Eric Young retained the TNA World Heavyweight Title as he defeated Austin Aries and Bobby Lashley in a triple-threat steel cage match at the Slammiversary pay-per-view.
Young, who was scheduled to face MVP, was handed a surprise challenge by the Director of Wrestling Operations, who was ruled out of the event with a knee injury. He decreed that Young would defend against the winners of the Lashley vs. Samoa Joe and Aries vs. Kenny King matches.
Lashley grabbed a fortunate win over the Samoan Submission Machine when the latter almost ran into referee Earl Hebner. Despite managing to stop himself just in time, a distracted Joe was left vulnerable to the Lashley spear, with the Destroyer taking full advantage and claiming the pin.
King looked set to make it a handicap main event, with both the heel wrestlers entering the steel cage, but he was undone by the skilful Aries, who countered an attempted big top rope move by turning it into a super brain-buster for the win.
Aries and Young took the opportunity to combine against Lashley, preventing the monstrous big man from ever getting on top in the match. EY made the move of the match when he hit Lashley with a huge elbow drop from the top of the steel cage.
Lashley still managed to kick out and the competitors continued to trade pin attempts. Aries nailed a brain-buster on EY for two – Lashley looked to take advantage by hitting Young with a spear, but Young dropped back to the canvas and Lashley overshot his effort, bursting through the cage door, out of the ring.
This left Young and Aries to fight it out. Young climbed to the top rope and nailed the elbow drop for a two count. Aries blocked a pile-driver and dropkicked Young in the face. Both got to their feet and traded shots in the middle of the ring. Aries missed the discus, and Young missed the flying forearm. Aries nailed the discus forearm in the corner before another running dropkick against the ropes. Young blocked a brain-buster and, out of nowhere, hit the pile-driver for the win.
The Slammiversary event, which marked the twelfth anniversary of the TNA Wrestling franchise, first aired on Sunday 15th June in the US, before the show aired for the first time in the UK on Wednesday.
Critics were refreshingly positive about the show, praising the re-schedule main event: which saw the winners of the Austin Aries vs. Kenny King and Bobby Lashley vs. Samoa Joe matches offered a shot at the World Title in place of the injured MVP. Both the X Division title match and the guest appearance of the Von Erich family also received widespread admiration and approval.
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