Recently, I was invited by Talon Thorne to be a contributor on his new site, tnasylum.com. This is the first of what could be more entries into the asylum for me if it works out. If you like what I do here, let me know in the comments section. If this is the only time you ever see me on this site, you can check out my blog at www.TNAthreshold.blogspot.com.
Anyhoo, after my terrifying sojourn in the 4th dimension last week (long story), I had to kind of scramble to get my monthly PPV preview blog done. If you're a first time reader, this is where I analyze the entire card before the PPV and determine who should go over in each match based on the nature of the feud, who would benefit more from the win, etc.
So let's do this thing...
Brother Ray vs. Jesse Neal
Let me see a show of hands -- how many of you think "Slammiversary-worthy" when you think of this match? Hmm? None of you? Yeah, my thoughts exactly. Neal as a worker hasn't impressed me and Brother Ray as a singles wrestler doesn't interest me. Plus, this whole angle has been pretty clumsily executed with Ray turning on Neal at the drop of a hat. It just feels forced and the writers were obviously rushing it so they could set it up in time for Slammiversary, a card it doesn't even belong on in the first place. I would seriously question even putting this match on a B-PPV and I have no clue what brain trust in management thought it belonged on one of the company's biggest shows of the year. The one good thing about this feud is that it's keeping both teams out of the tag title picture, but that's not saying much.
Who should win: Jesse Neal. I really don't understand what TNA management see in Neal. He's not Rob Terry-bad or anything, but he's not great either, and that's the problem. Skill-wise, he's not at the level he should be at if he's going to be getting regular TV time. Personally, I find him really bland as a wrestler. Maybe that will change as he gains more experience, but for now I just don't think he deserves this spot.
That being said, since he's a former student of theirs, Team 3D have been bending over backwards to get this guy over and jobbing for him here would certainly help with that. Are there other young talents on the roster that would benefit a lot more from this rub? Definitely. But despite my feelings about Neal, I can't bring myself to say that he should job here. It's probably too soon and I doubt it will help him much in the long run, but TNA is at a point where they need to push the future, not the past.
Roxxi vs. Madison Rayne (c)
For once, the writers' shortsightedness and tunnel vision in the booking of the Knockouts has lead to something positive. They refused to build up any credible babyfaces other than Tara and Angelina, then Angelina got injured and Tara left the company, leaving them with no faces that hadn't been buried, which lead to the return of Roxxi. They needed someone who would be credible and get over quickly, and Roxxi certainly fits that bill. She also has loads of history with the Beautiful People, so her being quickly inserted into a feud with them made sense. She's looked very strong against them since she returned, which leads me to think Madison Rayne will retain in this match but, IMO, that would be a mistake.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Madison is a lame duck champion. She was booked as glorified enhancement talent for a year prior to winning the title, and aside from her win over Tara last month (which the writers never even bothered to milk for heel heat afterward), she has done virtually nothing to gain the credibility a viable champion needs. It was partly due to bad booking and partly due to her just not having the tools, but the bottom line is, Madison Rayne as the Knockouts champ is just not cutting it. She's a beta, not an alpha, and they need to get the title off her.
Roxxi is the only Knockout babyface on the roster right now that is both over and a credible title contender. I could see her getting passed over for the recently cleared Angelina or possible new signee, Mickie James, but both seem unlikely to me. Mickie is focused on her music career right now and it's anyone's guess whether she's even interested in getting back into wrestling at the moment, and with Lacey Von Erich teasing a face turn lately, I have a suspicion that Angelina may return as a heel and rejoin TBP, which would be for the best at this point because the current version of that faction as the top Knockout heels is a joke, plain and simple.
Who should win: Roxxi. The Knockout division needs a solid top babyface. Roxxi is over, a strong worker and she deserves a title run, even if she'd only end up keeping the belt warm for Mickie. If they're ever going to put the title on her, it should be now.
TAG TEAM TITLES
Matt Morgan and ??? vs. the Band (c)
Oh, ye Gods, what a mystery for the ages! Who will Matt Morgan's partner be? Will it be Hernandez? Will it be Joe? Is his partner on the island? Is he in limbo? Does he moonlight as a black smoke monster? The answer on all counts is a big, fat steaming pile of, "WHO GIVES A RAT'S ASS?!"
Good grief... Has this or has this not been the most flat out bizarre and ineffective hype for any PPV match in TNA's 8 year history? For the last month, Morgan has been feuding with Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle and now Hernandez. Meanwhile, the Band have been feuding with Team 3D and Ink Inc. And that would all be well and good if the tag team title match at the PPV wasn't Matt Morgan and a partner vs. the Band. For Christ's sake, these people have been feuding with everyone in the damn company EXCEPT for each other! How does that make sense? How does that hype their match? How does it get fans excited to see it in any way, shape or form?
ANYTHING would be better than this -- Morgan vs. Hernandez, Morgan vs. Joe, Scott Hall vs. sobriety, the Band vs. the lady behind the counter at the unemployment office. With all the choices available to them, why is THIS the match we're getting?
Who should win: God help us all... the Band. Morgan shouldn't be wrestling in tag teams; he should be getting a singles push. Hell, that's basically what he's been getting since he took out Hernandez. The problem was that this push involved Morgan systematically burying the tag division one team at a time. For that reason alone, he should not win those belts back.
It is surely a sign of the coming apocalypse when the Band retaining championships is the lesser of 2 evils in a match, but if anyone should beat them for those titles, it's the MOTOR CITY MACHINE GUNS, GOD DAMN IT! Sabin & Shelley are the rightful #1 contenders, and yet, for reasons I cannot even begin to understand, they seem to have fallen off the map almost entirely since they won the #1 contendership at Sacrifice. Sure, they've been winning webmatches, but so what? Webmatches have no bearing on what happens on the TV show, so the whole exorcize is pointless.
The Guns should be getting this title shot, Morgan should be in a singles match, and Hall & Nash should be as far away from championship gold AND my TV screen as humanly possible. Unfortunately, none of these things are happening. Therefore, my response to this match is 2 extended middle fingers directed straight at whichever paint-sniffing chimp in TNA management is responsible for this complete and utter desecration of booking logic.
Now that I've said all that, you're probably thinking that I wrote this after reading the spoilers and didn't bother to actually watch the go-home show before Slammiversary. Well, I did watch it. Which means that I know about the tag title match being scrapped (thank God!) in favor of Morgan vs. Hernandez. But the reason I went on that whole diatribe just now is because Morgan vs. the Band for the tag team titles is the match that TNA HAS BEEN ADVERTISING FOR THIS PPV FOR THE LAST MONTH! Yes, there was no build up, yes, they were feuding with completely different people, but the graphic was on the website. When you put the graphic on the website, you are advertising the match.
Matt Morgan vs. Hernandez
Let me make this perfectly clear. I am happy about this change. The Band are horrible and absolutely never should have been on this card in the first place. But the issue I have is how idiotically this whole thing came about. The angle where Morgan injured Hernandez was months ago and it hasn't even been mentioned in almost as long. In the mean time, Morgan buried a couple tag teams, took out a couple new partners, eventually got PWNED by Samoa Joe, causing him to lose the tag team titles when the Band cashed in Nash's Feast or Fired title shot immediately afterward, he fought with Joe some more, he fought with Kurt Angle... and now he has a match with Hernandez.
Is anyone else confused?
If they'd had Morgan continually mention how he took out Hernandez while he was gone to keep Supermex fresh in people's minds, then had Hernandez return on the show right after Sacrifice, giving them a month to build up to this, it would have been a lot more effective.
Instead, they advertised Morgan and a mystery partner facing the Band in a Slammiversary match that apparently was never going to happen and then had Morgan kill time fighting with Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle, getting his ass kicked more often than not. Why should I be excited to see Hernandez get his revenge on Morgan when Samoa Joe already steamrolled the guy? This should be a hot grudge match months in the making, and instead, Hernandez is just getting Joe's leftovers.
Whatever... At least it will be a good match, which is a hell of a lot more than it would have been if the Band had gotten this spot.
Who should win: Hernandez
Brian Kendrick vs. Douglas Williams (c)
What can you really say about this feud? Um... how about the fact that there IS no feud? Seriously, why is this match on the card? Where did it come from? Williams has barely been glimpsed since Sacrifice and, aside from the go home show, the only actual build up to this match occurred prior to that. These guys are there simply for the sake of having an X-division title defense on the card. That's it. No more, no less. It's a throwaway match with no storyline between 2 heels, one of whom has won exactly 3 matches in the last 6 months. I expect it will be a fine match, but no one is going to care about it because the writers have given us no reason to care about it.
Who should win: Douglas Williams
Desmond Wolfe vs. Abyss (w/ Chelsea)
How bad do I feel for Desmond Wolfe right now? He debuted having match of the year candidates with Kurt Angle and now he's being made the bitch of Abyssamania (ugh). You can't even call this a feud. A feud is a rivalry where the upper hand is traded back and forth and both parties get their share of victories over the other. But when one guy wins every single time, that's not a feud, that's a burial. I'd even be okay with that if it were Abyss getting buried and Wolfe being made to look like an unstoppable force of nature, but that has not been the case.
Wolfe came in first place in the fan polls while Abyss came in dead last. Wolfe is over, Abyss is not. During their match at Sacrifice, the audience crapped all over Abyss and gave Wolfe face pops. And yet Wolfe has constantly looked like a chump in this feud, while Hogan & Bischoff still refuse to accept the fact that not only is the Abyssamania gimmick not working, frankly, it's just plain stupid.
Who should win: Desmond Wolfe
Beer Money Inc. vs. Mr. Anderson & Jeff Hardy
There isn't really much to say about the build up for this match because there barely was any. It was set up so hastily because of Anderson's sudden face turn, which is one of the reasons why I thought it was a bad idea to turn him face when they did. Add that to the fact that there really isn't any reason for why these guys are fighting and this match has very little intrigue. Action-wise, it should be fun, but it really doesn't feel like it belongs on Slammiversary. It's just a way to get these guys PPV spots.
Who should win: Beer Money are TNA's biggest homegrown tag team, they're aligned with Ric Flair, and yet they've been booked like glorified jobbers for months. They should not be losing matches to the random pairing of 2 singles wrestlers, even if they are Ken Anderson & Jeff Hardy. Anderson has also lost a lot of matches lately and could really use a win, but Hardy is on trial for drug trafficking and could be going to prison in the near future. Everyone but Hardy has a reason why they should be protected. Therefore, Beer Money should go over by pinning Hardy.
Jay Lethal vs. AJ Styles
This match doesn't have an enormous amount of build up either, but it does have interesting implications. Jay Lethal has been really getting under Ric Flair's skin of late, AJ tried to take him out, but has failed to do so thus far. Said failure has fueled the growing friction between Flair & AJ, as well as played into Flair's growing interest in Kaz, who AJ sees as someone trying to usurp his position. It's actually one of the more well-crafted storylines TNA has going on right now. I know that's not saying too much, but it's true.
Who should win: Jay Lethal. Lethal would benefit greatly from a big win like this, provided the writers capitalize on it afterward (which they have a horrible track record of doing). Also, given the storyline, it makes perfect sense for him to go over. AJ looks like he's on his way out of Flair's stable and losing to Lethal here could be what finally triggers that, leading to Kaz taking his place in the group. Besides, it looks like they're going for a modern day 4 Horsemen like stable and you can't do that with 5 guys.
Kurt Angle vs. Kazarian
Even with almost no build up, I'm more excited for this match than I am for the main event. The storyline is simple, yet effective, and it's one of the few in TNA that isn't overbooked, overgimmicked or just flat out stupid. These 2 had some tremendous matches a few years ago and this should be no different.
The problem is it's easily the hardest match on the card to book. Kaz just aligned with Ric Flair's faction and he really shouldn't be losing matches right now because him looking strong plays right into Flair being impressed with him while growing dissatisfied with AJ. On the other hand, with this storyline of him working his way through the top 10 ranked heavyweights to earn a world title shot, Angle would be completely derailed if he didn't go over here. BUT... if Angle does go over, he would then move on to the man currently ranked at #9, which is Samoa Joe, and under no circumstances should Joe be losing matches too ANYONE right now, even if they are Kurt Angle.
There's just no good way out of this situation because no matter what happens, someone's credibility is going to be damaged at the worst possible time. It should be a great match, but I don't envy the person who has to book it.
Who should win: Desmond Wolfe distracts the referee and AJ Styles attempts to take out Angle, but hits Kaz by mistake, which leads to Angle getting the win. Afterward, Angle decides that he isn't done with Kaz yet because by not winning clean, he doesn't feel like he earned the victory, and thus demands a future rematch.
Yeah, yeah, I know it's another cheap, overbooked finish that would probably piss people off, especially at one of the 'Big 4' PPVs where you expect finality rather than continuation. But honestly, TNA booked themselves into a corner on this one, and this is the only way I can think of that doesn't hurt someone who needs to be kept looking strong right now.
This way Kaz's loss can be blamed on AJ, which keeps Flair happy with him and angry with Styles, Angle gets the win, but not in such a way that derails Kaz or leaves Kurt satisfied enough to move on to the next opponent on his list yet, we delay Angle vs. Joe by giving Angle a reason to go after AJ & Wolfe next instead, and we prolong the Angle/Kaz program, setting up a rematch, which would be awesome if their past matches were any indication. And all it would take is another cheap-as-hell finish that would probably result in most of the fans at home spitting obscenities as they chuck their TV sets out a second story window...
Like I said, it's a hard freaking match to book.
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
Sting vs. Rob Van Dam (c)
If I could write "I don't care" in every written language in recorded human history just to make it abundantly clear exactly how much I DO-NOT-CARE about this match, I would. It's a guy who is way too old and has declined as a worker far too much to be in the main events, who already passed the torch to the next generation last year AND received very few votes in the online fan poll vs. a man who was given the world title as a ratings ploy and then failed to deliver ratings, becoming the least watched world champion in the history of iMPACT. We haven't even gotten an explanation yet for why Sting turned heel, for God's sake! But for some reason, THIS is what the writers decided to give us instead of the King of the Mountain match.
Does anyone else hear crickets?
The fans made their voices heard in the online poll -- Sting is just not a draw anymore, despite what TNA management think. Rob Van Dam has failed to deliver the ratings his title reign was meant to draw and he's only been in the company a few months. Neither one of these guys should be in this spot, IMO.
It's probably not going to be a very good match due to Sting being pretty limited physically at this point. The build up has felt half-assed, due in large part to Van Dam's poor mic skills and the writers' stubborn refusal to establish any clear motivations for Sting. So the feud has been subpar and it's more than likely that the match will be of similar quality. This is one of TNA's biggest PPVs of the entire year; we shouldn't be wondering whether or not the main event will even be any good!
Who should win: Rob Van Dam. Van Dam can't talk, but he can still work a good match. Sting can't. You can at least make an argument for why RVD belongs in this spot. With Sting, you can't even do that much; he doesn't belong there. Period. And like I said earlier, it's way passed time for TNA to start pushing their future, and that includes accepting the fact that the time of Sting and guys like him (Hogan, Nash, Hall, Waltman, Jarret, etc) is over.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Damn, this is a weird card. Some of the matches I'm excited to see, some of them I'm not. The tag title match being replaced by Morgan vs. Hernandez is a massive upgrade, but even that match is hurt by the utterly incomprehensible and ridiculously ineffective way the writers chose to build up to it.
Once again, the hype for this PPV has been pretty lackluster and, in some cases, just plain embarrassing. It could very well turn out to be a good show, but I'm looking at this card on paper right now and it just doesn't feel like Slammiversary to me. It's like an omen foretelling imminent doom when your main event looks like one of the weakest matches on the entire card.
As always, I will hope for the best, but TNA has been making that pretty hard lately. There just isn't enough motivation for me to shell out my hard-earned money for this PPV. Yeah, I'll watch it, but unless I have a last minute change of heart, I'll be watching it off my computer screen on Monday.