This Sunday, TNA Impact Wrestling will present it’s annual Slammiversary event live on Pay Per View. It’ll be the 11th Slammiversary event, so of course it is named Slammiversary XIII. This show will mark the 13th anniversary of TNA, hence the numbering, even though the Slammiversary PPVs didn’t begin until 2005. That’s right, today on Voices of Wrestling, in preparation for the 11th anniversary of Slammiversary, we’ll be looking back at 10 Years of Slammiversary!
When TNA first went into traditional Pay Per View in 2004 with Victory Road in November, it had been one year later than the planned start of live specials. In 2003, Jeff Jarrett had managed to, kind of, sort of, get Hulk Hogan to agree to work TNA’s first ever Pay Per View in late 2003. An angle was even shot and aired on TNA television, showing how close Jeff Jarrett thought the match was to happening. Ultimately, citing injury, Hogan pulled out of the event and wouldn’t start with TNA until several years later (Hogan actually negotiating a backdoor deal back to WWE rather than going to TNA in 2003).
TNA did get into PPV, though, with the aforementioned Victory Road in November 2004. With TNA going into the monthly PPV business now, TNA named their June 2005 PPV Slammiversary, in celebration of the anniversary of the company.
The very first TNA Slammiversary is memorable for a number of reasons, most notably the return of a concept match that would take place in the main event: King of the Mountain. Originally featuring ‘King of the Mountain’ Jeff Jarrett, who was to be an original participant, the match in storyline was made by TNA Director of Authority, Dusty Rhodes. However, Jeff Jarrett ended up not being involved in the match come show time due to a pre-show angle involving Jarrett getting arrested for hitting a fan. Does this sound too TNA’ish, yet? The main event of the first ever Slammiversary ending up featuring AJ Styles defending the NWA Championship against Monty Brown, Abyss, Raven, and Sean Waltman. Raven would win the NWA Title from AJ Styles in this match, which was also the last match booked in storyline by DOA Dusty Rhodes, as he was let go from the on screen position leading up to this show.
Perhaps most important for the long term of TNA was the debut of Samoa Joe at Slammiversary 2005. Joe, who would end up being an important figure in TNA all the way until early 2015, took on Sonjay Dutt in a singles match mid-way through the show. The announcement of Joe signing to TNA occurred during a very busy time in wrestling, as well as a surreal time, almost to the likes of what we’ve seen recently involving WWE NXT. Joe was the ROH Pure Champion at the time of his TNA debut, and he’d continue to defend the ROH Pure Title on ROH events for months after debuting. Until March of 2007, in fact, Samoa Joe was a regular with Ring of Honor while working regularly for TNA.
King of the Mountain remained the staple of TNA Slammiversary until 2010, with this year’s match featuring ‘The Icon’ Sting. In the main event, current NWA Champion Christian Cage defended against Sting, Jeff Jarrett, Ron Killings, and Abyss. Doing what TNA did for years and years, the bout featured a mix of TNA home grown stars like Abyss and Ron Killings (who was considered a TNA homer despite his previous and brief WWE run), with established major league stars like Sting and Christian Cage. It was Jeff Jarrett, however, who would win the title in his namesake match, but that wasn’t the most eye roll worthy victory on the show…
In a two-star classic, Kevin Nash defeated Chris Sabin in a mid-show match. Nash, with Alex Shelley, had been feuding with Sabin and the X-Divisioners for a time, but Nash would make sure not to lose to one in a singles match at all. Scott Steiner would have no problem doing so later on, as he would face defeat against Samoa Joe. These were two cases, and three if you combine the mix in the main event, of matches featuring TNA stars with older established WCW/WWE stars.
A featured tag match on Slammiversary 2006, however, was just flat out WWE stars going at it in a TNA ring. The Dudley Boys, renamed Team 3D upon coming to TNA, took on the former New Age Outlaws, then known as The James Gang, in a hardcore match dubbed the Bingo Hall Brawl. With weapons in the ring and legal, Team 3D won out in ten minutes in what was thankfully not promoted as a main event or semi-main event, but rather the opener of a show that would later feature the tag titles on the line between AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels against America’s Most Wanted, a stable tag team of the early days of TNA.
Taking Slammiversary on the road, TNA held their 5th anniversary show in Nashville. It was the first time Slammiversary had not taken place inside the Universal Studios Impact Zone, and many believe it helped the presentation of the show quite a bit. The crowd went nuts for surprises like Road Warrior Animal coming in to team with Rick Steiner against Team 3D, and appreciated the craziness of Bob Backlund as he took on Alex Shelley. The main event featured a King of the Mountain match for the vacant TNA Championship, as the NWA and TNA had ceased their partnership to use the NWA title as TNA’s world championship. Kurt Angle won the championship, beating Christian, Chris Harris, Samoa Joe, and AJ Styles in Slammiversary’s main event. Chris Harris is notable in this match as he had entered a singles career, and it’d be the last strong year of his career. In 2008, Harris left TNA for WWE, failing miserably in the endeavor. He’d be back for brief appearances in TNA and high level indies, before disappearing for good years ago.
Tragedy struck TNA at Slammiversary 2008, as an accident occuring during the tear down of the set after the show resulted in a crew member losing his life. Kevin Sinex, a contractor with an Orlando lighting company, died following a fall off of a scaffold which also resulted in an injury to another crew member. TNA dedicated future airings of Impact to Sinex, who was 45 years old. The event itself took place in Southaven, Mississippi, which was promoted by TNA as being in the “Memphis area.” Musically themed, Slammiversary 2008 again featured a King of the Mountain match as its main event, while an AJ Styles vs Kurt Angle match going in was the most highly anticipated by fans. Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, and Bobby Roode worked their 4th straight Slammiversary event here, beginning to cement themselves as the stalwarts of TNA early on Pay Per View. Abyss, while not wrestling, did appear on the show during a run in, keeping his appearance streak alive.
Slammiversary 2009, taking place at the Palace of Auburn Hills outside Detroit, Michigan, shall be remembered for two great matches, and a swerve ending to the King of the Mountain main event. For the first time, there were two King of the Mountain matches on Slammiversary, with the opening match of the PPV determining an X Division Champion, while the main event would feature a battle for the TNA World Championship. Suicide would retain the X Division title, defeating Jay Lethal, Austin Creed, Chris Sabin, and Alex Shelley in the opening KOTM match, while Kurt Angle won the TNA title from Mick Foley in the main event KOTM match. Angle’s win came with help from Samoa Joe, who actually had the match won before handing the belt to Kurt Angle for the final moment of the match. Roode, Styles, and Joe all wrestled on this show, keeping their consecutive match streak at Slammiversary alive. The show was reviewed positively overall, the highlights of which are below.
We now enter a new era of Slammiversary… NUMBERS! In 2010, Slammiversary VIII saw the return to Orlando’s Impact Z0ne with a main event of Rob Van Dam vs Sting for the TNA World Championship. This was the Slammiversary following the brief TNA vs WWE Monday Night Wars era, which went from January to May. We had a lot of new names in, like RVD, Mr Anderson, Desmond Wolfe, and the return of Jeff Hardy. Like many of the TNA events during early 2010, we saw a lot of mixing of established TNA stars with the bigger names that were brought in. There was one pure TNA match on the card, though, featuring long time X-Division stars AJ Styles and Jay Lethal. Of course, this was TNA in 2010, so we had to have an established WWE guy involved somehow. Enter: Ric Flair.
Oh, look: Jeff Jarrett back in the main events! Honestly, I was missing Jeff Jarrett a little bit. In 2011, Jeff and Kurt were involved in an almost true-to-life storyline. Angle’s ex-wife Karen was shacking up with Jeff Jarrett, and Jarrett was rubbing that fact in Angle’s face. Wanting to take everything else Angle had away from him, Jarrett set his sights on Angle’s gold medal. In the main event of Slammiversary IX, Angle put his gold medal on the line against Jarrett in a match that would also settle the #1 contender to the TNA World Title. That title, by the way, was defended in the semi-main event of this show by Sting against Mr Anderson. That’s right. The title match was the semi, with the #1 contender match as the main. Mr Anderson would wind up winning the TNA title, and Angle would retain his gold medals and be named #1 contender. Angle would get his title match later in the year at Hardcore Justice, but it was Sting who defended the title as Sting had regained the belt from Anderson on Impact. They just never trusted that Mr. Anderson to drive business. I have no idea why.
In a battle many consider to be the most memorable match on this year’s Slammiversary, Bully Ray took on AJ Styles in a Last Man Standing match. Getting **** from Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, the Styles vs Bully match cemented the fact that Bully Ray was a top singles performer in TNA, which he would remain for the rest of his entire run with the company.
Slammiversary 10 took place in Arlington, TX, being advertised as the “Dallas area.” The event looked fantastic on television, with the arena lit up nicely and the crowd reacting positively to almost everything on the show. It really gave TNA a major league feel. To think, this was only three years ago. The main event featured Sting vs Bobby Roode, continuing a tradition of TNA putting their home grown talents with the established stars. Unfortunately for TNA, they’d often have the established stars beat the home talents to the point where the home talents weren’t given much thought from casual fans of pro wrestling outside of TNA hardcores. That wasn’t the case this event, however, as Bobby Roode retained the TNA Championship. Honestly, this event featured a lot of that. TNA stars getting the wins over previously more established names. Roode defeated Sting, Joseph Park (Abyss’ alter ego and ‘brother’) defeated Bully Ray, Mr Anderson defeated RVD & Jeff Hardy in a 3-way, Hernandez defeated Kid Kash, and in the opener, Austin Aries defeated Samoa Joe. It was the opener to Slammiversary that really set the tone for the show, giving viewers a look at what a major league TNA could look like at its best on screen.
Boston was the home of Slammiversary XI, packing in over 3,500 fans to the Agganic Arena for a main event of Bully Ray vs Sting for the TNA World Championship. Underneath was another singles match between AJ Styles and Kurt Angle, again starring as one of the most anticipated matches on the card. Not to be outdone by the men, Gail Kim had a fantastic Last Knockout Standing match with Taryn Terrell of all people. Vibes after the event were generally positive, as the final three matches on the event delivered to and above expectations. Slammiversary XI could be considered the turning point of TNA. While the event was positive, the company began a not-so-slow climb downhill afterwards. Attendances decreased, live events decreased, and it was the final Slammiversary for Mr. TNA: AJ Styles. This would also be the final TNA PPV to feature Sting in the main event.
We get to 2014, last year’s TNA Slammiversary. Slammiversary XII was supposed to be headlined by Eric Young vs MVP, with MVP making his debut with the company shortly before the event was to take place. However, due to an injury to MVP in unfortunate timing, TNA had to scramble to come up with a replacement. Instead of bringing in someone new, or rearranging matches, TNA decided to make two already announced singles matches as #1 contendership matches for a 3-Way main event. Samoa Joe vs Bobby Lashley and Austin Aries vs Kenny King would decide who would challenge Eric Young for the TNA World Title in a 3-way main event. The injury to MVP and resulting 3-way main event were anti-climactic, which hindered the reaction to the main event.
TNA’s newest star, Ethan Carter III, defeated Bully Ray in a Texas Death Match, as EC3 was set up for the rest of the year as being one of the company’s top players. With Samoa Joe losing the opener to Lashley, and the lack of AJ Styles on the show at all as he had quit TNA earlier in the year, Slammiversary XII really did have a sad feel to it.
College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, which also held the 2012 event, was not quite as aesthetically appealing this year as it was before. The arena wasn’t lit as well as 2012, an attempt to hide the fact of much poorer attendance than the 2012 show. The crowd also didn’t have as much excitement, an indictment of the TV directions ongoing and lack of starpower in the main event. Still, over 3,000 people did attend Slammiversary XII. TNA will be getting less than 1/3rd of that this year, as TNA is taping Slammiversary 2015 back in the smaller Universal Studios Impact Zone.
There they are…
The ten years of TNA Slammiversary. The tentpoles of TNA’s anniversaries have clearly been these men, all of whom wrestling 9 matches on Slammiversary cards, the most of anyone: Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Bully Ray, and James Storm. Sadly, three of those four men are gone and don’t seem to be coming back to TNA any time soon. Storm, however, has the chance this Sunday to wrestle his 10th match on a Slammiversary card, making him the most veteran grappler in Slammiversary history. Interesting to note, however, that Abyss, while not wrestling on every Slammiversary, has appeared on every Slammiversary. At Slammiversary 10, the character of Abyss appeared, while the actual Abyss wrestled as Joseph Park against Bully Ray.
So now here we are, heading into 2015 and the 11th annual TNA Impact Wrestling Slammiversary. Many of the notables of past Slammiversary events won’t be there, like Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Sting, Jeff Jarrett, Bully Ray and more. Still, this year’s version does coincide well with TNA’s current outlook for the future. As bleak to some as it may seem, TNA is riding high on EC3, Kurt Angle, Davey Richards, Austin Aries, Bram, Magnus, James Storm and others. If they make it to 2016, these will be the names highlighting the cards. So while this year’s Slammiversary doesn’t celebrate the best of TNA’s past, it’s our best look into TNA’s future. A future, they hope, holds many more Slammiversary PPV’s to come.
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