It was ten years ago when the wrestling world was set alight as three greats went up against a trio of Elvis impersonators.
Well, perhaps it wasn’t, but it was still ten years ago when Total Non-Stop Action presented their very first show.
That was then, and this is now as we take a look at their latest pay-per-view offering, Slammiversary, shown this past Wednesday night on Challenge here in Britain.
After an opening statement from Hulk Hogan it was on to the first title match of the evening as Samoa Joe challenged Austin Aries for the X Division title, the weight limit rule having been waived by our esteemed general manager.
This brought back some memories, memories of a time when Joe was an awesome wrestling machine, a machine that obliterated all who stood before him.
These two put on a classic, the kind of hard hitting back and forth affair that made the X Division famous in the first place. It was a joy to behold as these two pulled out all the stops.
It was a vintage performance from the Samoan submission machine, the likes of which we’ve hardly seen in the past few years. As for Aries it was another top notch performance, and even though the match only lasted a shade over ten minutes it felt more than twice as long.
Aries finally came out on top in this one, taking the big guy down with his trademark brain buster to retain the title.
The singles action continued with Kid Kash taking on Hernandez.
This power versus speed encounter proved to be quite entertaining. There were a couple of dodgy moments halfway through but apart from that it wasn’t too bad.
Big Super Mex put in his usual kind of performance, bullying Kash around the squared circle while flying through the air with the greatest of ease, once again bringing back memories of the glory days of LAX.
Kash looked okay, but it wasn’t a vintage performance, although he did recover well from those previously mentioned dodgy moments.
This short and sweet encounter came to an end when Hernandez flew once again to take Kash out with a big splash from the top rope.
The first tag team match of the evening saw Robbies E & T taking on TV Champion Devon and Eric Bischoff’s baby boy Garrett.
What we had here was a simple formula. Bischoff got the snot beaten out of him by the two Robbies before getting the hot tag to Devon, who cleaned house and took the pin after taking E down with his spine buster thing.
That was about it, although Bischoff still looks like he’s in need of a whole lot more training, as does the Welshman.
Three way action followed as Mr. Anderson, Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy fought it out for the right to face the World champion.
This was pretty good. I’ve accused these three of phoning it in in the past but that was far from the case with this match.
All three men put in good stints as we saw some great three way sequences, and for once we didn’t get the almost obligatory tree of woe-like move.
After plenty of big spots, and after Hardy looked as if he was going to get the win after taking RVD out with a swanton Anderson countered RVD’s rolling thunder with the microphone check for the win.
It was then time for Crimson’s open challenge, and after the man spent a few minutes insulting the locals none other than James Storm answered the challenge.
This one was quick. Storm attacked as soon as he entered the ring and controlled the majority of the match. Crimson got in a few shots but that was about it as Storm took his man down with the super kick to end the 470 day winning streak in just over two minutes.
After Sting was inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame it was on to the second title match of the evening as Miss Tessmacher challenged Gail Kim for the Knockouts title.
I really enjoyed this one. Okay, it won’t go down as one of the greatest matches in history but it was still pretty good.
Kim looked good throughout as she proved once again how much WWE missed the boat with her. As for Tessmacher she looked pretty good as well, and she’s kind of grown on me in the past few months.
Gail looked as if she was going to take the win with her eat da-feet finisher, but just before she executed the move she changed her mind and went for Tessmacher’s finisher, the Miss countering with a roll-up for the title winning pin.
The anything goes match saw Bully Ray taking on Penn & Teller tribute act Joseph Park.
Once again I’m going to give massive kudos to a match involving Bully Ray. This one made perfect sense throughout as Ray played the bully part to perfection.
Park’s performance was even better. In fact it was the best thing in this match, and even though we know otherwise (wink wink) it really seemed as if he was nothing more than a bumbling lawyer who had never been in a fight in his life.
We even saw an appearance from Park’s big brother. As the dazed lawyer rolled out to ringside and under the ring Ray looked around for his opponent, only for Abyss to appear from under the ring and surprise him with a choke slam through a table.
The monster then went back underneath the ring as his little brother appeared a few seconds later. When he saw Ray lying in the table wreckage he went for the cover and took the unlikely pin.
After a surprise appearance from WWE Intercontinental Champion Christian, there to introduce TNA’s number one moment, it was on to the penultimate match as Kurt Angle and A.J. Styles challenged Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian for the Tag Team titles.
This was good. Real good. But then again, when you’ve got four of the best in the company in the same match then you couldn’t really expect anything less.
Daniels and Kazarian looked great as a team, pulling off some nice double team moves and showing some nice continuity. As for Angle and Styles, they may not have had as much experience as a team but they sure as hell kept up with the champions.
Both of their challengers took their turn in the crash test dummy role as they produced many great moments, the second best being when Angle took both of his opponents down at the same time with a German suplex.
So if that was the second best what was the best I hear you ask. That came after Angle came down from the top rope with a big splash on Kazarian. As the referee made what looked like a title winning count Daniels pulled the official out of the ring. Seconds later Styles came off the top rope with a shooting star press onto Daniels at ringside.
Moments later it was all over. Kazarian tried to take Angle out with his fade to black finisher, but our Olympic hero countered with an ankle lock. Kazarian tried to fight it for as long as he could until the inevitable tap out, giving Angle and Styles the title winning submission.
The main event saw Sting challenging Bobby Roode for the World title.
While this won’t go down as the greatest World title match in the history of professional wrestling it was still pretty enjoyable.
I’ve probably said this before but I’ll say it again anyway. Roode is really growing into the role as the heel champion. This as evident in the early stages of the match when he refused to get into the ring with his challenger, avoiding physical contact at all cost. It’s a trick that’s been done countless times over the years, but it’s highly effective.
As for Sting this was probably the best he’s looked in the past couple of years. The tee shirt, which is normally a sign that a wrestler isn’t exactly happy to put their physique on show, was gone. And his performance wasn’t that bad either.
As for the match it really can’t be faulted. The storytelling was spot on and the performances were good.
Sting came close to winning it all at one point when Roode almost tapped out to the scorpion deathlock until he managed to drag himself to the ropes. It wasn’t the first time he’d find himself in that particular hold though.
After a brawl around ringside Sting applied the hold again, this time on the commentary table. Roode quickly tapped out, but it meant nothing because they weren’t in the ring.
When Sting released the hold Roode found himself on the floor as he conveniently found the beer bottles that his former tag partner James Storm had left behind. After he grabbed one the referee stopped him from using it, snatching it from his hand and taking it away.
That didn’t stop Roode though. When the referee’s back was turned he grabbed another bottle and smacked Sting in the skull with it. When the official came back into the ring the first thing he was Roode covering Sting. A three count later it was all over. Roode was still the champion.
Needless to say that this didn’t sit too well with Sting. He quickly recovered and clobbered the referee before taking out his frustrations on Roode, eventually dragging him up the ramp when he took him down with a suplex before inflicting further damage with a scorpion death drop off the stage as the show came to an end.
In conclusion - Slammiversary apparently received rave reviews from those in the know, and I can see why.
Although the Kash/Hernandez battle was a little disappointing overall this was a good show. All the matches delivered in varying degrees, and there were several candidates for my match of the night award.
That particular award goes to (and this will probably surprise you) the Bully Ray/Joseph park match, the second month in a row that a match involving the former Dudley has achieved this lofty distinction. It was just one of those matches that made perfect sense.
So with that being said let’s wrap up this thing by giving TNA Slammiversary the thumbs up.