Tonight, TNA celebrates its 11th anniversary with the Slammiversary pay per view event. This show comes to us live from Boston, MA at the Agganis Arena. Sting takes one last shot at the TNA World Heavyweight Championship when he faces Bully Ray. Kurt Angle looks to get respect from AJ Styles, and Taryn Terrell looks for revenge against Gail Kim. The full card shapes up as follows:
Show Open, live from the Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University, Boston MA.
We get the original Total Nonstop Action opening. Things shift to an Aces and Eights themed video focusing on Bully Ray.
The announcers check in at ringside and tell us about the Spanish and French announce teams that are also there calling the action in those languages. We go right into the action from there with Christy Hemme doing ring intros.
Match #1 - Kenny King (c) vs. Chris Sabin vs. Suicide; TNA X-Division Championship fought under Ultimate X Rules
Tenay hypes this as the 30th Ultimate X match and the first for Slammiversary. Sabin and Suicide team up on the champion King to start things off, then it breaks off into every man for himself.
King hits Sabin with a high cradle suplex that the fans pop for. The crowd looks impressive and they seem hot at the moment. The announcers recap Sabin's knee injuries and the risk he has put himself at by competing in UItimate X. Tenay reminds us that Sabin was in the first of these kinds of matches.
Sabin hits King with a tornado DDT and also kicks Suicide in the same motion. He suplexes Suicide onto King as follow up. He makes a play for the belt on the cables but gets cut off by Suicide. King takes out Suicide with a drop kick.
Suicide climbs the wires, but King pulls him down and catches him with a strike. A bit later, Suicide stops Sabin on the ropes and hits an electric chair. King takes a run at the belt but stops to mock the fans. That draws some boos.
Suicide knocks King down, then takes a kick from Sabin. King returns the favor to Sabin. Suicide hits King with a running kick. The action goes rapid-fire and the crowd gets hot, chanting TNA at the end of the sequence. The three men sell the action in the ring.
Suicide goes on a flurry of offense. He catches himself between the ropes to duck a charging Sabin. He then hits both opponents with a kick from the apron. The three end up setting up a Tower of Doom spot that looked a bit over-planned. The fans chant for them faintly once they hit the big spot.
King and Suicide go up to the wires from opposite corners, and meet mid-ring. King ties himself up on the ropes with his legs, and knocks Suicide down. Sabin climbs up and meets King in the middle. Sabin is up to the task to knock King down from the wires and grabs the title belt to pick up the win.
Winner - Chris Sabin to become the new X-Division Champion
I was entertained, but the ending felt a bit flat after they really choreographed that Tower of Doom spot. The fans reacted well to the Sabin win but weren't as hot as they were earlier on. I like it that Sabin won, but it seems a bit early in his "return story" to do this, unless they're planning on him challenging a heel Bully Ray for the World Title this summer.
Sabin is a mess from a cut he got sometime during the match. He makes his way to the stage, where he's met by Hulk Hogan after his music hits. Hulk raises Sabin's hand and the announcers point out that Hulk had "a recent accident" to explain the bandaging on his hand.
Hogan tells Sabin to hear his Boston maniacs. He talks about how Sabin is the future and the X-Division Champion will get a shot at the TNA World Heavyweight Champion during the summer, just like Austin Aries did last year. Hogan says they would love for it to be Sabin to have that shot and congratulates him. Sabin shakes his hand and heads backstage.
Hogan heads on to the ring and says it's time for business. He calls Sabin a great champion, but they need to talk about tonight. Aces and Eights interrupts and Mr. Anderson leads out Wes Brisco and Garrett Bischoff to the ring.
Anderson cues up a Boston accent and says how Hogan loves Boston and Boston loves Hogan. "That just tickles my giblets." Anderson tells Hogan he's going to be taller because he will be standing on a mountain of TNA wrestlers by the end of the show. Hogan tells Anderson he forgot he was in Boston. He says no one in Boston is afraid of ghosts, terrorists, or three pussies wearing leather.
Garrett goes to say something but Hogan shuts him up. He tells Garrett he's a bitch, and his old man's a bitch. He says Sting will punk Bully later and bring the power back to TNA. Hogan say that since he's the GM and "you three are foaming at the crotch" they may as well get started with a six man tag. Hogan tells Anderson he will be in the match, then calls out the opposition.
Wow, Hulk working a bit blue during that promo!
Match #2 - Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe, and Magnus vs. Mr. Anderson, Wes Brisco, and Garrett Bischoff.
As seems to be a norm in TNA, Hardy has also grown a beard in his off time. He does his usual pre-match posing and playing to the fans but gets attacked from behind by Anderson to start the match. When Joe tags in for the first time, he gets a big pop from the fans. He stomps Bischoff down in the corner.
Bischoff tries a dive off the ropes to mount a comeback, but Joe steps out of the way. Magnus checks in and he and Joe work some of their tag team moves. Tenay puts over how Magnus has progressed. For the next few minutes, Magnus sells for the heel team.
Hardy gets the tag and goes on a run of offense. He hits Brisco with Whisper in the Wind and gets two before Anderson breaks it up. He hits the Twist of Fate on Brisco and goes up for the Swanton, but Bischoff trips him.
Garrrett mugs it up only to turn around and take an elbow and a kick from Joe. Magnus follows with the top rope elbow. Joe hits Anderson with a headbutt then locks him in the rear naked choke on the ramp. Brisco hits Magnus with a low blow, but Hardy ends up hitting the Swanton on him to get the win.
Winners - Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe, and Magnus
The live crowd enjoyed this and they were given reason to. The fans liked the three faces in the ring and was into the offensive spots. The outcome was predictable, and you'd have expected more intensity given the faction war, but this is the Aces JV squad.
JB talks about how it's hard to believe it's been eleven years since TNA has been launched. He mentions things that were hot at the time, like the fact that cellphones used to only be able to make calls, and gas was $1.60 a gallon.
He brings in Joseph Park, and he begins to cut his promo. From behind, Knux and Devon attack him and leave him laying. The announcers ponder if he'll be able to compete after the attack. Park holds up the bloody towel and smears blood on the wall with his hand.
So, Abyss is showing up tonight then?
Match #3 - Jay Bradley vs. Sam Shaw; Gut Check Tournament Final with the winner going on to the Bound for Glory Series
The live crowd didn't care too much, nor have they ever been given reason to. Shaw gets some offense in, but takes a big clothesline from Bradley. Bradley picks up the win. Afterward, Christy Hemme does a brief interview with Bradley.
Winner - Jay Bradley to earn a spot in the Bound for Glory Series
The more polished of the two guys got the spot, but I have my concerns about how he'll be used in the BFGS. We shall see how that plays out.
JB is with Austin Aries and Bobby Roode. He points out that they are the only team in the four-team elimination match with two former world champions. Roode reminds us that he was the longest reigning TNA World Heavyweight Champion. Aries takes the moment to remind us he took the title from Roode. Roode closes the segment by telling James Storm that Gunner is no Bobby Roode.
They set up the TV Title Match with a video package.
Match #4 - Devon (w/Knux, c) vs. Joseph Park; TNA Television Championship
Joseph Park doesn't come out when he's introduced. Devon heels on the fans by pointing out the Knicks took out the Celtics in the NBA Playoffs. The fans chant "Let's Go Bruins" in return.
Devon demands the official ring the bell, and threatens him to get it started. The official counts to ten and awards the win to Devon since Park no-showed.
Winner - Devon to retain the TNA Television Championship
Afterward, Devon says Park didn't have it in him, just like his brother Abyss doesn't either. Devon says if Abyss is there, he would tell the referee to ring the bell and whoop his ass too. Moments later, Abyss' music hits and here comes the monster. Abyss takes care of Knux, and this one is underway.
Match #5 - Devon (c, w/Knux) vs. Abyss
Devon controls the opening minutes, but Abyss makes his comeback. He hits Devon with a chokeslam, then flips him off. Devon runs at Abyss but eats the Black Hole Slam for the win. The official hands Abyss the title. Taz protests the title change on commentary.
Winner - Abyss to win the TV Championship, maybe?
The complaining by Taz on commentary might hold up, since it was Joseph Park to face Devon for the title instead. So they gave us a Dusty finish here, but I doubt few will complain.
We get a recap video of Sting beating Kurt Angle at Bound for Glory in 2007 to win the TNA title.
Taz keeps whining about the TV Title change. He says it wasn't an official match, but Tenay tells him Abyss is indeed the official TV Champion.
The announcers set up the segment for the TNA Hall of Fame
TNA Hall of Fame Inductee Segment:
Dixie Carter makes her entrance to polite applause. She gets a brief "thank you Dixie" chant once she gets to the ring. She asks for all the staff and wrestlers to come to the stage, then makes the big announcement. Kurt Angle will be the 2013 TNA Hall of Fame Inductee. Angle is all smiles as he comes to the ring, and he hugs Dixie. They air a tribute video package.
Angle tears up as the video wraps up. The announcers, fans, and wrestlers give him a standing ovation. A "thank you Angle" chant gets going. Dixie talks about Kurt winning the Olympic gold medal with a broken neck, then crossing the line and giving TNA hope they would make it.
The fans give Angle a big ovation once he gets the mic, and a USA chant gets going. He says he wasn't expecting this. He says he has had great moments in Boston but this by far is the best. He thanks his wife and children, then Dixie and Serg, and Dixie's parents for bringing him in to TNA and helping him to love wrestling again.
Angle says he's humbled. He says there are a lot of guys on the stage like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, and James Storm. He says TNA has the best roster in the world and they make him look good. Angle thanks Dixie and TNA "co-founder" Jeff Jarrett, then thanks the fans for being TNA fans.
The announcers follow it up at ringside and Taz says he's very happy for Angle and no one knew this was going to happen. Tenay says there could not have been a more deserving man to honor.
I thought this would be the year of Jeff Jarrett, but I was proven wrong. I have no issue with TNA starting a Hall to honor people after 10 years in business, but I do question someone like Kurt being honored when he is still an active wrestler. I give Sting a pass because of his years in the business though.
We get another Sting title win video, then some footage of Sting arriving at the arena earlier in the day.
JB is with Bad Influence for an interview segment. We then get a video package to set up the tag team championship match
Match #6 - Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez (c) vs. James Storm and Gunner vs. Bad Influence vs. Bobby Roode and Austin Aries; TNA Tag Team Championship fought under Four-Way Elimination Rules
If you recall, Storm was bandaged up on the go-home show. None of that exists tonight. He also is without a shirt.
Chavo and Daniels kick things off. We then get a brief power showdown between Hernandez and Gunner. Opponents attack them from behind and end that spot. Hernandez hits a double backbreaker on Bad Influence. Storm gets in the match and whips one opponent, followed by taking shots from Daniels.
The fans cheer when Daniels and Kaz play to them. Chavo and Hernandez hit them with running dives. A bit later, Hernandez hits Roode and Aries with a double suplex. Chavo takes the tag and hits some fast-paced offense. He hits the Three Amigos suplex spot on Kaz. Daniels checks in and hits Chavo with Angel's Wings.
A little later, Storm hits Roode with the Backstabber. Storm cues up the Last Call, but Daniels gets one of the belts and hits Storm in the knee. Hernandez hits a nice Border Toss on Kaz. Chavo hits the Frog Splash as follow up. Daniels hits the ring with the title belt and smashes Chavo with it, causing the disqualification. Bad Influence is out and the fans boo. Aries rolls up Chavo as Bad Influence was leaving to eliminate the champions.
It's down to Roode and Aries vs. Storm and Gunner. Roode and Aries isolate Gunner while Storm sells at ringside. Gunner no sells Aries' offense. He crawls to the corner, looking for a tag but Roode pulls Storm from the apron so he can't tag.
Storm gets the tag finally and runs through his normal offense, not looking like he's ailing at all. Gunner catapults Aries to Storm, who hits a DDT. Gunner tries a cover but Roode breaks it up. Gunner puts Roode up in the "Gun Rack" (torture rack) but Aries breaks that up. Roode catches Gunner with the spinebuster, and Aries follows with the 450 splash. Gunner kicks out.
Aries is shocked by the kickout. Roode hands Aries a belt, but Storm catches Aries with the Closing Time (codebreaker). Storm sets up for the Last Call. Gunner puts Aries in the Gun Rack. Apparently Aries gave up as the official calls for the bell.
Winner - James Storm and Gunner to become the new TNA Tag Team Champions.
While I guess this gives the drifting James Storm something to do, I'm not a fan of this outcome. I would have rather seen the hot Bad Influence team pick up the titles here.
JB is with Brooke Hogan. He ends the interview with asking her if she still loves Bully. She doesn't answer and ends the interview.
We get a video package to set up the Knockouts match.
Match #7 - Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell; Last Knockout Standing Rules
ODB will be officiating this one. Some intense action to start the match. Gail uses the figure four at the ring post spot and lets it go. Gail plays to the fans as ODB counts. Taryn gets up at seven. Gail charges but Taryn moves, making Gail crash into a chair set up in the ropes. She falls to the floor and the crowd gasps.
Gail is back to her feet and in the ring. Taryn copies Gail's spot and locks her in the figure four around the ring post. Gail gets up at an eight count. Taryn charges, and Gail moves out of the way. Taryn goes through the ropes and takes a bump on the stage.
Taryn gets up and Gail sweeps her legs out from under her. Taryn gets up again, and this time Gail tries a piledriver. Taryn counters and hits a bulldog from the ramp to the floor on Gail. This draws a "holy shit" chant and "this is awesome" chants. Taryn makes it to her feet, but Gail can't and she gets counted out.
Winner - Taryn Terrell
Wow. The ladies worked hard and the fans were impressed by it. They took some big bumps for sure in this one. Entertaining affair.
We get another Sting title win video package. They then roll into a video to set up the AJ Styles/Kurt Angle match.
Match #8 - AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle
Styles has new music that fits this darker persona better. Taz claims Styles is a dead man for screwing over Aces and Eights like he did. Tenay talks about how Angle and Styles worked together last year at Slammiversary to beat Bad Influence. Styles works this match in a t-shirt that reads "No One."
Styles gets the better of this one early. Kurt comes back with a big back body drop. Styles goes to work on Angle's bandaged knee. He hits a springboard drop kick right onto it. Styles locks Angle in a hold to work the knee that Angle breaks by getting to the ropes.
Brief chants break out for both guys. Angle hits Styles with a big clothesline, and Angle sells the knee as he struggles to his feet. Angle hits a series of German suplexes a bit later. The fans don't react too much other than "whoa" right before Angle hit them.
Angle catches Styles on the ropes and hits a German, but Styles lands on his feet. Angle recovers and hits an overhead belly to belly that sends Styles to the corner. The crowd wakes up for these moments. Angle hits the Angle Slam for two.
Straps are down now as Angle goes for the Ankle Lock. Styles rolls through it to escape. Angle tries for it again, but Styles counters to his submission finisher. Angle slips out and locks on the Ankle Lock one more time. Styles tries to grab the ropes but Angle pulls him back to the middle of the ring. Angle lays down, but Styles kicks at Angle to get free.
Angle misses a corner lunge a short time later. Styles locks him in the tree of woe and hits a drop kick. Styles tries a springboard move a short time later but misses it. Angle rolls him up for two. Kurt tries the Angle Slam, but Styles avoids. They battle for positions, and Angle ends up mounting Styles with a double leg to get the win.
Winner - Kurt Angle
As one would expect, it was a good match. Very surprised to see Angle with the clean win here. I was looking for a dirty finish of some sort, or a Styles win given his new character. Maybe there's a reason that will play out on iMPACT.
The announcers give us some final main event hype. They say the TNA poll is in favor of Sting, 64% to 36%.
Bully cuts a promo, holding the belt over his shoulder. He says he doesn't think Sting thought through the no-holds barred stipulation before he made it. Ray says no-holds barred matches used to mean that holds that are banned are now legal.
Ray says there's one move that wrestlers still stay away from because they know the consequences; the piledriver. Ray says that's the move he will beat Sting with. Ray says he won't break Sting's arm, or his leg, he will break his neck.
We get one more video package for the main event.
Ray kind of inadvertently (or maybe on purpose) pointed out the silliness of a no-holds barred match in present day wrestling. The way they're done, it's seldom more than a no-disqualification match.
Match #9 - Bully Ray (c) vs. Sting; TNA World Heavyweight Championship fought under No Holds Barred Rules, and if Sting loses he can never challenge for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship again.
Sting gets a big ovation. Bully comes out from the Aces and eights side and hugs Taz before he gets in the ring. JB handles the ring introductions.
Sting goes right on the offense after introductions. They battle to ringside, where Sting uses the title belt as a weapon. They fight their way back into the ring and trade blows.
Sting gets the better of the trade. Sting calls for the title belt again and smashes Ray with it. Ray returns the favor as the fight moves to ringside. Ray tears Sting's shirt and slaps him in the face a couple times. He throws Sting into the steps.
Ray knocks Sting to the floor, then runs backstage to retrieve a chair. Ray swings and misses, hitting the ring post. Sting grabs the chair then takes charge of the match, hitting Ray with the chair on the ramp. Brooke Hogan walks out to see this.
Sting tells Brooke to go to the back and she does so. Sting goes back after Ray and gets hit with a low blow. Taz says it's legal in this format. Back in the ring, Ray hits Sting with several chair shots, then kicks the chair in his face. Ray hits the piledriver and covers, but Sting kicks out at the last moment.
Kenely tries to rationalize Sting kicking out by saying that Ray telegraphed the piledriver. That doesn't make a lot of sense. A table gets set up in the ring. Sting fires away on Ray in the corner, but Ray comes back with a powerbomb through the table. Sting again kicks out at the last second.
Ray pulls out a knife. Really! He uses it to cut the ring apron loose though. He rips back the mat and exposes the wood. Ray hits the piledriver again and covers, but Sting kicks out at the last second. He tries again, but Sting counters. Sting tries his own piledriver but Ray counters out with a back body drop.
Ray goes the ropes and tries a senton but misses. Sting hits him with the Scorpion Death Drop on the exposed deck of the ring, and covers for the pin. DOC, Knux, Bischoff and Brisco hit the ring to break up the pin. Sting fights off all four Aces members and clears the ring. Taz asks "how's he doing this?"
Sting beats his chest to a big reaction. Devon tosses in a chain, but Sting intercepts and hits Ray with it. Sting has the pin, but Devon pulls out the referee. Sting hits Devon with the chain at ringside. Mr. Anderson has now come out and he gives Bully the hammer. Sting dives from the ropes and Bully hits him with the hammer to pick up the win. Kenely plays it up as "the end of an era" since Sting can no longer challenge for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
Winner - Bully Ray to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship
I can't say I was completely oblivious to the Aces interference, but I did expect it to some degree. I thought TNA might work harder to give a finish other than what we got thought. Surprising none of the TNA talent ran out to help Sting though, even in the post match gloating that closed the show. It ended up being a weak finish to an otherwise crowd-pleasing brawl.
Overall observations: this show was "middle of the road". The crowd was vocal, and looked large. The building was well lit and presented well. For the most part, the matches were well worked and crowd pleasing, save the Gut Check final, but the show ended up feeling just par for the course.
One pay per view remains for TNA, and that's Bound for Glory in October. I am betting that, despite his loss tonight, AJ Styles is built up as your new contender to take the title from Bully Ray by winning the Bound for Glory Series late this summer.
Join me Thursday night for all the fallout from Slammiversary as we bring you live iMPACT coverage starting at 9PM EST. Thanks for following along tonight.