- X Division Championship Match: See what happens when you let two talented wrestlers just wrestle? Slammiversary kicked off on the right note with a fantastic X Division match between Austin Aries and Samoa Joe. The crowd was eating out of their palms and both Aries and Joe were feeding off that energy to deliver a great match. It only went 13 minutes, but it was one of the highlights on the show. I would have preferred 25-30 minutes, but what was given was offered strong. I would absolutely love to see a re-match between these two at Destination X next month, but perhaps TNA has something better in the cards. I also liked the post-match fist bump, as it could be looked at as passing the X Division torch from the past to the future.
Also, similar to Aries hitting the brainbuster on Bully Ray at Sacrifice last month, I was a fan of Aries successfully delivering the brainbuster to Samoa Joe and even better how it earned him the victory. Aries is one of the guys TNA should protect and continue to build until he is permanently in the main event. Finally, I think it's a good move for follow-up interviews with some of the winners from the earlier matches; Aries did a nice job summarizing his last twelve months in TNA during his interview time. Everything about "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived" delivered at Slammiversary.
- Devon & Garett Bischoff vs. The Robbies: When you can get a crowd into a match that features Garett Bischoff, you know you are not dealing with tourists at Universal Studios! On a side note, I thought the VIP picture of Robbie E. was humorous because I believe the cardigan sweater he was wearing in the picture was the identical sweater he wore for this match. It would be ridiculous and hilarious if that happened for every one of his appearances moving forward. I think the crowd buying into the match supplemented the amount of television time that has been devoted to this feud over the last three months.
Also, I would not have minded a "tag match for the TV Championship" stipulation just to add to the recent tension of the Robbies and to see if Garett would sneak in from the back-door to win the TV Title for himself. Perhaps that can still happen next month, but it would have been nice to see on this PPV, especially since Devon continues to own this feud against Robbie E and T. Also, Madison Rayne's appearance was well-welcomed by this viewer, but I prefer to see some advancement in whatever her addition to the feud brings. She is infatuated with one of the Robbies, TV Champ Devon, Garett Bischoff, or even referee Earl Hebner, but whoever the object of her affection is, it's time to move on to the next step of the story.
- Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Mr. Anderson: This was a fun triple threat match that featured some very unique spots. The backslide/leg split combo maneuver by Hardy and Anderson onto RVD was nicely done. The ending sequences with Anderson stopping the referee's count after Hardy hit the Swanton and had the match won was smart. My first feeling had Anderson tossing Hardy outside of the ring, then pinning RVD for the cheap victory, but I am ultimately glad it did not unfold that way. The transition from Anderson countering Van Dam's Rolling Thunder into the Mic Check was very smooth.
Of the three potential challengers, Anderson does seem to be the freshest challenger to Bobby Roode and he still has a bone to pick with Roode after the beer bottle incident several weeks back. I did not have a prediction for this match beforehand other than RVD not winning since he was just coming off a title match at last month's PPV, but I am surprised Anderson won and not Hardy. Overall, a good match that was placed fourth on the show.
- Crimson's Open Challenge: You just knew that Crimson would get his comeuppance sooner rather than later. Similar to when WWE mentioned Brodus Clay's winning streak on the night he was decimated by Big Show, you had to think when TNA started mentioning the length of Crimson's streak that his was on borrowed time. I believed his opponent was going to be someone from TNA's history and that name-dropping Goldberg was just a way to intrigue the viewer of whether or not Goldberg would show up at the PPV. Ultimately, James Storm returning was a shocker and it was great to see Storm back. I question ending Crimson's streak in a match one level above a squash, but it was just the way to kick start Storm back in TNA.
- Knockouts Championship Match: Yes, Brooke Tessmacher had a few botched spots. Yes, up until this point in the PPV, this was the low point of an otherwise pretty good PPV. And, while the match quality is up for little debate, what I will not debate about is the decision to put the KO Title on Tessmacher. Gail Kim held the title for seven months and though it was a dominate reign, it also left the division in a standstill for the majority of that time. Now, with the underdog Tessmacher as champion, the potential challengers create fresh match-ups for the title. And, the storylines to stem off those challengers are endless.
Obviously, Gail Kim would want her re-match. Tara, as Tessmacher's tag team partner, would want an opportunity to embark on some "friendly competition" with her tag partner. Mickie James, who did not have the best luck when facing Kim, might see Tessmacher as an easier target to re-claim her championship and when Tessmacher defeats her, it could finally set James off to a much-needed heel turn. (James's reaction to Velvet Sky being given the chance to shoot the video for Montgomery Gentry indicted the wheels are already in motion for a heel turn.) Then, there's Sarita, Rosita, Angelina Love, and Winter, who all should feel looked over recently and should feel disrespected that the "former model" is carrying TNA's women's championship. I am looking forward to this upcoming reign for Tessmacher as KO Champion.
- Bully Ray vs. Joseph Park: Bully Ray even said it himself on how he baited Joseph Park into this match at Slammiversary. But, it turns out Park might have been the one that suckered Bully into the match. Granted, Park's character played it off like he had no idea what happened, but that is ludicrous, if you ask me. I did like the spot of Park rolling under one side of the ring with Abyss coming up from the other side to confront Bully Ray. It was smart strategy to only show the back of "Abyss" to cloud the judgment of the viewers that Abyss and Joseph Park are not the same person
And, for all the grief the Abyss character has received in the last decade, you have to hand it to Chris Park for playing the role of Joseph so well. At Slammiversary. Park was dressed in a track suit, still had a hard time entering the ring, could not throw a proper punch, did not handle a steel chair correctly, and made one of the most awkward leaps-into-a-pin that I have ever seen in all my years as a wrestling fan. The Joseph Park character has been pure comical and it has really shined because of the perfect counterpart in Bully Ray. The fans have total disdain for Ray that whomever he is feuding with looks like a star. Clearly, this is not the blow-off to the feud and I see Ray getting his heat back on Park soon and finally facing Abyss at Hardcore Justice in August.
- Christian Cage: I guess Taz was the only person in the company not aware of Christian Cage's planned appearance for Slammiversary. In any event, it was odd to see Christian back in TNA, even for one night, especially when he will be back to feuding with Cody Rhodes this week on WWE TV. But, I thought it was special to see Christian back in TNA on the company's tenth anniversary show and it would be nice for TNA and WWE to co-exist for situations such as these. I enjoyed seeing Christian on the PPV because it reminded me of his three-year run with Impact Wrestling. Before Christian joined TNA in 2005, I hardly followed the company. I knew who was there, but never watched on a consistent basis. But, when Christian joined in November 2005, this is when I became a weekly viewer. Although TNA had Team 3D, Rhino, Raven, DDP, Ron Killings, etc. prior to Christian's debut, it was Christian, in my opinion, who was the first major star to cross over from WWE to TNA. Soon after, Sting joined the company on a permanent basis. Then, Scott Steiner, Kurt Angle, Booker T, and all the way to Anderson, Van Dam, Hulk Hogan, and Eric Bischoff. So, it was appropriate to see Christian back, even if he was only there to announce the #1 moment in TNA's history.
- TNA Tag Title match: Along with the X Division match, I thought this was one of the two best matches of the night. Kurt Angle, A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Kazarian are all studs and they are all terrific wrestlers inside the ring. Neutralizing Styles for the first half of the match allowed Kurt Angle to turn up the pace when he was hot-tagged into the match. It was smart for Angle to be placed in that position, given the nagging injuries he continues to deal with. As expected, the action broke down with all four men getting involved, but I think the referee bump seemed accidental rather than intentional and did not impact the match outcome. I think there is a difference between the action breaking down the way it did and the match not involving referee incompetence or some sort of outside interference. I would much rather see the men involved connecting with their signature maneuvers on one another than some sort of shenanigans or tomfoolery dictate the outcome of the match.
I thought the spot with Angle delivering the double German suplexes on Daniels and Kazarian was neat and well done. Angle hitting a high-collar t-bone suplex surely made Taz proud. Also, A.J. pulled off a tremendous Shooting Star Press to Daniels on the floor and Angle followed it up with a counter of the Fade to Black by applying the anklelock on Kaz to win the Tag Titles. Do Angle and Styles need the Titles? No, they do not. But, just like the Bully Ray-Abyss saga, I think the rivalry between Styles-Kaz/Daniels has a few more chapters left to write.
TNA PPV MISSES
- World Heavyweight Championship match: After an entire PPV filled with clean finishes, TNA offered the ending of Bobby Roode vs. Sting. I thought TNA was done with Roode having to use underhanded tactics to get a cheap victory. These last two months after Lockdown, it looked as if Roode was building a credible World Title run not needing to win via fluke. He defeated Rob Van Dam clean at Sacrifice, although it was a ladder match, and he pinned A.J. Styles straight-up to surpass him as the longest reigning champion in company history. But, as soon as Sting returned, Roode tapped out twice on TV and reverted to cheat-to-win survival. I understand Sting submitting Roode the last two weeks on Impact so Sting could be a threat to Roode and his World Title, but wouldn't it have helped Roode immensely getting a clean victory over Sting at Slammiversary?
Instead, Slammiversary was a lovefest for Sting being announced as the first TNA Hall of Fame inductee and his return to TNA in 2006 was the number one moment in the first decade of the company's history. So, after all the prestige and accolades Sting racked up in one night, it would hurt TNA for him to just lose to Roode clean, right? Instead of bettering their World Champion, TNA decided to have Roode use James Storm's beers (left behind for over an hour following his match with Crimson) to crack over the head of Sting to retain the title. Never mind the broken beer glass that the referee ignored as he made the pin. Never mind that this, as the final match of the night, would once again leave the PPV buyer with a bad taste in their mouth to end the show. I would have been satisfied with Roode beating Sting straight-up than another round of this malarkey. Then, in an attempt to "send the crowd home happy," Sting risked his and Roode's well-being with a Scorpion Death Drop off the edge of the staging. If you noticed in the closing moments of the PPV, Sting was bleeding from the bald spot that his hair did not cover up. Hopefully Sting did not suffer a concussion in what was an unnecessary, dangerous, and reckless move off the stage.
- Kid Kash vs. Hernandez: The match itself was fine. It served its purpose as a buffer following Aries vs. Joe and the crowd seemed to enjoy this five-minute match. But, my gripe with the match was its existence to begin with. Why was this match taking place? Both men were not featured for weeks on Impact and this match was thrown together at the last-minute following the final Impact before the show. Is Hernandez still heel? Christy Hemme said he was one-half of Mexican America? Who's the other half now that Anarquia has been released? Or, is Hernandez a face now? Or, was he just face because he was wrestling in front of his home-state crowd? So many questions and so little answers for a match no one seemed to care about. I did like the camera angle for Hernandez's top rope splash, though.
Besides the main event that ended with my head shaking in disappointment, I thought this was a strong PPV. Definitely the best PPV in 2012 for Impact Wrestling and one of the best events in company history. There were some positives coming out of Slammiversary.
(1) Pacing. For a show with nine matches and a Hall of Fame segment, it did not feel rushed. Everything was given time for the audience to soak in and digest. The post-match with James Storm allowed the fans at home to join in on the celebration of his return. The fist-bump between Aries and Joe was well played. Simple and effective.
(2) Feel Good Moments. In my Hits and Misses for Lockdown, I wrote how TNA often fails to deliver on memorable moments. At Slammiversary, TNA delivered a memorable X Division Championship match, essmacher ended the 7-month dominance of Gail Kim to win the Knockouts Championship in her home state of Texas, James Storm returned to action and ended Crimson's undefeated streak in singles competition, Sting was the first inductee into the Hall of Fame, Christian Cage made a one-night return to TNA to announce the #1 moment in company history, and the Tag Team Title match delivered.
Overall, TNA delivered six moments that could be remembered as the synopsis for the big happenings at the 2012 Slammiversary event. If only TNA would stop stumbling over their own feet and start delivering high-quality PPV main events, then they would finally be able to take that next step. For ten years, that is all they've talked about. It's time to take that next step.
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