After yet another exciting edition of TNA's Impact Wrestling, the company shifts gears and heads to New York City and the raucous crowd at the Manhattan Center for the next several episodes.
With the returning Jeff Hardy challenging Bobby Lashley for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, Bully Ray teaming with Tommy Dreamer to fight Ethan Carter III and Rhino and the X Division title on the line again, this week's episode will be must-watch television.
Add in the fact that the classic six-sided ring will be making its return, and wrestling fans who support the sport will witness the company continuing to hit the reset button and greatly improving the product.
That positive change starts to take form in NYC. Here is a full preview of Thursday's episode and what fans should expect.
Where: Manhattan Center, New York City
When: Thursday, July 17, at 9 p.m. ET (pre-taped)
Watch: Spike TV
Jeff Hardy Fights for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship
When Kurt Angle took over as the new director of wrestling operations for TNA, many fans feared more of the same outdated storylines that had been used with the two previous authority figures, Dixie Carter and MVP.
Unlike his predecessors, Angle has done everything by the books and has been the face of the positive changes being made behind the scenes. One of his first acts was asking Willow to drop the gimmick and return as Jeff Hardy.
After winning the No. 1 contender's Battle Royal, Hardy will now fight Lashley in New York for the TNA world title.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Which Star Walks out of NYC as Champion?
Lashley won the title during an episode of Impact Wrestling when he destroyed former champion Eric Young. While the start to his TNA return was less than memorable, Lashley has been one of the top stars in the business since joining forces with MVP and his heel stable.
While Hardy deserves immense credit for being one of the top stars in the company, he doesn't need the title to be a draw. If TNA is booking to an eventual culmination at Bound for Glory, Lashley should defeat Hardy and hold the belt as the heel champion heading into the October PPV.
At Bound for Glory, one of the top faces (i.e. Samoa Joe or Bobby Roode) should earn the win.
Hype Meter: 4 out of 5 Surprisingly Good Title Matches
There is no doubt that Lashley struggles on the mic, but that's why MVP being his mouthpiece works so well. The champion looks like a destroyer without saying a word, but there are still questions about his ability to carry a great match in the main event.
That's where Hardy makes a huge difference.
Hardy is one of the best in-ring workers in the business and has been for a long time. With the experience needed to help carry Lashley through a match like this and make him look strong throughout, this main event should live up to the billing and steal the show.
TNA News: Last Week's Impact Wrestling TV Ratings, per Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc.
Six-Sided Rings, ECW Chants and More
Many fans have been waiting for the return of the six-sided ring since TNA held a vote to determine which ring the company would use, and this Thursday's episode will be the re-debut of the former Impact Wrestling staple.
One of the first matches to emanate from the new ring will be Austin Aries defending his newly won championship in a X Division Gauntlet Match also featuring Sanada, Tigre Uno, the Wolves, DJ Z and Crazzy Steve.
Aries was one of the biggest stars to stand against the return to six sides, according to his Twitter account, but it's fitting that his first title defense as Destination X approaches will be in a gauntlet match inside the six-sided ring. Look for Aries to successfully retain.
Question on Everybody's Mind: How Loud Will the Crowd Chant "ECW"?
New York City is widely regarded as one of the original stomping grounds of hardcore wrestling, and the return of Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer to the Manhattan Center will create a buzz amongst even the most jaded wrestling fans.
With Bully Ray and Dreamer scheduled to square off in a tag team match against ECIII and Rhino, this match has all the earmarks of getting out of control in front of the raucous crowd and possibly even getting a little bloody in the process.
Add in Dixie teasing she will be in New York, and this episode could get very physical.
Hype Meter: 4 out of 5 Stacked Episodes of Impact Wrestling
As if this episode of the company's flagship show wasn't stacked enough, Angle has also made a tag team match featuring former world champions Bobby Roode and Eric Young squaring off against MVP and Kenny King.
MVP came to the ring last week in a wheelchair claiming that his knee was reinjured. How he acts during the match will be a good indication of how the knee is feeling and if he is back on the roster as a full-time wrestler.
As seen over the last few weeks, Roode has been the biggest star amongst this group, but the eventual one-on-one battle with MVP is going to be a PPV-worthy match.
TNA Rumors: Officials Interested in Signing Ring of Honor Talent? Per Wrestling Observer Newsletter via Wrestling Inc.
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