TNA Heavyweight Championship:
Bully Ray vs. Sting
Sting gets one last shot at the heavyweight championship with the stipulation added in that if he loses, he can never challenge for that title again. It's also a No Holds Barred match, which paves the way for plenty of shenanigans and the usual TNA strategy of overbooking every major match in its history.
The Road to Slammiversary
Hindsight is 20/20, but the story behind this match is actually fairly good. Sure, you have to ignore the fact that it's so terribly hard to care about many of the major players because relative to WWE they aren't major players at all, but taken on its own, Bully manipulating the situation for his own gain and ultimately winning his first world title has been great.
He started by befriending Sting and fighting alongside him for months, literally, against the invading Aces and 8s faction, who just kept adding -- and unmasking -- members.
Then, he got in good with Brooke Hogan, who was hired to run the Knockouts division. He got in so good, in fact, that the two were wed on a special episode of Impact that saw Tazz turn to the dark side and join the biker crew. Hulk Hogan had maintained throughout the entire process before it that he didn't believe Ray was a good guy and felt he had evil intentions.
But, partially thanks to some convincing from the Stinger himself, Hogan changed his mind and walked his daughter down the aisle, straight into a beatdown from the Aces and 8s. Little did they know, it was all set up by Ray himself, who was in the midst of building sympathy and getting in good with Hogan so he could earn a title shot against then Heavyweight Champion Jeff Hardy.
And that's exactly what happened.
Indeed, Hogan used an entire episode of Impact to hold a tournament to crown a new number one contender only to turn around the very next week and ignore the results of said tournament to award Ray the title shot. Having accomplished everything he needed to, Bully turned at the Lockdown pay-per-view when the Aces and 8s assisted him on his way to winning the heavyweight strap.
And so the con was complete.
Hogan, upset at Sting for giving his endorsement and screwing both his daughter and the company, initially tried to get rid of the Stinger, but the two settled their differences and united against a common enemy.
The big bad Bully.
Now, we're here, with Sting having accepted stipulations creating undesirable conditions in the name of getting payback and redeeming himself in the eyes of those he hurt thanks to his decision to trust Ray.
What's at stake?
Apparently, the entire company.
That's what Hogan was pushing in the "Before the Bell" special detailing the match, even if it's the same old tired refrain we've heard from this promotion time and again. K Sawyer Paul of International Object once detailed TNA's habit of booking its storylines like wars, with one side pitted against the other for ultimate control of the middle, even if the result is always the same and fans have frequently shown through viewership patterns that they just don't care about such a thing, at least not when it's been done to death like this.
Still, Aces and 8s have pushed through mild reactions and a lack of star power to get to here, where Ray will apparently make them the leaders of the whole damn show if he can oust Sting once and for all.
Then again, that would only leave Hogan and you know exactly where that's (probably) going to lead.
Be sure to follow along tonight right here on Cageside Seats with the Slammiversary live blog.