Over the last 17 years Impact Wrestling has been pro wrestling's "Little Engine That Could." No matter what challenges the company faces, it somehow manages to keep going. And so we come to another Slammiversary which put the spotlight on some of the young, emerging and hungry performers driven to show Impact deserves to be in the conversation for quality pro wrestling products in 2019. Programming has been as consistent as ever with story-telling, character development and bell-to-bell action. This was all on full display in Dallas as Impact's string of good pay-per-views with a viable home run.
The pro wrestling landscape is at a competitive high, meaning it's important to do things to stand out and get people talking. One way Impact did that was deciding to put the intergender match between Tessa Blanchard and Sami Callihan in the main event slot. A bold history-making statement given man versus woman has been such a hot topic. Though generational Diamond has proven in the past she is up to the challenge of taking on men. Also, an argument can be made it wasn't just a match for the sake of it. There was actually a legitimate build, treated seriously and not comedic. This might not be your cup of tea, but if there was going to be a headlining intergender match, take solace knowing there was a reason behind the two facing off. Even in defeat, Blanchard came off as a star. After the win there was even a sign of respect when Callihan handed his opponent's gold bat back to her.If the promotion wants to ride this further, I could buy Blanchard as the Impact champion. Not saying booking suggests the direction, but imagine headlines leading up to say a Bound For Glory. It will be interesting to see where the promotion goes with their arguably top talent one way or another.
Knockouts Steal the Show
Tessa Blanchard wasn't the only knockout to turn heads in Texas. Taya Valkyrie retained the Knockouts championship against Su Yung, Jessicka Havok and Rosemary in a crazy "Monster's Ball." match. These four stole the show, putting their bodies on the line to really exemplify how good the division is getting these days. Jim Mitchell has also been an important part of character development for the competitors. You get a sense the Knockouts have some real momentum, adding in the recent strides by Kiera Hogan and return of Madison Rayne. It doesn't hurt to have trailblazer Gail Kim in a backstage role either. Abyss would be proud by how these ladies lived up to the stipulated match he made an Impact staple.
Brian Cage successfully defended the Impact championship against Michael Elgin in a true battle of the bulls. These hybrid athletes complimented each other that earned a "Fight Forever" chant. Cage came off strong in defeating a worthy challenger. The door was left open for a rematch, which maybe you never thought you wanted until the match happened. After Elgin beat up Cage and went after Don Callis following the loss, a masked man delivered a spear or Gore. The shape of the mystery individual under the hood led everyone to believe it was indeed Rhyno. In a past interview with Chris Van Vliet, he revealed his contract with WWE would be expiring July 17. So this might be Impact's way of getting him in the mix while they have a bigger audience and to create some buzz. Impact has been utilizing a lot of ECW alums lately, but Rhyno would be a welcome addition giving his own Impact history. The company can use some more established names to work with their less recognizable signings.
Slammiversary was a night of what some might classify as upsets. Rich Swann retained the X Division title against Johnny Impact while Moose got a decisive win over Rob Van Dam. Swann and Impact put on an aerial clinic. Impact played the arrogant heel well, allowing the fans to get behind the champ even more than before. RVD is nice investment for Impact not only because of his star power. When motivated, he also demonstrated "Mr. Pay-Per-View" can still compete at a high level and is willing to help the new crop of talent coming up. Moose has a big league presence and is ready for the main event.
The Future Is Bright
Impact Wrestling is building a stronger foundation for a more stable future. You had Willie Mack's victory over TJP, Jake Crist and Trey Miguel in a hot opener showcasing a strong pool of potential X Division contenders. Or in Mack's case, a future pick for the heavyweight picture as well. Elsewhere The North (Josh Alexander and Ethan Page) successfully held on to the tag gold against LAX (Ortiz and Santana) and The Rascalz (Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz). A duo gaining steam on the microphone and in the ring. Killer Kross, who despite contract speculation, added more to his darker presentation in bloody loss to Eddie Edwards. The imposing figure is definitely one to watch as he grows and evolves.
Kudos to Dallas for their unwavering enthusiasm. They had every reason to react so strongly given the entertaining card. If Slammiversary was a way for Impact Wrestling to confirm the fact their roster deserves a better television platform and more eyes on the product, then mission accomplished. Let's hope it comes sooner rather than later for the sake of everyone involved. In the mean time, I strongly suggest if you didn't enjoy the event live that you catch it on FITE TV.