I'd like to thank everyone for the feedback to my last report, both positive and negative. I won't pretend that I'm TNA's number one fan, but I have enjoyed and given my money to this promotion many times since first becoming a fan in 2006 so I like to think of myself as a TNA fan still, even if their product isn't always one I can claim to enjoy 100% of the time. There's a lot of accusations of bias one way or another on the IWC surrounding TNA, but hopefully I can provide about as "fair and balanced" of an analysis as is truly possible with something as subjective in it's enjoyment as professional wrestling. Enough preambling though, on with the show!
TNA Slammiversary IX 2011
June 12th, 2011
Impact Wrestling Zone, Orlando, Florida
June 12th, 2011
Impact Wrestling Zone, Orlando, Florida
We open with the usual introductory hype video package, focusing on the Sting/Anderson and Jarrett/Angle feuds as well as the rest of the mid-card angles. Nothing particularly special, but it does the job.
Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz
TNA Tag Team Title Match
James Storm/Alex Shelley © vs. Doug Williams/Magnus
Good choice for an opener here. Bobby Roode joins the commentary with a six pack (he watches TNA PPVs like the rest of us do too!) as the team of "Gun Money" makes their way to the ring. Roode was injured a few weeks back and Bischoff tried to strip Beer Money of the titles if they couldn't defend them within 30 days, but Alex Shelley (whose partner Chris Sabin is also on the shelf) volunteered to step in and defend the belts with Storm. No clue how/why the British invasion are number one contenders. Storm and Williams start off but quickly tag their partners in. Storm and Shelley hit a double dropkick and show some nice teamwork in the early going, mixing and mashing some signature double-team spots from both the Beer Money and MCMG repertoires. Williams and Magnus go to work on Shelley now, isolating him in their corner and working some double-team moves of their own. Magnus looks impressive early with a beautiful suplex and an elbow drop off the top. Shelley blocks the Chaos Theory attempt by Williams and drops him face-first onto the second turnbuckle, allowing him to get the lukewarm tag to Storm, who cleans house on the Brits with forearms. The Brits hit the floor and Shelley hits a tope suicida through Storm's legs in signature MCMG fashion. Tenay harps on about who's the legal man on commentary, but does it really matter when all four men have been in the ring pretty much from the opening bell? The ref hasn't even warned anyone to MAYBE leave the ring. Just a small thing, but kind of annoying. A double-stomp off the top from Shelley nearly gets the "champs" a three count. Storm accidentally spits a mouth full of beer into Shelley's face in a bit of miscommunication, and Shelley blindly superkicks his own partner. Top rope European uppercut from Williams, but Storm manages to kick out at two. Storm nails Magnus with the superkick, Shelley follows up with the Sliced Bread #2, and Storm gets the three count to retain the titles at 10:57.
Winner: James Storm/Alex Shelley @ 10:57
Rating: **3/4 - Solid opener here but it never really seemed to quite get out of second gear and this never seemed to elevate itself beyond being just a token title defense for the "champs", when under the circumstances it should have been anything but. Still, solid action.
We see footage of Jeff Jarrett and Kurt Angle arriving at the arena earlier in the day.
Backstage Scott Steiner promises to not only beat Matt Morgan, but steal his girlfriend as well. Oh Scotty, still cutting as irreverent and amusing of a promo as ever.
Matt Morgan vs. Scott Steiner
This feud just sort of...happened. Basically they have no clue what to do with Steiner ever since the Angle/MEM storyline fell through, so here he is months later floating around the midcard, doing his heel shtick with Matt Morgan who's "hot" off a terrible feud with Hernandez. Morgan dominates from the opening bell and goes for a back suplex, but Steiner bumps the ref and gives Matt a low blow. A belly-to-belly suplex gets Steiner a two count and he harasses the ref about the count. Steiner's offense consists entirely of kicks, punches, and chops at this point so this is pretty difficult to watch as he goes on the offensive for several minutes, beating down our babyface giant in peril. Morgan starts to make his comeback, delivering a sidewalk slam and a sitout bodyslam for a near fall. Steiner counters with a release Northern Lights suplex for two. Discus lariat nearly gets Morgan three, but Steiner counters with a reverse STO. He locks on the Steiner Recliner, or rather he sort of just bends down with his arms loosely around Morgan's neck in one of the weakest Steiner Recliner's I've ever seen. Morgan powers out into the electric chair position but Steiner rolls through into a victory roll for a two count! Jeez I haven't seen Steiner use a victory roll in many years. Morgan hits him with the Carbon Footprint and that finishes for him at 9:22.
Winner: Matt Morgan @ 9:22
Rating: *1/2 - Well it wasn't as bad as it could have been, we can take comfort in that. Still, this was a nothing match that's more fit for an episode of Impact than a PPV. Part of this was decent (when Morgan was on offense), but a large part of this was painfully dull (when Steiner was on offense).
Backstage Jeff Jarrett cuts a promo on Kurt Angle with Jeremy Borash and promises to take Angle's gold medals tonight. He dedicates his match tonight to Karen.
X-Division Title Match
Abyss © vs. Brian Kendrick vs. Kazarian
Huh, a big man declaring war on the X-Division, now where have I seen this before? Oh, right, Kevin Nash did this exact angle in TNA years ago. Oh and he did the same angle in WCW a few years before that as well. Kendrick and Kaz try to team up on Abyss to start just as you'd expect, but Abyss fights them both off with relative ease, sending Kaz to the floor and then tossing Kendrick out on top of him moments later. Kaz dropkicks Kendrick on top of Abyss as the action spills out to the floor. Back inside Kaz and Kendrick hit a series of moves into the corner but Abyss nails Kendrick with the Black Hole Slam. Kendrick keeps trying to get back in the ring but Abyss keeps knocking him off the apron like a child, slapping an awkward chinlock onto Kaz in the mean time. Shock Treatment backbreaker on Kaz and Kendrick has spent the last few minutes crawling around on the floor like an infant. Abyss misses a Vader Bomb in the corner and lands awkwardly on his knees. Kendrick finally returns to the ring and hits a series of dropkicks on the big man for a two count. Abyss counters a Sliced Bread attempt with a big chokeslam on Kendrick but gets nailed with a top rope hurricanrana from Kaz when he turns around. Frog splash from Kendrick gets another near fall and the two smaller men are starting to have some success in their double-teaming. Of course as soon as I type that they turn on each other and start duking it out in the corner. Kendrick nearly leaps right into the Fade to Black from Kaz, but he counters with a leg lariat. Abyss tosses Kendrick out of the ring though and covers Kaz for the pin to retain at 12:05.
Winner: Abyss @ 12:05
Rating: **1/2 - Another fairly solid match here, Kaz and Kendrick did a good job of bouncing around and bumping for Abyss, but this suffered from the usual three-way problems of little structure and overselling for the sake of convenience (Kendrick taking nearly five minutes to recover from the Black Hole Slam seemed a bit excessive). The finish was rather abrupt as well, but this was decent enough.
Samoa Joe vs. Crimson
Crimson is still on his "undefeated streak", and Joe is looking to snap it here tonight to preserve his original undefeated streak as the only important one in company history. Crimson hits the ring running and it's a heated brawl as the bell rings. Joe focuses on Crimson's leg with a series of dragon screw legwhips and the crowd shockingly begins chanting "Joe's gonna kill you!" for the first time in God know's how long. I wouldn't hold my breath on that guys. Joe continues the leg work on the mat and Crimson tries to counter with a cross armbar. T-Bone suplex from Crimson and he follows it with a big double arm DDT. Big German suplex and a lariat from Joe gets two, and things are actually starting to pick up here. Powerbomb from Joe and he transitions right into a single-leg crab, going back to the leg work. Back on their feet a slapfest ensues until Crimson hits Joe with a spear. Stiff slaps from Joe again and he tries for the Muscle Buster, but Crimson evades it. Joe tries to apply the Coquina Clutch but Crimson evades again and Joe turns around right into the Sky High powerbomb from Crimson, which gets him the pin to keep the undefeated streak intact at 10:34. After the match both men shake hands in a sign of mutual respect.
Winner: Crimson @ 10:34
Rating: *** - By far Crimson's best singles match to date here. Joe looked motivated for once and I was taken off guard by how much I was enjoying this match up until the abrupt finish. I can understand wanting to keep Crimson's streak intact, but if this sets up more matches down the line, you really should have given Joe the win here or atleast added some controversy to the finish to give us a reason to want to see them fight again. Good action up until the somewhat abrupt finish.
Backstage Winter is with Angelina Love...who actually speaks! She refuses her "dose" from Winter and says she doesn't need it anymore, because they're on the same page. Yeah you should see where this is going already.
TNA Knockouts Title Match
Mickie James © vs. Angelina Love
Angelina is accompanied by Winter, naturally. Mickie looks damn good (as usual) while Angelina resembles a heroin addicted corpse (as usual). I wouldn't kick that corpse out of bed though. Okay enough necrophilia jokes, onto the action. Love grabs a hold of Mickie's arm and drops a knee over it. Mickie tries to counter out of the wristlock and gets shoved into the corner. Winter trips up Mickie behind the refs back and Angelina goes to work on her on the floor. Mickie counters by tossing her very hard into the steel ring steps, which gives her a chance to recover back in the ring. Love barely makes it back in before the 10 count and both women exchange forearms. Mickie hits the Lou Thesz press off the top rope and then follows up with a nice spin kick. Winter puts Love's foot on the rope before the three count though and Love nails her with a big boot that Tenay refers to as the "Botox Injection". Mickie grabs the rope at the count of two and Winter tries hitting her hand off but Hebner sees it. Winter tries to interfere but Mickie knocks her off the apron and counters a DDT attempt into a northern lights suplex for two. Love rolls her up and gets some extra leverage help from Winter, but Mickie kicks out anyways. She botches the everloving bejesus out of her jumping DDT and that's enough for Mickie to retain at 8:02. After the match Winter and Love beat down and choke out Mickie.
Winner: Mickie James @ 8:02
Rating: ** - This was actually surprisingly decent until the terribly botched finish. They had a few nice exchanges and counter sequences, and even Love looked decent for once. The finish was horribly botched though and they both just looked silly ending it after that.
Backstage Bully Ray punks out JB and cuts a good little heated promo on AJ Styles, letting us all know he's the baddest MFer in the business today.
Last Man Standing Match
AJ Styles vs. Bully Ray
This should for all intents and purposes be the blow-off for the on-again/off-again feud that Styles and Ray have been having since before Lockdown, but you never know with TNA and their love for gimmick matches. Both men brawl to start, trading closed fists. Huge back body drop from Ray and the ref starts his count and gets to three before AJ gets back up. The action spills out to the floor where Ray slams the steel steps onto AJ, sitting on him briefly and demanding the ref count him. Back in the ring Ray lays in some stiff chops but AJ goes all Tommy Dreamer on him, begging and demanding more chops from Ray who just NAILS him right in the face with a fist instead. That was really stiff. Springboard flying forearm from AJ puts Ray out for a six count. Ray goes to the top but AJ nails him with the pele kick. Both men start stiffing each other again on the top rope but Ray just plants him into the mat with a sitout powerbomb off the top rope. Ray pulls out a huge chain and goes to take AJ's head off with it, but Styles ducks and snatches it out of Ray's hands, wrapping it around his fist and nailing Ray in the process. Ray goes head-first under the apron and conveniently surfaces split wide open. Back inside the ring AJ hits a springboard 450 splash, which keeps Ray down for an eight count. Styles just tosses him over the top to the floor like last week's garbage and then follows him out with the pescado. AJ signals for the Styles Clash on the concrete but Ray tosses him into the ring apron. Ray tosses AJ up the stage and goes to powerbomb him off the stage (how he injured Styles months back) but Styles fights him off Ray slides off the stage. AJ gets a huge running start and leaps off the stage with a huge cross-body splash! Nifty spot, but AJ nearly undershot Ray. This only keeps Ray down for about a seven count, so AJ grabs a table from close by and sets Ray up on it after a chair shot. AJ goes back onto the stage but instead jumps onto a nearby steel rigging structure, which he climbs several rungs up and then flies a good 25 feet to the floor onto Ray with an elbow drop through the table! Seriously crazy spot there. AJ gets up at the count of five...and then gets weakly kicked through the side of the stage by Ray. Ray gets back up at the count of nine as AJ is out and Ray somehow gets the surprise win at 20:24!
Winner: Bully Ray @ 20:24
Rating: **** - Oh my lord I absolutely hate that ending with a burning, fiery passion of doom. That seriously made AJ look like shit. Luckily that was an absolutely insane match before hand with Ray doing a nice bladejob and Styles taking a few crazy bumps, most notably the crazy elbow drop off the steel structure and through the table. I'm a sucker for a brutal all-out hardcore brawl, and this was exactly that. Great stuff even with the horrible finish.
Backstage Jeremy Borash tries to get a few words with Mr. Anderson, who quickly interrupts him and begins feeling up JB's face, eyes and lips with his hands in an incredibly awkward segment. That was just odd.
TNA World Title Match
Sting © vs. Mr. Anderson
Kind of surprised this isn't the main event, but I'm not complaining. They've atleast made this feud somewhat interesting in the build up to tonight's show, but to be honest this is a match I have extremely low expectations for. Anderson does his usual pre-match self-introduction but before he can finish Sting pops up behind him and attacks! He brawls with Anderson down the ramp and into the ring as the match officially starts. Sting dominates with some more of his patented punch-kick-punch offense and both men brawl out to the floor again, and of course, into the audience. Is it a requirement for every Sting match to have a brawl into the crowd? Lots of tedious, dull brawling in the crowd until they finally make their way back to ringside where a fan in the front row who may or may not have been a relative of Rob Schneider's screams "YOU CAN DO IT STING! YOU CAN DO IT!" like he's watching Sting vs. Flair from the first Clash. Anderson slams Sting's hand into the steps and rolls him up back inside the ring for a two count. Anderson starts to focus on Sting's arm now, wrapping it over the top rope violently and working a loose armbar. Anderson continues the armwork for a bit until Sting starts to make his comeback, hitting the Stinger splash in the corner and signalling for the Scorpion Death Lock when suddenly Eric Bischoff runs down to ringside, distracting Sting long enough for Anderson to hit him with the Green Bay Plunge for a close near fall. Sting totally no sells all of the arm and handwork that Anderson spent the last few minutes working on. Sting counters with a big DDT for a near fall of his own. Sting blocks a Mic Check attempt, but gets nailed with a second attempt only to kick out at two to Anderson's surprise. Sting hits him with the Scorpion Death Drop and the ref goes to count, but Bischoff slides in and randomly makes a one count, messing up the ref's count as he counts two but Sting thinks it's a three. That was bizarre. Anderson nails Sting with a low blow right in front of the ref and then delivers the Mic Check to win his second TNA World title from Sting at 15:52!
Winner: Mr. Anderson @ 15:52
Rating: ** - The typical Sting main event match, which means it was slow, tedious and rather dull for the most part. The ending was weird too with Bischoff's weird count interference and Anderson nailing Sting with a low blow blatantly right in front of the ref to set up the Mic Check. Just a strange, dull match.
Luckily for us before the main event begins we cut away to Karen Jarrett live via satellite from the Jarrett household. She's as shrill and grating as ever, but she still looks good. She basically threatens to take Kurt's gold medals when Jeff wins them tonight, put them on, and fuck Jeff with them on. Stay classy Karen.
TNA World Title Number One Contender's Match
Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Jarrett
This is being billed finally as the blow-off and "final" match between the two, with both Kurt Angle's gold medals and a World title shot on the line to add even more to the high stakes of the contest. This feud has probably been the best thing TNA has had going for it this year, so this should be good. Both men lock up and tentatively feel each other out as a big Angle chant starts up. Snap suplex gets an early two count for Kurt. They brawl out to the floor and Jarrett slams Angle into the steps and the guard rail. Back in the ring Jarrett begins to take control of the match, choking Angle over the second rope. Both men collide in mid-air as they both attempt cross-bodies and they're barely up at the count of five. Jarrett slaps on a sleeper but Angle fights it off and snaps off a quick German suplex on Jeff. He follows it up with an overhead belly-to-belly for a near fall and tries to apply the ankle lock, but Jarrett quickly escapes out of it. Missile dropkick from Angle and he counters a hurricanrana attempt with a big powerbomb, transitioning right into the ankle lock again. Again Jarrett escapes the hold quickly however and plants Angle with a DDT. Angle counters the Stroke with the Angle slam, and Jarrett kicks out at two like it's no big deal. Does that ever work for Angle anymore? He follows it up with a big moonsault but Jarrett moves of course. He delivers a sloppy Stroke to Angle, but it's Kurt's turn to play the finisher kick out game as the crowd didn't even slightly buy either of those finishers near falls as having a legitimate chance to end the match, which is kind of sad. Both men attempt tombstone piledrivers and fail but Kurt rolls through with the ankle lock again. Jeff sends Angle into the ref as we get our obligatory ref bump of the evening however. Jeff goes under the ring and grabs his signature guitar and then just explodes it over Angle's head in the ring. Earl Hebner runs down to make the count for Jeff, but Angle still kicks out at two. Kurt rolls him up for a close two count and then hits the trio of rolling German suplexes for another near fall. Top rope overhead belly-to-belly suplex gets Angle yet another near fall and he takes down the straps and sets up for another Angle Slam. Jarrett counters with an armdrag however and then nails him with an enziguri. Jarrett hits the Stroke off the top rope but Angle gets the shoulder up! Jarrett applies the ankle lock to Kurt and really synches it on in the middle of the ring, grapevining the leg. Angle rolls through and counters into an ankle lock of his own however, and Jarrett taps out to give Angle the win at 17:36!
Winner: Kurt Angle @ 17:36
Rating: ***3/4 - Another great match in their series of matches. I'd still rank their 2/3 falls match slightly ahead of this encounter based on some of the sickening bumps in that match, but this worked much better as a more traditional wrestling match here (well, until the ref bumps and guitar shots). Damn good match and a good way to close out the show.
Bottom Line: Another surprisingly solid show from TNA here as it seems if I go in with low expectations each month, I come out liking the show that much more when it actually features some great matches, and this show certainly had that in the crazy AJ Styles vs. Bully Ray match and the rock solid main event. The undercard was a bit underwhelming and skippable, but there was some good stuff on this show and it outweighed the bad enough for me to give the show the Thumbs Up.