In The Impact Zone Vol. 16: Ranking TNA’s 2005 PPVs

Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Wrapping up the 2005 step of our journey through TNA monthly pay-per-view history, we reflect upon TNA’s PPV presentations of the year, counting down from weakest to greatest.

12. Destination X, March 13th

Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Overall Score: 3

Recommended Matches:

  • Christopher Daniels def. A.J. Styles (C), Ron Killings & Elix Skipper in an Ultimate X Challenge to win the X Division Championship in 25:19 (***1/2)

This show was plagued with issues that hindered previous events… Those issues were amplified at Destination X and unfolded to an even more damaging extent. The official was knocked down in each of the last three matches, which all featured unsatisfying finishes. There were no clear, decisive resolutions to any of the headline bouts.

The name of March’s Destination X PPV misdirected my anticipation toward a showcase for TNA’s X Division, which did not truly arrive until the summer months upon bolstering their roster. The featured X Division bout on this card, albeit entertaining, was a slightly underwhelming showing given its overbooked nature that was symptomatic of the entire evening’s booking and the unattainably high Ultimate X standard set at Final Resolution. Outright duds outnumbered recommended matches (those above ***). Amongst an average undercard, the aggressively boring Disciples of Destruction vs Phi Delta Slam and intelligence insulting Monty Brown vs Trytan bouts chiefly contributed to TNA’s weakest PPV to date.

11. Hard Justice, May 15th

TNA Hard Justice 2005 pay-per-view logo
Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Overall Score: 4.5 – downgraded upon review

Recommended Matches:

  • A. J. Styles def. Jeff Jarrett (C) with Tito Ortiz as Special Guest Referee to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in 19:30 (***1/4)
  • Raven def. Sean Waltman in a Clockwork Orange House of Fun Match in 13:00 (***)
  • Christopher Daniels (C) def. Shocker to retain the TNA X Division Championship in 11:58 (***)

We were long overdue an NWA World Heavyweight Championship match that delivered. It arrived at an ideal time, making an otherwise uneventful show worthwhile…Much of the undercard would not have been out of place on an episode of iMPACT. That’s not to say it was bad – it was simply uninspiring; neither here nor there.

Despite its lowly ranking, May’s Hard Justice event was comparatively inoffensive against Destination X despite some weak matches. Regardless, its generally lacklustre nature was hardly PPV worthy. Although a handful of reasonably entertaining contests augmented this card, the show would surely be amongst the promotion’s most forgettable had A.J. Styles failed to end Jeff Jarrett’s almost year-long reign of terror in the main event. This was the first NWA World Heavyweight Championship change on a TNA monthly PPV and a stand-out moment of their year.

10. Against All Odds, February 13th

Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Overall Score: 4.75

Recommended Matches:

  • A. J. Styles (C) def. Christopher Daniels 2-1 (after overtime) in an Ironman Match to retain the TNA X Division Championship in 31:42 (****1/4)

As usual, the X Division provided the highlight, with A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels delivering a brilliant 30-minute plus clinic in their Ironman match… One bout cannot make a great show, however. The remainder of the card was unable to reach anything resembling the same standard, despite decent efforts in the opener and the NWA World Tag Team Championship match. Unfortunately, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship main events have consistently disappointed thus far. Interference, referee bumps and foreign objects have been an ever-present feature of Jarrett’s championship defences.

Against All Odds was the clearest example of one-match show from TNA’s 2005 PPV catalogue. Although Styles and Daniels’ 31-minute clinic nudged the February event a touch above Hard Justice, much of the card, which contained stinkers involving a NASCAR broadcaster and an unmotivated Dustin Rhodes, ranged between downright poor and simply passable. Jarrett’s mediocre NWA World Heavyweight Championship defence against Kevin Nash was the tip of the iceberg in terms of below-par main events. I’m not sure what convinced bookers to attempt a re-do at Bound for Glory eight months later…

9. Slammiversary, June 19th

Overall Score: 5.25

Recommended Matches:

  • Christopher Daniels (C) def. Michael Shane & Chris Sabin in a Three-Way Elimination Match to retain the TNA X Division Championship in 17:10 (***3/4)
  • Raven def. Monty Brown, Abyss, Sean Waltman & A.J. Styles (C) in a King of the Mountain Match to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in 14:17 (***1/4)
  • Shocker def. Alex Shelley in 10:13 (***)

As the night concluded, Tenay remarked that “when we look back at professional wrestling history, ladies and gentlemen you will classify Slammiversary 2005 as an incredible, incredible event”. Let’s be honest: it was probably decent at best… The card thankfully seemed to be relieved from the overused crutches of previous PPVs. Tropes like bizarre stipulations, referee bumps and weapon strikes were omitted, helping the madness of the main event feel more meaningful.

Although Slammiversary’s bell-to-bell standard was decidedly average, its strong duo of closing bouts, including the only King of the Mountain match of 2005, stood out. The final hour made it easy to forgive a completely forgettable midcard that did little to enhance TNA’s third anniversary celebration. Nevertheless, Raven’s first-time NWA World Heavyweight Championship triumph and Samoa Joe’s debut in the six-sided ring laid foundations for the run of solid shows that followed.

8. Bound For Glory, October 23rd

TNA Bound For Glory 2005 logo
Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Overall Score: 5.5 – upgraded upon review

Recommended Matches:

  • Rhino def. Abyss, Sabu & Jeff Hardy in a Four-Way Monster’s Ball Match in 12:20 (***3/4)
  • A. J. Styles (C) def. Christopher Daniels 1-0 in a 30-Minute Ironman Match to retain the TNA X Division Championship in 30:00 (***3/4):
  • America’s Most Wanted (C) def. The Naturals in a Tag Team Match to retain the NWA World Tag Team Championships in 10:37 (***)

The night opened by reminiscing upon the highs of the promotion’s monthly PPV past, yet the final matches unfolded like a recap of their lows during Jarrett’s previous run on top… More of the pageantry that we saw in the opener, such as Joe’s entrance, would have enhanced the presentation of this show as a grand occasion. Overall, “TNA’s Super Bowl” fell short of its billing. The event failed to leap out from their other PPVs in terms of aesthetic, in-ring product and star power. Many of the undercard matches were too short to achieve anything meaningful and had a weekly television feel. The company made significant changes in the build-up to Bound For Glory that arguably cooled their momentum…

Disappointment with TNA’s WrestleMania-equivalent show, which influenced my initial 5/10 score, came from the card’s clumsily composed concluding matches. In fairness, the October PPV served up back-to-back bouts that contributed to In the Impact Zone Vol. 15: Top Ten TNA PPV Matches of 2005. Kevin Nash’s untimely medical issue, which derailed the planned main event, was admittedly unfortunate, though it’s hard to imagine his bout against Jeff Jarrett would have been significantly better than the end result. Bound For Glory’s convoluted ending featured Rhino winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship across a disappointing duo of contests before raising the gold atop a casket, bizarrely. Double J quickly regained the title from the Man Beast on a following episode of iMPACT, rendering much of TNA’s grandest stage insignificant.

7. Lockdown, April 24th

Overall Score: 6.5 – upgraded upon review

Recommended Matches:

  • A. J. Styles def. Abyss in a Six Sides of Steel Cage Match in 18:00 (****1/4)
  • Christopher Daniels (C) def. Elix Skipper in a Six Sides of Steel Cage Match to retain the TNA X Division Championship in 15:28 (***1/4)
  • America’s Most Wanted (C) def. Team Canada in a Tag Team Six Sides of Steel Strap Match to retain the NWA World Tag Team Championships in 14:00 (***1/4)

An entire card focused around one match-type is undoubtedly too much. The stipulation itself experienced diminishing returns as the night progressed due to sheer repetition. Likewise, high spots such as cage dives and weapon strikes were diluted ahead of the featured matches. Numerous variations were implemented in order to differentiate the bouts. There were hits and misses… Nonetheless, the conclusion leaves the lasting impression of a show and I’ll remember this one favourably due to the wonderful main event.

A.J. Styles and Abyss are due credit for revitalising the steel cage stipulation in the main event. The structure had become oversaturated in the prior two and a half hours, unnecessarily shoehorned into contests without merit. The undercard was a mixed bag, though the best bouts were, for the most part, those kept simple; hopefully the cage is reserved for headliners on future Lockdowns in order to avoid sub-stipulations for the sake of variety, such as the awful Prince of Darkness match. Despite following WrestleMania by a matter of weeks, Lockdown drew TNA’s joint second highest buyrate of the year, indicating that the unique PPV concept successfully piqued fan interest.

6. Final Resolution, January 16th

Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Overall Score: 6.75

Recommended Matches:

  • A. J. Styles def. Petey Williams (C) & Chris Sabin in a Triple Threat Ultimate X Match to win the TNA X Division Championship in 19:55 (****1/2)
  • America’s Most Wanted def. Team Canada (C) in a Tag Team Match to win the NWA World Tag Team Championships in 19:12 (***3/4)
  • Elix Skipper def. Sonjay Dutt in 10:12 (***)

Although the show started well, the midcard slump was noticeable, with several bouts failing to deliver anything exceeding television quality… It’s a shame the main event was unable to build upon the prior championship matches, as it felt over-reliant on tropes that were utilised earlier on in the show. TNA’s home-grown talent have provided the highlights on their first three PPVs… unique novelties, such as the Ultimate X match seen tonight and, of course, the six-sided ring give the promotion itself a refreshing individual identity.

Following 2004’s Victory Road and Turning Point, this was TNA’s third monthly PPV presentation. It is an early example of their unintentionally frequent PPV formula: a so-so midcard, a show-stealing X Division contest and an underwhelming NWA World Heavyweight Championship main event courtesy of Jeff Jarrett. Regardless, the Ultimate X Three-Way and preceding NWA World Tag Team Championship bout, which both qualified for In the Impact Zone Vol. 15: Top Ten TNA PPV Matches of 2005 and were thankfully the lengthiest battles of the night, made an elsewhere lacking evening worthwhile.

5. No Surrender, July 17th

TNA No Surrender 2005 logo
Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Overall Score: 7

Recommended Matches:

  • Samoa Joe def. Chris Sabin in 14:02 (***3/4) (upgraded upon review)
  • Christopher Daniels (C) def. Petey Williams to retain the TNA X Division Championship in 16:24 (***1/2)
  • A. J. Styles def. Sean Waltman with Jerry Lynn as Special Guest Referee in 14:37 (***1/2)
  • Raven (C) def. Abyss in a No Surrender Dog Collar Match to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship (***)

No Surrender was an inessential… 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… Nonetheless, a trifecta of very good X Division bouts 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.

TNA’s PPV product markedly hit its stride in the summer months. July’s No Surrender was the first in a succession of positively received shows. The promotion had carved out its own identity, further removed from WWE’s content than previously. As the recommended matches above indicate, the X Division, which had reinforced its already formidable roster after the additions of Samoa Joe and Sean Waltman, carried much of the load concerning in-ring quality at the time. Whilst his title defenses were hardly spectacular, Raven’s newly-acquired spot atop the card as NWA World Heavyweight Champion, a regular babyface presence, reinvigorated the product following months of Jeff Jarrett’s repetitive reign.

4. Turning Point, December 11th

TNA Turning Point 2005 Logo
Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Overall Score: 7

Recommended Matches:

  • Samoa Joe def. A.J. Styles (C) to win the TNA X Division Championship in 18:58 (****1/2)
  • Sabu def. Abyss in a Barbed Wire Massacre Match in 10:59 (***1/4)
  • Christian Cage def. Monty Brown in an NWA World Heavyweight Championship Contender’s Match in 12:32 (***)

Main event aside, Turning Point continued a sequence of quality TNA PPV presentations… Unfortunately, Jarrett’s work fails to justify his stranglehold of the World Championship scene and the lazy shortcuts that plague his main events continue to harm the TNA PPV product. In a sense, this was TNA’s 2005 on PPV in microcosm. The conclusion, the reveal of Sting’s impending arrival, was cause for optimism heading into 2006.

TNA’s final PPV of the year, Turning Point, was indicative of both the star power the company had gathered throughout 2005 and the quality with which their acquisitions been booked. Rhino, for instance, appeared a natural fit as the near-unstoppable main event powerhouse. For Sabu, a violent and bloody feud against Abyss was the perfect spot. A six-month undefeated streak, littered with superb performances, quickly established Samoa Joe – the pick of the bunch happened on December 11th versus A.J. Styles. Had that occurred amid a different twelve-month period, it’d likely be a TNA Match of the Year. Regardless, the iconic Three-way from Unbreakable was untouchable in my opinion, though TNA curiously identified the Barbed Wire Massacre opener at Turning Point as their pick in their TNA Year End Awards.

3. Genesis, November 13th

TNA Genesis 2005 logo
Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Overall Score: 7.25

Recommended Matches:

  • Team Ministry (Samoa Joe, Alex Shelley, Roderick Strong & Christopher Daniels) def. Austin Aries, Sonjay Dutt, Chris Sabin & Matt Bentley in an Elimination X Match in 23:15 (***3/4)
  • Rhino & Team 3D def. NWA World Tag Team Champions America’s Most Wanted & NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett in a Six-Man Tag Team Match in 15:48 (***1/2)
  • A. J. Styles (C) def. Petey Williams to retain the TNA X Division Championship in 18:20 (***1/2)

Featuring just seven matches, the least of any TNA monthly PPV to date, this show was streamlined and focused… Despite the evening’s imperfections, there was no filler. Crucially, the headline contests all delivered… the exciting, lively main event punctuated an entertaining night of action with its cathartic aftermath… The resolution – recent acquisitions, Christian Cage and Team 3D standing tall in front of the delighted fans – was a payoff to Jarrett’s long-running paranoia storyline and the Genesis of a new chapter in TNA history.

There were certainly stronger TNA PPV cards in 2005 than Genesis in respect of overall in-ring quality. Others reached far greater heights. However, in terms of a start-to-finish complete journey, the November PPV remained engaging throughout. It was free from the drawbacks of many prior shows and, of course, featured Christian Cage’s arrival. Having stumbled upon Genesis as their introduction to TNA through rumours of an important debut, wrestling fans could easily have become hooked on the product in the wake of an evening that showcased the promotion in particularly good light. The headline contests each set up intriguing stories whilst delivering the goods in their own right.

2. Sacrifice, August 14th

TNA Sacrifice 2005 logo
Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Overall Score: 7.75

Recommended Matches:

  • Samoa Joe def. A.J. Styles to win the 2005 TNA Super X Cup in 15:15 (****)
  • Jerry Lynn def. Sean Waltman in 15:31 (***3/4)
  • Abyss def. Lance Hoyt in 9:09 (***1/4)
  • Rhino & Jeff Jarrett def. Sabu & NWA World Heavyweight Champion Raven in a Tag Team Match in 16:23 (***)
  • TNA X Division Champion Christopher Daniels def. Austin Aries in 9:35 (***)

In comparison to the earlier TNA PPV’s, this August PPV exhibited far greater focus on the bell-to-bell product. It makes sense to lean on the talented in-ring competitors that comprise the roster, rather than attempt to produce a WWE-esque storyline driven product which yielded mixed results. Subsequently, the shows are now far more consistent quality-wise than the erratic early PPVs, which occasionally featured absolute bangers that were offset against total stinkers. This was comfortably the best top-to-bottom monthly PPV card TNA have produced.

Naturally, TNA’s shift of focus toward presenting exciting, vibrant wrestling matches yielded a selection of strong cards in the summer. The change in philosophy is clear when comparing Sacrifice to TNA’s early monthly PPVs where extremely minimal durations were afforded to the likes of mini luchadores and women’s contests and yesterday’s men were prevalent. The in-ring content here indicative of their improvement and had the highest mean match rating of any show on our list. Time was distributed well between the contests, allowing several bouts (over half of the card) to reach recommended level, with not a sub-standard contest to be found.

1. Unbreakable, September 11th

TNA Unbreakable Logo
Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Overall Score: 8.25

Recommended Matches:

  • A. J. Styles def. Samoa Joe & Christopher Daniels (C) in a Three-Way Match to win the TNA X Division Championship in 22:50 (*****)
  • Abyss def. Sabu in a No Disqualification Match in 11:30 (***1/4)
  • Austin Aries def. Roderick Strong in 8:00 (***)
  • Chris Sabin def. Petey Williams in 12:34 (***)
  • Raven (C) def. Rhino in a Raven’s Rules Match to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in 14:28 (***)

Unbreakable was an important show for TNA ahead of both iMPACT’s move to Spike TV and the biggest event in their short history next month. The company had gathered considerable, timely momentum in the late summer and autumn of 2005. They followed their previous PPV, Sacrifice, which was their best effort to date, with an even better showing here…

This was the culmination of the X Division’s momentum that propelled the promotion through 2005’s summer. The legendary X Division championship Three-way, which was supported by multiple solid bouts in a mixed undercard, made an otherwise okay show their PPV of the year. Although TNA offered a plethora of classic contests in the calendar year, none of their 2005 main events came anywhere close to matching the quality of the Unbreakable headliner. Styles, Daniels and Joe were rightfully given the opportunity to go on last – the first time the X Division had closed a monthly TNA PPV – and delivered a rare five-star match, unequalled in TNA . Unbreakable 2005 will therefore live long in the memory.

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