Impact Wrestling returns to pay-per-view this coming weekend with Slammiversary XVII, airing from Gilley’s in Dallas, Texas. The promotion’s annual anniversary show will be the company’s first in Texas since Slammiversary XII back in 2014, a show headlined by a three-way steel cage between Eric Young, Austin Aries and Bobby Lashley for the World title.
Since Rebellion in April, a show that was perfectly entertaining with two standout matches (Tessa Blanchard against Gail Kim and the Lucha Brothers vs LAX), Impact have increasingly resembled an ECW tribute act in places and have also continued to have issues with their US TV provider Pursuit and now look set to make a move later this year. With that in mind, it is important that this Slammiversary show delivers and on paper, it could well do. There’s certainly variety and although people’s mileage on certain matches will vary, it should be a good show.
Dallas will be swamped on the Saturday with the opening night of the G1, which is likely to mean that this show either gets lost in the shuffle or ends up getting a boost. Only time will tell.
First Blood Match
Eddie Edwards vs Killer Kross
Thinking about the recent career trajectory of Eddie Edwards just makes me a little bit upset. This time last year, the former Impact World champion was coming off a red-hot feud with Sami Callihan and he looked poised to move up the card and re-enter that title picture. Yet that move never came. His feuds with Tommy Dreamer and Moose were good, but probably a little too drawn-out and then his program with Eli Drake never really got the satisfying blow-off it should have had. Now Edwards finds himself in another program centered on his mental instability with Killer Kross, one that has been by and large good but not spectacular (aside from the stuff with The Sandman).
Predicting this match should be fairly straightforward. Given Kross’ well-reported contract issues, you’d expect that Edwards would be going over fairly clean, but at the same time there is no obvious direction for him beyond this show at the moment, so a loss here wouldn’t be a complete shock. As far as the match itself goes, my expectations are mixed. These two have good chemistry but much like Last Man Standing matches, First Blood matches have to be worked in quite a deliberate way. As such, the flow of the match tends to be stunted by the repeated breaks, bringing the ceiling down. Prediction: Eddie Edwards
Moose vs Rob Van Dam
I sincerely hope this is the last I see of Rob Van Dam in an Impact ring. At 48, and with a 28-year plus career behind him, it is clear that Van Dam has little left to offer in the ring and to be perfectly honest, it’s been uncomfortable in many ways watching his matches since he returned to the company in April. He blows up completely after about five minutes and seems to even struggle to play the hits without all sorts of bells and whistles.
Moose, on the other hand, is someone Impact should be making more of and I feel that the only acceptable outcome here is for him to win and win quickly. Prediction: Moose
Sami Callihan vs Tessa Blanchard
It would be wrong of me not to admit that I am looking forward to this. Intergender wrestling isn’t usually for me, but I think when done right it can be effective and this is one such instance. The build has been effective because 1) There was no Glenn Gilbertti, 2) Callihan is alarmingly easy to boo (although I feel they missed a trick of not playing this feud as Callihan having small-man syndrome) and 3) the go-home the spot with the baseball bat was well-executed.
Both of these two have a strong track record of killing it on pay-per-view and giving 110%, and this match is likely to be well over with the live crowd, so I suspect this will actually end up being pretty good. I am not a fan of Callihan coming out on the losing end of yet another feud, because there has to come to a point where he is no longer credible as a genuine top-tier threat, but the right booking move is probably putting Blanchard over. It’ll give her another big win and position her strongly for the Knockouts title picture in the second half of 2019. Prediction: Tessa Blanchard
Impact Tag Team Championships
The North (C) vs LAX vs The Rascalz
I had previously written a long spiel about how well the Rascalz/LAX feud had been built and how much I was looking forward to the match, and then Impact went and did a ‘classic Impact’ and chucked a spanner in the works. The North winning the titles on the Bash at the Brewery show was, admittedly, telegraphed, but it also seemed incredibly daft to do that at the exact same time as the go-home show for Slammiversary was airing. As a triple threat, this match probably now has a lower ceiling than a regulation tag match would have done, but given the quality of the teams, it should seem interesting.
In terms of the booking, the outcome will still revolve around LAX’s contracts expiring in August and them potentially jumping to another promotion. The obvious next title feud is The Rascalz against The North, and that feud probably works best with the Rascalz chasing the titles rather than holding them. I suspect they’ll work some angle with the Rascalz not being on the same page again, with the North eking out the victory by pinning LAX again. Prediction: The North
Impact Knockouts Championship
Four-Way Monster’s Ball
Taya Valkyrie (C) vs Rosemary vs Havok vs Su Yung
Of the four title matches on this show, this is, without doubt, the weakest. I probably rate Taya’s work more than many others do, as I think she can deliver consistent stuff in the right environment, but Su Yung I can take or leave and Havok has never really been someone that I particularly enjoy the work of. Rosemary is one of my favorite female performers, and I thought her first run with the belt was superb, but she has been quite well-protected since she came back from her ACL injury and I’m not sure whether she’s got the movement and all-around performance levels she had two years ago.
Multi-person matches tend to have their limitations, with even numbers usually working better than odd in my mind, but with a hardcore stipulation, they can be quite fun. However, that relies on everyone being on the same page and someone being there to hold things together. Rosemary or Havok would be the one I’d suspect would be responsible for that and I think there is a strong chance this could fall apart in a bad way. As such, the floor on this one is quite low but the ceiling could be quite high if they plan some innovative stuff and keep things tight. I had initially felt that Taya would retain here, but whilst writing this I’ve talked myself into a shoot. I suspect Rosemary is winning, setting up the money match with Tessa Blanchard later in the year. Prediction: Rosemary
Impact X-Division Championship
Rich Swann (C) vs Johnny Impact
Rich Swann’s X-Division title run has been one of the highlights of the company so far in 2019, with Swann regularly delivering excellent performances against the likes of El Hijo del Vikingo, Flamita and Sami Callihan. Since seeing off the OvE leader at Rebellion, Swann has been the main beneficiary of Brian Cage’s injury absence, being elevated into the main event scene and excelling against Johnny Impact and Michael Elgin, his singles match with the latter probably being the promotion’s best TV match this year.
Impact earned this title opportunity by winning the Ultimate X match at United We Stand over Mania weekend, and has already been pinned twice by Swann in the build-up. That would usually point to Impact actually sneaking out the big win when it matters and I feel that’s the most likely outcome at Slammiversary. Swann is ready to be bumped up the card and Impact is a solid hand to hold the belt until they want to push someone else, be that Willie Mack, Ace Austin or maybe TJP. Prediction: Johnny Impact
Impact World Championship
Brian Cage (C) vs Michael Elgin
Brian Cage being injured and effectively being an absentee champion has actually worked in this feud’s favor. It has given Elgin the chance to get himself over in a big way with singles matches against Willie Mack and Rich Swann, whilst meaning that the few interactions these two have had have been red-hot. It also means that there is a lot of meat left on the bone for the future, which could potentially alter their original booking direction.
These two are former tag team partners and if they keep this to an appropriate length (around 15 minutes), this could be a killer main event. Both feel like they have something to prove and both seem to genuinely care about being trusted to carry this title, which is nice to see. Cutting the legs from Cage’s title reign before it really got the chance to get going seems harsh, but that’s the outcome I feel is more likely. If Cage loses, they can play the card that he wasn’t completely fit and then have him as the fiery babyface challenger for the next few months. I think both outcomes are interesting and this match, if it delivers, could cap off a very strong night for the company. Prediction: Michael Elgin