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Credit: IMPACT Wrestling
“Our world will change at Slammiversary,” Impact Wrestling promised ahead of its July 17 pay-per-view event, and it was not just referring to the promise of a new world champion.
Eddie Edwards, Ace Austin and Trey of The Rascalz would be joined by a mystery competitor in the main event to crown the new Impact World Champion, vacated when Tessa Blanchard left the promotion. Who would emerge from the shadows with a chance to earn championship gold and what effect would it have on the company as it looks toward the future?
In the weeks leading into the event, the promotion teased the arrival of several familiar faces who had recently been wished the best in their future endeavors. From EC3 to Eric Young, The Good Brothers to Mike Bennett.
Would any of those recognizable stars fill the void in the marquee bout or would they have their attention on another prize?
Those questions, among others, were answered Saturday night on FITE TV as Impact celebrated year 18 with its annual Slammiversary spectacular.
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Saturday morning on Twitter, Impact Wrestling announced the signing on The Good Brothers, “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson and “Big LG” Luke Gallows.
That announcement was the first of many expected debuts at and around Slammiversary.
With all of the potential debuts, returns and surprises, though, is a card featuring some of the more talented performers in professional wrestling and the culmination of several top feuds.
- 4-Way Elimination Match for the Vacant IMPACT World Championship: Eddie Edwards vs. Trey vs. Ace Austin vs. A Mystery Opponent
- Knockouts Championship Match: Jordynne Grace vs. Deonna Purrazzo
- Impact Tag Team Championship Match: Ken Shamrock and Sami Callihan vs. The North
- X-Division Championship Match: Willie Mack vs. Chris Bey
- Knockouts Gauntlet Match: Susie vs. Taya Valkyrie vs. Kylie Rae vs. Havok vs. Nevaeh vs. Rosemary vs. Alisha vs. Madison Rayne vs. Tasha Steelz vs. Kiera Hogan vs. Kimber Lee
- Old School Rules Match for the TNA World Championship: Tommy Dreamer vs. Moose
- The Rascalz issue an Open Challenge
Coverage of the monumental event begins at 8:00 PM.
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Credit: Impact Wrestling
After an opening video teasing the numerous debuts and returns promised for the show, The Rascalz’ Wentz and Dez hit the ring for a special open challenge. Answering? Former tag team champions The Motor City Machine Guns’ Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin.
The Rascalz impressed early, demonstrating why they have become one of the top tandems in IMPACT while isolating Sabin from his partner.
A well-timed bit of interference from Shelley allowed the veteran team to seize control of the match. Wentz sold the back, which had been targeted by the Machine Guns. The former tag champs continued their lightning-quick pace, unloading some double-team maneuvers as they asserted their dominance.
Wentz finally rocked Shelley with a handspring knee strike, creating separation and allowing him tag Dez into the match.
Showing some of the same rapid offense and tag team chemistry that became synonymous with the Motor City Machine Guns at the peak of their run, The Rascalz fired off a flurry off offense that put them back on the offensive. It was short-lived as Sabin and Shelley regained control, driving Dez to the mat for a near-fall.
Shelley and Sabin weathered the storm one more time and put Dez away with a double package piledriver for the win.
Motor City Machine Guns defeated The Rascalz
Wild, nonstop action defined this one.
Shelley and Sabin may have been a step slower than they were when they were at the top of the tag team mountain but they still showed the same sort of in-ring chemistry that earned them rave reviews a decade ago.
Wentz and Dez, who were clearly inspired by the sort of tag team offense utilized by the MCMGs, hung in there with Sabin and Shelley and the result was a competitive and damn fun start to a show with a lot of buzz around it.
Kicking Slammiversary off with two stars so ingrained in the history of IMPACT like Shelley and Sabin was absolutely the right call on the part of the booking team.
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Credit: Impact Wrestling
For weeks, Moose has paraded around IMPACT with the TNA World Championship, declaring himself the titleholder and defending it as if it were a sanctioned title. Tommy Dreamer, the old school hardcore legend, took exception to Moose’s brashness and cut a scathing, emotional promo on him to set this one up.
A brawl broke out at the bell, as expected, with Dreamer getting the upper-hand early. That changed when the TNA “champion” crotched The Innovator of Violence on the guardrail and seized control. Dreamer recovered and halted Moose’s momentum with a White Russian Legsweep, reminiscent of friend and former partner The Sandman.
Moose recovered, put a trashcan over Dreamer’s head and delivered a brutal dropkick that left the ECW legend writhing in pain. He introduced a pile of chairs and delivered a uranage to Dreamer, onto the chairs for a near-fall.
The self-proclaimed champion missed a moonsault and crashed into the chairs, allowing Dreamer to retrieve a sack of thumbtacks. He poured them on the mat but suffered a low blow. Moose slammed Dreamer face- and upper-body-first onto the jagged weapons and followed with Lights Out to retain.
Moose defeated Dreamer
Moose has been a revelation in his role as the delusional former sports star who carries a title he did not earn. Pushed to it by his own professional failings, he has been absolutely fantastic.
Dreamer will always bust his ass, regardless of the match or his age. The effort is always there and it was here, too. The match, though, was as good as it was going to be at this point in Tommy’s career, though.
Moose picked up the win, as most expected, and can build his star on the fact that he survived a hardcore war with The Innovator of Violence, so it was a success in that regard.
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Credit: Impact Wrestling
Designed like a Royal Rumble to start, the Knockouts Gauntlet Match started with Kylie Rae and Tasha Steelz and promised a new entrant every minute. Eliminations occurred when one competitor was thrown over the top rope and to the floor. When the match came down to the final two competitors, it would take on the form of a traditional wrestling bout.
Taya Valkyrie drew No. 3 but her manager Johnny Bravo entered in her spot, dressed as Valkyrie. His stint was short-lived as Rae and Steelz tossed him to the floor. Kimber Lee arrived at No. 4. Kiera Hogan entered at No. 5 and Susie joined shortly thereafter at No. 6.
Susie dumped Steelz, to the surprise of the announce team, as Katie Forbes entered at No. 7. “We’ll call her an attraction of sorts, folks,” Josh Matthews said on commentary. Forbes stopped to twerk with Hogan, then delivered tossed her aside.
Five-time Knockouts champion Madison Rayne entered at No. 8. Rayne paired off with Hogan, Forbes with Susie as Havok arrived at No. 9. Susie tried to say “hi” and ate a kick to the head for it. Rae took exception to the attack on her friend and suffered for it, courtesy of a chokeslam.
The real Taya Valkyrie finally entered the match at No, 10. Alisha Edwards arrived at No. 11, followed by Nevaeh at No. 12 as the ring filled up.
Rosemary appropriately drew No. 13 and went right after Susie. She dumped her longtime rival. Bravo returned at No. 14, this time dressed as Rosemary. Weeks of tension between Valkyrie, Rosemary and Bravo boiled over, but not before Bravo dumped Havok. Rae sent Bravo packing for the second time shortly thereafter.
Alisha and Nevaeh fought on the apron, where Kimber Lee sent them crashing into each other and onto the floor for the elimination. Rosemary dumped Hogan as the match came down to her, Rae, Kimber Lee and Valkyrie.
Lee was eliminated, leaving Rae to battle rekindled besties Rosemary and Valkyrie. With Rosemary sent to the floor, Rae and Valkyrie became a traditional one-on-one match.
Smiley Kylie obliterated Valkyrie with a superkick to pick up the win and a future shot at the Knockouts Championship.
Kylie Rae won the Knockouts Gauntlet
The Knockouts division had been one of the brightest spots of IMPACT in the weeks leading into Slammiversary so it is massively disappointing to see how this Gauntlet Match turned out.
The one-minute intervals never allowed the match to find its groove and severely hampered the performers’ abilities to tell any semblance of a story.
The obvious choices lasted until the end but nothing was really resolved between any of them. The impending breakup between Rosemary and Valkyrie was teased, but not followed up on, which was probably the biggest expectation fans had for the bout.
Rae winning makes sense because she is clearly the performer you would want to build a program around. Unfortunately, her big moment didn’t come in a better match.
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Credit: Impact Wrestling
Moments after Heath Miller (formerly Heath Slater) made his IMPACT debut by laying out Rohit Raju, “The Ultimate Finesser” Chris Bey found himself without Johnny Swinger at ringside as he challenged Willie Mack for the X-Division Championship.
The 280-pound Mack delivered a neckbreaker that drove Bey off the apron and onto the floor. “Willie represented the evolution of the X-Division because he’s got the size, but he can do all the moves we’ve come to expect,” Don Callis put the champion over on commentary.
Everything Bey threw at Mack, the champion had an answer for. That is until the challenger delivered a slingshot sling blade to wrest control away from his larger opponent. Mack delivered two open-hand slaps to the face in defiance of Bey’s control. He caught a flying Bey in a Sky High, driving him spine-first into the mat.
Mack drove Bey into the corner with an exploder. Bey used the referee as a pawn, feigning a neck injury, then stunned Mack with a kick. Mack answered with a stunner and tried for the Six-Star Frog Splash, but Bey dodged it.
The challenger delivered The Art of Finesse (springboard cutter) for the win.
Bey defeated Mack to win the title
The pieces were there for a show-stealer but, instead, the early neckbreaker bump appeared to have dazed Bey just enough to keep things a step slower than it may have otherwise been.
Mack dominated the match, which was an interesting choice given the outcome and the fact that Bey had spent weeks building his star to this point. The ref bump late, the absence of Swinger and the surprisingly one-sided nature of the match combined for a less-than-effective coronation of Bey.
Still, the match was good enough to earn an above-average grade, even if it was somewhat disappointing in overall execution.
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Credit: Impact Wrestling
In a partnership described as “Batman and The Joker” by Josh Matthews on commentary, Ken Shamrock and sworn rival Sami Callihan channeled their hatred for each other into a concentrated effort to dethrone The North’s Ethan Page and Josh Alexander as Impact Tag Team Champions.
Shamrock and Callihan teed off on Page early before the heel titleholders took over control of the match by working over The World’s Most Dangerous Man and future IMPACT Hall of Famer.
Callihan received the tag and wore out the opposition, scoring a frustrating near-fall on Page while the commentators questioned his showboating. Page caught him with a dropkick and the champions regained control.
Callihan finally tagged Shamrock in and the action broke down. Shamrock applied an ankle lock to Page while Alexander applied one to Callihan. Shamrock got the best of it all, applying his trademark submission to Alexander.
An alert Page sent Callihan into Shamrock, creating tension between the challengers. They put their differences aside and scored a near-fall off a piledriver.
Late, Shamrock mustered his energy for a plancha but Page saved his partner and the legendary fighter crashed head-first into the floor. The North took advantage and scored the win after a double Neutralizer.
After the match, the champs cut a celebratory promo that criticized their detractors. Page labeled them the best team in IMPACT history, to which Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin took exception. The Motor City Machine Guns announced that they will challenge The North for the titles this Tuesday on AXS TV.
The North defeated Shamrock and Callihan
The match was action-packed and featured a few elements of dissension between Shamrock and Callihan, but no major developments to speak of in their rivalry. Like most of The North’s matches, Page and Alexander were able to work around their opponent’s weaknesses, particularly Shamrock’s, and still deliver a quality performance.
The post-match promo setting them up against MCMGs this Tuesday created genuine excitement for that show and served as a hell of a hook for TV.
That contest, barring injury or overbooking, could be a low-key candidate for IMPACT Match of the Year. The talent involved is that good.
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Credit: Impact Wrestling
Unleashing a month’s worth of frustration, Knockouts Champion Jordynne Grace unloaded on Deonna Purrazzo early in Sunday’s title defense, wiping her out with a tope suicida. The Virtuosa, though, capitalized on an opening and targeted the left arm in an attempt to set up her cross armbreaker.
Purrazzo executed a few excellent counters and applied her trademark finisher, forcing Grace to clasp her hands in defense. She blasted Purrazzo with a nasty kick to the face but it was not enough to halt her tenacious search for the hold.
Grace finally escaped the grasp of her opponent and applied her sleeper/body scissors combination, nearly pulling out a submission win. Revitalized, Grace wrapped Purrazzo’s back around the ring post, apparently ready to take a page out of her opponent’s playbook by targeting a body part.
The champion followed up with a Michinoku Driver but Purrazzo kicked out.
Grace fired off a series of slams. Purrazzo countered one into a release German. Grace answered with one of her own. Purrazzo delivered The Pendulum, a snap version of a suplex, for two.
Building steam, Grace delivered a running forearm in the corner and followed with a Vader Bomb for two. Frustrated, Grace unloaded with elbows to the back of the head the Virtuosa recovered and delivered a double armbreaker for the submission win.
Purrazzo defeated Grace to win the title
Purrazzo made someone in Orlando who thought she wasn’t ready (or good enough) to be on TV look like a fool. She was a star here, shining brighter than she was ever allowed to during her stint in NXT. She lived up to her nickname, transitioning seamlessly from one move to another, countering whatever Grace threw at her and carrying herself like the star she and her longtime fans knew she was.
Putting the title on her so soon after her debut is absolutely the right call. She is red-hot, made waves when she opted to sign with IMPACT, and is absolutely ready to run as the face of the Knockouts division.
That is not to downplay Grace.
She was equally great here.
She has developed into such a fluid, crisp worker who can combine power, speed and agility into a package unlike any this company’s women’s roster has ever seen. In fact, if it wanted to, IMPACT could easily replace Tessa Blanchard as the intergender worker with Grace and no one would bat an eye.
She’s that good. And strong.
This was the best match of the night to this point and absolutely lived up to the hype preceding it.
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Credit: Impact Wrestling
The Radicalz’ Trey, 23-year-old Ace Austin and former world champion Eddie Edwards knew they would be competing against a mystery opponent in the main event of Slammiversary. What they did not expect was that it would be Rich Swann, completely healed from the ankle injury that sidelined him earlier this year.
The former cruiserweight champion showed no signs of adverse effects from the injury as he danced in the ring. Before the match could get underway, “World Class Maniac” Eric Young returned to IMPACT, ready to take his place in the fray, thus making it a Five-Way Elimination Match for the vacated IMPACT World Championship.
Trey and Austin rekindled their intensely personal rivalry at ringside while Young downed Edwards with a belly-to-belly suplex. Swann sent EY to the floor and paired off with Trey for a display of unmatched athleticism. Interference from Madman Fulton on behalf of Austin led to his dismissal from ringside.
The quick, sudden offense of the competitors involved continued, each hitting their signature stuff. The focus eventually turned nack to Trey and Austin before Young broke it up. A nasty tope into a destroyer off the ring apron by Trey on Swann left both man in agony.
Moments later, Young delivered a spike piledriver to send Trey packing. Trey is eliminated.
Later, Austin and Edwards rekindled their rivalry on the top rope, only for Young to powerbomb Swann into them, sending them crashing through a table.
Swann, his neck wracked with pain, countered a piledrive into a victory roll and eliminated Young. Young is eliminated.
A furious Young attacked and pummeled the ankle of Swann, then wrapped it in a chair and stomped it mercilessly, leaving the inspirational babyface screaming in pain. “See you around, Rich. You brought this on yourself!” Young exclaimed as he exited.
Austin, like a snake, slithered into the ring and took advantage of the injured Swann. He delivered The Fold for the pinfall. Swann is eliminated.
With the fight down to Edwards and Austin, the heel tried for The Fold but Eddie tossed him into the corner with an overhead suplex. Austin survived The Boston Knee Party to the surprise of the commentary team. Austin finally delivered The Fold but Edwards kicked out.
Eddie recovered, delivered another Boston Knee Party and followed with the Die Hard for the win and title.
Fulton reappeared and attacked Edwards.The Good Brothers interrupted the beatdown. They teased attacking Edwards but ultimately laid the heels out and stood tall with the new world champion to close out the show.
That is until three tally marks appeared on the screen and EC3 appeared in a video package. A more intense EC3 stared into the camera as the show faded to black.
Edwards defeated Austin, Trey, Young, and Swann to win the title
On the surface, Edwards was the least exciting of the options to win the IMPACT world title. It makes sense, though, if you believe the company wanted to usher in this chapter with a familiar face at the top of the card, surrounded by all of these fresh new faces.
Pairing Edwards with The Good Brothers makes sense given the tone of the characters while positioning Austin and Fulton as heel foils early in the title reign is apropos given the wealth of history between them and Eddie.
Beyond that, we have a rivalry between Swann and Young that could very well produce some damn fine pro wrestling and storytelling, not to mention the brilliant cliffhanger that was EC3’s return to the company.
There will be some who are disappointed by the revelation of Young and/or Swann as the entrants in the match but their contributions more-than helped elevate the overall quality of the match and they, themselves, now have a feud we can look forward to.
Looking forward was the theme of the show, really, as IMPACT wrapped up a number of its ongoing storylines and looked to a future that is suddenly brighter than it has been for that company in some time. New stars impressed, old stars will help bolster the roster and the fact that #Slammiversary trended at No. 1 worldwide throughout the show suggests fans were genuinely interested by what the promotion had to offer.
Now, it will be up to them to maintain that intrigue, starting with Tuesday’s AXS TV broadcast.