Saturday, 14 June 2008

TNA Slammiversary on Bravo 2 - TV Review

It’s that time of the year again as Total Non-Stop Action celebrates it’s sixth birthday with their annual Slammiversary pay-per-view, shown on a three-day delay on Bravo 2 here in Britain, and headlined by the King of the Mountain match. As usual, our hosts for the evening are the Professor, Mike Tenay, and the man who really does need help from Trinny and Susannah, Don West.

The show begins with the first title match of the evening, as Scott Steiner’s mini-me Petey Williams defends the X Division title against Kaz. Needless to say that Steiner and Rhaka Khan are in Petey’s corner for this one. The nice thing about this match is that we’ve actually got a one-on-one X Division match on pay-per-view, and I honestly can’t remember the last time this happened. It certainly is a good way to start the show, and even though there are a few contrived moments, it’s a good solid outing for both Williams and Kaz, and it’s something that’s been missing from this division in the past few months. Of course, both Steiner and Khan got involved, which led to Williams using a led pipe to give Kaz the crimson mask. But the further interference from the cronies at ringside didn’t help Kaz much either, as Williams eventually used the Canadian Destroyer to get the winning pin. Afterwards, Steiner and Khan attacked Kaz, and after throwing the referee over the top rope, Steiner grabbed the microphone, complaining about not being booked on the show. It was then that HE returned. Yep, the monster Abyss is back, and sporting brand new white ring attire that looked like he came straight from the local loony bin, he stormed the ring and cleaned house. Looks like we’re going to see Abyss v Steiner next month then.

Time for the Knockouts to show their stuff next, with The Beautiful People and their new bodyguard, Moose, taking on Gail Kim, Roxxi and ODB. This was a very impressive outing for the Knockouts, once again showing that they’ve got a lot more to offer than their Diva counterparts. Six good performances here, especially from Moose. It’s the first time I’ve seen this particular lady in action, and although she may not exactly be pleasant on the eye, she plays her character well, and she’s good in the ring. The majority of this match saw the cowardly heels work over the previously injured knee of Gail Kim, with Moose trying to take her out with a variation of the cattle mutilation, before ODB came in and cleaned house, before taking Moose down with a running power slam to get the winning pin for her team. Good stuff here.

Then it’s on to the second title match of the night, with Team 3-D challenging LAX, who have Hector Guerrero and Salinas along for the ride, for the tag-team titles. The third good match of the evening is a great example of tag-team action between two very good teams. Once again Homicide and Hernandez prove to be the stars of the show, especially the big guy, once again proving that you can mix power with agility. Kudos to the former Dudleys as well, still going strong after all these years. Let’s not forget the attempted interference from Johnny Devine, who was headed off at the pass by Guerrero. The end was also one of the best I’ve seen in a tag-team match. After Homicide missed an aerial attack through the ropes on Devon, Hernandez was checking on his partner from inside the ring when Ray delivered a low blow. With Devon getting back in the ring, they prepared to give Hernandez the 3-D, but Homicide quickly got back into the ring and scored with a roll-up on Ray to get the title retaining pin. Nice one there fellas.

More Knockout action follows, with Awesome Kong’s open challenge. Two women from the audience come forward, and needless to say that the woman chosen, Serena, who claimed to have been trained in MMA, gets her backside handed to her on a plate, and it isn’t long before Kong takes her out with the implant buster. It’s then that Kong chooses to fight the second girl, Josie, and that match starts as soon as Josie slaps Kong in the face and jumps the guard rail. The girl from Memphis puts up more of a fight than Serena, but she soon gets taken out with the awesome bomb. Quite what these matches prove is a little beyond me, and when Eric Young interrupted proceedings to announce that he’d found the real Elvis, it was with sheer pleasure when Kong took out the awful impostor. It’s just a shame that she couldn’t do the same to Eric Young.

Then it’s time for the wedding, with Jay Lethal and So Cal Val wanting to tie the knot. But of course, this is a wrestling show, so it was obvious that things weren’t going to go to plan. But can someone explain to me just what Kamala, Jake Roberts, Koko B. Ware and George Steele were doing there? Or was it just an excuse to get a few of the old codgers on our screens. Anyway, let’s get straight to the point. Best man Sonjay Dutt declares his love for Val, then attacks Lethal from behind and pummels him before the legends storm the ring and stop his attack, with Roberts putting a snake on the Guru. So I guess we’ll be seeing Lethal v Dutt next month then. Should be a good match. A shame they had to use this crap to set it up though.

What could be the show stealer is up next, with Kurt Angle, accompanied by Tomko, takes on his former running buddy A.J. Styles. So I guess that Styles is a baby face now then. (You can tell I don’t really follow what happens on Impact, can’t you?) Remember what I said at the beginning of this paragraph? I was right. From start to finish this was a great encounter. I must admit that I had my doubts about this one, given their somewhat different styles (no pun intended), but they gelled extremely well and put on a hard-hitting, back-and-forth contest that definitely delivered what it set out to do. Tomko got sent to the back early after threatening to attack Styles when he was on the outside, and Styles began to bleed from the nose and mouth after several rights from Angle. So after what seemed like an eternity of great action, Angle applied the ankle lock on Styles, who countered by pushing the Olympian off with his feet, and right into the ref. While the official took a snooze, Karen Angle came down to the ring, steel chair in hand, and offered it to her old man. But when the missus double-crossed him by taking the chair away from him, Styles came up from behind and took him out with the Styles Clash. The groggy referee then counted to three, and Styles got the win to end a tremendous match. Angle then got to his feet, and clobbered Styles with a chair, before grabbing his wife and threatening to clobber her as well. As Karen escaped and Angle returned to attack Styles, Tomko returned to the ring and attacked the security team, stopping them from getting into the ring and stopping the attack. Something tells me we’ll be seeing Angle v Styles part two sometime soon.

Main event time, the King of the Mountain match, with Samoa Joe defending the World title against Christian Cage, Robert Roode, Booker T and Rhino, with Kevin Nash as the special enforcer. Now let’s see if I can remember the rules for this one - it’s basically a reverse ladder match, where to win you have to climb a ladder and hang the title belt above the ring - but to get the right to do that, you have to pin someone or make them submit. The beaten person then has to sit it out in a penalty box for a couple of minutes. (Pauses for breath). There, I think I’ve remembered everything, now onto the match. Part wrestling match, part brawl, it certainly is TNA’s most interesting gimmick match. Five very good performances here, with Cage possibly the MVP of this one, although the exchanges between Joe and Booker looked great as well. Even Nash got involved. After Booker clobbered him with the title belt and went to hang it above the ring, the stunned Big Sexy came into the ring and took him down with a power bomb. In the end it was Samoa Joe who emerged victorious. The last man to get the pin to make him eligible, he took Roode down with the muscle buster before climbing to the top of the ladder to hang the belt above the ring, becoming the first champion to successfully defend his title in the King of the Mountain match. A very enjoyable match.

In conclusion - now see what you get when you don’t fill a show with overloaded gimmick matches? If you take out Awesome Kong’s pointless open challenge and the awful wedding angle, you’ve got a fine wrestling show here. Angle/Styles was the highlight of the night for me, a fine example of modern day professional wrestling at it’s finest, with the Knockouts tag match following closely behind. Slammiversary if a fine example that TNA doesn’t need to fill a show with matches that have over-complicated stipulations. Just put on good wrestling matches and the fans will be happy. After all, doesn’t it say “wrestling” on the marquee outside?