The second annual Turning Point is TNA’s final pay-per-view of 2005 and their deepest card to date! NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett defends against Rhino in a Bound For Glory rematch, as Christian Cage and Monty Brown battle for contendership. Elsewhere, A.J. Styles’ TNA X Division Championship is on the line against the undefeated Samoa Joe, Abyss and Sabu seek to inflict pain in a Barbed Wire Massacre and Team 3D compete in a Tables match against the NWA World Tag Team Champions, America’s Most Wanted.
TNA Turning Point, December 11th 2005:
The opening video package focuses solely upon Abyss and Sabu’s intense rivalry, who kick off the nights action…
1: Abyss (w/James Mitchell) vs. Sabu in a Barbed Wire Massacre Match:
These madmen collided in the wild Four-Way Monster’s Ball at Bound For Glory (***3/4) and in singles competition at both Unbreakable (***1/4) and Genesis (**1/2). The Monster won each of those one-on-one bouts, however Sabu has discovered Abyss’ kryptonite, which surrounded the ring in place of the ropes here, barbed wire. That creates awkwardness for the performers, who cannot run the ropes, a fundamental component of any traditional wrestling match. This was not one of those, though. It rejected fluidity in favour of a series of high spots that worked given the stipulation and positive fan response.
After potentially setting a record for earliest “holy shit” chant on a PPV, a bloody clash ensued. As if the barbed wire containing them wasn’t enough, the competitors utilised a variety of weapons, one of which Sabu mercilessly used to stab his opponent. For the finish, Abyss was sandwiched between two barbed wire boards, with the ECW icon nailing a leg drop to conclude the chaos. This violent confrontation played to the strengths of both wrestlers and resolved their feud in the only suitable manner.
Winner: Sabu in 10:59
The commentators, Mike Tenay and Don West, reflect upon the horrors we’ve just witnessed and discuss the remainder of tonight’s stacked card. Turning Point feels closer to a climax show than Bound For Glory did. Backstage, Shane Douglas interviews the 3 4 Live Kru, who are now firmly united after Konnan and Kip James “violated” their opponents on iMPACT. Speaking of violations – commentary discuss the upcoming X Division Championship match. The champion, A.J. Styles, has challenged Samoa Joe, who “violated” the X Division’s unwritten code of respect in a callous attack on Christopher Daniels at Genesis.
2:Alex Shelley & Roderick Strong vs. Austin Aries &Matt Bentley (w/ Traci) in a Tag Team Match:
Shelley stationed a camera at ringside in order to produce his own footage of his matches for study, an interesting way to amplify an otherwise generic “student of the game” character. This was a showcase for four hungry athletes in their mid-20s, who were fortunate that the crowd were not desensitised to regular wrestling following the insane opener. Strong’s innovative offense was particularly impressive – the standout moment being the heels’ modified Doomsday Device on Aries, transitioned into a wicked backbreaker as he fell. Nevertheless, the babyfaces scored the decisive pinfall after Bentley superkicked Shelley. It was solid undercard action, providing entertaining wrestling albeit without storyline focus.
Winners: Austin Aries &Matt Bentley in 8:04
3: Raven vs. Chris K:
Since Genesis, TNA Director of Authority Larry Zbyszko has continued to hinder Raven’s career in an unsuccessful effort to make the former NWA World Heavyweight Champion sign a release. Zbyszko’s handpicked opponent for his rival this evening is Chris K (formerly Kanyon), who has a history with Raven dating back to their WCW days. The action was decent, although the bout was brief and the result rather predictable.
Raven emerged victorious from a close contest by following a Powerbomb onto a steel chair with the DDT. Zbyszko’s post-match fury was intensified by Raven’s slap, resulting in security having to separate the two. Increasingly, It feels likely that this feud must lead to either Raven leaving the company or Zbyszko losing his Director of Authority status.
Winner: Raven in 5:45
Cracks are beginning to show amongst Team Canada, who are interviewed backstage. The Canadians bicker before NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett arrives, with Bobby Roode in tow. Tensions between the title holder and TNA management, who have vowed to change TNA forever heading into in 2006, are at an all-time high. Double J and Coach D’Amore are determined to uncover exactly what the company higher-ups have planned tonight. A succession of minor technical faults throughout the evening suggest that something is coming…
4: Team Canada (Petey Williams, A-1, Eric Young & Bobby Roode) (w/Scott D’Amore) vs. 4 Live Kru (B.G. James, Ron “The Truth” Killings, Kip James & Konnan) in an 8-Man Tag Team Match:
This is the sixth occasion that members of these factions have squared off on monthly TNA PPVs, indicative of the lack of depth in the TNA tag team division at the time. Though arguably, it’s irrelevant who opposes the Kru. The competitive aspect of the group’s matches is secondary in importance to their in-house storyline progression, with their opponents merely interchangeable wrestlers, along for the ride.
Whilst the action was passable here, it’s essentially meaningless. Recent addition to the Kru, Kip James, received the hot tag and hit a Famouser on Bobby Roode before Konnan cost his side the victory by striking his partner with a steel chair! Once Roode had covered Kip to win, Konnan used the same chair to assault B.G. in the aftermath yet appeared friendly toward Killings, who was left baffled by the development. Perhaps this is how we finally arrive at the inevitable New Age Outlaws reunion, which is eight months in the making, having first been teased at Lockdown in April.
Winners: Team Canada in 7:18
5: Diamonds in the Rough (Simon Diamond, Elix Skipper & David Young) vs. Sonjay Dutt, Chris Sabin & Dale Torborg (w/ A.J. Pierzynski) in a Six-Man Tag Team Match:
A.J. Pierzynski, who accompanies the babyface team, played for the 2005 World Series winning Chicago White Sox baseball team. Torborg, who was their strength trainer, also portrayed The Kiss Demon in WCW, presenting the opportunity for a baseball and wrestling crossover, earning TNA a degree of mainstream media attention. Simon Diamond provoked an altercation with the White Sox star on iMPACT, leading to this six-man tag. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, who is a delight on guest commentary, has heartening camaraderie with Tenay and his humour remains sharp despite his declining health.
Heenan is also involved in the finish: following Diamond’s cheating, the Hall of Famer distracts the referee, allowing Pierzynski to strike Diamond with a home plate. Sabin & Dutt, whose exciting offense impressed, capitalised by executing their Cradle Shock and Hindu Press finishers for the win. Sure, the action is average, but it’s harmless fun that facilitated a celebrity crossover and an enjoyable appearance by the legendary Bobby Heenan.
Skipper was sloppier than usual here, sadly indicative of his fall from grace since last year’s Turning Point, where he shone in the main event. To commemorate the World Series triumph, the babyfaces presented Pierzynski and Torborg with TNA diamond rings – don’t you need to win a battle royal for one of those?
Winners: Sonjay Dutt, Chris Sabin & Dale Torborg in 7:57
6: Christian Cage vs. Monty Brown in an NWA World Heavyweight Championship Contender’s Match:
Brown has been vying for NWA World Heavyweight Championship contendership since the dissolution of his partnership with Jeff Jarrett in August. Tonight, he is at risk of losing his spot to newcomer Christian Cage, who was unveiled as the major talent acquisition at Genesis. TNA’s main event scene arguably lacks genuine bell-to-bell quality, which Cage provides. The man is seemingly incapable of wrestling poor matches. That could be attributed to his mastery of sequencing his spots with his opponents’, something few throughout history have done better. The Canadian also excels when elevating his opponents and made Brown look strong here.
The Alpha Male controlled much of the contest, yet he was ultimately outsmarted by Captain Charisma. The veteran countered a Full Nelson by running Brown face-first into an exposed turnbuckle before performing the Unprettier for the pinfall victory. Cage is a big fish in the TNA pond and simply couldn’t lose his debut PPV match; it’s a matter of time until he challenges for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
Winner: Christian Cage in 12:32
Douglas interviews Team 3D, who have been away representing TNA in Japan. I think Brother Ray should apologise to the American fans.
7: Team 3D (Brother Ray & Brother Devon) vs. NWA World Tag Team Champions America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) in a Tag Team Tables Match:
Team 3D have been engaged in a heated rivalry with A.M.W since debuting prior to Bound For Glory. The former Dudleys, teaming with Rhino, were victorious in the six-man main event at Genesis (***1/2), having pinned Storm. Both opponents must be put through tables in order to win this match. The NWA World Tag Team Champions’ entrance ends on the stage when they’re rushed by Brother Ray and Devon. Team 3D stand tall following the initial exchanges, so Brother Ray tells Devon to GET THE TABLES. They try to eliminate Storm via Dudley Death Drop, however Harris moves the table, the first of several similar save spots as the bout progresses.
Devon similarly saves his partner from elimination later on before eating a James Storm Superkick. A.M.W attempt to 3D Devon, who counters, allowing Brother Ray to intervene. Team 3D execute A.M.W’s Death Sentence on Storm to secure his elimination via table breakage. The Tennessee Cowboy took an awkward bump and appeared to suffer a legitimate injury. Outnumbered, the Wildcat urgently takes the fight to his adversaries with a steel chair but is unable to endure the numerical disadvantage. The half-brothers 3D him through a table on the stage for the victory.
Winners: Team 3D in 9:40
Tables matches aren’t renowned for a high standard of work rate. True to form, this will never be mistaken for a classic. Nevertheless, aided by a sub-ten minute duration, it remained engaging, with a sense of jeopardy maintained throughout because of several close calls. Unfortunately, the non-title factor was practically a spoiler. Had A.M.W been booked to win, there would be no reason not to have the belts at stake.
Consequently, the ending was arguably anti-climactic, particularly given the two-on-one advantage held by the babyfaces ahead of the finish. The match peaked at the first elimination; it may have improved had both champions been eliminated simultaneously. Nonetheless, fans love to watch the Dudleys slam other wrestlers through tables, that was no different on this occasion.
8: Samoa Joe vs. A.J. Styles (C) for the TNA X Division Championship:
Styles starts aggressively in an effort to punish Joe, who entered wearing a towel stained with Daniels’ blood, for his disrespect. Regardless, the unbeaten Samoan soon asserts his dominance, viciously swinging his lighter opponent against the barricade at ringside. The champion’s initial comebacks are ruthlessly cut short, although his resilience keeps him alive, surviving Joe’s arsenal, including a tightly-applied Boston Crab. Styles eventually begins to sequence some offense, notably hitting a spectacular Fosbury Flop to the outside and an inexplicable Powerbomb. The action is fast-paced, hard-hitting and back and forth as the two now go blow-for-blow. Both competitors’ mouths are bloodied, telling of the aggression on display.
Despite Joe’s stiff lariat and Tiger Driver, the champion repeatedly, defiantly, kicks out at one. This prompts Samoa Joe to go for the kill. Styles escapes both a Coquina Clutch and thankfully a top-rope Muscle Buster attempt before executing a Styles Clash. Joe’s undefeated status is in jeopardy but he kicks out at two! He wisely counters the Spiral Tap by shoving the official into the ropes, grasping A.J. close seconds later.
The challenger uses the Coquina Clutch to choke the life from the three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, who nears the bottom rope. He can’t quite make it – Styles passes out. A new champion is crowned! Unsatisfied, Joe attacks his fallen opponent post-match. He retrieves a steel chair, looking to eliminate Styles, just like he did Daniels, until the Fallen Angel himself returns! The former X Division Champion makes a beeline for Joe, though Daniels is less than 100%. Joe returns fire and leaves his rivals laying as security intervene.
Winner and NEW TNA X Division Champion: Samoa Joe in 18:58
This was a fantastic sequel to the excellent TNA Super X Cup Final at Sacrifice (****). There were even greater stakes here – the X Division Championship, combined with a heated personal issue – stoking a palpable intensity. The story is simple yet effective, giving clear insight to the motivations of both men. This had the aura of a big fight, exemplified by the “Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks” dynamic amongst the fans, who were split in support of each man.
Styles is undoubtedly popular, however the live TNA fans always eat up Joe’s offense, who earns reactions through his emphatic delivery of basic manoeuvres. Rarely do you witness a better combination of offense and selling than these two. Joe emerged an absolute killer, leaving with the gold having dropped two rivals.
Tenay and West recap a thus far enjoyable night of action and look ahead to the January PPV, the first of 2006, Final Resolution.
9: Rhino vs. Jeff Jarrett (C) for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship:
After exchanging championship victories at Bound For Glory and on iMPACT, this is the rubber match. Despite its billing as a regular singles contest, this is initially fought under lawless conditions. The action quickly spills into the crowd, as Jarrett’s matches so often do, though Rhino dominates and draws first blood. Jarrett climbs scaffolding, retreating from the Man Beast, who follows in pursuit until the resourceful champion utilises a steel chair, sending his rival crashing through a table below.
Regardless, Rhino is resilient and performs a suplex on the ramp within minutes of his fall. Just as he attempted at Genesis, Rhino leans a table against the entrance tunnel and GOREs Jarrett through! Petey Williams and Eric Young of Team Canada intervene, chucking Rhino down the tunnel as the referee bizarrely decides that now is the time to enforce rules. The Canadians aid Jarrett back toward the ring, though Rhino also charges in at the final moment.
Williams and Young remain a nuisance at ringside as the match unfolds. Rhino inadvertently GOREs the referee, inviting A-1 and Bobby Roode to join in. The big man is GORE’d but Roode nails a Northern Lariat. Jarrett uses the guitar as a weapon yet the durable challenger survives. The official takes another face-first lie down before Jackie Gayda (for reasons not explained on this broadcast) climbs onto the apron and slaps Jarrett.Rhino hits a GORE but gets only a near fall because of the referee’s laboured count – his condition is notably inconsistent. The challenger prepares for a second-rope Rhino Driver onto a pair of upright chairs until Scott D’Amore uses the hockey stick to strike.
Opportunistically, Double J hits a Stroke off the turnbuckles onto the steel, enough to score the three count. The champion’s celebration of a successful defense is cut short when Orlando’s Universal Studios are plunged into darkness. The minor technical issues, which have sporadically interrupted the evening, appear to be reaching a climax. IT’S STING! We’re led to believe…. he’s not actually here. There are boots, a baseball bat and a trench coat displayed on a chair in the centre of the ring. Jarrett and D’Amore look unnerved as the show ends.
Winner and still NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Jeff Jarrett in 17:30
Perhaps this could have been enjoyable in isolation, had I not recently reviewed the entirety of TNAs 2005 PPV catalogue. Here’s the thing, this was the sixth one-on-one NWA World Heavyweight Championship main event that Jarrett has wrestled on TNA PPV in 2005, following matches with Monty Brown at Final Resolution (**1/4), Kevin Nash at Against All Odds (*3/4), Diamond Dallas Page at Destination X(**1/2), A.J. Styles at Hard Justice (***1/4), and Rhino at Bound For Glory (*1/2).
This was the third to feature the full selection of: a referee bump, crowd brawling, foreign objects AND outside interference. The other three featured a mixture of at least two of those trite clichés. The official’s sudden implementation of rules here was odd, particularly as a referee bump was later required in order to facilitate the aforementioned shortcuts towards the finish. The likes of both Christian Cage and Team 3D have been established as enemies of Jarrett and Team Canada previously, therefore their absence during the second half of the contest was puzzling.
Main event aside, Turning Point continued (barring the Bound For Glory blip) a sequence of quality TNA PPV presentations. Samoa Joe and A.J. Styles (****1/2) delivered another X Division classic, stealing the show with ease. Expect that to feature in the next edition of In The Impact Zone, where we rank the greatest TNA PPV matches of 2005. Christian Cage made a decent start to his TNA run against Monty Brown (***), whereas Abyss and Sabu’s feud came to a fitting end in the violent opener (***1/4).
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 a microcosm. The conclusion, the reveal of Sting’s impending arrival, was cause for optimism heading into 2006.