Zim's TNA Slammiversary onsite report: Dot Net staffer attends the 11th Anniversary show, Earl Hebner injury, notes on crowd reactions
By Zack Zimmerman
The arena was about halfway blocked off for the set and production area. The areas that were available, however, were virtually full. My buddy and I both guessed on attendance and had it somewhere around 4-5,000. A hot crowd all night, as long as the matches were up to par.
The Ultimate X match was solid, but looked safer and more choreographed than many of the previous ones. Take the good with the bad in that. The crowd was behind Chris Sabin the whole way. Ironically, after making it through the match without injury, Sabin pulled the belt down hard on top of his head when he won and bled pretty heavily.
Hulk Hogan seemed like an unnecessary appearance. He got a great reaction and I understand that he gets off on that, but it really pulled some of the shine off of Chris Sabin's win and transitioned awkwardly into the six-man.
Lots of jeers for Wes Brisco and Garett Bischoff, both of whom still have no place in the ring on PPV. If TNA bases any of their decisions on crowd reaction, they would be building on Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy. Joe's reaction may have actually been bigger than Hardy's. Both were super over with the live crowd, despite being in an inconsequential match in an insignificant program.
Jay Bradley vs. Sam Shaw was the dud of the night. Bradley is good, I just don't think Shaw belongs in a major wrestling company. In fairness, the crowd didn't care how good either man was, they just wanted this match to go away.
The crowd popped big for Abyss' entrance, but seemed to back off when they noticed he looked like Abyss but wrestled like Joseph Park. The "let's go Bruins" chant was more over than anything that happened in this match. The crowd did get up for the title change though.
Kurt Angle got a great reaction for the Hall of Fame announcement, Dixie Carter not so much. The video was well-done by TNA production standards.
TNA's tag division is a mess. The two "heel" teams had better crowd reactions than the "babyface" teams. With their antics though, I hardly consider The Bad Influence heels at this point. They were the most over team in the match and the crowd seemed deflated when they were eliminated. James Storm put in an impressive effort given his condition, but he definitely looked like he was feeling the effects. Once again though, a good pop on the title change, as was the trend.
A fair amount of people took the Knockouts match as a concession/bathroom break, but those who did missed a hell of a match. I don't want to see the ladies bumping like this regularly, but it was awesome to see their effort so above and beyond what is expected. The crowd went nuts after Gail Kim took the chair bump in the corner, and were hooked from there on. I've never heard a reaction like that for the knockouts. Top contender for the match-of-the-night honors.
AJ Styles' new music was another Serg Salinas gem, ugh. It fits his character better, I suppose. The crowd was essentially split, with both Styles and Angle having heavy support. Both men sold brilliantly but the finish coming on a rollup in 15 minutes was a bit lame and anticlimactic. Still good enough to be called the match of the night.
Great reaction for Sting, and good heat (with a smattering of cheers) for Bully Ray. The crowd completely bought in on the multiple piledriver false-finishes, but I thought it was a bit too much, especially with Sting holding his own against five Aces & 8's guys afterwards. Typical overbooked TNA main event, but passable for what it was.
Earl Hebner appeared to badly injure his left knee during a mid-match pin attempt. He came up gingerly and wincing, then held onto the ropes for most of the remainder of the match. Post-match Brian Hebner, several other referees, and some medical staff were tending to him. Here's hoping it looked worse than it was.
Overall, the show was solid enough to be called good by TNA standards. There were, of course, the all-too-frequent problems that plague the company, but besides that, the matches delivered and the crowd was hot and responsive for everything that deserved it. I debated whether or not to make the drive out to Boston, and I'm glad I did.
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