It was something of an historic night for TNA as, eleven years since their debut on British television fans on this side of the pond finally got to see one of their pay-per-views live in the early hours of this past Monday morning as Challenge presented Slammiversary.
The show kicked off with championship action as DJ Z and Manik challenged Tigre Uno for the X Division title in a three-way elimination match.
Fast and furious was the order of the day in this rather exciting opener. All three men gave a good account of themselves as they put together some tremendous sequences, some two-way, some three-way, but no matter what combination it was you just knew that whatever they did would get that pulse racing.
As for the eliminations, Z was the first to go after Tigre took put him away with a corkscrew senton from the top rope, and after some lightning-quick exchanges between the two masked men Manik soon followed when Tigre took him down with another senton for the title-retaining pin. Nice work all round.
The singles action began with the implosion of the BroMans as Jessie Godderz took on Robbie E.
Lots of jaw-jacking at the beginning of this one as Godderz did his impression of Lex Luger in his Narcissist phase. Thankfully Mr. E came down to the ring and put a stop to that, and what followed was an extremely enjoyable back and forth encounter, which shows that it took these two breaking up before I actually enjoyed one of their matches.
Godderz looked particularly impressive with his power game, although he did have a few dodgy moments along the way, while E played the part of the underdog babyface quite well, never giving up and always coming back just when it looked like he was done.
And that’s kind of how this match ended. E had survived Godderz’s Boston crab, and after a brief scuffle near the corner E flipped out of Godderz’s press slam attempt and took his former partner down with a reverse DDT for the winning pin.
Then it was on to my fellow Brit Bram as he took on the returning Matt Morgan.
Before the match began Morgan took to the microphone to suggest that they change things up a little and turn this match into a street fight. It was a suggestion that Bram was more than willing to agree to, which set the stage for a ton of brawling, quite a few weapons shots, and a bit of stalling.
For the most part this was a pretty enjoyable encounter. Morgan put in a very solid performance, while Bram made good use of some of the tools at his disposal. But as good as this match was I couldn’t help but feel that a little more planning on the weapons front was needed.
Let me explain. At various points throughout the match Bram went looking for weapons under the ring, but it was around the mid-way point of the match that his search seemed to take an age, and it was pretty obvious that there weren’t any more weapons on offer. So while all of this went on Morgan spent the time just lying in the ring. It kind of spoiled what was developing into a good match, but by the time the match “resumed” you could tell that the Brit wasn’t too happy.
So after they made best with what they had Bram eventually took the win when he hit Morgan south of the border and finished him off with a DDT onto a chair for the pin.
The battle of former ROH World Champions followed as Austin Aries went up against Davey Richards, with the winner getting to pick the stipulation for their team’s final match in their best of five series for the vacant TNA Tag Team titles.
Out of all the matches on this show this was the one I wanted to see the most, and it didn’t disappoint. From start to finish these two gave us a tremendous match, a riveting back and forth encounter that could have come right out of a Ring of Honor show.
Everything they did just looked so perfect, and it was a joy to behold. I really can’t fault anything about this match, or mention every thing that I liked because it would take me too long to write it all down.
As far as the finish goes, while their partners Bobby Roode and Eddie Edwards brawled at ringside Aries went behind the distracted Richards and rolled him up for the winning pin. As for the stipulation for their final match, Roode and Aries chose a 30 minute iron man match.
The Knockouts were up next as the Dollhouse team of Knockouts Champion Taryn Terrell, Jade and Marti Bell faced Awesome Kong and Brooke in a handicap match.
This is the first time I’ve seen the Dollhouse, and I have to say, is it more or are they a watered-down version of the Beautiful People? Anyway, back to the matter at hand.
This played out how I expected it to. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very entertaining match, but it was also quite predictable, with Kong overpowering her opponents at first before Brooke tagged in and took the punching bag treatment, although Terrell only stepped into the ring to dish out a little behind the referee’s back type of punishment.
Brooke eventually managed to get the hot tag to the big girl, who promptly cleaned house before Brooke took Jade down with her x-factor-like move from the top rope, whatever the hell it’s called.
The non-sanctioned match saw James Storm taking on Magnus. Moving on…..
It was back to tag team action for the penultimate match as Ethan Carter III and Tyrus took on Bobby Lashley and Mr. Anderson.
So I’ve heard that EC3 is going to be the next big breakout star in TNA, the next big thing. Well, as I’m not a regular viewer I can’t really comment on that, but his performance here wasn’t too bad in what was an enjoyable tag team encounter.
Dixie’s nephew put in some good work throughout as he joined the old Funkasaurus in dishing out the punishment to Lashley and Anderson, and Tyrus kind of impressed me with some of his power moves, although I would have like to have seen a lot more of him in this match.
Saying that though, he did come up with the most impressive move of the match when he took both of his opponents over with a suplex. Sadly there was no dance to celebrate such an achievement, and a few moments later he fell to Lashley’s spear. This led the Bellator fighter wide open though, and after a kick to the noggin EC3 took him down with his one percenter for the winning pin.
The main event was the King of the Mountain match featuring Drew Galloway, Eric Young, Matt Hardy, Bobby Roode and Jeff Jarrett.
Now whenever there’s a gimmick match I normally go over the rules, but there’s so many for this match it would take me way too long to type them. Besides, from the beginning it was kind of obvious just what this match was about. It may have had five guys in it but the spotlight was firmly on one Mr. J. Jarrett.
So how did Double J fare on his big return? Not too badly, although he was something of a whipping boy early on when he was pinned by Roode and then by Young as soon as he came out of the penalty box. Mind you, this gave the others time to shine a little, and as the match went on and Hardy and Galloway got their pins the drama began to set in, with many wondering if Jarrett could get the job done and make himself eligible to hang the belt.
The former head honcho eventually got the pin in needed, and as the match neared it’s conclusion Jarrett took Young down with the stroke off the ladder before grabbing the belt and hanging it in place above the win, winning the match so he could take a new title belt to his new company.
In conclusion – you know, having been fed a staple diet of One Night Only shows in recent times, and having been largely unimpressed with them, I’m left to wonder if I was actually watching another company’s product, because comparing this show to those is like comparing ice cream to horse manure.
This year’s Slammiversary was a quality show. All of the matches delivered, and while the wrestlers look like they’re just going through the motions on those pre-recorded shows they certainly weren’t doing that here. This was a show filled with wrestlers who wanted to put on a good show, and they definitely succeeded in that regard.
As for my prestigious match of the night no-prize that honour goes to the tremendous encounter between Austin Aries and Davey Richards. That was pure quality throughout, and a definite match of the year candidate.
So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing left to do, and that’s to give Slammiversary the thumbs up, which also means that Eric Young won’t tell me to go and…..well, you know what I mean.
By day I‘m an unemployed retail worker, and at weekends I volunteer in a local museum, but by night I’m the author of The Two Sheds Review, Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and mixed martial arts blog. It’s been online in one form or another since June 2000!