LAST KNOCKOUT STANDING MATCH: GAIL KIM VS. TARYN TERRELL
Dave Says: The rivalry between Gail and Taryn has been a consistent focus within the Knockouts division for this entire quarter. I don’t know that this will be a classic match, but at least they’ve chosen a legitimate “blowoff” stipulation for something they’ve featured for so long on TV.
Best Case Scenario: TNA trusts Gail Kim enough to give this match a solid 15 minutes on the card. The match is well-paced and gradually builds to increasingly violent spots by the heel (Gail) and increasingly heroic spots by the babyface (Taryn) until Gail bites off more than she can chew and can’t make the ten count, putting over Taryn and elevating her as a worthy opponent for the freshly-turned Mickie James.
Worst Case Scenario: The match is insultingly short for a last person standing match (under 12 minutes). Gail tries her best to make Taryn look good, but it doesn’t work. TNA abandons logical storytelling and has the match finish on some over-the-top stunt spot (Gail goes through the stage, or the like).
ULTIMATE X MATCH FOR THE X-DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP: SUICIDE VS. KENNY KING VS. CHRIS SABIN
Dave Says: On paper, the Ultimate X match sounds like a cool idea. In reality, it’s messy, unnecessarily dangerous, and rarely delivers a finish that’s actually satisfying (there’s just something anticlimactic about a guy disconnecting a carabiner to win a title). The three men in this match (Sabin, King, and T.J. Perkins) are all very capable of having a strong, athletic match, but I think the stip hurts, not helps, this contest.
Best Case Scenario: The three work an athletic match with relatively few blown spots (a botch-free Ultimate X match — too much to ask). Suicide takes bumps for King and Sabin, who are the real story of the match. Sabin comes oh-so close to winning his fifth X Division Championship, but King cuts him off and steals the win to retain.
Worst Case Scenario: B-O-T-C-H-A-M-A-N-I-A. Sabin blows out both his knees (remember, the second one happened in an Ultimate X match!). Suicide wins the title.
TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP: JOSEPH PARK VS. DEVON (OF ACES AND EIGHTS)
Dave Says: Gosh, this match sure is… on the card.
Best Case Scenario: These two have a relatively harmless five-minute match. Park gets over with one or two comedy spots, but Devon’s mean biker nastiness is just too much for him. Devon hits whatever on earth his finisher is (reverse DDT?) and wins clean.
Worst Case Scenario: Park wins the title and the next three months is all about him slowly realizing he is Abyss OR Abyss makes an appearance being played by a developmental wrestler.
ACES AND EIGHTS (BRISCO/BISCHOFF/D.O.C.) VS. MAGNUS, SAMOA JOE AND JEFF HARDY
Dave Says: I was openly pushing for Magnus and Joe to get onto this card, so I’m happy TNA snuck them in on Thursday’s Impact. It’s interesting that they didn’t advertise which members of America’s favorite biker gang would be participating until this picture was published. Anderson has been pushed as above this kind of match in recent weeks, and Mike Knox (whose official name is, I believe, “Knux”) hasn’t been booked as anything more than a guy standing in the background with a beard.
Best Case Scenario: Heels bump. Babyfaces shine. Magnus gets an effective rub from the returning Jeff Hardy. The crowd gets a “feel good moment” against Aces & Eights when Hardy wins with his Swanton Bomb to set up/soften the blow for Ray’s main event victory.
Worst Case Scenario: One of the three babyfaces turns heel and joins Aces & Eights. Garrett and West get too much offense and/or can’t sell effectively enough to make their opponents look good.
FOUR TEAM ELIMINATION MATCH FOR THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: CHAVO GUERRERO AND HERNANDEZ VS. BAD INFLUENCE (CHRISTOPHER DANIELS AND KAZARIAN) VS. AUSTIN ARIES AND BOBBY ROODE VS. “COWBOY” JAMES STORM AND GUNNER
Dave Says: This match could be something really special, or it could be meaningless window dressing depending on how the match is booked and worked.
Best Case Scenario: All four teams “do their thing” and get over effectively. The freshened-up Gunner looks like a house afire (not be confused with a “house of fire”) and proves to be a valuable partner for the injured Storm. Daniels and Kaz do their signature mix of effective selling and mild heel comedy. Aries and Roode look good, but not so good as to remind the fans that they are big time stars lowering themselves to be in a tag match. Hernandez looks like a big powerhouse. Bad Influence win the titles because they’re the company’s best team.
Worst Case Scenario: Mexican America retain on Chavo’s frog splash. Nobody is able to effectively shine because the eight-man format is too overwhelming.
AJ STYLES VS. KURT ANGLE
Dave Says: It’s encouraging to see A.J. Styles back in a featured pay per view match, but I’m not sure that wrestling Kurt Angle for twelve-thousandth time is the most effective way to reintroduce him as a star in-ring performer. Five years ago I never would have dreamed of saying this, but I’m not sure how many great pay per view quality matches Angle has left in him.
Best Case Scenario: These two have a worthy pay per view match in which both look very strong. They don’t resort to unnecessary, dangerous spots as a shortcut in an attempt to have a “great match.” A.J. wins clean with his Calf Killer and becomes the next logical opponent for Bully Ray.
Worst Case Scenario: Both men try too hard to have a “great match,” and do spots that aren’t necessary or prudent. The match is awkwardly-paced and clunky. Angle wins with his Anklelock.
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: ”THE ICON” STING VS. BULLY RAY OF ACES AND EIGHTS
Dave Says: This is the match that TNA has spent the last three months building to. Like it or not, they have booked Sting to look very strong, and hinted that in a fair one-on-one situation he could beat Bully Ray. This could be Sting’s “Obi-Wan Kenobi” match that I wrote of a few weeks ago.
Best Case Scenario: These two have a match that’s as smooth as Sting is capable of having at this point. They brawl through the crowd, but not excessively. Sting looks like a real threat to Ray, with Ray getting color and looking to be on the ropes before he comes back and wins cleanly to end Sting’s main event run.
Worst Case Scenario: Two words “Walking Brawl.” The two men wander around the building never really taking a bump and hitting each other with various international objects. Sting wins the title OR Bully Ray retains when the entire Aces & Eights crew comes out of the back to beat up Sting and end his main event run. These situations are equally unpalatable.
Juice Make Sugar’s Dave will be attending Slammiversary in person. Follow him @DaveTheMark for live commentary.