Powell's TNA Slammiversary XI Hit List: Lazy finish to Bully Ray vs. Sting, Taryn Terrell vs. Gail Kim steal the show, Stone Cold Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle vs. A.J. Styles, Ultimate X, Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe, and Magnus vs. Aces & 8's
By Jason Powell
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TNA Slammiversary Hits
Taryn Terrell vs. Gail Kim: A hell of a brawl from the Knockouts with both women really leaving it all in the ring. I wouldn't want to see them work this style on a regular basis, but they built up to this point in the feud and delivered the most memorable women's match we've seen from TNA or WWE so far this year. Kim has been working especially hard throughout this program to carry Terrell, and Taryn is really trying hard to get over. Who would have guessed going in that the Knockouts match would be the most entertaining match of the night?
Kurt Angle vs. A.J. Styles: Creative was in a tough spot. It seemed more logical for Styles to go over given that he is the one playing the new character, yet Angle was named the second member of the TNA Hall of Fame earlier in the night. It would have been awkward for Angle to be honored and then lose later in the show. This was not the best Angle vs. Styles match, but they are always good when they get together. I still question the idea of having Styles rough up Aces & 8's on the go-home show rather than saving that moment for this week's television show. Once that happened, Styles was cemented as a lone wolf babyface heading into a match against another babyface, which made for an odd dynamic.
Hulk Hogan promo: Stone Cold Hulk Hogan got a few laughs out of me. I hope this was a one-time deal because it's just not Hogan's thing, but it worked because it caught the crowd off guard and therefore packed more of a punch than it would if he tried to do this on a regular basis. The negative is that Hogan endorsing Chris Sabin actually took away from Sabin's win for me. More on that in a moment. If you were left wondering whether Hogan's injured hand required him to be medicated last night, you were not alone, as people watching backstage were asking the same question while watching this promo unfold.
Chris Sabin vs. Kenny King vs. Suicide: A safe and decent Ultimate X match and a minor Hit. Fortunately, Sabin didn't take any unnecessary risks as he comes back from two knee surgeries. However, that opened the door for T.J. Perkins, who is working as the Suicide character, to shine during the match. I still feel like they could have taken their time and built to Sabin winning the X Title, but apparently they want him to cash it in for a TNA Title shot. This is where the Hogan endorsement backfired with me. Rather than allowing the viewers to enjoy the moment of Sabin coming back from knee surgeries and winning the X Division Title, we were immediately told that he would be challenging for the bigger title.
Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe, and Magnus vs. Mr. Anderson, Garett Bischoff, and Wes Brisco: A high-energy, feel good six-man tag with the TNA team steamrolling over the Aces & 8's. This match was exactly what it needed to be with each of the babyfaces getting moments to shine. Hardy, who joined TNA's take time off and grow a beard club, looked good in his return, but Joe really stood out with his crowd pleasing cocky offense. I also like the way Magnus is being played up as a star on the rise.
James Storm and Gunner vs. Bad Influence vs. Austin Aries and Bobby Roode vs. Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez: A decent elimination match. I lost some interest when the match came down to the two teams I didn't want to win the tag titles because I feel all four of the wrestlers involved should be working in the singles division. I can't help but feel that the tag division would be so much better right now if Christopher Daniels and Kazarian were in the midst of a long title reign. TNA seems to use the tag division as a rest stop for singles wrestlers they don't know what to do with. This would be more effective if those singles wrestlers were teaming up to feud with strong, established tag champions rather than just being thrown in the mix of a division where the titles change hands way too often. The work of the wrestlers made the match a minor Hit, but I did cringe when Storm and Gunner won the tag straps so quickly. Why not slow down and have them chase heel champions? There are essentially four teams in the division and all four teams have had the titles at least once. That's just not a winning formula.
Overall show: The main event left a really bad taste in my mouth and made. Combine that with the number of soft Hits and it felt like an average show despite the Hit to Misses ratio.
TNA Slammiversary Misses
Bully Ray vs. Sting: The effort was certainly there from the wrestlers and it was an enjoyable brawl until the finish. Oh, lord, that finish. The thought of Aces & 8's interfering in the main event and costing Sting the title did not feel like a realistic finish going into the show because I honestly believed the TNA creative team wouldn't be so lazy. With four pay-per-view events per year, this was unacceptable. Pay-per-view buyers should feel safe in knowing that they will get a better payoff to a show's main event than this. This is the type of finish that will make some viewers think twice the next time the company wants them to part with $40-$50 for a pay-per-view event.
Is there any reason that Brooke Hogan walking out and distracting Sting could not have been booked to be the turning point of the match that Sting was simply unable to come back from? That would have put the focus on her relationship with Bully Ray, which is obviously something they want us to be thinking about. It also would have provided the fans with a clean finish and given Sting an out if the announcers had played it up right. Instead, we got the mindless Aces & 8's attack, which was made worse because apparently everyone on the TNA side was too busy eating anniversary cake backstage to bother to come to Sting's defense. TNA creative should challenge themselves to be better than this. I understand protecting babyfaces, but Sting has built up more than enough equity that he could have absorbed a loss here, particularly if the announcers had played up Brooke's interference as the turning point.
Devon vs. Abyss: You could see everything coming a mile away. It looked to me like they were setting up a Dusty finish in that it could be announced on Impact that Devon is still TV Champion because he was scheduled to face Joseph Park rather than Abyss. Honestly, it's hard to care considering the title at stake.
Jay Bradley vs. Sam Shaw: The crowd didn't care. There were empty seats and people walking around through the match, as the fans really didn't have any incentive to get caught up in the match. Bradley is the better worker and is certainly more ready for a fun in the Bound For Glory Series than Shaw is at this point, though I do worry that he will be cemented as an undercard wrestler by playing fall guy for the bigger stars throughout the series.
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