Hello and welcome, fellow wrestling fans, to a show that I honestly believe has been built up to be one of the most exciting shows of the year so far: Impact Slammiversary ’18!
Ever since Impact has undergone an internal shift and actions have started to unfold, Impact Wrestling has begun a resurgence of sort and has developed into a company that has consistently produced some of the best wrestling matches that we’ve seen in the American market today.
Everything that has been built up in their main show, Impact Wrestling, has all led up to this event, the event that celebrates the anniversary of the first Impact event back in 2002 (although, the first event happened back in June of 2002, but that’s beside the point).
Impact Slammiversary is a flagship event of the company and, for this year, is the second PPV in the 2018 Impact Wrestling pay-per-view schedule. This event was held in the Rebel Complex in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is the company’s fourteenth Slammiversary event.
Following their prior event, Redemption, has Impact redeemed themselves and put on a show that we will all be talking about for the future to come? Let’s check it out!
We start off the show with the cold open that recaps all of our storylines leading up to this event, as narrated by Barry Scott. For those who are unfamiliar/may be familiar, Barry Scott is the impactful (no pun intended) voice behind the early-TNA PPV’s and narratives during their early days and I’m so glad that he’s back.
His voice alone seriously added so much gravitas to an already-amazing cold opening and turned what was primed to be a strong card into something that left chills down your spine. I honestly recommend, if you were a fan of TNA or if you’re a fan of Impact, to check it out if you ever have the chance. Impact’s Youtube Channel actually has the cold opening for public view, which you can view right here.
We’re now taken over to the Rebel Complex in Toronto, where our announcers Don Callis and Josh Matthews greet us, as we get an overview of what looks to be a packed crowd (which I’m so glad to see) and we’re ready to rock with our first match!
Match 1: Johnny Impact vs. Fenix vs. Petey Williams vs. Taiji Ishimori
****Editor’s note: The original match was supposed to have Rich Swann here, but due to a concussion, he has been replaced with fellow Canadian Petey Williams on the day of the show.
In poetic fashion, we’re starting off the show with the X-Division, the division that put Impact on the map during their early days, as Fenix, Ishimori, Williams and Impact look to excite the crowd with high-flying and risk-taking action. Petey Williams comes out with the old Team Canada theme and the Canadian flag, which got the crowd immediately cheering. Taiji Ishimori came out as the “Bone Soldier” from NJPW, which officially opens the door for the Bullet Club to have a presence in Impact henceforth (which will only raise Impact’s stock even higher). Fenix and Johnny Impact (who has no ownership in the company, for those newly-introduced to Impact Wrestling) also popped the crowd with their entrances, which all but ensures the crowd will be invested (and I was right, as the crowd immediately chanted ‘Impact Wrestling’ before the bell and ‘All these guys’ right after).
Before you get to finish reading that last sentence, however, the match has already started off with a brawl, which allowed for Fenix to establish early control as he drops Johnny with a spinning gut kick and chops Petey in the corner after sending Ishimori outside. Ishimori, however, scouts Fenix from the outside and, after Fenix delivers his ‘Animo’ taunt, he catches Fenix with springboard hurricanrana to send him outside. Ishimori attempts to whip Petey to the corner but is met with a forearm for his troubles. However, this brings back Johnny, who catches Petey with a springboard kick to send him out of the ring, leaving Johnny and Ishimori in the ring as the fans chant “welcome back” (both men were away for periods of time, as Johnny was filming for ‘Survivor’ and Ishimori was with NJPW).
Both men size up and lock up as a series of fast-paced counters ensue, culminating with both men missing a standing-moonsault variant against the other and forcing another standstill. Johnny manages to gain control, however, as he catches Ishimori with a leg lariat and the running knee strike. Johnny looks to set up Starship Pain here, but Fenix is back in and he catches Johnny off-guard with quick acrobatic counters. Johnny, however, catches Fenix with a kick to the gut and looks to whip him into the corner, but it’s reversed over. Fenix eventually floats Johnny over and is catapulted to the top rope as he prepares his springboard hurricanrana, but he noticeably slips on the rope during the spring-up from the second to the top rope. Johnny, to his credit and quite astutely, jumps to the second-rope, appearing to counter Fenix but, in reality, kept his balance afloat enough for Fenix to follow through with the hurricanrana and send Johnny outside.
Petey Williams, however, manages to sneak back in behind Fenix but it’s to no avail, as Fenix manages to subdue him with a few quick kicks. It’s to no effect, however, as Petey reverses an Irish Whip and rebounds into a headscissors to take down Fenix. Petey then catches Fenix with a drop-toe hold to the ropes and follows with the dropkick and headscissors transitioned into a Russian leg sweep but only gets a two count. Petey follows up the momentum by setting Fenix in the tree-of-woe position, followed by the signature ‘O Canada’ stand on Fenix’s…err, tailfeathers (as the crowd sing-along).
Petey catches Fenix with a kick while he’s still in the tree-of-woe, sending Fenix outside, and Ishimori rushes back in to take advantage. Ishimori starts to speed up the pace, escaping an Irish Whip by Petey and landing onto the apron, where he drops Petey with a springboard seated senton.
Before Ishimori could pin Petey, however, he’s caught with a springboard basement dropkick from Fenix. Johnny pulls Ishimori to the floor, however, and just as Fenix prepares a dive, Petey pulls Fenix to the floor and rushes back in to dive instead. Ishimori manages to get into the ring and cut him off with a dropkick before getting ready to dive onto Johnny, who cuts off Ishimori with a kick from the outside. Immediately after, Petey catches Johnny with a hurricanrana from the apron to drop Impact and Fenix, while all of this is happening, leapfrogs Ishimori to catch the duo on the outside with a topé.
Ishimori, not to be left out, sizes up the trio outside and drops everyone with a springboard Asai moonsault. Ishimori sends Fenix inside and attempts to enter the ring but Petey sends Ishimori into the rails and nails Fenix with a catapulted Codebreaker inside. Johnny and Petey start to battle to the top rope and Ishimori managed to catch the two in a Tower-of-Doom spot, as Fenix drops Johnny with a missiledropkickk. Ishimori removes Fenix with a snap tilt-a-whirl headscissors and Petey catches Ishimori, teasing the Canadian Destroyer. The move gets countered but Petey locks in the Sharpshooter instead. Petey breaks the hold up, however, as Johnny rushes the ring, stunning Petey and landing Moonlight Drive but Fenix breaks up the two-count.
Fenix follows up with a hard slap to Johnny’s chest and subdues him in the corner before nailing the 619 and flows into the rolling cutter on Johnny for a two-count. Ishimori is in now and immediately stuns Fenix with quick offense, culminating in the Shotgun Dropkick to the corner and the double knees to a prone Fenix. Ishimori drops Fenix with a tombstone-transitioned into a double knee facebuster and Petey breaks up the pinfall attempt. All of the men are exhausted and attempt to get back up, as it breaks down into a full-on superkick party, as everyone drops down and Johnny attempts to cover Petey for a two-count. Fenix gets sent to the outside and Ishimori drops Johnny with a uranage before heading to the top rope and landing the 450 Splash on Johnny. Petey immediately catches a reeling Ishimori with the Canadian Destroyer and Fenix catches a reeling Petey with the springboard double stomp for a two count. Fenix attempts a Muscle Buster on Petey but is caught by Johnny Impact’s superkick and the Starship Pain for the pinfall victory.
Winner: Johnny Impact
Analysis: Holy heck, this match went from 0 to 100 quickly and never let up on the gas pedal. I mentioned that it was poetic that this match opened up the show because it was the X-Division, which was the division that gave TNA/Impact its recognition in its early days. This match was a shining example of what the X-Division was about: fast-paced, high-flying and risk-taking action all to get the crowd on their feet and showcase what Impact represented! The crowd was hot for this match, with ‘Impact Wrestling’ and ‘This is Awesome’ chants and, to be honest, any of these men could’ve walked away with the victory believably. That, in itself, is a mark of a great match, especially considering that the other three men lost nothing in defeat here. Great match to open the card and a great opening for the show!
We’re taken to an incredibly uneven-tanned Don Callis (my man, what happened?) and Josh Matthews, who flash us back to Johnny Impact throwing the first strike during the Toronto Blue Jays game earlier that day and run down the card for the show, which promises to deliver and culminate months of storyline-building.
We’re then taken to a scene from earlier, with Homicide and Hernandez, now known as the OGz, who are riling themselves up ahead of their ‘5150 Street Fight’ against L.A.X. later in the card. King walks in with a bottle of champagne and they talk about how they’re tired of Konnan and how they should’ve been the rightful heirs to the L.A.X. empire, but they were passed over by Ortiz and Santana. However, they’re looking to take what was theirs!
We get a promo for Tessa Blanchard vs. Allie, highlighting Tessa’s dominance and uprising in the Knockouts division, Allie saving Madison Rayne from a beatdown by Tessa and Allie’s evolution post-Rosemary’s demise at the hands of Su Yung. It’s actually really good stuff in terms of development for both characters and where their mindsets are for this match.
Match 2: Tessa Blanchard vs. Allie
Tessa’s entrance and theme is seriously on-point for her character. It almost feels as if it’s a natural extension of her, which helps the crowd invest in her for sure! Allie, conversely, has come a long way from her innocent and naive character into a formiddable underdog for any opponent, especially during and after the DemonXBunny team. It also helps that Allie is the hometown hero here, giving her the immediate crowd support from the get-go, but throwing these factors into the mix gives us a complex character in the story. This is how characters are supposed to develop and mature.
The match doesn’t start with a lock-up, but instead, the two trash-talk for a few moments before Tessa strong-arms Allie, leading to Allie stunning Tessa with a forearm and arm-drags to the mat. Allie attempts another arm drag but Tessa attempts to block the move. Allie counters with a forearm, leg-kick to drop the leg and a basement cross-body onto Tessa as Tessa rolls to the opposite side of the ring. Tessa manages to counter an Irish Whip and trips Allie onto the bottom rope, setting her up for the running elbow.
Tessa misses the elbow, however, and Allie attempts the sliding dropkick but misses as well. Tessa takes full advantage of Allie’s position caught up in the ropes to lands some vicious strikes to the neck and chest of Allie. Tessa then sets up for an apron leg drop, but misses the drop, which led to Allie climbing to the top rope and catching Tessa with a cross-body all the way to the floor. Allie fires up and hypes the crowd up but she allowed Tessa to recover enough to block an attempted cutter and hotshot Allie into the rail. Tessa starts to establish dominance here with violent rights and a running dropkick while Allie is prone on the rope for a two-count. Tessa hits a duo of short-arm lariats and attempts a Saito suplex but Allie counters out and front-lock suplexed Tessa into the turnbuckles.
Allie sets up for Best Superkick Ever but it’s countered by Tessa, who locks Allie into an Indian Death Lock-leg-lock. Allie fires strikes from below but Tessa retaliates with forearms. Allie manages to escape and the two scramble, before Allie pulls Tessa to the floor with a headscissors pulldown. Allie follows suit, but Tessa tries to fight off the pursuit. Allie manages to fire back with an Allie Valley Driver on the floor, sending both women down.
They both beat the count of ten back into the rings and the two trade strikes before Allie takes control with a series of forearms and dropping Tessa with the Backstabber for a two-count. Tessa and Allie continue to trade strikes with the two in the corner. Allie and Tessa both fight to the top rope and Tessa hits a hurricanrana from the top rope, dropping Allie on her head and neck, but still only getting a two-count. Tessa heads back to the top-rope for a high-impact senton, but misses entirely. Allie retaliates with the Codebreaker but the impact (pun intended) sends Tessa to the floor. Allie forces Tessa back into the ring but only gets a two-count. Allie manages to catch Tessa with the Best Superkick Ever but still can’t put Tessa away. Allie sets up for the Allie Valley Driver but Tessa fights out and catches Allie with the Hammerlock DDT for the pinfall victory.
Winner: Tessa Blanchard
Analysis: This was a pretty good match and did a lot of good in terms of establishing Tessa as a dominant force in the Knockouts Division. As I mentioned, Allie’s character development from someone who couldn’t believably win a match to former 2x Knockouts Champion lends credibility to her character to the point where she can fight against Knockouts like Su Yung and Tessa Blanchard and either come away with a believable win or take a loss and not lose momentum anymore. This was the case here, as Allie came very close with two Best Superkicks Ever but she couldn’t put away the ‘Undeniable’ Tessa Blanchard, who has been on an absolute tear with her character and momentum, and yet Allie loses nothing with this loss as she looked tougher in defeat. Tessa, conversely, continues her domination against her opponents and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to deny Tessa of her spot among the top of the division. As for the match itself, it was a good match, despite some spots that could’ve been handled a bit better, namely that top-rope hurricanrana, which looked rough on Allie’s neck. I look forward to seeing where these two head next in their stories.
We’re taken backstage, where Moose is interviewed by Alicia Atout in preparation for his Impact World Championship match against Austin Aries in the main event. Moose noted that 2018 was the year he would be the champion and that everything that he had ever done will pay off when he defeats Austin. He also said that, in the NFL, if he looked good and felt good, he would play good. He ate a great breakfast so he felt good and he was in a suit so he looked good, but he wasn’t playing around as he was gonna whip Aries’ ass up, down and around the ring and the Impact Nation would be chanting ‘Moose’ (while doing the hand motion).
We get a promo video covering the complex feud between Eddie Edwards and Tommy Dreamer (and Sami Callahan, to a minor extent at this point). This may be one of, if not the best feuds going in wrestling today, echoing Tommy Dreamer/Raven in ECW. Eddie Edwards’ descent into madness over Sami Callahan and the consequences of his actions as he loses everything bit-by-bit is some of the most creative and complex angles in a story that I’ve seen in wrestling today and the way that the feud transitioned from Edwards/Sami into Edwards/Dreamer was so natural. It’s definitely something worth watching from start-to-finish if you ever want an idea of how important psychology is in a storyline.
Match 3: Eddie Edwards vs. Tommy Dreamer (House of Hardcore Match)
This match is a House of Hardcore match, so basically it’s a Hardcore Match. Both of these men are hyped to kill each other, with Edwards convincing himself Dreamer and Edwards’ wife, Alicia, are having an affair. Dreamer, meanwhile, tried his best to snap Edwards out of his vengeful-turned-psychotic quest for revenge against Sami Callahan after Sami tormented Edwards following a brutal attack with a baseball bat and chair (a botched attack, but it added to the story beautifully nonetheless) that saw Edwards (almost legitimately) lose his eye and months off his career. After the accusations and multiple attacks by a crazed Edwards, however, Dreamer decided to fight back, tired of the insults and assaults, and here we are now.
The two men don’t even make it to the end of Dreamer’s entrance theme before they lock up (rather aggressively) and the two end up to the floor, where Edwards shoves Dreamer into the rails and chops Dreamer a few times. Dreamer eventually gets back into it with a snap suplex onto the floor and slams Edwards into the adjacent rails before attacking Edwards with a fan’s beer (although she REALLY wasn’t willing to forego that beer, meanwhile the guy to her right was shoving the beer in Dreamer’s face for use).
Dreamer then scours under the ring for weapons and grabs a trash can and a metal tray, clocking Edwards with the metal tray in the process. Edwards tries to escape by getting into the ring and kicking Dreamer off. Edwards attempts to dive into Dreamer but runs into Dreamer’s trash can instead. Dreamer follows up with a rope-assisted neckbreaker, taking both men back to the floor. Dreamer attempts to whip Edwards into the nearby ring stairs but Edwards reverses and catches Dreamer into the ring post instead. While Dreamer is down, Edwards circles around to the opposite side of the ring and and reaches under the ring to pull out a staple gun (while the crowd chants ‘you sick puck’…it’s not hockey though, must be a Canada thing, ahem…).
Dreamer’s back in the ring at this point while Edwards, with a look that would’ve beaten Heath Ledger for the ‘Joker’ role in The Dark Knight, taunts the crowd with the staple gun before attempting to staple Dreamer’s forehead/face. Dreamer, however, starts to fight back and block the gun before cutting Edwards off and stunning him. Dreamer now has the gun and attempts to staple Edward’s head as well, but Edwards manages to fight out and rebounds against the ropes, catching Dreamer with a sunset-flip pin.
However, Dreamer still maintained his stance and, now that Edwards’ arms are behind Dreamer’s thighs and unable to block, he staples Edwards’ forehead (while the crowd chants ‘ECW’). Edwards is now bleeding and reeling outside on the rails with the fans, while Dreamer follows suit. Dreamer grabs a replica ECW Championship from a willing fan ringside (meaning we’ve now struck that proverbial turkey of ECW references with a barbed-wire bat in this match) and clocks Edwards in the head with it, opening the wound of Edwards up even more.
Dreamer has the staple gun in his hand and drags Edwards to the apron, attempting to staple him once more, but Edwards trips Dreamer onto the floor and follows up with an immediate suicide dive, crashing Dreamer into the rails. Edwards attempts to crotch Dreamer on the rails but Dreamer bounces off the rail.
Dreamer and Edwards end up back into the ring and Edwards starts to channel his inner Ozzy Osbourne, running his hand down his face and streaking the blood across, as he searches under the ring and pulls out a few chairs and a kendo stick. Edwards rushes back in and starts laying into Dreamer with the stick, taunting him in the process. However, one taunt too many leads to Dreamer dropping Edwards with the Ace Crusher and now controlling the kendo stick, getting a few shots on Edwards in the process. Edwards taunts Dreamer to aim for the head and Dreamer doesn’t think twice as he nails Edwards between the eyes, dropping Edwards as fast as WWE’s RAW ratings. Dreamer doesn’t cover Edwards, however, but he instead sets up two chairs facing each other and lays Edwards on them.
Dreamer then uncharacteristically heads up top, leading to Edwards catching Dreamer with the nearby kendo stick on his knee. Edwards now sets up Dreamer for an attempted Frankensteiner but Dreamer low-blows Edwards, setting him up and nailing the Spicolli Driver onto the two chairs but, shockingly, Dreamer gets a two-count. Dreamer looks under the ring and grabs a table.
However, he looks under the ring again and pulls out lighter fluid. You can probably tell where this is going, but luckily, this is 2018 and we aren’t savages so Eddie Edwards Future Shock DDT’s Dreamer before he sets the table on fire. Edwards props Dreamer on a nearby chair and lands the Boston Knee Party for the pinfall victory as Canada boos the fact that a man wasn’t set on fire.
Post-Match, Eddie Edwards isn’t done, as he grabs the kendo stick and yells at a near-unconscious Dreamer in a delirium before he readies to strike him down. However, he suddenly starts to break down, as though the pressure and the stress of the entire situation caused him to crack and snap back to the reality that he was attacking the one man that wanted to help him.
He starts crying and attempts to assist Dreamer back up but Dreamer won’t have any of it (I can’t imagine why? Might be the sweat) and shoves Edwards to the corner before grabbing the kendo stick. Dreamer offers his hand for Edwards to shake but Edwards looks confused and unwilling. Suddenly, Alicia Edwards, Eddie’s wife, comes out (with a better tan than Don Callis, seriously, my man, what happened?) and demands that her husband shakes Dreamer’s hand and end this feud.
Edwards does proceed to shake his hand and leans forward in exhaustion, but Dreamer readies the kendo stick, prodding Edwards to the corner with the stick pointed towards his neck while Edwards begs Dreamer off. Suddenly, Dreamer backs off, handing Edwards the kendo stick and limping out of the ring. Alicia, watching this all unfold, walks to the back alone, leaving Edwards in the ring alone.
Winner: Eddie Edwards
Analysis: So, given that this is Impact’s most featured feud, I have a lot to say about this match and I’m definitely going to go off on a tangent a bit here so you’ll have to excuse me but there’s a reason for it. Given the direction of this feud and the amount of emotion that this feud carried, this battle needed to match that intensity in order to deliver a suitable payoff. In some regards, it did deliver on that, as most of Edwards’ mannerisms and the hyped-up crowd gave this match some of the fire it needed. Unfortunately, that was all it delivered here as it lacked that aforementioned intensity that was absolutely needed here to really get a payoff for the story. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a good match for what it was and these two beat the heck out of each other. The only reason this fell short of the mark, ironically enough, was because of how amazingly well the story was built up.
Think about it this way: cast your mind back to 2006-2007, with the break-up of America’s Most Wanted and the blood-feud between ‘Wildcat’ Chris Harris and ‘Cowboy’ James Storm. When Storm betrayed Harris and smashed that beer bottle on Harris’ head, you expected Harris to wage war on his former partner and absolutely wreck Storm in a fit of rage. Instead, it initially turned into a Blindfold match at TNA’s Lockdown PPV and that match was about as entertaining as a game of rock-paper-scissors with a kitten. It was only until the Texas Death Match between the two at Sacrifice 2007 that the two really went at each other and the story’s psychology matched the intensity of the match, resulting in an absolute war that we can all still watch today and say it was an amazing battle.
Putting it into perspective, the match between Dreamer and Edwards needed to lean more towards (or possibly exceed) that Texas Death Match but it felt more in-between Storm/Harris’ Blindfold match and the Texas Death Match. Eddie Edwards was built up as a man who had lost everything he had and that he stood for on a hell-bent quest to destroy Sami Callahan for the sins he committed against him. Tommy Dreamer was built up as a man who tried to reach out to (and save) Eddie Edwards but was forced into this war because Edwards, who had descended into a deranged state-of-mind, had accused Dreamer of having an affair with his wife, who wanted nothing to do with Edwards because of his vengeance. See where I’m going with this? The feud’s psychology just didn’t mesh with the match we were given and it took the edge away somewhat from the match itself as a result, unfortunately. At this point, I can safely say I have faith in Impact’s booking to compensate here but I’ll have to sway a bit on the middle for this match for the aforementioned reasons.
We’re taken backstage somewhere for a promo with Matt Sydal, who expresses gratitude for the concerns for his health as he faces off against Brian Cage (Cage from Lucha Underground, for perspective), but he says that people aren’t looking at the match from their Third Eye, which shows Sydal what the real Cage is like without his shell. It also reveals that the X-Division Championship chooses who holds it and that it had chosen to stay with him and that he will show Cage directly why it chose him (I think I got a contact high explaining that one).
We get a promo hyping up Cage/Sydal, with a nice mini-perspective of Sydal’s rise in the X-Division from the early-TNA days, before he was enlightened and that he’s adding the spiritual dimension as the third factor in the X-Division. We also get a glimpse of Cage’s destruction in Impact, leading up to his loss against Sydal on Impact, due to Kongo Kong’s interference. Sydal says that when you face him, you face off against your true self and that he will force Cage to see his true self when he battles against him once more as he won’t leave Slammiversary without his mind, heart and soul (are you okay, Sydal?).
Match 4: Brian Cage vs. Matt Sydal (c) (X-Division Championship)
Matt Sydal comes out in a tiger mask and looks like he leaned out even more for this match, if that was even possible with his already slim frame. Brian Cage, on the other hand, looks like he ate 3 children and absorbed the protein for breakfast. It’s terrifying to see how huge the man is on camera alone, much less what he would look like in person! When you see the two side-by-side, it seems to be a horrendous mismatch, but per the moniker of the X-Division: it’s not about weight limits, it’s about no limits! Can speed beat muscle here and will Matt’s third eye foretell his victory? What am I even saying?
Matt continues to talks about his third eye, pointing at Cage’s head as well before his hand was slapped away. The match begins and Matt tries to circle the ring to avoid direct confrontation with Cage. Alas, Cage catches Sydal walking in and immediately overpowers him, slamming him into the corner turnbuckles and dropping him with a clothesline. Cage then proceeds to slam Sydal down and deliver a standing moonsault (think of a Hess truck, now imagine that truck doing a flawless backflip) but gets a two-count. Sydal immediately rolls under the ring and, as the camera focuses on the Swolverine, Sydal is nowhere to be found (guess the Third Eye allows you to teleport?) and Cage attempts to search for him.
However, Sydal pops back up from the opposite side of the ring and catches Cage’s left leg with a kick before chop-blocking it. Sydal follows with chops and kicks but Cage shoves him off. Sydal manages to goad Cage off of the corner, however, and uses Cage’s momentum to catch him with a backdrop. Sydal is on the offensive and follows with more kicks to the leg before mounting Cage on the corner. However, Sydal taunts Cage about his ‘Third Eye’ and gets dumped like a plate of vegetables over the top rope as a result.
Cage follows suit and rushes Sydal into the railings before slamming him back-first into the ring apron nearby and sending him back into the ring. Cage heads up to the top rope but Sydal catches Cage with a kick to the lower-stanced leg, forcing Cage to flip over into the ring and to the outside. Sydal immediately follows through with a Meteora, dropping Cage to the floor but appearing to tweak his right knee in the process. The fight spills back into the ring and Sydal continues to strike Cage with kicks and knee strikes to wear the big man down.
Cage eventually attempts a press slam, forcing Sydal to be higher than he’s used to, but Sydal counters and reverses into the reverse tarantula (Candice Michelle’s Candylicious technique), letting go before the five-count and headstanding in the process on the apron. Sydal immediately follows up with a standing moonsault, but he doesn’t even get a pinfall attempt, as Cage immediately rolls into a fallaway-slam attempt. However, Sydal pops out and throws a kick, but is blocked by Cage, who catches Sydal in the 8-Second Ride. Cage follows up against a cornered Sydal with a combination of a European Uppercut, jump spin kick and a release suplex throw that drops Sydal on his stomach but he only gets a two count.
Cage readies Sydal for the F’n5, but Sydal spins out and attempts a hurricanrana. Cage, as big as he is, powers out and tosses Sydal off, attempting a clothesline but following the momentum through to rebound the ropes for his own hurricanrana, only to be powerbombed by Sydal for a two-count (think of Jerry from ‘Tom and Jerry’, now imagine Jerry powerbombing a Hess truck). The crowd claps to the tune of the Terminator for Cage as Sydal lays into Cage with more kicks, but Cage manages to catch Sydal in GSMI for a two-count.
Cage looks to end it with a powerbomb but Sydal rolls over for a sunset-flip pin, but Cage maintains his stance and attempts to pull Sydal out, to which Sydal slide out and follows with stiff kicks to the thigh of Cage, followed by a huge head kick and a swinging fireman’s carry slam for a two-count. Sydal, sensing the end, now heads up to the top rope for the Shooting Sydal Press but misses.
Sydal does manage to land on his feet and Cage demolishes him with a discus lariat, turning him inside-out but managing a two-count. Cage sets up for Drill Claw but Sydal manages to counter it into a hurricanrana cradle for an incredibly close near fall. Sydal heads back up top again but Cage is starting to rise again. Sydal dives towards Cage and Cage unbelievably catches him in position to execute Drill Claw, but Sydal still manages to roll Cage into a cradle for a two-count. Sydal drops Cage with a knee strike to the jaw and the crowd began to chant ‘This is Awesome’ for the match.
Sydal heads up top and executes the Shooting Sydal Press. However, Sydal’s foot clips the top rope as he’s coming down for what was supposed to be Cage countering the move with a boot to the face and it resulted in Sydal bouncing off falling almost face-first into the mat (that boot from Cage most likely saved Sydal from a broken neck) and Cage nails Sydal with Drill Claw for the win.
Winner: Brian Cage (NEW Impact X-Division Champion)
Analysis: I mentioned earlier that, side-by-side, it seemed to be a horrendous matchup. However, these two played to their strengths extremely well. Those of you who read my Lucha Underground reviews with Cage’s matches know that Cage plays his role very well as the big powerhouse but he tires out fast when he switches over to a Lucha-style. Luckily, he had the perfect dance partner here in Matt Sydal, who’s own high-flying style allowed Cage to focus solely on powerhouse moves, with a few lucha-esque moves in for the wow-factor, and he was better off for it, as it gives him a monster-like aura. Sydal, on the other hand, is so fluid in the ring and his years and years of wrestling were on full display here as he could’ve believably squeaked out a win with the tiniest of margins. That finish, however, with Sydal clipping the rope was very scary, however, and I seriously hope that he’s doing alright and no injury occurred there. I digress, though, as Cage as the champion holds a lot of potential for feuds going forward.
We’re taken backstage where Alicia Atout ‘attempts’ to introduce us to Impact World Champion Austin Aries. I say ‘attempts’ because Aries interrupts the introduction to finish a conversation on his phone. Alicia notes that this is the night Aries defends his title against Moose and attempts to get his thoughts about the match. Austin emphasizes that this is the biggest night in Moose’s career but, for him, it’s just another day. He notes that he’s assured that DeAngelo Williams and Mama Moose won’t be at ringside and he will be all alone. Austin says that the championship is what makes him ‘Mr. Impact Wrestling’ and that this isn’t the moment he’s dreamed of or the biggest moment in his career, as he’s always thrived in these scenarios. All Austin wants to know, however, is what will Moose do for his third career choice?
We’re shown a promo for the next match between Madison Rayne and Su Yung for the Impact Knockouts Championship. Madison recounts her family and how they’ve sacrificed so much for her to come back and try to become a champion again. We’re also shown the dominating and demonic devastation that Su Yung has wreaked upon the Knockouts Division, namely eradicating Rosemary and winning the Knockouts Championship against Allie in a Last Rites match. Madison exclaims that monsters aren’t real and she isn’t afraid of Su Yung, while we get flashbacks of Su Yung’s mindgames against Rayne (which, seriously, are some of the best promos Impact has put out recently, definitely worth a check just to get a glimpse of Su Yung’s presence).
Match 5: Su Yung (c) vs. Madison Rayne (Knockouts Championship)
Don Callis, while the card for the match shows on-screen, asked Josh Matthews who he was picking for this match (if you didn’t know, Rayne is married to Josh Matthews, which adds a bit of context to Madison’s promo earlier) and Matthews picked Rayne (of course he did). Rayne comes out with the ‘Killer Queen’ tiara and waves to the crowd, which was a really nice callback to her dominant days as the Impact Knockouts Champion. Su Yung, conversely, comes out with her undead brides carrying her in a casket to the ring, which was creepy but amazing. I love watching Su Yung’s entrance and character, as it’s at a level where it’s terrifying but not ‘cheesy’. It’s a very nice balance that she has here. Can Madison Rayne topple the ‘Bloody Undead Bride’ from her altar and reclaim her crown as the champion? Will Su Yung slay the ‘Killer Queen’ and lay her to rest as well?
Luckily, you don’t even have to wait for that answer, as Rayne immediately takes it to Su Yung on the entrance ramp, as the two trade strikes. Rayne tosses Su Yung into the ring and immediately follows up with a high-cross body from the top rope. Rayne tosses Su Yung into the corner and lays into her with forearms and chops to the chest. Su attempts to drop Rayne with a clothesline but Rayne ducks and catches her with a Northern Lights-Suplex for a two-count. While Rayne is dominating, the ‘undead brides’ (who never left ringside since Su Yung’s entrance) start to make their way towards the ring. Rayne subdues two of them with forearms but leaves Su Yung behind in the process, allowing her to recover. Su Yung attempts to set Rayne up for Panic Switch but Rayne slides out and catches her with a roundhouse kick, sending her to the outside. Rayne follows up by sliding between the middle and bottom ropes, latching onto Su Yung for a hurricanrana to send Su towards the announcers’ table.
Madison Rayne fires up and rallies the crowd as she drops another ‘undead bride’ with a forearm. However, Su Yung is now back on the apron and attempts to catch Rayne with a kick. Rayne, however, catches the kick and pulls Su Yung out, dropping her back-first on the apron and sending her onto the floor. Rayne tosses Su Yung back into the ring and attempts a pinfall cover, only getting a two-count in the process. Rayne continues the attack but Su Yung reverses an Irish Whip into the corner, dropping Rayne with a hanging neckbreaker. Su Yung starts to go on the offensive, clubbing Rayne with multiple swinging blows from above. Su Yung then drapes Rayne in a tree-of -woe position and throws kicks at her before rushing at her with a dropkick to the mid-section for a two-count. As Rayne tries to catch her breath, an ‘undead bride’ climbs to the apron and holds Rayne to the ropes. Su Yung readies her bloody mist, intent on blinding Rayne, but Rayne avoids it and Su Yung hits the ‘undead bride’ by accident.
Rayne responds back by laying into Su Yung with chops and forearm strikes, ending her combo with a sliding clothesline but gets a two-count for her efforts. Rayne tries to pick Su Yung up, but she eats a Shotei-like palm strike in the process. Su Yung equips herself now with the bloody bridal glove for the Mandible Claw but Rayne manages to catch Su Yung with a cutter for a two-count. Rayne is starting to get frustrated but immediately follows up with Rayne Drop, but still only gets a two-count. Rayne sets up for Rayne Check, but Su Yung locks in the Mandible Claw from below, dropping Rayne to the mat as she slowly fades. As Su Yung shrieks, Madison Rayne passes out and is unconscious, forcing the referee to end the match.
Post-match, Su Yung proceeds to drag the unconscious body of Madison Rayne towards the casket that is still present at ringside, near the ‘undead brides’. The brides close the casket lid with Madison Rayne inside as Su Yung celebrates on the top of the casket with the brides.
Winner: Su Yung (Title Retained)
Analysis: This was an alright match for what it was and I personally enjoyed what I saw. It was a match that was solely designed to continue establishing the absolute domination of the Knockouts Division by Su Yung and it did that well. Madison Rayne, despite having a kid, was in incredible shape here and she hasn’t missed a beat in the Impact Zone! She played the role of ‘veteran looking for one more shot at the top’ very well, but it seemed pretty clear from the get-go that she wasn’t going to be winning this match (as much as I’m a fan of both). Su Yung, on the other hand, is built like an absolute demon, taking all the damage from Rayne and still proving to be unbeatable. I’m not sure who could believably take her down at this point (maybe Tessa Blanchard unless Rosemary resurrects from the Shadow?) but I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride of Su Yung as the Impact Knockouts Champion, especially the mind-games that she plays with her opponents (I’ll even dare to say they’re somewhat Undertaker-like in nature).
We’re taken over to an area from earlier before the show, where L.A.X. (Ortiz, Santana and Konnan) are discussing a gameplan for their ‘5150 Street Fight’ against Homicide and Hernandez. Konnan says that they have to do what they’ve always done: run through everyone and dominate. He says that he’s tired of the OGz saying that L.A.X. is done and that everything depends on this match. He says that the streets are watching and that you can stop a revolutionary, but you can’t stop a revolution (truer words have never been spoken, Konnan) as they toast to a shot and ready themselves for a battle.
We’re shown a promo for the match between L.A.X. and OGz and all the events leading up to this battle. We’re taken to the start, where Konnan talks about watching King’s back from the start to King’s betrayal of Konnan and the hit that was placed out on Konnan that took him out for a period of time. We’re also shown Ortiz and Santana siding with Konnan over King ultimately and, as a result, Homicide and Hernandez laying out the faction as a result. The promo includes a very nice highlight reel of the former L.A.X.’s domination in the early days and how they paved the way for the current L.A.X. to exist. This was an extremely well-done promo video that highlighted the importance of family and brotherhood in the wake of street life and how L.A.X was indeed a family before greed and jealousy drove them apart.
We’re taken back to the Rebel Complex and the ringside area has been adorned with weapons and tables that are spray-painted with ‘5150’ on them. This absolutely promises to be a war between the two teams as the underlying theme of betrayal and gang violence will undoubtedly be channeled here to produced an emotionally-fueled battle.
Match 6: The OGz (Homicide and Hernandez w/ King) vs. L.A.X. (Ortiz and Santana w/ Konnan) (c) (‘5150’ Street Fight – Impact Tag Team Championship Match)
The OGz enter the ring from the L.A.X. side-clubhouse entrance, symbolizing that they truly believe they are the real L.A.X. and have taken over (which was a really nice touch, to be honest). L.A.X., in return, enter from the crowd to the sounds of sirens and helicopters as the two are in face-paint and drinking tequila. With Konnan entering behind them from the stage, he gives the signal as L.A.X. rush the ring and the battle is on!
The two teams brawl back and forth and Santana clears Homicide out of the ring fast, while Ortiz works on Hernandez. L.A.X. is unable to keep Hernandez down for long as the big man drops both men with a double clothesline and sets Santana up for Border Toss. Sanatana manages to slide out, however, and the two men are able to clothesline Hernandez over the top rope, with Santana delivering a springboard dropkick onto Hernandez for good measure. L.A.X., after sizing up their men, proceed to catch both OGz off with topés, as bodies are flying everywhere in this match. Before long, Santana and Ortiz proceed to set up a ‘5150’ and ‘L.A.X.’ table, propped on opposite corners in the ring. In the process, however, both Homicide and Hernandez recover enough to get back into the ring and drop both men with multiple trashcan-lid shots to the heads of their opponents. Homicide increases the violence further by using a chain to choke out Ortiz, shouting at him that ‘he chose wrong!’ as the OGz clear the ring. Hernandez, in return, builds up speed and lands his ‘SuperMex’ dive onto L.A.X., tearing his shirt off in the process and firing up. All four men are back outside and everyone continues to brawl, with Homicide sending Santana back into the ring and Ortiz being pummeled by Hernandez. Homicide, grabbing a nearby trashcan and nails Ortiz on the outside, taking him out momentarily, while both OGz work on Santana with trashcan lid shots.
On the outside, King tosses Homicide a bucket of Drain-O (which was an awesome throwback to Homicide’s usage of it in ROH). Hernandez heads outside to handle Ortiz, while Homicide prepares to douse Santana with the toxic chemicals. Ortiz, however, manages to drop Hernandez with trashcan shots, while Santana low-blows Homicide to stun him. Santana manages to rally back against Homicide with an overhead belly-to-belly, sending him to the entrance ramp. Hernandez, on the outside, smashes Ortiz with a front-kick, as Callis mentions that Ortiz is bleeding from the bridge of the nose. Santana grabs the chain for use but Hernandez manages to catch him from behind and send him towards the entrance ramp, as both OGz isolate and double-team him. Santana tries to fight off the two men, delivering forearms to Homicide and catching Hernandez with a superkick to stun him. Ortiz manages to join in temporarily but it was in vain, as Hernandez manages to snap-backdrop Santana back into the ring, resulting in a loud thud as his back hits the mat.
Hernandez looks to be bleeding as well as he grabs a nearby chair for use and lifts Santana up in an electric-chair position as Homicide climbs to the top rope. Ortiz, however, manages to crotch Homicide on the top. Hernandez, likely sensing something was off, drops Santana and attempts to grab the chair for use but he eats a kick from Santana instead. Ortiz, by the turnbuckles, drapes Homicide over to prevent him from moving as Santana climbs up to the top and onto Homicide. Santana attempts to dive onto Hernandez but he’s caught by the big-man and dropped into a massive powerbomb for a two-count, while Homicide holds Ortiz in the corner to prevent any interference. Ortiz manages to fight out, snapmaring Homicide (onto Santana accidentally) and avoiding a tackle to send Homicide shoulder-first into the post. Ortiz utilizes this moment to lay out the OGz with trashcan-lid shots before grabbing a ladder from the entrance ramp.
Both men lay Hernandez on the ladder and both men deliver a combination of a senton atomico (with Santana using Ortiz as the springboard) and lionsault/legdrop onto Hernandez, damaging Hernandez significantly. With Homicide the lone member of his team standing, both L.A.X. members set him up and deliver Street Sweeper for the attempted pinfall victory but Hernandez pulls the referee out of the ring. Ortiz attempts to subdue Hernandez with a dive but Hernandez catches him mid-dive and flings him into the crowd, incapacitating him for the moment and leaving Santana on his own.
Santana tries to fight Hernandez off and rebounds the ropes for an attack but Hernandez tackles him off to the side with little-to-no effort, sending him to the outside and allowing Homicide to immediately catch him with a dive through the ropes to send both men through a table, as the crowd now chants ‘Holy sh*t’ (and I agree, this match has been insane)! In the midst of recovering, Ortiz (who managed to subdue Hernandez off-camera) tosses a still-recovering Homicide into the ring and drives him through one of the tables propped onto the corner with a running Death Valley Bomb.
Ortiz signals for the the end, shouting to the defiant Homicide that ‘you did this,’ as he readies Homicide for another Death Valley Bomb into the other table set up on the opposite side, but Hernandez cuts Ortiz off, catching him with a kick to the gut and sending Ortiz through the table with a Border Toss. In the midst of this, Santana rushes in and catches Hernandez with a superkick to send Hernandez into the corner and follows up immediately with a cannonball dive, as the crowd shouts ‘Impact Wrestling.’ Homicide and Santana, both drained and broken, end up face-to-face against one another and they proceed to trade strikes against each other. Homicide attempts to catch Santana with an Ace Crusher but Santana slides out and forces Homicide to the mat before landing a superkick square on the side of Homicide’s face.
Santana rushes the ropes but gets caught with a back elbow from Homicide, who sets up for the Gringo Killer. However, Konnan distracts Homicide, causing him to release Santana. Homicide responds by spitting in the face of Konnan, who grabs at Homicide as a diversion to toss a bag to Santana. While Homicide is still distracted, Santana opens and empties the bag onto the ring, revealing a mess of thumbtacks. Homicide turns around to see this as Santana tosses some of the tacks into Homicide’s face before slamming him into the tacks back-first. Santana follows up by heading up to the top-rope and connecting with a frog-splash onto Homicide (who’s still on the tacks) for the pinfall victory.
Post-match, L.A.X. celebrate their victory momentarily before King suddenly jumps into the ring and drops Ortiz and Santana with a Slapjack to the back of the head. King and Konnan face off in the ring before Hernandez attacks him from behind. The OGz all pose Konnan above the thumbtacks before King cracks him on the back of the head with the Slapjack to knock him out. The OGz then grab the Impact Tag Team Championships as King defaces them by spray-painting ‘OG’ onto the belts before walking out with the titles.
Winners: L.A.X. (Title Retained)
Analysis: Holy heck, this was an absolute battle from start to finish. This match has the same situation that I had described earlier in the Dreamer/Edwards match. This feud was built up so well and there was so much emotion and intensity packed into this feud that the match had to deliver on the same level or the overall match would suffer because of the story’s well-built nature.
I’m very much glad to say, however, that this match delivered in spades by matching the intensity and emotion. Granted, the backstory of Homicide and Hernandez and their links to L.A.X. was a nice booster shot for the story but this match needed to be violent because of the theme of betrayal, greed and jealousy. King’s OGz needed to go after L.A.X. with the intent to damage and retire L.A.X. and vice-versa. The match was a violent affair between the four men and they all worked extremely hard here to push that narrative that all of these men had so much to prove here with a victory.
Ortiz and Santana continue to deliver under the L.A.X. moniker and they’re both continuing to show why all eyes need to be on them whenever they’re in the ring. Their ring psychology was on another level, especially Ortiz’s quips on a fallen Homicide that ‘he did this.’ Homicide and Hernandez, in turn, still work quite well as a team and still have an aura of danger together as a unit. I couldn’t help but notice, though, that they both seemed pretty exhausted mid-way through the match (most notably during the double-team spots and after the ladder spot). However, to their credit, they seriously went into the next gear quickly and the match greatly benefited from it overall. The fact that Homicide and Hernandez left with the titles also means that this feud has to continue and I’m all for it!
We get a brief promo for the GWN Network, which allows you to watch new episodes of Impact, Xplosion and exclusive digital content on your phone for free, but with the premium subscription, you get access to over 1,000 hours of content from Impact’s tape libraries (including the early TNA PPVs and Impact shows and events from other promotions, like Border City Wrestling, DEFY Wrestling and Rocky Mountain Pro) for $7.99 a month. It’s available now on Amazon Fire, Apple, Chromecast, Xbox One and Android/iOS! I’ve been using it (in addition to other subscriptions) and I honestly enjoy catching up with the old shows as well as the new shows to see how far Impact has come since the start, but that’s just my sole opinion on the matter and nothing more.
We cut to a video feed from Sami Callahan, who immediately goes off regarding a poll from Impact saying that the fans believe that Sami Callahan will lose his match against Pentagon Jr. and lose his hair as a result. He’s very aggravated that the fans haven’t given him a chance for victory and that when he DOES beat Pentagon, he will force him on his knees and make him unmask to reveal to the entire world what he is, because he is the Death Machine. Thumbs-up, Thumbs-down!
We’re then thrown to a promo covering the feud that has led us to Pentagon Jr. vs. Sami Callahan. Most notably, it heavily features the antics of oVe as they continually try to unmask Pentagon, El Hijo de Fantasma and even Pentagon’s brother, Fenix. It also cover’s Pentagon’s cerebral attack on oVe, including the attack backstage that resulted in Pentagon breaking both Jake and Dave Crist’s arms with his Sacrifice ArmBreaker. I’m not saying that this match won’t deliver (it definitely will, it’s got built-in emotional charges with the Lucha de Apuestas stipulation) but, geez, for this match to follow that ‘5150 Street Fight’ and then the Impact World Championship main-event…I hope that this crowd doesn’t burn out by the end of it.
Match 7: Pentagon Jr. vs. Sami Callahan (Lucha de Apuestas – Pentagon’s Mask/Sami Callahan’s Hair)
For those who don’t know what a Lucha de Apuesta is, it’s a match with a wager attached to it. In this case, Pentagon Jr. has agreed to put his mask on the line against Sami Callahan’s hair. If Sami Callahan loses the match, he must have his head shaved, which is significant, as Sami’s hair has been one of his most defining traits in his career. If Pentagon loses the match, he must unmask in the ring, which is extremely major, as Pentagon’s mask is his identity and, upon losing that, he must reveal his real name (which is not public due to Lucha Libre customs), his age and how long he has been wrestling. Losing your mask in Lucha Libre traditions is seen to be an extreme shame and the ultimate sign of dishonor in a luchador’s career. Can Pentagon shame his hated enemy and force him to shave his head bald? Will Pentagon lose his mask and, with it, possibly damage his career to irreparable levels?
Sami Callahan is out first and he’s notably wearing a thick vest on, possibly to avoid Pentagon’s stiff chops. Pentagon Jr., upon notice, is wearing wrestling gear that is notably white (indicating that there will be some bloodshed here, based on Pentagon’s history of matches with white clothing). Also of note, Josh Matthews makes mention of Pentagon’s title history, mentioning his reigns as Lucha Underground Gift of the Gods Champion and Lucha Underground Champion, which is a very nice touch to showcase how much of an entity Pentagon is in different promotions and fostering the relationship Impact and Lucha Underground have.
The match starts off with the crowd chanting for Pentagon and ‘Cero Miedo’, as both men trash-talk each other (Sami with the ‘thumbs up-thumbs down’ taunt and Pentagon with the ‘Cero Miedo’ taunt). Sami immediately kicks it off with a bicycle kick to the face and the two men kick off into a series of exchanges, ending with Pentagon dropping Sami with a Sling Blade. Pentagon props Sami onto the ropes and delivers a chop to the vest-covered chest of Sami, who retaliates by unzipping the vest and daring Pentagon to hit him with his best shot (Sami, why?). Pentagon, being a fair man of the people, grants Sami his insane request and delivers a hard chop to the bare chest of Sami, who immediately drops to his knees and rolls out of the ring in pain as he quickly zips the vest back up (dammit, Sami).
Pentagon pursues Sami to the floor and continues his attack, kicking him into the rails and delivering forearms. Sami fights back, however, with both thumbs in the eyes of Pentagon, propping him against the ring post and nailing him with a cup of liquid from the crowd (I hope it wasn’t from that fan that lost her beer to Dreamer). Sami taunts and spits on his hand in preparation for a chop onto Pentagon but he misses, smashing his hand onto the ring post instead. Pentagon attempts to retaliate with a chop as well but he also misses and strikes the ring post instead. The two proceed to exchange strikes, chops and slaps against each other before they finally get to the apron. If you’re wondering, by this point, why the referee hasn’t counted either men out here, it’s because the referee decided to lax the rules a bit, given the stipulations of the match (i.e. selectively enforced count-out and probably No-DQ).
Pentagon attempts to drop Sami with the Fear Factor (his Package Piledriver from Lucha Underground) but Sami fights out with forearms and strikes. Sami tosses Pentagon back into the ring but Pentagon drops Sami off the apron with a rope-assisted enziguri. Pentagon readies for a suicide dive onto Sami but Sami manages to cut Pentagon off with a steel chair he found under the ring (guess it really is no-DQ). Sami proceeds to take things to the next level, tossing a bunch of steel chairs into the ring, as well as his baseball bat.
Lastly, he finds a set of steel railroad spikes, which he brings back into the ring with him. Sami, with evil intent on his mind, proceeds to rip at Pentagon’s mask, tearing into the left eye-hole and expanding it further. With the left temple of Pentagon’s face exposed, Pentagon delivers his ‘Cero Miedo’ taunt, which is promptly rewarded by Sami driving the spike into the exposed flesh of Pentagon’s face. Sami props Pentagon up again and proceeds to shank and dig into his head with the spikes, busting Pentagon open in the process (called it) as he shouts that he’ll kill him (I omitted a word, you can probably guess but I’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with ducking) with snot and spit coming out of his face.
Sami continues to strike at Pentagon’s wound, causing his mask to be stained red, before using the tassels on Pentagon’s mask to tie him to the ropes. Sami then proceeds to grab his baseball bat with the intent on maiming Pentagon, who manages to undo the knot on the ropes and escapes a wide baseball swing to the face to land a Backstabber. Pentagon, now with momentum, retrieves the spikes and drives one with the other into Sami’s skull, busting Sami open. Pentagon then one-ups Sami by grabbing the baseball bat uses it to drive the spike into Sami’s head (after missing the first strike and nailing Sami in the face with it). I will say, the straight thuds that were picked up by the spike hitting the spike and the bat hitting the spike were loud and cringe-inducing and I’m sure Sami busted himself open hardway with those.
Pentagon, as a challenge to Sami, tosses one of the spikes to him for use and dares him to come forward. Both men have spikes and are attempting to stab each other in the head with them before they end up at a standstill, holding the other’s spike from hitting their own skulls before they both stab each other violently in the head with the spikes multiple times as the blood-thirsty crowd shout ‘This is Impact’ (aren’t you supposed to be nice people?!) while both men are down. Pentagon sets up chairs in the middle of the ring and the two sit and proceed to smack at each other (kind of like a game of masochistic ‘Chicken’). Sami ends the game early with thumbs to the eyes of Pentagon and they both end up striking each other with chairs before they both end up down on the mat, as the crowd chant ‘Fight Forever’ (I’m beginning to think Canadians aren’t as nice as they’re advertised). They both make their way up and Pentagon catches Sami with a series of superkicks before Pentagon drops Sami with a Backstabber for a two-count.
Pentagon immediately catches Sami’s arm, however, and looks to hit the Sacrifice ArmBreaker, which would break Sami’s arm in the process, but Sami fights out and immediately piles up the two chairs in the ring before looking to piledrive Pentagon. Pentagon fights out, however, dropping Sami with a chairshot before taking out the interfering Crist Brothers from oVe with chair shots. In the moment of the distraction, however, Sami manages to bust open a bag of powder and tosses the powder into Pentagon’s face. Pentagon, now blinded, accidentally takes out the ref with a chop to the face and delivering the Sacrifice ArmBreaker, breaking the referee’s arm in the process (the referee’s name is Johnny Bravo, well then…). Pentagon, now aware and able to see, catches Sami coming in with a Pentagon Driver, but there’s no referee to make the count.
Sami manages to wake up as Pentagon tries to get the referee and rakes the eyes before landing the Cactus Driver onto the chair, pinning Pentagon as a new referee is out but that only gets a two-count. Sami now sets the two chairs up again and sets Pentagon up for another Cactus Driver but Pentagon retaliates by raking Sami’s eyes and nailing Fear Factor onto the chairs, which shockingly gets a two-count (even the crowd thought that was a three-count)! Sami screams at Pentagon as Pentagon delivers a series of superkicks. Pentagon then breaks Sami’s arm with the Sacrifice ArmBreaker and hits Fear Factor for the pinfall victory.
Post-match, Pentagon is handed the clippers and shears as he kneels in front of Pentagon, ready to have his head shaved. Before Pentagon is able to do so, however, the Crists both attack Pentagon, allowing Sami to escape. However, Pentagon is easily able to subdue them both but Sami has escaped to the back, avoiding the stipulation. However, after a brief moment, Sami’s suddenly forced back out by Fenix, Pentagon’s brother, as both Pentagon and Fenix drop Sami with superkicks while security holds the Crist Brothers down to prevent interference. Fenix holds Callahan down while Pentagon shaves Sami down (the crowd chant to ‘shave his beard’ as well, Canadians are not very nice people, are they?)
Winner: Pentagon Jr.
Analysis: This show went from technical wrestling at the start to just a straight-up bloodsport and I love it simply because almost all of these matches are delivering on the intensity and the emotion that have been built up in their feuds. This was another fine example of that very same principle. The sheer fact that oVe went after Pentagon’s mask (and, in turn, his identity) turned what was a simple grudge match into something extremely personal and merited an absolute battle of attrition. Not that I should really be comparing matches (I honestly like each match to have their own analyses to stand on their own merit), but in this case, this match was what Dreamer/Edwards should’ve been from the start: a straight-up fight where each man wanted to maim the other one. The moment where Pentagon and Sami spiked each other numerous times in the head was insane and the thuds of the spike hitting the spike or the bat hitting the spike onto Sami’s head was blood-curdling.
In fact, there were only two single, solitary, nit-picky moments that I didn’t like about this match, to be honest. The first was when Sami kicked out of Fear Factor after being slammed through the chairs. That honestly should’ve been the end of the match and the crowd picked up on that too. Everything else, by that point, was just extra fluff to a foregone conclusion. The second was Pentagon’s Sacrifice ArmBreaker to Sami Callahan. Pentagon hit the move, so Sami’s arm should be ‘broken’ and even the commentators tried to sell it by saying they heard the ‘pop,’ yet Sami moved the arm around freely as if nothing had happened at all. This may have been a case of Sami being Sami and underselling it for his persona but Sami could’ve done a much better job in that moment.
We get a slight break in the action, as we’re taken over to Josh Matthews and Don Callis, who says that Slammiversary may be the best card that he’s ever been a part of (which is an extremely high compliment on his behalf, given the events the man has covered). We then get the announcement that Bound For Glory this year will be held in the Melrose Ballroom in NYC (Huzzah! My inner-New Yorkian just screamed) on October 14th! With that being said, however, it’s time for us to close this amazing show with our main-event. I honestly thing we could’ve done with a reprieve here because the last two matches were absolutely mental. However, as much as this seems hypocritical of me, this isn’t a bad thing necessarily for this special case because all of these matches have been built up so well that it’s almost expected that these have to be at this level to compensate for the masterful storytelling that Impact has provided at this point.
We’re given a promo video for the main-event between Austin Aries and Moose for the Impact World Championship. We get discussions from both sides, where Moose is taking a more wholesome approach by mentioning the sacrifices he’s taken, the motivation from his family and how every moment in all of his careers have led him to this point. Aries, conversely, discusses how he thrives at this level, calling this the biggest match of Moose’s career, and how Moose will fail and be left with nothing after this match. This entire promotion really screams that Moose will be champion solely as they’re building him to be the underdog here.
Match 8: Austin Aries (c) vs. Moose (Impact World Championship)
It’s finally time for Moose to put up or shut up as he gets his chance at the Impact World Championship, which he had promised himself that he would achieve by the end of this year. The problem, however, is that he has to go through Austin Aries, who is undoubtedly at the top of his game at this point in his career. Aries is poised to ruin Moose’s aspirations and leave him with absolutely nothing at the end of this fight while Moose is fighting with the motivation of his dreams and the hopes of his family spurring him on to the top. Can Moose make good on his promise here and finally reach the top of the mountain he’s spent his entire career(s) climbing? Will Austin Aries make good on his promise to leave Moose with nothing but a broken heart and a shattered dream?
The title is to be held up by Curtis Granderson (from the Toronto Blue Jays). Moose is out first and looks to be extremely motivated, with the crowd solely behind him as they do the ‘Moose’ hand taunt. Aries, in turn, comes out as confident as a champion can possibly be, even snatching the title from Granderson at one point to pose with the title during the introduction.
The match starts with a stand-off, with the smaller Aries firing off low kicks to the much larger Moose’s legs. Aries attempts to test his strength, though, by catching Moose in a headlock but Moose easily stands upright, lifting Aries with him to demonstrate the headlock has zero effect on him. Moose shoves Aries off and into a corner, but Aries catapults himself off and over Moose as he rushes in. Aries rebounds the ropes and avoids a clothesline by cartwheeling to the side, forcing the match to a deadlock as Aries poses by laying on the top turnbuckle. The crowd is noticeably split between both men with dueling ‘Austin Aries/Moose, Moose’ chants as Moose locks Aries up with a headlock. Aries, however, manages to slide out by stepping on Moose’s foot, reversing into his own headlock in the process. Moose shoves him off again into the turnbuckle as Aries attempts another catapult but, this time, Moose catches Aries coming down, hoisting him over his shoulder. Aries, however, manages to slide out and follows up with a tight arm-drag and grips on the arm. Moose manages to hold Aries’ head in a scissor-lock, but Aries sets himself in a headstand, using the momentum to push off and connecting with a basement dropkick. Aries doesn’t even get a moment to revel in the cheers before Moose immediately kips up and the two end up face-to-face, with Moose saying that ‘it’s gonna be a loooooong night, Austin!’
Aries, in turn, proceeds to slap Moose (who slaps a Moose?), which naturally enrages the man as he forcefully tosses Aries into a nearby corner and lays in stiff chops to the chest of Aries. Moose begins to establish domnance on Aries as he removes his right glove and fires one more chop that sounded like a gunshot firing off. This causes a wobbly Aries to slide right onto the floor where Moose is charging for an attack, but Aries flops to the floor before Moose could connect. Moose readies to slam Aries into the railing but Aries manages to slide out, clubbing Moose with a blow to the back before attempting to whip him into the nearby railing. Moose, however, reverses the whip, sending Aries into the rail instead. Moose proceeds to fire up and begins to charge towards Aries into the rail but Aries low-bridges, causing Moose to land into the crowd. Aries wisely gets back into the ring at this point, content with a count-out victory, as Moose struggles to make his way back ringside. Aries, knowing a count-out wasn’t possible, rushes to the top rope to land a double-sledgehammer on Moose on the floor, followed by strikes onto the big man.
Aries rushes Moose back into the ring and catches a high-impact springboard senton flip but doesn’t even get a one-count. Aries proceeds to fire up with a stiff kick onto a downed Moose, but Moose absorbs the blow and fires up with his ‘Moose’ taunt. Aries continues the offense with extremely hard strikes (seriously, the sounds made from the strikes are akin to a truck backfiring, as Aries is one of the hardest-hitting strikers in the sport today), but Moose absorbs them all while rallying the crowd with his ‘Moose’ taunt and challenging Aries to strike even harder. Aries prepares his arm to deliver his hardest hit yet but, mid-move, switches to an eye-poke, stunning Moose effectively (which was clever). Aries rebounds the rope, poised to land a Rolling Elbow, but Moose completely halts Aries with a vicious headbutt, forcing an extremely-damaged Aries to the ropes. Moose immediately follows up on a cornered-Aries with Kobashi-like chops before rebounding from corner-to-corner with a corner dropkick, dropping the champion. Moose follows this up with a hesitation-corner basement dropkick that, on camera, looks terrifying but he only gets a two-count. Moose attempts to continue the offense and launches Aries into another corner before rushing him with a corner splash. However, Aries manages to block him with a boot to the face and drops Moose with a quick hurricanrana. The champion immediately follows up with the I.E.D. but Moose catches him mid-air, rushing Aries into the corner and dropping him with a Snake-Eyes and delivering Go-To-Hell for a two-count.
Moose prepares to land the Game Changer but Aries counters over and nails Moose with the Crucifix Driver, sending him to the floor. Aries, seeing Moose near the rails, readies for his Heat-Seeking Missile dive but Moose blasts Aries with a right-hand, catching him in the ropes and causing him to violently bounce back into the ring. Both men end up onto the apron and Aries lifts Moose for a Death Valley Driver but Moose uses his weight to land back into the ring. Aries, in turn, slingshots back into the ring over and behind Moose, disorienting him with a double forearm clap to the head. Aries attempts to rebound the ropes but is met with a discus lariat to spin Aries inside-out. Moose readies for a spear but Aries, scouting the move, drops Moose and locks in Last Chancery for a moment before Moose powers through and makes it to the ropes.
Aries is firmly in control as both men make it back to the apron. Aries follows with strikes to the back before setting up for the apron Death Valley Driver again but Moose fights it off and the two trade strikes again. Moose gets the upper-hand, landing a vicious headbutt, but Aries manages to land the snap-apron Death Valley Driver, rushing back into the ring in an attempt to get the count-out victory. However, Aries abandons this notion quickly and immediately rushes into Moose on the outside with the Heat-Seeking Missile dive. Aries starts to turn up the offense, dragging Moose into the railings but Moose powers out and has Aries in a catapult position, swinging him head-first into the bottom of the rails numerous times. Moose climbs back into the ring but slides right back out on an adjacent side to break up the referee’s count-out. Moose follows up with an immediate charge towards Aries and nailing the charging bicycle kick into the rails.
Moose tosses a damaged-Aries into the ring and readies to hit the spear once again, but Aries tosses the ref into Moose to halt his momentum. As Moose shoves the referee out of the way, Aries lands a low-blow on Moose and sets him up for a Brainbuster. Moose, however, powers out and instead lifts Aries up, dropping him with his own Brainbuster and staggering Aries. Moose takes full advantage of the moment and lands the Spear, turning Aries inside-out. Moose attempts to pin Aries but, because Aries had rolled close to the rope, he’s able to grab onto the bottom-rope to break up the pinfall. Aries rolls out towards the entrance ramp, intent on leaving the match, but Moose follows suit and hoists Aries up, intent on carrying him back into the ring. Aries manages to stun Moose with an eye-rake temporarily, but it doesn’t hold him down for long as Moose catches Aries with a gorilla-press slam, tossing him into the crowd! Aries is badly damaged, as Moose drags a limp Aries onto the ramp and he re-enters the ring. Aries manages to utilize the quick lull in action to hot-shot Moose on the ropes, but Moose retaliates with a bicycle kick, rocking Aries once more. Moose readies to dive onto Aries towards the ramp, but Aries dodges quickly, causing Moose to crash into the ramp. This allows Aries to land the Rolling Elbow into the back of Moose’s head, followed by a vicious I.E.D into the ringpost and an immediate follow-up into the Brainbuster onto the floor!
The referee starts the count as Aries re-enters the ring but Moose is barely able to beat the count back in. Aries, frustrated at being unable to put the challenger down, fires another kick into his challenger and then attempts to grab his championship belt for use. Curtis Granderson, however, rushes into the ring and grabs the belt back from Aries, distracting him as Moose catches Aries with a quick roll-up pin but only gets a two-count! Aries manages to land one more snap-Penalty Kick into the head of Moose before catching Moose with one more Brainbuster for the surprise pinfall victory!
Post-match, Austin Aries retrieves the Impact World Championship from Curtis Granderson and orders him to leave the ring as he celebrates with his championship, ending the show as he accomplished what he set out to do: derail Moose’s momentum and leave him with nothing in the end.
Winner: Austin Aries (Title Retained)
Analysis: I’ll be honest, I definitely did not expect Aries to retain in this match, given how the entire program and every promo had pointed to Moose getting his big moment here and finally making it to the top of the mountain, so to speak. However, I can’t say I’m also disappointed with this decision either. This match really had a lot to follow-up with, given the last two matches, but it was the perfect compliment of hard-hitting, technical action to balance out the hardcore violence of the last few matches. On one hand, I would’ve been elated to see Moose finally claim the championship and fulfill his promise to be the champion on one of Impact’s biggest stages to a hot crowd! On the other hand, though, I’m actually alright with Aries retaining here as it just adds even more fuel to this story, with a now-determined Moose knowing what it takes to break through that next level and focusing his efforts even harder, which will make that eventual win even sweeter. Impact knows that we want Moose to win the Impact World Championship and they’re giving Moose the platform to shine at his best before pulling the trigger, which is even better than firing the bullet too fast and missing out on an even bigger payoff.
Aries has truly taken his career to another level since his return to Impact Wrestling and this match was another shining example of why Aries truly belongs among the best as a World Champion. Moose also brought his A-game and delivered a great performance here, taking it to the champion and showing flashes of a wrestler that can compete at a main-event level. I honestly believe, at this point, that Moose will make a great champion and it’s clear this roadbump is just Impact’s way of continuing to build Moose even further for the fans, which is always a plus!
Full Show Analysis: From top to bottom, this card has proven to be Impact’s best show yet, delivering on every feud and producing some of the best matches we’ve seen from the company today! So far, every issue that I’ve ever pointed out in this card have been entirely nit-picky (and I’ll be the first to admit that) but, as a whole, this card was exactly what Impact needed to showcase that they’re in a very good place right now. The stories that are presented have taken on such a complex level that the characters have started to evolve as a result and the match quality has been elevated to levels that the company hasn’t seen in a long time. It’s extremely clear here that Impact is working overtime to try and regain the trust of the fanbase that it once burned under previous management but, if it can continue this momentum, I have no doubt that it’s going to grow into something truly spectacular in due time. If Impact is capable of producing a show like this now, can you imagine what the next show will be like? I’m extremely happy for them and I truly want them to succeed and reach the levels that it deserves to reach and I encourage you, if you were once disappointed by them in the past, to give them one more chance and see how much they’ve worked to better themselves.
That’ll do it for this recap of Impact’s Slammiversary ’18! What did you all think of the show? Did you all have any moments that you thought stood out to you? What are your opinions on Impact Wrestling and how much they’ve improved over time? Let us know in the comments below! Once again, I want to thank you all for reading and I hope you all have yourselves a fantastic night!
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Image Credit: Impact Wrestling/Anthem Network (Slammiversary)