Impact Slammiversary 2020 REVIEW – A New Future?

The new blood made a big impression at Slammiversary.

Slammiversary 2020
Slammiversary 2020

The nucleus of this PPV began in 2018, when Impact Wrestling announced the hiring of Scott D’Amore and Don Callis as their new Executive Vice Presidents. Both men joined Ed Nordholm as the new committee in charge of the company’s creative direction and would work on revitalising a company that had suffered a decline in popularity. Since then, they have engineered a partnership with Twitch, focused on new wrestlers such as Santana and Ortiz of Latin American Xpress, Pentagon and Fenix, and Brian Cage, and even put on some of their best PPVs in their history, including 2018’s edition of Slammiversary.

In the build-up for this year’s Slammiversary, Impact Wrestling created unparalleled expectation with their hints of returning superstars, culminating with a surprise reveal of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows signing with the company. Unsurprisingly, the PPV itself kicks off with the promos that had built up the buzz, hinting they are neither good nor bad, and the fact the main event will feature a surprise individual. The opening package mentions how all ‘five’ titles are on the line tonight, citing it as an “historical night”, ending on a shot of a figure from behind in a hoodie, with a child’s voiceover mentioning “I’m scared”. Damn, that was a good hype package, as our announcers Josh Matthews and Don Callis welcome us.

Tag Team Open Challenge Match

The Rascalz vs Motor City Machine Guns

In a huge shocker, the Motor City Machine Guns have returned to Impact Wrestling. Former Impact Tag Team Champions who disbanded in 2018 after Shelley retired, both men are also alumni of the X-Division. The Rascalz are shocked in a moment that would have been very deserving of an excited crowd. Wentz and Shelley kick this match off, as Matthews mentions Callis’ audio headset is getting fixed (I did think Callis had been quiet), just as Callis mentions this is a dream match of his. Dez and Sabin tag in as the feeling out period continues.

Callis mentions how The Rascalz base themselves on the high-flying, fast-paced, intricate tag style MCMG pioneered. Wentz and Dez display better teamwork as the possible ring rust of MCMG currently affects them. The younger team are cutting Sabin off, Shelley interfering against Wentz to turn the tide of the match, both Rascalz left on the floor outside. A cocky Shelley antagonises Wentz before double teaming him for a two count, Machine Guns completely in control.

Wentz attempts to battle back but takes a Double Forearm to the neck, with a desperate Springboard Jumping Knee to Shelley to give himself an opening. Matthews mentions that #Slammiversary is trending second worldwide just as Dez and Sabin both get tagged in. Dez sends Sabin into Shelley and hits a gorgeous dropkick to Sabin, before launching off Sabin to knock Shelley off. Blind tag from Shelley but his arrogance leads to him getting taken into the Rascalz’s corner, who double-team with a hip toss dropkick to both Machine Gun members. Wentz with a Superkick to Shelley, who is held up by Dez’s knees, Wentz hitting a second rope dropkick to Shelley, Sabin breaks the count at two.

Codebreaker from Wentz to remove Sabin, and Shelley is at the mercy of the Rascalz. Wentz with a Swanton Bomb but the veteran Shelley gets his knees up after playing possum. Dez tries to cut off Shelley, who hits a release German Suplex to Dez and makes a laboured tag. Sabin up top, missile dropkick to the back of Dez’s head, Shelley Superkick/Sabin Forearm double team to Dez, Wentz kicks away. Sabin suplex lifts Dez onto Shelley’s shoulders, combination Shelley front suplex/Sabin Cutter, cover, one, two, and Wentz pushes Shelley to break the cover.
All four men struggle up as Sabin holds his knee, Wentz caught with some classic Machine Gun double teams, who hit the ASCS Rush (Sabin Enziguri/Shelley Superkick combo). Dirt Bomb on Dez, and the returning veterans get the three count.

Winner: The Motor City Machine Guns
Grade: B-

A good choice for the opener as it hopefully set the tone for the evening with a huge surprise return from one of the best tag teams in TNA history. The match started slowly as the Machine Guns got comfortable but picked up pace with good displays of tag team manoeuvres from both sides. MCMG demonstrated slightly more heelish antics, as well as some veteran tendencies that outsmarted their younger opponents, although their victory was a slight surprise. This leads me to believe that MCMG are here for the long run. I do think this bout missed the crowd interaction that elevates this style of match, but it was a solid opening match that would have popped the crowd tremendously.

‘Old School Rules’ Match – TNA World Heavyweight Championship

Moose (c) vs. Tommy Dreamer

Your eyes do not deceive you, the TNA World Heavyweight Championship is being featured. Former NFL player Moose arrogantly resurrected the TNA World Heavyweight Title when Tessa Blanchard was unable to defend her Impact World Championship at Rebellion. This match is based on respect, Dreamer cutting an excellent promo on how Moose has all the talent and no passion for the business, purely in wrestling for the money. Impact does have a habit of including a surprising amount of veterans (Rob Van Dam, Dreamer, etc) in big matches, but the story here makes sense. Moose enters the match looking like a million bucks, having the referee open the ropes and remove his robe, clad in gold.

Matthews mentions that #Slammiversary is now ranked first in the world, thanking the fans as Moose is declared a ‘Wrestling God’. Moose quickly manhandles Dreamer with his speed and power, including a kip-up. Dreamer quickly resorts to his only strengths against Moose, violence and heart, bringing in a trashcan lid and chair to equal the playing field. Callis explains that Dreamer’s shirt, ‘Moose Sucks Eggs’, references a classic Terry Funk shirt, evoking the history of Dreamer’s mentor. This is also a clever subtle reference to Funk’s later years, where he would focus on a hardcore style to put over his opponents, which Dreamer successfully did at Slammiversary 2018 with Eddie Edwards.

Moose is a tremendous trash talker very akin to Kevin Owens where he continuously lambasts Dreamer as he introduces a kendo stick. Dreamer attempts to use the kendo stick by jumping off the second rope, but Moose hits a gorgeously agile dropkick, planting his boots into Dreamer’s left cheek. Moose follows up with a dropkick into a garbage can over Dreamer’s head, proclaiming this “is so damn easy”. Moose cockily attempts a Springboard Splash, but Dreamer reverses with a Cutter onto the trashcan. Moose covers, one, two, th-Moose just kicks out. Dreamer brings a chair in, but Moose drop toe holds him onto the edge of the chair, again to the left cheek of Dreamer, it looks like his face is starting to swell.

Callis mentions that Moose is always distracted by showing up his opponent, that a coach or manager could help direct him to better heights for his career. Moose Rock Bottoms Dreamer onto a pile of chairs and hits a Standing Moonsault — the sight of a 6’5 man performing that is amazing. Moose misses a second rope Moonsault onto the chairs, and Dreamer hits a DDT, one, two, thr—again Moose just kicks out, and Moose’s arrogance could cost him at this rate. Dreamer pours out some thumbtacks, and a Desperate Moose avoids a Piledriver by low blowing Dreamer, proclaiming he’ll end Dreamer’s career.

A terrifying moment as Moose pushes Dreamer towards the thumbtacks, his eye literally inches from them, until Moose trashes ECW, and Dreamer starts to power up. Dreamer gets thrown face first into the thumbtacks, horrific sounds of pain from Dreamer. Moose hits the Lights Out Spear, and it’s all over.

Winner: Moose
Grade: C-

This match was definitely more story driven than anything else, Dreamer now aged 49 and having to hide his limitations in hardcore matches. However, this match was purely to put over Moose’s character and ability, possibly as an attempt to introduce him to any new fans watching. The match itself was very middle of the road, nothing that special, but it achieved its goals.

#1 Contender’s Gauntlet Match for the Knockout Championship

A clever attempt by Impact to highlight their strong Knockouts Division, the first two contestants are two new members in Tasha Steelz and the ever-adorable Kylie Rae; wonderful to see her back in wrestling after her recent issues.

These two will wrestle for two minutes before the third entry enters, then a new entrant every minute in an over-the-top-rope battle royal until the final two contestants, at which point it becomes a normal singles match. This is a match type that has been a mainstay of Impact and TNA since the very first PPV in 2002, as Rae and Steelz jockey for position.

  1. Tasha Steelz
  2. Kylie Rae
  3. Meant to be ‘Taya Valkyrie’, the former longest reigning Knockouts Champion in history at 377 days, but her lackey John E. Bravo comes out instead dressed as her. Rae and Steelz separate in disgust before throwing Bravo out, with David Penzer announcing that Valkyrie has been eliminated. Rae’s offer of a high five is denied by Steelz.
  4. Recent debutant Kimber Lee enters the ring. Lee quickly takes control with backbreakers and suplexes on both women, until a big boot from Steelz.
  5. Kiera Hogan, who may have a partnership with best friend Steelz, with Lee unsuccessfully trying to join Hogan and Steelz as they take control.
  6. Susie, a former Knockouts Champion who recently converted from her character of Su Yung, a monster bride with ghostly bridesmaid followers. Susie quickly rushes in and starts protecting her new friend, Kyle Rae, making that two tag teams featuring in this match, as Matthews mentions #Slammiversary is still ranked number one. Susie and Rae end up eliminating Steelz after a Rae Superkick sends Steelz off the top rope, Susie and Rae celebrating.
  7. Katie Forbes, mostly known for over-the-top make-out sessions with real life boyfriend Rob Van Dam. Announced as residing in ‘Twerk City’, hopefully Forbes can change my current perception with a good showing in this match. Hogan tries making friends with Forbes as they twerk together, but Forbes ends up betraying her anyway.
  8. Former Knockouts Champion Madison Rayne, recently leaving the announce table to return to the ring, quickly comes to blows with Hogan.
  9. Former Knockouts Champion Havok, a disconcerting presence with a facemask and a snarl, she might be a gamechanger. Havok wipes out Forbes, Lee, Hogan, Susie, and Kyle Rae, with Madison Rayne leaving the ring for safety.
  10. Taya Valkyrie enters in a Captain Hook guise, officially entering the match.
  11. Alisha Edwards, who goes straight for Susie, Kylie Rae and Valkyrie, and there are still nine of the eleven entrants in the ring, Rae nearing twelve minutes from the beginning.
  12. Havok’s long term tag team partner Nevaeh enters, making her PPV debut, and that makes it the third team in this match, with Matthews mentioning possibly bringing back the Knockouts Tag Team Championship. 
  13. Former Knockouts Champion Rosemary enters the ring next, instantly focusing on Susie, helped by her teammate Valkyrie, which makes it four teams in this match. Susie is eliminated just as Rosemary’s music starts up again?
  14.  John E. Bravo dressed as ‘Rosemary’ this time.

Bravo enters the ring, with Valkyrie and Rosemary beginning to argue over him, bringing them to blows. Bravo eliminates Havok, before being eliminated himself by Kylie Rae. Madison Rayne tries taking advantage, and Kylie Rae eliminates her too; a bit of a shock.

Nevaeh and Kimber Lee are on the outside, as is Alisha Edwards. Lee pushes Nevaeh into Edwards and both women fall to the floor eliminated. Hogan gets eliminated by Rosemary, and now it’s Kylie Rae, Kimber Lee, Taya Valkyrie and Rosemary in the final four. Rae and Lee are against the team of Rosemary and Valkyrie, but Lee quickly turns on Rae, leading to Rae eliminating Lee and left alone against the team of Rosemary and Valkyrie.

At this point, I have to believe a live crowd would be cheering for Rae as she has put in a good babyface performance since the very beginning. Rosemary tries choking Rae on the ropes, only for Valkyrie to erroneously eliminate Rosemary, and we are down to two Knockouts.

Kylie Rae vs. Taya Valkyrie

Rosemary is furious at Taya as the referee enters the ring as Rae displays some tremendous babyface fire, quickly hits a Canadian Destroyer and Superkick, covers Taya, and gets the victory.

Winner: Kylie Rae
Grade: C

Absolutely the right choice for the winner, Rae has returned to wrestling as a strong fan favourite who battled from first position and wins is a feel-good moment. Callis admitting afterwards he’s not sure if Rae could defeat Grace or Purrazzo paints her as an underdog. However, Rae’s happy demeanour hides a passionate wrestler with impressive ability.

The ending was a little sudden, but ties well into Valkyrie’s natural arrogance. The Bravo moments were unnecessary, but the Gauntlet did allow the Knockouts Division to demonstrate their depth. The mention of the Knockouts Tag Team Championship could be a likely attempt to see if there is any interest in bringing them back. Overall, the Gauntlet told a good story, highlighted the growing teams in the division, gave opportunities to new members such as Kimber Lee, and had a happy ending.

As Don Callis is telling Matthews that Kylie Rae may be too nice to have the killer instinct against Grace or Purrazzo, Heath Slater in a ‘Free Agent’ shirt appears from behind them. To their surprise, Slater enters the ring, suggesting his best friend Rhino may join him to challenge for the Tag Team Championship, or maybe he should take the spot in the main event? Heath is interrupted by Rohit Raju, who believes he has been there too long to be replaced by someone like Heath, who makes short work of him before leaving the ring. The surprises keep on coming tonight, with Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Motor City Machine Guns and Heath all having joined so far.

X-Division Championship Match

Willie Mack (c) vs. Chris Bey

Willie Mack has been a great inclusion to the Impact roster since his debut, building on his performances for Lucha Underground to become a fan favourite. He’s been recently frustrated by Bey’s arrogance, who has stolen pinfall victories over Mack. Johnny Swinger has recently joined Impact Wrestling supporting Bey, promising him to become X-Division Champion. However, Swinger recently overhead Bey admitting he was using him, and Swinger would lie to Bey that he was banned from ringside.

The two men instantly trash talk and start throwing hands, both showing off to one another, Mack with an elevated Lou Thesz Press to send Bey outside. Bey is cocky and smooth as he avoids Mack, who hits a vicious jumping Neckbreaker off the apron. Mack with a Fallaway Slam, kip-up and Standing Moonsault combo for a two count, a gorgeous passage of moves. Bey is utilising his pace to slow Mack down, but all it takes is one hard hitting kick or forearm for Mack to get back in control.

Slingshot Sling Blade from Bey gets a two count, and Bey is focusing his attack on Mack’s upper back and neck as he trash talks the champion. The animosity is coming through in this back and forth battle, Mack reversing a dive from Bey to hit a Sit-Out Spinebuster, both men are suffering from their attacks on one another’s neck. They beat the ten count and Mack starts to unleash clotheslines and spinning back elbows to wear down Bey’s neck, some vicious hits. Bey reverses an Exploder Suplex with a roll-up for a two-count, but Mack gets it the second time with Bey crumpling upside down in the corner, close two count for the champion.

The announcers discuss how Bey may want to quit to save his neck, but all the surprise debuts could make it harder for him to get another chance, a great point that reignites the mystery for tonight and enforces why Bey would continue. Bey hangs Mack in a Tree of Woe and hits a hard dropkick to Mack’s back, who is rocked by a Code Red for another close two count. Suddenly, Mack hits a Stunner, and climbs up top for the Six Star Frog Splash, Bey avoids it, Mack runs at him and Bey accidentally bumps into the referee, blinding him. Bey with a thumb to Mack’s eye and Springboard Crucifix Pin/Bomb, Bey hits a huge Springboard Cutter, Mack landing on the top of his head. Bey covers, and we have a new X-Division Champion.

Winner: Chris Bey
Grade: B-

A hard hitting encounter between two young individuals who share a mutual animosity and all the potential for the future. A good match for the new style of the X-Division, featuring the agility of two contrasting wrestlers in the small Bey and much larger Mack, who could go on to be a main event talent.

The match itself didn’t hit that third gear to make it that much better, but it was a good showcase for both men. I enjoyed the story they told about the big risky Neckbreaker early on affecting them both, becoming almost an endurance test to see who could survive longer. In the end, Bey was able to accomplish his victory without the assistance of Swinger and got a big win over Mack, starting his reign off strongly. Good story with the animosity between the two and the impressive performances from both.

Backstage, Heath had a warm reunion with his good friend Rhino, before being interrupted by Scott D’Amore. D’Amore says he’s happy to give the two a few moments to catch up, but because of the recent pandemic and Heath not being an official member of the roster (the “hottest free agent” as Heath referred to himself), D’Amore needs Heath to leave the building shortly. I liked this moment as it demonstrated some aspects of continuity that is sometimes missed, bringing Rhino and Heath together while bringing up the closed set. The segment ends with Rhino telling Heath to show up at the tapings and he’ll sort everything out.

Impact Tag Team Championship Match

The North (c) vs. Sami Callihan & Ken Shamrock

The North have been champions for 380+ days and, prior to the surprise appearance of the Motor City Machine Guns earlier this evening, were the only team in the division to hold the championships. Shamrock was the inaugural TNA World Champion, winning it in the first ever Gauntlet match (although at the time it was the for the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship) and was recently announced as a future Impact Hall Of Famer. Callihan and he feuded earlier in the year, but their hatred for each other is eclipsed by their mutual respect. Due to this, when Shamrock began feuding with the tag champions, Callihan came to his aid, but even before the match, there’s still issues between the two.

Alexander quickly tackles Shamrock down, who nearly hooks the arm, transitioning into an Ankle Lock. Callihan and Shamrock start to take control of Page in their corner, as Callis admits that the two could be a very capable tag team, except they may turn on each other any second. Alexander gets a blind tag, only to run into a Shamrock fist. Every time The North start to get control on Shamrock, he explodes on both and tags in the even more maniacal Callihan.

First close pinfall attempt when Callihan hits a Brainbuster on Page, his arrogant cover making it easier for Page to kick out. Callihan gets distracted by Alexander and suddenly The North are in control, attempting to cut the ring off. Callihan begs ‘The Walking Weapon’ Alexander to hit him, which he gleefully does. Callihan tries battling back against Page, who blocks off the tag to Shamrock, until Page and Sami both boot each other down. Tags to Shamrock and Alexander, as Shamrock is a house on fire against both champions, throwing them around with reckless abandon.

Callihan tagged back in, tries a roll-up and Alexander can’t tag out. Callihan goes up top in the corner and is caught by Page, The North are back on top. Shamrock tagged in and he sends Alexander over the top rope with an Overhead Belly-To-Belly Suplex, then Page tries to kick Shamrock but is caught with the Ankle Lock. Alexander desperately runs in and gets his own Ankle Lock on Callihan, antagonising Shamrock. Callihan rolls out but accidentally sends Alexander into Shamrock, breaking both holds.

Page’s knee gives way as Shamrock gets an Anklelock on Alexander, Callihan trying to cut off Page but gets shoved into the back of Shamrock, breaking the hold again. Shamrock questions Callihan, and the two start arguing, Alexander tries to take advantage and runs into a GTS from Callihan, back kick from Shamrock and a Callihan Piledriver, cover by Sami and Page breaks it at two, with Shamrock just watching. Page staggers to the outside, where Callihan wipes him out, he climbs up next to Alexander, who ducks a Shamrock kick and Callihan is hit by Shamrock. This powder keg is seconds from exploding, as Shamrock catches Alexander up top and hits a huge Belly-To-Belly Suplex off the top rope.

Alexander rolls to the outside, with Shamrock trying to dive on him but Page saves Alexander, leaving Shamrock crashing and burning. The North hit a Double Neutralizer (Cesaro’s finisher but with both members hitting it), and Callihan is too slow to make the save.

Winners: The North
Grade: B

Shamrock and Callihan made an impressive attempt, as individuals they regularly bested The North during the match, but the better team would take the victory. The overall storyline was that of Callihan and Shamrock’s lack of experience as a team leading to mistakes, which would eventually distract them enough that The North could take advantage. An enjoyable tag team match that had all four men looking impressive, and a believable finish that played to the strengths of the champions.

If Shamrock and Callihan were to continue as a team, it could help utilise Shamrock in a way that hides the slight loss of explosiveness he once possessed, considering he’s 56 years old. Meanwhile, The North demand their opponents leave, and lament how when they reached one calendar year as Tag Team Champions, nobody asked them for comment.

They mention how they decimated an entire division (including LAX, The Rascalz, Rich Swan & Willie Mack, Reno Scum, Rhino & RVD) and they are the greatest tag team in Impact Wrestling history. And with those badly chosen words, out come the MCMG, offering respect but disputing their claims, informing The North in a huge announcement that a match has been signed between the two teams for Tuesday’s episode of Impact.

Impact Knockouts Championship Match

Jordynne Grace (c) vs. Deonna Purrazzo

‘The Virtuosa’ was a surprising choice to be cut from WWE earlier this year, and quickly made an impact by attacking Grace on her debut. Since then, Purrazzo would regularly attack Grace and lock in her Fujiwara Armbar finisher, making an enemy of the champion. Purrazzo annoys Grace by telling her to calm down, which riles Grace up just as Purrazzo drops to the outside, an obvious game plan from the challenger. Grace twice overpowers Purrazzo to the outside, with Purrazzo using every second to her advantage.

Grace gets a head of steam with several suplexes, cutting off Purrazzo’s third exit with a suicide dive and punches galore to the challenger’s head. Purrazzo turns the tide with stomps and kicks to Grace’s left arm, not only for her own finisher but to remove Grace’s power-based offence. A series of short-arm Clotheslines knocks Grace down, as the pressure on her left shoulder is intensified by Purrazzo, but Grace uses her power to roll out of a Fujiwara Armbar attempt. Unfortunately, this leaves Grace open for a Cross Armbreaker from Purrazzo, some vicious kicks to Purrazzo’s face in an attempt to escape, eventually claiming the ropes.

Grace is fighting one-armed, trying to utilise shoulder blocks and a Senton for a two count, but the whimpers and cries of agony from Grace show that Purazzo’s game plan is working. Both women battle for control, Purrazzo with a roll-up that gets a two count but leaves her open for a Grace Sleeperhold in the middle of the ring. Purrazzo rolls back into a pinning predicament a la Piper/Bret Hart at WrestleMania, Grace kicks out at two, and follows up with a Clothesline in the corner, before stretching Purrazzo around the turnbuckle with a bow-and-arrow.

Grace tries slapping some feeling into the left arm but Purrazzo catches her and drops the left arm onto the top rope, Grace battling back with forearms and an attempted Grace Driver. Grace didn’t catch it properly and Purrazzo is able to kick out at two, the left arm starting to let Grace down. Grace attempts a suplex, Purrazzo drops into a Triangle Chokehold, Grace cleverly gets Purrazzo into a pinning predicament, but she kicks out at two and walks into a Grace Spinebuster, both women are down. The referee counts as both women get to their knees, exchange forearms and kicks, Grace with two large slams, but Purrazzo reverses the third into a German Suplex, Grace returning the favour with one of her own. Purrazzo pump kick, and a kick to the left arm, hits the Pendulum for a close two count.

Purrazzo up first as Grace stays down, Grace slams Purrazzo face first into the corner and hits a Double Knees to the back of the head, spinning uppercut and a Vader-Bomb earning Grace a close two count. Champion goes for the Grace Driver, elbows to the back of Purrazzo’s head as she fights back, Purrazzo with a Jackknife Cover for a two count, Grace transitions into a Powerbomb attempt, but the challenger gets a Double Fujiwara Armbar locked in, and the champion verbally submits.

Winner: Deonna Purrazzo
Grade: B

A cracking match, physically hard hitting in a tremendous back and forth contest. Purrazzo demonstrated a vicious edge to her style, utilising an intelligent game plan that not only allowed her to plan for her finisher, but hindered her opponent. Grace put on a strong attempt to defend her championship, with some subtle selling throughout to demonstrate the effect on her arm, especially considering the attacks she had suffered in the lead up. This even played into the nearfall with Grace hitting her finisher, but the weakened left arm meant she couldn’t hit it properly.

It was surprising to see Purrazzo win the championship so quickly, but the victory by Rae suggested that Purrazzo might win as it offers a good contrast in opponents. There’s definitely potential for a rematch, or we could see Grace transition into a Tessa Blanchard-esque figure, her experience of intergender wrestling making her quite suitable. Either way, a tremendously put together story, the viciousness of the Double Fujiwara Armbar meant Grace lost nothing in defeat, in fact it put over Purrazzo even more. And with that, it’s time for our main event.

Impact World Championship Match

Fatal Five-Way

Ace Austin w/ Madman Fulton vs. Trey vs. Eddie Edwards vs. Rich Swann vs. Eric Young

There’s a lot of history to this match. Firstly, Blanchard was meant to defend her Impact World Championship against Michael Elgin and Edwards at Rebellion 2020, but made a decision to not show up. This actually led to Moose competing against Hernandez and Elgin instead, ‘winning’ the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. In the build-up to Slammiversary, there was an eight man tournament for the #1 Contendership, won by Ace Austin in the final against Trey. However, Trey was actually attacked prior to this match and was substituted by his Rascalz teammate Wentz, which tainted the result.

With Elgin and Edwards both still wanting their title shot they were owed from Rebellion 2020, it was announced by D’Amore that there would be a Fatal Five-Way match with Tessa defending against Edwards, Elgin, Trey and Austin. Unfortunately, that was also ruined when Tessa refused to send in promos from home to help build the match. In the end, a fed-up Impact decided to cut their losses and terminate her contract, vacating the championship in the process. Coupled with allegations against Elgin, both competitors were removed from the match and it was changed to a Fatal Four-Way match.

Austin is a supremely cocky former X-Division Champion who is actually compared to AJ Styles in the promo package as he aims to become the youngest ever Impact World Champion at just 23. Trey is a member of The Rascalz, currently getting a strong push into the main event with the support of his two partners Dez and Wentz. Edwards is a former Impact World Champion who was almost blinded in a feud with Callihan, during which he metamorphosed from a slightly bland technical wrestler into a crazed brawler.

To a big surprise, out comes Rich Swann throwing his crutches away, a former X-Division Champion who suffered a horrendous leg injury nine months ago. I admit, a well Deserved opportunity for 2019’s Wrestler of The Year, but slightly underwhelming…until former Impact World Champion Eric Young suddenly appears. He reveals that this match is now a Fatal Five-Way elimination match, and Trey goes straight for Austin, who hides behind Fulton on the outside. After Fulton Chokeslams Edwards onto the apron, the referee tells Austin to send Fulton away, or he’ll be disqualified.

With Fulton sent back, it’s now an equal field, with Young demonstrating he hasn’t lost a step as he takes out Austin. At one point, Edwards Powerbombs Swann into Young, with Young getting a mild cut above his left eye. Trey finally gets a chance to attack Austin, his hatred for Ace ever since Austin attacked Trey’s mum, but it may become a distraction for Trey at some point. This main event has two former main eventers but also three young talents who have really impressed over the last year, with Trey even hitting a Suicide Dive into a Code Red on Swann on the outside, leaving both men worse for wear.

The transitions in this match are fantastic, two men regularly having one or two others get involved. This leads to Edwards hitting a Tiger Driver on Austin, only for Trey to hit a Double Knees off the top rope and roll into a Spike Piledriver by Young, with Trey being eliminated. Trey’s determination to eliminate Austin left him open to a blindside from the veteran Young, and just like that, Trey is eliminated. Young is now in control of the match as the blood is on his face, telling Swann to stay down. This is the first time the pace has slowed, with Swann and Young in the ring as Swann reverses into a Bulldog to Young off the second rope.

As Swann and Young take a breather, Edwards and Austin start battling in the opposite corner, Edwards attempting a Superplex onto the apron, only for Swann to get involved. However, Young catches him in a Powerbomb position, running Swann into Austin and Edwards, sending both men through the timekeeper’s table. Young is in complete control as he preys on Swann, who falls several times when Young attempts a Piledriver, only for Swann to counter into a roll-up and gets the three count. Swann can barely celebrate before a maniacal Young attacks Swann’s injured right leg and then stamps a chair over it, Swann screaming in pain.

Young finishes with a chair shot to Swann’s leg, before being forced to leave, leaving Swann in agony in the middle of the ring. Austin tries to take advantage, only for Swann to almost get the three count with an Inside Cradle and a Backslide. Swann’s refusal to give up told a great story, but Austin continued to attack the leg, finally hitting his finisher The Fold (running Blockbuster) to eliminate the valiant efforts of Rich Swann. We are down to two men, the veteran Eddie Edwards and the upstart Ace Austin.

As Swann is struggling up the ramp, Edwards and Austin get to their feet in opposite corners, as Callis and Matthews mention how Austin once tried to end Edwards’ marriage to Alisha last year. Edwards has never beaten Austin in the two matches they’ve had, as the two exchange shots in a slugfest. Edwards pummels Austin’s chest with chops galore, Austin crumbling to the floor. Austin utilises his speed and quick feet to give himself some space, but Edwards hits an Overhead Belly-To-Belly Suplex into the corner and follows with his Boston Knee Party, one, two, thr-Austin kicks out and Edwards is shocked.

With Edwards briefly shocked, Austin hits The Fold, one, two, th-Edwards kicks out, and now it’s Austin’s turn to be shocked. Attempted Corkscrew Senton, Edwards moves, hits the Boston Knee Party and follows up with a Diehard Implosion, covers, one, two, three, and Edwards has done it.

Winner: Eddie Edwards

Grade: B+

Straight after, Madman Fulton attacks Edwards, only for The Good Brothers to hit the stage. They stand opposite an uncertain Fulton and Austin, with Anderson and Gallows faking a partnership before hitting a Stun Gun on Austin while Edwards knocks Fulton out the ring. Magic Killa on Austin, and the new champion drinks beers celebrating with Anderson and Gallows.

They’re suddenly interrupted by three scratch marks on the Impact titantron, before revealing a man in a hoodie, who turns out to be EC3 staring at the screen as the camera cuts off. What a cliffhanger.

This match was built in three stages, the first act was full of pace, multi-men moves and nonstop action, ending when Trey was eliminated. The second act was more story-driven, encompassing Young’s viciousness, the attack on Swann and Austin taking advantage. This culminated in a third act built on a year of history between Edwards and Austin, the manipulative bastard who Edwards never defeated and almost lost his marriage because of. This would lead to a feelgood victory for Edwards, who joined TNA in 2014 and has stayed with them through their recent tumultuous history, very well deserved.

The surprise appearances of both Swann, who hinted at his return earlier in the evening after nine months injured and two surgeries, and Young after his release from WWE, were two tremendous inclusions to the main event. Young offered a good veteran presence who mercilessly eliminated Trey and was arrogant with Swann, whose never-say-die attitude helped eliminate Young. The attack on Swann sets up Young as a vicious heel in the main event scene, two ready-made feuds with both Trey and Swann after this match. Swann especially has a good chance at gaining a lot from a feud with a talented all-rounder like Young.

There’s also really good potential for Edwards as champion, who could defend the title against former rivals such as Callihan, Moose and Austin, as well as his opponents in this match. This doesn’t even include the shocking reveal of EC3, who would be a great inclusion in the main event scene.

Slammiversary 2020: Final Thoughts

Show Grade: B-

Impact Wrestling worked hard over the last two months to create interest in their PPV, using smart marketing to generate word of mouth anticipation. Over the last two months, multiple names were suggested, and theories were raised about who could be appearing. The pressure could have overwhelmed the company, but instead they used the momentum to create some engrossing television, even if having to work around the issues caused by Elgin and Blanchard. Slammiversary 2020 was surprisingly consistent throughout, no out-and-out classics but apart from Moose against Dreamer, the quality was solid and stepped up to good in the last few matches.

With the inclusion of surprise returns from Young, EC3 and the MCMG, and the debuts of The Good Brothers and Heath, there was a real unpredictability throughout the show. This created an exciting anticipation that was sustained with ease, the only real disappointing aspect was that it couldn’t have occurred in front of an audience. A rampant Impact audience would have created an amazing atmosphere that could have elevated the entire show. Despite that unfortunate loss, the in-ring quality was rewarding enough, and with the consistency of ratings, this may not be a classic show, but is definitely worth a watch.

The best part for Impact is that they have given new fans legitimate reasons to return for their upcoming episode on Tuesday with the multiple announcements and stories created on the PPV. We have The North defending their Tag Team Championships against MCMG, Heath as a free agent, and Grace and Mack probably looking for rematches against Purrazzo and Bey. We also have the growing schism between Rosemary and Taya, as well as Callihan and Shamrock, and the repercussions of Young’s attack on Swann. For an event that was trending #1 in the world throughout the show, Impact not only rewarded those who gave them a chance, but just like EC3, Young, Shelley and Sabin, they gave you a reason to want to come back.

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