By Jason Powell
TNA Slammiversary Hits
Lashley vs. Drew Galloway for the TNA Title: A good main event that closed the show on a high and newsworthy note. Lashley winning the title is logical. He has become a strong, believable top heel, and I assume they will build to a showdown match between him and EC3 at Bound For Glory. I don’t worry about Galloway losing momentum. He is good enough on the mic that he will be able to sell the crowd on his disappointment and whatever his next program is. It was nice to see a decisive finish with the heel going over clean. I wish we would have seen a knockout or a tapout, but I guess Galloway passing out is close enough.
Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy: Another very good hardcore style between the Hardy brothers, who continue to work as hard as anyone during their ongoing saga. The amazing part about their recent work is that they have put their bodies through hell over the years, yet they are still delivering show stealing performances. I was surprised to see Jeff go over. Is this the end of the program? Is the Broken Matt character is sticking around?
TNA Slammiversary Misses
Overall show: A disappointing effort from TNA. The television product has been much improved in 2016, but it didn’t carry over to pay-per-view the way I hoped it would. TNA built up four matches well. One of those matches was called off due to injury, and one failed to live up to the hype. Thus, it became a two match show with a forgettable undercard. On a positive note, TNA creative did not fall into the trap of past creative regimes. Slammiversary was not overbooked with run-in finishes, nor were there cheap non-finishes designed to set up rematches with the real finishes on Impact. The paying customers were rewarded for their purchase with decisive finishes in the key matches. Here’s hoping that becomes the new norm in TNA. Don’t be fooled by the lopsided Hit/Miss ratio. This was not one of those “only in TNA” pay-per-view events with all sorts of lousy finishes and nonsense. However, it was not nearly as good as the NXT live special, and there’s a good chance that Slammiversary will also be surpassed in quality by WWE Money in the Bank and Ring of Honor’s Best in the World this month.
EC3 vs. Mike Bennett: The least satisfying of the big three matches. I went into Slammiversary feeling like this had a big match feel, but the live crowd didn’t treat it that way. TNA had some lively crowds that created good atmosphere for the most recent batch of television tapings, but the Slammiversary crowd was a big letdown in that regard. It’s certainly understandable if it’s related to the Orlando shootings that occurred miles away. And while it’s impossible to say for sure, it’s not like the crowd was flat for the entire show. They were excitable for certainly wrestlers and big spots, so I still found it telling that they didn’t respond to this match like it was a big showdown between two of the company’s top stars. Either way, EC3 and Bennett didn’t seem to have the crowd when the match started and they didn’t do enough to win them over during the match. I assume EC3 will end up challenging Lashley at Bound For Glory, but it will be interesting to see where he and Bennett go coming out of this show.
Decay vs. BroMans for the TNA Tag Titles: This match was used as a buffer between the Hardy match and the main event. I can’t help but wonder whether Slammiversary would have come off better if TNA had placed one of their top three matches at the end of each hour as WWE has done with WrestleMania in the past. The actual match didn’t do much for me. The Decay act is solid, but it’s also losing momentum because they don’t have anyone to work with. Davey Richards can’t return quickly enough. The company’s attempt to turn BroMans into a whacky comedy babyface act has been a failure.
Eddie Edwards vs. Trevor Lee vs. Andrew Everett vs. DJ Z for the X Division Title: All of this has happened before, and all of this will all happen again. The wrestlers worked hard to open the show on a high note, but I just can’t be excited by yet another (fill in a number greater than two)-man X Division spot fest. Lee should have been the heel champion that the division was built around. Instead, we know nothing more about him today than we did when he debuted, and his first reign as X Division Champion was a creative flop. Edwards winning the strap is interesting in that Davey Richards should be back soon. The tag division desperately needs The Wolves, but the X Division could use them as well.
Sienna vs. Jade vs. Gail Kim for the TNA Knockouts Title: The addition of Kim to the match was logical with Maria sidelined by her broken hand. I was curious to see how Jade and Sienna would do in a singles match, but the live crowd may have sat on their hands since they haven’t been given a reason to invest in Jade as a character, and Sienna is new to the company. Adding Kim to the mix gave the match a familiar face, albeit one who has done everything there is to do in the Knockouts Division. The real problem with the match was the finish that was more about Jade and Marti Bell than it was about making the new champion.
Eli Drake vs. Bram for the King of the Mountain Title: A minor Miss with the wrestlers being doomed to start by fighting over a title belt that nobody cares about. They worked hard and the clean finish with the heel going over surprised me, but I still have no idea what the King of the Mountain Title represents or why it exists other than that Dixie Carter once wasted money on a title belt for Booker T and seemingly continues to insist that it be repackaged and used.
James Storm vs. Braxton Sutter: It’s a shame that TNA original Storm didn’t have a real program on the company’s anniversary show. It’s also a shame that Sutter debuted prior to Slammiversary because he was completely overshadowed on shows that were logically all about delivering pay-per-view hype. The idea of the Sutter character is that he worked hard on the independent scene for many years and is finally getting his chance in the big leagues. So why not have tell the story that he has to hard now that he’s in the big leagues to earn a spot on pay-per-view rather than just giving him a forgettable loss to Storm. And please tell me this isn’t leading to the tired story of the less known guy turning on the veteran who gave him a chance.
The Tribunal vs. Grado and Mahabali Shera: Al Snow’s mic work has been the highlight of this feud, which goes straight to hell the moment the bell rings. Poor Grado was just starting to click as the lovable comedy figure when he was saddled with the unenviable task of including Shera in his act. Worse yet, now he has to carry Shera while working against an indy-riffic French heel tag team act.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ring of Honor's PJ Black discussing the ROH Pure Title tournament beginning on ROH Wrestling TV this weekend, ROH's COVID-19 safety precautions, his run in WWE as Justin Gabriel with The Nexus, wrestling as The Bunny, and more...