Throughout the month of June, we will be celebrating 20 years of TNA/Impact Wrestling with our #Impact20 series of reviews, columns and podcasts. One particular series will look at a handpicked selection of the best TNA/Impact Wrestling Matches of All-Time. 

Ultimate X
Chris Sabin vs. Frankie Kazarian vs. Michael Shane

NWA Total Nonstop Action #59
August 20, 2003
Tennessee State Fairgrounds
Nashville, Tennessee

You never forget your first.

The brainchild of Don Callis and his MBA, the Ultimate X match is by far the best gimmick match to come out of IMPACT Wrestling’s long 20-year journey. The concept was simple: they strapped four steel poles fifteen feet high and from those four poles they ran steel wire diagonally across the ring forming, in fact, Hudson, an X. And from the middle, they hung the X-Division title. The three wrestlers would have to negotiate the wire and the poles in order to retrieve the belt and win the match and it would pop a tremendous buyrate.

There was a lot of good in this match featuring three of the best X-Division wrestlers of the era. We all know that Chris Sabin and Frankie Kazarian are fantastic pro wrestlers and were tremendous wrestlers for many years in TNA. Michael Shane (Matt Bentley), however, is one of the most underrated X-Division wrestlers in history. While he might be most remembered for being the cousin of a certain WON Hall of Famer with a similar name, Shane held his own in a division that consisted of guys like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Jerry Lynn, and the aforementioned Kaz and Sabin.

Michael Shane had a tremendous bladejob that would rank at an eight on the Muta scale but the real highlight of the match were the high spots including a powerbomb from the wire to the ring mat. The belt unhooked and fell off the cables twice but that did not hurt the pacing of the match and the fans were still hooting and hollering at the wrestlers. The finish of the match was well executed. Kazarian and Sabin met in the middle of the hanging X and duked it out. As they were too concerned with each other, the disgustingly bloody Shane got back to his feet. Kazarian managed to kick Sabin off but Shane took advantage of the situation and came flying in to grab the title and make history as the winner of the first Ultimate X match.

While not the best Ultimate X ever, this set the bar at a high enough level to make this one of the best stipulation matches of the 2000s. The Ultimate X match is still a match that people look forward to and it generates a lot of hype online when IMPACT runs it. The King of the Mountain and the Lethal Lockdown are great matches but nothing touches the absolute craziness that is the Ultimate X.