Tonight, live from Arlington, TX, it's TNA's "Slammiversary" pay per view event. The twelfth edition comes to us from the College Park Center in Arlington, and tonight's card shakes out as follows:
Marshall and Ross Von Erich (w/Kevin Von Erich) vs. BroMans (w/DJ Z)
Austin Aries vs. Kenny King; Winner moves on to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship cage match
Samoa Joe vs. Bobby Lashley; Winner moves on to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship cage match
Angelina Love (w/Velvet Sky, c) vs. Gail Kim; TNA Knockouts Championship
Sanada (c) vs. Manik, Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, Crazy Steve, and Tigre Uno; X-Division Championship fought under Ladder Match Rules
James Storm vs. Mr. Anderson
Bully Ray vs. Ethan Carter III; Texas Death Match
Eric Young (c) vs. Winner of Aries vs. King vs. Winner of Lashley vs. Joe; TNA World Heavyweight Championship fought under three-way cage match rules
The main event was changed due to MVP suffering a knee injury at an event in Europe and not being able to work.
Show Open, live from College Park Center in Arlington, TX
We open with Kenny King, MVP and Bobby Lashley conversing backstage. King's not happy because the plan they had got thrown out the window because of MVP's knee injury. MVP says he's not even supposed to be there. King asks if MVP still has his back, and MVP says King will have to have his own back tonight. King storms off, saying he will win the title.
They hype the anniversary element of Slammiversary, and a woman's voiceover says we're celebrating 12 years of TNA. Tenay and Taz are on the call for our show tonight.
Match #1 - Sanada (c) vs. Manik vs. Tigre Uno vs. Crazy Steve vs. Eddie Edwards vs. Davey Richards; six-way ladder match for the TNA X-Division Championship
Notable in the entrances is the fact that the Wolves came out together. The Menagerie accompany Crazy Steve, and they have a little person with them now. Hornswoggle defected? In the early action, Manik dives on to Sanada as he makes his entrance, and that gets the match underway. The live crowd is chanting for Crazy Steve.
Given the anniversary element of this show, it would only be right to discover the midget beating off in a trash can. Yes, TNA did book that once.
Bodies everywhere early, with officials checking on the guys out on the floor. The Wolves double-team Tigre then stand tall. Steve finds himself in the ring and knocks Sanada down by swinging the ladder. Tigre and Eddie also get taken out. Steve climbs the ladder but Manik cuts him off. Manik falls, then gets back up the ladder but Steve pushes him off to ringside onto everyone else there.
Steve sets up the ladder, but loses his place. Sanada recovers and pushes Steve to the mat. The ladder won't fold, so Sanada puts Steve on it and climbs to the buckle and hits a moonsault. Sanada goes up the ladder again but gets cut off by Tigre. Tigre puts ladders together to make a bridge, but his advantage is short lived when the Wolves combine for a double team backstabber.
The Wolves are alone in the ring. They go up the ladder, but decide to change blows. Sanada re-enters and pulls Eddie down. Sanada and Eddie suplex themselves over the ropes to the floor. Manik springboards to the ladder and battles Davey then delivers a crazy sunset flip bomb to the bridge ladder below. Sanada capitalizes, climbing the ladder and getting close to the belt. Eddie tries to cut him off, but Sanada rids himself of Eddie and grabs the belt to retain.
Winner - Sanada to retain the X-Division Championship
There was no story to this match at all, which left me wondering if it would be any good. The live crowd was into it - and it's worth noting that the lower bowl looks full and they're lively at the moment. That atmosphere definitely helps. The finish after a real trainwreck spotfest fell flat though.
Tenay and Taz comment on how MVP was pulled from the main event because of his knee injury, and the new scenario for the main event title match.
MVP comes to the stage, with King and Lashley. MVP is on crutches, and he explains the logic behind the main event.
Match #2 - Bobby Lashley vs. Samoa Joe; Winner goes to the TNA Championship Cage Match against Eric Young and another competitor
The live crowd likes Joe. Lashley starts off all over Joe, throwing shoulder blocks in the corner like Brock Lesnar would. Joe cuts Lashley off on a charge with a boot, then hits a kick. The live crowd reacts to that.
Lashley powders at ringside, but Joe hits him with a suicide dive. Lashley keeps the offense going and lock on a nerve hold, and the fans chant for Joe. Lashley cuts Joe off, and the crowd drops momentarily. Lashley throws some punches and goes back to his nerve hold. The fans rally behind Joe. Lashley runs the ropes but takes a boot from Joe.
The fans get behind Joe as both men stand up. Joe hits Lashley with a boot then a senton splash. Joe teases the muscle buster, but Lashley cuts that off. Lashley throws Joe toward the referee but Joe stops short. Joe turns around only to take a spear from Lashley for the clean win.
Winner - Bobby Lashley to advance to the three way TNA Championship cage match later.
This live crowd was all about Joe and they really supported him. Amazing how crowds do that, generally speaking, no matter how bad Joe is used. Joe carried the match and it was entertaining. Lashley tried hard to his credit, but his offense wasn't good.
JB is in one of the luxury boxes, and he says that Bob and Janice Carter are in attendance. He finds Dixie and Rockstar Spud and interviews them. Dixie says that Bully Ray and his thugs have messed with the wrong family. JB brings up a website report about important meetings, and Dixie says she won't address that until she is in the ring in front of everyone.
Match #3 - Willow (w/Abyss) vs. Magnus (w/Bram)
The heels get their entrance first. Willow takes a seat next to Christy Hemme as Abyss gets his entrance. Magnus takes advantage of a distracted Willow to get the early control. Willow tries for the Twist of Fate but Magnus avoids it.
Willow goes to the ropes and plays to the fans "You know what time it is now," Taz says. Willow splashes Magnus from the second rope and Taz admits he got ahead of himself and thought Willow was going for the Swanton. He does come back to it and misses. Bram sticks his nose in the match, but Abyss gets a hold of him and roughs him up. Magnus intervenes, and they gang up on Abyss. Willow hits everyone with a back-first dive that leads to the live crowd chanting "TNA."
Bram and Abyss fight in the ring while Willow and Magnus sell outside. Abyss gets the better of Bram, then Willow and Magnus return to the ring. Willow hits Magnus with the Twist of Fate twice for two. Bram pulls out a turnbuckle crank and waits, but Abyss pulls Janice out from under the ring. Bram backs off as Abyss points at him. Bram drops his weapon and backs up the ramp.
Willow catches Magnus with an elbow and goes to the top rope. Magnus sweeps his legs and Willow smashes his head on the turnbuckle. Magnus follows with a urinage and pins Willow clean. Abyss comes back afterward to chase the heels off together.
Winner - Magnus
Gotta admit, I find it refreshing that they put Magnus (the heel) over clean here. Jeff Hardy loses nothing in losing this match, and Magnus gets a bit of momentum here. If they give Hardy his win back right away, then it will undo a lot of whatever good was done here for Magnus.
The French commentary team gets a couple moments to talk, then Tenay and Taz turn it over to Jeremy Borash in the ring. JB introduces Kurt Angle, who will introduce the newest Hall of Fame entrants.
Hall of Fame Segment
Kurt Angle gets a strong reaction from the live crowd. He's all smiles as the fans chant for him, then USA.
Angle puts over the TNA Hall of Fame, saying that being elected to it is a level of greatness respected by the wrestlers backstage and the fans. The fans chant "thank you Kurt." He responds by saying he's not retired and "don't be thanking me yet." Angle announces that "possibly the greatest tag team of all time" were the inductees.
Team 3D (Bully Ray and Devon) are introduced as the newest members of the TNA Hall of Fame. Bully Ray and Devon appear on the stage togther, and the fans pop big for that. Taz says he has been at the building all day but had no idea Devon was there. Ray and Devon head to the ring and play to the live crowd as the fans chant for tables.
Bully smiles and lets the chant continue. They show a sign in the crowd that says "The Real TNA HOF - Jarrett, AJ, and Mike Tenay." Bad shot. Ray says "that was the best 'we want tables' chant we've heard in forever." The fans chant 3D. Ray looks at Devon and says he can't begin to tell him how great it was to be standing in the ring with him again.
Ray and Devon hug and the fans chant "welcome back." Ray steps back and points to Devon, who pats his chest in appreciation of the chant. Ray says that they accept the honor for one reason - "because of every single one of you." Ray credits the fans for making Team 3D the most successful in the history of pro wrestling. Ray hands off the mic to Devon.
Devon says that he vowed not to return to TNA when he left, and says he thought he was through. The fans chant "you've still got it." Devon smiles and says that he then got a call saying they would be inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame. He says he has been up and down the road with Ray winning tag title after tag title, ands says it's fitting if they go out, they go out together in the Hall of Fame. Devon says they should go out in a blaze of glory, and delivers his "testify" line.
That was a cool moment. I didn't see this coming - I figured it would have been Mike Tenay, or at worst they induct Dixie and she makes a storyline out of it. If Ray would have gone in solo, it would have felt too soon, but as a team it works. TNA has now beaten WWE to the punch with all three of their hall of famers. I suspect Angle, Sting, and Team 3D will all eventually get that call from Vince as well.
JB interviews Ethan Carter III backstage. He boasts about beating Sting and Kurt Angle. He calls it fitting that he will beat Bully Ray, which will make him the Hardcore American Icon. He calls Ray a villain who threatened his family. He says this isn't Von Erich Country, it's Carter Country.
Match #4 - Austin Aries vs. Kenny King; the winner moves on to a TNA Championship shot against Eric Young in the main event (three way cage match)
King poses with some of the Dallas Cowboy players that are in attendance and seated at ringside. As things get started, King and Aries face off in the ring. King hits a cheap shot, turns his back, and takes a corner drop kick. Aries tries to follow right up with the Brainbuster, but King counters out and bails so he doesn't lose in a minute.
Aries tries something off the top but King leaps at the ropes, so that crotches Aries. King hits a step-up kick and knocks Aries to the floor. Aries gets back in the ring and works with the crowd, running across the apron and knocking King into the corner turnbuckle. Aries hits a missile drop kick for two. Aries tries to follow up with a corner attack but King puts the boot to him. King tries to cover and use the ropes but Brian Hebner sees it and pulls King's feet off. King and Brian argue, and that lets him walk right into Last Chancery from Aries. King holds on and doesn't tap.
King tries to follow up, playing to the Cowboys players at ringside. Aries blocks his top rope move with elbow strikes. Aries and King grapple on the ropes, and Aries hits the Brainbuster off the top to grab the win.
Winner - Austin Aries to advance to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship cage match main event
That was a solid match. The live crowd still seems into this show, so it certainly helps the atmosphere. It's like we said in audio - a hot crowd feeds the in-ring action, and vice versa. Aries not clearly being face or heel adds a wildcard dimension to the main event as well, not being sure which way he is oriented. Definitely will help improve the main event.
JB welcomes the Dallas Cowboy players that are there, and they get a mixed reaction. JB then introduces Kevin, Ross, and Marshall Von Erich to the ring. They get a big ovation. Borash wishes Kevin a happy Father's Day. Kevin says it's great to be there among friends and to introduce his sons. The BroMans music hits to cut him off, and DJ Z and Jesse come out. Jesse talks about what's "tight" and that Cowboys, Spurs, and Von Erichs are not.
Match #5 - Marshall and Ross Von Erich vs. Jesse and DJ Z
Kevin takes a front row seat for this one. Marshall is working barefoot like his dad did. Marshall teases the Iron Claw, but Z avoids. Ross tags in and throws a slow punch, then climbs the ropes awkwardly only to be pulled down. Z hits a dive on Ross out on the floor.
Marshall tags back in and hits clotheslines, then teases the claw. The heels cut him off. Ross hits a missile drop kick on Z and Jesse. Jesse tries to bring a chair in, but Ross drop kicks it away. The Von Erich boys team up for a drop kick and running punch combination, and they have this won. Jesse comes back with a chair and hits them both, throwing the match out.
Kevin abandons his sandals at ringside and attacks Z and gets a huge pop from the Texas fans. Kevin locks the Iron Claw on him and leaves him laying. Hebner raises the hands of all three Von Erichs afterward as the live crowd cheers.
Winner - Marshall and Ross Von Erich by disqualification
The Von Erich boys looked green and rusty at the same time. They did show some good athleticism though and if they want to continue on in the business there is potential there. Kevin got a huge ovation from the Texas fans, and the fans got the payoff they wanted - so we'll not analyze this too much.
Backstage, JB interviews the Beautiful People. He asks Angelina how many times she has won without Velvet's help. Velvet says they are besties and do everything together. Angelina says two is always better than one.
Match #6 - Angelina Love (c, w/Velvet Sky) vs. Gail Kim; TNA Knockouts Championship
Velvet brings a pink bag along with her to the ring. Stiffler is the referee, and he's the BP's personal referee. Gail goes on attack early, looking for whatever she can get on Angelina. She attacks Velvet outside too, but that leaves her open for a ringside attack by Angelina. Back in the ring, Angelina controls the action, but can't get three even with her personal referee.
Earl Hebner comes out, and he tosses Velvet from ringside and then sends Stiffler backstage as well. He has had enough of him allowing the BP get interference. Angelina tries a roll-up with her feet on the ropes but Hebner sees it and stops the count. Gail tries a drop kick, but collects Earl instead of Angelina.
Angelina and Gail get visual threes on each other, but there's no official. Stiffler comes back out and checks on Hebner. Stiffler decides to enter the ring and Angelina cheats to get a pin and renders the three count.
Winner - Angelina Love to retain the TNA Knockouts Championship
A rough night for Earl.
Backstage, Bully and Devon talk. Devon says he's heading back to the hotel and won't see the match with Ethan Carter. HerveyCam asks Bully for words before his Texas Death Match. Bully talks about legendary Texas wrestlers, then tells Ethan Carter that he doesn't think he knows what he got himself into. He tells EC3 to start praying to God.
Match #7 - Ethan Carter III vs. Bully Ray; Texas Death Match Rules
Carter gets his introduction, and he dances to the ring. He poses in front of some signs in the front row. Bully's music interrupts and he comes out swinging a cowbell - puts me in the mind of Stan Hansen. Tenay fills us in on the rules, saying it's no DQ and ends when one man cannot answer a ten count. I guess this is a last man standing match now. Bully is the early aggressor, throwing Carter around the ring and to the floor.
Outside the ring, Bully pulls out some tables. He sets two up next to each other, but he took too long. Carter recovers and blasts him from behind. Ethan throws Bully in the ring where Bully lights him up with jabs. Bully says he needs another table, so he goes and gets a third and throws it in the ring. Bully sets it up in the corner and turns into a clothesline from Carter. "We want cowbell" chants from the live crowd before Ethan goes out to get a chair.
EC3 hits a couple weak chair shots, then lands a couple more emphatic ones. Ethan yells at Bully to get up, then measures another chair shot. Bully boots it into his face though. Bully hits a couple chops to the chest, then he goes out of the ring to retrieve a cheese grater. Bully rakes his chest with it, then teases raking it on his forehead. EC3 hits a low blow to stop him.
Out on the floor, EC3 goes and gets a chair. He jams Bully face first into it, then climbs up top. Bully crotches him there though. He hits a superplex, with EC3's butt hitting the chair. Bully retrieves a Dallas Cowboy themed trash can from under the ring. He looks around for another thing to do, and pulls the mat back. He polls the crowd on whether they want boards or tables.
Bully measures for a piledriver but here comes Rockstar Spud. He hits Bully with a kendo stick. Bully turns around, crotches Spud with the stick, and bounces him around, then hits him with the kendo stick to the head to finish him off. Bully tries a follow-up on EC3, but Carter smashes Bully face first to the boards. Bully barely beats the ten count.
EC3 has the trash can. In it are shards of glass. EC3 dumps them out all over the ring and taunts Bully. He measures him for a move, but Bully catches him in mid air and hits the Bubba Cutter. EC3 writhes in pain, rolling to the floor to recover.
Outside, Bully stalks EC3 and hits him with the kendo stick again. He puts EC3 on the tables he set up earlier and measures for the finish. Here comes Dixie. Ugh. She stands over Ethan, and Ray yells at her. He chases her around ringside and EC3 gets off the tables. Dixie falls into EC3 and he kind of slams her to the floor in an awkward spot. Dixie sells being unconscious and EC3 checks on her.
Bully scoops up Dixie and puts her on the tables. Bully measures and EC3 slides into the ring from behind. Bully contemplates his options here, and that lets EC3 attack him from behind and Rockstar time to pull Dixie off the tables. Bully crashes through the tables as the live crowd chants "bullshit" at the finish. Ray is out, and the official counts to ten. Carter is declared the winner, and he celebrates with Dixie and Spud to loud boos.
Winner - Ethan Carter III with two other people helping him in a typical shitty overbooked TNA finish.
The fans enjoyed the various hardcore elements of the match, even though they weren't truly great. But the minute Dixie came out, this turned downhill. The collision between EC3 and Dixie was weak, then they went on to replay it and make it look even worse. The kendo stick shot that sent Ray through the tables was even worse. The shots Bully delivered through the match were stiffer and more meaningful. Ray comes out of this looking bad. And there was no call for the "I'm going to kill you bitch." line.
They recap the Mr. Anderson vs. James Storm storyline in video.
Match #8 - James Storm vs. Mr. Anderson
Storm cuts a promo before the match, saying how a real cowboy came to the state of Texas. He mocks the "fake ass Cowboys" in the crowd. He pulls out a Cowboys helmet and pretends to pee beer from a beer bottle on it, and admits he is a Titans fan. Storm heels up on Tony Romo and cuts his catchphrase.
Anderson comes out and cuts a promo on the stage. He says they have the Dallas freakin' Cowboys here, and a stupid freakin' cowboy in the ring and this guy from Green Bay Wisconsin, Mr. Anderson. He storms to the ring and the fight is on. He smashes a liquid on Storm's face then throws him in the ring to get the match officially started.
Storm takes control, working on the lower body. Storm takes his eye off the ball though, focusing on the Cowboys at ringside. Anderson blocks his top rope move and delivers his own flying plunge. Anderson gets two out of it. Storm goes out of the ring and taunts the Cowboys players at ringside. He taunts, gives them a one-fingered salute then throws a drink at them. The Cowboys attempt to crash the guardrail, and security intervenes to keep the Cowboys at bay.
Storm gets back in the ring and the Cowboys crash the rail and go after Storm. Storm is distracted and that lets Anderson hit the Mic Check. Anderson covers for the win. The Cowboys players join Anderson in the ring and pose for the cameras.
Winner - Mr. Anderson
Time will tell if TNA will get their SportsCenter moment. Aside from that, this seemed really awkwardly placed, given they had a big brawl of the night (Bully vs. EC3) just before this match. Nothing really hot there.
Backstage, Eric Young is with JB. Austin Aries walks in and talks to EY about the main event. Aries tells Young a lot has happened between them, but none of that matters because tonight it's about the TNA Championship. He says he has tasted it once and will again. "May the greatest man win." Aries leaves.
EY delivers a promo. He puts over Lashley, then boasts about being a crazy man in front of crazy people, and he is crazy enough. He is determined to remain TNA Champion. Not much live crowd reaction to that.
They run a video package of EY winning the title, then recap Lashley and Aries winning their matches earlier to earn their spots in the title match.
Match #9 - Eric Young (c) vs. Austin Aries vs. Bobby Lashley; TNA World Heavyweight Championship in a three-way cage match
Notable that JB gave the introductions during the wrestlers entrances, rather than in the ring like they normally do. Not sure if they're running short on time, or if it was the cage gimmick. The announcers put over how crazy EY is as he makes his entrance. JB announces that the match can only be won by pinfall or submission. Tenay praises that, saying the stakes are high and shouldn't be decided by escape.
Early highlights include Lashle suplexing Aries into the cage, and Young hitting a double Death Valley Driver on both opponents. Aries hits a top rope hurancanrana on Lashley. Young hits a top rope elbow on Lashley and pins him, but Aries kicks Young in the face and hits the Brainbuster for a good near fall.
Lashley hits a spear on Aries, and he spins around. Lashley tries to hit a spear on Young but he ducks and Lashley crashes through the door and to the ringside area. Good thing they did away with the "escape the cage" rule to win the match. Young hits Aries with a top rope elbow for two.
Aries rolls through a Young move and blasts EY with a drop kick to the face. On their feet, the two trade forearms and punches. Taz says "it's like a hockey fight out here." for reasons only he thought it was a good idea. Aries hits a running drop kick in the corner then teases the Brainbuster again. EY pushes off the cage with his feet and turns it around into a piledriver to get the win. Lashley couldn't quite get back in the cage in time to break the pinfall up. Young celebrates, then helps Aries to his feet.
Winner - Eric Young to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship
This was good. It was the right call by creative to get Aries into the match and it was also the right call to come up with the triple threat that turned the negative of MVP being injured into the positive of a quality main event. There wasn't much pop for Young when he scored the win, but they did chant TNA when Young helped Aries to his feet. I think highly of Young, and he works hard. I just don't think he's "long term champion" material though.
This was better than I thought it would be. The live crowd was into it for most of the night, and TNA is less inclined to book screwball finishes in the main event when they have a face champion. One thing that looks to bite TNA in the ass though is their PPV pricing. WWE has the Network where it's $9.99 a month to get a pay per view, and ROH will be offering a pay per view on cable next Sunday for $25. That's something TNA has to sort out with their pay per view companies. I am guaranteeing this has a role in whether or not fans will order their product.
This was a solid three hour show aside from the Bully/EC3 nonsense finish. They didn't leave me looking forward to what they plan to do next though, and that's a problem too. Thanks for watching along with me tonight, and feel free to weigh in with your comments and questions if you watched the show to @RingRap or @Bill_SoonerFan.