As I write this, the United Kingdom has officially entered a lockdown scenario as we look to combat the coronavirus outbreak that’s changing so much of day to day life across the world. I had already planned to write about something other than last week’s episode of Impact Wrestling in this column, what with Rebellion potentially becoming the latest major Impact event to move, but tonight’s developments rammed sort of made that decision for me.
In a follow up to the Impact Plus guide I wrote last week, I’ve put together a list of five Impact Wrestling matches and five shows that you should look to dig out while you’ve got some more time on your hands. This is by no way exhaustive and it lays no claims to being a ‘Best of’ list – it’s more a case of matches that are poignant/significant for me and shows that are either symbolic or just excellent.
I’ve deliberately not included the Genesis 2009 match between Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin, before anyone asks. It’s still one of my top three favorite matches from the promotion’s archives, but I’ve said enough about that one before.
AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels vs Samoa Joe, Unbreakable 2005
The only match in Impact history to get ***** from Dave Meltzer. While that rating means far less now than it did previously, this is as deserving a match as you’ll ever see. It’s funny that sticking three exceptionally talented guys, coming into the peak of their powers, in a ring together would produce magic, isn’t it? Like a fine wine, this match should be reserved for special times, much like the ones we’re in, and savored. It doesn’t get much better.
Christian Cage vs Jeff Jarrett, Against All Odds 2006
Christian Cage was one of my favorite wrestlers growing up. I never knew why I dug him so much, but you could bet that seven-year-old Andrew would hop of his grandparents’ couch anytime Christian came out to acknowledge his Peeps on Smackdown. His return to the WWE in 2008 felt like an enormous moment in my wrestling fandom, although that may in large part be down to his theme song… Discovering his TNA run marked one of my first dives into Impact’s annals and while this match with Jarrett for the NWA title is far from a classic, it marked the start of his first title run and it’s always been a match I’ve enjoyed watching back.
AJ Styles vs Doug Williams, Final Resolution 2010
Williams’ Impact run produced some really tidy matches that I feel don’t get enough love. This one perhaps deserves more than the others. At this point Styles was pure magic in the ring and while this match was for the unfashionable TV title, he combined with Williams’ chain wrestling style to produce 15 minutes of beautiful ringcraft. A proper hidden gem from an up and down time in the promotion that’s well worth a visit.
Abyss & Jeremy Borash vs Josh Mathews & Scott Steiner, Slammiversary XV
I can feel the eyerolls with this one, but I beg patience. At a difficult time like this, where our collective mental and emotional wellbeings are taking an almighty hit, we can all do with some good, light-hearted comedy wrestling. Even grumpy individuals like me. This is wonderfully daft and at a shade over 10 minutes it doesn’t overstay its welcome at all. It’ll take you on a trip throughout the promotion’s history and it’ll deliver a finish that can’t help but leave you with a smile planted across your face.
For other Impact wackiness, look no further than the Final Deletion.
Austin Aries vs Fallah Bahh, Impact Wrestling TV, September 2018
In the same vein that we need good comedy matches right now, we can do with genuine babyfaces that are easy to get behind. Bahh, who has improved so much since this match, is exceptional as the plucky babyface and Aries delivers to the level he’s always capable of. To me this is so much more than a match, something aided by the fact the whole show was built towards this fantastic main event.
The first Lockdown show in the promotion’s history stands as a metaphor for all the events that followed –ups, downs, hits and misses in almost equal measure. This show is far from a classic, but there is quality to be found. Jeff Hardy/Raven is what you’d expect, while the tag team title match between Team Canada and America’s Most Wanted is a lot of fun. Monty Brown hits a lot of pounces, which is always something to be enjoyed, and Christopher Daniels and Elix Skipper had a fun X-Division title match that illustrated perfectly the story of tag partners knowing each other well. The crowning glory here is the main event between AJ Styles and Abyss. In what is one of the best cage matches I’ve ever seen, AJ Styles hits a home run and Abyss delivers one of the best performances in his lengthy career. This show is well worth watching and you’ve got no excuse not to as Impact put the whole thing on Youtube.
For the most part, this is quite a middling show, but there are some real high spots. Watching Alex Shelley and Austin Aries teaming up to face Lance Archer and Ron Killings is a bit of a trip, and Christopher Daniels against Chris Sabin is exactly what you’d expect. The highlights though are two singles matches – Christian against AJ Styles and Samoa Joe/Kurt Angle I. Although I didn’t follow the feud live at the time, it is so clear from watching footage and the matches back that Joe/Angle was one of the hottest things in the company’s history and the anticipation for their first match was off the grid. The match doesn’t disappoint.
Turning Point 2009
Any show that starts with Amazing Red against Homicide will grab my attention. Those two have a fun little opener but the real meat of the show comes at the end and the final two matches alone are recommendation enough for this show. Nigel McGuinness’ run in Impact never really worked out but that didn’t stop him from having some cracking matches with Kurt Angle, the best of which, in my opinion, co-headlined this show. It’s hard-hitting, intense and it’s a great watch. The main event? Just a reprise of that 2005 triple threat, this time for the World title. Can’t ask for much more really.
TNA: The Whole F’n Show, August 2010
The only TV episode on this list of shows but it’s a stacked one. The opening contest is an eight-minute sprint between Kurt Angle and AJ Styles that’s very reminiscent of Angle’s match with Rey Mysterio from Summerslam 2002 and after some brief matches involving Jeff Hardy, Shannon Moore, Matt Morgan and Angelina Love, you get the downright excellent two-out-of-three-falls match between Beer Money and the Motor City Machine Guns to decide their best-of-five series. Its tag team wrestling at its best between two excellent teams. Rob Van Dam’s match with Abyss in the main event is also worth watching.
Slammiversary XVI, 2018
One of the best North American PPVs of 2018 and perhaps the best in Impact’s history. From the opening shots of the Rebel Entertainment Complex you could feel the energy around the show, the event and the promotion as a whole and it felt like Impact had developed a new identity, one that was entirely its own. Whether that identity sustained or even existed in the first place remains to be seen, but this show was, and is upon a rewatch, phenomenal. The opening four-way is tremendously underrated, Sami Callihan/Pentagon Jr is exceptional and Moose produces a career-best performance in the main event. A great show that will make you forget about everything else for three hours.
I hope these recommendations have given you some food for thought. Got anymore or any recommendations for stuff I should watch? Let me know on Twitter @AMSinclair97.