James Storm wrestled his 1,000th match under the TNA/GFW/Impact Wrestling banner in the main event of this week’s Impact on AXS TV. Without wishing to sound like a Peep Show meme, 1,000 matches in one promotion is insane.
Since making his debut for TNA all the way back in 2002, when he teamed with Psicosis against famous penis men The Johnsons, Storm has very literally seen it all. Aside from 2019, he’s worked at least one match for the company since that first show nearly 19 years ago.
Storm’s second match was alongside the other half of America’s Most Wanted, ‘The Wildcat’ Chris Harris. Yet at the time, they weren’t America’s Most Wanted. They just got put together on the undercard, stole the show and the rest, they say, was history. From then on, Storm has spent the majority of his time in Impact as a tag team wrestler. He became one of North America’s pre-eminent tag team specialists. In total, he’s won the TNA/Impact tag team belts on 14 separate occasions – six times with Harris, five with Bobby Roode and then once each with Christopher Daniels, Gunner and Abyss.
Beer Money remains my favorite team in the company’s history. It’s a product of when I started watching the promotion rather than being borne out of work rate or any particular matches, even if their series with The Guns made me a believer. The visual of Storm riding to the ring on the Booze Cruiser while their fantastic theme tune blared out in the Impact Zone and dollar bills lay scattered across the floor is etched on my mind. Storm’s World title win felt massive and Roode’s betrayal even bigger. Take A Fall was, for a very long time, my ringtone.
Yet, America’s Most Wanted were, in all likelihood, an even better team. I can’t begin to articulate their status anywhere near as well as Garrett Kidney did earlier this week, but they were a special team involved in some of the greatest feuds in the promotion’s early history. Triple X against AMW, Team Canada against AMW, AMW welcoming Team 3D to Impact and their battles against AJ Styles and Daniels.
A common theme in most of Storm’s tag teams was a violent end. Storm’s 2007 Texas Deathmatch against Harris was a contest I’d not seen until Impact made it available on Youtube. It’s a masterclass in ending a blood feud and I don’t just mean because of the claret-stained canvas.
Storm has main evented PPVs, he’s been a King of the Mountain champion and holds the distinction of being a two-time TNA Beer Drinking Champion.
He’s been a faction leader and a faction member. He’s been a pure white meat babyface and one of the promotion’s top heels. I mean, who could forget him shoving Mickie James in front of a train? Whether the material he’s been given has been good or downright atrocious, he’s worked with it and been as reliable a hand as the promotion could have asked for.
His 1,000th match for Impact was against Eric Young. Not only was it relevant because of the ongoing beef him and Chris Sabin have with Young’s Violent By Design, it was relevant because Young had shared a ring with him in the promotion on 94 previous occasions. It was relevant because they have history. Only the aforementioned Roode and Harris, his former tag partners, have had more in-ring moments with him.
Their first meeting between came back in 2004, when Team Canada’s Young and Roode defeated Storm and Daniels for the tag-team titles. The reunited Storm and Harris would then win the belts back from Team Canada in January 2005 at Final Resolution, Scott D’Amore’s devilish bunch of Canadians proving the perfect foils for the Tennesse outlaws.
Apart from the many subsequent AMW/Team Canada battles, Young and Storm have teamed together to battle Aces & Eights, they’ve faced each other in tournaments, they’ve worked house show programs together, they’ve competed in Beer Drinking contests and ladder matches, and they’ve battled each other with countless different tag team partners. While Storm’s record in tag matches was decidedly stronger, Young had gone 7-1 in their previous eight singles encounters. Matt Striker and D’Lo Brown didn’t play into that too much on the commentary but it was another wrinkle that made the match that little bit more significant. At least to me.
Impact was effectively a one-man show this week, building to Storm’s 1,000th match in the main event. Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with a one-man show; they almost feel like they build towards a natural crescendo better than shows that are full of multiple high spots and big moments. They have one singular purpose rather than several, so any other angle advancements you get feel like a welcome bonus.
The return of Harris was a lovely touch. It was an easy win, it leveled up the numbers at ringside, and it added that further note of history to the main event. The man who’d been there with him in the beginning, and had been part of some of his greatest moments in the promotion, was right there by his side for his latest big moment.
The match itself was fine, exactly what you’d want from Young and Storm in that spot. They went through all of their big spots but not in a way that felt like a comfortable pair of slippers or a tired house show routine. It played into their history and their knowledge of each other. It wasn’t a big spotfest but it was well-worked and it developed in the right way, in a meaningful way.
Young purportedly tore his ACL midway through but it was never a factor, the match instead developing as both kicked out of each other’s signature moves and sought to grind the other down. Interference, which was kept to a minimum for the most part, played a role in the finish but again it worked in a positive manner. After Storm had gone to the outside, a brawl broke out between Violent By Design and Storm, Sabin and Jake Something. As Young attempted to make the most of the melee and grab the hockey mask that had won him his second World title, Harris cut him off, dragging him to the outside, landing a big left hand and them rolling him in for Storm to hit the Last Call superkick and pin him for the win.
One person who, like Harris, had been there for the start of Storm’s journey in TNA/Impact was Bob Ryder. Back in 2002, it was Ryder who encouraged the Jarretts to start up the promotion and he ended up being the promotion’s longest-tenured employee. He worked there in a variety of roles from the company’s launch in 2002 until his untimely death last year from cancer. Described as the promotion’s ‘heart and soul’, every wrestler who’s worked there has had interactions with him and it’s hard to find a bad word about him. He couldn’t be there for this milestone like Harris was but Storm did a good job of ensuring he was there in spirit, mentioning him in his promo early in the night and then dedicating the match to his memory as the show faded to black.
Impact Wrestling has lacked a flow of late and has been a trudge to watch but this week was genuinely fun. To be truthful, it was the most fun I’ve had watching Impact in a long time as they celebrated one of their own. James Storm, the man of 1,000 matches. That’s insane.