Slammiversary was strong pay-per-view outing for TNA, with a number of solid, entertaining contests, including a surprisingly brutal contest between Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell, which was unfortunately let down by the shambolic ending to the main event contest.
World Heavyweight Championship No Holds Barred Match: Bully Ray © vs. Sting
I wasn’t expecting this match to be a technical master class and neither was I expecting it to go for particularly long, however what was presented was such a mess of a match it was difficult to find many positives, apart from the result. From the opening of the contest Sting looked obviously tired and seemed to struggle his way to the end of the match, at one point even having difficulty to get into the ring. However, the No Disqualification match type could have been used to lead these two to a decent match, if it weren’t for a number of booking errors throughout the contest.
With the opening seeing a combination of offence from both men, with Bully Ray doing most of the running for The Icon. Sting’s use of the World Championship belt and the announce table gave the bout the early edge that it needed and with Bully Ray’s thunderous clothesline as Sting prepared for a Stinger Splash on the guard rail, it seemed like this bout was heading in the right direction. However, once the pair headed towards the entrance ramp the match went progressively downhill. For some reason Bully Ray had to head backstage to collect a steel chair, which Sting quickly gained control of, before Brooke Hogan had to come out to protect Bully Ray. This made Bully look incredibly weak, which became a theme for the remainder of the match.
With Brooke Hogan sent packing by Sting, the Aces and Eights president hit a low blow which unleashed an avalanche of offence from Bully Ray. We now saw Sting, who for the majority of the contest looked like a tired, frail old man, transform into Superman. As after a number of chairs shots, including a massive big boot through the chair, Ray hit a pile driver (which had been built up in an earlier interview with JB) only for Sting to kick out. This trend continued with Sting being power bombed threw a table, only to kick out once more then. Then we entered the ridiculous, with Bully Ray dismantled the ring with a small knife, removing the mat to reveal the wood board beneath and deliver a second pile driver, only for Sting to kick out. This move was incredibly dangerous and should have been the end of the match, by this point any air of believability had been completely removed and it was difficult to get behind Sting.
Just as I thought it couldn’t get much worse, Aces and Eight invaded the ring, only for Sting to dispatch Garett Bischoff, Wes Brisco, DOC & Knox with his trusty baseball bat. It’s frustrating how weak Aces and Eight are made to look at every turn, as it removes their threat in any situation if we believe the face can easily get rid of them, as Sting did here. There was further interference from Devon, who pulled out the referee to stop the count for Sting, who went out to combat Aces and Eights again. With The Icon distracted Mr. Anderson slid Bully Ray, the hammer we’ve seen all too often, and with Sting diving from the top rope, the Bully smashed him on the head to finally get his victory. For me, this ending has removed a lot of momentum TNA had going forward with the World Heavyweight Championship, as it took the entire of Aces and Eights to defeat a 54 year old man. Maybe if some of TNA’s competitors had made an appearance to combat the threat from Aces and Eight’s with Anderson eventually slipping in the hammer this might have been a more satisfying ending.
AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle
Before this match, Kurt Angle was announced by Dixie Carter as the second inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame. Personally, I think this is a good decision by TNA, as Kurt has done a lot for the company since jumping ship in 2006, and has put in a numerous great performance for the company both in the ring and out. Many were disappointed about the exclusion of Jeff Jarrett, however with Jarrett still in hot water with Dixie Carter and TNA around his affair with Angle’s ex-wife, it would appear Jarrett will have to wait at least until next year.
Angle and Styles have had numerous contests over the last six or seven years, with a lot of history between the two, and I can’t remember every being disappointed by one of their contests. Of course, nothing changed with this outing, as the two put on another great match, with a mixture of high flying, technical and submission wrestling.
The Lone Wolf’s new submission hold “The Calf Killer” bringing a new element to match, as AJ focused on Kurt Angle’s injured knee for the majority of the match up. With AJ finding a number of interesting ways to get the hold in, Angle sold like his life depended on it and truly made the hold look like a devastating manoeuvre. The two also traded a number of holds throughout with a number of great suplexes from Angle, with Style’s struggle to reach the ropes really selling the trifecta of German Suplexes that Angle unleashed afterwards. The highlight of the match however, saw the well-known top rope exploder German suplex from Angle, countered by Styles into a beautiful flip only for Angle to hit a Release Belly to Belly suplex, which was a true “This is awesome” moment.
With a match built around submissions, it was surprising to see this one end with a Pinfall victory for Angle. With Style’s reversing the Angle Slam into a Sunset flip, Angle quickly reversed into a nice double leg takedown for the victory. Whilst, this match felt like it could have gone a lot longer and with another fifteen minutes truly could have become a great contest, it was nice to left asking for more and hopefully we’ll see these two lock up at least one more time in the future. It’s clear that the AJ Styles storyline of the past year or so is far from over and it will be interesting to see where TNA decide to go with it from here as I really can’t work out what is coming next.
Tag Team Championship Four Way Elimination Match: Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez © Vs. Bad Influence Vs. The Dirty Heels vs. James Storm & Gunner
This was a fairly well worked contest, albeit with a few floors in logic which dented it’s enjoyability. A nice start with the two big men in the match, Gunner and Hernandez squaring off, only to get kicked in the back when bouncing of the ropes by members of Bad Influence and The Dirty Heels. It was here the classic multi man break down occurred as the match plunge into a long period of chaos, with each team getting at least one offensive move on another.
The match calmed down for a while, allowing Chavo Guerrero to remind us why TNA signed him, because he is supreme in-ring talent, yes WWE enjoyed putting him in matches with Hornswoggle, but he is an asset to the company and probably one of the best ex-WWE signing they have made. After this we got another break down, did we really need two? Yes they can be exciting, but two is a bit of an overkill.
With Hernandez fighting of Kazarian’s attack and following up with an impressive Border Toss, Chavo jumped to the top rope for a Frog Splash. This is wear things got confusing. With Chavo seemingly having pinned Kaz, Bobby Roode (from another team) stopped the ref’s count, only to point out Christopher Daniels hitting Chavo with the Tag Title belt. Roode would go on to pin Chavo with Hernandez somehow missing it all. This section of the match didn’t quite come off as clever as I’m sure it was supposed as both the Boston crowd and the audience at home tried to figure out why Bobby Roode didn’t just let Chavo pin Kazarian and hit a surprise attack straight after.
With just The Dirty Heels and the newly formed Storm and Gunner left, the match settled down into a much more comfortable pace. Gunner more than held his own amongst much more experienced competitors. Having to take a lot of offence from Roode & Aries, including a 450 splash from Aries which seemed to end the contest, only for a last minute kick out. After this we headed to a satisfying ending with an Aries taking a Last Call Super kick from Storm and falling into Gunner’s torture rack, newly christened the Gun Wreck for the submission victory. The new team work well throughout and really looked the part, with hopefully Gunner being able to benefit from the association with Storm not only through crowd reaction but also in terms of in ring psychology and technique which the big man could still do with building upon.
Best of the Rest
There was also a fantastic Last Knockout Standing Match, between Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell. Yes, I did say I wasn’t looking forward to this match for a number of reasons, and even criticised Terrell’s in ring ability on a number of occasions and I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to both competitor’s especially Terrell.
It was a vicious looking contest, with both taking a number of bumps on what looks like an unforgiving entrance ramp, including a head first dive from Terrell which looked extremely painful. Not only was the bout brutal, there was also some nice psychology paying off here, based around the figure four leg lock, which both competitors used wrapped around the ring post, especially satisfying for Terrell who was injured by the move only a few weeks ago. The finish saw a spot that the majority of most male wrestlers probably wouldn’t try, with Terrell hitting a variety of a cutter on Kim off of the ramp and onto the floor below. With Terrell just making the ten count for the victory. Although, I still feel ODB deserves better than Knockout’s Referee, this match saw Terrell earn my respect and she know fully deserves her place on the Knockout’s roster and the expected singles feud with Mickie James.
The Television Title match saw an obvious yet satisfying twist. With Aces and Eights attacking Joseph Park backstage, it was only a matter of time before his brother Abyss made an appearance. With Devon getting the referee the Countout out Park it seemed as if Devon had retained the title for another night. Oddly, this was when Abyss’ music hit and he headed down to the ring, once the fight started, for some reason the bell rang and it became an official match.
It was a short match and hopefully Abyss will get a better setting to display his talents in the near future. Although not a terrible match, it didn’t have much going for it with little excitement brought to it up until the end, with Devon flipping the double bird on Abyss only for The Monster to hit a huge Black Hole Slam for the three count. Somehow this also meant Abyss had won the Television Championship, despite Park already losing his contest via Countout. It wouldn’t have taken much to make this a title contest, but TNA continues to miss the little details on numerous occasions.
Another title change occurred in the X-Division, with Chris Sabin picking up the victory over champion Kenny King and Suicide in an Ultimate X Match. As far as Ultimate X goes this wasn’t a particularly great contest in what is usually a spot heavy gimmick match. There was a non-sensicle double submission at one point, despite the match being unable to be won in that fashion. As well as an awkward “Tower of Doom” spot which took a number of attempt and in the end wasn’t that impressive. A lot of the time the competitors didn’t quite look like they knew what was happening, this contest would have benefitted from being a regular three way. With the ending not quite living up to past outings, with King and Suicide falling from the structure leaving Sabin to pull down the belt. Although by now means a bad match and at times featuring some great athletic competition, it just couldn’t live up to previous Ultimate X matches.
For some reason Hulk Hogan decided to come out after Sabin’s victory, and say something about Destination X, despite the pay-per-view being pulled from the schedule. Hulk did nothing for Sabin in this segment and simply managed to get the crowd chanting his own name. If Hogan’s going to stick around he needs to leave the younger guys alone to create their own moments and have their own spotlight. Hogan went on to announce the opponents for Aces and Eights… despite them already being confirmed on last weeks Impact. There’s been a lot of talk about TNA’s long term booking as of late, but it appears like no one’s letting Hogan in on what’s happening on his Television show.
The six man tag match itself pitting Mr. Anderson, Garrett Bischoff & Wes Brisco against Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe & Magnus captured this pay-per-view in one individual contest, it was at time messy with the rookies in ring positioning coming into questions on a number of occasions, at time exhilarating with Samoa Joe’s burst of energy being on par with what we’ve seen from Daniel Bryan in WWE as of late and the ending really brought the match to life with the pace building towards a fascinated conclusion, with Hardy hitting a Swanton Bomb on Brisco as he attempted to pin Magnus, with Anderson locked in the Rear Naked Choke on the ramp. Was it up there with The Shield’s six man tag matches on Raw? No.
The other match on the card saw Gutcheck Rookies Sam Shaw and Jay Bradley face of for a place in the Bound for Glory Series. It was a basic and uninspiring contest, with neither man getting much offense in for very long. The ending looked awkward as Bradley seemed to forget what was meant to come up next, which was simply his Boomstick finishing move. Both men need to work hard to develop a story within their matches as this was non-existent here. I can’t see Jay Bradley being much more than a whipping boy within the Bound for Glory Series.
What have we learnt from this year Slammiversary?
1. If Aces and Eight are never made to look particularly strong then there eventually downfall will not feel as exciting as their over a year reign should allow.
2. Kurt Angle can still go with the best of them, Sting can’t.
3. Tazz continues to point out the plot holes within TNA, to hilarious consequence on commentary.