June 19, 2022
Impact Wrestling celebrated their 20th anniversary this past Sunday (June 19th) with Slammiversary, a brilliant, nostalgia-fuelled show from the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville. In the main event, Josh Alexander made the third defense of his Impact World Championship against Eric Young.
Meet Your Reviewers
Andrew Sinclair: Voices of Wrestling’s resident Impact Wrestling reviewer. Known Josh Alexander and Johnny Swinger mark. Mostly a curmudgeon. Follow me on Twitter @AMSinclair97.
Ewan Cameron: Reviewer and commentator for Voices of Wrestling and arguments on Twitter. You can view his ongoing list of best matches of 2022 here.
Countdown to Slammiversary
Digital Media Championship
Rich Swann (C) def. Brian Myers (7:10)
AS: Springboard cutters annoy me so much. I know we’re supposed to suspend our disbelief when watching wrestling and take things like Irish Whips as read, but Springboard Cutters are where I draw the line. They’re just dumb.
That irritating spot aside, this was a fun little match that made the absolute most of the time they were given. Swann successfully reclaimed the title he won last month with a 450 splash and if this Digital Media Championship title run leads to more singles matches for him, my opinion on the belt will soon change. ***
EC: The YouTube feed was messing up so I missed most of this. But I did see the springboard cutter!
Shark Boy wins the Reverse Battle Royal (9:40)
AS: I feel no shame in admitting that I absolutely adored this. Impact Wrestling is a promotion I would trust probably more than any other to nail the presentation of nostalgia and they managed to make this the on-the-nose nod to the past it always should have been.
It wasn’t a star-studded lineup by any means, mostly focusing on lower-card Impact acts as well as a few returning faces in the shape of David Young, Mike Jackson, Chase Stevens and Slash from the Disciples of the New Church.
Chris Bey and Steve Maclin brought an element of workrate, with Bey likely setting up a future match between the two after eliminating them both with an Art of Finesse on the apron. Johnny Swinger and Zicky Dice, meanwhile, were the ones relied upon to bring the comedy. First with Dice not knowing how to get into the ring to qualify for the top eight and then with Swinger thinking he’d won the match by throwing Shark Boy over the top rope, only to then realize it was one fall to a finish for the final two. One stunner later and we all had our hands on our heads like a fin. GIVE ME A SHELL YEAH! ***
EC: Bey and Maclin looked woefully out of place here and did their best to deliver some actual wrestling, including an incredible cutter spot that took them both out of the match. Hopefully, this all leads to an angle where they confront D’Amore about being booked in a comedy match and get a title shot in return.
With that said, this was a bit of goofy fun before the show with tongue planted firmly in cheek. **
Ultimate X Match for the X-Division Championship
Mike Bailey defeats Ace Austin (c) and Alex Zayne and Andrew Everett and Kenny King and Trey Miguel (9:50)
AS: While this didn’t quite hit the heights of the stellar Ultimate X match at Slammiversary 2021, this was thoroughly enjoyable and it felt considerably more meaningful, as Ewan points out, than the throwaway one they ran during Mania weekend.
I did feel that the match was missing something though. I’m not sure what, perhaps some increased intensity in the exchanges between Alex Zayne and Ace Austin, but it didn’t quite have enough to reach four-star territory for me.
Trey Miguel looked in tremendous shape for this match and continues to have a good year despite everything, while Andrew Everett slotted in seamlessly as a last-minute replacement for the injured Jack Evans. The star, however, was Mike Bailey. In his first match of this style, ‘Speedball’ got in a lot of big spots – namely a twisting Ultimo Weapon off the structure, the rapid-fire kicks on Kenny King while both men were hanging down and a big rana on Everett while clinging onto the ropes. Bailey and Austin did feel as though they were up on the structure together for a bit too long in the end but the visual of Bailey kicking him off, rolling up and unhooking the belt while sat on the ropes was lovely. ***1/2
EC: I’m in two minds about this match. On the plus side, this was much, much better than the Ultimate X match at Multiverse, it just flowed well and the spots came thick and fast. On the other hand, my perennial gripe with Impact PPV booking is that they always seem to cram the X Division guys together into these multiman matches, when a straightforward 1vs1 match could have a much higher ceiling. Still, as a match, this was like eating chocolate for breakfast; indulgent but very satisfying. ***¾
Impact Knockouts Tag Team Championship
Ragnarok (Rosemary & Taya Valkyrie) def. The Influence (Madison Rayne & Tenille Dashwood) © (7:20)
AS: I’ve never thought that Taya stinks as much as our noble Flagship hosts seem to and I thought she was fine here in what was a solid contest that finished with a nice moment for two women with lengthy histories with the promotion.
The action itself was fine, if a little disjointed, as they told the simple but effective story that Taya and Rosemary needed a while to gel as a duo after not teaming for a while. Rosemary, the longest-tenured Knockout on the roster, pinned Rayne with As Above So Below after a little over seven minutes. **¾
EC: Bloody hell did Madison and Tenille bash their heads on that double spear spot?! That looked nasty. Apart from that, this match had good vibes and showed why each of these four deserved their spot here. It helps that everyone, and especially Taya and Rosemary, are over like rover with the Impact faithful, making each strike and slam that little bit sweeter. ***1/4
Monster’s Ball Match
Sami Callihan def. Moose (16:00)
AS: I love, repeat LOVE, how far they went with the ‘both participants are locked in a boiler room for the preceding 24 hours without food or water’ aspect of Monster’s Ball. From the social media updates and Tom Hannifan blaming dehydration for Moose slipping off the middle rope right down to Moose stealing a Hot Dog and a bottle of water from a woman in the crowd, it was perfect.
I did have to question, however, the merit of Moose dragging Sami’s lifeless body through the thumbtacks – few people in wrestling wear more protection on the top half of their bodies than Callihan, so surely he’d have felt no impact from it?
In all sincerity, this was well-paced and enjoyable with a number of big, gnarly spots. The bump Moose took over the post and through a table on the outside looked awkward as hell, while the powerbomb Sami hit onto the vertical bin was all types of horrible.
After Moose kicked out of two Cactus Driver 97s, Sami produced a barbed wire baseball bat, a clear nod to Monster’s Ball staple Abyss, and hit Moose with it twice. That set up a third, and decisive, Cactus Driver ‘97 in Sami’s first Impact match in nine months. To some, this match will have just been a selection of spots but it was a winner in my book and a nice end to the feud. ****
EC: Sami Callihan is a world-class wrestler and I’m tired of people pretending he’s not. There’s a certain subsect of the wrestling fandom who will outright refuse to acknowledge it. It’s true that he doesn’t wrestle a fashionable style nor wrestle for a trendy promotion, but over the last four years, he’s delivered high quality every fucking time at Slammiversary. He’s been unselfish too and it was fitting this year he finally got a win on this stage.
Let’s not downplay Moose either, another guy who consistently delivers at big events and is still routinely left out of the BITW discussions. He’s not known especially for hardcore matches, but, like Kenny Omega last year, he came into Callihan’s den and was able to keep up with the brutality. Are you going to tell him he isn’t a Wrestling God?
I’m the first one to say that I am sick of hardcore matches in wrestling. 99% of them of are boring garbage with no sense of structure. But Callihan knows exactly how to structure a match so that it’s not just the carnage that ramps up but the climatic intensity. Moose kicking out at 1 after a powerbomb onto a vertical trashcan and a piledriver onto tacks was that emotional peak here. A moment that could only have worked because of everything that came before. ****½
Impact World Tag Team Championships
The Good Brothers (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) def. The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) (c) (10:00)
AS: I’m doing what I’ve always been taught not to do when reviewing any art form but my assessment of this match is unduly influenced by the fact I thought the booking was wrong and probably indicative of future contractual movements.
The match itself is at least on par with any of the other big Gallows and Anderson matches in Impact and that’s largely down to the energy and effort injected into it by Jay and Mark. The brawling on the outside to start ramped up the pace from the get-go and they kept the intensity up throughout to produce 10 minutes of good, solid tag-team wrestling.
The Good Brothers’ deals with Impact are up in July. I thought they were off to New Japan permanently and therefore would be losing here. Them winning, and going 2-0 up in this series, suggests otherwise though and potentially indicates that The Briscoes might be the ones off elsewhere. ***1/4
EC: Briscoes did a lot here to make this match worthwhile and it wasn’t a bad match at all. But this is one of those matches where I have very little to say! It was a match. Let’s get a fresh tag team in this division. ***
Post-match, there was a lot of jaw-jacking going on between the two teams before they were interrupted by America’s Most Wanted (James Storm and Chris Harris). There was no big brawl or title challenge or anything like that, just a toast (with Harris opting for the water instead of a Cowboy Beer) to tag team wrestling always mattering in Impact.
The Impact Originals (Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, Davey Richards, Frankie Kazarian & Nick Aldis) def. Honor No More (Eddie Edwards, Matt Taven, Mike Bennett, PCO & Vincent) (w/Maria Kanellis-Bennett) (18:45)
AS: I can’t be the only person that thought Dixie Carter was going to introduce EC3 as the fifth member of the Impact Originals, can I? [No you were not, I was sure Aunt D was going to introduce her nephew too!- EC]
Davey Richards was a weird flex but with a number of other options busy (Daniels at New Japan Strong tapings, Monty Brown retired, etc.) and him making sense from a canon perspective, he was a fine addition. It did also mean that Team Impact had five different organizations/areas of the wrestling industry represented.
I ultimately think I enjoyed the match as much as I did because they avoided the common issue with matches like this of there being no real flow because of far too many pinfall attempts. PCO looked like a beast (someone needs to book him against Richards) and everyone else got some shine.
Everything broke down spectacularly at the end with what Ewan beautifully described as a cavalcade of sports entertainment. I’m usually a shenanigans curmudgeon but it worked here. You had Traci Brooks attacking Maria Kanellis-Bennett, D’Lo Brown hitting a glorious Sky High and Splash and then Earl Hebner getting a special moment of counting the winning fall the week his twin brother died.
The nostalgia and the in-ring work was great but the piece de resistance came from Scott D’Amore on commentary – “You could always text Garrett, Tom, he does the rest of your research for you.” Go Coach! ****
EC: So Davey Richards being the fifth entrant is fine and makes sense according to the story (let’s just ignore the fact the Wolves are teaming up in PW Revolver these days). Still, why not just announce Richards for the show, instead of this mystery man gimmick? Perhaps there was someone else planned and it fell through, as whether Davey is a TNA original or not is debatable. No worries though and we got some cool Wolf on Wolf action (fun fact: did you know that the most viewed Impact wrestling YouTube video of all time is Davey vs Eddie at a hundred million views, which is over 1% of the world’s population?)
As a match, this was fantastic. If you’ve seen the 6 man tag from Impact this month, you’ll know that HNM and MCMG have great chemistry, and the early part of this match was a testament to technical tag teaming. The end of this match collapsed into a brilliant cavalcade of sports entertainment, with run-ins from Maria Kanellis, Traci Brooks, and D’Lo Brown, Kenny King and yes Earl Hebner coming in from the crowd to count the pin. This wasn’t overbooking, this was sublime pro-wrestling joy and if you didn’t crack at least a smile, then by all means turn it off and go watch dudes in black trunks and kickpads hit forearms on each other for all eternity. Shout out to the guys in the crowd who raised up the letters TNA second after the pinfall. ****
Queen of the Mountain Match for the Impact Knockouts World Championship
Jordynne Grace def. Tasha Steelz (c) (w/Savannah Evans) and Chelsea Green and Deonna Purrazzo and Mia Yim (18:15)
AS: Everyone will have seen the huge bump from Deonna Purrazzo and Chelsea Green by now. That was nasty as hell and for taking it they deserve tremendous credit, as do the rest of the participants here as they all put in a massive shift.
I thought the action flowed pretty well, especially given it was all of their first times working with such a clunky stipulation, and from a personal point of view I was pleased that we didn’t have too many attempts at hanging the belt up as the constant teases are a bugbear of mine in most ladder matches. They also managed to reheat the Chelsea Green-Mickie James feud in a fun way.
Impact gets bonus points for what I thought was a fun finish. With Green and Purrazzo down and Mia Yim in the penalty box, it came down to Grace and Steelz. Grace pinned her with a Muscle Buster to stand all alone, allowing her to run up the ladder and hook the belt. She didn’t actually buckle the studs together but I’ll forgive her on this occasion. ***1/2
EC: So the positive about this match is that everyone really tried to make the most of the ridiculous stipulation. You can’t fault Mia Yim for diving from the top of the penalty box, nor Chelsea and Deonna for taking a massive bump over the top rope through a couple of tables that shattered into pieces beneath them. I’m also happy that Jordynne won and I hope this reign is a chance for her to really cement her spot in Impact. She’s been with the company for a while, but hasn’t really had that sort of flagship moment. Let’s see how this plays out.
Unfortunately, this match was hampered by the gimmick and meant that, ironically, there was a low ceiling on quality. Still, as a one-time spectacle, it was watchable. ***
Impact World Championship
Josh Alexander (c) def. Eric Young (w/Cody Deaner & Joe Doering) (18:50)
AS: Coming into the main event, I had every faith that these two would gel. By the time the final bell rang, I was left a little emotional at the beautiful package of a classic PPV main event and an ode to the promotion’s biggest stars that they managed to produce.
When these two traded missed moonsaults in an early feeling-out process, I had a feeling that we’d get callbacks galore and I wasn’t disappointed. There was pocket sand, a beautiful BME from Alexander, a Stroke from Young, an Angle Slam on Joe Doering over the top rope and through a table on the outside, a Black Hole Slam, a Styles Clash and a gloriously timed El Kabong guitar shot.
In the end, it was a moment on the go-home show that served as the centerpiece for the finish. During their contract signing, Young had cut back the canvas and piledriven Alexander onto the exposed wood. He did that again here but only got a nearfall. To one up that, he attempted a Super Piledriver. Alexander blocked that and rolled through for an Ankle Lock. That didn’t get the job done but there was one more callback left in the tank – an ST-Joe that left Young an open target for a C4 Spike and a 1-2-3.
Call me a mark, call me a fanboy or call me the high man but I loved this and thought it was the perfect final chapter to one of the most enjoyable top-to-bottom wrestling shows I’ve ever watched. ****1/2
EC: Everyone knew this was going to be a great match, what we probably didn’t expect was the various callbacks to TNA and Impact wrestlers. There’s definitely a risk of such things becoming overly goofy, but they generally stayed within the lines here. In retrospect, EY winning the title with an El Kabong guitar shot was never going to happen, but it seemed like we all bought that nearfall in the second that it happened. Great main event. ****
AS: Given the history and symbolism attached to this show, it was always going to be nostalgia-driven. For it to have peaked as high as it did in-ring at various points during the night while retaining that celebratory theme is a remarkable achievement by the Impact booking team.
The video messages from Sting, Kurt Angle and AJ Styles were a nice touch, while the tribute package for Mike Tenay and Don West honestly had me tearing up as much as it did Hannifan and Rehwoldt on commentary.
While I appreciate Ewan’s frustrations about the multi-person matches, this show was about celebrating the gimmicks and matches that put Impact in the headlines for good or bad.
As a long-term viewer of TNA/Impact, this show was as beautiful and well-executed a tribute to the promotion possible in this spot. It’s the most fun I think I’ve ever had watching an individual wrestling show and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
EC: This was a fun show and reminded me a little of last year’s CyberFight Festival in Japan where there was a feeling of celebration and joy throughout that collectively lifted the whole thing. Any time an Impact crowd starts spontaneously chanting TNA, you know you’ve found yourself in a nice spot.
Now nostalgia is good, as is celebrating your past, but here’s what I find weird about Impact’s nostalgia in this show. In the video packages, almost everything was from the first ten years. Styles, Roode, Joe, Sting, Angle. Of course, it makes sense to put your biggest names at the front, and it’s hard to argue that those aren’t their biggest names, but by limiting yourself to that time period only, then you’re also selling the value of the company short. Where was Lashley, EC3, Bully Ray, Aries, Taryn Terrell, Johnny Impact, DJZ, Matt Sydal, Matt Hardy, Rockstar Spud, Sonjay Dutt, Trevor Lee and all the great names that came in the second half of this company’s existence?
The other problem is Impact’s utilization of talent. Chris Bey and Steve Maclin in the preshow comedy match is a criminal underutilization, and why is it that almost every PPV needs to have an X Division multi man match instead of giving those guys time to breathe in a single competition? Impact’s TV these days has a very high quality of matches owing to a pretty great roster, but when it comes to PPV, there’s an overreliance on tags and multi man spotfests. I’d like to see the talent have more chances to reach the higher potential that singles matches tend to have. That said, I agree with Andrew’s assessment that on a night like this, it was all about the matches that made Impact famous, so they couldn’t not have an Ultimate X match. Let’s see how things pan out for Against All Odds.
Like most Impact shows this was a breeze to watch and featured a great variety of matches. Hard to Kill remains the high watermark for Impact PPVs this year, but this one is well worth your time too.