Broken. No single word defines 2016 more. EC3 won the World Title Series to become World Champion for the second time but this would set Matt Hardy on a completely different path. After coming up short multiple times and having his crowning moment taken away from him at Bound For Glory, Matt Hardy turned to a different approach to capture the World Championship. Tyrus turned on EC3, helping Hardy capture gold and beginning the birth of “Broken” Matt Hardy. When Drew Galloway used his Feast or Fired case to take the World Championship from Matt, Matt lost it thinking his brother had betrayed him. Jeff Hardy beat Matt Hardy in an I Quit match after a Swanton Bomb from the very top of the IMPACT Zone and Matt was never the same.
Matt would start talking and dressing differently, speaking about how his brother Jeff had left him broken. Matt and Jeff would go on to have Six Sides of Steel and Full Metal Mayhem matches, but their match on the July 5 episode of IMPACT would go down in infamy. Matt and Jeff would forgo the normal setting of a wrestling ring, instead opting to compete in a match in their own backyard – a match called The Final Deletion. The Final Deletion was pure, ridiculous spectacle – full of fireworks, Swanton Bombs out of a tree, and dilapidated boats. Matt defeated Jeff in one of the most memorable matches in IMPACT history, a match truly unlike anything anybody had ever seen.
When Drew Galloway cashed in Feast or Fired to become World Champion, he quickly entered into his fiercest rivalry in TNA. Galloway retained the title against the likes of Tyrus, Eli Drake and Jeff Hardy but his matches with Bobby Lashley became legendary. This culminated in a Knockout or Tapout Only match at Slammiversary where two of the largest heavyweights in wrestling destroyed each other but it was Lashley who came out on top as the new World Champion. Lashley looked unstoppable all summer – also capturing the King of the Mountain and X-Division titles while retaining against Galloway, EC3, Mike Bennett and James Storm. That is, until Lashley ran into the never say die attitude of Eddie Edwards. Edwards defeated Lashley in a huge upset and reigned for the rest of the year.
Newcomers would define the Knockouts Division in 2016. Jade – known as Mia Yim these days – defeated Gail Kim to become champion before fellow newcomer Sienna captured gold at Slammiversary. Arriving with her husband Mike Bennett in January, Maria soon made her mark on the division. Maria quickly rose to power in the division. Maria’s loveable apprentice Allie defeated Sienna for the title but in a heart wrenching moment, Maria forced Allie to lay down and give up the title.
Gail Kim would end Maria’s reign of terror but Rosemary would end the year as champion, defeating Jade inside Six Sides of Steel after Gail Kim had to vacate. The Knockouts Division belonged to The Demon Assassin.
Tigre Uno’s X-Division Title reign was ended by Trevor Lee, in Lee’s first reign as champion. As Destination X approached in July, competition for the title heated up as everybody wanted to hold the gold and challenge for the World Title.
Eddie Edwards won the title at Slammiversary, Mike Bennett entered the X-Division hoping to use the title as his stepping stone to gold. Bennett would win the title but he wouldn’t make it all the way to Destination X as Edwards regained the title. In an unusual twist, Eddie’s Option C match vs. Lashley forwent the usual format of Edwards relinquishing the title – with it being title vs. title instead. Lashley won and then vacated the title allowing DJZ to win the belt and hold it for the remainder of the year.
Other notes from 2016: Mike Bennett made his mark in TNA, ending EC3’s near three-year streak of going unpinned and unsubmitted. Gail Kim was the first Knockout to be inducted into the IMPACT Hall of Fame. The IMPACT Grand Championship was introduced, using a novel rounds-based rule structure – the debuting Aron Rex became the first champion.
Cody Rhodes debuted in TNA, immediately entering a rivalry with Mike Bennett. Kurt Angle ended his run in TNA with a string of tremendous matches against Drew Galloway, Bobby Lashley and Bobby Roode.