THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne – now in it’s 10th year!
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It’s time to step into Hogan territory again as Total Non-Stop Action celebrated their eight birthday with Slammiversary, shown this past Friday night in Extreme Sports here in Britain, with Mike Tenay and Taz handling commentary duties.
The show began with what looked like a great match on paper, as Frankie Kazarian took on Kurt Angle, keen to work his way up TNA’s new ranking system. What an opener this turned out to be. Kazarian proved to be a great foil for Angle as they put on an exciting back and forth encounter. Angle looked like he hasn’t missed a beat during his time off. Our Olympic hero came out on top here, countering Kazarian’s second inverted pile driver attempt with the ankle lock for the submission win.
But now that Angle is working his way through the TNA roster, perhaps the powers that be will give me one of my dream matches – Angle versus Doug Williams.
Speaking of Britain’s finest wrestler, Doug Williams was up next, defending his X Division title against Brian Kendrick. Once again the former Anarchist showed why he is one of the best British wrestlers of the past decade – if not the best. He put on another great technical performance, doing a good job in grounding old Spanky. Kendrick managed to pull off a few of his favourite high flying moves, but in the end Williams took home the win, pinning Kendrick with a tornado DDT off the second rope. Very good stuff here.
The title action continued as Knockouts Champion Madison Rayne defended against Roxxi. Before the match began Madison grabbed the microphone and challenged Roxxi to put her career on the line. It was an offer that Roxxi couldn’t turn down, She soon found herself cut open when Madison hit her in the head with the microphone. The match itself turned out to be quite good. Roxxi looked great here, showing why she is one of the best female wrestlers in the world right now. Sadly she couldn’t get the job done as Madison took her down with her finishing move, whatever the hell it’s called. I’m pretty sure though that this won’t be the last we’ll see of Roxxi in TNA.
Then it was onto what was billed as the big grudge match, as Brother Ray went up against his former student Jesse Neal. So we had a tag team specialist in a singles match. More microphone work here as Ray apologised to everyone for his recent actions, and just when it looked like there wasn’t going to be a match Ray attacked Jesse as they headed backstage, before throwing him back into the ring. As for the match, well, it’s kind of strange seeing Ray in a singles match, it’s like seeing Wise without Morecombe (only long time fans of British comedy will get that reference). This was basically Ray taking Neal out to the wood shed. The action was okay, but it says a lot that the best thing in this match was the arrival of Tommy Dreamer in the crowd. The momentary distraction soon led to Neal’s upset win as he took Ray down with a spear.
The big boys came out to play next, a battle of former tag team partners between Matt Morgan and Hernandez. For the third match in a row we had pre-match yakking, with Morgan coming down to the ring wearing a neck brace, pulling out of the match, giving the referee a note from his doctor. But Super Mex was having none of this, attacking Morgan as he left the ring. So the battle of the big men was on after all, and both guys looked good in what was essentially a brawl at times, with Hernandez getting disqualified after throwing the referee across the ring. The ref ended up taking another shot from Hernandez when he put himself between the two big men.
The Monster’s Ball match was next, as Abyss took on Desmond Wolfe. So let me get this straight – you’ve got one of the best technical wrestlers in the world in a hardcore match? Once again the mind boggles as to why this particular feud is happening in the first place. Now although I can’t fault the execution in this match, I just couldn’t get into this one. After all, it contained a teddy bear wrapped in barb wire! You also had the usual barb wire boards and bags of broken glass, and Chelsea double-crossing her man, refusing to give the brass knuckles to Wolfe, instead tossing them to Abyss so he could use them, finishing the job with the black hole slam. Perhaps now Wolfe can get down to some more serious business.
Up next was Nature Boy-lite A.J. Styles going up against a man now devoid of personality, Jay Lethal. This was Lethal’s chance to show that he could hang with the big boys, that he was more than a lower mid-card tribute act. Well, he just about did it. This was a pretty enjoyable match, the kind that would have fitted in well with the X Division a few years ago. Styles and Lethal had good chemistry in the ring and put together some good exchanges, with a bit of outside interference from Ric Flair thrown in for good measure. It didn’t help Styles get the win though. Styles had trouble climbing the ropes after Lethal’s figure four leg lock, and when he finally came off the second rope Lethal caught him with a northern lights suplex for the pinfall win. Flair wasn’t too happy after this upset loss, and it took Frankie Kazarian to come down to the ring to calm him down.
The only tag team match of the show followed, as Beer Money took on Jeff Hardy and Mr. Anderson. Thankfully, the absence of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall from the show meant that we had a decent tag team match for once. Robert Roode and James Storm put on another good display of tag wrestling, and while you can’t fault the performances of Hardy and Anderson, as a team they’re clearly a work in progress. Anderson got the pin for his team here, taking Roode down with the mike check. A very enjoyable match, although it did seem a tad too long.
The main event saw Sting challenge Rob Van Dam for the TNA World title. Quite how Sting became the number one contender is beyond me, but that’s the wrestling business for you I guess, not the most logical thing in the world. Now while this was certainly better than last month’s main event it certainly didn’t have that big match feel. Maybe it was because it began with a protracted out of the ring brawl, which included the regular fight through the crowd. Jeff Jarrett’s appearance, stopping Sting from attacking RVD with his baseball bat while the referee was taking a snooze also didn’t help matters, making it feel like the match was nothing more than a vehicle to further that particular feud. In the end the champ came out on top, getting the pin after the frog splash from the top rope. Not bad, but it really could have been so much better.
In conclusion – we’re now about six months into the Hogan/Bischoff era, and although I haven’t seen all of the pay-per-views since they took control, I feel it’s safe to say that this was the best big event they’ve put on so far. Although there were no real standout matches, and there were some moments that left me scratching my head again, this certainly won’t got down in history as TNA’s worst show ever. Not their best, but certainly not their worst.
By the way – whatever happened to the King of the Mountain match that we normally get each year at Slammiversary?