On that day, I stopped watching wrestling until the very man who threw me out, brought me back two years later with a pipe-bomb. Jeff Hardy was my favourite wrestler in the world. I had never connected with a human being that I had never interacted with personally in such a way before, apart from players who played for my football team.
I was hooked on the ‘Charismatic Enigma’.
So, you may pose the question to me: “Why didn’t you just go and watch him in TNA? That’s where he went and stayed for the next near-decade?”.
The simple answer is that I didn’t have a concept of wrestling outside of WWE. A young Daniel was fully in the kayfabe bubble. I knew the wrestling wasn’t necessarily ‘real’, as in actual fighting, but I believed every story I was told. I also didn’t have a concept of other wrestling companies, so when Hardy held a microphone and said the line that will always stick with me – “This isn’t goodbye forever, it’s only goodbye for now”. It wasn’t hard to think he was done with wrestling until the moment he decided to come back to WWE.
I didn’t understand the wellness policy violations. Nor did I have a concept of ‘contracts’ running out or backstage politics building up behind the, then, 31-year-old. TNA was a foreign concept.
The reason I’ve spent so much time explaining all of that backstory is to allow you, the reader, an understanding of where I’m coming from with this piece.
I have never watched a show that was produced by Impact Wrestling, but know some things, of course, however they are mostly negative. The Reverse Battle Royal, Hogan ruining the company by taking them to Monday nights, Claire Lynch, and, of course, the Jeff Hardy incident at Victory Road 2009.
But, over the past couple of years, the rumblings have changed.
Of course, over this time, I’ve become more and more involved within the wrestling bubble, through journalism, so I’ve always felt like I should broaden my horizons as much as possible. And, with the discussion towards Impact slowly changing from “that silly little promotion” to a far more positive outlook, I decided I needed to watch at least one PPV – and it just so happened Slammiversary was on the horizon.
With multiple world title matches, an insanely stacked roster, and the potential of new signings making an appearance, I honestly don’t think I could have picked a better first show.
Immediately, the show gives off a different vibe. Obviously, fans would have made this show different, but, in the current climate, that’s just not possible now. Impact made the right decision in not having wrestlers surrounding the ring, unlike WWE and AEW. It made them stand out in a totally different way, and I’m surprised by how much I wasn’t bothered about the lack of sound. The wrestlers definitely made it work.
The commentary duo of Callis and Matthews works, well and they both compliment each other fantastically. I’m obviously aware of both men prior to the show due to Matthews being a WWE employee for several years and Callis commentating over at New Japan Pro Wrestling; a company I follow religiously.
There are definitely some slight issues with calls both men make, but that’s the case for literally every commentator in the world, not just in pro-wrestling.
Finally, the one weak point I feel the show had was the editing. I’m a sucker for smooth transitions, good cinematography and clean camerawork, and while the latter two are pretty solid all things considered, the transitions were often delayed or just flat out didn’t happen. Hopefully, that’s not an issue that will come up very often.
This is easily the biggest highlight of the show, and the company overall.
Heath joining the company, in any position, is a genius move as he has been incredibly undervalued over the past near-decade when he was an employee of Titan Towers, so I cannot wait to see what he can do. Bringing back the Motor City Machine Guns, while have never watched a TNA show, is a genius move.
I have seen a LOT of Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley, so I am a huge fan and delighted they are back together.
Gallows and Anderson joining was one of the main reasons I wanted to watch the show, as I was fascinated by what they’d do. Putting them in a main event role is a fantastic move. Eric Young returning as a sadistic brutalizer is a stroke of genius, as it immediately proves to many who aren’t too familiar with him how good he is while simultaneously reminding Impact faithful viewers what they were missing when he left to go to WWE a few years ago. And the EC3 tease at the end was like a Marvel style end credit scene, teasing what’s next.
All in all, a fantastic group of signings that will only add to the show.
However, my biggest takeaway from this show is how much talent I was either vaguely aware of but never realised how good they truly were or, more importantly, a crop of talent I had no idea existed and I have immediately become enamored with.
Individuals such as Willie Mack, Kylie Rae, Jordynne Grace, Eddie Edwards and The North are all competitors that I had seen bits and pieces of, and definitely enjoyed. This show proved to me their true ability. All those mentioned, and several others, proved how they’ve become big names in the industry and that many others, like myself, should pay more attention to.
I have so many new wrestlers to learn about and watch grow.
This was my first experience of watching Havok, Ace Austin, The Rascalz, Chris Bey, Trey and many more, and I am immediately interested. Ace Austin with his arrogant, Joker like bravado with a Bane type creature as back up. Chris Bey with some of the most incredible X-Division work I have ever seen. The Rascalz took one of the best tag teams of all time to the almost breaking point, while Havok having such an individual look that immediately made me sit up and pay attention makes me that that the Knockouts Division may be the strongest women’s roster in the world.
The wrestlers that Impact have at their disposal ensures that fans, like myself, will be seeking out their programming, hooked after a fantastic show.
There were, of course, issues with the show. I don’t think you could say there is such a thing as a perfect wrestling show, as it’s entirely subjective, but I just had FUN watching this.
Honestly, Slammiversary made me a fan of Impact, at least for now. And, at the end of the day, surely that’s what a wrestling PPV should do?