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What does Slammiversary say about Impact?

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Last weekend, Impact Wrestling held its Slammiversary pay-per-view in Toronto, which was the second live PPV under the Anthem banner with the direction of Don Callis and Scott D’Amore.

The event had its positives and negatives, but the totality of the show gave a more complete view of the status of the company. The arena was sold out, but was a smaller venue and it showed during the broadcast. Unfortunately, the look of the building unintentionally gave the perception of a less important event and almost took away from the atmosphere. Granted, it’s possible management was working with a budget and wanted to ensure a full building, which makes sense, but maybe this particular venue just wasn’t suited for wrestling. The small entrance way and terrible lighting, along with the hard camera setup almost gave the show somewhat of a minor league type of look on television. But, this choice of venue with a full crowd is certainly better than the bigger arenas that were often half empty during the Dixie era.

The 4-way match was a great way to open the show and provided a lot of action to set the tone for the pay-per-view. Hopefully, Fenix continues to be featured on Impact on a regular basis because he has really made a name for himself as one of the best aerial athletes in the business over the past year and has the potential to be a star for the promotion. The same could be said for Ishimori, who has really elevated his status in recent months, making his debut for New Japan and working extensively in the Super Jr. tournament. However, his schedule might be limited because of the bookings in Japan. Still, I’d say that international talent could be one of the major keys for Impact Wrestling to not only differentiate themselves, but also a way to establish a brand identity, something that the company lacked for years. Keep in mind, the X-Division style that put TNA on the map during its early years is much more common place now, and the NXT brand is more or less using that style in the United States so Impact will have to build an identity as something beyond that.

The Tessa Blanchard/Allie match was decent, but nothing spectacular from an in-ring perspective. Allie is a tremendous baby face and would work well in a variety of angles so she certainly has her place on the roster, even if she’s not exactly the most technical wrestler. I understand what they’re trying to do with Tessa Blanchard, but something just doesn’t completely translate with her. It almost comes across as if she’s trying too hard to act like someone that’s a big deal instead of letting the character organically project that she’s a star. Plus, the Blanchard name will get fans to take notice, but the quality of women’s wrestling has increased across the board so if she can keep pace in terms of in-ring performance remains to be seen.

The House of Hardcore match was sloppy and the post-match angle was bizarre. Don’t get me wrong, Tommy Dreamer is one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, and Eddie Edwards is a great athlete, but the angle that was presented after the match didn’t make sense with the story that was told prior to the pay-per-view. Edwards was the heel and it was a feud based on hatred with a solid build up to a match that the audience had to pay to watch, which certainly makes sense. However, why exactly would Dreamer “endorse” Edwards if the feud was based on hatred? I understand the premise is supposed to be a “passing the torch” but that’s a rather odd scenario. Plus, Edwards isn’t a hardcore wrestler so it’s almost an apples to oranges situation.

The X-Division title match was solid, and the Brian Cage win actually diversifies the division, allowing for more of the no weight limit aspect to be used for angles. Again, the original X-Division style is common place so the variety of competitors that wrestle for the championship give it more substance as opposed to just a high spot showcase. That said, Cage is a bigger athlete and while he has impressive agility, he might be more prone to injuries trying to work that style at his size, but time will tell if he can be the champion on a long-term basis.

The Knockouts title match was okay, but similar to the other women’s match on the card, wasn’t anything too memorable. However, the contest did further establish Su Yung’s character, a persona that continues to be one of the most effective on the Impact television show. Su portrays the character very well and it can be used in a variety of scenarios so she will probably have better pay-per-view matches with more polished opponents.

The LAX match-up was solid and used a good combination of in-ring action as well as the story of the bout. Santana and Ortiz are a really good team and always deliver great performances when given the opportunity. That combination of LAX doesn’t get nearly enough credit as they should, probably because their initial addition to the Impact roster was during a rocky time for the company, but hopefully with a new direction, this team can continue to get the exposure they deserve.

While it’s great that Homicide and Hernandez were on pay-per-view again, it’s very disappointing that they didn’t get the chance they deserved when TNA was on a bigger platform on Spike TV. In my opinion, Homicide had the ability and the potential to be a main event star in TNA during his original run in the organization before a combination of terrible booking and injuries sidelined his progress. Along with that, he’s one of the most underrated workers of his generation. Hernandez seemed to really have a chance to be a big deal during his “Super Mex” push in TNA around a decade ago, but ridiculous Russo booking halted his momentum and he was reduced to a mid-card role before he left the company in 2014. At 45, Hernandez’s chance to be a major star is in the past, but it will be interesting to see if his current still with Impact continues in the next few months. It should also be noted that Eddie Kingston did stellar work on the mic to build this feud and hopefully he remains a regular on the shows because he’s an asset to any promotion.

In my opinion, the hair vs. mask match was the most anticipated contest on the card and was possibly the best match at the event. Pentagon has a great gimmick and is great in the ring so he undoubtedly has the potential to be one of the stars that Impact could build around for the future. Despite his association with Lucha Underground, it’s nice to see Pentagon get the exposure on Impact because quite frankly, the LU platform isn’t big enough to truly showcase his skills to a main stream audience. Sami Callihan made the most of the opportunity that the unfortunate “baseball bat” incident gave him and he deserves a lot of credit for his ability to maximize his chance to make a name for himself on a bigger stage. Through a series of solid promos, he made himself one of the most talked about performers in the industry and has the skills to be another athlete that contributes to the rebuilding process of Impact.

I have to be honest, I was skeptical about the main event. Austin Aries is a tremendous in-ring athlete, but his star power decreased significantly after his WWE run, simply because he was injured and then wasn’t booked much for TV prior to his request for a release. While the Impact ratings have improved somewhat, there are still weeks when they dip so he doesn’t exactly have the biggest name value at the moment. Moose is an incredible athlete, but because he’s been involved in major companies throughout his career, some fans forget that he’s only been wrestling roughly five years. I didn’t know if Moose could deliver a quality main event, simply because of his experience level, not his athlete ability. However, Austin Aries did a stellar job and made Moose look tremendous during the match, which is exactly what a top level heel should be able to do in that situation. Moose was solid in the match as well and it was probably the best match of his career. Despite my doubts, the Impact Heavyweight title match was an entertaining bout, and Aries proved why he’s a main event level performer.

Overall, Slammiversary was another solid step forward for the promotion and proves that Impact has made progress. The biggest aspect and probably what matters most is, will the event draw a solid buyrate? It will be interesting to see how the event sells because it’s difficult to see a $40 event when that translates to four months of the WWE Network in the modern era. The bottom line is, if the event is profitable and establishes the brand then it’s a successful pay-per-view.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta

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