With TNA Impact Wrestling’s tenth anniversary forthcoming, it’s a good time as any to look back at the top fifty matches in the history of the resident #2 promotion. Debate is welcome always!
50. Last Man Standing: AJ Styles vs. Bully Ray (6/12/11, Slammiversary)
This was the first match where many TNA fans began to realize “Wow, Bubba can still go!” His current resurgence as a performer dates back to last year’s Slammiversary, when he and AJ ripped each other to shreds during the Immortal-Fortune feud. Ray got his head split open with Styles’ chain-wrapped fist, and Styles dove what seemed like 25 feet off an entrance pillar to put Bully through a table. However, a well-timed kick that put Styles through the side of the stage allowed Ray to beat the count and win.
49. TNA World Heavyweight Championship: James Storm vs. Robert Roode (10/26/11, Impact)
Roode, booked as the hard-working hero who earned a legit chance at the company’s top prize, fell short at Bound For Glory in a World Title shot against Kurt Angle. Partner James Storm beat Angle for the title days later on Impact, and gladly gave his partner the first shot. The match was a competitive seesaw battle, with an increasingly frustrated Roode unable to attain victory. In a great character conflict moment, Roode smashed Storm with a beer bottle, winning gold at the expense of Beer Money.
48. TNA Knockouts Championship/No DQ: Gail Kim vs. Awesome Kong (1/6/08, Final Resolution)
If Sting and Vader were women, this would be TNA’s version of the classic David vs. Goliath feud. Kim and Kong had a series of tremendous matches, the best women’s contests TNA has ever seen, peaking with this wild brawl to kick off 2008. Gail took everything Kong could offer, including some sick back fist punches, as well as a chokeslam, and wouldn’t stay down. Kong’s frustration led to her taking out two referees, but when distracted during the mauling off the second one, Gail cradled her to win.
47. NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Jeff Jarrett vs. Christian Cage (2/12/06, Against All Odds)
When Christian left WWE around Halloween 2005, he jumped to TNA and instantly became the promotion’s biggest star. With no strong singles babyfaces outside of a well-pushed Rhino or Styles at the time, “Captain Charisma” was inevitably getting pushed to the top. Three months after his debut, Cage earned a title shot against Jarrett, which led to an Unprettier counted down by new TNA referee Earl Hebner, and fans breaking down the barricades to celebrate with the new champ in the ring.
46. AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels (7/10/11, Destination X)
The X Division-exclusive PPV was a timeless showcase of high flyers and master technicians past and present. Some have said it’s TNA’s greatest PPV of all time. Whether one agrees with that or not, TNA certainly was looking for accolades when they booked Styles and Daniels in the finale, having the two men go almost thirty minutes. With no outside interference or other chicanery, a tale of competitive athleticism told the story, in which Styles finally polished off his on/off-again friend with the Spiral Tap.
45. Monster’s Ball: Jeff Hardy vs. Abyss vs. Rhino vs. Sabu (10/23/05, Bound For Glory)
Given the collection of talent involved, you may be expecting a train wreck of epic proportions. And it was, albeit in a good, exciting way. Hardy tried to outdo his many previous dives by hitting a Swanton off the entrance way to put Abyss through a table, and Rhino went berserk with a kendo stick on everyone in sight. In the end, after Abyss gained possession of his pet bag of thumbtacks, Rhino gored him through a table, and then broke Hardy in half with a second rope piledriver to end the mayhem.
44. Super X Cup Semi Final: Chris Sabin vs. Frankie Kazarian (8/27/03, Wednesday PPV)
The knock on Kazarian then, as is the case now, is his general lack of personality. At least back then, he didn’t have to act in the interminable AJ Styles-Dixie Carter angle. Instead, he and Sabin went out and put on a crazy stunt show like they know how. Sabin survived a slingshot DDT and a sunset powerbomb to the floor, while Sabin responded with his Back to the Future plunge. After a Flux Capacitor took both men out, Kaz tried for a victory roll, which Sabin rolled through into his own for the narrow victory.
43. NWA World Tag Team Championship/Ultimate X: The Latin American eXchange vs. AJ Styles/Christopher Daniels (9/24/06, No Surrender)
Ultimate X matches have the tendency to be excessively choreographed stunt shows that are more designed to get cheap pops for dangerous spots. When you have quality performers in the high wire showcase, as you do here, it makes for a better overall match. Homicide’s injured shoulder told the story, as the bulkier Hernandez was forced to make the climb attempts. The dramatic ending of Daniels climbing the metal support, and then leaping high over the ring onto the wires, is just unreal.
42. TNA World Heavyweight/Steel Cage Match: Robert Roode vs. James Storm (4/15/12, Lockdown)
The ending was heavily maligned by even the most ardent TNA defenders, who felt that Storm should have ended the World Title chase by beating the man who turned on him in Storm’s hometown, Nashville. As it was, the match was a heated slugfest, in which both men bled buckets. Storm gained the upper hand late in the contest, after Roode symbolically brought beer bottles into play. Just as it seemed Storm was building to victory, he Last Call superkicked Roode out the door, giving him the win.
41. 30 Minute Iron Man Match: Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe (1/14/07, Final Resolution)
The third match in the famed Angle/Joe trilogy was the most disappointing of the series, but was no less of a great match. Each man had one win apiece, both submissions, over the other. In this match, Joe took a 1-0 lead via his Cocquina Clutch, but Angle rallied to score two quick ankle lock submissions. With less than eight minutes to go, Joe tied it with a Muscle Buster, but Angle came back shortly thereafter with a roll-up. Joe applied his own anklelock and Angle tapped….after time expired, giving him a 3-2 win.
40. AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle (5/13/12, Sacrifice)
Sometimes, the best matches are the ones where two men are allowed to go out there and just wrestle, without the need to incorporate put-on emotions from a hackneyed storyline. Styles, reeling from the eye-rolling saga of his tryst with Dixie Carter, went out with Angle and put on a tremendous, counter-filled, finisher-lifting showcase, hindered only at the end by Kazarian and Christopher Daniels’ late interference. Until then, it was an exciting spectacle, won by Angle with his ankle lock submission.
If you love old school, NWA-ish tag team matches, hunt this one down NOW. Long before Roode and James Storm would form the successful Beer Money, they were on opposite sides of a long simmering tag team grudge. Team Canada cheated like crazy, with help from manager Scott D’Amore, until AMW cuffed D’Amore to the ringpost. It’s near-falls and a hot crowd galore, plus additional interference from Johnny Devine, until a mishap knocks Young out with a chair, allowing AMW to win the gold.
38. NWA World Heavyweight: Jeff Jarrett vs. Raven (4/30/03, Wednesday PPV)
Arguably TNA’s first true major main event came to be after Raven, two days after his WWE release, jumped Jarrett and stole the title. Three months of mind games came to a head in this all-out brawl, which featured a ton of interference from Raven’s Gathering, a bevy of ECW icons, among others. Jarrett won the bloodbath with one final Stroke, prompting the pissed off Asylum fans to throw garbage into the ring. And Jarrett was the FACE. It was the first true backlash against Jarrett in terms of politicking.
37. TNA World Heavyweight: Kurt Angle vs. Robert Roode (10/16/11, Bound For Glory)
Remember what I said earlier about the ending to the Roode/Storm cage match being maligned? That may have been child’s play compared to this incidence, in which Roode was built up as the rising star that looked to win his first World Title. Angle and Roode engaged in a tremendous main event match, with Roode building a furious comeback, until Angle scored the pin with the bottom rope snagged. The aftermath, with Roode turning heel, ended up being worth it to fans who felt jilted on this night.
36. Samoa Joe vs. Chris Sabin (7/17/05, No Surrender)
Four weeks earlier, Joe had made his TNA debut in a glorified squash of Sonjay Dutt at Slammiversary. At No Surrender, the more-regarded Sabin held his own a bit more in what was an exciting contest worthy of both the X Division at its peak, and high billing at an ROH event. The story was Sabin’s refusal to submit to a more dominant Joe, struggling inside submissions like the Crossface and the Rings of Saturn. Sabin tried, but succumbed to the Muscle Buster, before passing out inside the Cocquina Clutch.
35. TNA World Heavyweight: AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels (12/20/09, Final Resolution)
Can these two ever have a bad match? After Styles narrowly retained his gold a month earlier in a triple threat involving Daniels and Samoa Joe, he found himself defending against a much more aggressive Fallen Angel. Daniels worked the back of Styles with maximum ferocity, and blended in some textbook cheating, but could not put Styles away. Daniels even kicked out of one Styles Clash, but a second one off the top rope (a counter to Daniels’ hurrachanrana attempt) gave AJ the hard fought win.
34. Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Jarrett (10/12/08, Bound For Glory)
Mick Foley was the guest enforcer for this one, shortly after his jump to TNA. Jarrett had become an outdated gimmick performer as his TNA run wore on, but in this match, he proved capable of delivering a solid technical performance. The two veterans played a cat-and-mouse game, expertly countering each other’s moves. Foley took a bump, and Jarrett wound up winning with the played-out guitar strike, but for a technical battle of gamesmanship, this may just be Jeff Jarrett’s last great match.
33. Fight For Your Right Final/Ladder Match: Christian Cage vs. Kazarian (11/11/07, Genesis)
One month after Christian’s first definitive loss in TNA, the former two-time NWA Champion tried to crawl back into the main event scene by winning a rather convoluted tournament for a World Title shot. Underdog Kaz busted Captain Charisma’s eyebrow open early, and the match degenerated into a war of physical attrition. Kazarian truly looked like a main eventer in there with the former champ, who was sent falling onto comrades AJ Styles and Tomko at ringside, allowing Kaz to get the unlikely victory.
32. TNA World Heavyweight/King of the Mountain: Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe vs. Christian Cage vs. AJ Styles vs. Chris Harris (6/17/07, Slammiversary)
The NWA/TNA agreement ended one month earlier, so this was for the brand new title. Harris replaced Jeff Jarrett, who took a leave of absence after his wife Jill passed from cancer. Only Harris, Angle, and Cage scored pinfalls that would allow them the right to hang the title, and Christian had the late advantage. He survived a top-of-the-ladder ace crusher from Joe, and managed to be climbing in the waning moments. Harris speared Christian off the ladder, allowing Angle to quickly climb and win.
31. NWA World Tag Team: America’s Most Wanted vs. AJ Styles/Christopher Daniels (6/18/06, Slammiversary)
AMW had reigned as champions for over eight months, gaining most of their wins with a constant blend of Gail Kim’s interference and other chicanery. Styles and Daniels promised an equalizer, however. The match played out as you’d expect; an old school, fast-paced tag team contest, until Gail got involved. That’s when Sirelda, a Chyna-clone, interfered and destroyed her with a chokeslam. After Storm accidentally struck Harris, Wildcat fell victim to the Best Moonsault Ever to give AJ and Daniels the gold.
30. Ultra Male Rules/Steel Cage Match: Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Jarrett (4/17/11, Lockdown)
This has become a Lockdown staple: Angle nearly killing himself for the sake of putting on a great match. Ultra Male Rules equates to a two out of three falls match: first fall is submissions only, second is pins only, third is escape. Angle nearly had his neck snapped off a Jarrett superbomb, and he still came back to land his patented cage-sault on Double J moments later. Karen Jarrett interjected herself into the finish, slamming the door on her ex-husband’s face, and it allowed Jarrett to fall out and win.
29. TNA X Division/30 Minute Iron Man Match: AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels (10/23/05, Bound For Glory)
Styles had ended Daniels’ six month reign as champion the previous month, so Daniels sought revenge in the very match where he was unable to beat Styles in February. This one suffered a bit from neither man scoring a fall for the longest time, with fans waiting in Pavlovian fashion to pop for the “first fall.” Daniels landed a rarely-seen back suplex from the apron to the floor, and used his Kofi Clutch, but just couldn’t score anything. Styles hit the Styles Clash with seconds left in regulation, winning 1-0.
28. TNA World Heavyweight: AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle (1/4/10, Impact)
The first live Monday night Impact was a mish-mash of random arrivals (Val Venis, Nasty Boys, Orlando Jordan), and appearances by Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, and the Wolfpack. But it was the main event, where Styles and Angle went all out to make TNA’s cruise in uncharted waters count. Both men exchanged finisher after finisher, and the war finally ended after AJ landed the Styles Clash and a springboard 450. Hogan came out post-match and vigorously endorsed both men to a huge pop.
27. TNA World Heavyweight: Robert Roode vs. AJ Styles (5/15/12, Impact)
A pure wrestling classic, the likes of which were rarely seen during Impact’s lengthy run under Vince Russo, highlighted the last taped Impact before the series of live summer shows. Roode’s chance at being the longest reigning TNA Champion ever hinged on defeating the man who’s record he’d break. Styles kicked out of one Payoff, but after Pele’ing the champ, a springboard 450 landed squarely on Roode’s knees. The second Payoff forced Styles to succumb, and Roode got his record.
26. Texas Death Match: AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle (8/10/08, Hard Justice)
Man, that’s a lot of consecutive AJ. After feuding all through the summer, with Kurt’s then-wife Karen playing a heavy role, the two would settle their score in this battle of sick head drops and crazy dives. Hell, even ANGLE dives with a senton off the entrance stage at one point! Angle got a huge late sequence of near victories with a top rope German and some Angle slams, but it was AJ who snuck away with the win after DDTing the Olympic Hero off the top rope. These two can do no wrong together.
25. Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Hardy (3/18/12, Victory Road)
Angle borrowed from the late Eddie Guerrero for this storyline, claiming his son idolized Jeff Hardy more than his own father (Eddie gave this speech with The Rock on Smackdown in 2002). What followed was your typical Angle/Hardy match when both men are at their best: Hardy takes a beating after some hard landings and milks the crowd, while Angle gets frustrated at his inability to put the hero away. Hardy landed a Swanton, but Angle managed to reverse the pin and hook the ropes to steal the victory.
24. AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle (6/8/08, Slammiversary)
This was the prelude to their showdown at Hard Justice a few entries ago, with Karen as the wedge between the two. Angle and Styles, as you’d expect by now, went balls to the wall with craziness, including a bevy of German suplexes, a top rope layout suplex by Styles, and lots of near falls. Karen made her way to the ring, looking rather alluring in hooker boots it should be noted, and tried to lend a chair to AJ. As Angle stopped her and they struggled, Styles rolled Kurt into a Styles Clash for the win.
23. TNA X Division/Double Elimination: AJ Styles vs. Jerry Lynn vs. Low Ki vs. Psicosis (6/19/02, Wednesday PPV)
Ricky Steamboat was special referee for this one-match round robin to determine the first ever X Division Champion. Styles scored consecutive pins on Psicosis and Ki before Lynn spiked him with the Cradle Piledriver. Lynn then quickly dispatched of Psicosis, and then Ki, to bring it down to him and young AJ, who would have to defeat Lynn twice to win. Indeed, AJ got him once with the Clash, and then the two went back and forth for nearly ten minutes, before Styles won with the Spiral Tap.
22. NWA World Heavyweight: AJ Styles vs. Raven (8/27/03, Wednesday PPV)
Raven was on quite a run as a “fight all comers” anti-hero, and Styles was great as the protected young champion who was even more dangerous with back-up. This match was very Attitude-like, with tons of interference (Raven’s Gathering, The New Church, Shane Douglas) before it became completely passé. Raven had the title won several times, including after the Raven Effect with no referee, but a low blow from Douglas made him susceptible to the Styles Clash, which built to War Games the following week.
21. Kurt Angle vs. Desmond Wolfe (11/15/09, Turning Point)
Wolfe (ROH icon Nigel McGuinness) made an immediate impact in TNA, getting a run with Angle right off the bat. Wolfe tried to outwrestle the wrestling expert, working the arm with various throws and submissions, but Angle tried to make it his match with his time tested arsenal. However, Wolfe seemed to have a counter for everything Angle threw at him, until falling victim to an ankle lock. Wolfe would not tap, but soon found himself in a triangle armbreaker, and that was enough to make him submit.
20. NWA World Heavyweight: Christian Cage vs. Samoa Joe (3/11/07, Destination X)
This might be Christian’s best match ever that didn’t involve ladders or Randy Orton. After regaining the title in January, Cage found himself alternately stalked by Joe and Kurt Angle. After using Scott Steiner’s help to fend off Angle the month previous, Cage engaged Joe in a mat classic, with much of the story involving Cage barely being able to survive Joe’s deadly onslaught. When the challenger locked in the Cocquina Clutch, Cage rolled through and used the ropes for leverage in order to just barely retain.
19. For a TNA Contract: Austin Aries vs. Low Ki vs. Jack Evans vs. Zema Ion (7/10/11, Destination X)
Much in the tradition of TNA’s weekly PPVs, the company brought in some non-contracted indy standouts and just let them go buck wild in a glorious spotfest. It was no wonder the crowd chanted “SIGN THEM ALL.” There was literally too much action packed into the fifteen minutes they were allotted, but Evans stood out as being far better from the sloppy performer he once was. Ki countered Evans’ 630 splash, but Aries spiked him with the Brainbuster to win, and begin his run of dominance.
18. Steel Cage Match/#1 Contendership: AJ Styles vs. Abyss (4/24/05, Lockdown)
It’s the match where Abyss thrives the most: with AJ as his opponent, in the classic “David vs. Goliath turned horror movie” brawl, and it’s probably Abyss’ greatest match ever. Styles took a beating with the cage door, and was strangled with a chain, but it was Abyss’ introduction of thumbtacks that was his own undoing. After scattering the tacks all over the canvas, The Monster ended up taking both a Styles Clash AND a sunset powerbomb onto the office supplies, landing Styles a shot at Jeff Jarrett.
17. Three Degrees of Pain: Kurt Angle vs. Desmond Wolfe (12/20/09, Final Resolution)
Three Degrees of Pain = Ultra Male Rules, but with falls one and two reversed. Wolfe was working toward revenge for Angle foiling his brilliant performance five weeks earlier, and he managed to pin the Olympian with the Tower of London in fall one. Angle evened the score in the second fall, tapping Wolfe to the patented ankle lock. In the finale, Angle blooded and battered Wolfe and opted for a climb out, but Wolfe had just enough to try for the cage door. In a footrace, Angle narrowly won out.
16. TNA X Division/30 Minute Iron Man Match: AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels (2/13/05, Against All Odds)
A slightly better match than the one listed at #29, due to the fact that falls were scored in a timely fashion, thus satiating the fans’ anticipation better. Daniels had never held the X Division title to date, and was looking to make his mark after the split of Triple X. The Fallen Angel scored a pin via Angel’s Wings about halfway through, but Styles tied it with a roll-up with five minutes left. Daniels had the Kofi Clutch as time expired, and demanded overtime. Ninety seconds later, Styles Clash, AJ retains.
15. Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe (11/19/06, Genesis)
This match is responsible for scoring the highest buyrate in TNA history, which infuriates many who feel Vince Russo rushed the feud. Angle took a scary bump early on, when Joe rammed his head from a powerbomb hold into the railing. The counter-wrestling brought the match into the homestretch, as the two passed between the ankle lock and Cocquina clutch, until Angle made the big man tap to a grapevined ankle lock; Joe’s first true TNA defeat. Angle refused a handshake after, continuing the feud.
14. Steel Cage Match: Kurt Angle vs. Mr. Anderson (4/18/10, Lockdown)
Anderson had won possession of the key to the door. The door, should you choose to exit that way, had to be opened with that key, so the struggle for it was vital. The story, quite simply: they hate each other’s guts. After both men were busted open, Angle had a chance to exit through the door, but simply chucked the key, just to inflict more pain. After an Anglesault off the cage, the two fought for the door, and Angle choked Anderson out with the keychain before stepping out, after stomping Kenny’s crotch.
13. Super X Cup Final: Chris Sabin vs. Juventud Guerrera (8/27/03, Wednesday PPV)
Much of TNA’s airtime in the salad years was spent on using WWE and WCW alums to put over the lesser known talents during their handfuls of appearances. Guerrera was no exception, getting to the finals after a spotastic struggle with Teddy Hart, to meet Sabin. Juvi nearly murdered the Machine Gun with a tiger driver, but can’t put Sabin away, even after hitting the Juvi Driver. Sabin, in what could be considered an upset then, finishes moments later with the Future Shock to capture the trophy.
12. TNA X Division/Ladder Match: Low Ki vs. Jerry Lynn vs. AJ Styles (8/21/02, Wednesday PPV)
All three men were cornerstones of the X Division’s inception, and their spotfest-filled summer culminated with this classic. Champion Ki had won the title two weeks prior in a triple threat with the same participants. The ladder came into play outside the ring, as the three engaged in some risky business using it as a shaky bridge. After Styles was taken out of the picture, Lynn virtually killed Low Ki dead by spiking him off the ladder with the Cradle Piledriver, making his victory inevitable.
11. TNA World Tag Team/Steel Cage Match: Triple X vs. America’s Most Wanted (6/25/03, Wednesday PPV)
The first cage match in TNA history ended up being one of the company’s all time classics, and kicked off the promotion’s second year with a bang. Blood flowed freely as the four men (Daniels and Elix Skipper represented XXX) engaged in a classic cage match akin to 1980’s NWA, albeit with more stunts. Skipper landed a crossbody off the cage, but on another attempt, was simply knocked to the floor. This left Daniels alone with the challengers, who hit a top-of-the-cage Death Sentence to win the titles.
10. TNA X Division/Ultimate X: Petey Williams vs. AJ Styles vs. Chris Sabin (1/16/05, Final Resolution)
Williams, he of “Canadian Destroyer” fame, reigned as champion for over five months, and had to take on perhaps the two most decorated X Division Champions in the high-wire challenge. Styles injured his arm in the match, after getting it wedged into the metal support post. Highlights include a one-armed Styles Clash, AJ’s super springboard forearm, and of course, Petey’s destroyer. Styles managed to knock both Sabin and Williams off as they fought for the title. The belt landed on the mat, an AJ claimed it.
9. Steel Cage Match/TNA World Heavyweight: Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe (4/13/08, Lockdown)
After feuding for roughly a year and a half, Joe would finally get his chance to become TNA Champion in this MMA-rules inspired match. Angle even wore hand and feet wraps to sell the gimmick. Angle worked Joe’s leg early with sharp kicks, and Joe worked Angle’s bare feet in a nice touch. The two went through their famous ankle lock/Cocquina clutch reversal sequence, as tension built toward Joe’s big moment. Finally, Joe belted Angle with a savate kick, and landed a simple Muscle Buster to claim the TNA gold.
8. Steel Cage Match/Losing Team Splits Up: America’s Most Wanted vs. Triple X (12/5/04, Turning Point)
A year and a half after stealing the show with the first cage match in TNA history, James Storm, Chris Harris, Christopher Daniels, and Elix Skipper met again, but this time with a six sided cage instead of the standard four sided one. Perhaps the most famous stunt in TNA history occurred during this match, as Skipper executed a tightrope walk on the cage ledge to hurrachanrana Harris back into the ring. AMW managed to finish and save themselves, however, after leveling Skipper with XXX’s own Power Plex.
7. Super X Cup Finals: Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles (8/14/05, Sacrifice)
The first TNA meeting between the two men came two months after Joe’s debut, when he was steamrolling every opponent in sight. Much like the Sting vs. Vader battles in WCW over a decade earlier, the winning template between these two was Styles’ plucky and spirited offense vs. Joe’s stifling power and resistance. X Division Champion Christopher Daniels got involved, and his presence cost Styles, who was planted with a Muscle Buster before being choked out by the Cocquina Clutch.
6. World Title Tournament Semi Finals: Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Hardy (9/5/10, No Surrender)
Rob Van Dam had vacated the TNA Championship after an attack by Abyss the previous month, and a tournament was held for its successor. Angle and Hardy would put on a fast-paced, intense encounter, which saw Hardy hit an endless supply of Swantons to no avail. Angle had the ankle lock applied, but time expired after twenty minutes. Neither man scored a fall in the five minute overtime, and Angle had the ankle lock hooked when another overtime concluded. There was no winner after 30 minutes.
5. TNA World Heavyweight: AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe (11/15/09, Turning Point)
The three men owned a history well woven into the fabric of TNA history, but this is the first time that all three of them would collide over TNA’s top prize. For 22 minutes, these magnificent talents did not let up or slow down, hitting sequences of dives and high spots that never looked clunky. With Styles on the floor, Daniels countered Joe’s Muscle Buster into an STO, followed by a Best Moonsault Ever, but the champion usurped the fall by landing a springboard 450 onto the prone Joe to retain the gold.
4. Texas Death Match: James Storm vs. Chris Harris (5/13/07, Sacrifice)
After they had a horrid Prince of Darkness match at Lockdown one month earlier, this was their chance to salvage the feud, and boy did they deliver. Much of the fighting between the former America’s Most Wanted partners took place outside the ring, and both men bled like faucets. Harris even speared Storm off the apron through in a table in a spot that looked worse for “Wildcat.” In the end, Harris violently shattered a beer bottle over Storm’s head, and that was enough to keep Cowboy down.
Joe, still technically undefeated, had brutalized Christopher Daniels so badly one month earlier, even Daniels’ rival AJ Styles was sickened by the violence. Joe had more than earned another shot at the gold, and would get his chance at the final event of the year. Much like their Sacrifice battle, Styles threw everything he had at Joe, even wildly missing a Pele at one point, to Joe’s joy. Styles couldn’t finish with the Clash, and tried for a modified cradle, but fell into the Cocquina Clutch, ensuring Joe’s victory.
2. Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe (12/10/06, Turning Point)
One year after his spirited win over Styles, Joe had a chance to avenge his only true TNA loss to Angle, after stealing the show at Genesis one month earlier. After submitting to Angle one month earlier, the subtle story here was that Joe was resisting defeat, no matter what the cost to himself. The match played out as a lengthier version of their Genesis war, this time with Angle unable to finish. His frustration led to him getting a chair, but after accidentally striking himself, Joe choked him out to even the series.
1. TNA X Division: Christopher Daniels vs. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe (9/11/05, Unbreakable)
It’s the consensus “greatest match in TNA history” and I’m not going to argue for a second. Arrogant champion Daniels found himself crowded by two men who would just as soon murder him for that gold, and what followed was the smoothest three way match, perhaps in wrestling’s entire history. In one of the most nifty moments yet seen, Daniels monkey flipped Styles squarely at Joe, and AJ, in mid-air, snapped a hurrachanrana on Joe. Unreal. With Joe incapacitated on the outside, Styles countered the Angel’s Wings into a bringing pin to capture the title.
Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for Wrestlechat.net and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.