What Slammiversary Says About Impact Wrestling

Last weekend, Impact Wrestling presented its most recent pay-per-view, Slammiversary, which is considered an acknowledgement of the seventeenth year of the company. While that’s astounding all things considered, especially the rocky conclusion of the Dixie Carter era, the Impact of today is basically a completely different promotion than the TNA that started as a weekly PPV in 2002. As usual, the show opened with the X-Division scramble match and it’s a solid way to start the event, but it’s more or less a stand alone match that probably won’t have any effect on the product beyond this show. As I said after the Rebellion PPV, these scramble contests provide a good kickoff, but there’s zero character development or any storylines involved so it only minimally benefits the winners of these matches. For example, Ace Austin, who is a talented athlete, won the scramble opener at Rebellion, but wasn’t even on this card so how exactly did the victory elevate his status? Willie Mack won the scramble at Slammiversary and hopefully management has more plans for him. Willie Mack is a very unique athlete and thus gives the organization something unique to promote, which is a valuable asset in the crowded current wrestling landscape. TJP was also involved in this match, but aside from a recent WWE run, I’m not sure what he really brings to the table. He spent the majority of his WWE stint on 205 Live, which is more anonymous than the witness protection program. Supposedly, TJP was known for backstage attitude problems during his WWE career, but that has to be taken with a grant of salt because those are only rumors. Still, TJP doesn’t bring star power to Impact and has a rather bland character so it remains to be seen if he will be an asset for the company.

The North, Ethan Page and Josh Alexander, retained the tag titles after they won the belts during the weekend shows. It should be noted that this tag team combination is probably the best use of both Page and Alexander, as they are talented competitors that finally got a chance to showcase their skills on a more notable stage. Granted, Page was booked as Joseph Park’s sidekick a few years ago, but that storyline did nothing for his career. At a time when the promotion needs depth to keep pace in the previously mentioned saturated wrestling landscape, The North certainly help that situation. At the same time, LAX reportedly finished up with the organization and that’s the exit of arguably the best tag team on the roster. More specifically, LAX was a bright spot during some of the rocky times of Impact. This is another aspect where the Anthem Sports property might simply get squeezed out of the industry because there are options for talent and thus the bidding to sign that talent. This is also when Impact’s lack of main stream distribution could prevent them from signing or keeping certain talent under contract. All Elite Wrestling has the buzz to make major waves in the wrestling business and to do that they are offering comparable deals to WWE to be able to realistically bid for talent. At the same time, the WWE have offered more money in an attempt to secure talent to limit the the possible depth AEW could add to its roster. Where does that leave Impact? If given the choice, what’s better about signing an Impact contract than elsewhere?

Keep in mind, this isn’t a jab against Impact, but rather a realistic view of the situation. AEW is set to start on TNT in October and their existence alone has shifted the direction of the industry. Granted, if All Elite gets off the ground remains to be seen, but they at least have the pieces of the puzzle assembled to have a chance to provide some legitimate competition in sports entertainment for the first time in nearly two decades. On the flip side, WWE is a global publicly-traded company that will generate record-setting revenue when it starts the new TV contracts later this year so what makes Impact a better option?

The Eddie Edwards-Killer Kross match was a solid match, despite the gimmick finish for the first blood stipulation. I penned an article a few weeks ago about the Kross situation where he requested his release because he didn’t get the raise he asked for and wanted to explore other options. Considering the departure of LAX, the Lucha Brothers, and Johnny Impact, I’d say that assuming the money is there, it would be a wise decision for the group to invest in Kross to keep him on the roster. Make no mistake about it, in a competitive market for talent, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Kross was offered a contract elsewhere. Kross has the persona and in-skills to be an asset for either AEW or WWE. Eddie Edwards is a solid competitor, and hopefully, his character will evolve because he’s more talented than the somewhat hokey gimmick he used the past several months.

The Moose-RVD contest was decent, but nothing spectacular. More than anything, Rob Van Dam really showed his age during this match. Considering that his signature style is completely associated with his character, he probably won’t adapt his style, but he definitely isn’t as crisp as he used to be. Granted, that’s understandable given his age, but at the same time, the quality of the performance wasn’t really what’s expected from an athlete that has such a well-known track record of spectacular matches. Moose might have the potential to become a bigger star, but I’m not sure if working with an older RVD will get him there.

The monster’s ball match was sloppy, but entertaining. The sloppy aspect of this contest was basically unavoidable so the four wrestlers involved probably did the best they could with the stipulation of the match. It should be noted that this bout showcased that Impact has a solid women’s division and each wrestler has a well-established character.

The Swann-Impact bout was solid so there’s nothing necessarily to discuss in terms of the in-ring content, but John Morrison’s departure could be the bigger story. Despite a lengthy run in the industry as far back as a season of Tough Enough in the early 2000s, Morrison’s career seems a little underwhelming because he appeared to have the skills to be a much bigger star than he was during his WWE run. He arrived for Impact Wrestling almost two years ago, but at that point he wasn’t on main stream TV in the United States for several years so he didn’t have the same star power he did previously. His persona and move set has more or less been the same since his WWE run so it’s doubtful he necessarily has a lot to offer to WWE, AEW, or New Japan. According to Dave Meltzer, Morrison wants to pursue acting so it’s possible that this could be the conclusion of his career.

The Impact World title match was a solid main event level match-up, but again, the lack of distribution doesn’t lend itself to adding to the star power of the wrestlers or the importance of the title. Elgin had a solid run in New Japan, but hasn’t had too much TV exposure in America and the same could be said for Brian Cage because fans that don’t already know who he is won’t realistically discover him on Impact television.

The Sami Callihan/Tess Blanchard main event was tremendous and in some ways, Tessa made herself a star, despite the limited exposure of the product. This wasn’t a scenario where Callihan had to make Tessa look good to get the inter gender stipulation over with the audience. Tessa proved that she could undoubtedly be a main event star in any division. Despite the debate about inter gender wrestling, it’s as simple as if it’s logically than it makes sense. Tessa sold like the underdog baby face very similar to Ricky Morton from a different era. When a match is at this level, it’s about the quality of the bout, not the inter gender stipulation. The bottom line is, Sami Callihan and Tess Blanchard had a top quality main event and that’s the point of a 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