TNA is about to get extreme, with the return of the suicidal, homicidal, genocidal, death–defying ECW legend, Sabu! NWA World Heavyweight Champion Raven has called upon an old enemy, forming a hardcore dream team to combat Jeff Jarrett and Rhino in the main event of Sacrifice. Elsewhere, A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe contest the final of the TNA Super X Cup, Jerry Lynn returns to the six-sided ring for the first time in a year and B.G. James must choose between the 3 Live Kru or a New Age Outlaws reunion…
TNA Sacrifice, August 14th 2005:
The theme of the opening video package is, uh, sacrifice. Who would have thought? As always, we’re in Universal Studios, hosted by the commentary duo of Mike Tenay and Don West. Ahead of Sacrifice, authority figure Larry Zbyszko informed Jeff Jarett that if he wins this evening, he will earn a guaranteed NWA World Heavyweight Championship match. However, if he loses, he must wait an entire year for his next shot. Double J has felt aggrieved after failing to receive a World Championship opportunity in the wake of losing the gold. Having attacked a fan at ringside on the Slammiversary pre-show, he was withdrawn from the King of the Mountain match, costing himself a shot at the title. Elsewhere on tonight’s pre-show, it was announced that iMPACT will begin airing on Spike in October, a significant move for the company.
1: Simon Diamond, David Young & Elix Skipper vs. Sonjay Dutt, Shark Boy & Chris Sabin in a Six-Man Tag Team Match:
Elix Skipper, who has undeniably floundered since the separation of Triple X in December 2004, is the newest member of Simon Diamond’s stable. Diamond believes he can make Skipper a star. Perhaps his methods are effective, as Young recently scored his first victory in over two years on iMPACT. It’s an amusing gimmick that gives the group a consistent purpose and an easily incorporated story for their matches; it could potentially elevate Skipper up the card, although he can help himself by eliminating the botches from his game. He attempts the tightrope hurricanrana and messes it up for the third consecutive pay-per-view. Nevertheless, this is a decent opening contest featuring consistent, occasionally exciting, action and fans behind the babyfaces. The X Division trio earn the victory when Sabin utilises a modified jackknife cover to defeat Skipper following a nice exchange.
Winners: Sonjay Dutt, Shark Boy & Chris Sabin in 7:21
During the opener, Tenay noted that Zbyszko has ordered Jeff Hardy to appear tonight at Sacrifice. Hardy, who has remained absent since failing to turn up for his match against Raven at Hard Justice, will be fired if he no-shows again.
Shane Douglas interviews NWA World Tag Team Champions The Naturals and Jimmy Hart backstage. Tonight, they unite with long-time rivals America’s Most Wanted, who are also interviewed later on. Each duo are willing to join forces in order to eliminate a common enemy: Team Canada. Jeff Jarrett, who remains paranoid that TNA management are looking to replace the original talent, interrupts both interviews. He’s convinced there will be major changes before moving to Spike in October. Double J warns A.M.W of a possible release, despite their status as cornerstones of TNA. I suspect they’ll be fine – it’s not WWE in 2021.
2:Alex Shelley vs. Shocker:
This is a rubber match between the two X Division athletes. Shocker defeated Shelley at Slammiversary (***), however the youngster beat the veteran luchador in the opening round of the TNA Super X Cup on iMPACT. They begin with crisp technical wrestling exchanges, earning the deserved applause of the crowd. Similarly to their previous PPV outing, we see a continued focus on mat and submission wrestling, which is executed to a tee. There’s no obvious story beats or identifiable formula for the match lay-out, this is arguably detrimental, although it heightens the illusion of legitimate athletic competition. Shelley struggled to build momentum for much of the bout due to an array of Shocker counters (including a deftly reversed clothesline into an abdominal stretch on the mat), though he crucially reverses La Majistral cradle with his own pinning attempt, using the ropes for leverage to pick up the win. It’s a cheap victory yet a huge rub for Shelley, as commentary have invested plenty of time in discussing Shocker’s credentials.
Winner: Alex Shelley in 8:50
3: Abyss (w/ James Mitchell) vs. Lance Hoyt:
James Mitchell proclaimed that there’s only room for one giant in TNA ahead of the match. Hoss fights such as this are often lacklustre and boring, mostly due to a slow pace stemming from an overall lack of mobility. Nonetheless, these athletic giants were able to hit a home run in front of a hot crowd. Both men focused on landing heavy-hitting offense, lending to a concise, enthralling bout. Finishers and top-rope moves were exchanged and kicked out of before Abyss introduced a steel chair. That backfired when Hoyt landed an outrageous chair-assisted springboard Coast to Coast, which was only enough for a very convincing near fall. It’s no secret by now, however Hoyt continues to surprise with his athleticism. Regardless, the Monster landed a second Black Hole Slam for the hard-earned pinfall victory. He seems to have usurped Hoyt as the cult favourite, as the fans chant “ohhh oh, oh Abyss” with irritating consistency throughout.
Winner: Abyss in 9:09
Shane Douglas interviews B.G. James, who after months of indecisiveness regarding his allegiance between the 3 Live Kru and Kip James, is about to referee a contest between the two. This is a rematch from last month’s No Surrender (*3/4), where two referees suffered injuries prior to a heel victory. With the TNA referees consequently refusing to officiate, Zbyszko has forced B.G. to officiate the match, putting him in the middle of the situation that he instigated. Killings persuades B.G. that they can get past their issues, whereas Konnan is furious and wants nothing to do with him.
4: Kip James & Monty Brown vs. 3 Live Kru (Ron Killings & Konnan) in a Tag Team Match with B.G. James as Special Guest Referee:
The addition of B.G. James as the guest referee adds intrigue, along with hope that this storyline may finally conclude. The simmering animosity between B.G. and Konnan is a recurring theme throughout the bout. Initially, B.G. forced Konnan to remain on the apron, whilst turning his attention from the heels as they double teamed Killings to take control. Later, Konnan unloaded on both opponents following a hot tag before throwing a shoe at Kip. He tossed the other in Brown’s direction but inadvertently struck his one-time partner instead. Tensions reached boiling point when B.G prevented Konnan striking Kip with a steel chair – Kip soon looked to use the weapon himself but the thus far impartial official wouldn’t allow that either. Frustrated, Kip shoved B.G., who replied with a right hand to the jaw of his ex-partner! Konnan’s steel chair shot to Kip’s head followed ahead of James enthusically counting the three. Whilst the in-ring quality is below average, they’re evidently not looking for stars. This was about the storyline, which finally concluded with a feel-good moment. Perhaps the finale was slightly anti-climactic as we’re ultimately back to square one, however TNA could not realistically have introduced the former Billy Gunn without addressing the New Age Outlaws elephant in the room.
Winners: 3 Live Kru in 7:45
We cut to a promo for TNA’s upcoming Bound for Glory PPV in October, touted as the biggest event in their history so far.
Still no sign of Jeff Hardy as of yet, by the way.
5: TNA X Division Champion Christopher Daniels vs. Austin Aries:
The non-title “internet dream match” is next up. TNA listened to those nerds online, who voted for Austin Aries over Roderick Strong, Jay Lethal and Matt Sydal to challenge the Fallen Angel. A poor choice was impossible. With Aries having made a name for himself on the independents, the fans are split between he and the self-proclaimed “Mr TNA”. Despite Aries’ hot start (including the always thrilling outside dive through the lower ropes), Daniels gained control and targeted the debutant’s back. This was unfortunately inconsequential and isn’t sold by Aries during his comeback. Nevertheless, he provided an exciting performance in his TNA debut! They told a reliable story of Daniels underestimating Aries and, of course, getting more than he had bargained for from the outsider. Ultimately, Daniels was a step ahead and reversed Aries’ brainbuster attempt with a nasty Angel’s Wings for the win. Given the names involved it’s obviously well-wrestled, however a little more attention to detail (along with a few additional minutes) could have elevated this a notch.
Winner: Christopher Daniels in 9:35
6: Sean Waltman vs. Jerry Lynn:
Jerry Lynn suffered a shoulder injury in 2004 but returned to guest referee Waltman’s match at No Surrender. Lynn used some hands-on officiating to keep Waltman in check, drawing the ire of the former X-Pac. This is Lynn’s in-ring TNA return and is rightfully treated as a big deal beforehand. Naturally, Waltman frequently targets the left arm and shoulder. The veterans pace the action nicely and maximise the offense through proper selling, which plenty of X Division matches (and many in 2021) fail to do so effectively. Chris Sabin, Shark Boy and Sonjay Dutt emerge on the stage to watch as the bout spills to the outside when Waltman nails a somersault dive. From the apron, he attempts to suplex Lynn back into the ring but gets countered – Waltman himself is shockingly suplexed to the floor! Lynn makes his comeback as he nurses the weakened body part. After countering a hurricanrana into a sit-out Powerbomb, he looks to finish but Waltman hits a low blow, followed by the X Factor. The resilient veteran survives not only that, but also a Tombstone Piledriver. Waltman hoists Lynn onto his shoulders, who counters with an appropriately named victory roll to win. The crowd and Waltman perform a satisfying show of respect for Lynn in the aftermath, which is brutally cut short by the sore loser. He lays waste to the former ECW Champion, striking his injured shoulder/arm with a steel chair as its draped across the guardrail.
The post-match angle absolutely earned its notable heat, with the sympathy that Lynn built throughout his exceptional performance paying off. Pacing and selling are underrated aspects of great matches but this also featured plenty of action – I could not have predicted a Tombstone Piledriver, nor a suplex from the apron to the floor. Credit to Waltman, who is experiencing a career renaissance in TNA, for taking that wicked bump. The appearance of the young X Division athletes on the stage, as well as the significance of Lynn’s in-ring return, gave a real aura of importance and occasion to this contest.
Winner: Jerry Lynn in 15:31
7: Team Canada (A-1, Bobby Roode, Eric Young & Petey Williams) vs. America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) & NWA World Tag Team Champions The Naturals (Andy Douglas & Chase Stevens) (w/ Jimmy Hart) in an 8-Man Tag Team Match:
Team Canada defeated the champions in a six-man tag at No Surrender (**1/4) and have continued to pursue The Naturals’ gold since. America’s Most Wanted came to the aid of their former rivals during a Team Canada beatdown. Apparently, they won’t be able to win the titles until they eliminate the Team Canada problem; I’m not sure how that works, unless they’re planning on killing them here. Stevens is once again isolated by the Canadians until hitting an enziguri on Young, who is perched on the top rope. He sells the kick by taking an insane face-first bump onto the floor at ringside. That’s surely a stupidly unnecessary risk but we have to respect the commitment. Aside from a tower of doom spot resulting in Stevens taking a backflip bump off a top-rope German Suplex, it’s the only real stand-out moment of an entertaining, action-packed contest. The conclusion is reminiscent of the previous month, with the Canadians picking up a dirty non-title victory amid the chaos. The division has been treading water and feels rather repetitive as a whole. A post-match argument between the two babyface teams, which requires security to separate, indicates that we’re heading toward another Naturals and A.M.W feud.
Winners: Team Canada in 11:11
8: Samoa Joe vs. A.J. Styles in the 2005 TNA Super X Cup Final:
An opportunity to compete for the X Division Championship at the Unbreakable PPV is at stake. Styles initially gains the upper hand following a quick striking exchange before Joe, who was in no mood for an interview beforehand, annihilates him with a charging knee. Styles is sent crashing hard to the floor and subsequently struck with a diving forearm, driving him into the announce table, where X Division champion Christopher Daniels is on guest commentary. Styles replies with a springboard forearm from the guard rail and the two receive “this is awesome” chants back in the ring – a real rarity in 2005, particularly under five minutes into a contest. The Samoan cuts Styles’ momentum short by catching him in mid-air for a uranage slam and fully establishes his control. Joe aggressively tries to halt a comeback with a running leg sweep, although Styles dodges and lands the continually impressive Pele Kick.
The Phenomenal One can’t quite hoist up Joe for his finisher and is dizzied following a rapid exchange of covers. The former champion comically misses a Pele Kick that’s way off the mark, though no one is laughing when Joe’s lariat almost decapitates Styles moments later. They trade strikes which escalate in intensity as the crowd come unglued, particularly when Styles lands a vicious jumping kick square on Joe’s face. Both men answer a ten count at nine before Styles executes a spinning torture rack slam. Unfortunately, Joe’s legs catch the referee, momentarily eliminating the official. Daniels intervenes and locks eyes with the Samoan Submission Machine until A.J. eliminates the champion from the ring. Joe opportunistically capitalises upon the distraction, executing a Muscle Buster, a prelude to the Coquina Clutch. Despite nearing the ropes, the gutsy Styles is given no choice but to submit.
These two are a wrestling match made in heaven. Joe’s offense is hard-hitting and always looks lethal regardless, that combined with Styles’ consistently untouchable selling, as well as their incredible chemistry, is a fantastic combination. There were moves had me audibly reacting on impact – just watch it above! It was thrilling throughout and electrified the crowd, who evidently realised they were witnessing something special. Styles benefitted even in defeat as he clearly had the undefeated Joe rocked; he might have won had it not been for an unfortunate ref bump and Daniels’ interference.
Winner of the 2005 TNA Super X Cup: Samoa Joe in 15:15
9: Rhino & Jeff Jarrett vs. Sabu & NWA World Heavyweight Champion Raven in a Tag Team Match:
Jarrett and Rhino formed an alliance at No Surrender, which became clear when the former ECW Champion wiped out Raven with the GORE following the champion’s successful title defense. An “EC-Dub” chant starts us off and the competitors waste little time getting extreme – Raven uses a pizza cutter on Jarrett’s forehead to draw blood. With the aid of a steel chair, the heels isolate Sabu briefly before he tags in the champion. Jarrett tries to utilise the guitar to halt Raven’s momentum but disciple Cassidy Riley snatches the instrument. Double J hits the Stroke nonetheless and Rhino animalistically bloodies the champion by biting his forehead. After escaping the heel corner, Raven tags Sabu, who uses the steel chair effectively to turn the tide. Raven DDTs Jarrett but Rhino breaks up the cover before once again GORE-ing the champion. Sabu avoids a GORE attempt, which -surprise – eliminates the referee instead. The ECW legend looks to finish off Rhino until the unexpected interference of Abyss, who gorilla press slams Sabu through a table at ringside! Jeff Hardy is here, too! He deals with Abyss and Swanton Bombs Jarrett. Rhino breaks the new referee’s resultant count and sets a table in the corner. Raven goes low on the Man Beast but momentarily turns his attention to Jarrett, allowing Rhino to GORE the champion through the table and win. It quickly dawns on Jarrett that he didn’t beat Raven – we’re consequently unsure whether or not he’ll receive a title shot…
There are many violent brawls in TNA, it’s easy to become a little desensitised. A pizza cutter was decidedly gruesome, nevertheless. This was over-booked madness reminiscent of Jarrett’s 11-month title reign, however it came without the crushing predictability of those championship matches. Needlesss to say, a weapons brawl involving multiple ECW alumni felt more authentic than Jeff Jarrett vs. Monty Brown (**1/4), for example. Although, there were various points where wrestlers stood on the apron awaiting tags. Why would they play by those rules in a bout that included a man literally using a pizza cutter to mutilate another without a disqualification? I enjoyed the cliff-hanger ending, though I can’t speak for those who paid full price for Sacrifice in 2005, who may have felt short-changed by inconclusive finish. Regardless, I’m certainly intrigued to discover what comes next.
Winners: Rhino & Jeff Jarrett in 16:23
In comparison to the earlier TNA PPV’s, there is now 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.