Tonight is the first night of the World Title Series. It is basically a revamped version of the Bound for Glory Series. It will be to crown a new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
It will be "world cup" style with 32 wrestlers, who are divided up into 8 groups of four.
During "group play", the four wrestlers in each group will wrestle everyone else in the group in a round robin series of matches. These matches will have 15 minute timelimits. Winners get 3 points per victory. Ties net each competitors 1 point each. They get no points if they lose.
The two highest point-earners in each group will then advance to a 16-wrestler tournament to crown the new champion.
The initial competitors are:
Group Former Champions: Ethan Carter III Austin Aries (!?) "The Destroyer" Bobby Lashley Mr. Anderson
Group UK: "The Detective" Drew Galloway Bram Rockstar Spud Grado
Group Wildcard: Mahabali Shera (Khoya) Crazzy Steve "King of the Night" Kenny King Aiden O'Shea
Group Knockouts: (!?) "The Phenomenal" Gail Kim Awesome Kong Brooke Tessmacher Madison Rayne
There are also four unannounced groups with 16 other wrestlers, to fill out the entire field of 32.
The Knockouts will be included in this Series, because Kong and Kim make for more plausible world champions than many male wrestlers. Plus, with Gail Kim's hood and dark entrance, I am pretty sure that she is currently possessed by Emo-era AJ Styles. Also, Brooke once beat Robbie E, so she's got that going for her. Wish Havok was here.
Austin Aries is also in the series, despite losing a Loser-Leaves-TNA match. The announcers implied that Aries did some chicanery with attorneys and contracts to get in this Series as a one-time-only type deal. An alternative interpretation is that most stipulation contracts in the modern era tend to expire after Bound For Glory/Wrestlemanias. Or perhaps since he lost his Loser-Leaves-Town match to Rockstar Spud, Spud might have let the contract be voided. Rockstar doesn't seem like the kind of guy to insist on a contract being enforced to keep a co-worker out of a job, afterall. Particularly since he hadn't been feuding with the co-worker at the time of the Loser-Leaves-Town-Match.
Anyhow, why you ask is the world championship vacant?
The answer is, Dixie Carter has an established character trait of having very incompetent attorneys.
This previously cost her control of TNA on two separate occasions. Once again, her counsel were unable to prevent a minor occurrence from spinning out of hand.
At Bound for Glory, Ethan Carter III attacked Jeff, which led Jeff to counterattack. That took ECIII out long enough for Matt Hardy to pin Drew Galloway, win the triple threat, and become the new world heavyweight champion. Obviously Ethan was entitled to a rematch, but he took things a step further than that.
Ethan had defeated Matt in a prior bout, which earned him the right to have Jeff Hardy act has his servant. Jeff eventually got disobedient, so Ethan utilized his master-servant relationship right to have Jeff fired from TNA. Almost immediately thereafter, Dixie rehired Jeff and appointed him as the special referee for the triple threat Bound for Glory match. Dixie also added Matt Hardy to the match. Dixie had been angry at Ethan for his failure to help her in the war against Global Force Wrestling.
Given the above events, Ethan Carter argued that Dixie, Matt, and Jeff had colluded to cost him the title. Based upon that argument he got a "7th Circuit Court" to issue an injunction banning Dixie, Jeff, and World Champion Matt from Impact on a permanent basis.
Quickly rehiring Jeff to Impact doesn't seem like the kind of thing that rises to the level of an injunction being granted to prevent a world title from being defended. It was a shady move by Dixie, in that it prevented the "servant" stipulation from being honored, but a minor one all things considered. But again, Dixie has the worst attorneys in the universe, so this whole ridiculousness makes logical sense and fits perfectly with TNA's continuity.
Matt Hardy was able to get the injunction to be voided by giving up the TNA Championship. Dixie and Corgan then announced that they were going to put the title on the line in this series.
And that brings us to tonight.
Given that TNA won't do any tapings for about a month or so, it looks like they are adopting the much beloved WCW Prime's philosophy of airing long-ago-taped matches. Presumably that's why Aries is back. Hopefully this means that we'll also see 2014's suitwearing MVP, 2013's Aces and Eights Bully Ray, 2010's Nero Hardy, and 2011's Joker Sting in these matches.
Impact also has a new set. Pope and Josh stand in a CGI background with a screen behind them showing the matches. It looks pretty good.
Pope has picked Lashley to win the series. Josh continues to back "his boy" ECIII. Josh's enthusiasm for Ethan is always a fun part of the show. It reminds me of Cole/Miz.
Occasionally during or before the matches they include clips of roundtable discussions including the competitors of each group. These bring to mind the good aspects of the Hogan-era debate segment where wrestlers would argue why they deserved titleshots. There are also taped interviews with individual competitors.
Group UK: 1. "The Detective" Drew Galloway defeated Bram
Drew then gave a good (taped) interview about the strategy that he used during the match to defeat the fierce Bram. Drew had used his powers of deduction to predict how Bram would behave after Bram continually tried to take the fight out of the ring.
Before the next match Brooke came out to shake her booty, which is a regular part of her pre-match entrance. This behavior is totally becoming of one of the top 32 contenders for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Of course, Kelly Kelly once successfully defended the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, so perhaps I should not be so harsh about judging Diva-esque behavior.
Group Knockouts: 2. Brooke Tessmacher defeated "The Phenomenal" Gail Kim
Group UK: 3. Rockstar Spud defeated Grado
That was a fun comedy match. The duo used or attempted moves including The Rock's People's Elbow, Stone Cold's Stunner, The Big Show's Chokeslam, Hogan's bodyslam, Triple H's Pedigree, Gail Kim's Styles Clash, John Cena's F-U, and Scotty 2 Hotty's the Worm.
A backstage interview was given with Tyrus. He had won the Bound for Gold gauntlet at Bound for Glory, and is entitled to a titleshot as soon as the World Title Series is over. Tyrus pointed out that he's fine with wrestling his boss, assuming that ECIII wins the Series. This interview made Tyrus seem compelling.
Group Former Champions: 4. Ethan Carter III (w/Tyrus) wrestled Austin Aries (w/Thea Trinidad) to a time limit draw
Its important to protect Austin Aries from having a loss, what with his long-term value to TNA afterall.
Aries was for some reason accompanied by Thea, who was formerly known as Knockouts Tag Team Champion Rosita. Thus, I have to assume that this match was taped during some unknown time period in which Austin Aries was briefly a member of the Mexican-America Faction. Either that, or this Austin Aries is from a parallel universe and was brought here via some Chikara wrestler who can open portals between worlds. I'm such such a gimmick exists. In fact, Chikara's timetraveling dude is probably the reason for why TNA's been stricken with so many temporally displaced matches over the past couple of years. Forget GFW, TNA should really be warring with the Timelords of Chikara.
Group Knockouts: 5. Awesome Kong defeated Madison Rayne
Group Former Champions: 6. "The Destroyer" Bobby Lashley defeated Mr. Anderson
As of the end of the show the standings are now:
Group Former Champions: "The Destroyer" Bobby Lashley: 1/0/0 (3) Ethan Carter III: 0/1/0 (1) Austin Aries: 0/1/0 (1) Mr. Anderson: 0/0/1 (0)
Group UK: "The Detective" Drew Galloway: 1/0/0 (3) Rockstar Spud: 1/0/0 (3) Bram: 0/0/1 (0) Grado: 0/0/1 (0)
Group Knockouts: Awesome Kong: 1/0/0 (3) Brooke Tessmacher: 1/0/0 (3) "The Phenomenal" Gail Kim: 0/0/1 (0) Madison Rayne: 0/0/1 (0)
Group Wildcard and the four yet to be revealed groups have had no matches thus far.
Overall, a very crisp, new style show. Best TNA season premiere since 2011.
Also, congrats go to Torchslasher for winning the Bound for Glory prediction contest!
Okay, that was a good write up for a really poor product. TNA giving paying customers the finger after BFG and running a Twitter angle where Matt Hardy drops his first ever World Title was just an all time TNA moment. I can't wait for them to dump this whole thing 3/4 of the way through. I imagine EC3 gets the title back resetting everything anyways.