2005 had been the best year in TNA’s history, to that point. Although I guess it didn’t have too much strong competition. However, TNA finally seemed to be building its own identity with the emergence of Samoa Joe and an influx of independent wrestling talent. Yeah, you still had Jeff Jarrett on top but you also had some exciting homegrown talent that really started coming into its own. And TNA’s free agent signings, which had once been just a hodgepodge of whoever WWE released and whichever WCW leftovers were available, had become genuinely exciting.
Christian Cage signing to the company in November 2005 was arguably the most promising signing TNA had made to that point. Here was a guy who was in the physical prime of his career, who had just been in a World Title match on a WWE pay per view a months before, deciding that he wanted to join TNA. He didn’t go to TNA because WWE didn’t want him. He chose to be there. It was huge. Team 3D and Rhino were signings that were almost equally important.
At the same time, you had to wonder how that homegrown talent that had been long time TNA stalwarts would react to not only the new stars brought over from WWE but the emerging superstars brought over from ROH. On top of all of that, TNA had once again signed Sting, perhaps the biggest name to never compete in WWE (to that point. At least, US wise).
In 2005, TNA had to find a way to do more with less but this year, they would have an increasingly stronger roster. But bigger isn’t always better (as you could see with late ’90s WCW—or early-mid ’90s SNL!) so it’d be interesting to see how TNA would respond with a fully stocked roster and a weekly television show along with the monthly pay per views it had the previous year.
TNA Wrestling Final Resolution
January 15th, 2006
Live from the Impact Zone in Orlando, Florida
Announcers: Mike Tenay & Don West
Opening video package for the pre-show, hypes Sting’s return to TNA tonight. This might have been TNA’s biggest pay per view to this point. Of course, being TNA, there’s a little production glitch at the end of the package.
Jeremy Borash runs down the card. He claims tonight’s Sting’s debut even though the opening video package showed clips from his matches during his cup of coffee with the company in ’03.
Christian talks to Shane Douglas. It’s still weird to me to see Shane Douglas as an overexcited babyface hype man. He’s not terrible but it just seems wrong to have The Franchise doing that role. Just like it’d be wrong to see Mean Gene play an arrogant, straight shooting heel. Actually, WCW did sort of have Mean Gene do that in the last year but I digress…
Pre Show Match: Team Canada Vs Jay Lethal, Kenny King, and Lance Hoyt
A funny sign of how much things can change in ten years…Jay Lethal is the weak link of the face team. I laugh at Lance Hoyt getting his shirt caught in his earring when he’s taking it off. Both Lethal and King are making their PPV (pre-show) debuts here. Team Canada is comprised of Petey Williams, Eric Young, and A1, for this match. Coach D’Amore isn’t at ringside which the announcers mention but it doesn’t play into the match at all. This is a fun, basic rev up the crowd opener. Eric Young’s selling sure is wacky/entertaining. Anyway, Team Canada gets the win when Petey hits the Canadian Destroyer on Jay Lethal for the win. ***
Video package for Team 3D/America’s Most Wanted. Bully Ray really laying it on thick in this promo hyping the match. Team 3D has won titles in ECW (polite applause), WCW (surprising amount of applause), and *making face* even WWE (boos from the doofs in the Impact Zone). They’ve won 18 titles in total but they’d give it all up for one time holding the NWA World Tag Team Titles. Sure, Bully, sure.
Pre Show Match: The Latin American Xchange Vs The Naturals
LAX had recently formed after Konnan (plus the debuting Homicide and returning Apolo) had attacked Kip & B.G. James as well as B.G.’s daddy “Bullet” Bob Armstrong. I forgot Apolo was in the original version of LAX. He was gone pretty quickly after this because of too many no-shows. I bet Apolo missed most of the TNA shows that he was actually scheduled for. Anyway, I have to admit, I got a huge laugh out of Konnan calling Kip James “a walking glory hole”. The Naturals fell down the card fast after the influx of ex WWE/WCW guys at the end of ’05. They went from being (albeit unfairly) included in discussion for greatest TNA tag team of all time with AMW to pre-show cannon fodder in a matter of months. Anyway, LAX gets the win in a non-descript squash match after Konnan whacks one of the Naturals with a black jack. *1/2
Shane Douglas goes to interview Sting but finds Team Canada in The Stinger’s locker room, chowing down on Sting’s catering. Eric Young acts wacky. He can sense Sting’s presence. Lights go out. EY jumps in The Franchise’s arms and Franchise throws him off. It’s only Coach D’Amore playing tricks. D’oh!
We see the video package for the main event between Sting & Christian and Jeff Jarrett & Monty Brown again.
Don West channels his Shop at Home Network days and runs down the card in front of some goofy, mugging fans. And it’s time for the main show!
Matt Bentley, Chris Sabin & Sonjay Dutt Vs Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, and Roderick Strong
This match is a last minute addition to the card. Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, and Roderick Strong had been bitching about their low status on the totem pole so TNA road agent (and X-Division legend) Jerry Lynn told them to prove themselves so they beat the team of AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Chris Sabin to earn a spot on the pay per view. Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley are both sporting new hair styles. Chris Sabin’s got silly frosted hair that looked outdated even in 2006. Alex Shelley’s half bleached blond, half black hair is very 2006 though. Roderick Strong looks pretty much the same though as he does now. A confused Dave Hebner is seen watching the match and West & Tenay make fun of his dopey facial expressions. A very nerdy looking Jerry Lynn also watches this match from the aisle. It’s funny to think that ten years later, Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley are still feuding! This match is super fun. Presence of Matt Bentley isn’t enough to muck things up too much. Heels win when Shelley gets a smacll package on Betley for the win. ***1/2
Another video package about James Gang and LAX’s feud. It seems like it’d make a lot more sense to have James Gang Vs LAX on this show rather than splitting them up into two meaningless undercard matches (like WWF did with Jake Roberts and Rick Rude at SummerSlam ’88).
The James Gang Vs The Diamonds in the Rough (with Simon Diamond)
The New Age Outlaws James Gang’s TNA pay per view debut and their first match on pay per view period since WWF No Way Out 2000 almost six years earlier. The James Gang’s attempt to recreate their Attitude era magic are pretty sad as they’re pretty much allowed to use none of their catchphrases. They’re not even allowed to say “Suck it!” Kip James yells “Suck THAT” after a crotch chop. It’s funny to imagine WWE’s legal team going through the lengths to trademark the term “Suck it!” Worst though is Kip James saying “I got three words for ya; get it? Got it? Good.” Even the announcers have to call him out for that not being three words. Anyway, theirs is called the Big Mac while our sandwich is the Big Mick. Anyway, I would suggest that TNA should have had Billy Gunn and Road Dogg (Sorry, Kip & B.G. James) do an entirely new gimmick but that’s their only gimmick that worked so I guess I can understand their thinking. Not much to say about this match. Diamonds in the Rough are one of the most forgettable tag teams of all time. The Out—uh, James Gang gets the win after Kip James hits the cobra clutch slam on Elix Skipper. *
Shane Douglas talks to Christopher Daniels. Even though he just suffered a grade 3 concussion, Christopher Daniels is not afraid to wrestle Samoa Joe. This week on “Wrestlers Do The Dumbest Things”…
International X Division Showcase: AJ Styles Vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Here’s another example of how much things change in ten years. Here we have Tanahashi, perhaps the biggest star in Japanese wrestling, wrestling an undercard match on a TNA pay per view. Although even in 2006, I think the consensus was that TNA was wasting Tanahashi as he was already a pretty big star at this point. This is more or less just an average X-Division midcard match. Tenay does his best to put over Tanahashi but it feels incredibly slapped together. You want to know how little this match meant in the grand scheme of things? The finish prominently involves Shannon Moore. He tries to attack AJ Styles with the 2005 Wrestler of the Year plaque he stole from AJ but hits Tanahashi instead and Styles hits the Styles Clash for the win. After the match. Styles get the plaque back and shakes hands with Tanahashi but Shannon Moore runs back in and steals it. You have two of the best wrestlers of their generation and you give their match 11 minutes and have it be a sidenote for a feud involving god damn Shannon Moore. This fuckin’ company. ***
Video package for Larry Zbyszko and Raven’s feud. That grumpy old man Zbyszko wants Raven to leave TNA!
Raven cuts a funny promo on Zbyszko with Shane Douglas. Wrestling is his mistress, his passion. If he didn’t have it, he might blow his brains out. He also uses a lot of $10 words since he’s Raven. He compares Zbyszko to a fetid piece of dung shat out by a diseased yak. Or something like that. Raven’s got such a way with words.
Larry Zbyszko introduces Raven’s mystery opponent “X-Pac… Sean Waltman”. I don’t think he was supposed to say X-Pac (judging by the James Gang match). I want to point out that Larry Zbyszko is wearing a Big Dog bowling shirt here.
No Disqualification Match (If Raven wins, he gets an NWA World Title shot. If he loses, he leaves TNA): Raven Vs Sean Waltman
Zbyszko’s friendship with The Kliq has always struck me as odd. I guess it was more of a mentorship than a friendship. Larry seems like the type of guy who would yell at them to get off of his lawn. Anyway, this is one of those matches where the guys are obviously busting their tails but physically have kind of lost half of a step. They take some unreasonable bumps to make up for it.
Sean Waltman Bronco Busting a ladder, in particular, seems like it’d kind of hurt.
Referee gets bumped because of course, there’s gonna be a ref bump in a match like this. Zbyszko reluctantly heads in to fill in and tries to an impartial referee. We can tell because his counts are equally terrible and slow for Waltman’s pins too. However, after Waltman hits a X-Factor off the ladder through a table on Raven, Zbyszko counts the pin even though he obviously sees Raven’s foot on the rope. **1/2
After the match, Zbyszko trolls Raven while Raven reluctantly and slowly walks to the back without resistance. Raven’s #1 fan Cassidy Riley runs down to try and stop this but Raven shoos him away. Don West tells Raven HE GOT SCREWED but Raven ignores him.
Ron Killings talks to Shane Douglas. It’s a wacky proto R-Truth promo where he raps and he says if you kick his dog, he’ll kick your cat. They’re interrupted by Konnan (wearing a Bobby Orr jersey) pleading with R-Truth to join LAX. Konnan says Ron can trust but Ron says he doesn’t know who to trust anymore except for himself.
Ron “The Truth” Killings Vs Bobby Roode (with Coach D’Amore)
This match came about as a result of Killings beat Roode in embarrassingly quick fashion on a recent Impact. Roode won a rematch on Impact through nefarious heel methods so this is the rematch. They’re teasing dissension in Team Canada here with Coach D’Amore bickering with Bobby Roode. Finish comes when Konnan comes out and inadvertently distracts Truth, which leads to Roode hitting the Northern Lariat for the win. Meh. After the match, Konnan tries to talk some sense into Killings then B.G. James runs out and triggers a huge brawl between LAX and The James Gang with Truth just shrugging his shoulders. **
Abyss & James Mitchell are interviewed by Shane Douglas. James Mitchell makes fun of Rhino for not being able to make child support payments. This reminds me of the recent SNL sketch where The Rock cut a promo on Bobby Moynihan for whacking it to Family Guy porn.
Abyss (with James Mitchell) Vs Rhino
It’s kind of easy to forget how big of a signing Rhino was for TNA at the time because it was immediately overshadowed by the signings of Team 3D and Christian (and the resigning of Sting). I don’t know if it would’ve been possible to sign the WWE guys if Rhino hadn’t signed first and been treated relatively well by TNA. It seemed like for a second that TNA would take a guy that had been misused by WWE and properly utilize them and potentially make him “the guy” (or at least one of the main guys) for the company. Of course, like with Raven a few years before, eventually Rhino got shuffled back to the midcard. This isn’t advertised as a No DQ match but it pretty much is one. Lot of chair shots and what not. Kind of surprised they’d have a match so similar to Sean Waltman-Raven. This one’s slightly better cause these guys are less old than those two. Abyss gets the win with a Blackhole Slam onto a chair. ***
Team 3D is interviewed by Shane Douglas. One thing I was annoyed by in these promos is that when Bully Ray talked about winning the WCW World Tag Team Championships, he implied that him and Devon were in WCW. That must’ve killed Mike Tenay a little bit inside to talk about Team 3D being WCW World Tag Team Champs. I mean, yeah, technically they were but those titles were WCW Titles, in name only by that era. Eh. I digress.
NWA World Tag Team Titles Match: America’s Most Wanted (c) (with Gail Kim) Vs Team 3D
Fans chant “Brokeback Mountain” at AMW plus there’s a few Brokeback Mountain related signs directed, which is very much a sign that this show took place in 2006. Another fan has a “Gail Kim Has SARS” sign. That was 2003! Get with it! Bully Ray entered in TNA, probably in worst shape he’d been in since his ECW run. He looks much more like ’90s Bubba than the sleeker, more modern Bubba. His ring attire of a generic Impact Wrestling t-shirt and jeans makes him look more like Tommy Dreamer than the Dudleys. Anyway, this is a fine tag team match and is going along well enough until a godawful ref bump finish where the Dudleys catch Chris Harris trying to use powder and accidentally throw it in the ref’s face. They hit the 3D but and get a three count but the ref’s blinded and doesn’t know who he counted for. While he’s regaining his vision, Team Canada runs in and beats up Team 3D with hockey sticks. By the time, the ref regains his vision, he sees Harris pinning Bully Ray and assumes that AMW got the pin. Just a really intelligence insulting finish. You think Borash or one of the other guys at ringside would have said something? Knocks this match rating down a full star. **
Jeff Jarrett & Monty Brown are with Shane Douglas. Jeff brings up the fact that Christian turned on his very own brother (“brother”) in their hometown. Jarrett tells Douglas to ask Chris Jericho if Christian’s trustworthy. I wonder if the Jericho namedrops were a not so veiled attempt to try and lure Jericho over to TNA. Jarrett alludes to Sting’s history of picking crappy tag partners and says tonight will be no different. Monty Brown acts wacky. He’s not the flavor of the month. He’s the flavor of the millennium. He played football with Dan Marino, Joe Montana, and Jim Kelly. He’s from the Serenghetti!
TNA X Division Title Match: Samoa Joe (c) Vs Christopher Daniels
This match came as a result of Joe attacking Daniels two months earlier at Genesis and giving him a level 3 concussion. I didn’t know Samoa Joe was a heel during this period. This is a really, really good match. Daniels is pissed off and wants revenge on Joe and is able to take the fight to him for a while but can’t compete with the level of brutality that Joe dishes out. I forgot that during his last few TNA runs. He just really seems like a ruthless dick. He MuscleBusters Daniels onto a chair several times. Repeatedly kicks him in the head. AJ Styles comes out to try and motivate Daniels but it doesn’t work. Joe kicks Daniels in the head some more and AJ is forced to throw in the towel to give Samoa Joe a win via stoppage. They should do more matches that end via stoppage. Well, at least if it’s like this and not like that weird Triple H-Curtis Axel match from 2-3 years ago. Another super solid match from these two. ****1/2
Christian talks to Shane Douglas. He says he can be trusted. Ask his brother or Chris Jericho! No, wait! Maybe not them but the Christian Coalition has his back!
Sting & Christian Cage Vs Jeff Jarrett & Monty Brown (with Gail Kim)
Sting, of course, gets a enormous pop. He had appeared in TNA before but that was in the weekly PPV era when it was really hard to hype big events. So this is basically his first TNA appearance that mattered. I like how everyone else does their own different crappy impression of Sting. Monty Brown’s Sting howl is kind of like an early version of Brock Lesnar’s high pitched shriek. It’s weird how TNA took so long to utilize Gail Kim’s wrestling abilities. Granted, they didn’t really have any other female wrestlers of her level for a while but it seems weird to hire her just to stand on the sidelines for a few years. Sting doesn’t do a whole lot during this match but then again, he doesn’t really need to. He looks good in limited role he’s in. I think is one of the last appearances of the classic black and white, Crow Sting look. Afterward, I think he started adding color back and looked a hybrid of Crow Sting & Wolfpac Sting. I like this match even though the booking is typical, overbooked TNA main event slop, at times. Just like the basic story of Sting being worried because he’s an idiot who picks shitty tag team partners and not being sure whether to trust Christian. In the end, Christian saves Sting on a few occasions and Sting breaks Jeff Jarrett’s guitar with the baseball bat. Scorpion Death Drop on Jarrett ends it. *** After the match, Christian and Sting celebrate for a bit before Christian leaves the ring so Sting can celebrate by himself to end the show.
It’s hard to believe now but back in January 2006, people could conceivably believe that this could be Sting’s final match. Of course, we all know now (and probably some of us knew then) that Sting had signed with TNA for real this time. But after WCW died, it was hard to imagine Sting going to WWE where he risked squandering his legacy by putting over everybody in retribution for the Monday Night Wars (imagine that) and it was equally hard to imagine Sting committing himself to another second tier promotion. Especially after a difficult last few years of his run in WCW. But a lot of people who survive one abusive relationship, often find themselves eventually in another.
I will say this though, at risk of getting laughed out of the Internet Wrestling Community, I think TNA treated Sting well. In a weird way, I think they were the only ones who backed up their “living legend” designation of Sting. Sting’s WWE run has been, more or less, a total joke and something I now kind of wish never happened. Sting is obviously the guy that you think of when you think of WCW but he was often pushed to a secondary role for whoever the flavor of the moment (Luger, Hogan, Macho Man, nWo, Goldberg, Booker T). The time Sting spent in the midcard of WCW was probably almost about as equal to the time he spent actually main eventing in WCW. Plus he was subjected to a bunch of embarrassing crap (the mini movies in ’93, getting mauled by dogs, the Vampiro feud, etc).
I’m not gonna say booking for TNA was always great or even good but it was never embarrassing and it was obvious that the people in charge had a reverence for him that you can’t say was had by some of the people who ran WCW and definitely by Vince McMahon. He was essentially to TNA what The Undertaker has been to WWE from ’04 onward. Of all of the people who have been wronged by TNA, Sting’s probably near the bottom of the list.
As for this pay per view, I got to say each TNA PPV I’ve watched so far has shown marginal improvement in some aspect. Overall, it seemed like this was a company headed in the right direction. Yeah, Jeff Jarrett main eventing is never a good idea and it cribbed a bit too much from Attitude era WWE but it’s refreshing TNA finally starting to create its own identity. And god damn, these early Samoa Joe matches were good. It’s definitely a nice break from the WWE shows of this period.
Next Time on Ten Years After… It’s time to Rumble! The Road to WrestleMania begins. It’s the 2006 Royal Rumble! 30 men compete for a shot at a World Title at WrestleMania 22! Plus Edge (who I think had a relative wrestle on this show) defends the WWE Title against John Cena and Kurt Angle defends the World Title against Mark Henry.