Friday, July 31, 2020

TNA/IMPACT WRESTLING: Slammiversary 2018 Review

TNA/Impact Wrestling
Slammiversary 2018 
Toronto, Canada 
July 22nd, 2018 

Commentators - Don Callis & Josh Matthews

As of this writing, it's 2020. I haven’t watched hardly any post 2014-15 TNA. I’ve heard this is one of their best ppvs of all time despite being way past their peak so I’m pretty interested in it, especially considering how good the card looks on paper and the opening video package which heightens that. Slammiversary 2020 being attention grabbing made me want to go back and see what I may have been missing so let's get into it. 

1) Fenix vs. Taiji Ishimori vs. Petey Williams vs. Johnny Impact 
What a lineup here. Williams is a last minute replacement for Rich Swann who was injured, but a perfect one as this PPV is live in Toronto, Canada. Johnny is making his return after some time away as well as Ishimori. This was a lot of fun and the crowd was super hot for it. Fenix was an actual nutcase in this as usual and everyone else looked solid. Johnny wins a spotty opener. 

Match rating - ***1/2

Backstage EDDIE KINGSTON is with LAX originals Homicide & Hernandez. It looks like it’s old LAX vs. new LAX (Santana & Ortiz) tonight and I’m insanely stoked. King & Homicide are all time greats and Santana & Ortiz would go on to be great in their own right in AEW as they are as of this writing. 

2) Tessa Blanchard vs. Allie

Awesome video package for this match. I know Allie from her time as Cherry Bomb on the indies. She’s also currently The Bunny on AEW. None the less, pretty wild watching this now two years later. Saw some reports this was awkward but I didn’t think it was too bad. The start was a little rough but it turned into a fairly enjoyable little match with some memorable moments like Allie hitting a Death Valley driver on Tessa on the floor. Tessa wins when all is said and done. 

Match rating - **3/4 

Moose is backstage and says he looks good and feels good and will kick Aries ass tonight and everyone will be chanting his name. 

3) Eddie Edwards vs. Tommy Dreamer - House of Hardcore Rules Match 

I’ve seen some subpar reviews of this match, but I thought it was really good. Sure, this type of thing has been overplayed in TNA in the past decade or so (ECW/hardcore throwbacks & nostalgia kicks) but this truly felt like the focus was on adding depth to the character of Eddie Edwards and for someone who wasn’t super hyped on his title win that just happened at the 2020 edition of Slammiversary - seeing this showed me I haven’t been tuning in enough to see and appreciate the growth of Eddie, a talent that I was high on at one point. So, yeah. A bloody, personal brawl. The end was sorta flat as they teased a flaming table spot only for Eddie to win with a DDT. But the post match made up for it with Edwards breaking down crying with emotion which resonated with the story as he was breaking out of the mindset that Dreamer had been talking to his wife behind his back. Eddie’s wife running down and telling him to shake Dreamer’s hand was a nice touch too. 

Match rating - ***1/4 

4) Matt Sydal (c) vs. Brian Cage - X Division Title Match 

Awesome pre-tape promo from Sydal. Announcers touch on his history in TNA’s very early years and how he would go on to compete prominently in ROH, PWG, WWE and NJPW. Cage is the perfect bit of freshness in the X Division. He brings back the “no limits” aspect that someone like Samoa Joe personified and I love it. This match was also my favorite on the show so far. Sydal is so good in the big man/little man role and the near falls down the stretch popped off and ruled. Cage gets the win with the motherfuckin Steiner driver. New X Division Champ!!

Match rating - ***1/2

5) Madison Rayne vs. Su Young (c) - Knockouts Title Match

This was the weakest match of the show. The video package was good, but the match lacked the fire it needed. But it wasn't terrible and honestly the show needed a cool down and this was definitely it. Only went 6 or 7 minutes and Su Young retains.

Match rating - **

6) LAX (Santana & Ortiz) (w/ Konnan) vs. LAX OG’s (Homicide & Hernandez) (w/ Eddie Kingston) - Street Fight For the World Tag Team Titles

As a kid, LAX was undoubtedly one of my favorite tag teams and even as an adult I look back at how amazing of a team they were. An all time great team and Homicide on his own is an all time great singles wrestler. So when they chose to bring back Homicide & Hernandez to usher in another era of LAX with Santana & Ortiz (but not without a fight) - my interest was immediately peaked. Unfortunately I’m just now getting around to watching it but wow, it certainly lived up to expectation. Homicide rules in this style of match and everyone else more than held up their end of things. Plus Konnan and Kingston at ringside was a perfect touch. Table spots, numerous weapons and a couple of thumbtacks later and this one is over and Santana & Ortiz take the victory. Awesome grudge match from one of the best stables/teams in TNA/Impact Wrestling history. 

Match rating - ****

Post match, Homicide & Hernandez attack Santana & Ortiz and vandalize the tag title belts. 

7) Sami Callihan vs. Pentagon Jr - Mask vs Hair Match

I haven't had interest in anything involving Sami Callihan since 2013, so seeing rave reviews of this match made me worry I wouldn't be able to fully enjoy what others are hailing as a TNA classic. Well, I was wrong because this RULED. This is the realm in which Callihan thrives - brutal, blood feuds with high stakes. And Pentagon, well, Pentagon is much more widely faceted, but I feel he also shines very bright in this type of stuff. These two absolutely destroyed each other and showed so much intensity and desperation. Rail road spike shots that left Callihan pouring blood and Pentagon's mask soaked in red and a steel chair war in the center of the ring were just a few of the highlights of this insane contest. Pentagon even hit a package piledriver on Sami through a stack of steel chairs. But finally, the arm bar followed by another package piledriver got him the win. The Crist's try to stop Callihan from getting his head shaved, but Fenix comes out and evens the odds and Callihan is shaved bald.

Match rating - ****1/4

8) Austin Aries (c) vs. Moose - TNA World Championship Match

And a homerun of a show ends with a homerun of a main event. It's not mindblowing, it isn't a classic, but it's a damn good pro wrestling PPV main event. Aries is cocky and determined to put Moose in his place and prove him an unworthy challenger and to "leave him with nothing" whereas Moose is in the biggest match of his career and has a huge size advantage. Crowd is into it and these two go back and forth and kept my interest from bell to bell which as I've said a few times on this show - I didn't expect. Aries had to go to some great lengths to retain including a risky dive from the entrance ramp to the apron of the ring and a brainbuster on the floor. It ended up taking two brainbusters to put Moose down. Aries retains, but Moose looks strong in defeat. Great match.

Match rating - ****

Final thoughts: So, yeah, this was a blast. Kinda thinking of reviewing the rest of or more of 2018, but not sure if I want to put that on my plate with my Ruthless Aggression Era project going in full force along with trying to keep up with current stuff, but this definitely makes me wanna watch and review for recent Impact so there will probably be more of me covering this stuff. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@thepwtruth) or on Facebook for updates. Slammiversary XVI gets a high recommendation from me!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

AEW: Dynamite - Fyter Fest 2020 Night Two Review - July 8th, 2020

AEW Fyter Fest/Dynamite 
July 8th, 2020 
Jacksonville, FL

1) Hangman Page & Kenny Omega (c) vs. Private Party - AEW Tag Team Title Match 

The AEW tag division is so stacked and consistent so yes, this ruled. Omega continues to be WOTY despite not even being a singles wrestler or top focus in the company technically. Action packed, balls to the wall, classic AEW style tag title opener. Page & Omega retain. Private Party look the best they’ve looked since the Bucks match. Being in there with more seasoned workers definitely helps tie up their loose ends.

Match rating - ***3/4

2) Lance Archer vs. Joey Janela 

This is a match on paper I wouldn’t care about but actually was good. Janela took a hell of a beating and Archer looked like a beast. Archer wins after a gruesome table spot. Most I've enjoyed a Janela match in a while! Super good.

Match rating - ***1/2

Taz comes out with Brian Cage and introduces the FTW Title like it’s 1998. He crowns Cage as the FTW Champion and continues to sell the upcoming title match with Moxley next week. Taz is killing it in this role.

3) The Young Bucks & FTR vs. Lucha Bros, The Butcher & The Blade

As said in my review of the opener, the AEW Tag Division is insane right now and this match is the perfect example of it. So much story work with FTR & The Bucks to match the crazy spots and moves. Awesome stuff. This is must see for the canadian destroyer over the top rope to the floor spot alone. I don't even know how to properly explain/articulate how it happened. The finish with a misplaced super kick from The Bucks to FTR gave the Lucha Bros and Butcher/Blade a huge win without sacrificing anything as it just adds to the Bucks/FTR story. DEPTH. 

Match rating - ****

Big Swole tries to enter the arena, but is served papers that she is suspended. 

4) Nyla Rose vs. Kilynn King & Kenzie Paige 

Good squash match with Nyla literally throwing both women around the whole time. Post match, Nyla has an announcement. Apparently she has a manager now and that is gonna help her get the title back from Shida. I love Shida’s facial expressions. 

Colt Cabana is bruised up and has a hematoma from the attack he suffered last week but he is cleared to compete. Brodie Lee comes up and tells him with him having his back now, that won’t happen again and tells him to get ready for the match they have later. Colt says  “will do Mr. Brodie” - it’s looking like Cabana is really being sold on joining Dark Order. 

5) The Dark Order (Brodie Lee & Stu Grayson) & Colt Cabana vs. SCU (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, & Scorpio Sky) 

They continue to play the Colt story insanely well. SCU was SCU and made great opponents. After some back and forth, Brodie destroys Daniels and lets Colt get the pin which makes him visibly happy. Colt hasn’t lost a match since his talks with Dark Order began and they even left a spot beside Brodie during their entrance. It’s gettin real.

Match rating - *** 

Big Swole shows up in the arena despite being suspended and causes some havoc with Britt Baker.

6) Chris Jericho (w/ LAX) vs. Orange Cassidy 

Cassidy tells Chuck & Trent to stay backstage and vows to face Jericho on his own. This was a classic popular not so serious underdog against cocky veteran. If it had a crowd I’d argue this could’ve been a 4.5 star affair. Big Dave went 4.25 and I’m going slightly lower but this was still so fucking good. Jericho continues his career resurgence with another awesome match that will be looked back on when all is said and done. Cassidy fought from underneath the entire time with flurries that would get cut off either by Jericho himself or Santana & Ortiz at ringside. He kept his lazy gimmick in moments but also showed fire and poise. Seeing him hit Y2J with a fucking falcon arrow was INSANE. Jericho locked him in the walls multiple times but Cassidy escaped each time. In the end, it was the Judas Effect that put him away after a lot of back and forth and interference from LAX that was thwarted by Best Friends. I wish this had a crowd, but it’s still amazing regardless. 

Match rating - ****

Final thoughts: This has to be a Top 5 episode of AEW since they debuted in October. 3 matches right at four stars and the other three were more than solid in their own right. AEW has an off week now and again but right now they have such a solid set of stars and stories and next week looks to be just as good with Moxley/Cage, Elite/Jurassic Express, Lucha Bros/FTR and a Cody title defense.