By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Slammiversary Hits
Jordynne Grace vs. Deonna Purrazzo for the Knockouts Championship: The company and both wrestlers did a really nice job of building up this match to the point that I started to wonder if it could live up to expectations. That was not an issue, as the match actually exceeded my own lofty expectations. This was my favorite match of the night and I’m already looking forward to the eventual rematch. I love the way the company positioned Purrazzo as a star right out of the gate and followed through by putting the title on her.
Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin vs. Dez and Wentz: Impact got the show off to a good start by delivering the surprise return of The Motor City Machine Guns for the open challenge issued by The Rascalz. Both teams did a good job of creating tension early in the match so that this came off like a battle rather than a friendly match between two babyface teams. The Machine Guns going over in their first match back was perfectly logical. In general, though, Impact needs to do more with Dez and Wentz, who seem to lose as often as they win.
Eric Young vs. Rich Swann vs. Ace Austin vs. Eddie Edwards vs. Trey in an elimination match for the Impact World Title: An entertaining match with a questionable finish. Impact did a good job of creating interest in this show and their product with the surprise teases. I really hoped they would enter Tuesday’s Impact with fresh young champions in Austin, Deonna Purrazzo, and Chris Bey. They got two of the three right. That said, I don’t know what Impact’s creative team has in mind. Eddie Edwards feels flat and out of place as the world champion. But it’s possible that he’s a transitional champion, so we’ll see where it goes. The match was laid out well and I really liked Young attacking Swann’s surgically repaired leg. I hoped that we’d see Austin align with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Given the Good Brothers’ history with Finn Balor, AJ Styles, and Kenny Omega, I was hoping that Impact would go all in on showcasing Austin as the next big thing.
Surprises: Impact built this pay-per-view around surprise appearances and they delivered more than enough to satisfy the masses. I was happy to see Eric Young back, yet it would have felt like a letdown if he had been the final surprise of the night given that they announced the signings of Gallows and Anderson prior to the show. But the company played this perfectly by saving the best for last with the EC3 video. Impact also did a nice job of setting up Tuesday’s television show by leaving people waiting to see EC3 in the ring, teasing more with Heath, and by announcing the hot tag title match between The North and the Motor City Machine Guns. This was an important show for the company and it seems to have been successful in terms of creating a renewed interest in the product.
Willie Mack vs. Chris Bey for the X Division Championship: An entertaining match. The ref bump spot felt strange, but the overall match was strong. The title change elevates Bey to a position where he belongs given his skill level and the big buildup that the company gave him.
Impact Wrestling Slammiversary Misses
Moose vs. Tommy Dreamer in an Old School Rules match for the TNA Title: This match didn’t do anything for me on paper or in execution. The effort was there. My interest in seeing two guys have a hardcore match over a defunct title belt was not.
“The North” Josh Alexander and Ethan Page vs. Ken Shamrock and Sami Callihan for the Impact Tag Titles: A rough outing for Shamrock. The match had some good moments, but there were too many times when it looked like something was amiss. Shamrock seemed out of his element in a tag match and it led to some clunky moments.
Rosemary vs. Nevaeh vs. Su Yung vs. Kiera Hogan vs. Taya Valkyrie vs. Tasha Steelz vs. Alisha Edwards vs. Kylie Rae vs. Kimber Lee vs. Havok vs. Madison Rayne vs. Katie Forbes vs. John E Bravo in a gauntlet match to determine the No. 1 contender to the Knockouts Championship: I’m genuinely excited about the Knockouts Division that Impact has assembled, but this was a mostly match with some cornball Bravo comedy that didn’t connect and defied all logic. The only thing I actually liked about this match was the outcome of Kylie Rae going over.