I really thought Slammiversary had the makings of an instant classic, but thanks to continued head-scratchers like having your world title match not be the main event, TNA remains in a post Lockdown mini-slump. And to think I missed an NBA Finals clincher because of this nonsense.
Sting’s last PPV bout with Rob Van Dam exceeded expectations, so I had similar feelings towards a bout with Mr. Anderson, who bless his heart is genuinely trying to be the bad guy despite management fumbling with his psychology. When they started running previews for the title match and Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett still hadn’t fought yet I was surprised in that now I was almost positive that Sting was walking away champion.
From here things got a little weird as Eric Bischoff came out looking to distract Sting. After Sting kicked out of a Mic Check, he thwarted Anderson’s offense and hit him with a Scorpion Death Drop. The ref counted two, looked over at Bischoff and actually shooed him away, slammed his arm down for a third count, but got up and said the count wasn’t completed. Bischoff then ran interference again, allowing Anderson to hit a Mic Check and score the pin, winning the TNA World Title for the second time this year.
While the Anderson win was surprising, this match was unbelievably awkward to watch. From the moment Bischoff arrived you could see every offensive move from both guys a mile away, and it just seemed that whoever scored the pin was the guy who won the coin toss backstage before the match. And the 3-count snafu was just unbearable—not only did referee Jackson James count to three, but the decision was never held up and TNA ran at least five or six replays of the clear three count. The fans in the arena hated the ending as much as the approximate tens of thousands watching at home…but wait, there was still one more match.
With emerging super heel Anderson as champion, it almost became elementary that Kurt Angle was going to win, no matter what. Cool booking, guys. They also found a clever way to shoe in Karen Jarrett into the program, with a via satellite look in at her home right before the match. Initially, I thought that Karen was just being pushed aside for once, but it turns out her absence from tapings is for post breast augmentation recovery. Really, Karen, who are you trying to impress still?
Although the Angle and Jarrett matches have been good this year, there wasn’t much else they could do to finish on top, so in comes old reliable, the referee bump. Brian Hebner was run into by Angle, causing a break in the match allowing Jarrett to obliterate Kurt’s head with a baby blue colored guitar. Jarrett proceeded to motion someone ringside, which I found odd considering that a ref answered his call, not another wrestler.
Other than that move, Jarrett was the better performer tonight and his character did well to verbally break down Angle while finding new ways to fall prey to the Ankle Lock. And go figure, the first time in the match that Angle grapevines his submission is when Jarrett taps. The match ended suddenly with no fanfare, and just like that we have a new Mr. Anderson and Kurt Angle main event to dwell on.
While both of those matches read like bogeys, the Slammiversary MVP goes to The Phenomenal One, AJ Styles and his Last Man Standing match over Bully Ray. Despite Christy Hemme jinxing the guy and introducing him from the wrong city, Styles completely stole the show and carried Bully Ray through a match that will probably end up as a top ten for the year. My only issue with these Last Man Standing matches is the really early endurance checks, sometimes five minutes in the match. Come on, guys, if this match really ends because a guy can’t get up after a couple minutes worth of bumps, did you even think they deserved to be in the match to begin with? Not all wrestling fans are dullards.
The first great moment was AJ’s “thank you sir, may I have another?” reception of repeated open palmed chest slaps from Ray. The fans ate this up and only started to kick off the most well received match of the night. Shortly after, Ray hit AJ with a huge punch that sent him reeling backwards, a motion you might see from a disorientated, about to be knocked out UFC fighter. In what should have come off as hokey, the maneuver added that much more personality to the match and AJ was the right man for the job.
After Ray was split open from a chained fist shot, Styles got a running start and leaped off the entrance stage, hitting his forearm on Ray in what was quite the long jump. He would later outdo himself when he set Ray up on a table, climbed a set tower and hit an atomic elbow from easily 25 feet up in the air. Both guys were being counted when Ray mustered his last strength and kicked Styles, propelling him through the side of the ramp, allowing Ray to answer the ten count and win the match. As I predicted, Ray took a beating but still strengthened his resume, while Styles’ credibility will almost never take a hit, allowing for an easier resolution to this match.
In X Division Title action, Abyss defended the belt against Brian Kendrick and Kazarian. Mike Tenay and Taz really hyped the 2-on-1 aspect of this match and boy, that’s what we got. Abyss had a great monster moment early on when he no sold and no caught Kendrick’s cross body attempt, allowing Kendrick’s body to just fall to mat, limp and disappointed. Eventually, Abyss singled out both guys and the match quickly escalated into a true triple threat, which Abyss used to his advantage.
This match was going great until Abyss just pulled Kendrick out of the ring and covered Kaz for the win with no finisher or anything. He totally had time for a Black Hole Slam or something, but for whatever reason they made him out to look like an undeserving, vulture champion. This is all the more odd considering that at times Kazarian and Kendrick could barely muster any 2-on-1 offense against the big man, who suddenly looked (pun so intended) immortal.
The Knockouts match came and went as Mickie James defended against Angelina Love, despite Winter trying to interfere a million times throughout. Mickie looked rough in this match, but surprisingly Angelina outclassed her with poignant promos and decent ring psychology. Before the match, Angelina refused the “medicine” from Winter, saying she understands the situation now. Hey Angelina, drugs help you win in life, so buckle down and get back on the juice.
The opening match of the evening saw Gun Money defend their tag belts against a very game British Invasion. In what was a disturbing trend tonight, the losing party looked way better in their match, and the Brits were no exception. Magnus hit a beautiful cradle into overhead slam while Doug Williams threw in some suplexes that somewhat distracted from Alex Shelley’s lethargic performance. Towards the end, James Storm accidentally spewed beer in Shelley’s eyes and Shelley mistakenly hit Storm with the superkick. But after a kickout from Storm, he hit his finisher while Shelley followed it up with a Sliced Bread for the win and title defense.
Scott Steiner showed up tonight but couldn’t overcome Matt Morgan’s sheer size and athleticism. Steiner was on point with this T-Bones and belly-to-belly suplexes, but he went to the well one too many times and Morgan blocked it, boxed his ears with his crushing forearms and set him up for a Carbon Footprint and the winning pinfall. This decision caught me off guard a bit…now what do you do with Steiner?
VERDICT. While there were probably about three and a half good matches here, it didn’t make sense that the World title match would not be the main event and all but kill the suspense of the final showdown between Jarrett and Angle. TNA is mired in a slump right now and this PPV could have been the one to jump start the saga. Consider this: the last show before Sacrifice last month, Impact promised us three blockbuster reveals for their episode. Well, in a matter of three weeks, all of those big surprises, Chris Harris, Chyna, and Mick Foley, are no longer with the company. And with all three, TNA is partially to blame. If you’ve been watching lately you know that these drops weren’t really ever mentioned, either. Wow. TNA has so many story holes right now that they are sweeping some under the rug to make room for others. Not a complete waste of time, but still an abject disappointment. 3/10
Full TNA Slammiversary 2011 Match Results
Gun Money (Champs) def. The British Invasion for the Tag Titles, pinfall
Matt Morgan def. Scott Steiner, pinfall
Abyss (Champ) def. Kazarian and Brian Kendrick for the X Division Title, pinfall
Crimson def. Samoa Joe, pinfall
Mickie James (Champ) def. Angelina Love, pinfall
Bully Ray def. AJ Styles, Last Man Standing
Mr. Anderson def. Sting (Champ) for the World Title, pinfall
Kurt Angle def. Jeff Jarrett for No. 1 Contender spot, submission
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