It’s time to send belated birthday greetings to Total Non-Stop Action as we take a look at their latest pay per view offering, Slammiversary XI, shown this past Wednesday night on Challenge here in Britain.
The show began with the Ultimate X match as Chris Sabin and Suicide challenged Kenny King for the X Division title.
As show openers go this was pretty good. All three men worked extremely well together, and although a couple of sequences looked a little contrived overall it was very enjoyable.
Performance-wise while King and the masked man looked good my hat has to go off to Chris Sabin. He put on a hell of a performance, not bad considering he’d been out for a year with a bad knee.
Moment of the match went to the sequence where Suicide hung himself up in the ropes when his opponents expected him to attack, fooling them enough so he could take them down seconds later.
As for the finish after King and Suicide vied for the belt the champion forced his challenger to release his grip on the cables when he went after his mask. Sabin then scooted across to the centre, and after he sent King crashing he grabbed the belt to reclaim the title.
Six man tag team action followed as Aces & Eights members Mr. Anderson, Garrett Bischoff and Wes Brisco faced Magnus, Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy.
Well, seeing as how Nick Aldis still hasn’t seen fit to apologise for his past indiscretions…..
The singles action began with the finals of the Gut Check tournament as Jay Bradley went up against Sam Shaw.
Although this was a relatively short encounter it wasn’t too bad. Both guys gave a good account of themselves, with Shaw the more impressive offence-wise for me.
Bradley came out on top in this one, his size and power advantage taking him to victory after he took Shaw down with a powerful clothesline for a pin and a spot in the Bound for Glory series.
The first title match of the evening saw Joseph Park challenging Devon for the TV title.
Well, that was the plan. Earlier in the show Devon and Knox attacked Park backstage, and when he failed to show Devon demanded that the referee start the match so he could count Park out.
So the official made the count, and Devon was declared the winner. He then issued a challenge to Park’s brother Abyss, thinking that he’d have an easy night because the monster wasn’t in the building.
So guess who showed up next! Yep, the monster himself, which meant that Devon had to defend his title after all. He quickly dealt with Devon’s cohort Knox before taking on the main himself. The champion soon took the upper hand, but it didn’t last long, and it wasn’t long before Abyss took his man down with the Black Hole slam for the title winning pin.
Yet more title action followed as the Bad Influence team of Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels, Austin Aries and Bobby Roode, and the new team of James Storm and Gunner challenged Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez for the Tag Team titles in an elimination match.
This was one of those matches that was just filled with quality. The action was quite intense at times as all four teams put in great performances. It’s because they all did so well that I can’t think of any individual or team that put in an outstanding performance, although I was particularly impressed when Hernandez took Daniels and Kazarian down with over the shoulder backbreakers at the same time.
Bad Influence were the first team to go. Having clobbered Storm in the ankle with one of the title belts they tried the same trick again when they clobbered Guerrero, only this time around the referee caught them re handed and disqualified them. Aries was quick to seize on the opportunity Daniels and Kazarian had given to him when he pinned Guerrero just a few seconds later.
This meant that we’d get new champions, and once again we saw some great sequences from all four men, but after Gunner kicked out following Aries’ 450 splash it looked like it wasn’t going to be the best day ever for the greatest man who ever lived, and when Gunner draped him over his shoulders for his Gun Rack submission his day got even worse when he tapped out to give the new team the title win.
The ladies were up next as Gail Kim faced Taryn Terrell in a Last Knockouts Standing match.
Although I hadn’t read any reviews of this show I had heard a lot about this match, and most of the comments I heard were well justified.
I haven’t seen a knockouts match like this since Kim feuded with Awesome Kong a few years back. It was a pretty good encounter, and while it was obvious that these two wouldn’t be clobbering each other with anything that wasn’t nailed down it was still quite intense.
Kim once again proved why many consider her the best female wrestler in the world at the moment. It was a flawless performance, one of the best I’ve seen from her. Terrell wasn’t that far behind her in the respect, and both of these ingredients made this match what it was.
The best spot was saved for last. Kim tried to take her woman down with a piledriver on the ramp, and when this failed Terrell countered with an Ace Crusher that sent both of them crashing to the floor. Referee ODB then made her count as Terrell staggered to her feel to claim the win.
The penultimate match was the umpteenth pay per view match between Kurt Angle and A.J. Styles.
We were promised an altogether different Phenomenal One for this encounter, and I have to say I haven’t seen this kind of match from him before. It was a pretty intense encounter. Styles took a far more serious and far more methodical approach against the Olympic hero, and he looked quite impressive, especially when he was using Angle’s heavily bandaged knee for target practice. Angle put in his usual solid performance, but then again that’s what you always get with him.
Mention must be made of what was possibly the best sequence of the night when Angle went to take Styles down with a German suplex off the top rope. Styles when somersaulting over and landed on his feet, but when he tried to go on the attack Angle took him out with an overhead belly to belly suplex into the turnbuckles.
As for the win that went to Angle when he took Styles down with a double leg and the rollup for the pin.
The main event saw Sting challenging Bully Ray for the World title in a No Holds Barred match, with the stipulation that if Sting lost he’d never get another shot at the title again.
No technical classic here, this was a simple fight, and a pretty effective one at that. It’s also the best match I’ve seen from Sting in ages.
These two basically beat the proverbial out of each other, beginning with Sting connected with a Stinger Splash as soon as the bell sounded. It wasn’t long before they were brawling all around ringside before we had a brief cameo from Brooke Hogan, who looked like she still had some feelings for her old man.
Ray thought he’d completed the job when he power bombed Sting through a table, but when the icon kicked out of the pin the champ knew he’d need more extreme measures, and after Taz handed him a knife he began to cut the ring curtains off so he could remove some of the padding and expose the boards underneath.
But not even a piledriver on those boards could get the job done, and it wasn’t until the rest of his gang arrived on the scene that the tide really turned. Although Sting fought most of them off with kicks south of the border he didn’t see Mr. Anderson toss a hammer to Ray. The Bully clobbered Sting with it as he came off the top rope, and as he lay unconscious in the ring the champion retained his title after the three count.
In conclusion - this new pay per view schedule has really refreshed TNA, and this was quite evident with this particular show.
Slammiversary proved to be a ve3ry enjoyable show. All of the matches delivered, with most of them exceeding my expectations, especially the Knockouts encounter.
As for my match of the night no-prize I’m going to plump for the Angle/Styles encounter for it’s great storytelling and for Styles’ brooding performance.
So with all of that out of the way there’s only one thing left to do, and that’s to give this little birthday bash the big thumbs up.