Friday, 24 June 2016

TV Review: TNA Slammiversary

It was TNA’s biggest event of the summer, but could the in-ring action douse the memory of that bloody awful hype video? That was what I was hoping to find out by taking at look at Slammiversary, shown on a one week delay on Challenge here in the UK.

The show began with championship action, with Eddie Edwards, DJ Z and Andrew Everett challenged Trevor Lee for the X Division title in a four-way encounter.

Fast-paced action was the order of the day here, and thankfully Gregory Shane Helms was ejected from ringside early on, which meant that these four could get on things, because as the old saying goes this was a great way to start the show.

All four men got their fair share of air miles here, and some of the quick counters were a joy to behold, especially when fan faves Edwards and Z were going at it. Of course, there was the usual co-operation between Helms guys Everett and Lee until the inevitable breakdown in communications and breaking up of pins as they both tried to take the win.

So after a ton of high-flying action the match ended with a good old fashioned wrestling move. As Lee prepared to take Edwards over with a suplex the Wolf countered with a simple inside cradle. A three count later and we had a new champion.

Mmmm..... Eddie Edwards winning a singles title before Davey Richards..... now where has that happened before?

Tag team action followed as Al Snow’s Tribunal team of Basile Baraka and Baron Dax faced Mahabali Shera and Grado.

This wasn’t too bad for a quickie. The Frenchmen attacked Shera right off the bat, and Snow’s boys looked quite effective as a unit as they used the big Indian fella for target practice.

Shera needed a little help from his own partner to make it back to his corner for the hot tag, and after a brief all hell breaking loose segment Shera and Grado’s early celebrations led to their downfall, and it wasn’t long before the Tribunal used Demolition’s old finishing move to take Grado down for the winning pin.

The ladies of the company were up next as Gail Kim and Maria’s buddy Sienna challenged Jade for the Knockouts title.

Lots of jaw-jacking at the beginning of this one. Originally Gail was meant to face Maria in a singles match, but with Maria sustaining a broken right hand the match was cancelled. It was then that TNA executive Billy....I mean William Corgan, in one of the worst authority figure promos I’ve heard, put Gail in the Sienna/Jade title match, making it a three-way encounter.

Well, I’ve said before that the Knockouts have a lot to live up to these days when you compare them to their WWE counterparts, and although this one wasn’t on the level with some of the stuff the Divas have put on in recent months it was still entertaining in it’s on way.

There was some nice three-way action here, especially when the powerful Sienna was taking down her two opponents at the same time, but for me Jade was the stand-out performer in this one, and I can see why the company put their faith in her with the title.

In the end though it was the interference of one of Jade’s old friends that led to her downfall. As Gail was dealing with Maria on the ramp Maria’s apprentice Allie gave Sienna the title belt to use as a weapon. Sienna never had the chance to use it though when Jade’s old Doll House buddy Marti Bell came into the ring, and after ducking under Sienna’s belt shot attempt she clobbered her old friend from behind with a big stick. Sienna then tossed the belt out of the ring and took the title-winning pin.

The first singles match of the evening saw James Storm taking on Braxton Sutter.

The way things were going at the beginning I thought that this was going to be nothing more than a squash match for the former World Champion. Thankfully things didn’t turn out that way, because when Sutter got into his groove he showed he was more than capable of hanging with his more illustrious opponent.

But as good as Sutter looked it wasn’t long before the inevitable happened as Storm connected with the last call super kick for the winning pin. Afterwards, Storm invited Sutter to a post-match beer.

Then it was back to title action as Bram challenged Eli Drake for the King of the Mountain title.

This was quite an enjoyable encounter. Bram dominated for the most part, especially early on, so much so that Drake took his title belt and tried to head for the hills. The big Englishman was having none of it though and followed him up the ramp, and it was only when he back dropped his challenger onto the concrete floor that Bram himself had exposed that he was he able to get any kind of sustained offence going.

Bram came closest to regaining his title a few moments later when he took Drake down with his brightest side of suffering DDT, but that chance went out of the window when Drake rolled out of the ring. Bram followed him outside and threw him back in, but by that time Drake had recovered enough to take Bram down with his blunt force trauma combination for the title-retaining pin.

Then it was on to the big grudge match as Maria’s old man Mike Bennett went up against Ethan Carter III.

You know, I really liked this one. Both of these guys put on great performances as they put on a thrilling contest that ticked all the right boxes. Everything just made sense as the Miracle sought to extend his winning streak and EC3 went looking for revenge.

Of course, this one also had plenty of twists and turns, with each man kicking out of pins after the other’s big moves, and as the action went on you kind of knew that it would take something extra to get the job done.

That something extra came courtesy of the ever-lovely Maria. After EC3 took his man down with the one per center she threw a chair into the ring, a move with distracted the referee and stopped him from making his count. When the official did get round doing his job Bennett had recovered enough to kick out.

This didn’t sit too well with Carter, who jumped down to ringside to confront Maria, who was then sent to the back by the referee. But as he was ushering her away EC3 returned to the ring and was promptly put down by Bennett’s miracle on progress onto the chair. But this still wasn’t enough to get the winning pin.

It wasn’t long though before Carter made his final comeback, and after taking his man down with a stunner he finished him off with another one per center for the winning pin.

The grudge match action continued with the battle of the brothers as Matt Hardy faced Jeff Hardy in a full metal mayhem falls count anywhere match.

If you don’t take that bloody awful promo film into account while watching this one you’ll probably end up thinking the same way as me, that this actually wasn’t too bad.

Okay, it wasn’t going to go down as the greatest match featuring a Hardy, but it was entertaining in it’s own way as these two beat the proverbial out of each other with anything they could get their hands on, be it tables, ladders, or chairs.

In fact it was the crazier Hardy who went through the most tables and ladders, but each time young Brother Nero went for the pin Matt kept kicking out, much to Jeff’s annoyance.

In the end I began to lose count of just how many times Matt went through something, but it didn’t matter when Jeff launched himself off the top rope and put big brother through a table at ringside with a swanton to finally get that elusive three count.

But with everything that these two had clobbered each other with, with everything that they’d put each other through, things were kind of ruined at the end when Matt got to his feet and limped away as Jeff celebrated with the fans. Surely it would have been better to have had the elder Hardy carried away on a stretcher.

The penultimate match saw Robbie E and Jesse Godderz of the BroMans, accompanied by their new guru Raquel, challenge Rosemary’s Decay team of Abyss and Crazzy Steve for the Tag Team titles.

How best to describe this particular encounter? Not too bad I suppose. At a tad over nine minutes long it was obvious that this was more or less a bit of filler to warm the masses up for the main event, and it pretty much succeeded in that.

The early exchanges were okay, especially when Godderz was leaping up to the top rope and taking Steve down with a head scissors, but it wasn’t long before the face-painted ones were using him for target practice.

Needless to say he eventually made it back to his own corner for the all hell breaking loose segment, which saw a bit of mist spraying, although that wasn’t quite in the style of the Great Muta, a cat fight between Raquel and Rosemary, and Abyss eventually taking Godderz down with a black hole slam before power bombing his own partner onto him for the title-retaining pin.

The main event saw Bobby Lashley challenging Drew Galloway for the World title in a tap out or knockout match.

In case you didn’t know what you had here was basically a hybrid last man standing/submission match, and when Galloway began his night’s work by taking his man down with a claymore kick you realised straight away what kind of match this was going to be.

So for the next fifteen minutes-plus we had two big powerful guys beating the hell out of each other with various moves and trying to make each other tap with various submissions. There were times when the action seemed to drag a little, but overall it was pretty entertaining.

Eventually, after they’d thrown everything except the kitchen sink at each other something had to give, and that something was the champion, who, having failed with another claymore kick attempt, found himself on the receiving end of Lashley’s right hand.

Galloway fell to the mat like a sack of spuds, and Lashley followed him down immediately to apply an arm triangle, and it wasn’t long before Galloway was passing out, giving Lashley the title win.

In conclusion – well, here’s something you haven’t heard me say recently about a TNA show, so here goes: this year’s Slammiversary was a pretty entertaining show.

Like many shows this one had it’s good and bad points, but this time around the good far outweighed the bad, and this was definitely the best I’ve seen from TNA in a while, and it’s was certainly better than their recent One Night Only offerings.

As for my prestigious match of the night no-prize that particular honour goes to Mike Bennett and Ethan Carter III for their efforts. Nice work all round there.

So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing left to do, and that’s to give this thing the thumbs up.