In The Impact Zone Vol. 11: Unbreakable 2005

TNA Unbreakable Logo
Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

Here we are, the final pay-per-view stop on the road to TNA’s inaugural Bound for Glory event, Unbreakable 2005! After pinning the NWA World Heavyweight Champion at Sacrifice, Rhino challenges for the title under Raven’s rules, whilst The Naturals defend the NWA World Tag Team Championships against three opposing teams. Oh, there’s an X Division Championship match too, I guess.

TNA Unbreakable, September 11th 2005:

The opening video package topically parodies the September return of the NFL, which is a fun change of pace from the usual foreboding introductions. Tonight’s show is sponsored by Gretchen Wilson’s new All Jacked Up album, in case you’re wondering why she’s sat beneath the Unbreakable logo. Let’s jump into our opening bout from Orlando’s Universal Studios:

1: Diamonds in the Rough (Elix Skipper, David Young & Simon Diamond) vs. 3 Live Kru (B.G. James, Konnan & Ron Killings) in a Six-Man Tag Team Match:

It’s not one, nor two but the 3 Live Kru, who are finally back on the same page after a rocky few months courtesy of Kip James. In their opponents’ camp, the tutelage of Simon Diamond has begun to reverse the fortunes of his partners, although that’s not evident here. In response to a spell of early babyface dominance, Diamond triggers a brief turnaround by slapping Skipper into action. Nevertheless, the 3LK earned the notably quick win when Konnan pinned Young after the K-Factor. The contest lacked the excitement desired from an opener, it was too short to particularly impress. Nonetheless, this illustrated that while the Kru are as strong as ever following their reunion, Diamond must work in order to improve his stable.

Winners: 3 Live Kru in 4:20

Rating: *3/4

Our usual announcers, Mike Tenay and Don West, take us to a recap of pre-show footage. Monty Brown cut short a contest between Cassidy Riley and Jerrelle Clark, laying waste to the lower-card acts before challenging the winner of tonight’s NWA World Championship bout for a title shot at the upcoming Bound for Glory PPV. Jeff Jarrett interrupted to verbally confront him until Kip James, who will tag with the Alpha Male tonight (but is an ally of Double J), intervened to temper the building animosity. Cracks between Brown and Kip emerge and are further intensified in a backstage interview later on. Jeff Hardy arrived next to attack Jarrett until Kip’s rescue. There’s a sizeable queue forming for the chance to wrestle Raven…

Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

2: Austin Aries vs. Roderick Strong:

This is an “X Division showcase” that the TNA audience have apparently campaigned for. These are two non-contracted talent; the fans voted for Aries ahead of Strong to wrestle Christopher Daniels at Sacrifice (***) in a losing effort. It’s booking that projects the image of TNA as a company that listens to its fans and as a destination for wrestlers from elsewhere. With no prior story, the competitors earn an engaged crowd, who react well to the action. Strong looks impossibly bland – like an unedited create-a-wrestler, it’s a criticism he’s never escaped, though his in-ring work has always dazzled. Early on, he impressively catches Aries in mid-air during an attempted corner dropkick, capitalising with a signature backbreaker, then a ferocious gorilla press throw into the turnbuckles. It’s consistently exciting undercard action that is perfectly suited to its slot following a rather uninspiring opener. For the finish, Aries follows a brainbuster with the 450 Splash to score a three count.

Winner: Austin Aries in 8:00

Rating: ***

A promo for Bound For Glory is aired, re-iterating that it will be the grandest event in TNA history. As a promotional tactic, they’re airing the first half an hour for free.

3: Kip James & Monty Brown vs. Apolo & Lance Hoyt (w/ Sonny Siaki) in a Tag Team Match:

Apolo’s regular tag partner, Sonny Siaki, is sidelined with an injury inflicted by the heels. Siaki enters wearing a neck brace, however he’s encouraged to return backstage in order to avoid further injury. Kip and Brown are an odd team as they have little in common. Combined with a relatively short tenure as a duo, it’s hard to care about their partnership. Their previously established tensions were built upon throughout and appeared to reach a boiling point when Brown grabbed Apolo from the apron for Kip to strike. Of course, Apolo moved and Kip accidentally hit his partner. In fairness, the near-fall the followed Apolo’s subsequent superkick was convincing, a fleeting moment of interest in an otherwise tepid affair. Brown quickly re-emerged and executed a POUNCE for the win. Clearly, the expected implosion of the heel alliance never materialised, making much of this match inconsequential. Hopefully, Brown will move into the main event picture following the inevitable split from Kip.

Winners: Kip James & Monty Brown in 9:58

Rating: *1/2

Team Canada are interviewed by Traci ahead of a busy evening for the heel faction. Young is hysterical regarding their impending title opportunity, as “it’ll be 6 on 2… and the referee’s American”. Bobby Roode, who appears to have become a de facto leader in the absence of Coach D’Amore, orders him to get a grip and demands A-1 step up to earn his keep. Roode has words for Jeff Hardy, who he faces tonight, whereas Petey Williams addresses Chris Sabin ahead of their imminent clash:

4: Petey Williams vs. Chris Sabin:

There’s a bizarre production blunder as Williams enters to Abyss’ music – I’m surprised (and thankful) they’ve not edited that on Impact Plus. Williams was originally scheduled to wrestle Shocker but AAA changed his booking, making it impossible for him to appear tonight. This shared stylistic similarities with the Aries/Strong bout prior. It’s perhaps less exciting because we’ve seen this combination before (at Turning Point 2004, ***3/4). However, they were able to build upon their history as opponents and deliver an enjoyable outing at short notice due to their chemistry. Sabin’s Canadian Destroyer counters were a significant aspect of their previous contests, a theme that again influenced the finish here. Williams raked the eyes of Sabin to escape Cradle Shock, causing Sabin to attempt his finisher on the referee. Fortunately, he realises what’s happening, although Williams capitalises upon the opening, attempting the Canadian Destroyer on Sabin. History repeated itself when Sabin once again countered the move into Cradle Shock for the pinfall finish. The closing sequence was creative and did well to remain unpredictable whilst building upon a previously established theme. The returning Matt Bentley (formerly known as Michael Shane) interrupted afterwards to issue an Ultimate X challenge for Bound for Glory, whilst dismissing rumours of heading “up north”. Canada is famously cold, I don’t blame him.

Winner: Chris Sabin in 12:34

Rating:***

5: Abyss (w/ James Mitchell) vs. Sabu in a No Disqualification Match:

James Mitchell invites Sabu to do things his way moments prior, meaning they’re amending this to a No Disqualification match. Mitchell claimed that not even a hardcore icon can withstand the Monster, setting up a simple but effective story. Unsurprisingly, the stipulation suited both men. Sabu was the ideal opponent for Abyss, who has excelled in similar stipulations lately. Despite being in Sabu’s wheelhouse, Abyss has developed into a hardcore specialist himself, his violent matches have become a staple of TNA PPVs. The Monster borrowed a spot from a previous battle against Jeff Hardy at Against All Odds (**1/2) when, as he was tangled in the ropes, launched an oncoming Sabu through tables on the outside. Abyss is a victim of the second table spot, as the ECW legend hits a chair-assisted leg drop to the back of his head, driving both men through the table; perhaps Sabu did more damage to himself. This brawl wasn’t pretty, yet it doesn’t feel contrived or unrealistic, it looked like two men trying to win a fight. The closing sequence began with Sabu attempting a springboard tornado DDT , however Abyss picked him out of the air, delivering a Black Hole Slam onto thumbtacks – enough to finish even a hardcore icon. Bumps on the ‘tacks are overdone in TNA, though the spot that concluded the bout was admittedly well executed and remains a crowd pleaser.

Winner: Abyss in 11:30

Rating: ***1/4

6: Bobby Roode vs. Jeff Hardy:

This is Hardy’s first in-ring action since failing to show up for his scheduled appearance at Hard Justice four months prior. Commentary continue put over his opponent, Bobby Roode, as a future singles star, although he’s yet to be given an opportunity to display his capabilities in a one-on-one capacity on PPV; this was promising on paper but unfortunately underwhelming in execution. The action is reasonable but doesn’t excel beyond second gear before becoming overwhelmed by outside interference. Petey Williams intervenes on behalf of his Team Canada stablemate a couple of times until he’s handled by the Charismatic Enigma. Nonetheless, there’s additional interference when Jeff Jarrett uses the hockey stick to whack Hardy behind the referee’s back, allowing Roode to pick up the win. It’s a disappointing finish, further hurt by its sheer predictability. Despite the names involved, this would have better suited an episode of IMPACT.

Winner: Bobby Roode in 9:07

Rating: **

7: Team Canada (Eric Young & A-1) vs. Alex Shelley & _____ vs. America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) vs. The Naturals (C) (Andy Douglas & Chase Stevens) (w / Jimmy Hart) in a Four-Way Tag Team Elimination Match for the NWA World Tag Team Championships:

Shelley is entitled to an NWA World Tag Team Championship opportunity tonight after winning the Chris Candido Memorial Cup with Sean Waltman. Unfortunately, his partner hasn’t shown up. Tenay and West bury the former X-Pac ahead of and during the match. Given that Candido’s family are in attendance to commemorate the occasion, Waltman’s absence is not a good look. Long-time rivals A.M.W and The Naturals combined to take on Team Canada at Sacrifice but lost, resulting in a brawl between the duos. Their tensions continued in a backstage interview earlier this evening; they immediately brawl upon the opening bell, yet the fans are more interested in … A-1? Team Canada isolate Shelley, who tries to tag out, however the other teams treat him like a leper. Chris Candido’s son, Johnny Candido, has seen enough – he jumps on the apron and tags in! A true underdog story, he takes the fight to the Canadians and … gets eliminated following a low blow. When one man is beaten here the pair are out, so Shelley is gone, too. Harris enters like a house on fire upon the hot tag after Team Canada isolate Storm. He impressively hits a delayed vertical suplex on A-1, which the fans aren’t too crazy about. Nevertheless, the big man soon achieves revenge by striking Harris with the hockey stick, causing A.M.W’s elimination. We’re down to Team Canada, who have dominated much of this match, and the champions. Eric Young shoves Jimmy Hart to the ground at ringside, which he pays for heavily when the Mouth of the South retaliates. As the Canadians look to finish Stevens, Hart pushes Young from the top turnbuckle, which is hilariously sold with the usual dramatic flair. The Naturals capitalise by performing the Natural Disaster on A-1 to retain their titles.

Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling

The rivalry between The Naturals and A.M.W was prominent in the build-up, their lack of interaction beyond the opening moments was therefore unusual. As expected, this was sold as a tough challenge for the champions, although in truth they faced little adversity. The Naturals were barely involved prior to the closing showdown versus the Canadians. Multi-team contests are often chaotic, however this one felt bizarrely orderly, almost like a series of tag matches, à la a Tag Team Turmoil. Despite those criticisms, the match wasn’t necessarily bad, rather some odd decisions restricted its potential quality.

Winners and still NWA World Tag Team Champions: The Naturals in 18:01

Rating: **1/2

8: Rhino vs. Raven (C) in a Raven’s Rules Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship:

The preceding video package stands out as one of the better TNA have produced thus far – its raw intensity gives this the aura of an important fight. As a reminder, Rhino sided with Jarrett at No Surrender but pinned the champion at Sacrifice to earn number one contendership at Jarrett’s expense. Raven arrives with a shopping trolley full of weapons, including kendo sticks, baking trays and a chain. The challenger initially seems apprehensive and understandably so, as Raven soon uses a pizza cutter to draw blood. The unsympathetic fans chant “we want pizza”. Rhino weathers the early storm before scoring the symbolic equaliser of drawing blood himself. As Raven is seated in the corner, he blatantly holds a trashcan in position for his opponent to kick it into his head. Credit to Don West, who does exceptionally well to cover by claiming he held it for protection. The challenger promised pain in a pre-match interview and delivers, paralleling the champion’s sadism by using a staple gun as a weapon.

Raven builds momentum in the wake of Rhino’s missed Frog Splash onto a chair before his follower, Cassidy Riley, makes an untimely interference. The rookie inadvertently distracts the official, giving the Man Beast time to kick out after the Raven Effect DDT. The high spot of the night follows, when Raven brutally Powerbombs Rhino through a leaning ladder! Rhino is able to creatively use the remains of the ladder in a see-saw motion to strike Raven prior to hauling the shopping trolley into the ring. The outcome is almost inevitable. Yes, Rhino misses a Gore and drives himself head first into the trolley. Jeff Jarrett is back, looking to nail the champion with his own gold, which Jeff Hardy snatches! Raven DDTs both Jarrett and Rhino before covering his opponent to retain.

Interference has been a consistent gripe of NWA World Heavyweight Championship contests. Regardless, these were momentary and made sense within the context of the story. It appears we’re heading toward a multi-man match for the gold at Bound for Glory, with no obvious individual challenger yet determined. Tonight’s championship bout was entertaining in its own right, although failed to achieve to a level above the comparable work of Abyss and Sabu earlier in the evening. Similarly, both competitors thrived within the stipulation, which is expected considering their status as former ECW Champions.

Winner and still NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Raven in 14:28

Rating: ***

9: Samoa Joe vs. A.J. Styles vs. Christopher Daniels (C) in a Three-Way Match for the TNA X Division Championship:

 

After Christopher Daniels effectively cost A.J. Styles the Super X Cup Final against Samoa Joe at Sacrifice, TNA officials decided to make this a three-way. Joe remains undefeated, whilst Daniels’ six month X Division Championship reign is now the longest in the belt’s history. The champion immediately antagonises his challengers, who take turns hitting increasingly stiff strikes in a game of one-upmanship. “STOP KICKING ME” yells Daniels who is, again, kicked. A plethora of intricate multi-man spots are a nightmare to document but a joy to watch. There’s little opportunity for the competitors to rest, it’s a true three-way, a revolving door of action. Styles plays the familiar role of human highlight reel, earning the first “holy shit” chant of the contest following springboard Shooting Star Press onto his opponents at ringside. He fluidly transitions Daniels’ monkey flip into a hurricanrana on Joe and later breaks Joe’s Coquina Clutch on the champion via the incredible Spiral Tap.

An excellent exchange between Daniels and Styles takes the pair ringside, where Samoa Joe eliminates both with an insane corkscrew plancha over the ropes! The Samoan appears unstoppable, unleashing a devastating barrage of offense, including the Muscle Buster and a brutal release German Suplex on Styles. Daniels resorts to using the championship belt to earn respite from Joe’s dominance. The Fallen Angel and Phenomenal One look to capitalise upon Joe’s brief absences by pinning the other man, however Joe is frequently quick to recover and breaks promising pinfall attempts following a Styles Clash and B.M.E, respectively. Ultimately, after dodging the oncoming Joe, who crashes to the floor at ringside, the champion senses an opening to retain. Nevertheless, his attempted Angel’s Wings is countered by Styles, who covers Daniels for the sudden victory!

If there’s one match you’re willing to watch based upon my recommendation, make it this one. It cannot get any better. It’s the only Wrestling Observer Newsletter 5-star match in TNA history, a thoroughly deserved achievement. Every sequence was expertly executed with intent and precision in equal measure, without a foot put wrong. The action is perfectly paced, resulting in zero dull moments. Genuinely. The famously enthusiastic Don West (who nearly lost his mind here) rightfully exclaimed that we’re witnessing one of the greatest matches in the history of wrestling. Despite his tendency for hyperbole, he’s spot on. There’s a reason this action is the blueprint for a style replicated years later.

Winner and NEW TNA X Division Champion: A.J. Styles in 22:50

Rating: *****

SCORE: 8.25/10

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.

Needless to say, this event will stand the test of time in a way that few other shows can, from any promotion, because of its unforgettable main event between Styles, Joe and Daniels (*****), the jewel in the crown of the brilliantly innovative X Division. Supported by multiple solid undercard matches (four contests scored either *** or ***1/4), it was a well-rounded show that was smartly laid out. The three-way participants rewarded the faith of the bookers, who wisely placed it above the NWA World Heavyweight Championship match. TNA will have face difficulty topping this at Bound for Glory in October, but I’m excited to see them try.

Previous Reviews:

2004:

TNA Victory Road 2004 (3.75)

TNA Turning Point 2004 (7.25)

2005:

TNA Final Resolution 2005 (6.75)

TNA Against All Odds 2005 (4.75)

TNA Destination X 2005 (3)

TNA Lockdown 2005 (6.25)

TNA Hard Justice 2005 (5)

TNA Slammiversary 2005 (6.25)

TNA No Surrender 2005 (7)

TNA Sacrifice 2005 (7.75)

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