The Anderson Breakdown: TNA Slammiversary 2006

The Anderson Breakdown – TNA Slammiversary

– I think you guys probably know the drill by this point. I’ve strictly avoided reading any net review or commentary of this event until I finished the review, just to avoid anything slanting my unbiased opinion of the show. It’s a load show, so we’ll get right into it:


– We start with a video package, and as usual, Dave Sahadi does more to sell the PPV in one three minute video package than TNA does in a month of television. It’s a shame that these incredible packages are wasted on people who have already bought the show.

The only downside to the video package are the clips of Christian “vowing” to become the new King of the Mountain. As much as I like the guy, it’s become glaringly obvious in the last couple of months that his heart just isn’t in TNA anymore. I just don’t think it would be possible for the guy to sound less enthused and more robotic than he has during his past few weeks of promos.

– Mike Tenay and Screamin’ Don West welcome us to TNA’s first Anniversary show, Slammiversary. Personally, I find the name “Slammiversary” to be rather silly, but I guess that’s pretty irrelevant.

– Before the announcers can even begin welcoming us to the show, Team 3D and the James Gang are already brawling in the Space Mountain like tube that is TNA’s entrance tunnel. I guess the match is officially under way:

Team 3-D vs. The James Gang

Right from the get-go, Bubba Ray Dudley starts tossing chairs into the ring, apparantly trying to recreate the ridiculous scene from the Philly show last week, the ROH show in April, and the dozens of other shows in which this goofy, dangerous behavior has occured. I’m glad the crowd didn’t bite. It’s all fun and games until someone in the front row gets seriously injured, or God forbid killed, by an errant flying chair. TNA would be sued in a heartbeat, Universal would kick them out of their studios, and then a once-promising company would be dead before they knew what hit them. All because of a geeky, overplayed stunt in front of a PPV audience of 40,000.

Bubba Ray Dudley does his best Masato Tanaka impression at the start of the match, chair-fighting with Billy Gunn, absorbing a chair shot to the back, and then pumping up. D-Von then does his best Sandman impression, clearing house with the kendo stick. B Jizzle then does his best 1997 impression, hitting a double-axe handle and throwing out the ridiculously fresh crotch chop, which incidentally gets a well-deserved round of boos from the crowd.

LAX quickly involves themselves in the match, turning heel and face about six times in a row.

All four men do some wild brawling around the Impact Zone. Billy Gunn is hiptossed onto the guard rail, and B Jizzle executes a shockingly agile move, jumping from the ring steps all the way over the guard rail onto Bubba Ray.

Mike Tenay reminds us that this match is a “Bingo Hall Brawl,” which is about as lame as the trash can lids that all four men begin using on each other. Bubba attacks the James Gang with a women’s brassiere, no joke, and then pulls out the cheese grater and treats Billy Gunn’s forehead like a fine block of parmesan. Thirty seconds later, Gunn is just a bloody mess.

Bubba puts a trash can lid over B Jizzle’s crotch, grabs a golf club, screams “Foourrrrrrrrr!,” and plasters him right in the unmentionables.

Man, I wasn’t expecting much from this match, but all jokes aside, I’ve got to admit, this is exceedingly awesome.

Team 3-D brings a table into the ring, hits a 3-D through it, and takes home the win.

I’ve been sick of the Dudleys for a long, long time now, but this was probably the best match they’ve had in TNA since coming in, ditto for the James Gang. And I’ve mentioned this in my last two TNA reviews, but Billy Gunn has seriously been all kinds of awesome this year. He’s literally working harder than he ever has in his career, and it’s almost like we’re seeing an entirely new Billy Gunn out there. I hope he keeps it up, because I’m really enjoying watching the guy out there.

***

– Before walking to the back, Bubba can’t resist taking a cheap knock at the ‘new’ ECW, letting the fans know that “this is how it’s supposed to be done.”

So let me get this straight, TNA doesn’t really like the WWE?

– Jeremy Borash, dressed fruity as always, is in the back with Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett talks about his fine college grades for a few seconds before cutting an awesome promo. Jarrett compares himself to Reggie Jackson and Michael Jordan, saying that he’s best with his back against the wall, and then puts over TNA big-time as usual.

Larry Zbyszko inserts himself into the promo and rambles about the new face of TNA management. Zbyszko has spared us his geeky Hawaiin-style button-up this month, but in its place is one of the worst ties I’ve ever seen in my life. I wonder where in God’s name Zbyszko shops?

Bobby Roode & Scott D’Amore vs. Rhino

God I hate Scott D’Amore. I know I bitch about him every month, but he’s seriously the most unwatchable person in all of wrestling right now. People justify it by saying, “Well Golly Ken, he’s a heel. You’re s’posed to hate ’em.” No. No sir, you’re wrong. D’Amore doesn’t draw “I will pay to see him get his ass kicked” heat. He draws, “I’m changing the channel immediately” heat.

Scott D’Amore cuts a geeky promo about Rhino’s IQ, as the wrestler he manages stands silently in the background. D’Amore flees the ring as soon as Rhino comes out, but I’m sure he’s got a Canadian Destroyer in him tonight at some point.

Bobby Roode does most of the wrestling, with D’Amore coming in occasionally to kick Rhino while he’s down and do a few jumping jacks and push-ups. D’Amore actually has pretty good form with these exercises, which makes one wonder why he’s got the rough look and build of Roseanne.

When D’Amore and Rhino finally do lock up, D’Amore — in the stupidest way possible — actually gets the better of Rhino. He outwrestles him. He outbrawls him. Obviously the best way to thank Rhino for turning down the WWE’s offer and staying with TNA — punk him out to Donkeylips.

Scott D’Amore goes for a moonsault, leading Don West to humorously scream, “BUT CAN THE RING HOLD IT!” When D’Amore misses, West is all, “LIKE A WHALE FLOPPING AROUND IN THE RING!”

Rhino hits the gore on D’Amore, graciously putting this match out of its misery.

In typical D’Amore fashion, 100 percent of his efforts went into getting himself over, with the wrestler he managed seeming like an inconsequential after thought. Still though, I’m sure D’Amore will consider the match a rousing success, book himself into even more angles as a result, and perhaps celebrate tonight with a thick, frosty milkshake and a half dozen Happy Meals.

*

– Samoa Joe, wearing a 98 Degrees like fashion tank, cuts a quick promo on Scott Steiner. It’s nothing special, but these two have cut such incredible promos on each other as of late, especially Steiner, that nothing is going to bring down my excitement for their match tonight.

Low-Ki vs. Shark Boy vs. Jay Lethal vs. Petey Williams vs. Alex Shelley vs. Sonjay Dutt

Low-Ki comes walking down the Space Mountain tube in a fashion eerily similar to the pig-monster from The Village. And whenever I see Shark Boy, I automatically think of the legendary tape-reviewing shark that Widro hired at 411 three or four years ago. A good match was a “feeding frenzy.” A bad one was a “chum fest.” Sadly, he lasted all of one review before disappearing into the sunset.

I don’t really know what to say about the match. It was your typical TNA X-Division match. Lots of spots. It was good, but I just feel like if you see one of these matches, you’ve seen them all. It might just be personal preference, and it certainly was a good enough match, but I just don’t find myself caring that much about these X-Division spotfests. Give me a reason to care who wins, and I’ll revise my stance.

And speaking of spotfests, let me quickly address the Dragon Gate match from ROH that everyone has been creaming themselves over as of late. I’m talking about the Do Fixer vs. Blood Generation 6-man from Wrestlemania weekend. Dave and Bryan both call it one of the best matches they’ve seen this year. I won’t disagree with that. But Wade Keller (of the Pro Wrestling Torch) called it “hands down” the greatest match he’s ever seen.

I guarantee that, six months from now, he will regret saying that.

Sure, it’s fun to get lost in the moment of a crazy, well-executed spotfest, but with no (American) build, no backstory, and no clear-cut understanding of who any of these guys are or who should be cheered for, it’s ultimately going to be forgotten three or four months down the road.

Everyone’s saying that the match was better than Joe/Kobashi. Now that’s just foolish. I guarantee that Joe/Kobashi is going to live in wrestling infamy for decades to come. People will tell their children about it. Its legend will grow. And conversely, the Dragon Gate match will end up being remembered in the same category as the Michinoku Pro match from ECW’s Barely Legal — fun, but ultimately inconsequential. An asterick, if you will.

/End rant.

I’ve always found myself rolling my eyes at people who end their rants html-style. It’s such an embarrassing, cliche thing to do. But before my brain could even fully process what was happening, I just typed it myself. I know what you’re saying, “You could backspace it, Ken.” But I refuse to do so. Because I typed it, it must remain in. It must remain in to remind me, each time I re-read this review, of the shame that I brought soley on myself.

Moving on…

Low-Ki won with a nasty double foot-stomp off the top rope.

***

– JB (apparantly the cool new nickname for Borash) is in the back with Kevin Nash and Alex Shelley. Shelley throws out a hilarious line about the 20 guys with knives and “gats” that caused him to lose the match.

Kevin Nash cuts on Chris Sabin’s Dad, saying that he’s probably at home watching the PPV on a “crappy 19 inch TV,” while referencing himself as a “7 foot jugornaut.”

Kevin Nash vs. Chris Sabin

When I wrote that Kevin Nash was going to kill the X-Division, I definitely received my fair share of emails from TNA superfans who said that I was wrong, and that Nash was actually going to give the X-Division a masseuse-like rub.

Well, four minutes into the match, and it’s already a complete embarrassment for the X-Division.

Despite the announcers pointing out that Kevin Nash hasn’t wrestled in years, is most likely rusty as hell, and has had over thirteen knee surgeries, Nash still completely dominates Chris Sabin.

The crowd spends the match helpfully chanting “Sabin sucks” and cheering Kevin Nash’s every move.

After 8:00 minutes of this goofy nonsense, Kevin Nash pulls down his straps, sarcastically gives the X Division sign, and hits the jacknife on Chris Sabin.

Nash then casually covers Sabin for the three-count and, just for good measure, sarcastically throws out the X Division sign again.

Man, this angle is GREAT for the X-Division.

Get out some extra warming oil, because an entire division is getting a RUB tonight.

– Borash is in the back with AMW and Gail Kim. AMW says something about a “fat gopher in soft dirt,” swig a few beers, and tell AJ and Daniels that this is their last chance for the tag titles. Gail Kim says she doesn’t know what they have in mind to “neutralize her,” but she isn’t scared.

AJ Styles & Chris Daniels vs. AMW

This has probably been my favorite feud in TNA (along with Steiner/Joe) as of late, and if their match tonight is anything like the one at the last PPV, I’m excited already.

As AMW make their way to the ring, Mike Tenay helpfully lets us know that AMW are the longest reigning tag champions — 8 months and one week — in over thirty years. Even though there’s no truth to such a statement, it’s fine to hear nonetheless.

AJ Styles and Chris Daniels are rocking some beautiful matching tights (this time blue), just like at the last PPV.

I’m sure there’s a million recaps floating around, so I’ll avoid play by play on this one and just say this:

Even though it wasn’t quite as good as the last PPV, it was still an awesome match. Styles and Daniels make a great tag team, and it was nice to see them take the titles. The near-falls were good (though again, not quite as good as last time), and the crowd was pretty stoked for the win.

I definitely could have lived without AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels “secret weapon” though. If you didn’t see the show, here’s what happened. AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels had promised a “secret weapon” to “neutralize” Gail Kim.

Turns out that their “secret weapon” is a woman who looked to be a 40 year old lesbian gym teacher. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course – there are plenty of nice gym teachers out there. Seriously though, this woman made 1996 Chyna look like Natalie Portman by comparison. Let’s face it, wrestling is a superficial business these days. It’s why Chris Masters main events in the Elimination Chamber while Mike Modest is stuffing caskets. With that in mind, why in the world TNA would bring this woman in, I just have no clue.

Good match, good outcome, I’m happy.

***1/4

– JB interviews Sting, and per the usual course, Sting gives an interview that might have worked in 1992, but is terribly out of place in 2006. Regardless, iT’s ShOwWwWTiMe!

– We now get a nice video package showcasing the last four years of TNA. Faces like Randy Savage, DDP, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Roddy Piper, Ken Shamrock, Hulk Hogan, and Toby Keith are shown, mixed in with clips of current TNA wrestlers. Monty Brown is shown about ten times, leading me to wonder yet again why the single most charismatic guy in TNA isn’t even scheduled for the PPV.

– Mike Tenay is out to introduce the “new public face of TNA management,” Jim Cornette. Despite walking to the ring to some of the absolute worst, circus-like entrance music that I’ve ever heard, Jim Cornette still finds a way to look cool.

I haven’t read any opinions on Cornette’s rant yet, but for me, it was hit and miss. For a guy who’s spent the last 7 years taking every opportunity possible to cut on Vince Russo, this was a decidely Russo-ish interview. The old timers have had their day in the sun!!! It’s time for the new guys to step up!!! Ratings are everything!!! It’s a nice message and all, but from all reports, Jim Cornette isn’t even going to be involved backstage with TNA, just on camera. So ultimately, unless he plans to increase his role in the company, his grievances and promises ultimately appear to be empty.

Oh, and as long as we’re talking Vince Russo, people give the R-Man entirely too much flack for his goofy publicity stunts and wacky storylines. If you ever take the time to really sit down and listen to what Vince Russo has to say in his shoot interviews and books, you realize that while Vince Russo’s angles were hit and miss, if you want to blame someone for things like the David Arquette title reign (which was endorsed by a full booking committee), you should probably blame the people who put Russo in charge.

Vince Russo makes no bones about what he did or why he did it. He was paid to get ratings. Period. Plain and simple. He wasn’t paid to uphold the honor of an imaginary title belt. Or to appease workrate fans. Or to satisfy purists and historians. He was paid to generate buzz and try to get people watching. That was his job. And it was who Vince Russo was, for better or worse.

You could argue all day long as to whether or not Vince Russo was good for wrestling, but you certainly can’t argue that he ever radically changed. He was who he was, and the higher-ups who put him in charge had to know exactly what they were getting themselves into when they placed him in that position.

People who think Russo ruined wrestling really should point that anger toward WCW management and Vince McMahon. Vince Russo did exactly what they knew he would in the end.

– Jeremy Borash is backstage with Scott Steiner. Scott Steiner just PUMMELS Samoa Joe on the mic, calling him a “fat bastard” and references him as “Sloppy Joe.” Steiner just rips into Samoa Joe fans, calling them oozing, fat, redneck slobs. Steiner holds up Joe’s DVD, cleverly plugs it, and then throws it to the ground and says “YOU CAN’T SELL THIS IF YOU WANT TO.” Man, Steiner is just un-f*cking-believable.

Samoa Joe vs. Scott Steiner

This is going to be AWESOME — I’ve seriously never been this excited for a TNA match.

As Scott Steiner makes his way to the ring, he isn’t shy about getting right up in the face of any fans who want to throw insults his way.

I was hoping we’d start out with a Shamrock/Frye-esque staredown, but instead we get some equally awesome mat wrestling to start things out. Scott Steiner definitely gets the better of Joe on the mat, quickly hitting a fireman’s carry, a double-leg takedown, and some of those mega-insulting slaps to the back of the head.

Joe gets frustrated and just spits right in Steiner’s face, ending the wrestling segment and leading to a full-on brawl. Joe hits some nasty chops, throws some of his goofy Kawada kicks, and attemps a running charge on Steiner. Steiner ducks outside the ring, and Joe comes FLYING through the ropes with a tope suicida.

Back inside, Steiner regains the momentum and plants Joe with a big belly-to-belly suplex. Steiner picks him back up and just rocks Joe with a powerbomb. Joe reverses the pin attempt though into a sloppy MMA style armbar.

Both men end up brawling on the outside, with Scott Steiner getting the better of things. Joe punches a steel chair right into Scott Steiner’s face. Scott Steiner retaliates by leaning Joe against the ring post and just LEVELING him with a chair shot to the face. The referee announces that if both men aren’t back in the ring by the count of ten, the match will end in a double count out. Steiner rolls back in, and Joe ends up making it back in with a quarter-second to spare.

After a couple more minutes of back-and-forth fighting, Joe locks the rear-naked choke on Steiner. Joe keeps locking it on, and Steiner keeps slipping out. Finally, Steiner hits Joe with a low blow and just murders Joe with a Kobashi-like half-nelson suplex RIGHT on his head.

Steiner locks on the Steiner Recliner and the crowd is all “JOE! JOE! JOE!”

Joe stands up with Steiner still on his shoulders, drops him right across the top ropes, and quickly drives Steiner into the mat for a powerslam and the pin.

We get to see Joe celebrating with the belt for about six seconds before cutting away to a video package for King of the Mountain.

I really enjoyed the match, although to be perfectly honest, I think the atmosphere knocked it down a few levels for me. In front of a bigger (or rowdier) crowd, the match would have probably come off even better than it did. Although the match definitely had that “big fight” build and feel going in, the standard Impact Zone vibe really does make it pretty much impossible for that “big fight” feel to translate in-ring.

Still awesome though, and Scott Steiner has been doing an absolute A+ job at getting Joe over since since coming into TNA.

***

– We cut to Don West and Mike Tenay, who attempt to explain the rules for King of the Mountain, but ultimately end up making things so confusing that I wonder if any new viewers at home watching have ANY idea what the rules or goal of the match really is.

Don West helpfully points out:

“This match is just so unique, with all the stipulations, you’re not eligible until you, uh, uh, uh, pin someone or make them submit, and then you’ve got to go to penalty box to be able to climb the ladder!”

Speaking of West and Tenay, you’d think that after all these shows they’d be on the same page as far as wardrobe goes. At every PPV, Mike Tenay shows up wearing a finely pressed tuxedo. Meanwhile, Don West decides to wear a dress shirt. It’s a pretty strange visual. It would be the equivalent of the Hart Foundation showing up to wrestle, with Bret Hart wearing his Hart Foundation uniform and Jim Neidhart wearing small black trunks. Incidentally, I’ve never really pictured Jim Neidhart in small black trunks until now, and I can’t say it’s an overly pleasant mental image.

– Christian is backstage with JB, and he hilariously, in the most sarcastic tone possible, wishes Jeremy Borash a “Happy Slammiversary.” When Borash tells Christian how much he’s enjoyed having him in TNA, Christian tells Borash that he’s “being a little weird.” In a strange little bit, Christian then grabs the microphone from Borash, but if you look closely, Borash won’t take his hand off the mic. This results in both men holding hands for about 20 seconds straight.

Christian doesn’t look like he wants to be here tonight.

– We get our 23rd video package for King of the Mountain tonight, this one featuring a goofy sound bite where Sting threatens to “pie face” and “goozle” Jeff Jarrett.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Christian vs. Abyss vs. Sting vs. Ron Killings: King of the Mountain Main Event

Man, does TNA ever know how to suck all the fun out of my life or what?

I don’t even have the will to comment extensively on the King of the Mountain match that I just wasted half an hour of my life watching.

A quick summary:

After 20 minutes of nonsensical, lackluster, lazy stupidity, Larry Zbyszko turned heel and low blowed Christian. The world was just waiting for Larry Zbyszko to turn heel and ruin the main event, right? Well, to make things even worse, after being knocked out cold for about 45 consecutive minutes, Earl Hebner also turned heel, shoving the ladder, screwing the champ, and allowing Jeff Jarrett to win the NWA Orlando World Heavyweight Title.

As Earl Hebner was rushed from the ring (just to hammer home the point that this was a cutting edge recreation of the 1997 Survivor Series screwjob) the Orlando fans just started pelting the ring with MOUNTAINS of shit.

I mean, there was crap flying EVERYWHERE.

Bottles.

Cups.

Paper.

I normally find such behavior to be totally reprehensible, but I guarantee you that if I were there watching the show and I got a finish like that, I might have been inclined to throw something as well. Plus, TNA can’t go from encouraging fans to throw metal f*cking chairs into the ring one night to being upset about things being thrown at the wrestlers the next. It just doesn’t work that way.

Jim Cornette came out at the very end of the show to let us all know that he’ll make a ruling about this on Impact.

GREAT!!!

A total, absolute disgrace of an ending for Slammiversary.

The kind of ending that potentially kills the city and drives off your paying customers in droves.

TNA megafans are probably going to try to spin it as intriguing and explosive, but let me give it to you straight and without bias:

It was shit.

Complete and total shit.

If I spend the first two hours of a PPV cautiously optimistic about TNA’s future, yet somehow manage to walk away from the show hating the company and the product, TNA’s probably doing something wrong.

TNA can show flashes of brilliance now and again, but the other 95% of the time, they come off as absolutely pathetic. They spend half of their show bitching about how bad the WWE is, and then they go out and do the exact same thing. Only they do it with skating rink laser-lights and the tunnel from TRON.

I’ve been critical of TNA in the past for nonsense like this, and I’ve often compared them to WCW circa 2000. Whenever I say this, I always get emails from people yelling at me and telling me how bad the WWE is. I hate to break it TNA fans, but not being the WWE doesn’t make TNA good. And believe it or not, my knocks on TNA don’t amount to an endorsement of the WWE. It’ll take a lot more than a horrible PPV like tonight’s to get me to endorse Shawn Michaels prancing around in his wife’s black halter top.

Anyway, I don’t know to “rate” this PPV. The best thing I can compare it to is the made-for-TV version of Stephen King’s It. For the first two hours of the movie, you’re mildly entertained. You’re eating your popcorn, laying on the couch, and aside from a few minor grievances (“Don’t stay out too late, M-M-M-M-M-M-Mom’ll h-h-h-have a b-bird.”), you’re not having a bad time. And then, after all this buildup, you finally get to the ending. You’re so excited to see what’s going to happen, and then all of a sudden a f*cking spider-puppet (with visible strings) jumps up on the screen and just kills the movie.

King of the Mountain was TNA’s version of the Spider-Puppet.

The only difference is, while it’s hard to feel slighted about a moderately scary movie that you paid nothing to see, it’s a whole different story when you’re paying $35 for the garbage that highlighted TNA’s Slammiversary.

Thank God for the kind local reader who’s generous enough to provide me with a copy of the TNA PPV’s. He leaves them in a secret location by Starbucks for me, often less than an hour after the events end. Of course, one of these days he’s probably going to jump out from the bushes and slash my throat when I pull in for the tape, but judging from the last few TNA PPV’s, at least it’ll spare me the pain of the final hour of the show.

Hope all is well guys, be sure to check out The Wrestling Blog for more commentary and breaking news, and I’ll catch ya around.

Ken Anderson
KenAnderson242@aol.com