(by PHIL RIPPA)
This project’s jumping off point was the DVD #100 and that occurred well before TNA started as a promotion so I decided to go back and pick some highs and lows from the nearly… good Lord… 15 years they have been around (I would love to do this for some other promotions too but online footage will be a key factor).
201) CHEEX vs. FRANK PARKER – TNA WEEKLY PPV #2 (06/19/02 Taped, 06/26/02 Aired)
I really swear I don’t mean to start this off on a negative note but it is the price you pay when you look at this company in chronological order. We love ourselves some Frank Parker so good for him getting a payday. Cheex was a morbidly obese black man – with a valet named Brown Eyed Gril… yeah. Cheex is best known for almost ruining TNA before the company even started as in the dark match prior to the first weekly PPV (taped the same day as this show), Cheex broke the ring and TNA had to scramble to rearrange the show so they could fix the ring. They rewarded Cheex by allowing him to get a win on a PPV. Though one could say it was punishment as the man was BLOWN UP just walking to the ring. Apparently – he had gastric bypass surgery in the years since. Still sucks at wrestling but at least he got his health more in check. This easily falls somewhere on a “Worst Match in TNA History” list and it happened on the first night.
202) A.J. STYLES vs. JERRY LYNN vs. LOW KI – TNA WEEKLY PPV #11 (08/21/02 Taped, 08/28/02 Aired – X-Division Title, Ladder Match)
Probably the first great match TNA had. The early showcase of what they were going for with the X Division. Also helped that you had two guys in Styles and Ki who were looking to prove themselves on what (at least at the time) was considered a bigger stage.
203) MICHAEL SHANE vs. FRANKIE KAZARIAN vs. CHRIS SABIN – TNA WEEKLY PPV #58 (08/20/03 – Ultimate X, X-Division Title)
One of the MANY gimmick matches TNA has used over the years, this is the first of the Ultimate X matches. Not necessarily the prettiest match but it has its moments. Michael Shane – who I haven’t thought about in years – taps the biggest of veins so there is that. Warning – the video linked is taken from some sort of recap show so there are insert videos from the participants talking about the match in the past tense.
204) AMERICA’S MOST WANTED (Chris Harris/James Storm) vs. TRIPLE X (Christopher Daniels/Elix Skipper) – TNA TURNING POINT 2004 (12/05/04 – Cage Match, Losing Team Must Disband)
Match contains probably THE TNA spot with Elix Skipper walking the cage to do a hurricanrana from the top (I have watched it dozens of times and I am still terrified he is going to fall off). The match is also a blood bath – which it should have been considering it is the blow off match of a nearly two year feud between the two teams.
205) TEAM CANADA (Eric Young/Bobby Roode) vs. AMERICA’S MOST WANTED (James Storm/Chris Harris) – TNA FINAL RESOLUTION 2005 (01/16/05 – NWA World Tag Team Titles)
Wanted to make sure I included a Team Canada match as they were a big part of the early TNA years – especially if you factor in how much they played that up over a decade later during the end of Young and Roode’s TNA runs. This a hoot and a half as you old school tag team wrestling with a fired up crowd. (Still cracks me up when Canadians are portrayed as “evil”). Man – I thought the crowd was gonna riot during the false finishes. Scott D’Amore was also a really underrated manager.
206) SAMOA JOE vs. A.J. STYLES vs. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS – TNA UNBREAKABLE 2005 (09/11/05 – X-Division Championship)
I honestly debated included this match just because it is the cliche or “easy” pick when discussing TNA. It will not be for everyone just on the base level that it is a three way and Fuck three ways. Still – if one was discussing TNA with another wrestling “fan”, this is the match people will have watched so they can claim that they “watch TNA”. Still the only TNA match to receive 5 stars from the Observer.
207) ABYSS vs. JEFF HARDY vs. SABU vs. RHINO – TNA BOUND FOR GLORY 2005 (10/23/05 – Monster’s Ball)
Another long time standard TNA gimmick match. As seen with this match – they originally tried to claim the guys were locked away for 12 hours without food and water to make them more crazed. I don’t think you really need extra motivation for three of these guys to be extra stupid in a No DQ match. This is a spectacle. I don’t say that necessarily as a bad thing. But as will become a standard refrain with many of TNA gimmick matches – your mileage may vary.
208) JAMES STORM vs. CHRIS HARRIS – TNA SACRIFICE 2007 (05/13/07 – TEXAS DEATH MATCH)
To me, this is the best match in TNA history. It was clear that Storm and Harris had something to prove after having one of the worst matches of all time the previous PPV (a Blindfold Match – which is never a good idea). So… much… blood.
209) A.J. STYLES vs. CHRISTIAN CAGE vs. KURT ANGLE vs. SAMOA JOE vs. CHRIS HARRIS – TNA SLAMMIVERSARY 2007 (06/17/07 – KING OF THE MOUNTAIN, TNA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP)
Just reviewed in DVDVR #168
210) FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT STAGE ONE – TNA BOUND FOR GLORY 2007 (10/14/07 – Reverse Battle Royal)
Participants: Eric Young, Bobby Roode, James Storm, Junior Fatu, Chris Sabin, Kaz, Lance Hoyt, Alex Shelley, B.G. James, Kip James, Jimmy Rave, Chris Harris, Petey Williams, Havok, Shark Boy, Sonjay Dutt
When one talks about terrible TNA gimmick matches – the Reverse Battle Royal usually is the first one mentioned. I am not gonna try and explain the full rules just know that guys had to get into the ring to qualify for the 2nd half of the match… which was a regular Battle Royal. This convoluted Fight For the Right Tournament was an enormous cluster (baffling rules, guys being replaced halfway through for a variety of reasons). I don’t agree with Bryan Alvarez on much but his destruction of the match still makes me giggle.
211) CHRISTIAN CAGE vs. FRANKIE KAZARIAN – TNA GENESIS 2007 (11/11/07 – Fight For the Right Finals, Ladder Match)
Ironically – this is finals of the Fight for the Right disaster and it is damn good. Christian is the poster boy for his time in TNA enhancing his career as it established him a singles main event player. I have never been super high on Kaz but in with a ladder match master, this is all worth your time.
212) GAIL KIM vs. AWESOME KONG – TNA FINAL RESOLUTION 2008 (01/06/08 – No DQ, TNA Knockouts Title)
Gail Kim/Awesome Kong is the best, longest rivalry TNA ever had. I choose this match out of the lot as they got to do a bunch of things American women’s wrestlers were not getting to do. I can’t think of the last US women’s crowd brawl before this. These two had a chemistry that made everything feel special with Kim believably finding ways to damage the giant. Kong, as expected, worked exactly like Aja but Gail Kim can be quite the poor women’s Meiko Satomura when needs be. As was often the case in doing the first half of TNA’s beginnings – they had a super hot crowd with them and even the ref nonsense worked in the context of the match.
213) SAMOA JOE vs. KURT ANGLE – TNA LOCKDOWN 2008 (04/13/08 – TNA World Heavyweight Title)
Of all the Angle/Joe matches – this is the one I like the most mainly because of how different it was. I am sure many will not like it because of its “MMA” feel but it has always stood out to me from all the stuff they did. 2007 was a really good year for TNA.
214) KURT ANGLE vs. YUJI NAGATA – TNA “GLOBAL IMPACT” 2008 (01/04/08 – IWGP Championship/TNA World Heavyweight Title)
Kinda sorta cheating here as this is from what was Wrestle Kingdom II but TNA was involved and branded it as one of their Global Impact shows. Also another reminder that New Japan will work with anyone… well except the WWE. I always have hearted Yuji Nagata so I don’t mind him get him a big time match.
215) WORLD X CUP ELIMINATION MATCH – TNA VICTORY ROAD 2008 (07/18/08)
Team TNA: Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, Curry Man
Team Japan: Masato Yoshino, Milano Collection A.T., Puma
Team Mexico: Averno, Rey Bucanero, Último Guerrero
Team International: Alex Koslov, Doug Williams, Tyson Dux
The amount of talent that has worked TNA shows that TNA either didn’t sign or totally misused is mind boggling. These World X Cup tournaments always were filled with folks that you looked back and go “Wow! They were on a TNA show?” I mean just look at Team Mexico alone. This is a hella fun 20 minute romp.
216) JENNA MORASCA vs. SHARMELL – TNA VICTORY ROAD 2009 (07/19/09)
It is tough for me to call this the worst wrestling match of all time because it is two untrained folks being put out on a PPV and told to have a match (Lord – TNA really wanted to make this Survivor thing work). Still this is a disaster that really needs to be seen by everyone. Spawned the famous “MINUS FIVE STARS” call you always hear if you watch Botchamania videos.
217) KURT ANGLE vs. DESMOND WOLFE – TNA TURNING POINT 2009 (11/15/09)
The man usually known as Nigel McGuinness rightly got a mega push when he showed up in TNA. His matches with Angle being a big reason. I prefer this one because it is a straight no frills match. (I tend not be a fan of the 3 falls with different stips.)
218) STEEL ASYLUM MATCH – TNA IMPACT (01/04/10)
TNA went head to head with RAW. For the very first one – they decided to go big. First match they run is their Steel Asylum Gimmick. It is Escape the Cage rules with the first one out winning. Of course – the cage has a curved roof that pretty much everyone who was in it has said made it impossible to win. In this case – the match, they go three minutes and then Homicide hits everyone with a baton and the match is declared a No Contest (leading to a glorious “This is Bullshit! chant that the censors attempt to bleep out). Homicide then goes to leave… and can’t. If you are into awkward entertainment this is for you. Oh the pleasures of live TV. THEN Jeff Hardy does the slowest run-in ever as he returns by meandering through the crowd as his new theme song plays. Eventually, he destroys Homicide. This is a glorious fiasco.
219) TAYLOR WILDE/SARITA vs. AWESOME KONG/AYAKO HAMADA – TNA IMPACT (01/04/10 – TNA Knockouts Tag Title)
Of course – on the same show as the previous dumpster fire, this match took place. Totally buried on the card and almost thrown out as an after thought was the TNA Knockouts Tag Titles (Remember that?!?!?!?!). You have the misfit team of Awesome Kong and Ayako Hamada vs. Taylor Wilde and current NXT coach, former Dark Angel/Sarah Stock in the form of Sarita. They all go out and deliver a fun affair lost in the world of the Hulk Hogan era of TNA. God Taylor Wilde was so born in the wrong era of women’s wrestling.
220) AUSTIN ARIES vs. ZEMA ION vs. LOW KI vs. JACK EVANS – TNA DESTINATION X 2011 (07/10/11 – Winner Gets TNA Contract)
I didn’t mean to pick a match solely to honor Christy Hemme’s hideous arm tattoo – that is just an added bonus. Anyway – another “TNA throws random guys out there and they blow away everything else on the card” match. Kayfabe-wise this is also important for getting Aries into the company to start his run. Also – the LOLTNA events that occurred over the next 5 years makes me wonder what would happen if Jack Evans HAD been signed. Oh and please ignore Mike Tenay sounding like he is reading the instructions on how to program the clock on his microwave.
221) JEFF HARDY vs. AUSTIN ARIES – TNA TURNING POINT 2012 (11/11/12 – Ladder Match, TNA World Heavyweight Title)
File this under the “Jeff Hardy legitimately wants to die in the ring” as there are at least two moments that are watch through your hands terrifying. Austin Aries can be really good when he wants to be (usually when he isn’t trying to tell you about being a vegan)
222) TEAM TNA (Sting/Samoa Joe/James Storm/Eric Young/Magnus) vs. ACES & EIGHT (Devon/Doc/Garett Bischoff/Knox/Ken Anderson) – TNA LOCKDOWN 2013 (03/10/13 – Lethal Lockdown)
Two birds, one stone time. Lethal Lockdown was TNA’s version of Wargames. Single ring but with staggered entry. Plus, when everyone was in they would lower a roof with weapons and go from there. Of course, this match has no such roof o’ weapons which is sad. Still, I figured I should include one of gimmick here. This match also serves to include Aces & Eights which was TNA’s version of the NWO. Clearly taking all the wrong messages away from the NWO angle, Aces & Eights also went on far too long with TNA looking like chumps the entire time. This was TNA’s big win and used to push Eric Young to the next level. Too bad it was completely undercut by the next match on the card.
223) GAIL KIM vs. TARYN TERRELL- TNA 6/2/2013 (Last Knockout Standing)
Reviewed in DVDVR #171
224) KURT ANGLE vs. ETHAN CARTER III – TNA IMPACT (06/25/15 Taped, 07/01/15 Aired – TNA World Heavyweight Title)
In what should have been the dying days of TNA – EC3 was the last vestige of enjoyment. The hair match with Rockstar Spud (already mention in this project) seemed like it was going to be the last great TNA match. This match isn’t as good as that one but again it told a great story in the ascension of EC3 as he dragged the way past expiration point Kurt Angle to an enjoyable heavyweight match. I really enjoy Carter’s selling – especially during the finishing sequence. All I think about now is how much Full Sail would sing his theme song. Alas…
225) DREW GALLOWAY vs. BOBBY LASHLEY – TNA SLAMMIVERSARY 2016 (06/12/16 – TNA World Heavyweight Title, KO or Submission Only)
Drew Galloway and Bobby Lashley are two guys who have found themselves far away from the bright lights of the WWE stage. Main Event a PPV with a depressing backdrop (remember this took place less than 24 hours in Orlando after the Pulse Nightclub shooting), Lashley and Galloway go out and deliver a match that was presented as a big fight and lived up to it. I don’t know when both decided to become crazy bump freaks but many was this something. The match is worked as a quasi Last Man Standing match as KOs are determined by a 10 count… well until the end. Keep on keeping on TNA. With every month seeming to be the end of TNA – maybe this will truly be the last great TNA match.