Pruett's Pause: TNA Slammiversary - Bobby Roode barely beats Sting, Angle and Styles beat Daniels and Kazarian in a great match, Samoa Joe returns to form against Austin Aries, Christian appears, TNA finds the big show feeling
By Will Pruett
- TNA managed to do something with this show that they have struggled to do for years. They managed to capture the big show feel, even in production. The building was well lit, full, and energetic. The entryway (a new one for TNA) looked like a million bucks. TNA did some great work making the building look and feel great.
- Opening the show with Hulk Hogan felt like a move done to hype up the crowd. I tend to believe that pyro would accomplish the same goal, but TNA doesn't do pyro on the road.
- Hulk Hogan's promo was a little odd at the top of the show. He rambled about TNA going to the next level and raising the bar, just as he has rambled all the time since he came into TNA. Where is this bar he keeps mentioning and can it be raised any higher?
- I wish Hulk Hogan would have said that Austin Aries demanded the weight limit be waived. It's a little touch, but Aries could have used that moment to look like a fighting champion in Hulk Hogan's eyes.
- While I didn't love how Hogan got there, I did enjoy seeing the Samoa Joe and Austin Aries match become a title match. While it goes against the weight limit recently set, it does help the title and Aries. If TNA wants to go forward with the weight limit, they'll need to higher more X Division wrestlers. Next month's Destination X show is the perfect time to do this.
- Samoa Joe looked like it was five years ago in the ring with Aries. He isn't in the shape he was then, but he was moving with agility and passion, which has been missing lately. With this match, Joe showed just how good he can be. Now he needs a character that is in a rivalry and well developed.
- Although his character has been turned far too often, I wouldn't blame TNA if they turned Joe into a full-blown heel. Stick him in a rivalry with Rob Van Dam or Jeff Hardy and let it develop for a few months into a blood feud and they have a license to print money. Especially with Jeff Hardy, Joe could have a great semi-main event program.
- Austin Aries is a great smaller wrestler when he is paired up with a larger opponent. It's tough for a guy Aries' size to seem legitimate against larger athletes, but Aries does so masterfully.
- I could easily condone putting Bobby Roode and Austin Aries in the main event of Destination X. Aries is creeping ever closer to the main event scene. A match with Roode where he holds his own, but barely loses (clean, hopefully), could enhance Aries' character quite a bit.
- Samoa Joe and Austin Aries wrestled a great match that was an easy contender for match of the night.
- The work on this show was fantastic. From the opening match to the semi-main event, everyone brought their A-game. This was not the attitude that we see on many TNA pay-per-views where the wrestlers are a little lackadaisical. No one on this show seemed lazy or unmotivated. Perhaps it was being in Panda Energy's home market that motivated them.
- Why was Hernandez announced as a member of Mexican America when he seemed to be working babyface?
- Hernandez did what Hernandez can do really well. The issue is that Hernandez can't do much more than that. Kid Kash worked well with Hernandez, but this match wasn't build to elevate him.
- It was an odd booking choice to put two big man vs. little man matches back to back to open the show. The quality of these matches varied, but it still seemed like the same story was told in both.
- Jerry Lynn would be a great choice for a wrestler to come in for Destination X next month. I'd hate to see him up against Rob Van Dam again (and they really hurt his character in his feud with RVD last year), but a match against A.J. Styles, Austin Aries, or Christopher Daniels would be great for him.
- There are two things I never want to see Devon do again. The first is wrestling anyone named Robbie. The second is dancing with Garett Bischoff.
- Devon has not been awful during his TV title reign, but I am pretty tired of seeing him wrestle on a weekly basis. I'd love to see Devon drop that title in the next month.
- Christopher Daniels and Kazarian are doing great heel work on the mic. I know I'm saying this often, but they were once again impressive on this show.
- Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy, and Ken Anderson all need to be in programs with wrestlers they can have real feuds against. Perhaps the return of the Bound for Glory series will allow this, but their characters need something to be passionate about.
- Character cannot be the only thing that a wrestler has, they have to have a solid plot behind them as well.
- The triple threat match was a nice spot-fest style triple threat. The three wrestlers involved worked hard, but they couldn't quite get the crowd super involved. I'd estimate that this is because the crowd was split about who to cheer for. This was a nice match.
- Ken Anderson is an okay TV challenger for Bobby Roode, but I sincerely hope that he is not the next pay-per-view opponent for the champion. He may be one of the stalest acts in wrestling today.
- I enjoyed the surprise return of James Storm. He looked great in the ring and the crowd (which was hot all night) treated him like a major star. While I don't love what they have done with Storm's push thus far, TNA can do a lot of things right between now and Bound for Glory to get him ready.
- Crimson's winning streak had become more of an obstacle than something that enhanced his act. He has improved in recent weeks, but I believe he can be worth far more now that he has actually lost. His streak was weak to begin with.
- Crimson is actually my pick for the next TV Champion. His matches may not be amazing, but he isn't worse than Devon. He could be a fun act to see on TV every week defending a championship. It would allow crowds to get used to him.
- Sting is a great choice for TNA's first Hall of Famer. He enhanced the image of the company when he arrived in 2003 and has helped them feel a little more major league since them. He has also had a long enough run in TNA to justify being in their Hall.
- I understand why people would want to see Jeff Jarrett inducted into TNA's Hall of Fame. He did found the company. The thing is Jarrett could be back on TV next week playing a major role. Sting is definitely in the twilight of his career, while Jarrett could be a full time player for another year or more.
- Last month Miss Tessmacher had a surprisingly good match against Gail Kim. This month she had a surprisingly bad match against her with blown spots in key moments. Both women just didn't seem to click together the way they did last month.
- Why didn't TNA just build this match between Kim and Tessmacher as a rematch between Kim and the woman who has her number? The announcers told that story during the match, but it was never built up on Impact.
- Regardless of the story told, I believe that Tessmacher was the right choice for the winner. She is a more compelling character than Gail Kim and it is her time. Hopefully she can have more good matches than poor efforts. The impending heel turn of Mickie James should help her to do so.
- Joseph Park and Bully Ray had a good match, not in terms of action, but in terms of storytelling. They were consistent with he narrative established and they took the crowd on a very fun ride. This wasn't a technical classic, but was a great example of how to tell a story.
- Park continues to impress with his character development. He seemed like he wasn't comfortable in a fight, which was perfect.
- The Abyss switch was a fun moment. I'm guessing that fake Abyss was Brian Lee, since he has a history of playing wrestler's body doubles.
- Mike Tenay and Taz deserve some of the credit for the storytelling in Bully Ray vs. Joseph Park. They are normally disengaged, but in this match they seemed to be paying a ton of attention to nuance.
- Christian Cage's appearance seemed a little lackluster to me. I enjoyed seeing him in TNA for one night only, but he did not seem too happy to be there. On top of that, he was simply introducing a video, not really doing anything relevant.
- Was the number one moment in TNA history really a tag match involving Monty Brown (Pounce!)? No offense to him, but I can think about 20 moments in TNA history that were better than Sting and Christian vs. Jeff Jarrett and Monty Brown. I'm assuming that TNA wanted something involving Sting and Christian here, but they could have picked something a little more memorable.
- I would have rather seen Christian announce Sting as the first TNA Hall of Fame entrant.
- Taz embarrassed himself by pretending to be surprised about Christian's appearance. He is so checked out and disconnected from the product 95% of the time. TNA can find a much better color commentator than Taz and they desperately need to. Taz also enhances the view of TNA as WWE junior. His voice is too connected with mid-2000's Smackdown.
- Kurt Angle and A.J. Styles vs. Kazarian and Christopher Daniels was the the match of the night. All four men has their working boots on and the story between Dixie Carter and A.J. Styles never got in the way of the story in the ring. This match worked to a fever pitch and the crowd was along for every part of the ride.
- I question the decision to put the tag titles on Angle and Styles. Daniels and Kazarian seemed geared up for a nice run. They seemed like a real tag team. We don't even know why Angle and Styles were teaming together.
- If this is a decision being made for Angle's health, I understand it. Tag team matches will take less of a toll on him, while still allowing him to deliver a compelling match. I wish the story between Angle and Styles would have been told in a more compelling way. It was a missed opportunity going into this match.
- Color me surprised that we didn't see any Serg or Dixie interference in the tag match. It seemed built for just that purpose, but the Carter family resisted the urge to put themselves center stage in the home of Panda Energy.
- Up until this point in the evening, babyfaces had won every match. The company did their best to make this a feel good show to celebrate their tenth anniversary.
- Bobby Roode's finisher is now called the "Pay Off" and he came to the ring in one of his 2006 era robes. He was one "It pays to be Roode" away from feuding with Booker T in 2007. His character seemed to take a major step back in this main event.
- At Victory Road, Sting and Bobby Roode had an okay "walking brawl" style of match in a street fight. They could not do the same on this night. Sting and Roode had a clunky match that desperately wanted shortcuts, but had its hands tied by the lack of stipulation.
- This match was a perfect example of why Sting shouldn't be in the main event. Hogan called Sting the best active wrestler today in the video package leading into the match, but that is about as true as anything else Hogan says. Sting tries hard, but he was never coordinated or especially gifted. He shouldn't be in World Championship matches.
- This show was almost reminiscent of TNA's pay-per-views circa 2005. The undercard was filled with good to great matches, but the main event left a poor taste in everyone's mouth. This was a classic guitar shot TNA main event without the classic guitar shot.
- Bobby Roode's stalling in the main event was thoroughly disappointing. It was like watching the same two minutes of a match on repeat the entire time. This wasn't compelling storytelling, it was uninspired wrestling.
- How much would it hurt TNA to allow Bobby Roode to get a clean win over Sting? I know that Sting is their "icon" but would it really be so bad to add some legitimacy to their World Champion?
- The beer bottle shot from Bobby Roode had about 99 problems with it. Brian Hebner is officially the dumbest referee in wrestling history. Who takes one beer bottle out (very carefully, I might add) and leaves the rest of a six pack? Why would he then count the pin on broken glass? The logic here is so extremely flawed, I find it hard to believe.
- Sting's beating of Bobby Roode after the match, complete with a needlessly dangerous spot off of the stage, was unnecessary. It's almost like TNA is afraid that Roode will get over as a champion capable of winning.
This was a great TNA show with a disappointing and deflating ending. Up until the main event this show was really well put together. Great matches were had, great stories were told, and great moments were created. TNA managed to capture the big show feel better than they ever have before. This felt like a tenth anniversary show right up until the finish.
The booking of Bobby Roode continues to be one of the main problems in TNA. They can't bring themselves to book him as a strong heel champion, which is frightening when you know he'll be dropping the title eventually and TNA will want it to be meaningful. As I said before, this was straight out of the 2004-2005 TNA play book with almost everything but the main event delivering.
Let's do some good old fashioned talking about this show! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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