The original plan for Day 5 was to finish up Universal Islands of Adventure in the morning and take in the TNA Slammiversary PPV in the late afternoon through the evening. Being fatigued we decided to skip the park in the morning, rest up and just show up for the TNA Slammiversary event in the afternoon.
For long-time readers or personal friends you know just how much of a pro-wrestling fan I am. When I learned TNA would be holding their PPV and TV tapings the weekend we were here I was just elated and HAD TO purchase the VIP package for the weekend.
What did the VIP package get us?
- A private meet and greet with the legendary Hulk Hogan and tailgate BBQ.
- Guaranteed first dib access to the PPV and TV tapings on Monday and Tuesday
- Access to the exclusive PPV After-Party
- Post TV meet and greets on Monday and Tuesday with AJ Styles and Mexican America.
- TNA swag.
The thing about TNA tapings, if you don’t know, is that they are free but are done on a first-come, first-serve basis so for myself ensuring guaranteed access and the extra perks like the meet and greets and complimentary meals for the PPV it was a no-brainer and cash well spent to go VIP and experience everything in style.
Sadly, even going VIP did not make us immune to lines as a ton of folks know a good deal when they see one. The line to get in to meet Hulk Hogan at the VIP Meet and Greet alone was about 2 hours in the hot sun.
The upside to it all though? Meeting and making friends other hardcore wrestling fans such as these two guys from Scotland who were in line next to me. They actually found us as we walked into the park. I was an easy pick out with my TNA shirt. Being from Scotland in kilts made them semi-celebrities with park goers who wanted a photo op with real lives Scots. Of course, I got my photo op too. Our other new friend in the photo was also in line next to us. She was the world’s biggest Robbie E. and Cookie fan. Coolest thing about her? She grew up in Philly and was literally raised on ECW! That’s hardcore!
So after about two hours on our feet we finally got our chance to get into Hard Rock Cafe for the private meet and greet with Hulk Hogan and snarf down some BBQ. For my troubles I got:
a photo op with a “Nice to meet you, brother!”,
and a signed poster from the Hulkster.
And of course, a “free” lunch. Heat and line sucked, but meeting cool peeps and getting 1 of 3 squares was well worth it!
From there it was enjoying the AC for an hour more before being thrust back out into the sun to get in the VIP line for entrance into the Impact Zone. Yes, more suckage!
The initial stages of the line can best be described as organized chaos for an hour or so until TNA staff arrived to formally line everyone up to go in and march us down from the Blue Man Group to the Impact Zone.
Even then once we got to the Impact Zone doors it would be another half hour or so till we actually got to go in.
Once we got in though I must say it was just totally cool being in the fabled Impact Zone I see every week on TV. Like when I visited the National Mall in D.C. for the first time I had an overwhelming, “I’m here” moment!
And then as I looked around I was like, “Wow, this place is SMALL!” Oh the magic of good camera angles! Honestly, the Impact Zone’s probably about as big as a high school gym or Guard Armory which is where most Indy Feds hold events. The difference between the Impact Zone and those venues would be the millions of dollars in lighting, audio and video equipment that the Soundstage affords them access too. Can’t believe how small the place was!
Once we (the VIPS) got seated then the general audience started to file in. Universal staff pretty much packed us sardine tight on the bleachers. Good crowd tonight with lots of energy! After we all got settled SoCal Val, Jeremy Borash and Christy Hemme were out to kick things off by introducing the announce team(s), running down the card and warming up the crowd!
With all of that done it was time to get the show on the road with the first match!
Match 1: Beer Guns (c) (James Storm and Alex Shelley for Robert Roode) vs. the British Invasion (Douglas Williams and Magnus) for the Tag Titles
Good choice for an opener as the crowd was hot for Beer Guns with lots of “BEER!!! CITY!!!” chants going off and on. Hot match with a bunch of false finishes to get the crowd going. Beer Guns retain. Which brings us to…
These two behemoths have had a nice feud over the past several weeks which has led to this match. Slower, methodical pace to this one but Morgan picks up the one with the Carbon Footprint. That takes us to…
Another interesting storyline here as Abyss has been on a mission from Bischoff to destroy the X-Division. Fun match here watching Kendrick and Kazarian bounce off of Abyss. Dissension between Kaz and Kendrick allow Abyss to steal a win.
Match 4: Samoa Joe vs. Crimson
Another feud comes to a head as Joe takes on the undefeated streak of the rookie Crimson.
Pretty physical contest between these two. Typical Joe match with lots of hard hitting and power moves. Despite his poor booking over the past few years, Joe is still IMMENSELY OVER with the crowd which is a sad statement on just how much TNA’s botched him. Lots of “Let’s Go Joe” and “Joe’s Gonna Kill You” chants with the occasional “Sloppy Joe” chants. Crimson? Not really over, yet.
Crimson’s rocket ride up the card continues with the upset and Joe’s stay in mid-card purgatory continues with the job…
Match 5: Mickie James (c) vs. Angelina Love (w/ Winter) for the Knockouts Title
That WWE storyline the other year between Mickie and LayCool about her “weight issues?” Utter nonsense. Mickie’s smoking hot in person! Fun match between these two. Lots of interference from Winter but Mickie squeaks by with the win and endures the post-match beatdown from the heels.
For my money, this was THE MATCH of the night. AJ is MASSIVE OVER with the crowd as befits the person who was the foundation of the company for most of its beginning years. Ray is someone who can most definitely go and these two just BROUGHT IT tonight. Lots of hard hitting action. AJ took to the air quite a bit. Once things got to the outside business totally picked up. AJ’s insane dive from the set onto Ray below the stage had everyone chanting “Holy shit!” as did Ray’s surprise counter to pick up the victory from the jaws of defeat at the last minute. Match was AWESOME!
Match 7: Sting (c) vs. Mr. Anderson for the Heavyweight Title
This was such a fun match! Most folks who know my wrestling tastes will know that Sting was my absolute favorite wrestler as a kid and seeing him perform in person is an absolute dream come true for me. That said, I’ve long maintained the past several years that, as much as I love the guy, Sting should not be champion in the year 2011. Does he still have a place in the business? Sure, of course! As champion? No. Sting lost the title to Anderson (a good pick for champ, he’s been pretty healthy in his TNA run!) in screwjob fashion tonight but I think, long-term, the right guy won the match tonight.
The match itself? Loads of fun. Sting jumped Anderson from behind on the entrance ramp thus depriving me of marking out over HIS entrance but the brawl into the crowd (near us) was an absolute mark out moment!
as was getting to hear a classic Stinger howl!!!
Match 8: Jeff Jarrett vs. Kurt Angle for Kurt’s Olympic Gold Medals
This has been such a great feud. Sure, there were absolute DUMB and LAME moments along the way. But the story, based in real life, has been great. And hopefully, this really will be the cap to the feud.
If Sting is my favorite wrestler of childhood, Kurt Angle is definitely one of my top favorites of the modern/current era. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to see him wrestle live and I’m glad I got to tonight. He’d already left WWE by the time they started coming down regularly to Hawaii again so I’d missed out on seeing him live before. Kurt Angle = good match and this did not disappoint. I got to see the…
Pop-Up Top Rope Belly to Belly
Overall, a great match!
Afterwards, we had a chance to attend the Slammiversary VIP party over at the Nascar Grille and be treated to dinner and meet and greets with the TNA Stars (well, those who wanted to show up anyway). We only stayed for half the party (it was a long day). We got treated to a pasta, chicken fingers and fries dinner.
Some B-day cake..
and I had a chance to meet the X-Division Champ, the Monster Abyss
and one half of the tag champs, Cowboy James Storm.
Also in attendance was the newly crowned Heavyweight Champ Mr. Anderson but I didn’t get a photo op (line was just too long). As we left halfway I’m not too sure if any of the other stars showed but it was cool getting to see and meet the ones we did. Complimentary dinner was nice too!
And that was our Slammiversary VIP experience.
Full photos can be viewed here.