There was something coming into last night’s (July 2) Impact/GFW Slammiversary XV (full results here) that was out of place: Calm.
It seemed like the story coming into these big shows for years was the question if they had the money to run the actual event. But while the switch in ownership has led to some questionable creative decisions, it has brought a stability that Impact hasn’t known in some time. Because of that, they got to focus on just putting on a show tonight.
It was the first pay-per-view (PPV) of the new era so clearly they wanted to make a splash and not present a dud. In the end, they succeeded on putting together a good start to finish show.
The card was laid out in a way that it flowed nicely, especially early on. The opened with the non-stop, lucha style tag match to get the crowd excited. Then they moved onto the celebrity match, which delivered way more than could have been expected. While the finish to the EC3/James Storm match that followed could have taken folks out of it, airing the comedy announcers feud next remedied that. That fed into a quick full metal mayhem match and before you knew it, it was time for the big title matches.
While not every match was perfect, there wasn’t a match that crapped the bed. Everyone out there clearly was energized to put on a good show and that was an energy that was palpable.
The announce team of Robert Flores and Jim West did a great job. They just focused on putting over the action in the ring and helping tell the story. Nothing else. Sometimes you could forget they were there at certain points in a match, but that’s OK. A good announce crew isn’t always front and center. They never distracted and seemed well prepared for a team that doesn’t call this promotion. A different announce crew added to the special feel of the event and I wouldn’t be opposed to them calling their next PPV either.
In the end, they delivered a good PPV event when they needed to. Without the chaos that often precedes these shows, they could focus their energies on an entertaining three hours of wrestling. And they delivered that.
Now onto the matches.
Alberto El Patron pinned Bobby Lashley to becoming unified world champion
They went out of their way to give the main event match a big fight feel. No only did both men have a cornerman (Alberto had his father Dos Caras while Lashley had King Mo), but they came out with entourages. That made it feel like a big UFC or boxing match. Thankfully, most of the entourage outside the announced cornermen left ringside after the official introductions.
The match itself was OK. It definitely wasn’t a bad match and both men definitely tried their best to make the match feel like a big deal. However, there feels like a lack of chemistry between the opponents that prevented this match to reach that main event gear.
The cornermen did get involved, but to its credit, it wasn’t in a way that gave that overbooked impression. King Mo and Dos Caras got into it a few times, the last time leading to Dos Caras kicking Mo square in the testes. Lashley ended up chasing off Dos Caras, but it also led to his defeat. When he went to get back in the ring, Alberto landed a big kick to the head. This tangled Lashley up in the ropes and he had to hold himself there as Patron hit his always ridiculous double stomp finisher. (Seriously, that’s one of the worst finishers in wrestling.)
The match wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great. It was probably one of the more underwhelming matches on the card, but they still did a good job making it feel important.
Sienna submitted Rosemary to become unified women’s champion
Sienna tapped out Rosemary to become unified Women’s champion. And that leaves me sad because I’m such a huge Rosemary fan. Seriously, that entrance:
That’s a good thing though. You want a promotion to have characters that you want to see always winning. It’s a sign that the character has connected and Rosemary had. The crowd was firmly behind the demon assassin throughout this bout.
Rosemary put up a fight, but she couldn’t overcome the odds. She hit her Red Wedding finisher but Laurel Van Ness ran out to pull the ref out of the ring, saving Sienna. Allie ran out and chased off Laurel with a kendo stick but this distraction allowed Sienna to hit Rosemary in the skull with a title belt. But the KOs champ still kicked out!
In the end, Rosemary tried to spray her green mist into Sienna’s face, but Sienna put her hand over her mouth to prevent it. Sienna couldn’t hold it long because apparently, that mist burns. But that worked in her favor as she was able to rake the eyes of Rosemary with the misted hand to escape the Red Wedding. Then she locked on a choke and Rosemary had to tap.
This was overall fun, with enough cheating to keep Rosemary strong but not too much to kill the flow of the match.
EC3 pinned James Storm in a strap match
EC3 and James Storm had their grudge feud strap match where they were really able to capture the hatred between both men. They didn’t hold back on the lashings nor on chokes with the shared strap. This brand of match can often handicap the flow of the match itself, but the participants were able to use the raw emotion of the feud to overcome that.
To call back to the early days of the feud, Carter tried again to handcuff Storm to the ropes, but the Cowboy turned the tables and handcuffed Ethan instead. He proceeded to whip EC3 32 times (one more than Carter did to him) to the crowd’s delight.
While the match overall delivered on the emotion, the finish was odd. Outside the ring, Carter used the shared strap to yank Storm face first into the ring post. However, the Cowboy was able to rally and got back in the ring. He hit a Last Call Superkick but when he went for another... he just collapsed to the mat.
The announcers put it over as the bump against the ring post having lingering effects. The ref implored Carter to just pin Storm, but Ethan had to get one more shot in. He hit an Angel’s Wings and then went for the pin.
It was a good match but the ending was weird. It’s likely to protect both guys. Ethan gets the win and looks like an asshole doing it. Storm could have won if it weren’t for the big bump earlier. However, I’m not sure this is better than an actual win either of the guys.
DeAngelo Williams and Moose def. Eli Drake and Chris Adonis
I scoffed at the idea of bringing in a football player to try to get headlines and all that. But you know what? The DeAngelo Williams really impressed me for his first ever wrestling outing.
Sure, he didn’t do too much. But he took bumps well, his timing looked good, and he was willing to do a frog splash through the table for the finish. And most importantly, he looked to be having tons of fun out there, which was infectious. It didn’t feel like a guy just looking for a payday. It felt like a guy who enjoyed wrestling and wanted to do his best.
There’s always going to be some issue with full time wrestlers taking losses from guys who aren’t. But at least Williams is a natural athlete and Moose did much of the work. This was as good as you could get for a celebrity appearance.
Jeremy Borash and Joseph Park/Abyss def. Josh Mathews and Scott Steiner
The announcers feud had their big match, with Joseph Park and Jeremy Borash getting a win over Scott Steiner and Josh Mathews. And the way they did it was surprisingly entertaining.
Instead of having a full in-ring match, they took the fight out of the arena and played some Deletion style pre-taped action. This allowed the wackiness of the story to play out and allowed them to get Steiner say some ridiculous stuff. It was definitely better putting on some ring exhibition that would have never worked.
We got Scott Steiner and Mathews chasing after Park and JB in a golf cart while Steiner shouted “Follow their fat asses!” Then they were eventually sprayed with a fire extinguisher. There was a Deletion style callback when the heels stole a truck from the poor trucker that always got his ass kicked during the Hardy Deletion events. It was a fun Easter Egg.
Mathews and JB fought in a pool, harking back to the fact that JB pretty much only trained by jumping into a pool. Under water we got a Shark Boy cameo. Meanwhile, after Park took a beating from the Big Bad Booty Daddy, Father John Mitchell appeared and gave him the Abyss mask.
JB made his way back to the ring first, which was not fortuitious. He ended up a Steiner recliner when Abyss made the save. Steiner was soon disposed of and then Josh Mathews took a Black Hole Slam onto some tacks. JB hit a splash onto Mathews and Abyss got the win.
For all the torture this feud put us through in the early months, they realized later on that this is just stupid comedy and leaned into that. They found a way to capitalize on that tonight to give us an enjoyable pro wrestling display instead of stinking it up in the ring for 10 minutes.
Sonjay Dutt def. Low-Ki 2 out of 3 falls to retain the X Division championship
Two out of three fall matches aren’t always good. They often have rushed falls or finishes that would never work as finishes in regular matches. But that wasn’t the case here. They made sure to give this bout plenty of time and made each finish believable.
It took awhile to even log the first fall, which is realistic. It as a standing stomp to the chest that finally allowed Low-Ki to pick up a pinfall. During the second round, Low-Ki faked an ankle injury to try to get the advantage. His plan failed. But in a delicious bit of irony, he missed a Warrior’s Way on the steel steps and actually injured his ankle, which plagued him much of the match.
Dutt won the second bout with a roll up and the the third fall, he earned the win with a moonsault stomp from the top rope. Given that Low-Ki’s finish is the Warrior’s Way, winning with a stomp adds a bit of insult to injury.
Unfortunately, the crowd seemed a bit tired for this match. They popped for the big spots but weren’t too enthusiastic overall.
None-the-less, it was a really good match that received the time it deserved.
Alisha and Eddie Edwards def. Angelina Love and Davey Richards in a Full Metal Mayhem match
This match felt like it was the one that was short changed time wise to make room for everything else. It wasn’t a bad match, but for the longest standing feud on Impact, I expected more time to be invested in it on this card.
Because of the time crunch, the big spots were a bit rushed while the brutality and viciousness of the heels didn’t have time to breathe. Sure, we got that always cringeworthy spot of Davey holding Eddie’s mouth open as Angelina emptied tacks into it. But it wasn’t long after that the Eddie and Alisha were back on the attack. How devastating can something be if the victim has shakes it off quickly?
Everyone involved went all out to tell their story, get their spots in, and try to entertain. However, for a match that is likely a feud ending match, this needed more time to bring it home.
LAX def. Laredo Kid & Garza Jr., Naomichi Marufuji and Taiji Ishimori, & El Hijo del Fantasma and Drago to retain the tag team championships
The opening bout was a fatal four way lucha rules match for the GFW tag titles. It showed off their partnership with promotions like Crash, Triple A, and Pro Wrestling NOAH. The match worked well to to jumpstart the card, giving the crowd non-stop action to wake them up and get them excited. It reminded me of when WCW would put on a long cruiserweight match at the beginning of Nitro to blow the crowd away. It’s a good formula and it worked here.
Overall, this was an entertaining three hours of wrestling. There were no duds, the card was laid out well, and it was a fun time.
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