champion with this match. This felt like a showcase for “this Mannik” (T.J. Perkins) on par with his match against then-champion Chris Sabin earlier this month. Mannik also showed here that he can get some heat on a match by selling, a consideration that was lost in the triple threat era of the X Division.
This was the second match in a row with a very crisp finishing sequence. When finishes are quick and well-executed, they make everybody look better – even the wrestler taking the loss.
Negatives: This is utter nitpicking, but there was a point in this match where Dutt took an extra nasty-looking sitout powerbomb and both he and Mannik proceeded to stand right back up and keep going. It’s great to push the pace and use every second of your limited time on TV, but if a spot looks devastating, for the love of God, sell it!
Segment Score: +1
Segment 5: Jay Bradley vs. Hernandez vs. Joseph Park vs. Christopher Daniels
Positives: Multi-man matches with no rules can be hard to hold onto, but this match actually told a solid story for each wrestler. Jay Bradley asserted himself as a young guy who can dish out some punishment and Joseph Park continued his angle in a way that didn’t make him or everybody involved look like a cartoon fool. TNA also did well to write out EGO logically with the appearance of Austin Aries, so as to explain why Daniels didn’t win. Hernandez was the only person who looked somewhat weak, as he got in his signature offense but sat out the finish on the outside after taking just a running STO from Daniels.
The spot where they teased that Bradley was going to hit Park in the head with the chair was really well done. TNA created all the drama of a shot to the head without requiring anybody to actually take a shot to the head. It takes restraint not to use shortcuts in a street fight match, but this match felt like it was put together with an eye toward safety.
Negatives: This match had a lot of awkward moving parts. For one, Hernandez and Bradley interacted way too much – two big midcard guys running slowly at each other is not what you call a hot ticket. Also, throughout the match, there were several moments of wrestlers grabbing at each other’s wrists like they weren’t sure what was happening next.
Segment Score: +0
Segment 6: Bully Ray/Tito Ortiz Promo
Positives: Ray is better than anybody had any right to expect at setting up Tito Ortiz. Ortiz actually had very good crowd heat during his short promo, and while he didn’t do a great job finding the camera, he had a legitimate, heelish swagger to his body language.
A heel turn for Brooke Tessmacher is a surprisingly interesting development. Who knows to what degree she’ll wrestle or just be Ray’s valet, but either way, she is another new wrinkle to his character.
Negatives: Ray’s repetition of the word “again” as he bragged about his accomplishments was supposed to make him seem double evil, but it also did a lot to reinforce how TNA is already in its second go-around using every trick in the book with Bully Ray.
This segment pumped Bully Ray back up a lot, but it seems like the last two months were used to rebuild Ray at the expense of Chris Sabin. If Sabin doesn’t have a big comeback angle from this, his title reign will indeed seem like “a fluke,” as Bully Ray says.
Segment Score: +0
Segment 7: Gail Kim vs. ODB
Positives: This match was one wrestler who knows how to play babyface facing another wrestler who knows how to play heel. The result was a match that told a good story and cemented ODB as someone who belongs in the top tier of the Knockouts Division after her stint as a referee.
Negatives: It felt like both Mike Tenay and Taz could have done a lot more to make this match feel important. They failed to bring up Mickie James and the Knockouts Title in a way that contextualized the match, and Taz seemed more interested in mocking ODB than saying anything meaningful about her as a wrestler.
Segment Score: +0