In The Impact Zone Vol. 8: Slammiversary 2005

TNA Slammiversary 2005 logo
Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Three years after forming in June 2002, TNA celebrate their anniversary with Slammiversary 2005! The show is headlined by a five-man King of the Mountain match that sees A.J. Styles defend his newly-won NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Additionally, Christopher Daniels puts the X Division Championship on the line in a Three Way Elimination match, Team Canada challenge The Naturals for the NWA World Tag Team Championships and a TNA legend debuts in the six-sided ring.

TNA Slammiversary, June 19th 2005:

The introductory video package reflects upon the brief history of TNA, highlighting their biggest stars and moments. We’re once again in Orlando’s Universal Studios, where Mike Tenay and Don West are our announce team. They discuss an altercation between Jeff Jarrett and Raven that happened on the pre-show. Jarrett assaulted a “fan” who had irked him at ringside, leading to his arrest and ejection from the arena. The former champion, who dropped the title to A.J. Styles at last month’s Hard Justice pay-per-view, is consequently out of tonight’s King of the Mountain match and will be replaced by Raven.

1: Zack Gowan vs. Delirious vs. Jerrelle Clark vs. Amazing Red vs. Elix Skipper vs. Shark Boy in a 6-Way Match:

There’s a strange rule in effect here that means two men are legal, with the remaining four awaiting tags on the apron. I’m not a fan but the competitors mercifully disregard it quickly. It’s one fall for the finish, lending to a chaotic contest. Amazing Red follows Jerrelle Clark with the customary outside dives early. The camera remained focused on the wrestlers waiting on the floor between the dives, they were left looking like inflatable arm waving tube men for an awkward eternity. A crowd-pleasing tower of doom spot follows as we enter a sequence of near falls. They all have an opportunity to shine but there’s too much traffic to secure the three count. Shark Boy eventually finds the opening, executing the Dead Sea Drop on Clark to conclude a fun opener which was hurried but maximised its few minutes. The action entertained and warmed the crowd up nicely, all you need from an opener.

Winner: Shark Boy in 6:25

Rating: **3/4

2:Alex Shelley vs. Shocker:

Shocker, dressed like Blade of All Elite Wrestling, is interviewed backstage ahead of the match. He’s put over as an international star until Alex Shelley interrupts, claiming that he’s the superior wrestler and a master of multiple styles. This sets up their upcoming bout and its story. It’s a simple approach but it works because Shelley walks the walk, delivering a contest that’s comparably fresh to anything we’ve seen on TNA PPV. The European style, which had not yet significantly infiltrated mainstream American wrestling in the early 2000s, has clearly influenced Shelley’s work. The chain grappling is expertly executed by both men, they each look strong as they’re clearly genuine masters of their respective styles. There’s a nice blend of high-flying action too but it’s won on the mat, with the veteran performing a unique pinning combination from which Shelley is unable to escape.

Winner: Shocker in 10:13

Rating: ***

We begin a fan-voted countdown of the top five moments in TNA history to date. Number 5 is A.J. Styles’ initial NWA World Heavyweight Championship victory over Jeff Jarrett in 2003. We witnessed a repeat at Hard Justice when the Phenomenal One ended Double J’s 11-month title reign.

3: Outlaw vs. Ron Killings:

Tensions escalated amongst the 3 Live Kru at Hard Justice, when B.G. James missed a tag match due to travel issues. Prior to this, he reiterates to his partners that his loyalties lie with them and his actions will speak louder than words. The contest begins at a deliberate pace, with Outlaw using size and strength to his advantage. The wrestling is often sloppy and doesn’t quite click or flow at times. Killings makes his comeback until missing an Axe Kick. Outlaw hits the Famouser and looks to finish the job via Cobra Clutch Slam but Killings rolls him up for the win. Outlaw assaults Truth afterwards, retrieving a steel chair before B.G. James arrives to make the save, snatching the weapon from his ex-partner’s grip. Outlaw turns his back to James, inviting him to strike, but he won’t do it. This summons Konnan, who angrily sends Outlaw retreating. It’s a continuation of the building tensions between the 3 Live Kru, rather than a resolution. Following a bout of a relatively brief duration, the entire segment had a television vibe.

Winner: Ron Killings in 7:30

Rating: *1/2

Moment #4 in the countdown is Raven’s January 2003 debut in TNA. He cuts a promo regarding the upcoming main event, claiming that only he is “sociopathic enough to leave my opponents’ wives widowers and their parents childless”. He seems nice. Fate has afforded him the opportunity to fulfil his destiny tonight and he vows to become champion.

Shane Douglas interviews Team Canada ahead of their Tag Team Championship challenge. Williams tells the Naturals that “the only natural thing about the two of you is the fact that your losing streak begins tonight” Huh? Anyway, we remain none the wiser regarding The Naturals’ new “legendary advisor”, although D’Amore is confident that he’s the superior leader.

4: Team Canada (Eric Young & Petey Williams) (w/ Coach D’Amore & A-1) vs. The Naturals (C) (Andy Douglas & Chase Stevens) in a Tag Team Match for the NWA World Tag Team Championships:

The Canadians earned this opportunity by defeating America’s Most Wanted on iMPACT, building upon their victory in the Hard Justice opener. The Naturals win the early skirmishes until Young feigns a knee injury, allowing him to launch Stevens to the outside, where the numbers game benefits the Canadians. Team Canada isolate Stevens for an extended period, with the help of D’Amore and A-1 from ringside. Stevens finally reaches his partner, who enters with a flurry of offense, including tilt-a-whirl and half nelson backbreakers. The match breaks down and all four men are in, Williams impresses but he suffers a modified Doomsday Device for a near fall. The champions execute Natural Disaster on Young shortly afterwards but the cover is broken up. The chaos plays into Team Canada’s advantage, allowing A-1 to use the flag and strike Douglas behind the referee’s back. Williams looks to put him away with the Canadian Destroyer but Jimmy Hart runs in and hands Stevens the iconic megaphone, which he uses to strike Williams! Douglas transitions into a jackknife cover to retain the gold.

Winners and still NWA World Tag Team Champions: The Naturals in 15:22

So, we can safely assume that the “legendary advisor” to the Naturals is Jimmy Hart – a welcome surprise. I find that The Naturals’ matches lack flavour because there’s minimal character motivations behind what they do. The champions lack personality and stand-out characteristics, traits their new advisor is full of. That’s a convoluted, maybe kind, way of saying I don’t care for Douglas and Stevens but this may help. Tag team wrestling couldn’t be more formulaic if it tried, yet the overall story was effective. D’Amore engineered a strategy that worked to perfection until Hart outsmarted him for the finish, pleasingly tying the match to D’Amore’s preceding promo.

Rating:**3/4

Moment #3 is the entire Lockdown 2005 PPV (review/full show), the longest moment of all-time.

5: Sonjay Dutt vs. Samoa Joe:

It’s the TNA debut for Ring of Honor’s Pure Champion, their former World Champion, a man who has lost once in three years: Samoa Joe! This is the perfect way to introduce the Samoan Submission Machine. Sonjay sells well, allowing Joe to showcase his power by throwing his opponent around with ease. Within moments, Joe nails a wicked corner uranage, driving Dutt high onto his shoulders. Joe reels off the signature offense he’s become famous for; it looks aggressive, crisp and genuinely painful. Nonetheless, Dutt receives a little shine of his own which benefits both men, indicating that Joe beat a worthy competitor instead of a jobber. Regardless, the underdog misses a Phoenix Splash and he’s toast. Joe capitalises with a snap scoop slam, a Muscle Buster and the Coquina Clutch for the dominant victory. I’m eager to see more of Joe in TNA.

Winner: Samoa Joe in 6:22

Rating: **3/4

Tenay and West hype up TNA’s upcoming PPV events, including October’s Bound for Glory, which is promoted as their World Series or Super Bowl. No Surrender is up next however on July 17th.

6: Bobby Roode (w/ Coach D’Amore) vs. Lance Hoyt:

The Hoyt Section are back in force, now sporting Hoytamania t-shirts. They’re behind him throughout this well wrestled affair between two talented competitors. It’s tainted by interference however, with Coach D’Amore’s repeated interruption too much for the big man to overcome. It feels like we’ve seen this a million times; Roode wins by pinfall following a Northern Lariat. The Canadians aren’t finished with Hoyt. They beat him down and D’Amore removes his watch, glasses and t-shirt before attempting … a moonsault?! He misses, affording Hoyt the chance to dispose of Roode and enact deserved revenge on D’Amore, delivering a satisfying Chokeslam and a moonsault. This was an entertaining payoff, even though we witnessed D’Amore’s bare ass when Hoyt dragged him back into the ring. It’s a cathartic payoff following months of Team Canada interference, which perhaps benefitted Hoyt more so than winning the match would have. It appears D’Amore was written off television, with the crowd (and commentators) serenading him with chants of goodbye as he was stretchered away.

Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Winner: Bobby Roode in 7:24

Rating: **1/2

Moment #2 is Jeff Hardy’s TNA debut at their previous anniversary show in June 2004. He’s currently suspended for no-showing his scheduled appearance at Hard Justice.

7: America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) vs. 3 Live Kru (B.G. James & Konnan) in a Tag Team Match:

Frustrations have developed between Chris Harris and James Storm following a succession of losses, including a defeat to 3 Live Kru on iMPACT. Needless to say, their opponents have experienced their own issues lately. Nevertheless, they cut their usual pre-match promo, suggesting that they’re back on the same page. America’s Most Wanted function as the better team initially, frequently engineering two on one situations. They isolate James briefly before inadvertently colliding with one another, allowing the opening for the man in peril to tag out. Konnan is absent from the apron though, instead making a beeline for Outlaw, who makes an unwelcome return to ringside. A.M.W finish James with a Hart Attack, scoring the pinfall with Konnan pre-occupied. This was a nothing match that failed to engage the crowd, merely a vehicle for its aftermath. James is frustrated with his partner in the wake of their defeat, he rejects a fist bump and exits the arena alone, much to Outlaw’s amusement. The fans loudly chanted for the New Age Outlaws – possibly a sign that this angle, which I have mostly enjoyed, is beginning to drag. The crowd are ready for the payoff.

Winners: America’s Most Wanted in 6:54

Rating: *1/2

The fan-voted greatest moment in TNA history so far: Elix Skipper’s cage walk hurricanrana at Turning Point 2004! That’s well-deserved, one of the most breathtaking spots of all-time.

8: Michael Shane (w/ Traci) vs. Chris Sabin (w/ Trinity) vs. Christopher Daniels (C) in a Three Way Elimination Match for the TNA X Division Championship:

Michael Shane and Traci concocted a plan to defeat Chris Sabin at Hard Justice; Trinity was betrayed by Shane in that match, she’s therefore keen to help Sabin by keeping tabs on Traci here. All three men battle to both score and avoid the first elimination. There’s no clear advantage, with the fast-paced action a constant revolving door of the three competitors. Sabin emerges the victor of a nice exchange, hitting a Tornado DDT that drops both opponents before performing a sudden outside dive onto the champion moments later. Traci stunts Sabin’s momentum, triggering an in-ring brawl between the ladies. Trinity stands tall after dumping her adversary to the floor but Daniels hooks her up for Angel’s Wings! Sabin simultaneously sets up Shane for Cradle Shock – he said his partnership with Trinity is all business and evidently meant it, performing his finishing move (regardless of Trinity’s predicament) in order to eliminate Shane.

Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Daniels continues to hold Trinity in the double underhook, choosing to ruthlessly execute Angel’s Wings, wisely eliminating her from the equation. We’re down to Christopher Daniels and Chris Sabin, one-on-one for the X Division Championship. The fans are split between the two, who go back and forth, each landing signature moves for near falls. Whereas the Three Way was story-driven, this is pure high-level athletic competition, the backbone of the X Division. One mistake costs Sabin the match, he attempts a springboard move that the champion counters, capitalising with Angel’s Wings to retain.

Winner and still TNA X Division Champion: Christopher Daniels in 17:10

The two parts varied nicely from one another, with a masterfully booked transition. The X Division generally emphasises in-ring product rather than soap opera stories, providing the kind of high-quality wrestling we were treated to by Daniels versus Sabin. The involvement of the ladies was a departure from the division’s usual playbook, however the interference was used sparingly and the contest still felt X Division in its execution. A nice combination of storytelling and action that barely stalled throughout its duration.

Rating: ***3/4

Ahead of our main event, Monty Brown is interviewed backstage. His ally, Jeff Jarrett, was arrested earlier this evening but Brown is unaffected. He says that King of the Mountain takes places on the Serengeti with four Omega males, although Waltman called himself a lone wolf earlier on – I suppose he considers himself a Sigma.

9: Monty Brown vs. Abyss vs. Sean Waltman vs. Raven vs. A.J. Styles (C) in a King of the Mountain Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship:

The five competitors will battle simultaneously for pinfalls or submissions. Once someone has scored a fall by either method, they become eligible to win. This is achieved by retrieving the title belt and hanging it above the ring. Think of it as a reverse ladder match. When someone suffers a fall, they are locked inside the penalty cage for two minutes. As the bell sounds, Sean Waltman immediately dives off said cage as A. J. Styles impressively takes out Abyss on the floor. Monty Brown POUNCEs Raven to score the first fall. Two minutes in jail is the punishment, although I’m uncertain that was served as the on-screen timer was wrong. I believe Styles dived off the cage but the camera missed it; regardless, he receives a POOUUNCE and is sent to the penalty zone by the opportunistic Raven. The caged Styles and Waltman engage in discussion, perhaps forming an alliance. They re-enter the fray whilst Abyss pins Brown to join the Alpha Male and Raven as eligible winners.

The Monster breaks up Styles’ sure-fire pinfall on Raven, yet the champion quickly earns payback. He pins Abyss after an extraordinary Spiral Tap through a table at ringside. Waltman, who had assisted in temporarily eliminating Abyss, continues to aid the champion, handing him the belt as Styles fumbles it whilst climbing the ladder. A.J. is as gullible as this match is crazy – it’s evidently a ploy that allows Waltman to hit the X Factor from up high. He scores the pinfall, meaning all have earned eligibility. It’s a straight race to hang the gold above the ring. Abyss and Raven are unfortunate victims of a stapler to the crotch courtesy of Waltman, however Styles is released from the cage in time to meet the former X-Pac atop the ladder. Abyss pushes the ladder down, sending Styles plunging through a table at ringside. Sensing an opening, Abyss embarks on a journey up the ladder until Brown POOOUUUNCES him onto a table leant in the corner. Unable to capitalise, Brown is floored by a DDT from Raven, he’s the last man standing! Abyss somehow recovers to try and prevent destiny but his attempts are thwarted. Raven hangs the title belt to become the new champion!

Winner and NEW NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Raven in 14:17

That was utter madness – almost too chaotic for its own good. Almost. There were significant moments, such as pinfalls and finishing moves, that received muted reactions as they were lost amongst the sheer volume of events unfolding. The bell-to-bell portion could’ve used more time to breathe; it felt condensed, like watching a highlights package of a longer match. The minor production gaffes suggested that maybe the match is too much to execute seamlessly. Clearly, this was imperfect. Nonetheless, it is an undeniably fascinating watch. It’s wild throughout with relentless drama. It resembled something a child would enact with action figures; Styles bumped like his body is made of plastic. He delivered the stand-out spots here and is unfortunate to drop the belt after just five weeks – a switch that completely caught me off guard. For now, I respect the unpredictability.

Rating: ***1/4

SCORE: 6.25/10

As the night concluded, Tenay remarked that “when we look back at professional wrestling history, ladies and gentlemen you will classify Slammiversary 2005 as an incredible, incredible event”. Let’s be honest: it was probably decent, at best. There were no truly memorable contests, although the World Title change and the significant debut certainly earned the show its place in history. Given the time they were devoted on an event of this magnitude, the matches and segments involving the 3 Live Kru due to lacklustre in-ring product and relative lack of storyline development.

Nevertheless, this card mostly delivered, with Alex Shelley vs. Shocker (***) and a multitude of decent undercard matches supporting the strong main events. The card thankfully seemed to be relieved from the overused crutches of previous PPVs. Tropes like bizarre stipulations, referee bumps and weapon strikes were omitted, helping the madness of the main event feel more meaningful. The King of the Mountain match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship (***1/4) and the preceding X Division Championship Three Way (***3/4) delivered vastly differing but similarly enjoyable contests to mark three years of TNA.

Previous Reviews:

2004:

TNA Victory Road 2004 (3.75)

TNA Turning Point 2004 (7.25)

2005:

TNA Final Resolution 2005 (6.75)

TNA Against All Odds 2005 (4.75)

TNA Destination X 2005 (3)

TNA Lockdown 2005 (6.25)

TNA Hard Justice 2005 (5)