Universal Studios – Orlando, Florida – July 17, 2005
PRE SHOW MATCH: Shocker vs. Jerrelle Clark
Has anyone actually seen this McDonald’s commercial that Shocker is in? Speaking of the man, Shocker takes Clark down to the mat with an armbar. Clark tries using his agility to escape but Shocker holds on. Undaunted, Clark escapes the armbar with a headscissors that sends Shocker to the floor. Back in the ring they engage in a test of strength. Clark wins that battle and climbs up the ropes for a hurricanrana that once again sends Shocker to the floor. He tries a springboard from the ring apron but Shocker pulls him down onto the ring apron. Shocker then slams Clark’s back into the ring post. Back in the ring Shocker goes up top for a cross body block and Clark rolls through for two. Clark gets a hurricanrana for another two-count, and then Shocker pops up with a clothesline. Shocker stays in control, setting Clark up on top for a superplex, which only gets two. He then finishes Clark with a unique rollup that is called the “Shocker Sphere,” which is just a horrible name, at 4:16. That was decent preshow fare, but I never understood what the big deal about Shocker was supposed to be.
MATCH #1: America’s Most Wanted vs. Matt Bentley & Alex Shelley
Bentley and Shelley are accompanied by Traci Brooks. This match basically came about because both Matt Bentley and James Storm think they have the best superkick. Shelley and Storm start the match. It’s interesting to note where these two are five years later. They chain wrestle and exchange holds and counters. Shelley tries throwing Storm over the top rope, but Storm skins the cat and tries a superkick but Shelley ducks. The tag is made to Bentley and Storm makes the tag to Chris Harris as well. Tenay gets confused on whether Storm or Harris is currently in the ring. When Storm tags in Bentley bails and tags Shelley. Harris hits Shelley with mounted punches, but Shelley comes back with an inverted atomic drop. Bentley will tag in since Harris is in the ring, but he pays for it as Harris catches him with a delayed vertical suplex. Harris tags Storm and Bentley bails again. Storm goes out after him and it turns into a brawl on the floor. Shelley and Storm battle up the entrance ramp and Storm throws Shelley off the ramp and down to the floor. Storm then jumps off the ramp and wipes Shelley out. Back at ringside Harris is beating on Bentley until Traci distracts him. Tenay and West point out how the referee has lost control of the match and they’re commending him for it. Brooks continues to interfere so Harris handcuffs her to the ring post. A totally contrived looking spot leads to Storm finally getting in the ring with Bentley. Storm is on fire, and the match breaks down again to a brawl. AMW hits Bentley with the Hart Attack for a two-count. Shelley distracts the referee and Traci throws Bentley her shoe to hit Harris with, but it only gets a two-count. Bentley asks for another shoe and this time Harris ducks and hits the Uncle Slam. Shelley then runs right into a Storm superkick at gets pinned at 11:47. They tried to sell this match on Bentley versus Storm’s superkicks, but I don’t really remember either guy ever winning a lot of matches with it. The action itself was severely disjointed and generally all over the place. The energy was there it just didn’t have anything tying it together.
MATCH #2: Shark Boy vs. Sonjay Dutt vs. Mikey Batts vs. Elix Skipper
The winner of this match gets a bid into the Super X Cup Tournament. Skipper and Dutt start the match. They work at a fast pace from the get go. Dutt hits an around the world headscissors, but moments later Skipper catches him in a spinebuster. Batts tags himself in and goes after Dutt with little success. He slaps Dutt in the face, which only fires him up, so Batts hightails it and tags Shark Boy. Dutt and Boy trade moves and Batts comes in to attack Boy from behind. Boy makes him pay with a Shark Bite. The match quickly breaks down to a brawl, and we’re left with Skipper and Boy in the ring. This match is mostly just contrived little bits of offense, and for some reason Batts is getting pretty good heel heat. Skipper and Batts battle and Skipper doesn’t seem interested in selling for Batts at all. However, Skipper is very interested in trying his rope-walk-rana, but he blows it and takes a nasty spill to the floor with Batts. Boy follows them out with a dive and Dutt follows suit. All four men get back in the ring and we’re left with Boy and Dutt going at it. Dutt hits an enziguiri on Boy and goes up top but Batts suplexes him, which even though it’s the same bump he was planning to take anyway, seems to really hurt Dutt. Batts goes up top now and jumps right into Skipper’s arms and gets hit with the Sudden Death. Boy tries the Dead Sea Drop on Skipper and it looks like it doesn’t connect but Skipper sells it over the top rope anyway. Dutt then dropkicks Boy to the floor, and then hits the Hindu Press (his feet pretty much kicked Batts in the face) for the pin at 8:16. TNA has had about a million matches exactly like this and there is no impact to them whatsoever anymore.
MATCH #3: Simon Diamond & David Young vs. Apolo & Sonny Siaki
Young and Apolo start the match, and Apolo dominates with his power. Siaki gets in on the action and similarly dominates Young with his power advantage, using suplexes and the like. Diamond low bridges Siaki from the apron, sending him crashing to the floor. Young follows Siaki out with an Asai Moonsault. Back in the ring Apolo blasts Diamond with a superkick, sending him to the floor. Apolo follows them out with a somersault dive. You know, I’m surprised Apolo didn’t get a push similar to the one Hernandez got – they’ve got similar builds and styles. Back in the ring Siaki and Young trade shots and Diamond takes a cheap shot from the apron before tagging in. The Diamonds in the Rough try to double-team Siaki but he avoids it and makes the hot tag. Apolo is on fire, throwing lariats at everyone. Siaki joins back in the fun, hitting a Diamond Cutter on Diamond, but then running into a spinebuster by Young. The referee wisely won’t count because Siaki isn’t legal. Apolo then grabs Young with the TKO for the victory at 5:44. That was a decent Impact-type match.
MATCH #4: Samoa Joe vs. Chris Sabin
Tenay calls Joe 6’8”, which is preposterous in a way I can’t even describe. Joe has been in TNA for a month at this point. They trade chops right off the bat and Joe obviously wins that battle. Sabin tries a kick but Joe kicks harder too. Joe backs Sabin into the corner and stalks him. They take it down to the mat and Sabin tries staying at arm’s reach for the time being. That works out, as Sabin ducks under a kick and dropkicks Joe into the corner. Sabin then whips Joe into the other corner and follows with a running forearm. He tries the Cradle Shock but he can’t lift his much larger opponent. Joe hits a running knee to the chest and looks to be in total control now. He hits a running knee to the face in the corner and then delivers the face wash. He hits the Big Joe Combo for a two-count. Joe continues to dominate, thwarting Sabin’s brief comeback attempts along the way. Finally Sabin gets dumped to the apron but is able to hit a springboard missile dropkick back in the ring. Joe rolls to the apron and Sabin dropkicks him into the guardrail. Back in the ring Sabin gets two. Sabin goes up top for a guillotine legdrop, which gets another two-count. He tries the Cradle Shock but Joe counters with a German Suplex with a bridge for a two-count. Joe follows up with a snap powerslam for two. Sabin comes back with a springboard tornado DDT for two. Sabin tries a flying something off the top rope but Joe catches him with an inverted atomic drop. Joe then hits a powerbomb and turns it over into the STF. He then turns it into a Crossface and when Sabin goes for the ropes Joe switches the hold again, so Sabin has to touch the bottom rope with his foot. Joe sets Sabin up on top for a superplex but Sabin slips out and traps Joe in a Liger Bomb for two! The crowd bought that. Sabin again goes for Cradle Shock but Joe escapes. This time Sabin hits an enziguiri and goes up top, but Joe knocks him down and hits the Muscle Buster! Joe then locks on the Choke and Sabin is out at 14:05. That’s the kind of match that made the X-Division awesome, not that four-way junk earlier in the show. I believe this is the only time Joe and Sabin ever had a high profile one-on-one match and that’s a shame.
MATCH #5: The Naturals & Lance Hoyt vs. Team Canada
The Naturals are accompanied by Jimmy Hart, and are the current NWA World Tag Team Champions. Team Canada is represented by Bobby Roode, Eric Young, and A1. Young and A1 attack Chase Stevens and Andy Douglas on the floor, while Roode pairs off with Hoyt in the ring. The brawl doesn’t last long as the Naturals outlast Young and A1 and Hoyt dumps Roode to the floor. Young has so much bacne here that it’s hard to look at him. Team Canada try to bum rush the ring but that goes nowhere and the fight continues back outside the ring. Stevens climbs up top and moonsaults down onto A1 and Young, and Hoyt follows up with a dive of his own. Back in the ring Stevens gets a two-count on Young. The champs double-team Young a bit before Young is able to make a tag to A1, but the big man can’t get any kind of offense going either. Hoyt tags in and continues wearing A1 down. Finally A1 simply powers Stevens into the Team Canada corner and Young gets the tag. Stevens comes back with a spinning cross body block off the top rope for two. Young distracts the referee and Roode looks to hit Stevens with the hockey stick, but then instead decides to toss the stick to Hart, and the referee sees it and banishes Hart from ringside! While this is going on, Stevens gets triple-teamed by Team Canada. A1 hits a running powerslam for two. They keep wearing Stevens down in their half of the ring. Eventually Stevens makes the hot tag to Hoyt and he throws all three opponents around the ring. He hits Roode with a chokeslam and then delivers mounted punches to Young. Bodies are flying all over the place, and we’re left with the Naturals and Young in the ring. The Naturals go for the Natural Disaster but Roode sneaks into the ring and hits both Naturals with the megaphone. Young rolls over onto Douglas and gets the pin at 14:45. That was the usual solid Team Canada match, but seemed more suited to iMPACT!
MATCH #6: Street Fight – Monty Brown & Kip James vs. The 3Live Kru
For those keeping score, this was the show where the former Billy Gunn changed his name to Kip James. Nothing says “I’m pissed off and ready for this street fight” more than the way Ron “The Truth” Killings dances, or Konnan still doing his lame little pre-match speech. Thankfully Brown and James break it up. Unfortunately for them, Truth knocks Brown to the floor and then hits a somersault dive. Konnan then clotheslines James to the floor, and James is already busted open. Back in the ring Konnan tries to hit James with a cookie sheet but accidentally hits referee Mark Johnson instead. Referee Andrew Thomas comes out to replace him. Konnan and Truth continue on offense until Brown throws Truth off the top rope to the floor. Now James and Brown double-team Konnan but can’t quite put him away. James and Konnan go to the floor, so Brown and Truth replace them in the ring. Brown goes for the Alpha Bomb but Truth reverses it to a rana. Truth then hits a leg lariat for a two-count. He hits the Axe Kick but James pulls the referee to the floor before he can make the three-count, and then throws him into the guardrail, injuring the second referee of the match. James hits a DDT on Konnan on a chair. BG James is up by the entrance watching the match. Back in the ring Brown hits Truth with the POUNCE and referee Rudy Charles comes out to count the fall at 5:26. That was just five minutes of meandering that the crowd didn’t seem that invested in. They tease some drama between BG and Kip reuniting the New Age Outlaws, but it goes nowhere at this time.
MATCH #7: AJ Styles vs. Sean Waltman
The referee for this match is Jerry Lynn. They lock up and Waltman starts trying to wear Styles down with a headlock. Styles fights back but Waltman armdrags him down and gloats about it. Styles takes a moment to regroup and they come back with a test of strength. The pace quickens and they exchange holds and counters until Styles hits two harsh bodyslams and Waltman rolls to the floor. Back in the ring Waltman takes a cheap shot and goes to work, but Styles fires right back and hits a backbreaker. Styles follows up with a vertical suplex, a bodyslam, and a flying knee drop for two. He locks on a Muta Lock and then unleashes some kicks to the chest. Waltman briefly fights back before Styles dropkicks him to the floor and follows him out with a beautiful tope. Styles stays in control on the floor until Waltman rakes the eyes and then slams Styles groin first into the ring post. That’s enough to put Waltman in control of the match back in the ring. Styles comes back with a Styles Clash attempt but Waltman kicks his way out of it and then hits the Bronco Buster. Waltman then spin kicks Styles down to the floor and follows him out with a dive off the top rope. He charges toward Styles, who ducks and hurls Waltman into the ring post groin-first. You know, tit for tit. Back in the ring Styles hits the springboard forearm and a series of strikes, including according to Tenay, a “combination elbow knife edge chop.” Styles hits the flipping inverted DDT for two. He goes for the vertical suplex neckbreaker but Waltman blocks it with a low blow and hits a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Waltman goes up top for a cross body block but Styles dropkicks him out of the air. Styles then hits a Styles Clash (Waltman appears to have landed right on his head) but Waltman kicks out at two! He goes up for Spiral Tap but Waltman moves out of the way and then hits the X-Factor but Styles kicks out! Waltman goes outside the ring for a steel chair and wraps it around Styles’ ankle. Lynn removes the chair and Waltman gets in his face about it. That gives Styles the chance to recover and hit the Styles Clash (after Lynn kicked Waltman’s hands off the ropes) for the win at 14:35. I absolutely hate that spot where referees kick a wrestler’s hands off the ropes, it makes no sense whatsoever. Referees should never touch wrestlers and when a wrestler gets the ropes isn’t the hold supposed to be broken? I’ve refused to do that spot before. The rest of the match was a pretty good back and forth display but I hate that finish.
MATCH #8: TNA X-Division Championship Match – Christopher Daniels vs. Petey Williams
Daniels has been the champion since 3.13.05, and this is his fourth defense. Williams is accompanied by A1. He attacks Daniels before the bell and we’re underway. Daniels tries to fight back but Williams tosses him directly to the floor. Williams follows him out with the springboard hurricanrana. Back in the ring Williams stays in control with a variety of offense, including the Canadian Leg Sweep for two. A1 distracts the referee to give Williams the chance to execute Oh Canada. Williams sets Daniels on the ring apron and hits a springboard legdrop to send him to the floor. He tries a rana off the apron but this time Daniels catches him and powerbombs him into the edge of the ring apron! Back in the ring Daniels wisely goes after the back. Daniels uses a variety of backbreakers and submission holds to wear Williams down. Williams tries fighting back but Daniels takes him down with an STO and goes right into the Koji Clutch. A1 helps pull Williams toward the ropes to break the hold. Moments later Daniels goes for another tilt-a-whirl backbreaker but Williams counters it into an inverted DDT. Williams is on fire now, as the cameraman reveals that Samoa Joe is watching on from the entrance. Daniels walks up after Joe and Williams makes him pay for it. Back in the ring Williams hits a DDT for two. Daniels comes back with a Death Valley Driver and both men are down. Back on their feet Daniels hits a bodyslam and when he signals for the Best Moonsault Ever, Williams grabs his legs and locks on the Sharpshooter. Daniels reaches the ropes, and then comes back with an STO for two. He goes for the Uranage but Williams fights out and goes for the Canadian Destroyer and Daniels reverses that to an Angel’s Wings attempt. Williams counters that with a rana. They take it up to the top rope and Daniels hits a scoop slam of all things. Daniels tries coming off with a cross body block but Williams avoids it and both men are down. They get up and trade right hands and Williams hits a crucifix bomb for two. A1 distracts the referee and hands Williams a chain to use, but Daniels had a chain too! Daniels nails Williams with the chain first, and then hits the BME to retain the title at 16:18. That is one of Williams’ best singles matches ever; it looked like he was wrestling with something to prove. This was a bit of an odd heel versus heel match but they made it work. Daniels was probably at his peak during this time period.
MATCH #9: NWA World Title Dog Collar Match – Raven vs. Abyss
Raven has been the champion since 7.17.05 and this is his first defense. Abyss is accompanied by James Mitchell, who I think is one of the most overrated characters in recent wrestling history. A cool part of the rules of this match is that there are no submissions, so if the other guy doesn’t want to pin you he doesn’t have to and you can’t give up.
The challenger takes immediate control using the chain. He then grabs a chair and wedges it between the top and middle turnbuckles. A big boot sends Raven to the floor, where he grabs a bunch of chairs and flings them into the ring like he’s Andre Dawson. That distracts Abyss and Raven is able to pull the chain into the aforementioned wedged chair. Now Raven is in control on the floor, using the chain to his advantage. He pulls out a table and sets it up. He wraps the chain around his hand and charges Abyss but he ducks and Raven punches the ring post instead. Back in the ring Abyss is in control again. He sets a chair on top of Raven and hits a splash off the second rope. Then he sets Raven on top of a pile of chairs and Raven gets out of the way this time so Abyss crashes into the chairs. Even so, Abyss is the first man back to his feet. He tries using the chain to choke Raven, but the champ comes back with multiple chair shots. He pulls out a staple gun and staples a dollar bill to Abyss’s forehead twice. Abyss rolls to the floor and Raven joins him. When Mitchell distracts Raven, Abyss is able to pull on the chain, pulling Raven into the ring post. They fight up past the announce table and both men are busted open. Mitchell and Abyss set up three tables and then Abyss drags Raven up the ramp. Abyss tries to chokeslam Raven off the ramp, but Raven kicks Abyss in the balls and dumps him off the ramp instead. In an awesome spot, Abyss yanks on the chain and Raven crashes through a table as well. Abyss recovers first and wraps the chain around Raven’s face. He sets up another table at ringside, but Raven gets up and spears Abyss right through it! Back in the ring Raven hits the jabs and discuss clothesline, starting off the Raven Comeback. He hits the bulldog and the Raven Effect DDT but Abyss kicks out at two. Raven hangs Abyss over the top rope with the chain and chokes him out. Mitchell sneaks in the ring and hits Raven with his cane. Somehow Abyss has fallen out of the collar. He goes under the ring and finds the bag of thumbtacks. He rips Raven’s shirt off and sets him on the top rope. Cassidy Riley comes out to help Raven by kicking Abyss in the groin. He gets absolutely no pop until Abyss throws him off the top rope through the table. Abyss goes back to mounted punches in the corner, and gets powerbombed into the tacks in an obvious spot. Raven goes for the Raven Effect but Abyss reverses it to the Black Hole Slam for a two-count! Abyss tries to Chokeslam Raven into the tacks, but Raven reverses it to the Raven Effect DDT to get the pin and retain the title at 19:01. That was a solid hardcore match with some contrived spots and weird interference (Riley), but for the most part it did the job as a first title defense for Raven.
After the match Jeff Jarrett comes down to confront Raven, but it’s all a ploy as Rhino is in the ring behind Raven and he delivers a crushing Gore to Raven as they fade out.
The Pulse: The last three matches are all pretty good (especially Daniels versus Williams) and the Joe versus Sabin match tucked away in the midcard is tremendous. Four worthwhile matches are enough to recommend this show, but what really makes it interesting is the focus on the X-Division. Between the preshow match, the four-way, Joe versus Sabin, Styles versus Lynn, and Daniels versus Williams, that’s half the card. It’s a fun reminder that TNA used to care about being different and had a really deep X-Division roster.