Sanada ensured the continuation of his reign as TNA’s X Division Champion with a stunning pay-per-view victory at Slammiversary.
The 26-year-old emerged victorious from a ladder match also featuring Manik, Tigre Uno, The Wolves duo of Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards, and the Menagerie’s Crazzy Steve.
Manik, who has not been seen in TNA since Lockdown, got the action straight underway with a daring suicide dive, targeting the champion as he approached the ring. Meanwhile, the fans –surprisingly – began chanting for Steve.
Steve responded by pulling a ladder out from under the ring, apparently ready for an early attempt to reach the belt hanging above the ring. However, a Uno corkscrew from the top rope took out everyone on the floor, including the demonic clown.
The returning Manik successfully brought a ladder into the ring, but was worked over by Sanada, who spring-boarded into the ring with a big chop. The Wolves supplexed Uno onto a second ladder, while Steve picked up the first, placed it around his neck, and began to spin – sending all of his opponents that attempted to approach him flying away into the ropes, much to the delight of the fans.
Setting the ladder down, Steve began to climb up towards the belt, flapping at it wildly. Manik raced up to meet him, but it was Sanada who made the save – tipping the ladder over before slamming the Menagerie man on top of the apparatus.
The Japanese followed up with a moonsault and turned to tackle Uno.
The Wolves, playing the numbers game, worked together to topple Uno off the ladder, with Richards leaping off the ropes to reinforce Edwards’ power-bomb move for a nice double team. With the ring cleared both men clambered up opposing sides of the ladder, coming face-to-face at the top, pausing momentarily, before beginning to strike out at each other.
Edwards reached for the belt but Sanada hauled him down once again. Manik spring-boarded onto the ladder and tackled Richards, hitting a dramatic sunset flip power-bomb, sending Richards smashing into a second latter, adjacent from the first, acting like a ladder to the ring ropes. Richards head stuck worryingly between the ladder steps, but he was thankfully unhurt.
In the following melee, Sanada appeared as if from nowhere, racing up the ladder unchallenged and taking down the belt.
TNA’s high-flying superstars put on an entertaining opening to the show, with several impressive stunts. But it was Sanada, who has now held the X Division gold for over three months, who reached the top of the ladder first, and unhooked the belt.
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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