All the major IMPACT Wrestling titles were on the line at Slammiversary with Shelley-Aldis, Purrazzo-Trinity and plenty more.
After a really strong build up for most of the main matches, Impact brought one of their big PPVs to Canada on Saturday. I was excited for the show because I felt that all of the matches on the main card had the potential to entertain, and that the four main championship matches could be really strong contests. The two major championship matches had been built up really well, with Alex Shelley vs Nick Aldis given plenty of air time over the last month. An Aldis heel turn a few weeks ago gave the feud a defined face vs heel dynamic which I think helps make main event bouts much stronger. On the women’s side, Trinity had really impressed in her opening weeks as an Impact performer and was to face Deonna Purrazzo for the Knockouts’ Championship. Purrazzo’s reign had been good but not great so far, after some underwhelming matches against Jordynne Grace so I was hoping for a standout performance here against Trinity. I will be reviewing the matches as summary style, with play-by-play for the two matches mentioned above.
Countdown to Slammiversary Pre-Show
Match #1: 6 Person Tag Team Match: Gisele Shaw, Jai Vidal & Savannah Evans vs Jody Threat and The Death Dollz (Courtney Rush & Jessicka)
Gisele and friends came out to new music which sucks in comparison to her old theme. The crowd is loud and excited and there are yellow ring ropes for reasons unknown. Threat’s undefeated streak ended on Thursday when she lost a Knockouts’ Championship match to Deonna Purrazzo. It was a completely unnecessary time to end her streak and not the right time for her to challenge for the main title in her division. It was simply stupid booking. Lazy too. The match here was pretty basic with Rush being isolated for the majority by the heels and Threat getting the hot tag. Rush tagged back in and hit the spear on Vidal to get some revenge and win the match for her team after 8-minutes. I have to take a half-star off because it had the Death Dollz in the match.
Winners by pinfall: Jody Threat & The Death Doll (Match Rating: **)
Match #2: Impact Digital Media Championship: Joe Hendry (c) vs Kenny King w/ Sheldon Jean
This was one of the matches that I was looking forward to the most on the show. I was disappointed for them because I believe (get it?) that it deserved to be on the main card, as it’s been given plenty of TV time and the crowd has been reacting well to the feud. King is a tremendous athlete and Hendry is very easy to like as the goofy babyface who does lame stuff to make the crowd laugh. At one-point King choked Hendry out with a bow-tie that Jean slipped him- making a mockery of the chants that have followed him over the last month. Hendry added to the fun of the match by mocking King’s alleged dance moves. Hendry hit the Standing Ovation but Jean put King’s foot on the rope. Shortly after, King used the ropes again as leverage to capture the championship in an illegal fashion. The 247-day reign of Hendry is over and ended on a bit of a whimper but hopefully this leads to King getting the push that he deserves. The match lasted 8 minutes.
Winner AND NEW Impact Digital Media Champion: Kenny King (Match Rating: ***)
Impact Wrestling Presents: Slammiversary 2023: St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
The opening video focused on some of the main matches on the show as well as some classic Slammiversary moments such as Scott Steiner’s rambling maths promo. As we saw during the pre-show, the crowd was loud and ready for the action ahead. Also on the pre-show, it was noted that Ultimate-X would kick off the show!
The opening video focused on the rivalry between Trinity and Deonna Purrazzo, as well as Deaner being revealed as Bully Ray’s partner for Slammiversary.
Tom Hannifan and Matt Rehwoldt welcomed us to the show and we are straight into a singles match, with Tag Team Championship implications. The crowd was loud!
Match #1: Ultimate X match for the #1 Contendership to the X-Division Championship: Jonathan Gresham vs Mike Bailey vs Kushida vs Kevin Knight vs Angels vs Jake Something
It was great to see Kushida back in the Impact Zone. He had a great run last time, back in April, and was featured in a major championship feud with Steve Maclin. There was a big surprise with Jake Something added to the match as the 6th participant. Angels brought a chair into the contest in the early goings. With a No-DQ stipulation, it’s good to see someone pushing the boundaries sometimes because so often in these multi-man matches that is just ignored. He then hit an insane reverse-rana on Knight off the top rope, when he was holding onto the X-cable. That was a ridiculous move and even more crazy that it was done safely. He also hit a diving low blow on Something when he was able to reach for the title. Bailey, Kushida and Angels battled on the cables towards the end of the match. Angels hit another low blow on Bailey, who crashed to the mat. This allowed Kushida to knock Angels down to the mat and unhook the X, winning the match. I really enjoyed this, however the ending came quite abruptly and the match only lasted 12 minutes.
Winner and X-Division #1 Contender: Kushida (Match Rating: ***1/2)
Matt Rehwoldt and Tom Hannifan officially welcomed us to the show and introduced the French announce team, since they’re in Canada. They cut to A-1 who was in the crowd. He was a part of Team Canada and wrestled in Impact in the early days. I like how they’ve been building the nostalgia back as we head into a big PPV. There were highlights from the Digital Media Championship match from the pre-show and Gia Miller interviewed Kenny King. King ripped on Hendry and told the world that he ‘stripped’ him of the championship. He said he was the only champion that mattered, with the only championship that mattered.
Match #2: Impact Knockouts’ World Tag Team Championships: The Coven (Taylor Wilde & KiLynn King) vs Masha Slamovich & Killer Kelly
Wilde and King were the only team left in the division, so they turned Slamovich and Kelly from vicious foes to tag team partners and now we have this match which should be pretty good. My long-time and loyal fan base of 12 months will know that as long as the match doesn’t involve the Death Dollz then I am content. This was a hard-hitting affair where both teams matched up evenly. Wilde thought she had the match won with Witch’s Wrath but Slamovich was able to kick out. Kelly and Slamovich tried for a double team move but King interrupted them and King and Kelly brawled to the outside. Slamovich hit a move on Wilde that we didn’t see because the cameraman was focused on the other two ladies and she covered Wilde for the win after 9 minutes. Thankfully they showed a replay afterwards and it was Masha with the Snow Plow for the win. I think the booking decision is right and it would be silly to just put these two together to lose and then go back to The Coven having no competition again.
Winners by pinfall AND NEW Impact Knockouts’ Tag Team Champions: Masha Slamovich & Killer Kelly (Match Rating: ***)
Match #3: Bully Ray & Deaner w/ Kon vs Scott D’Amore & ??? w/ Special Enforcer: Darren McCarty
There was a solid video package for this match which has had far too much TV time for my liking, however they have progressed the feud from Bully vs Dreamer to Bully vs D’Amore. They showed highlights of Maclin and Bully putting D’Amore threw a flaming table which was awesome. They also tried to murder PCO on national television. Unfortunately, Maclin was ruled out due to an injury he suffered in my country and was replaced by Deaner who cut a promo on D’Amore on the Busted Open podcast. It’s not my choice but it is what it is. D’Amore hasn’t wrestled for a long time so his tag team partner might have their work cut out for them. The mystery partner was Eric Young: D’Amore’s partner in Team Canada. Young was back in WWE after being written off from Impact (murdered by Deaner) but now he’s back. I’d rather have Young on TV in Impact than backstage in WWE but that’s me. D’Amore went after Bully from the outset. Bully was in full heel mode as he beat D’Amore up in front of his own mother. Bully talked smack to Mrs. D’Amore as she tried to hit him rather comically. He hit a low blow on D’Amore but Young wouldn’t let the referee disqualify Bully as he wanted the match to continue. The referee had enough of being intimidated by Bully and he walked out on the match so McCarty put the referee shirt on. Young looked good in his return to the ring as he revisited his feud with Deaner. He hit him with a discus clothesline and a piledriver by Kon broke up the count. A1 took out Kon at ringside. Back in the ring, McCarty hit a stunner on Bully and then Young and D’Amore hit the Wassup headbutt on Bully. Bully was screaming about his balls in comical fashion. The faces and the referee called for the tables. This was a bigger screw job than Survivor Series 97! McCarty and D’Amore hit a double chokeslam on Bully through the table! D’Amore took down Deaner with the Canadian Destroyer and Young hit a top rope elbow by diving over Bully and onto Deaner for the win after about 12 minutes. It was silly, chaotic and fun and D’Amore finally got some revenge on Bully.
Winners by pinfall: Scott D’Amore & Eric Young (Match Rating: ***)
Match #4: X-Division Championship: Chris Sabin (c) vs Lio Rush
There was a really good video package for this one. Rush has looked great since making his Impact debut a few weeks back. This was billed as one of the top matches of the night and hopefully it lives up to that. Rush attacked Sabin before the match began. The doctor was worried about Sabin’s head but he shook him off and told the referee to ring the bell. Immediately, Rush hit a kick to the head of Sabin that took him down hard. Sabin was still in his ring jacket. Rush hit another spinning kick to the head of Sabin. Rush hit the Frog Splash but Sabin kicked out! Rush hit a second Frog Splash and won the title after about 90 seconds. Well, that was severely disappointing. I guess they can have a return match down the line but it does establish Rush as a ruthless heel who will do anything it takes to win.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW Impact X-Division Champion: Lio Rush (No Match Rating)
Gia Miller interviewed Alex Shelley and questioned whether Sabin’s loss and injury would affect him in his World Championship match. Shelley wasn’t interested and walked off.
Match #5: Impact World Tag Team Championships: Bullet Club (c) vs Moose & Brian Myers vs Sami Callihan & Rich Swann vs Subculture
The tag team scene went from two teams in the whole division to throwing two more teams together to make a 4-way match. Good for getting more wrestlers on the show, but not great for consistency moving forward. This match broke down after a few minutes and the referee lost track of who was legal and just allowed whatever he saw fit. Multiple men were in the ring at the same time throughout the entire match. Callihan tossed Webster over the top rope, Death Valley Driver style, onto a large pack of the other wrestler who just happened to hang out in a huddle together. Callihan and Swann have just started teaming together again but they have some impressive double-team offense. Subculture are just fun to watch and I wish they tagged in Impact on a full-time basis. Moose lifted Andrews up for a suplex but he turned it into a Stundog Millionaire. Webster hit a Swanton right on Moose’s back and the referee’s hand was coming down for 3 until the pin was broken up by Callihan. Moose showed his ridiculous athleticism by going for a top rope crossbody but Swann and Bey caught him with a double cutter in mid-air! Towards the end of the match, Zachary Wentz and Trey Miguel of the Rascalz came down and tossed Austin into the steel steps. They were denied a World Tag Title shot on Thursday’s Impact. Wentz nailed Bey on the outside with the Headlock DDT. Back in the ring, Andrews hit the Shooting Star Press on Myers to win the titles after about 12 minutes. It looks like the Brits might be hanging around after all. Awesome!
Winners by pinfall AND NEW Impact World Tag Team Champions: Subculture (Match Rating: ***1/2)
Match #6: Eddie Edwards w/ Alisha vs Frankie Kazarian w/ Traci Brooks
This is the rubber match, after they’ve gone 1-1 over the past month. Brooks back continues the nostalgia theme of the show. This battle of the veterans was a furious slugfest between two guys who wanted to prove themselves as the better man. Towards the end, Kaz hit a slingshot cutter through the ropes for a close 2 count. Kaz launched himself at Edwards but accidentally took the referee out. Alisha used this as an opportunity to bring the kendo stick into the ring. Brooks cut her off and took her down with a tackle, then sent her out of the ring. Kaz locked Edwards in the Chicken Wing and Edwards was tapping but the referee was still down. Kaz revived the referee (miraculously) and Edwards nailed him with the kendo stick and the Boston Knee Party for the win after 17 minutes. This was probably the best match of the night so far, in terms of pure wrestling skills.
Winner by pinfall: Eddie Edwards (Match Rating: ***3/4)
Match #7: Impact Knockouts’ World Championship: Deonna Purrazzo (c) vs Trinity
This was the first of the main events of the evening. It has been a feud built on mutual respect but both women want to be at the top of the Impact ladder. Trinity has been a bright spark since debuting and is really over with the crowd. I like Purrazzo but this reign hasn’t really stood out. Her matches with Jordynne Grace were just okay. I’m ready for a title change if that’s what’s on the cards. Trinity entered first to a nice ovation. Purrazzo had a special entrance with a violinist. She had a blue Charlotte Flair-style gown on as Dave Penzer did the big match intro. Trinity definitely received a better reception from the crowd after their introductions. Purrazzo took Trinity down with a shoulder block early on, but Trinity kipped back up straight away. The fans were chanting for her. Trinity hit a hip toss and Purrazzo followed up with one of her own. Trinity tried a pin attempt with a nice bridge for a 1 count. Purrazzo went for the armbar but Trinity rolled away. Purrazzo taunted Trinity a bit and signalled that she was ‘that close’ from locking it in. Trinity nailed a dropkick then Purrazzo rolled out of the ring to avoid the Rear View. Trinity dropkicked Purrazzo through the ropes and then hit a spinning splash to the outside. She connected with a crossbody and then went for a springboard move but Purrazzo tripped her up against the ropes. Purrazzo was wrestling a very slow and methodical style and nailed a short-arm clothesline. She stood on Trinity’s left arm as the dissection began. Purrazzo nailed an uppercut to the arm and covered for a 1 count. She hit another arm ringer on Trinity as she continued to pick her apart and scored a 2 count. Trinity tried to fight back with forearms but again Purrazzo slammed her face first against the mat so her left arm crashed down too. Trinity kicked out again at 2. Purrazzo sent Trinity into the corner and hit a few chops. She whipped her hard into the opposite corner. Purrazzo locked in a submission but Trinity reversed it into a roll up for 2, so Purrazzo had to relinquish the hold. Trinity avoided another corner attack and kicked Purrazzo in the face. She continued to fight back with two clotheslines and a Samoan Drop. Trinity nailed Purrazzo with a springboard kick to the head for a close 2 count. Purrazzo got out of Star Struck by rolling on top of Trinity for a 2 count. Trinity went for a head scissors but Purrazzo cleverly caught her and nailed a piledriver for a close 2 count. I’m not sure that Trinity has been on the end of many Piledrivers before but Purrazzo does it so well. She hit a side Russian Legsweep and locked in the armbar. Trinity was close to the ropes with her good arm and stretched out to make it. Trinity rolled to the ring apron. Purrazzo took a while to follow up so Trinity hit a springboard facebuster and then a split-legged moonsault. Trinity covered for 2 again. That was close. They battled on the apron and Purrazzo nailed the Queen’s Gambit! Devastating. Trinity kicked out though! The commentators were stunned. Purrazzo backed Trinity into the corner and lifted her onto the top turnbuckle. She was looking for the Queen’s Gambit off the top. Trinity blocked it and hit a Bully Bomb from the top rope. She was going to cover Purrazzo but she locked in Star Struck. Purrazzo almost made it to the ropes with her legs but Trinity shifted her to the middle of the ring. Purrazzo was trapped and had to tap out. That is the first time Purrazzo has submitted in her Impact career. The match length was 15 minutes.
Winner AND NEW Impact Knockouts’ World Champion: Trinity
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a solid match that was very slow in the beginning but the last 2-3 minutes were very exciting. Both women took a lot of punishment and it certainly made Trinity look like a tough, fighting babyface to overcome the pain and earn the championship. It was a pretty uninspiring reign from Purrazzo so I’m happy with the title change. Congratulations to her. Every title has changed hands this evening. Will Aldis make it 6/6?
Match #8: Impact World Championship: Alex Shelley vs Nick Aldis
I have been a fan of Shelley’s first reign as champion. He is confident and at the top of his game. It also gives us a break from the Machine Guns as champions or around the tag title scene. It was a good idea to test how Shelley would go as ‘The Man’ and he’s done really well as he continues to be very popular with the fans. I was initially disappointed that Maclin was dethroned as champion, however if he was still champion after he got injured in Australia then they would’ve had to throw together a new PPV main event two weeks out from the show so I guess that’s something positive. I look forward to he and Josh Alexander returning. After the match introductions there was only 23 minutes left in the show so it’s not going to be a super-long main event. It’s a 3 ½ hour show and the longest match has been 17 minutes so far. Shelley was all over Aldis as the bell rung. He mounted him in the corner with right hands but Aldis turned it into a powerbomb. He locked in the King’s Lynn Cloverleaf only a minute into the match. Aldis dragged Shelley back into the centre of the ring as the commentators wondered if Shelley’s reign was about to end. He eventually made the ropes to break the hold. Aldis aggressively went after Shelley and tossed him sternum-first into the top turnbuckle. Shelley fought back with a dropkick to the knee of Aldis. Aldis was annoyed now and hit a Pumphandle overhead throw. He kicked Shelley in the head a few times around the ring. Aldis targeted the back of Shelley with clubbing blows. He choked him against the middle rope with his knee. Aldis was methodically picking Shelley apart. Aldis tossed Shelley into the turnbuckle but Shelley held on and tried for a springboard crossbody. Aldis caught him and used his strength to turn it into a suplex. Aldis missed a corner clothesline so Shelley nailed a Dragon Screw, targeting the same knee that he dropkicked a few minutes ago. Shelley kicked Aldis hard in the knee against the ropes. He hit another Dragon Screw in the corner. Shelley hit another dropkick to the knee of Aldis, who was down on the mat now. Aldis broke out of a Figure-4 attempt but Shelley kicked him off the ring apron. He went for a baseball slide but Aldis used the ring apron advertising to trap Shelley. He sucker-punched him in the face and then tossed him spine-first into the steel ring post. Aldis threw Shelley face-first into the ring apron. He tossed him back inside the ring. Aldis wanted to suplex Shelley to the outside but Shelley gave him a stunner using the ring ropes. Shelley stomped down hard on the arm of Aldis against the ring apron. Aldis raked the eyes of Shelley as they battled around the ringside area. Shelley sent Aldis into the steel ring post. He smashed Aldis’ arm against the ring post. Shelley used the cables holding the ring up to wrench the fingers of Aldis. That was unique. Shelley took a breather and hyped the fans up. There was a crazy-looking old man who did some interesting dancing to pump up Shelley. Shelley nailed a chop-block on Aldis. Aldis went back to the eyes for another cheap shot. Both men got back to their feet. Shelley targeted the legs of Aldis with a few kicks. Aldis shook it off and hit a stiff clothesline for a 2 count. Aldis forgot about his knee injury and went to the top rope. Shelley quickly scouted him and hit a superplex. He ducked a clothesline attempt and chopped away at Aldis. They traded blows and Shelley hit a Flatliner into the middle turnbuckle. Aldis blocked a superkick attempt. He tried the Cloverleaf again but Shelley reversed it into a pinfall for 2. Shelley hit the Sliced Bread for 2 and turned it into the Motor City Stretch. Aldis immediately rolled through for a pin for 2. Shelley had to break the submission so he didn’t get pinned. He grabbed some of Aldis’ fingers and split them. Shelley went for Sliced Bread again but Aldis caught him in mid-air and hit the safest piledriver you’ll ever see. Shelley kicked out so Aldis went to the top and hit his big elbow. Aldis covered but Shelley kicked out just before 3. Aldis was angry so he got the World Championship. Shelley cut him off with a kick. He took the belt and thought about nailing Aldis but gave it to the referee. Aldis then hit a low blow and a Michinoku Driver but Shelley kicked out at 2 again. A bigger move might have finished Shelley off then. The crowd was right into the match now. The referee still hadn’t put the title out of the ring, so Aldis grabbed it and swung wildly at Shelley who ducked out of the way. Shelley nailed a DDT on the title. Shelley followed up with a superkick and Aldis was busted open. Shelley hit Shell Shocked to retain the championship after 17 minutes.
Winner AND STILL Impact World Champion: Alex Shelley
Analysis: **** That was a terrific main event that was back and forth and had good momentum swings throughout. They both targeted a body part and followed through with it for the entirety of the match. Aldis played the heel role so well. Stalling outside the ring, used the ring post and ring apron, cheating with low blows and attempted to hit Shelley with his own belt. It was just a classic hits of heel tactics that’s so simple yet very effective. I enjoyed his craft here. I’m happy for Shelley to continue his reign because Aldis is only on a short-term contract and could be off to WWE soon.
After the match, Shelley celebrated with his championship and thanked the fans. There were still a few minutes left on the show and I thought that might be time for a surprise and here comes the former World Champion Josh Alexander! Hannifan was losing his mind on commentary. Alexander slid into the ring and faced off with Shelley. Alexander soaked in the chants from the fans and then grabbed a microphone. The fans chanted “Welcome back”. He simply said “I’m back” and they continued to talk smack to each other as Slammiversary ended.
Analysis: What a great surprise ending to the show. I wrote earlier in the column about missing Alexander and wondered when he would be back. Alexander vs Shelley will be a great feud, as Josh never lost the championship. I doubt they turn one of them heel like they did with Aldis as it’s probably the two most popular guys on the roster going up against each other. I’m all for it. Welcome back, Walking Weapon.
Final Rating: 7.5/10
It was another very good PPV from Impact Wrestling. I won’t say it was a spectacular show or anything to that level because I only rated 1 of the 10 matches on the show 4 stars or over. There’s nothing you’d have to rush out to watch or watch again if you’d already seen the show tonight. I haven’t checked but I probably wrote a similar thing about the Hard to Kill and Rebellion PPVs. On paper they look like tremendous cards for Impact, but often there are only 1 or 2 stand out matches. In a 3.5 hour PPV that is focused on wrestling, there wasn’t one match that went over 20 minutes. Impact fans don’t get bored by long matches, because (and I don’t have the facts to back it up off the top of my head) I would hedge my bets that all of Josh Alexander’s title defences in 2022 would’ve gone 20 minutes plus. Tonight, the main event was the only stand out match. Shelley and Aldis wrestled a smart match that had the crowd invested throughout. The rest of the show was solid. Some of the matches could’ve used a few more minutes or a better ending. I thought Purrazzo vs Trinity was good, but too slow in the first half of the match. I’m happy for Trinity but there’s a lot of upset people online over that match. Wrestling fans, hey? Ultimate X was crazy but in the end fell flat with an abrupt ending and I would’ve enjoyed 5 more minutes in the Tag Title match. Lio Rush winning the X-Division title in 90 seconds probably bothered some people but it puts him over as a big deal and we will get the big Rush/Sabin match soon enough. There were also some fun surprises on the show, which there should be on a PPV. Eric Young, Jake Something and Josh Alexander all returned unannounced and Impact will be a better product if they’re all back on. Add Subculture to that as Tag Team Champions now, and the roster seems in better shape than it was at the beginning of the show. That’s exciting. It’s a new era in Impact with 5 new champions. I look forward to being back on deck with the weekly show later in the week.