After fulfilling his destiny at the Slammiversarypay-per-view, Raven defends the newly-won NWA World Heavyweight Championship gold at No Surrender. A steel chain will unite he and his first challenger, Abyss, in their suffering during our main event. Additionally, the returning Jerry Lynn serves as special guest referee in a clash between A.J. Styles and Sean Waltman, Christopher Daniels defends the X Division Championship against Petey Williams and we’re treated to another notable debut…
TNA No Surrender, July 17th 2005:
Following the customary opening video package, we head to Orlando’s Universal Studios, where Mike Tenay and Don West are our announce team. No time for nonsense tonight, as we dive right into the action:
1: Michael Shane & Alex Shelley (w/ Traci) vs. America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) in a Tag Team Match:
It’s July 2005 and A.M.W are regarded as the greatest tag team in TNA’s three-year history. They’re against a brand new duo tonight. Alex Shelley initiated their partnership by helping Michael Shane, who is essentially a seasonless Shawn Michaels, beat James Storm on iMPACT. Superkick purveyors Shane and Storm were determined to execute the move on one another throughout this contest, a satisfying sub-plot. The creativity to apply a motivation behind the match beyond title contendership is appreciated. Shane looked to avoid the Cowboy whenever possible, goading him to the outside, where the bout took a detour. It’s perhaps slightly disjointed from the rest of the contest, although Storm notably dropped Shelley and several security guards with a dive off the stage. There were plenty of bodies to aim for, yet not one broke Storm’s fall as he bounced off the concrete floor with a sickening thud. Meanwhile, Harris handcuffed Traci to the ring post following her interference. She was able to influence proceedings regardless, throwing Shane her shoe to strike the Wildcat. Nevertheless, the heels eventually suffer Storm’s superkick and subsequent defeat. It was Shelley who succumbed to the decisive blow, however, with Shane scoring the last laugh over his rival, who he superkicked before retreating. Shelley was the illegal man for the finish but rules fell by the wayside here (as they often do in TNA), which facilitated a fun opener that varied from the traditional tag formula.
Winners: America’s Most Wanted in 11:47
So, there’s little suspense around tonight’s big debut – on the pre-show, Mike Tenay confirmed former ECW World Champion and WWE Superstar Rhino is in the building. Jeff Jarrett is paranoid that in the wake of multiple WWE firings, many of their discarded talents (including Rhino) will surface in TNA and potentially take his spot. He interrupts a Team Canada interview to encourage the currently employed talents to stick together. Interactions involving wrestlers who aren’t feuding is virtually non-existent on TNA PPV events – here we have a rare reminder that this is a shared universe between the personalities on the roster, adding a further dimension and depth to the product.
2:Shark Boy vs. Mickey Batts vs. Elix Skipper vs. Sonjay Dutt in a 4-Way Match for TNA Super X Cup Qualification:
Qualification for the upcoming Super X Cup is at stake, an 8-man tournament for an X Division Championship opportunity at Sacrifice. Shark Boy won the 6-Way opener at the prior month’s PPV but perhaps should have spared his effort for this instead. TNA like to commence multi-man matches with wrestlers on the apron – it never lasts. Nonetheless, the genre is consistently entertaining at an absolute minimum, this followed suit to an extent, however it was far from a shining example. Story is sacrificed to showcase cool moves, which often fail to deliver. This was repeatedly either contrived or sloppy (notably, Skipper fell during a tightrope walk hurricanrana attempt on Batts, sending both tumbling to the outside). Elsewhere, there was a glaringly obvious lack of connection on Shark Boy’s Dead Sea Drop, which Skipper sold by flinging himself through the ropes – the camera angle did the competitors no favours by exposing the lack of contact. Mercifully, the contest finishes before someone is hurt, although there’s a close call when Dutt lands the Hindu Press on Batts’ head for the win.
Winner: Sonjay Dutt in 8:22
3: Simon Diamond & David Young vs. Apolo & Sonny Siaki in a Tag Team Match:
After a short spell as “The Empire Saint” Pat Kenney, a nickname thrillingly based upon his sportsmanlike demeanour in baseball, Simon Diamond has thankfully returned to his ECW moniker. Ahead of the match, he puts over his partner, who has earned zero victories in two years. Diamond has vowed to help Young reach his potential, introducing him as the newest member of his “diamonds in the rough”. Inevitably, Young falls short despite a good showing when he attempts to cover the illegal man, providing the opportunity for Apolo to execute a TKO for the pinfall. Expectations were low going into the bout as it didn’t feel at all PPV worthy, however the action was harmless throughout its brief duration. This was a fun introduction to Diamond’s new gimmick of haphazardly attempting to coach promising wrestlers.
Winners: Apolo & Sonny Siaki in 5:32
4: Samoa Joe vs. Chris Sabin:
Tenay preposterously proclaims that Samoa Joe is 6′8″ prior to the bell. He’s nowhere close but remains significantly larger than Sabin, who utilises speed to avoid Joe’s clutches early. It’s a successful strategy until he stupidly attempts the Cradle Shock. Joe annihilates his opponent with an onslaught of strikes, including a brutal high knee in the corner. By contrast, Sabin’s shots only fire up Joe, provoking the Samoan to inadvertently create separation for the former X Division Champion to land a barrage of dropkicks, the last driving Joe forcefully into the barricade. A second Cradle Shock attempt is countered with a snap bridging German Suplex, yet Sabin is resilient and soon earns a near fall on his undefeated opponent with the springboard Tornado DDT. Joe transitions a high-angle Powerbomb into an STF upon the kickout, which becomes a Crossface and then, uh, something I don’t even know the name of. That’s why he’s the Samoan Submission Machine and I’m not, among other reasons. The underdog continues to fight from underneath, escaping an attempted top rope move and executing a big running sit-out Powerbomb. Sabin finally hoists up Joe for Cradle Shock but Joe fights out once again before Sabin lays him out and adjusts his strategy, climbing to the top turnbuckle. The Samoan is hard to keep down and recovers in time to kick Sabin’s legs out from under him, capitalising with a ferocious Muscle Buster. A Coquina Clutch follows, forcing Sabin to involuntarily submit via unconsciousness.
The crowd loved this and their enthusiasm only escalated throughout. Following the bout, the competitors are deservedly serenaded with chants of “that was awesome”. Both men absolutely maximised a basic story, there was no wasted motion and everything counted. Sabin appeared gutsy and resilient as he fought for survival, absorbing vicious offense and refusing to give up, even in defeat. Joe’s style is a breath of fresh air for TNA’s product, he’s completely different from anyone else on the roster, adding a new dynamic to an already thriving X Division.
Winner: Samoa Joe in 14:02
5: Team Canada (Bobby Roode, Eric Young & A-1) vs. Lance Hoyt & NWA World Tag Team Champions The Naturals (Andy Douglas & Chase Stevens) (w/ Jimmy Hart) in a 6-Man Tag Team Match:
The Naturals retained the NWA World Tag Team Championships over Team Canada at Slammiversary, the same night that Hoyt vanquished Coach D’Amore. The Canadians were determined to prove their functionality without their manager here. In fairness, they do. Team Canada overturn the babyface dominance by wisely framing Jimmy Hart behind the official’s back, making it appear he had used Team Canada’s hockey stick as a weapon. Hart was ejected from ringside, distracting Hoyt and Douglas as Stevens was beaten down. Similarly to their previous meeting, the Canadians isolated Stevens for an extended period. The build for the hot tag was lengthy, with the follow up brief; Hoyt dominated the heels before a comically weak referee bump provided the opening for Roode to use Hart’s abandoned megaphone. He interrupted Natural Disaster, allowing Young to pin Douglas for the dirty win. A non-title match on PPV really is a champions’ kryptonite. It was a straightforward tag wrestling, however it achieved its purpose – its layout made Team Canada appear cunning and re-established their threat.
Winners: Team Canada in 14:44
6: Outlaw Kip James & Monty Brown vs. 3 Live Kru (Ron Killings & Konnan) in a Tag Team Street Fight:
A conflicted B.G. James left Slammiversary with his allegiance unclear; he hasn’t been seen since. Killings has faith that he’ll return to the 3 Live Kru, whereas Konnan is dubious. Conversely, Outlaw believes he and the one-time Road Dogg are soon to be reunited as a team. He’s adopted the Kip James moniker because he considers B.G. a brother and “Bullet” Bob Armstrong (B.G.’s father) always treated him like a son, apparently. The bout is a passable, albeit short weapons brawl that concludes after Killings succumbs to a two-on-one situation as Konnan is laid out, suffering the Alpha Male’s POUNCE. As has continued to be the case throughout this rivalry, the contest was secondary to the ongoing storyline. The match smacked of a precursor for the aftermath, which failed to meaningfully advance the story regardless. Kip beckoned B.G to the ring, handing him a chair in order to strike Killings. Though like at Slammiversary, when B.G. was unwilling to hit Kip, he can’t pull the trigger on Truth and walks away as the fans boo. The intended reception for this angle is unclear; Kip is clearly a heel, however the audience are naturally supporting his cause, as he is attempting to reunite a once hugely popular tag team.
Winners: Kip James & Monty Brown in 5:20
7: Sean Waltman vs. A.J. Styles with Jerry Lynn as Special Guest Referee:
At Slammiversary, Waltman played an essential role in preventing Styles retaining his NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Former rival of both men, Jerry Lynn, interjected himself as he wants to see this important match (in the division he helped build) done right. His lack of faith in TNA’s officiating is understandable. The competitors have excellent chemistry, they are well suited as opponents, with Styles particularly bringing the best out of Waltman. The early technical wrestling is unsurprisingly solid before the intensity begins to gradually escalate naturally, which is neatly executed. Waltman executes a dive from the ring post and collides disturbingly hard with Styles, whose nose is bloodied by the impact. It looks like concussion city but A.J. seems his usual phenomenal self, smoothly transitioning a backslide to a double underhook before lifting his adversary for the Styles Clash. Waltman survives, scoring a near fall of his own after dodging the Spiral Tap and hitting the X Factor ahead of the inevitable guest referee involvement, triggered by Waltman’s provocation. He attempts to bend the rules until Lynn has seen enough. The referee kicks the heel’s arm to release his grip on the top rope, allowing A.J. to transition into a second Styles Clash for the finish. Lynn’s physical interruption smartly gives the former X-Pac a reasonable excuse for losing, even if the referee didn’t overstep his mark any further than Waltman himself had in the match.
Winner: A.J. Styles in 14:37
Having confronted Team Canada, Kip James and Monty Brown regarding the whereabouts of Rhino earlier in the evening, Jeff Jarrett’s next target is Larry Zbyszko. He is also clueless regarding Rhino’s location – but reaffirms that he is in the building. They reccomend you “dress for the job you want”, well I ask you: what job does TNA Director of Authority Larry Zbyszko want?
8: Petey Williams (w/ A-1) vs. Christopher Daniels (C) for the TNA X Division Championship:
Williams utilised his famous Canadian Destroyer to defeat Daniels on iMPACT, however the Fallen Angel believes he has more weapons in his arsenal than his “one-dimensional” opponent. Nevertheless, the challenger is the initial aggressor, he sequences his offense nicely and is aided by the interference of A-1 at ringside. The champion replies with a devastating apron Powerbomb before targeting the Canadian’s back. As Williams begins to make a comeback, Samoa Joe emerges on the stage. Daniels retreats when Williams looks for the Canadian Destroyer until noticing Joe, his momentary hesitation allows A-1 to throw him back into the ring. Daniels regains control after nailing a crisp Death Valley Driver, although Williams capitalises on a minor lapse in concentration from the Fallen Angel, locking him in the Sharpshooter. Daniels forces a rope break and they both jockey for position to perform their finishing moves until the challenger impressively counters Angel’s Wings with a hurricanrana. Neither wrestler is able to gain a decisive advantage until A-1 throws Williams a chain and distracts the official. Unbeknownst to the Canadians, Daniels has a weapon of his own, which he uses to drop his opponent before executing the Best Moonsault Ever (BME) to retain the championship by pinfall.
All-heel contests are particularly rare on PPV events. They’re a risk because it’s an odd dynamic, the conflict of good versus evil is fundamental to American wrestling formula and fans may be unsure of how to react with no obvious wrestler to root for. There is an element of that here, yet they make it work, as they skilfully wrestle their match without playing to their crowd – the bout had an air of legitimacy, as both men were solely focused on victory. It was fun to watch the heels attempt to out-heel one another, although the finish arguably felt a little out of place.
Winner and still TNA X Division Champion: Christopher Daniels in 16:24
We’re reminded that TNA Sacrifice, which will feature the final of the TNA Super X Cup, is the next PPV event on their calendar.
9: Abyss (w/ James Mitchell) vs. Raven (C) in a No Surrender Dog Collar Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship:
Abyss, now managed by a returning James Mitchell, assaulted Raven on iMPACT after narrowly losing out in the King of the Mountain match at Slammiversary. A chain connects the two by the neck in this contest, which can only end by pinfall, with no surrender allowed as per Raven’s request. The champion wins an early battle of wits by launching chairs into the ring, a wise distraction that allows him to pull Abyss into a chair wedged between the turnbuckles. The Monster soon asserts his dominance, yet Raven draws first blood by stapling a dollar bill to his rival’s forehead! Nonetheless, the bigger man is able to utilise his power advantage by dragging Raven into the ring post following Mitchell’s timely distraction. The heels set adjacent tables for an attempted Chokeslam off the stage, however Raven counters, sending Abyss crashing through the tables below. No chance for respite though, as the challenger intelligently yanks Raven from the ramp, through a table.
Abyss soon requires the aid of his new manager when the champion uses the chain to choke him on the apron, with the ropes providing leverage. Mitchell strikes with his signature cane to break the hold before the stipulation falters and Abyss escapes the collar, retrieving his favoured thumbtacks and spreading them across the canvas. Raven follower Cassidy Riley makes a cameo to suffer a devastating top rope Chokeslam through a table at ringside. Attention turns back to the thumbtacks, a foreign object with which Abyss has a hit and miss record. There are two thumbtack bumps here – he’s the victim of both. Raven Powerbombs the challenger onto the tacks initially, despite Abyss’ comeback and near fall off a Black Hole Slam, the champion nails a second DDT, again onto the tacks, for the victory.
Jeff Jarrett was heavily featured in the pre-match video package, a bizarre choice given that, from a kayfabe perspective, he is not supposed to be involved. Nevertheless, he makes his inevitable appearance in the aftermath, interrupting Raven’s celebrations to address the champion. Double J teases a physical confrontation, threatening to take back the gold that he feels is rightfully his. He instead offers the champion two words of advice: “turn around”. Raven turns and is obliterated by the GORE from Rhino, confirming an unexpected alliance! Earlier on, Monty Brown effectively ended his co-operation with Jarrett in a backstage segment. With the benefit of hindsight, the dissolution of their understanding cleared the pathway for the formation of a new alliance. Essentially, I should have seen this coming. Unfortunately (as Brown is fantastic and deserved far better) Jarrett’s previous partnership didn’t lead anywhere – we’ll see how this new one unfolds.
Regarding the bell-to-bell, it was the hardcore brawl that you’d expect and hope for between Abyss and Raven. There were moments of smart creativity involving the chain, with sufficient levels of brutality to match expectations. Thumbtack spots were of course prevalent, they are absolutely overdone in 2005 TNA, although the head first bump was a commitment worthy of compliment. The stipulation played to the strengths of both men and Raven looked strong in his first title defense. Crucially, this was vastly different to the matches that came beforehand, which served the main event well.
Winner and still NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Raven in 19:17
No Surrender was an inessential – as if any wrestling could ever be essential – yet thoroughly enjoyable three hours of entertainment. The TNA landscape was largely unscathed by this PPV, which had no title changes and few major storyline developments. It carried a house show vibe in that it was amusing albeit not particularly consequential. Nonetheless, a trifecta of very good X Division bouts (all ***1/2) accounted for much of the in-ring portion of the evening, forming the strong core of a show that was punctuated by a decent main event (***) which provided drastic stylistic variety from the preceding featured matches.