Slammiversary XVI was a long and winding road. We’ve all been waiting for this moment for nearly 4 months. Were we right, fellow readers? On paper, this show was perfect, and the build-up to it was almost perfect, thanks to the brilliant little pieces of movies that graced the recent episodes and the atmosphere they created. Now, did we have new Champions as the 4 titles were on the line? In the House of Hardcore, did Eddie Edwards definitely lose his mind? Is a man now bald of his mask, or bald of his hair? It’s time to find out, but your French Enygma Steph way…
This is the classic opener for an Impact Wrestling PPV. An X-Division high-flying style match, in fact, what Impact has always done best. A few hours before the show, Rich Swann was officially removed of the show, as he was injured a few days ago. The Canadian Destroyer Petey Williams was the logical choice as a replacement for Swann, that will soon be back in the Impact Zone. Most of the build-up of this match was done around the comeback of Johnny Impact and “The Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori. Both men spent some time on different islands and were back for this PPV.
We all love this kind of match, but how hard it is to describe them… Because it was a festival of high-flying moves, ropes climbing, over the top rope diving… All four participants had their moments of grace. I personally had a crush on Petey Williams’ “Oh Canada’ nut stomper on Fénix while he was in the Tree of Woe position. Johnny and Fénix also had a nice moment on the ropes, jumping and rolling. Ishimori and Johnny also delivered some great moments, with a sequence of standing Shooting Star Press/ standing moonsault/ Sliding D. In the “great dive of fire” moment, Petey started with a hurricanrana to the floor, Fénix followed with a tope and Ishimori concluded with the Golden Triangle.
In many ways, the winner of the match doesn’t mean a lot in this kind of match. Because the only winner is the fan who can enjoy a good, very good, high-flying match. Johnny Impact grabbed the win, thanks to a Starship Pain on Fénix. The Mayor of Slam Town is back.
Tessa Blanchard vs. Allie
This match was a matter of ruthless aggression. Since her time in the casket, a brand-new Allie has emerged, more audacious and tenacious. But at the same time, Tessa Blanchard arrived and it was easy to understand she would destroy anyone who would try to walk in her footsteps.
There was nothing new in this match that we didn’t already know. The frustrated Tessa who made Allie take control. Allie on fire who developed her repertoire of dropkicks, suplexes, backstabber, Allie Valley Driver, and of course the bum cracker. Tessa nearly broke the neck of Allie with a very bad-looking hurricanrana. I didn’t really understand where this match was going but in the end, of course, the win was Tessa Blanchard.
Impact Wrestling is trying to build a Superstar out of Tessa Blanchard. I told many times I’m not a fan. But I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt until I’m finally able to say I like her. As far as Allie is concerned, she didn’t lose her time yesterday night as she was able to prove how powerful she has become.
House of Hardcore Match: Tommy Dreamer vs. Eddie Edwards
Who is The Innovator of Violence? That’s the question this match was supposed to answer. And I’m still pretty puzzled by the way it turned out…
Eddie Edwards wanted to kill Tommy Dreamer, Tommy Dreamer wanted to kill the bad side of Eddie. So Dreamer chose a House of Hardcore match, his match, to do so. The Festival of Weapons was pretty stacked with beers, trashcan, staple gun, chairs, kendo sticks… It was supposed to be something personal and violent. Dreamer had control at first, quickly busting Eddie open with the staple gun. There was an ECW title replica in the crowd, coincidence, that Dreamer used to attack Edwards. Dreamer mastered the hardcore game when Edwards mastered the mind game. Because a nutcracker was enough to allow Eddie to hit a chair-assisted Boston knee party for the win.
What I’m still puzzled with is Tommy Dreamer giving the kendo stick to Eddie after the match, to Alisha’s dismay. It can’t be a passing of the torch. Is Eddie Edwards the real new Innovator of VIolence? For the moment, I’m not convinced even if the match slowly but surely builds this new “side” if him.
Impact X-Division Championship Match: Matt Sydal (c) vs. Brian Cage
There was a single unknown in the equation this match was, a possible interference of Kongo Kong and Jimmy Jacobs. It could really have changed the fate of it. Matt Sydal was decided to open Brian Cage’s third eye. And in a way, he succeeded in. But the fact was Brian Cage’s third eye was his phenomenal strength.
Sydal had the momentum right in the match with a slam and a standing moonsault. But Cage tossed him into the barricades a few moments after. Sydal opened his third eye at the good moment when Cage was on top and made him fall. Sydal tried to keep him grounded but, tons of counters later, Cage hit a devastating lariat, Sydal was able to counter the Drill Claw twice but the third was the good one.
Brian Cage is the new X-Division Champion. He earned it, he proved it. The match was good but I’m sure the rematch will be even better.
Impact Knockouts Championship Match: Su Yung (c) vs. Madison Rayne
After all the mind games Su Yung played with Madison Rayne over the last few weeks, Rayne could have some reasons to be afraid. The character of Su Yung is creepy, gloomy, but also expressive the Nô Theatre way. Madison Rayne said many times she wanted to be a 6-time Knockouts Champion. But Su Yung won the mind games war first. Madison was decided to win the in-ring one.
The Undead Brides brought Su Yung through the ramp in a coffin and Madison Rayne decided to attack as she was getting out of it. She took control with a high cross and a northern lights suplex. It took a little while before Su Yung was able to cut off Rayne and attack Rayne. An Undead Bride came to help Su but she accidentally sprayed the mist on her. Rayne was really on the verge of becoming Champion but Su Yung had a secret pretty well-hidden, the glove she used to get the mandible claw and make Madison Rayne fade out.
The match wasn’t that bad, but it could have been a little better. The Nygma is picky…
5150 Street Fight for the IMPACT World Tag Team Championships: LAX (Santana & Ortiz w/ Konnan) defeated LAX OG’z (Hernandez & Homicide w/ The King)
It was like a remake of West Side Story in the ring. Two versions of the same clan fighting for the right to defend what they’ve always been wrestling for. On one side, Konnan who tried to reload LAX with some new talents, Santana and Ortiz. On the other side, Eddie Kingston who led the original members of LAX to start a revolution. This war of Latin egos offered what was probably the match of the night.
LAX was wearing the war paints. And here came the tables, trashcan lids, chain, ladder, and the cherry on the cake, thumbtacks. The brawl was devastating, Homicide and Hernandez looked a little tired in the middle of it but held on. Describing it would make it lose his aggressive beauty. So I let you have a look at it. And enjoy it.
The only problem with the match was the post-match as the OG’z attacked the victorious LAX, spray-painted the belts before stealing them. This war is just beginning and it started the best possible way.
Mask vs. Hair Match: Pentagon Jr. vs. Sami Callihan
There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Pentagon Junior would be the winner of this match. Losing was just not possible (he’s defending his AAA title next month so how could they let his career end this way?). The build-up of this match has been amazing and it had to translate into at least a good match. It was just awesome.
It started with chops but quickly the chairs and other toys appeared. Sami tried to rip Pentagon’s mask and took the spikes. Pentagon was busted open as he tried to dig them into his skull. But Sami suffered the same a few moments later. Pentagon even used Sami’s bat to spike Sami with them. The crowd was on fire. They sat on chairs, traded strikes, then took the chairs to shoot at each other. Sami was heavily bleeding when Penta decided to break his arm. Sami fought off and started to pile up some chairs. The Crist brothers tried to mess up in the game but Pentagon replied with chair shots and Sami with tossing powder on the referee and Pentagon’s face. Pentagon broke the arm of the referee, thinking it was Sami. He hit the Penta Driver, but the referee was out. Sami strangled his eyes, hit a Cactus Driver on to a chair and piled some again. He climbed on them, but it was Pentagon who hit the Fear Factor. After a superkick party, Pentagon broke Sami’s arm and hit another Fear Factor to allow the world to find out a brand-new Sami Callihan, a bald one.
That match was exactly the conclusion we needed for this storyline, nasty, vicious, aggressive, hardcore. Because the winner was easily predictable, I can’t make it the match of the night. But trust me when I say it was a hell of one.
Impact Wrestling’s next PPV will be Bound for Glory and it will take place on Sunday, October 14, live from The Melrose Ballroom in New York City, New York.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) July 23, 2018
Impact World Championship Match: Austin Aries (c) vs. Moose
The build-up of this match really made me remind of the way the first-ever Iron Man match was built in 1996. Moose was Shawn Michaels, chasing his first World Title and preparing as hard as he could for it. Austin Aries was Bret Hart, the experienced and passionate veteran who already held so many titles. I thought this match could end like the Iron match ended, with a new Champion. I was wrong.
A-Double had to bring his A-Game to be able to defeat a man larger, bigger and taller than him. His experience prevailed in this match as he knew what to try and when to try. Moose also brought his A-game that night, it was almost a new man that came to the ring that night. He was not afraid to slam Aries into the barricades, nearly decapitated him with a hell of a lariat. But Aries knew how to use the ramp, the ring post or the apron to make the giant fall. He tried to use the belt as a weapon but Curtis Granderson took it away from him. Because the PK and the brainbuster were enough to make him win.
It’s hard to describe matches like that, the ones that bring you back to some of the best moments you’ve ever lived as a fan. This match was a modern classic that really reminded me why I love wrestling.
When a PPV is about to air, there’s a little voice in every reviewer or writer that says “Please, don’t mess it up.” The traumas of the past are hard to get rid of. I think now the voice can definitely shut up. Slammiversary XVI was all that wrestling is about, action, talent. And even funny and scary moments. Impact Wrestling is succeeding in where WWE has been failing for months now, doing good PPVs. For a pretty simple reason, they have talents and they know what to do of them. I told you it would be unmissable, the Nygma never lies.
Three hardcore-style matches the same night may have been a little too much, but it would be denying the quality of them. Only one title change when many of us were expecting more. What are the Creatives cooking for the next set of tapings starting tonight? You’re welcomed this Saturday, as usual, to find out about it. I’ll be there with a new version of the review. I’m sure you’ll love it… And of course, never forget to stay #eNYGMAtic…
Slammiversary XVI Full Results:
* Four-Way Match: Johnny Impact defeated Taiji Ishimori, Fénix and Petey Williams
* Knockouts Match: Tessa Blanchard defeated Allie
* House of Hardcore Match: Eddie Edwards defeated Tommy Dreamer
* Impact X Division Championship Match: Brian Cage defeated Matt Sydal (c)
* Impact Knockouts Championship Match: Su Yung (c) defeated Madison Rayne by referee stoppage
* 5150 Street Fight for the IMPACT World Tag Team Championships: LAX (Santana & Ortiz w/ Konnan) defeated LAX OG’z (Hernandez & Homicide w/ The King)
* Mask vs. Hair Match: Pentagon Jr. defeated Sami Callihan who was shaved bald
* Impact World Championship Match: Austin Aries defeated Moose via pinfall
All pics, screenshots and videos courtesy of Impact Wrestling. Photomontage by @frenchnygma exclusively for @steelchairmag.