I won’t ramble on about it too long but back when TNA was firing on all cylinders, man, I loved it with all of my being. There was a time when I never missed a episode of Impact and I’d save my money every month to order the pay per views. Then, as we entered the 2010’s TNA began a journey that we don’t need to go over again here but, slowly as things accumulated and got worse, I stopped watching.
Fast forward to this year and for months I’ve had friends telling me and reading things online about how good Impact had been lately. So, I began paying attention here and there out of curiosity and that’s what brings us here. Me making the decision to give Impact another shot and I figured what show better to start with than iMPACT Wrestlings biggest night; Slammiversary XVI live from the The Rebel Complex in Toronto!
I will preface, I know very little going into this event, I checked out the card prior to the event and got as familiar as I could with the clips on YouTube leading to the event. I’ve just found out that there's like an entire show dedicated to setting up the event and everything that led to it but with the show about to begin, it doesn’t do me much good now, so let’s see what happens!
We kick things off with Petey Williams (taking Rich Swann’s place in the match after he had to pull out due to injury) vs. Fenix vs. Johnny Impact vs. Taiji Ishimori.
For the first Impact match I’m going to watch in a long time this is pretty perfect. I’ve always loved Johnny, from Nitro to Impact, I think Petey is an underrated gem, Fenix has been one of my dudes from day one in Lucha Underground and Ishimori is my current new love after his great showing in New Japan.
Look, I could try and break this thing down but it was essentially just over 20 minutes of 4 guys going absolutely ballistic and throwing everything, including themselves, at one another. From the crazy springboards, to the insanely high dives and more bombastic high spots than I think I may have seen in any match, this was just awesome fun. It was the perfect match to kick things off, it got the crowd roaring and the energy going and set the bar pretty high for the rest of the show to follow. The closing moments was a flawless flow of moves, as Ishimori connected with a 450 on Impact but rolled right into a Canadian Destroyer from Williams who found himself right in the path of double springboard double stomp from Fenix for a close 2. Fenix set Petey up for what looked like a muscle buster but Impact would score with a Super Kick on Fenix, setting him up for the Starship Pain to give Impact the win.
The match was hurt by its lack of any real stakes or drama, it was just an array of some crazy cool stuff. There were very few pins which made it feel more like a showcase of their talents more than anything else. This match could’ve benefited from a title shot being on the line or something, something to just give it that little bit more than just ‘here is four dudes, look and how impressive they are.’ 7/10
We get a backstage segment of Hernandez, Homicide and King. King hypes up the match tonight with LAX. I’m very unaware of this feud and the story behind it, but I know these dudes as LAX so this whole new brand vs. the old brand is already real cool for me.
Next up, Knockouts action as Tessa Blanchard takes on Allie. The hype package for this exactly what I’m looking for, it perfectly summed up both the story for the match itself but the story behind each of the women. I’ve never seen this Allie before, commentary were quick to put her over and mention she’s a former 2x Knockouts Champion which immediately put a spotlight on her. Tessa, I know well and easily one of my favourite woman in wrestling today. I’ve never seen her work heel before so that mixed with my first exposure to Allie has me excited for this one.
You’d think after the opening contest, these two would look to slow things down in the beginning but they came out sprinting. Quickly establishing their roles in the match, Tessa the smug and powerful heel, Allie the valiant and defiant baby face. They traded control before a second rope cross-body from Allie to Tessa on the outside had Allie in charge. Tessa took over after she dropped Tessa on the guard rail outside. Tessa would stomp on and beat Allie, really showing her aggressive side. Allie would eventually get back on top after hitting Tessa with a Death Valley Driver on the outside. Allie would stay on Tessa, scoring a couple of big moves but could only manage a 2 count. She would take Tessa to the top rope, attempting a choke it seemed before Tessa would counter with a top rope hurricanrana that looked like it drove Allie head first into the mat, scoring a big pop from the crowd. Tessa would hook the leg for a big 2 count and a great near fall. Climbing to the top rope herself this time, Tessa would go for a dive but would crash and burn as Allie moved. Allie would score with a code breaker but Tessa would roll out of the ring to avoid the pin. Allie would get Tessa back inside and finally connect with The Best Super Kick Ever but it wouldn’t be enough to put the third generation Wrestler away. Allie would attempt her Death Valley Driver again but Tessa would counter into a wrist lock DDT to score the victory.
Great second match, even with the bar set so high these girls delivered. It may not have had anything on the line like the match before it but the hype package did a great job of making it feel personal and that both these girls needed to beat the other, it created drama and I really enjoyed it. 7/10
We get a backstage interview with Moose, hyping up his Impact Title match later tonight. I’ve never seen anything from Moose before and as far as first impressions go, it wasn’t the worst. The promo left much to be desired and didn’t feel like the kind of promo you’d cut before seemingly the biggest match of your career. Maybe that kind of demeanor is his thing, but it wasn’t for me.
The promo package for Tommy Dreamer vs Eddie Edwards in a House of Hardcore Rules match plays, again doing a fantastic job explaining the feud and the story behind it. I had to laugh at Eddie seeing Sami Callihan in the mirror instead of his own reflection, it looks like a really good angle but that threw me for a moment. This, seemingly, heel turn from Eddie is really cool, I dig the idea of the baby faces desire for revenge being his down fall. It’s not original but its something I can’t recall seeing in a damn long time and I dig it.
Eddie comes to the ring in a shirt and jeans, looking ready for an all out brawl. I love it when in these kinds of matches wrestlers do this, it’s something so minor but to me it really sets the scene; this isn’t a wrestling match, there’s no need for wrestling gear, this is a fight. Tommy Dreamer makes his entrance and can barely get in the ring before Edwards is all over him. Very quickly it spills to the outside and before to long the weapons are introduced. The two trade blows, hitting one another with trash cans, cooking trays and beer cans. Dreamer took control as he took the staple gun introduced by Edwards and unloaded it into Edward’s head, busting him open to a shower of ‘ECW’ Chants.
Edward’s would make a few flurries of offence but Dreamer was able to stay in control, hitting Edwards with a Death Valley Driver from the top rope onto two chairs set up in the ring. Dreamer would proceed to retrieve a table and some lighter fluid from beneath the ring and set up what looked like to be the big extreme spot the match would build to but Edward would land a low blow, followed by a Shining Wizard to score the win, essentially out of nowhere.
While the finish was smart in the regards of the heel taking away some crazy, it felt very anti climactic. Just as the match felt like it was getting going, it was over. After the match it would appear Eddie was going to beat Dreamer with a kendo stick but Eddie would instead breakdown. Tommy would extend his hand to Eddie as his wife came to the ring, encouraging him to shake Tommy’s hand. The two would embrace and Dreamer would hand the kendo to Edward before taking his leave. It felt awkward and strange, commentary called it a passing of the torch but to me it just felt awkward after commentary had spent the entire match doing such a tremendous job of putting over Edward’s slow descent into madness.
In the end, the match started strong but ended feeling rather lackluster. It feels as though what the story it was building to just kind of got thrown to the side as well, maybe this is just another chapter in an overall story but if it was, it wasn’t a very good one. 5/10
We get a backstage promo from Matt Sydal, followed by the package for Sydal vs Brian Cage for the X Division Championship. This is my first exposure to Sydal’s spiritual gimmick and its crazy annoying in the best way. I don’t know if we needed Sydal cutting a promo followed by a package that was, for the vast majority, just Sydal cutting a promo but hey, you do you Impact. Unlike the others, this didn’t really help me understand what story was behind this but the title being up for grabs was enough to create the stakes needed to create some drama.
The match started with Cage really showing his strength as he threw Sydal about before The Champion would work the knee and begin to gain control. The two found a lot of creative and unique ways to have Sydal countering and attack Cage in ways to have the much smaller champion be able to take down the much larger challenger. Sydal would chain together an array of cool spots before Cage just popped right up, no feeling the offence he’d just taken and began unloading on Sydal. Once again Sydal would take Cage’s powerful offence and continue to counter it into a range of roll ups and high flying, high impact moves. Ultimately Cage would pick up the win and capture the X Divison Championship after a Drillclaw when a Shooting Star attempt from Sydal went wrong. It seemed the idea was to have Sydal catch Cage’s boot in the face but what happened was Sydal’s feet caught the top rope and had him narrowly avoided what could have been a dangerous landing.
The match was interesting, a lot more even than what one would expect from a match with mix matched wrestlers like these. While everything they were doing was entertaining and impressive it never really felt the match reached a peak, almost just chugging along before just coming to end, like the Edward/Dreamer match, it just felt anti climactic. 6/10
A backstage interview with Austin Aries ahead of the main event. This felt much more like a promo cut for a main event championship match. Aries talked about his success and how Moose couldn’t match up to him before going onto reveal he’d gone as far to make sure Moose’s mother wouldn’t be able to attend the show (what a dick, right?). He finished up wishing Moose luck in his third career choice, sick burn. I mean that, it was perfect.
The Knockouts Championship Match next as Su Yung defended against Madison Rayne. I am completely unfamiliar with both these Woman, so this pre match package was all I had to go off and god did it sell me on Yung. This woman is cool af. I dig absolutely everything she’s got going on and has she very quickly shot up my list of favourites. As the women made there way to the ring, this was just further enforced. Rayne came to the ring with the energy of someone who doesn’t really look like she wants to be there while Yung completely captivated those in attendance with her entrance.
The match was rather short, Rayne taking it to the champion from the opening bell as commentary put over how impressive she’s been lately. The match felt clunky, a lot of sequences looking like they came close to going wrong in places. Rayne was in control for the most part before Yung was able to lock in her version of the mandible claw and secure the victory and retain her championship.
There’s not much to say here, the match was rather flat, the story of the match was clearly Rayne fighting to overcome the evil Champion but it was hard to get behind that when the champion was just so interesting and the crowd was so firmly behind her as well. While the match was nothing to write home about, I am completely sold on Su Yung and plan to watch much more of her stuff as soon as possible. Seriously, she’s so cool. 4/10
LAX is backstage, cutting their version of the promo The OG’s cut earlier in the night that leads into the package for their 5150 Street Fight for the Impact Tag Team Championships that’s up next. The package people are pack on their A game here, doing a great job to set up the match and give the background on their feud. Between the package itself and commentary I think they used the term ‘the streets’ at least 17 times. They’re gangsters, we all understand, calm down.
The OG’s enter through a special entrance, made to resemble a gang clubhouse I think commentary called it. The ring and ringside area is littered with weapons now, setting the scene for the fight about to go down. LAX make their way to the ring from the crowd, faces adorned in paint. Both teams square up and are right to throwing hands. The Champions take control early, with double dives to the outside and take the lull in action to introduce some tables into the mix. The OG’s very quickly get on top, beating both members of LAX over the head, repetitively with trash can lids.
The teams would trade shots with an array of people, fighting up the entrance ramp and back down again. Santana would pull out a cool dive on Hernandes from the back of Homicide and Ortiz who were nestled on the middle rope but the big man would catch him in mid air and connect with a heavy power bomb for a 2 count. Ortiz would be quick to take hold of a steel pan and begin swinging, taking down The OG’s. The Champions would bring a ladder to the ring, lay Hernandez out on it and execute a quick flurry of moves to Hernandez including a springboard moonsault that both Commentary and I are very sure ended with Hernandez taking a knee right to the crouch.
LAX would execute a great double team, an electric chair block buster combo to a long 2 count before Hernandez would pull the referee out of the ring. We’d move into table breaking mode as a table was set up on the side had Santana driven through after a dive from Homicide. Homicide would get himself back in the ring just to be met by Ortiz who drove him through a table set up in the corner with a Death Valley Driver. Ortiz would look to do it again, eyeing the other table set up in the other corner of the ring but Hernandez would interject and Border Toss Ortiz through the table. Hernandez would give a small victory dance before Santana would jump back in the ring and take him out, leaving Homicide and himself the last ones standing as the two backed into one and started exchanging blows as the crowd screamed ‘Impact Wrestling.’
Konnan pass Santana a bag of thumbtacks and proceeded to distract Homicide, allowing Santana to throw a handful of tacks in Homicides face, body slam him onto the tacks and finish it off with a big frog splash to get the victory. As LAX would celebrate with Konnan in the ring King would be quick to jump the champions from behind. Konnan and King would stare each other down before The OG’s would return to the ring and take Konnan down. With the champions down, King would desecrate the Tag Team Titles by spray painting ‘OG’ over the centre plates before The OG’s would hold the titles up high.
This match was really enjoyable, from start to finish. Considering it was the second ‘street fight’ type match for the night it could have easily felt repetitive but the guys did a great job of using the tag team dynamic to really separate there match from Dreamer vs Edwards. I’ve always loved Homicide and Hernandez and I really love this new iteration of LAX as well. I don’t like the post match beatdown, I feel that you could have had the title change hands and end with the same visual. It could simply be the next step in the rivalry but the way this was set up and they way this match felt, seemed like the big blow off. Maybe in hindsight this won’t seem strange but for now it definitely feels like an odd way to leave things. 7/10
A promo from Sami Callihan sets up the hype package for his Hair vs. Mask match with Pentagon JR. I get by this point that this is what we’re doing but it feels a bit redundant to have a promo immediately followed by another promo. One is enough I think. This is the feud I’ve been more familiar with, so the package was helpful in helping me piece together all the things I’ve been seeing here and there over the past few weeks. Callinhan makes his way to the ring, baseball bat in hand. I’ve always thought Sami had a cool vibe since his days in NXT and I’ve really enjoyed what he’s been doing of late, so I’m excited to see what it’s like in a full serving as opposed to a sample size. Pentagon marches to the ring as commentary puts over his list of achievements, man I love Pentagon. When I started watching Lucha Underground it was Pentagon that kept me watching, I love him in ring work so much and he just looks like such a badass. I’m really happy with the spot light he and his brother have on them at the moment.
The match begins with both men screaming their catch phrases at one another before exchanging some big boots to the face. Pentagon takes control with a swing blade and attempts a chop to no effect due to the heavy leather vest that Callihan wear. Side note, I love this so much because that makes such simple sense. One things that annoys me about Roman Reigns vest is that people chop him and he’s still selling, like a shirt reduces how much a chop hurts, a vest like that would reduce it to nothing like it did here. ANYWAY, Callihan then opened the vest up and asked for Penatgons best shot and the former Impact Champion obliged, chopping the life out of Callihan. Pentagon would attempt a dive but Callahan would cut him off short with a steel chair to the face.
Callihan would throw a few chairs into the ring before retrieving some large nails from beneath the ring. He’d tear open Pentagons mask and proceed to drive the nails into Pentagons face busting him open. Callihan would take hold of his baseball bat and swing for the fences but Pentagon would duck the blow and responds with a back stabber. Pentagon would now get his hands on the spikes and proceed to use one nail to hammer the other nail into Sami’s face not once but twice before using the baseball to hammer the nails into Sami’s face a third time. Normally something like this would be hurt by knowing in the back of your mind that no nails where actually meeting flesh but the loud sound of metal clashing was enough to drown that thought out.
The two would move on to exchanging nails to the face before both collapsing. Slowly they’d both set up chairs so they could sit down and exchange chops, ruining my earlier praise of Sami being unaffected due to the vest, and finally would stand up and begin exchanging chair shots as the crows chanted ‘fight forever.’ Pentagon would take control and set Sami up the literal arm breaker but Sami was able to get himself out of harms way. The members of OVE would make their way to the ring and they’d be met with steel chair shots from Pentagon, allowing Callihan to get a hold of and throw a handful of powder into Pentagons face. This led a blinded Pentagon to take out the referee with the Arm Breaker. Callihan and Pentagon would hit one another with a pile driver and a Pentagon Driver respectively, the referee down and unable to count the pin for Pentagon and a second referee sliding into the ring to count a long 2 for Callihan. Callihan would set up 4 chairs together, creating a platform for both men to stand on as Pentagon would deliver a packaged pile driver onto the chairs to Callihan for a 2 count. The closing moments of the match would follow as Pentagon would super kick a kneeling Callihan multiple times before hitting another packaged pile driver for the win, a finish that seemed rather anti climactic after the pile driver on the chairs, feels like the reached a peak and unnecessarily continued.
Post match, Pentagon would get ahold of the hair clippers and OVE would storm the ring but be quickly done away with again. Callihan would flee to the back but Fenix would bring him right back out and would give the assist to his brother as he cut Callihans hair and shaved him bald.
Good match, definitely hurt by not only being the third match with weapons for the night but literally following one. The pile driver on the chairs definitely should’ve been the finish, it was the height of the match. Overall solid match just really hurt by its place on the card and being the third gimmick match of the night. 6/10
The promo package for the main event plays, this time no pre promo promo (thanks for listening Impact). The package again was really well done, told the story and drove home the characters involved. Aries came across as the smug heel, achieving everything he sets out to do while Moose was portrayed as the big underdog, fighting for his family and to live his dream. Both the package and commentary really drove home how important this match is to Moose as he made his way to the ring (and have been all night) and you could say it was overkill but it was the perfect amount for me. I know nothing about this guy but in the space of this show they’ve completely convinced me that this his big moment. I love the hell out of the moose chant too. Aries makes a very quick entrance, getting right in Moose’s face. The ring announcer gave extensive introductions to both men, rallying off their accolades in Impact that not only gave the match a big main event feel but also did a great job driving home the talent in the ring itself.
We start slow, both men feeling one another to dulling chants from the crowd. Until the men locked up, the sheer size difference hadn’t accused to me. Moose is a big dude. The two trade control, Moose showing his strength and Austin his speed. After Austin thought he had got the best of Moose, he would begin manhandling Aries around the ring and outside. Moose would line up Aries, holding himself up on the guard rail and charge right for him, but the champion would move out harms way and Moose would tumble over the guardrail. Moose would drag himself back over the railing only to be met with an axe handle from the top rope to the outside from Aries. The Champion would look to have control as he began laying some chops on his challenger but Moos would simple shrug them off and beg for more. Aries would oblige but with a smug thumb to the eye. Aries hit the ropes but Moose met him with a big headbutt, knocking him to the corner. Moose unleashed a flurry of chops before landing two huge drop kicks, taking control of the match. Moose would connect with the Go To Hell for a big two count, staying on him he’d attempt a ripcord that Aries countered into a crucifix driver sending Moose to the outside. Aries would line up a big suicide dive but Moose land a huge forearm that send Aries bouncing back into ring. Once again the challenger would seem to have the champion where he wanted him until Aries countered a spear attempt flawlessly into a Last Chancery, Moose quickly getting to the ropes.
The two would battle their way to the apron where after a few exchanges, Aries would connect with a death valley driver on the apron which he’d follow up with a javelin like dive that almost sent Moose back into the crowd. Aries would attempt something by the guard rail but Moose would sweep and hook his legs and went on to swing Aries side to side into the guard rails. He’d following up by charging around the ring and striking Aries with a huge boot before throwing him the ring and lining up the spear once more. Aries would pull the referee in the way and stuck Moose with a low blow. He’d look for the brain buster but Moose countered it into one of his that allowed him to line up and finally hit the spear for a 2 count, broken by Aries taking hold of the bottom rope.
Aries would try to flee up the ramp but Moose would not only stop him leaving but decided to throw Aries off the stage, over the guard rail and into a pack of security lining the front row of the crowd. As Aries made his way back to the ramp, Moose would look for a dive of his but Aries would step out of the way, sending Moose crashing and burning. Aries would capitalise with a rolling elbow and a brain buster on the outside, rolling into the ring and telling the referee to count. Moose would just make it into the ring at 9 just to met with a penalty kick right to the skull.
In a strange finish, Aries would go and take the Impact Championship from the baseball player they had at ring side and looked to hit Moose with it but the baseball player snatched it back. With Austin occupied with the baseball player, Moose rolled up Aries for a 2 count and Aries would kick out and immediately deliver another kick to the head before landing a second Brain Buster for the win.
The match was fine but succumbed to the theme of the evening, a weird, flat finish. There doesn’t seem to be much point in the whole title spot if you’re just going to have your baby face get beaten 10 seconds later. Again, perhaps there’s more to come but for a finish to a high stakes, main event championship match this left much to be desired and the match really could have benefited from a big finish to tie the match and the show all together. 6/10
Overall, I enjoyed the show. As my first venture back into Impact this was definitely enough to have me wanting more. As I’ve said a few times, a lot of the finishes had me a little ‘eh’ on things but it’s clear the roster is giving everything they’ve got into what they’re given and they put together an entertaining show. I could nit pick little things but I’m going to leave it with this; for a company that was a laughing stock such a short time ago, this no where near reflected the mess of a product that some people make it out to be. There is more than an abundance of potential on that roster and I believe and hope that things are only going to get better moving forward. I’ll be watching Impact to see what the fall out is like in the hopes it may alleviate some of the gripes I had and I look forward to catching Bound For Glory in October!