TNA Slammiversary VIII: The First Bad Sign is the Title

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TNA Slammiversary VIII: The First Bad Sign is the Title

The reason I held off on writing a preview of this year’s Slammiversary was because some matches appeared to be a lock, but were never officially announced until much later.

In TNA, plans could change in an instant (and often do) and I didn’t want to bother previewing matches that might never come to pass.

My feelings on this event are mixed. At the very least, I will say that the buildup has been better than that of the buildup for this past year’s Lockdown, another one of TNA’s biggest shows of the year.

It would appear that the writers had a plan for matches since before even the last pay-per-view, Sacrifice.

Seeds were planted early on for Brother Ray vs. Jesse Neal, A.J. Styles vs. Jay Lethal, and Rob Van Dam vs. Sting. Knowing that TNA might have a plan is reassuring.

That said, I do think that the biggest problem with this pay-per-view is that it doesn’t feel all that important. The buildup is solid, but it would be solid for just another monthly pay-per-view, not an event celebrating the eighth anniversary of the company’s inception.

Last year’s Slammiversary featured two star-powered “King of the Mountain” matches. The year before that played up the threat of the KOTM match to Samoa Joe’s World Title reign, and also featured the first pay-per-view “dream” match between A.J. Styles and Kurt Angle.

The year before that featured Sting vs. Christopher Daniels and what would have been the first-ever match between Team 3D and The Steiner Brothers (although Scott was injured and eventually replaced by Road Warrior Animal).

And speaking of Scotty, who could forget the high-octane, highly anticipated clash between him and Samoa Joe at Slammiversary the year before?

Nothing this year has that marquee value, and because of that, nothing feels special. Let’s look over the card:

 

TNA World Heavyweight Championship: Rob Van Dam (c) vs. Sting

Ten years ago, this would have been a “dream” match; one of the poster-boys of ECW vs. the poster-boy of WCW. And they both were known as outspoken babyfaces with an athletic repertoire.

But that was 10 years ago. Now, Sting is 51, injured, out of shape, and wearing a t-shirt in his matches. And RVD, in my opinion, has never been one to carry a match.

I know he’s innovative, but he has always struck me as the kind of performer who gets in his spots, sells like crazy, but doesn’t really tell a story. I find him bland, but I understand his appeal.

Sting has looked especially vicious over the last few months, which is a credit to him and TNA. RVD has also looked like a credible champion.

The characters are there, and the intrigue of the storyline is building (I think we can all guess where Sting is going with this, but that topic is for another time), but there’s very little chance that the match will actually be good.

A “no disqualification” match would be perfect for these two, especially based on their entertaining brawl this past Thursday. Then again, they brawled for nearly 10 minutes, so why would we want to see that again?

Okay, I might, but it would have to be even crazier, and since it doesn’t look like they’re going to have a traditional match anyway, they might as well go for it.

 

TNA X Division Championship: Douglas Williams (c) vs. Kendrick

This match has had, as far as I can tell, no build whatsoever. Williams is the X Division Champion, Kendrick is an X Division wrestler (by the way, didn’t he used to have a first name, or is TNA just discarding all the first names of X Division wrestlers?). That’s the story.

Both of them are heels, so there’s no emotional investment here. A month ago, Williams was challenging Kazarian for the title, and there was a story there.

Kazarian was also a face, and they were evenly matched. This match has none of that. But unlike RVD/Sting, despite having zero buildup, this will still probably be a solid bout.  

 

TNA Knockouts Championship: Madison Rayne (c) vs. Roxxi

A lot of people are complaining about Roxxi coming back and immediately getting a title shot, but I don’t mind. The Knockouts division is largely dead, and Roxxi returning is a big deal. She was one of the biggest names in the division when it was hot, and I don’t think she needs to be built up again.

The only problem is that because she pinned Rayne cleanly in a one-on-one match, it’s pretty obvious she’s not going to be doing it again, or Rayne is going look really weak, and her title reign will, too. Another solid match without a story to go with it.

 

Monster’s Ball match: Abyss vs. Desmond Wolfe

Allow me to take a moment to remind wrestling fans, and more specifically, TNA themselves, of something: the “Monster’s Ball” match used to be more than just a “no disqualification” match with a fancy name.

You may or not remember it used to have the added stipulation that all contenders are sequestered alone in a locked room without light, food, or water for 24 hours before the match.

Then the wrestlers were released and fought each other in a “no disqualification” match. It was a silly concept, sure, but it at least tried to add a level of psychology to what could have been just another match with weapons.

But that stipulation hasn’t been part of the match since the fourth (aired) “Monster’s Ball” in 2007. Since then, it has become just another “no disqualification” match with a fancy name.

And aside from the first one at Victory Road in 2004, every MB match, from then until 2008, took place solely at Bound for Glory.

It was TNA’s annual tradition, like the “Money in the Bank” ladder match was to WrestleMania.

But now “Money in the Bank” has its own pay-per-view, and “Monster’s Ball” has been featured at several other events, including a recent broadcast of iMPACT!, among others.

In other words, the match just isn’t special anymore.

And neither are the competitors. I haven’t seen matches with Nigel McGuinness in Ring of Honor, I’ve seen him only in TNA. I heard he was great, but I’m not seeing it. Is it because he’s a glorified jobber? Maybe. Or maybe it’s because he just isn’t that good.

Every segment showing him attacking Abyss has been unintentionally funny, down to the way he “took out” TNA security a few weeks ago. He’s as cartoonish as Abyss. And the less said about Abyss, the better.

But with the added stipulation, these two might have a chance to do something special. Weapons matches are always fun, and this could be a good opportunity for them to put on a good show, improve on their match at Sacrifice, give Wolfe a legitimate win, and begin the heel turn for Abyss.

 

Jeff Hardy & Mr. Anderson vs. Beer Money, Inc.

A lot of people are saying that this will be a great match. It will be. Just look at the match between Beer Money and the team of Hardy and Rob Van Dam.

Hardy clearly has chemistry with Storm and Roode, and Anderson has proven that he can really go. As a match, it has the potential to steal the show.

But it doesn’t belong on pay-per-view. Beer Money is a tag team and should be facing another tag team, and if they are going to be facing two paired-off singles wrestlers, then it damn well should be for the TNA World Team Championship.

What are the real stakes here?

There are none. This is another match in the ongoing storyline between Hardy and Anderson, and it’s not even a one-on-one match between the two.

Unless Anderson really is a face now (which we all sincerely doubt), this match is more of an angle than a chapter in their feud, and would have been better suited for an episode of iMPACT! between pay-per-views.

 

Kurt Angle vs. Kazarian

About two-and-a-half years ago, Kurt Angle and Kazarian (then known as “Kaz”) had an awesome match on iMPACT!. Back then, Angle was the established main-eventer and Kazarian was the up-and-coming X Division wrestler.

Two-and-a-half years later, and nothing is different. Angle is still one of the top names in the business, and Kazarian, after flopping in WWE and coming back to TNA just to play the part of Suicide, has done little aside from holding the X Division Championship for a month (or better yet, never actually holding it).

Angle still has the amazing ability carry anyone to a good match, and works well with high-flyers like Kazarian. This one really could steal the show.

But that doesn’t mean anyone actually wanted to see it on pay-per-view. Kazarian just lost the X Division championship, and suddenly turned heel. There has been no buildup to him reaching this level.

And unfortunately, this is another case of TNA painting themselves into a corner. Angle has a major storyline going on now, going through the Top 10 Contenders rankings, and Kazarian is now aligned with Ric Flair.

Both should win to establish themselves, but something has to give. Unless the match goes to a draw (which would probably be worse), one of these stories could take a major step back.

 

A.J. Styles vs. Jay Lethal

Same story as Angle/Kazarian: loads of potential as a match, wrong time for one of the competitors.

Lethal has done nothing of note in the last year, and now suddenly he’s facing a guy who a month ago was challenging for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship?

There has been no real build for Lethal, and to be quite honest, this is the kind of match you try out at a smaller pay-per-view, like how WWE featured Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs.

Giving an up-and-comer a shot against an established name is better suited for a pay-per-view like Against All Odds or Hard Justice, not Slammiversary.

It’s too high a step up for Lethal, and with all due respect, too big a step down for Styles. Given enough time, though, it will probably be a great match.

 

Matt Morgan vs. Hernandez

The storyline leading into this match is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with TNA.

First, a little back-story: back in March, at Destination X, The Motor City Machine Guns won a number one contender’s match for the TNA World Tag Team Championship. They never got the shot.

Then they had another number one contender’s match against Team 3D, which went to a no-contest.

Then they were put in a four-way number one contender’s match that they lost, yet no mention was made of their previous win. And a month ago, they won their second number one contender’s match.

They never challenged Matt Morgan, who was holding the championships by himself (after taking out his partner, Hernandez), and when a Tag Team Championship match was indeed announced for Slammiversary, it was with the new champions, The Band (Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Eric Young) defending against Morgan and a partner chosen for him. No mention of the Guns getting their title shot.

But no matter, the partner would have likely been Hernandez or Samoa Joe (who cost Morgan the belts in the first place, and the two have yet to be in a one-on-one match), either would have taken out Morgan, and The Band would have retained, setting up an eventual match between The Band and The Motor City Machine Guns.

Instead, this past Thursday, the match was scrapped, and turned instead into Matt Morgan vs. Hernandez. What’s wrong with this?

First, it leaves the card without a match for the TNA World Tag Team Championship.

Second, it ignores the feud between Morgan and Samoa Joe, rushing instead into the next feud.

Third, this past Thursday, Hernandez destroyed Morgan, Morgan was stretchered out, and Hernandez got his revenge...so why is a match taking place? That was the kind of segment that should have taken place after their match.

So we have no tag title match, not one with The Guns, The Band, or Morgan, not the match already built up between Morgan and Joe, nothing. We get a match that had back-story but could have been held off.

That said, I will say something positive. Morgan and Hernandez had a one-on-one match back at Against All Odds that I really enjoyed.

Back then, the match was more about respect than a real clash, only at the end teasing their upcoming feud. They are both very powerful, very athletic, and look like legitimate main-eventers.

Ever since Morgan took out Hernandez, I’ve wanted to see a rematch, but not like this. It’s buildups like this that make me understand why so many people hate TNA.

 

Brother Ray vs. Jesse Neal

Ugh. Let me just get that out of the way.

Ever wondered why no one orders TNA pay-per-views? Here’s why.

You have TNA’s second-biggest pay-per-view of the year, and one of the matches features one-half of a past-their-prime tag team versus a rookie who’s never been in a one-on-one match on pay-per-view, and looks less like a threat and more like a create-a-wrestler from SmackDown vs. RAW 2010.

They’re both in tag teams, and yet the match is made a one-on-one.

Why?

I understand the storyline between Ray and Neal, but that doesn’t mean this should be a singles match.

This was a great opportunity to take the heart of the feud and expand on it, introducing the involvement of Moore and Brother Devon, and then they would have a real feud going, possibly enough to establish Ink Inc. as a legitimate team.

Instead, we have a match that would barely be suited for iMPACT!, let alone pay-per-view.

I hope this match is kept really, really, short. Hell, book it like an ECW Title match in WWE and give the win to Jesse in 10 seconds. Then I won’t complain.

 

All in all, it looks to be an okay card. There’s a lot of potential for work-rate, but the storylines just aren’t there, and neither is the marquee value.

The best-case scenario is that Slammiversary VIII ends up looking like a good independent show without any one major match.

The worst-case scenario is that TNA overbooks the event and ruins some potentially good matches. Both scenarios are possible, but neither has me all that excited.

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