NFL free agent running back DeAngelo Williams had an impressive pro wrestling debut, teaming with NFL alum Moose (Quinn Ojinnaka) during the Slammiversary XV pay-per-view, celebrating the 15th anniversary of the company, on Sunday, July 2 from Universal Studios Florida.
The company, formerly TNA Wrestling and Impact Wrestling, is now GFW/Impact Wrestling, led by original co-founder Jeff Jarrett, under the Anthem Sports & Entertainment banner.
It’s not easy stepping into the ring for the first time, especially for a high-profile event like this, but Williams looked like he belonged.
The NFL contingent, accompanied by another NFL free agent Gary Barnidge, joined forces to defeat Chris Adonis and Eli Drake.
Agile and aerial, Williams was outstanding in his debut. He even dove off the top rope onto Adonis who lay prone on a table. He overjumped the target a little, and the table did not break, but the impact was enough to help record the win. Moose, at a solid 6-5, 290, also displayed some amazing aerial skills during the match.
After the match, Moose attacked Adonis and Drake atop the rampway. He returned Drake to the ring, and with a little help from Williams, Moose powebombed him through the table. This time the table broke. Hey, the name of the event is Slammiversary.
Williams, a 5-9, 200 pound running back, has spent 11 seasons in the NFL, starring for the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers. He made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and twice led the NFL in rushing touchdowns. Moose, a journeyman player, started wrestling in 2014, which includes a nice run in Ring of Honor. He is currently the Impact Grand champion.
Giving the match a little NFL feel, cheerleaders stood along the rampway and cheered Moose and Williams during their entrance, and Barnidge stood tall in their corner. The 6-5 tight end is also a former Panthers’ player.
Your referee Brian Stiffler.
Extra Point: Indie wrestlers including Aria Blake, Dynamite Didi and Reagan Fire and indie manager Amy Rose participated in the show as cheerleaders for NFL alum Moose and DeAngelo Williams during their ring entrance.
Broadcast Team: Robert Flores served as the lead announcer for Slammiversary XV, working alongside longtime IMPACT color commentator Don West, who made a one-night return behind the microphone. With Josh Mathews and Jeremy Borash wrestling at #Slamm15, GFW/IMPACT Wrestling officials grabbed Flores, a lifelong wrestling fan.
Flores is a baseball studio host appearing across MLB Network’s programming, including MLB Network’s Emmy Award-winning daily studio show, MLB Tonight. In addition to MLB Network, Flores is a hockey studio host for NHL Network and contributes across MLB Advanced Media’s digital properties, including MLB.com and Sports On Earth.
Flores joined MLB Network and NHL Network in 2016 from ESPN.
IMPACT WRESTLING TV TAPINGS
at Universal Studios Florida
Monday, July 3 – Thursday, July 6.
Admission is free.
Post-Slammiversary XV Event
At The Impact Zone on July 3
On Monday, July 3, GFW/IMPACT Wrestling will have a ceremony to remember the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016.
GFW/IMPACT Wrestling stands alongside the survivors and honors the 49 victims of the shooting. For most of the past 15 years, GFW/IMPACT Wrestling has called Orlando its home arena, filming TV shows at Universal Studios Florida. So, the Pulse Nightclub tragedy brings extra meaning to all of the IMPACT wrestlers, referees, production crew and front-office staff.
Post-Slammiversary XV Event
At The Impact Zone on July 5
To honor the 15-year anniversary of GFW/IMPACT Wrestling, the City of Orlando has declared Wednesday, July 5, 2017 as “IMPACT WRESTLING DAY IN ORLANDO.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will present a proclamation honoring GFW/IMPACT Wrestling before taping begins July 5 for a future episode of IMPACT on Pop TV. GFW/IMPACT has filmed most of its weekly, two-hour TV show over the past 15 years on the backlot at Universal Studios Florida, dubbed The Impact Zone, in Orlando.
This is the first time Mayor Dyer has attended an IMPACT Wrestling show, and he’s not just attending in a mayoral role. Mayor Dyer also will serve as the “Special Ring Announcer” for two matches.
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