2020 has been a very odd and in some ways traumatic year in professional wrestling. From the obvious effects of the Coronavirus pandemic to the #SpeakingOut movement that hit the scene a while back. Thankfully, the latter has done a lot of good in expelling some horrific people from the business we all know and love, but this has also left some companies reeling as they try to put the groundwork they had already laid back together. With Slammiversary 2020, Impact Wrestling needed to knock it out of the park following a few expunges to the roster, as well as the high-profile vacating of the World Heavyweight Championship after Tessa Blanchard was fired from the company. As with many others, I watched the show, admittedly the first time I had viewed Impact in a very long time, excited for the future and to see some of their younger new homegrown talent and what they could do.
- The Rascalz vs. The Motor City Machine Guns
The Rascalz issued an open challenge ahead of the show, and it was surprisingly answered by The Motor City Machine Guns, one of TNA/Impact’s greatest tag teams.
Result: Motor City Machine Guns
My thoughts: A wonderful opener and a pleasant surprise to see the Machine Guns in a spot most people likely expected to be the Good Brothers. A high impact (pardon the pun) fast-paced match that sees the Machine Guns return with much-needed momentum. Bright futures for both tag teams.
- TNA Heavyweight Championship ‘Old School Rules’ Match – Moose (C) vs. Tommy Dreamer
Moose defends his claimed TNA Championship against the legendary Tommy Dreamer, wearing a ‘Moose Sucks Eggs’ shirt in tribute to Terry Funk.
Result: Moose retains following him smashing Dreamer’s face into thumbtacks and hitting his Lights Out spear.
My Thoughts: A slower yet still hard-hitting match than the opener, which seems more like a spotlight on the athletic prowess that Moose contains and helping put him over. Dreamer looks good for his age but there was no doubt who this match was all about, and both men looked good.
- Impact Knockout Gauntlet #1 Contenders Match
Order of entrance: Kylie Rae, Tasha Steelz, Johnny Bravo as Taya Valkyrie, Kimber Lee, Kiera Hogan, Suzie, Katie Forbes, Madison Rayne, Havok, Taya Valkyrie, Alisha, Nevaeh, Rosemary, Johnny Bravo as Rosemary.
Order of elimination: Johnny Bravo as Taya Valkyrie, Tasha Steelz, Katie Forbes, Suzie, Havok, Bravo as Rosemary, Madison Rayne, Alisha, Nevaeh, Kiera Hogan, Kimber Lee, Rosemary, Taya Valkyrie.
Result: Kylie Rae to become the #1 contender for the Impact Knockouts Championship.
My Thoughts: Far and away the low-light of the show, this jumbled mess of a match had a lot of potential given the talent involved. The inclusion of Johnny Bravo not once, but twice really dragged it down and stank of Santina Marella at WrestleMania 25. There seemed to be a lot of miscommunication all around leading to spots that looked awkward at times. Kylie Rae has a lot of steam so she is a good choice for the victor although I was personally pulling for Rosemary. Kylie Rae will now go on to face the Knockouts Champion.
Following the match as commentators Josh Matthews and Don Callis are doing a stand up we see the former Heath Slater slide into the ring with a microphone and cut a promo. He is interrupted by Rohit Raju who cuts a scathing promo on him bringing the two to blows, with Heath standing tall.
- Impact X-Division Championship – Willie Mack (C) vs. Chris Bey
Willie Mack has been a staple of the X Division for some time now, and held the gold accordingly, and pays tribute in his entrance gear and trunks to Razor Ramon, while Chris Bey is a young upstart with his first real shot at gold here.
Result: Chris Bey pins Willie Mack to become the new X Division Champion.
My Thoughts: Holy hell what a banger. These two went out there wanting to steal the show and boy did they ever. I’ve heard a lot about Mack in the past but this was my first chance to really see him perform, and was also my first exposure to Bey. Both men let it all out and put on a great performance. I’m sure the comparison has been made before but I see a lot of Keith Lee-type potential in Willie Mack. Both men if handled properly are destined to become stars.
Backstage we see a vignette of Heath and Rhyno reuniting, only to be interrupted by Scott D’Amore advising Heath this is a closed set during a pandemic and he has to leave. Rhyno advises Heath he will take care of everything and to be at the tapings on Tuesday night.
- Impact Tag Team Championships – The North (C) vs. Sami Callihan & Ken Shamrock
The North has held onto the Tag Titles for over one calendar year and run roughshod over the division. Sami Callihan and Ken Shamrock are bitter rivals but joined forces out of mutual respect to help one another.
Result: The North retains in a varied and wild match following a series of miscommunications between Callihan and Shamrock.
My Thoughts: I’ve never been a fan of the “Can they coexist” trope as it is ridiculously overused in wrestling, and I also am of the belief that a cohesive unit should always beat two singles wrestlers no matter their place on the card. Tag team specialism and the like. That said, this was a fun outing for the group, with both Shamrock and Callihan making The North look great. Sami handled most of the match, as despite looking as good as he does at his age, Shamrock looked to be blown up about halfway through the contest. In the end, The North prevailed in a more than serviceable match.
Following the match, The North cut a promo discussing their reign, and are interrupted by the Motor City Machine Guns announcing they will be facing off at Tuesday’s tapings for the Tag Titles. If you love wrestling and that match doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what to tell you.
- Impact Knockouts Championship – Jordynne Grace (C) vs. Deonna Purrazzo
Following her release from WWE/NXT, Deonna Purazzo immediately came to Impact and targeted Jordynne Grace and her Knockouts Championship, building to this match between power and technique.
Result: In a shocker, Purrazzo makes Grace have to verbally tap out to a double Fujiwara armbar.
My Thoughts: A great match balancing the power abilities of Grace with the more technical style of Purrazzo. The only downside to the match is the impression that it gives the title following the run that Purrazzo had in WWE. She immediately went from being enhancement talent on RAW and NXT to jumping right into the title picture on Impact. It may have been wiser to have her build up some momentum to rehab her image before sending her for the title and ultimately defeating the champion Grace, who has had a great run in Impact. Even so, the two put on a great match and the upcoming bout between Purrazzo and Kylie Rae should also be great.
- Fatal Four Way for the Vacant Impact World Championship – Trey vs. Ace Austin vs. Eddie Edwards vs. ???
Following the high-profile stripping and firing of Tessa Blanchard as World Champion, as well as the release of Michael Elgin, this match was severely hampered. Using the recent releases from WWE of several former TNA/Impact World Champions, the company went full board with the surprise factor while still building the redemption tour of Eddie Edwards and the blossoming feud between Trey and Ace Austin. In a double surprise, Rich Swann would be revealed as the mystery opponent, having been cleared despite being seen on crutches earlier in the night. Eric Young would then return to cut a promo saying this was now a 5-way match and he was aiming to repeat his World Title win at Slammiversary from years prior.
Result: Trey is eliminated first by Eric Young following a piledriver. As Young is picking apart and talking trash Rich Swann eliminates him next with a surprise roll-up. This would lead to Young snapping and brutally attacking Swann, including several Pillmanizers on his surgically repaired ankle. Despite fighting valiantly on one leg, Swann is eliminated by Ace Austin. In the end, after a series of back and forth finishers, Eddie Edwards would claim the Impact World Championship for the second time in his career.
Following the match Austin’s muscle Madman Fulton would return to the ring to lay a beat down on Edwards alongside Austin, only to be interrupted by the debuting Good Brothers. Following a Gun Stun and the Magic Killer, the night ends with the Good Brothers and Eddie Edwards standing tall. As Matthews says good night to the crowd we cut to a video package of EC3 signalling his official return to Impact to end the night.
My Thoughts: One hell of a main event, with all the flourishes only serving to amplify the match and stories around it. Both Trey and especially Ace Austin are studs and will one day be huge stars. Eddie Edwards was the right choice for the win allowing him to complete his redemption arc that’s been running for some time. The return from injury for Rich Swann is certainly welcome, as it is always great fun to watch him in the ring, and he now has a built-in feud with the returning Eric Young which also keeps him away from the title picture for a while. I am not sure if they will continue the feud between Trey and Ace Austin or if Austin will be playing the foil to Edwards but I’d go with the former. As a huge fan of both the Good Brothers and EC3, I am happy to see them in a place where they can be utilized properly and have a great run. Wonderfully booked all around, a perfect capper to a new era of Impact Wrestling.
Overall, Slammiversary was a great success. Despite some missteps with the Knockouts Gauntlet, and maybe the TNA title match, every match succeeded with what it needed to do while weaving in the returning stars into the stories. If Impact can keep this up, they can certainly take that 3rd spot in the wrestling wars. If their goal was to bring fans back to the product and want to keep following along, they have succeeded!
Author: Kyle Scharf
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