By Graham "GSM" Matthews
X-Division Champion Sanada def. Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, Crazy Steve, Manik and Tigre Uno in a Ladder Match
One of the biggest issues with TNA at the moment is how they tape a month's worth of shows ahead of time. It disallows matches like this one from being advertised on TV, and for those who don't read the dirt sheets or TNA's website, they had no idea this match was even happening. That said, the match was nothing short of a spectacle with so many exciting spots. No real story was told throughout the bout, but that's what the X-Division has been all about for the longest time. After such a jam-packed matchup, you'd like the finish wouldn't be as anticlimactic as it was. Nevertheless, it was a fun opener that served its purpose in setting the tone for the rest of the night. The question now is whether Sanada holds the title until Destination X so he can cash it in for a shot at the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
Bobby Lashley def. Samoa Joe to Advance to the Steel Cage Main Event
Lashley may not be the best in-ring worker, but this was by far his best match to date in TNA. A good deal of that can be credited to Joe, who carried him to a solid match. This was anything better the two did during their late 2009 feud and they work better when the roles are reversed (Lashley as the heel, Joe as the face). I'm of two minds on Lashley winning clean. I understand officials are behind him and putting him over in clean fashion gave him credibility, but it shows that TNA is going out of their way to protect Joe anymore. Joe can easily rebound from the loss, but he deserves better.
Magnus def. Willow
The feud started out rocky, but TNA has done an effective job in repackaging Magnus in becoming tougher. His change in ring attire was also a nice touch. He and Willow worked a good match. There was nothing special about it, and it was odd to have standard singles match between the two after they fought in a Falls Count Anywhere match a few weeks ago, but it was well wrestled. The shenanigans at ringside with Abyss and Bram were silly, but Willow is a silly gimmick, so I didn't mind it. I enjoyed Magnus winning clean and I hope TNA continues to build him back up as a credible competitor.
Team 3D Were Announced as the Newest TNA Hall of Fame Inductees
Since the creation of the TNA Hall of Fame in 2012, many fans (myself included) have felt that AJ Styles and the founder Jeff Jarrett should be among the first inducted. Of course, that's not possible at the moment with Styles in Ring of Honor and Jarrett starting up a wrestling promotion of his own, so I wasn't disappointed when it wasn't announced as either of them. That said, Team 3D being inducted was a pleasant surprise and it was cool to see them come out to their old entrance music for the first time in years. They've done a lot to help add to TNA in the last decade, so they are definitely worthy of the honor. For those wondering, I don't see this being anything more than a one time thing for Devon in TNA.
Austin Aries def. Kenny King to Advance to the Steel Cage Main Event
King can be over-the-top as a character at times, but there's no denying that he can flat-out go in the ring. I liked that the commentators acknowledged their history together beyond TNA (ROH), thus making the match feel more meaningful. The action was entertaining and both guys put forth a strong effort. King was made to look like an equal to Aries and looked good in defeat. I was very glad that the main event didn't come down to two heels against one babyface, as that would have made it terribly predictable. This was Aries' first big win in ages and it was nice to see him spotlighted for once.
The Von Erichs def. The Bro-Mans
TNA should have done a far better job of promoting the Von Erich appearance ahead of time, but we all know TNA lacks in that department. The match was fun while it lasted and it drew back many memories to the Von Erich days, especially with one of the boys not wearing any shoes (much like his father). The Bro-Mans are one of the biggest jokes in TNA, so I see no reason why they couldn't have lost via pinfall here. That aside, the post-match bit with Kevin locking in The Claw on DJ Z caused the crowd to come unglued in what was an awesome moment for the Texas crowd.
Knockouts Champion Angelina Love def. Gail Kim
While Kim and Love are two of the better in-ring workers in the Knockouts division right now, this was not the match they are capable of having. It wasn't bad by any means, but it certainly had the potential to be something much more. The interference from Velvet Sky at ringside was inevitable, but the finish was way overbooked for no reason. The referee/Knockouts storyline has been done to death and doesn't add any interest to this feud at all.
Ethan Carter III def. Bully Ray in a Texas Death Match
For those who had zero idea what the rules of a Texas Death match were, like myself, TNA could have done a better job of establishing that. The action itself was enjoyable and they worked in several big spots that kept the crowd invested the entire time. They utilized the extreme environment well throughout, but the finish was what killed it from being better. Dixie Carter interfering was predictable, sure, but to think Ray would be taken out from one blow to the head from a Singapore Cane is asinine. However, I like the move of EC3 going over, as it gives him another big win on the main stage. I'll go so far as to say that he'll be world champion before the year is over.
Mr. Anderson def. James Storm
The feud between Anderson and Storm has been lame and lazily booked, but at least the matches haven't disappointed. I figured they wouldn't be given much time with so little time left in the show, but at least they made the most of the time they were allotted. Storm's encounter with The Cowboys at ringside got a pop out of the crowd and I wouldn't be surprised if TNA did that only to get some mainstream coverage, and I can't say I blame them for that. Anderson got his win back over Storm and I wouldn't doubt that the feud will continue past this point.
TNA World Heavyweight Champion Eric Young def. Austin Aries and Bobby Lashley in a Triple Threat Steel Cage Match
The match definitely benefited from Aries' involvement, but Young and Lashley also held their own and had a very good main event match. There were a a handful of memorable moments and the three competitors developed nice chemistry with one another as the match progressed. Young hitting the flying elbow off the top of the steel cage will be one for the highlight reel for sure. Taking Lashley out of the bout toward the end was the right move, as Young and Aries had a fantastic finishing sequence. Young retaining came as no shocker but it was the smart decision since TNA is keen on building him up as a main event player. I don't see Aries remaining in title contention after this but it was great to see him in the main event of a pay-per-view for the first time in a long while.
Would it be bad for me to say that I'm actually glad that MVP got injured and plans changed for the top matches? I honestly believe that the show was made better by the changes because each of the headlining matches (Aries vs. King, Joe vs. Lashley, the TNA title match) felt more meaningful and exciting. The rest of the card held up pretty well and all the right people went over, so no complaints. The show exceeded expectations and Slammiversary has always been an awesome event on an annual basis, but now it's up to TNA to follow up the right way. If they can keep the ball rolling going into their next set of TV tapings, then we might be in for a fun summer from TNA.