The John Report: TNA Slammiversary Preview
This Sunday night, TNA Wrestling will be holding their Slammiversary pay-per-view event. Slammiversary marks 11 years since Total Nonstop Action began. I've been watching the company from the beginning although there were definitely times when I lost interest along the way. For the most part, I watch Impact weekly and do my best to keep up with the stories.
Earlier this year, TNA eliminated eight live pay-per-view events. Of course they say publicly that it was a positive because it will allow them to build up to their four PPVs in an even better way, but really it's an admission that the PPV business is a money loser for them. Clearly it is. However, as a fan I enjoy their PPVs because they have a lot of talent on the roster and the matches are usually above average. Since they only have four PPVs in a year I plan on previewing and reviewing them all starting with this one.
I know I don't write about TNA often (I can't remember the last time I did), but that's why I'm here. I want to write about it more than I do. Do I love everything about the product? Nope. I think they misuse a lot of the talent and Hulk Hogan plays too big of a role on every show. He needs to be in the background more. I also think their reliance on having one major heel stable every year is redundant. From the Main Event Mafia to Immortal and now to the Aces and Eights, all they ever do is tell stories built around one main heel stable. This stable is the worst of them all in terms of depth, but Bully Ray as the leader is great.
What interests me about TNA is their roster. It's talented. As a fan of great in-ring action I'm interested enough to watch Sunday's event live and I will also write about it. For right now it's time to preview the event.
ULTIMATE X: X-DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP Kenny King (c) vs. Suicide vs. Chris Sabin
I'm not a huge fan of all X-Division matches as three way matchups. I think they get too redundant when you do them all the time. However, in an Ultimate X setting it will work well. They will get to show off how athletic they are and the crowd will love it. King is the heel champ, while Sabin has made a big comeback from major knee injuries. Suicide is just there because…well…that three way thing I mentioned. I think Sabin's going to leave as the champion because he's a TNA Original (pretty much) that has worked hard to come back from injuries and it will be a feel good moment to put the X Division Title back on him. Give them 10-15 minutes and let them do their thing. It will be fun. Winner: Chris Sabin
GUTCHECK TOURNAMENT FINAL: Jay Bradley vs. Sam Shaw
TNA loves tournaments. This is the final of a tournament to get into the Bound for Glory Series, which is another variation of a tournament. Neither one of these guys has a chance to win the BFG Series, so what's the point of this exactly? To be a jobber in that tournament, I guess. I don't think this needs to be a PPV match especially when there's no build up to it. I'll pick Bradley to win since he's the more experienced and polished of these two performers. Winner: Jay Bradley
LAST KNOCKOUT STANDING MATCH: Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell
If you go to the TNA Knockouts website you can see they only have six women that actually wrestle since ODB is being used as a ref these days. The Knockouts Champion Mickie James (my favorite, of course) isn't even on this card. What's the point of having championships if they don't get defended on one of your four "major" PPV events? I don't know. Anyway, Gail's there to put over Taryn, who will likely be next in line to get the KO Title off of James. Congrats to Taryn for putting the T and A into TNA. Winner: Taryn Terrell
TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP: Devon (c) vs. Joseph Park
The deal here is that everybody knows that Joseph Park is Abyss except Park himself. Or maybe he knows, but he doesn't want us to know that he knows. I'm not going to try to figure this story out. Devon barely defends the title on television despite it being called the TV Title, which again is another TNA head scratcher. Anyway, the likely finish here will be something where Park starts bleeding, sees that and morphs into Abyss mid match to finish off Devon with the Black Home Slam. It's not a great angle. Winner: Joseph Park
6 MAN TAG: Ken Anderson, Wes Brisco & Garett Bischoff of The Aces and Eights vs. Magnus, Samoa Joe & Jeff Hardy
Nobody on the TNA roster has been used more poorly than Samoa Joe in the last four years. That's when Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff came in. He's my favorite guy on the TNA roster other than Angle and when I loved TNA the most in 2006 he was the man in the company. I'm not sure why Hardy is even in this match. He's been booked terribly this year. He was out for a month in February because he can't travel to England (drugs are bad) and he's been out for most of the last month too. Why pay him if you're not going to use him to his fullest? I think Magnus is really talented. He should probably be winning the TV Title at this event instead of being in this tag match that doesn't mean a whole lot. Brisco has no momentum despite going over Angle at the last PPV while Bischoff is the least believable heel I've seen in a long time. Anderson seems disinterested a lot of the time. I don't blame him. The face team will go over, but it's not like this is a compelling matchup because the Aces & Eights are so boring aside from Bully Ray. Winners: Magnus, Samoa Joe & Jeff Hardy
Hall of Fame Announcement
Last year Sting was the first person in their Hall of Fame, which meant he was inducted in a ceremony before Bound for Glory that few people even saw (there's a TNA joke there somewhere). This year? I think it will be Kurt Angle or Hulk Hogan. I think Angle is most likely because he's obviously not in the WWE Hall of Fame yet and this can be a way for TNA to honor him. He has been there for seven years now. I guess it could be TNA founder Jeff Jarrett, but he's in the background these days. It seems unlikely. I'll go with Angle although really it doesn't matter a whole lot.
FOUR TEAM ELIMINATION TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez (c) vs. Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels & Kazarian) vs. Austin Aries & Robert Roode vs. Storm & Gunner
This might be the match of the night. I like TNA's tag team division a lot. While it may not be as good as the prime of the tag division, it's pretty damn close. I'm glad they have put these teams together and invested time in them. To see them book a four way elimination tag has me excited about what might happen. They tend to be longer matches, so it should be fun.
It's hard to pick this one. I think Gunner will eliminate somebody as a way to push him as a babyface who has returned to action, but doubt his team wins. I'd prefer to see Aries & Roode in singles action, so I'll pick against them. I'd like to see Bad Influence with the gold again. Their act is so fun. It's a tough match to predict, though. I just hope they get close to 20 minutes because the match quality is all I really care about with this one. Whoever wins leaves as champs. Whoever loses will probably get a title shot in the near future anyway. They just trade the titles around every couple of months. I think the Storm/Gunner team will win them at Bound for Glory because that makes the most sense for long term direction. Winners: Bad Influence
AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle
It doesn't matter how many matches they have. I will always love their matches. Give them 15-20 minutes and let them do their thing. They have awesome chemistry. Angle's still one of the best wrestlers alive. Styles is definitely up there. Right now Styles is doing the lone wolf gimmick where the heels think he's on their side, but he really isn't. He's not a true babyface either. That's where things will likely end up with him, though. Eventually he'll return as the guy that loves the fans.
Angle's in the role as the veteran who has been an ally of Styles in the past, so he's there to "beat some sense into him" so to speak. I think it makes more sense for Styles to win. Angle doesn't need wins. Styles' character needs the wins to get him back into that main event picture sooner rather than later. I don't think either guy is hurt with a loss. I just think Styles needs the win more. Does that make sense? I think it does. Winner: AJ Styles
TNA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: Bully Ray (c) vs. Sting
This is a No Holds Barred Match, which means they can brawl around the ring and have a screwy ending similar to Ray/Hardy at Lockdown. If Sting loses then he never gets a TNA World Title shot again. That should help the match. As much as I respect Sting I think it's a bit silly that's he's in the TNA World Title match at Slammiversary for the 4th year in a row. I don't see why he needs to be in the title picture again. Does he have value as a veteran who the fans respect? Absolutely. That doesn't mean he has to be in the title picture again. The roster is deep and somebody else could have benefited by being in this spot.
There are two likely finishes here: 1) Sting wins the title, which frees up Bully Ray to have a match against Hulk Hogan (ugh) at BFG. 2) Brooke Hogan turns heel by joining her husband Bully Ray. If that second scenario happens I guess they could do Hogan/Ray if they want Hulk to have the World Title (major ugh), but that would make the whole Bound for Glory Series meaningless. Why? Because the winner of the BFG Series is supposed to get the World Title shot at BFG.
I think Ray should remain the World Champion, so I think his wife Brooke Hogan (who has been against him in the story) will turn heel to help him keep the title. I don't want Hulk Hogan to wrestle again. He may want to, but he shouldn't do it. If he does it shouldn't be for a championship. What should happen is AJ Styles wins the BFG Series and then the World Title at BFG. Not Hulk. Please not Hulk.
What I don't expect is a clean finish. Since BFG is the biggest PPV of the year in four months, they'll use this one to set that up and that's why I'm leaning towards the heel ending with Bully Ray leaving as the World Champion. Why take the title off him so soon? The group would lose too much momentum without the title. Winner: Bully Ray
That's all for me. I'll be back on Sunday night to write about Slammiversary only at TJRWrestling.com.
On Monday I'll post a Chris Jericho related column. Not sure if the Raw Deal will be live on Monday. If it's not live it will be Tuesday.
Have a great weekend.
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