If I were to tell you that TNA has never been in a better position than this to score something special, you'd probably call me a broken record. I've been saying this kind of thing for the better part of two years now. But after this week's Impact, it does something that TNA hasn't done before.....it makes the stakes behind at least two matches almost recklessly high. If Sting loses, which I'm going to hope he does, for the sake of Bully Ray's credibility as the top heel in wrestling to this date, it spells the winding down for Sting as a top contender. Shawn Michaels did something similar when he determined to not hold a World Title in WWE after 2002. From that point until his retirement, his pursuit was to elevate those who would eventually take the reins and carry the company forward. Even though I may not enjoy what has happened to WWE, the contributions made by Shawn Michaels AFTER his world title reigns were over, in MY eyes, were even more notable. SO, if Sting loses at Slammiversary, I don't see the end result being any different, but the storyline doesn't end there.
AJ vs. Angle......Styles' argument with TNA has brought him to TNA's Anniversary PPV with a technical wrestling equal as his foil. What's at stake? Since the "patching" ceremony has yet to take place, I don't think that can be answered. HOWEVER, if it plays out anything like the scenario that sees Jeff Jarrett's return, there's a great deal at stake. Imagine if WWE's Invasion storyline had played out WITHOUT an alliance between WCW and ECW to take on WWF. ECW, most likely, would have played the dark horse faction as they were the smallest in number at the time. If AJ Styles turns on the Aces, which I expect to happen at the ceremony, Team TNA will be left with a problem. Now they have two problems on two separate fronts and that means time to reconcile the story, which will probably last until well after Bound for Glory. THIS is where the first stone is laid, though. Next week will determine the stakes. Here's where things align FAR better than the WWF story. Rather than everything culminating at, for lack of a better way of saying it, a consolidation ceremony-where half the titles go to die, TNA builds it towards the ending of the "era of the regime".
I realize that this might make Slammiversary sound even better on paper, but I have to ask if it HAS to be the case. If Slammiversary also sees the finalists for the Bound for Glory Series determined, it adds another dimension to the pot, allowing some who've been waiting in OVW a chance to make their mark, as I've been begging for TNA to bring about for quite some time.
TNA was already announced that 4 former Gut Check challengers will get the chance to compete in the preliminary rounds to determine Bound for Glory Series contention. With Jay Bradley as the first on the list, it will be interesting to see where it all goes next week as I'm understanding there will be more preliminaries and will be such going into Slammiversary. So this brings Alex Silva and Sam Shaw to the forefront moving forward. I sincerely hope it brings each of them a more prominent place than they've seen previously up to this point.
If Bound for Glory this year will define the line in the sand, Slammiversary could be the PPV that establishes who will be involved in the final conflict. As far as I'm concerned, this story, played out over the past year, is the single most coherent, directed, star creating storyline TNA has ever put effort behind. Why? Because TNA is planning ahead, in stark comparison with WWE, who CONTINUALLY rewrites shows the day of their airing. Bully Ray, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, James Storm....they were all planned 6 months prior to execution of the plans to make their first World Title reigns memorable. In case anyone has it in them to use James Storm as a monkey wrench to my argument, save it....his short lived title reign ushered in a feud that would help define 2012 with the man who used his gimmick against him.....the beer bottle.
I'm starting to see Slammiversary as an apex, channeling all forward movement of things to a central battle to take place on a much grander stage to come. Whether anyone else agrees with me or not, it seems to me that we'll know soon enough.....