Tonight is the Impact Wrestling Slammiversary event from the Rebel Entertainment Complex in downtown Toronto.
Earlier in the week, the company announced a sell out with Dave Meltzer noting this week that it is set up for 1,000 people. While you cannot confuse their business success with a Ring of Honor big show, I couldn’t have seen Impact coming anywhere close to selling that many tickets for a show at the start of 2018. The improvements are being seen in baby steps with no guarantee this company will ever approach anywhere approximating their level of exposure and fandom from the earlier part of the decade.
Unlike the April Redemption show, this pay-per-view feels like a real litmus test for where the new regime has brought the product with their key stories culminating with this show. While many people may lament that Impact tapes their television so far in advance, it has forced those in charge to plot out where they are going and stick with those plans. The result is a card that features months of buildup for the majority of the matches the show feels important as opposed to a monthly special that comes and goes.
Despite the television program showing growth in quality, it has not resulted in an uptick in quantity with viewership not expanding and declined noticeably since the Redemption event in April.
Later tonight on the site, Nate Milton and I will have a show reviewing Slammiversary and we will also speak with Wai Ting, who is covering the show live at the Rebel Entertainment Complex. That show will be available on the free POST Wrestling podcast feed and on the main page.
Here is a preview of the entire show:
AUSTIN ARIES VS MOOSE FOR THE IMPACT TITLE
They have taken a classic approach this match with Moose positioned as the heir apparent becoming the top character on the show with Slammiversary serving as his coronation.
Moose was taken off television to prepare for the match and left the promos to Aries, who has been effective in the role as the veteran champion against the ex-football player that cannot match his experience. In hindsight, the title switch at Redemption felt like a knee-jerk reaction to losing Alberto El Patron and while Pentagon Jr. winning the title was great for the live crowd, I think it watered down the title to do the quick back-and-forth with Aries regaining it so quickly.
Moose was making great strides as a performer with Ring of Honor but hasn’t had that breakout performance yet with Impact. If the build resonated with the audience that is in attendance, the atmosphere will help them. The live reactions will be interesting for Toronto, which is a big wrestling town, but Impact has limited viewership in Canada being on The Fight Network and Game TV, which do not have the penetration of major sports networks like TSN or Sportsnet. The fact they have sold 1,000 tickets is a testament to the market being a strong wrestling city beyond just the WWE.
I’d be surprised if Moose doesn’t win the title and would go so far as to say it’s overthinking a situation to “surprise” everyone and have Aries retain so Moose winning feels like a guarantee.
SU YUNG VS MADISON RAYNE FOR THE KNOCKOUT’S TITLE
I can see many people disliking everything to do with this feud as it’s been a big ask by the company for the audience to follow along with this story.
It started with Rayne returning to the ring, picking up several wins and unexpectedly receiving a title match and the chance to have one more reign. Simple enough, but Yung has become their fantastical element to the show straight out of the craziest Lucha Underground ideas.
Rayne wandered into another dimension the other week, she was present for her own funeral this week, and while it’s shot tremendously well and doesn’t feel as goofy as compared to this same idea on WWE programming, it hasn’t struck a chord with me beyond the promotion trying as many different ideas they can think of to differentiate their product.
You can go far with different characters but should always have a connection to reality that is evident to the audience member that views this character of Su Yung being part of the same universe as the other characters on the show.
I expect Yung to retain the title and if there is a crazy angle to be shot, this match would seem the likely candidate.
SAMI CALLIHAN VS PENTAGON JR. IN A HAIR VS MASK MATCH
The promos between the two have provided this program with a solid foundation and you have arguably the top heel and babyface in the promotion.
This feud puts a spotlight on the production team at Impact and the great features they have cut together with Callihan’s unique promos with oVe and Pentagon’s as well.
It’s a strange comparison but Pentagon and Asuka have a lot in common as neither speaks English well but their charisma is off the charts and yet one company has a superstar presentation, while the other struggles with Asuka, yet NXT found a way to market and present her effectively.
It would be insane to unmask Pentagon and I feel 98% of the audience knows that, but also have faith in the promotion following through with the stipulation and will see Callihan lose his hair on the show.
This show has the potential to have a lot of brawling matches, with this one included, so the agenting of the matches will be important so that each one has their own story and execution.
EDDIE EDWARDS VS TOMMY DREAMER IN A HOUSE OF HARDCORE MATCH
I think Eddie Edwards has been excellent and 2018 has been the best character work of his career by miles.
Edwards was always one of the top performers of whatever promotion he was part of, but his promos were a major hindrance for him reaching the next level. In this program, it is not promos in the traditional pro wrestling way, but it’s his acting that has put him over the top.
The story is Edwards was so consumed by his hatred of Sami Callihan, that he’s lost his wife and everyone around him. Dreamer entered the picture as a mentor figure, much like Terry Funk to Dreamer’s character in ECW. He warned Edwards’ of the pitfalls of hatred, citing his own feud with Raven that took years away from him.
This feud hasn’t been without extreme gaps of logic, such as Edwards attempting to commit murder in the woods, but the program has done a lot for Edwards. If this feud was happening in a larger promotion, it would be a career-making run for Edwards, but it underscores how far Impact has fallen when so few discuss Edwards and this program.
Edwards winning by doing something diabolical to Dreamer seems like a strong continuation of his character where he wins the match but does so at the cost of ending Dreamer, who should disappear for a while.
LAX (SANTANA & ORTIZ) VS HERNANDEZ & HOMICIDE IN A STREET FIGHT FOR THE IMPACT TAG TITLES
The feud is an ode to the Midnight Express vs. Original Midnights feud from 1988 and like the precursor, carried by the mouthpieces for the respective sides in Konnan and Eddie Kingston.
Konnan went missing at the Redemption pay-per-view and resurfaced weeks ago, searching for his attacker and uncovering the fact that his protégé, Kingston, was behind the attack. Konnan is a major asset as a manager and can be an effective as either a babyface or heel manager.
Konnan just participated in the MLW Battle Riot battle royal on Thursday and with his recent hip surgery, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Impact work towards a match with Konnan and Kingston coming out of this.
I feel it would be best to have Santana & Ortiz get the big win over the original version of the group and solidify their standing. It could lead to a major attack on Konnan on a future episode of Impact if the idea is to have him do a match, which should be heavily built towards and not done without some major to necessitate it.
MATT SYDAL VS BRIAN CAGE FOR THE X DIVISION TITLE
This could be a sleeper match on the show as the time dedicated to the feud has been minimal, but the quality of the match could be tremendous.
Cage has entered as the monster running through everyone. I will say that Cage is one of the many examples of talent appearing on Lucha Underground and Impact Wrestling as different characters and it’s jarring if you’re watching both programs. It isn’t the case of being a babyface or heel on opposite shows, but their characters are so different between the two as you have Cage, Sami Callihan, Johnny Impact, Fenix, Pentagon and recently Killer Kross debuting on both.
Sydal’s guru character hasn’t done anything for me, it’s improved with the elimination of Josh Mathews as his manager, but still feels like a character that hasn’t clicked.
Cage winning the title seems the direction and continues his build for the main event.
JOHNNY IMPACT VS FENIX VS TAIJI ISHIMORI
There isn’t a story for this and it’s an excuse to have a hot match with three tremendous performers.
Rich Swann suffered a concussion, so he is out of this match, which takes it down a bit because of the recent buzz for his match with Fenix on television.
The match should get enough time and would seem likely that Impact gets the win after being off the show and this re-establishes him on the show.
ALLIE VS TESSA BLANCHARD
Allie is from Toronto and has been a regular on shows in the city for well over a decade, I expect her to get one of the best reactions on the show.
Blanchard is the one being pushed but has already lost on television and I don’t think a loss hurts her, while Allie is going to be super popular and I wouldn’t want to give the audience a reason to see her lose if the outcome means little, which is the case in this one.
Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 at the Impact Zone
*Ortiz & Santana over Drago & El Hijo del Fantasma, Garza Jr & Laredo Kid, and Taiji Ishimori & Naomichi Marfuji to retain the GFW tag titles
*Moose & DeAngelo Williams over Eli Drake & Chris Adonis
*EC 3 over James Storm in a Strap Match
*Jeremy Borash & Joseph Park over Josh Mathews & Scott Steiner
*Eddie Edwards & Alisha Edwards over Davey Richards & Angelina Love
*Sonjay Dutt over Low Ki in a 2/3 Falls Match to retain the X Division title
*Sienna over Rosemary to unify the GFW & Impact Knockout’s titles
*Alberto El Patron over Bobby Lashley to unify the GFW & Impact Wrestling titles