If you bought Slammiversary for the top-three matches, you weren’t left disappointed. That ultimately made this a solid show, despite some shortcomings on an undercard that just felt like it was there for the sake of being there.
TNA opened the show with an X-Division Title match (shocker!) where Eddie Edwards captured the title with an inside cradle, despite several big spots throughout the match that resulted in near-falls. That’s a crutch that TNA seems to rely on too often, and while Edwards winning the title was a nice story, the finish felt anticlimactic with the inside cradle after so many big moves throughout the match. Edwards’ win should have been given more of an exclamation point.
Sienna won the Knockouts Title in a three-way against the champion, Jade, and Gail Kim, who was added to the match after Maria was injured and unable to compete. That’s a good win for Sienna, who is getting a nice push to the top of the division.
Aside from those two matches, the rest of the undercard just felt as if it was there to fill out the show. TNA did try to put some steam behind the backstories on Impact in the last two weeks, but there was a lack of consequence to many of those matches.
That said, the top-three matches all delivered. ECIII beating Mike Bennett was not only the right booking decision, but it was a good match. ECIII gets revenge on Bennett to even their series, 1-1 and move their story forward.
Jeff Hardy beat Matt Hardy in a Full Metal Mayhem match. The big knock on this match was the perception that nobody wanted to see the Hardy Boys fight, but this never felt like Matt vs. Jeff Hardy in the traditional sense. This was Jeff Hardy against a version of Matt Hardy (pun intended) that strays far away from the Hardy that formerly teamed with his brother. The match felt a little slow at times while they set up between spots, but it was a good brawl and lived up to the hype.
That brings us to the main event, which was excellent and by far the best match of the night. Lashley won the TNA World Title, choking out Drew Galloway in a very physical match that felt like a big fight. It was good to see TNA leave this match alone and not water it down by overbooking it. Galloway has been a strong enough character to survive a clean loss like this, especially within the TNA narrative where he just defended the title “five days before” the pay-per-view.
This was TNA’s best pay-per-view in a while. Overall this was a better show than Bound For Glory last fall, and it blows Slammiversary 2015 out of the water. There are still business problems within the company, and television viewership seems stuck where it is, but the product as a whole has been good since moving to Pop TV in January. The quality of this card compared to last year’s Slammiversary — which was headlined by Jeff Jarrett winning the King of the Mountain Title — really hammers that point home.
1. Eddie Edwards beat Trevor Lee (c), D.J. Z and Andrew Everett in a four-way to win the X-Division Title
I’m a fan of Edwards winning this match, but I was not a fan of the finish. These guys treated themselves like human missiles for about 10 minutes, hitting big move after big move, and the match ended with an innocent inside cradle. TNA isn’t the only company that does this quite often, but it’s always bothered me. There have been hardcore companes that do the same. Guys bash each other with the kitchen sink (literally) and then kick out, but lose on a roll-up from behind. It cheapens the match.
2. The Tribunal (w/ Al Snow) beat Grado & Mahabali Shera
Good match to get the Tribunal over as a tag team. I didn’t like their debut in-ring last week, and they have some work to do, but I think there could be some money in a Tribunal-Wolves feud for the tag titles down the line.
3. Sienna beat Jade (c) and Gail Kim in a three-way match to win the Knockouts Title
Another good match getting over another new talent. Sienna’s push has been well-done and this was just another step for her. Adding Gail Kim to this match after Maria was ruled out with an injury was the right move. The options were probably adding Gail to this match or making it Gail Kim vs. Allie in a 1-on-1 match, and that seems more like an Impactmatch.
4. James Storm beat Braxton Sutter
It certainly felt like Sutter was gong to turn heel here, especially after Storm turned his back and climbed the turnbuckle after giving Sutter a celebratory beer afterwards. I still think Sutter can work as a babyface, particularly if they explain his journey on the independents, but they could also swerve the audience and turn him heel. I’m not sure doing it this early is smart, however.
5. Eli Drake (c) beat Bram to retain the King of the Mountain Title
I didn’t like this match. Something just didn’t seem to click between Bram and Drake, who are two guys that individually, I like a lot.
6. Ethan Carter III beat Mike Bennett
The right guy won this match, with ECIII earning his revenge over Bennett. I’d say that the hype for this match outshined the match itself, but from a booking standpoint the right man won and the series is now even at 1-1. I’d expect a third match somewhere down the line as well.
7. Jeff Hardy beat Matt Hardy in a Full Metal Mayhem Match
Initially, I liked their I Quit match on Impact a few weeks ago more, but this was still a good match that I thought lived up to the hype. Matt Hardy has been doing great work, even though some critics have blasted this latest evolution as his “broken” character. It will be interesting to see where Hardy goes from here, and does he add more depth to that character now that he has lost this match he promised everyone he would win.
The flow was a bit slow. There were several pauses between setting up spots, which is why I liked the I Quit match just a bit more. Some of it may have been cleaned up in post-production, but the match there felt like it had a more consistent flow to it with less starts and stops.
8. Decay (c) (w/ Rosemary) beat The Bro-Mans (w/ Raquel) to retain the TNA Tag Titles
The forgotten match, in a lot of ways. This felt very over-booked. They were trying to squeeze a lot in and I wonder if their time got cut short.
9. Bobby Lashley beat Drew Galloway (c) via ref stoppage to win the TNA World Hvt. Title
Match of the night and one of the best matches of the year thus far for TNA. The ref stoppage protects Galloway and still gets Lashley over as a monster. You kill two birds with one stone there. I liked everything about this match and it absolutely lived up to the hype.
The interesting part, moving forward, is that Galloway likely will have the automatic rematch clause most champions seem to have. Their initial match was a Lumberjack match and now this match was Knockout or Tapout, so the third match in this series is what could ultimately be the straight 1-on-1 wrestling match. It will be interesting to see if they play that up in storylines, talking about how perhaps Lashley had an advantage in MMA training with the Knockout or Tapout stipulation. It can be done without hurting Galloway and pro wrestling too much, but it’s walking a fine line.