**Edited on October 1st 2018**
(2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) — Well, well. What have we here? I was meant to write this up a week or two ago, and we’ve reached the end of the month so I need to do one to meet my quota. Saving the most informative til last.
Just to remind everyone, the last thing we saw at the end of Turning Point 2005 was a chair in the middle of the ring accompanied by a baseball bat and other Sting merchandise as his entrance music played. This was a sign he was going to debut in the company really soon.
The 4LiveKru split up at the event, with B.G James and Kip James (Road Dogg/Billy Gunn) reuniting as a tag team under ‘The James Gang’ name. Ron Killings went off on his own, while Konnan formed The Latin American Xchange (LAX) with Homicide and Apolo. A booking committee continued to lead creative in 2006, which consisted of personnel such as Scott D’Amore, Mike Tenay, Jeremy Borash, Dutch Mantel and others.
Highlights from Final Resolution 2006:
- AJ Styles fought Hiroshi Tanahashi in an 11-minute singles match.
- A feud between Larry Zbyszko and Raven came to a head, as Raven was placed in a match with Sean Waltman to either become #1 contender, or be fired from TNA Wrestling. Raven lost and was fired in storyline.
- Bobby Roode defeated Ron Killings in a decent contest.
- America’s Most Wanted proved they belong as the NWA World Tag Team Champions by defeating the legendary Team 3D, Brother Ray and Brother Devon.
- Samoa Joe continued his undefeated streak by retaining his X-Division title against Christopher Daniels.
- Sting made his official TNA wrestling debut (in a match) when he teamed with Christian Cage to defeat NWA Champion Jeff Jarrett & Monty Brown.
At the following event, Sting made his TNA Impact debut. He cut a promo about “not being able to say goodbye“ five years ago on the last WCW show. This was a heartfelt and passionate promo which I highly recommend.
- Jay Lethal won his first big match on TNA PPV, defeating Matt Bentley, Alex Shelley and Petey Williams in a four-way X-Division match.
- The James Gang and LAX feud heated up considerably with B.G. James picking up the win. LAX tried to attack The James Gang afterwards til Bob Armstrong (B.G.s father) made the save.
- Rhino defeated Abyss in a Falls Count Anywhere match by giving Abyss a Gore off the stage and through four tables.
- Another three-way dance between Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels led to Joe remaining undefeated and retaining the X-Division Champion.
- Christian Cage challenged Jeff Jarrett for the NWA World Championship. For the first time in his career, Christian became a World Champion.
Again the feud between LAX and The James Gang intensified as Hernandez joined LAX to counter Bob Armstrong. As the PPV was themed for the X-Division, an Ultimate X match was chosen as the stipulation for Joe/Styles/Daniels:
- The James Gang and Bob Armstrong defeated LAX in a six man tag.
- Chris Sabin won a four way match against Sonjay Dutt, Petey Williams and Puma (Tj Perkins)
- Jeff Jarrett, Abyss and AMW defeated Team 3D, Rhino and Ron Killings in an 8-man war.
- Christopher Daniels became the X-Division champion once again by winning Ultimate X against Samoa Joe and AJ Styles. Samoa Joe still classified as undefeated in singles competition.
- Christian Cage successfully defended his NWA title against Monty Brown.
On April 10th, Samoa Joe defeated Christopher Daniels for the X-Division title on TNA Impact!
- Bob Armstrong won an arm wrestling contest with Konnan.
- Chris Sabin won an Xscape match against Elix Skipper, Petey Williams (with Coach D’Amore), Chase Stevens, Shark Boy and Puma.
- Samoa Joe destroyed Sabu in six minutes to keep the X-Division title.
- Christian Cage retained the NWA title against Abyss.
- Sting’s Warriors (Sting, AJ Styles, Ron Killings, Rhino) defeated Jarrett’s Army (Jarrett, debuting Scott Steiner, AMW) in Lethal Lockdown.
The feud between Sting and Jeff Jarrett continued on in to Sacrifice. After Daniels returned from a concussion injury, he became more of a fan favourite, and TNA solidified it at Sacrifice when Daniels saved AJ Styles from America’s Most Wanted. Daniels & Styles paired up to face the NWA Tag Team Champions.
- Jushin Liger wrestled in the first match, getting a victory over Petey Williams in a World X Cup match.
- Despite a good showing, Styles and Daniels lost the match after Gail Kim assisted AMW behind the referee’s back with a nightstick.
- Raven returned to PPV, beating A-1 of Team Canada in short order. Zbyszko was at ring side.
- Sting chose Samoa Joe as his partner to challenge Jarrett and Steiner in a tag team match. Joe picked up the win on Jarrett with the Muscle Buster.
- Christian Cage retained again against Abyss, this time in Full Metal Mayhem.
- Team 3D got a much-needed win over The James Gang in a Bingo Hall Brawl.
- Low-Ki returned to TNA under the name ‘Senshi’, with no immediate changes to his character or ring style. He won a X-Division rankings elimination match against Petey Williams, Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt, Alex Shelley and Shark Boy.
- After interfering in the X-Division, Kevin Nash allied with Alex Shelley in a feud with former X-Division champion Chris Sabin. Nash beat Sabin in eight minutes.
- AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels did the unthinkable, the two former rivals managed to defeat the dominant AMW and take the NWA World Tag Team titles, ending a 250 day reign.
- Scott Steiner continued his poor PPV record with a loss to Samoa Joe.
- Jeff Jarrett won the third King Of The Mountain match, taking the NWA World title from Christian Cage in a match which also included Sting, Abyss, and Ron Killings. 6-time NWA Champion Jeff Jarrett. His last.
The finish was known for the “Orlando Screwjob”, where Zbyszko and Earl Hebner helped Jarrett to screw Sting and Christian Cage out of the NWA title. Jim Cornette was introduced as the “Mangement Director”, an on-air authority figure. He told Jarrett he could keep the title as long as he defended it against the winner of the four way at Victory Road. The next night, Senshi pinned Sonjay Dutt in a 3-way Dance, taking the X-Division title from Samoa Joe without his involvement.
Cornette continued on as the authority figure on Impact, but TNA didn’t want too much emphasis on him so they limited his screen time and asked not to waste time. Matt Morgan was his bodyguard for a while, eventually leading him to wrestle regularly. Needless to say, Cornette was a very effective authority figure and never made it about himself. Never let the heels get to him, and didn’t pander to the faces either. He encouraged competition, fairness, and total nonstop wrestling action.
With Jim Cornette in charge, Victory Road saw a different approach with management being fair and clamping down on underhandedness.
- LAX returned to PPV with a win over Sonjay Dutt & Ron Killings.
- Senshi retained the X-Division title against Frankie Kazarian.
- Raven ended his feud with Zbyszko quickly in a hair vs. hair match.
- Jay Lethal teamed with Chris Sabin to overcome Kevin Nash and Alex Shelley AKA The Paparazzi.
- Sting became #1 contender to the NWA title, defeating Samoa Joe, Christian Cage and Scott Steiner in the main event. Jeff Jarrett did not wrestle on the PPV.
The PPV was hyped as Sting returning to the World title scene in what many hoped would be his first reign in several years. LAX was reduced to Hernandez and Homicide by this time, but the chemistry and fan response was so great management pushed them toward the NWA tag team titles.
- Chris Sabin became #1 contender to Senshi’s X-Division title by beating Alex Shelley.
- Senshi continued to show his class by beating Petey Williams and Jay Lethal to retain.
- AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and LAX stole the show as they continued their heated rivalry over the NWA tag titles. Styles and Daniels came out on top this time.
- With Scott Steiner at ringside for Jarrett, and Christian Cage in the corner off Sting. Christian turned heel and hit Sting with a guitar, helping Jarrett to retain. Afterwards, Sting agreed to a career vs. title match at Bound For Glory, and stopped wrestling so he could train extensively for it.
On the foliowing Impact, LAX defeated AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels for the NWA tag titles in a Border Brawl match.
Most of this card didn’t hold much significance. However, there was one gem. Also it was reported (but not confirmed) that Vince Russo was hired as a creative writer once again three days before the PPV. Because of this, the booking committee was disbanded and replaced with the creative team of Jeff Jarrett, Vince Russo and Dutch Mantel.
- Senshi continued to show what made the X-Division by beating #1 contender Chris Sabin.
- Christian Cage beat his friend Rhino in another decent match.
- TNA’s “Match Of The Year”, Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles won the NWA titles again by beating their arch rivals LAX in an Ultimate X match.
- Samoa Joe beat Jeff Jarrett in a lumberjack match in the main event.
- At the end of the event, TNA announced they had signed Kurt Angle and would be making his debut soon.
Three days before Bound For Glory, the Olympic Gold Medalist shocked the world in a segment with Samoa Joe. TNA often cites the moment as one of its most memorable.
Holds significance as the first major PPV to be held outside Nashville or Orlando. The event drew 3,600 fans to the Compuware Sports Arena in Plymouth Township, Michigan. Interestingly, the PPV theme was Enemy by Fozzy. (Chris Jericho was not in WWE at this time)
- Austin Starr (Aries) won a Kevin Nash Open Invitational X-Division Gauntlet by last eliminating Jay Lethal in the first and longest match of the night.
- Samoa Joe won a Monster’s Ball match against Abyss, Brother Runt (Spike) and Raven. Jake “The Snake” Roberts was the special guest referee.
- Eric Young defeated Larry Zbyszko in a Loser Gets Fired match. Goodbye Larry.
- Chris Sabin finally got the better of Senshi to claim his third X-Division title.
- LAX took the tag titles back from AJ Styles and Daniels in a six sides of steel match.
- Kurt Angle ensured fairness in the main event, giving Sting the chance to claim his first NWA World title reign in fourteen years!
- Marked the first time in TNA PPV history were all titles changed hands on the same night.
The James Gang changed their name to Voodoo Kin Mafia (Initials VKM, mocking Vince McMahon), and declared ‘war’ on WWE by making fun of the reformed D-Generation X, Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Christopher Daniels returned to the X-Division and took the title from AJ Styles and Chris Sabin a couple of weeks before Genesis. Abyss emerged as Sting’s first challenger, and all the hype hinged on the epic first encounter between Kurt Angle and the undefeated Samoa Joe.
- Daniels retained the X-Division title against Chris Sabin.
- Christian Cage continued his PPV singles bout success with a win over AJ Styles.
- LAX were on top and not going anywhere as they saw off the challenge of America’s Most Wanted for their tag titles.
- Only one month after winning the title at BFG, Sting lost the title to Abyss by DQ. This was Abyss’ first ever World Championship victory.
- Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe squared up to each other in one of their classic encounters, which will certainly be remembered by wrestling fans decades from now.
Not much to Turning Point 2006. All the champions retained, and the emphasis was firmly on Angle vs. Joe II. Therefore I will end with a video of their second match after a conclusion.
While 2006 didn’t produce as many 4 1/2 to 5 star matches, it certainly brought in many big names who spiced up the main event scene. We saw a downfall in the career of AJ Styles as a main eventer. Instead, he and Daniels teamed up and tore the house down with LAX, proving they didn’t need to be fighting for the world title to steal the show. AJ was still proving his worth at a time the company focused on pushing Jarrett, Sting, and Joe.
It was important to give the former WWE/WCW guys some footing, to not waste their talent, but at the same time make the TNA originals look good later down the road. With creative minds such as Russo, Jarrett, and Cornette running around, I’m surprised the company didn’t implode on itself due to all the changes in the roster and creative. 2006 helped TNA survive as an alternative to the WWE for a few more years thanks to the contributions of Sting and Kurt Angle. Getting these legends was a massive deal for the company and the wrestling world.
2006 also set up the ongoing feud between Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle. I remember reading an Angle interview where he compared Joe to guys like Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit in the way he can go hold-to-hold and take him to the limit in every match. Funny thing is … WWE felt like Angle wasn’t healthy enough to be the champion for one of their main shows, so they placed him in ECW and planned to have him carry the “C” brand with the ECW title. Angle didn’t like that, he felt like he was worth more … but WWE didn’t want to risk his health so he left.
He noticed the competition and made the jump as he could work a lighter schedule and still perform at the highest level. He could also take a break when he needed to, as Dixie Carter was accepting of wrestlers needing time off for nagging injuries. Despite some criticism of the signing of Angle, he worked at a high level for several years after his signing. He would take the odd break to recover, or shoot a movie, but he would always return fit as ever, and ready to wrestle anyone.
It’s safe to assume WWE was more concerned about Angle’s drinking, and wasn’t prepared to deal with the fallout … while TNA couldn’t say no to having him on the roster. He made some mistakes over the years, but the relationship remained strong and here we see the beginning of a nine-year partnership. When I look back at his career, WWE had something special, he could have been far more than he was, yet they couldn’t give him the time to recover and come back strong. He was worked hard for a long time, and let go … a decision I’m sure Vince regrets. Angle was treat with the utmost respect in TNA. Always a main event player, and he helped to elevate the TNA originals to a brand new level.
Thanks for reading everyone! Been a long one for me, and I was hoping for more detail but I’m sure you got the highlights pretty well and I hope you enjoyed it anyways. Happy Halloween everyone!