This list was originally published in a 2017 issue of Fighting Spirit Magazine and has been updated for 2022.
50 matches seems like a lot until you sit there looking at your list desperately trying to find room for a Rosemary vs. Jade match or an LAX vs. OGz match only to realize any further cuts would break your heart. Such is the nature of any list like this – sentimental favorites and hidden gems are going to miss the cut in favor of heavy hitters. That does at least speak to the vast amount of quality matches IMPACT and TNA has delivered over the last 20 years, there being many difficult cuts is ultimately a compliment.
A couple of notes about the criteria. It’s roughly on the basis of 75% match quality, 25% historical importance – with an express attempt to avoid rematches in favor of variety, with the exception of one. By right there should be multiple Styles vs. Daniels or AMW vs. Triple X or Wolves vs. Hardys vs. Team 3D matches on the list but that would be more boring.
50. A.J. Styles vs. The Amazing Red (NWA-TNA #19 – October 30, 2002)
As will be the case with a number of matches on this list, this should have been a breakout match for Amazing Red – a hugely likable and immensely talented wrestler. He took then X-Division champion A.J. Styles right to his limit only to come up short, but he looked superb doing so.
49. Deonna Purrazzo vs. Jordynne Grace (Slammiversary – July 18, 2020)
A real toss-up between this and the 30 Minute Iron Man match they’d have later in the year of roughly equal quality, the mix of Purrazzo’s technical prowess and Grace’s power moves made for dynamite chemistry.
48. Team AAA vs. Team NWA (NWA-TNA #81 – February 11, 2004)
A great strength of TNA’s early years was the novelty of the shows, some weeks you’d get some wacky legends showing up and others you’d get an extremely talented group from AAA who tear the house down with the TNA regulars.
47. Samoa Joe vs. Rhino vs. Monty Brown – Falls Count Anywhere (Hard Justice – August 13, 2006)
A riotously fun plunder brawl, these three tore the Impact Zone down (both figuratively and literally) in a wild and action-packed romp. A fitting final PPV match for Monty Brown before he left TNA, it was his best match in TNA.
46. Jerry Lynn vs. Sean Waltman (Sacrifice – August 14, 2005)
Going back to a classic rivalry years later is always risky business. Father Time inevitably takes its toll. Not in this case though as Lynn and Waltman worked a really smart match that played to their experience as well as athleticism, accentuated by tremendous announcing which helped provide ample historical context.
45. Samoa Joe vs. Christian Cage (Bound For Glory – October 14, 2007)
Elevated by a rabid crowd who loved Joe and wanted to see Christian killed, this was Joe on form. Full of swagger and extremely physical, Joe was on fire and these two pros served up one hell of a match.
44. Taryn Terrell vs. Gail Kim – Last Knockout Standing (Slammiversary – June 2, 2013)
Taken for granted prior to the show these two walked into Slammiversary 2013 and blew away expectations, delivering an impressive stunt-filled brawl.
43. Kaz vs. Christian Cage – Ladder Match (Genesis – November 11, 2007)
As Frankie Kazarian was picking up steam in 2007, this ladder match vs. Christian (who is rather familiar with ladders) should have been his true kick start – the match was every bit the exciting showcase it needed to be.
42. The Motor City Machine Guns vs. Generation Me (Bound For Glory – October 10, 2010)
Few think back on The Young Bucks’ time in TNA fondly (if they remember it at all) but one thing it did produce was a wonderful series of matches with The Guns, most notably this insane spot-filled Bound For Glory 2010 sprint.
41. A.J. Styles vs. Jerry Lynn vs. Low Ki (NWA-TNA #8 – August 7, 2002)
The three pillars of the X-Division carried a great deal of the burden of delivering quality wrestling matches amid a bunch of garbage on the early NWA-TNA shows. Thankfully these three were always up for the task, laying the foundation for TNA’s signature division and churning out top-quality matches week after week.
40. Team TNA vs. Team Japan vs. Team Mexico vs. Team International (Victory Road – July 13, 2008)
What happens when you take a variety of talent from different promotions across different continents, lump them all together, give ‘em 30 minutes and say go nuts? This match is what happens. A delightfully chaotic, frenetic contest most notable for how superb Dragongate ace Masato Yoshino looked.
39. Kurt Angle vs. Abyss – Falls Count Anywhere (Turning Point – November 9, 2008)
Sometimes there’s little more satisfying than a wacky stunt brawl. Angle and Abyss made their way around the Impact Zone executing one stunt after the next, most notably featuring Angle’s senton off the stage, in front of a roaring crowd.
38. Chris Sabin vs. Sonjay Dutt vs. Puma vs. Petey Williams (Destination X – March 12, 2006)
Proof that even throwaway X-Division matches can deliver classics when given the platform to do so. These four got fifteen minutes on PPV and made the most of every second of it.
37. The Lucha Bros vs. LAX (Homecoming – January 6, 2019)
The Lucha Bros and the Santana and Ortiz combination of LAX were tailor-made for each other – delivering the best insane high-energy sprint you’d hope for from two teams that thrive in that style.
36. A.J. Styles, Sonjay Dutt and Austin Aries vs. Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe and Alex Shelley (iMPACT! – November 3, 2005)
A dazzling showcase of the X-Division at its very best, both in terms of sheer volume of talent and quality of work. This match lived up to the TNA name – just nonstop action.
35. Kurt Angle vs. Desmond Wolfe (Turning Point – November 15, 2009)
A technical master class as the man better known as Nigel McGuinness attempted to prove he could out-wrestle one of the best. What they produced was a captivating game of human chess as they sought to outwit and outmaneuver one another.
34. Jeff Hardy vs. Austin Aries – Ladder Match (Turning Point – November 11, 2012)
Jeff Hardy is certainly no stranger to ladder matches but Austin Aries seemed to bring out Jeff’s particularly crazy side as he took some utterly insane bumps even by his own standards to make this main event World title match truly pop.
33. Douglas Williams vs. A.J. Styles (Final Resolution – December 5, 2010)
A wonderful melding of styles as British grappling was mixed together with high-impact flying to create something really neat.
32. Bobby Lashley vs. Drew Galloway – Tap Out or Knockout (Slammiversary – June 12, 2016)
This was less a story of Lashley’s total domination and more a tale of him finally coming toe to toe with an equal in Galloway. Two of the best heavyweights in the world at that stage duking it out for superiority.
31. Austin Aries vs. Low Ki vs. Zema Ion vs. Jack Evans (Destination X – July 10, 2011)
Four un-contracted wrestlers showed up on a TNA PPV and outworked the entire roster by an absolute landslide. This was dizzyingly fast-paced and they crammed an unbelievable amount of content into thirteen tremendous minutes.
30. Moose vs. Josh Alexander (Rebellion – April 23, 2022)
The culmination of a perfectly told story – Moose stole Alexander’s moment, Alexander spent six months overcoming Minoru Suzuki and JONAH to get back to Moose, Alexander beats Moose in a cathartic, emotional main event.
29. A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels vs. LAX – Ultimate X (No Surrender – September 24, 2006)
After carrying the X-Division for a year and half, Styles and Daniels decided to carry the tag team division too – with classic matches against AMW and LAX, particularly this tremendous Ultimate X match against Homicide and Hernandez.
28. Gail Kim vs. Awesome Kong – No Disqualification (Final Resolution – January 6, 2008)
The match that single-handedly justified the existence of the Knockouts division, easy chemistry combined with immense physicality produced a dynamite encounter. This established the reputation that the Knockouts division would live off for a very long time.
27. Kenny Omega vs. Sami Callihan – No Disqualification (Slammiversary – July 17, 2021)
There is a kind of Kenny Omega performance you expect – IMPACT got that classic Kenny big match structure in the Title vs. Title match with Rich Swann – what you don’t really expect is for Omega to go into a match with somebody like Sami Callihan and do their kind of match. He can do that of course, he’s Kenny Omega. And that’s what he did here, matching Callihan for sadistic bloody violence in a PPV main event No DQ match.
26. A.J. Styles vs. Bully Ray – Last Man Standing (Slammiversary – June 12, 2011)
There was a simple repeatable formula that always worked with A.J. Styles. You take a big imposing wrestler and have him beat the hell out Styles only for Styles to valiantly fight back. Styles is such a dynamic performer that he makes you feel every single blow making rallying behind him easy. Bully Ray was the perfect person to slot into that equation – loud and intimidating he provided the perfect contrast to Styles’ vulnerability.
25. Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Jarrett – No Disqualification (Genesis – January 11, 2009)
There was very little within the confines of a wrestling ring that Kurt Angle couldn’t do. While known more for technical classics, wild brawls were also more than within his wheelhouse. This out-of-control arena-wide brawl drove home the personal nature of the dispute and, unlike many modern equivalents; the hatred between the two was tangible. They worked like they were actively out to hurt each other.
24. Bobby Roode vs. James Storm (Impact Wrestling – November 3, 2011)
The end of Beer Money. It’s rare that pro wrestling camera work warrants being called elegant but it certainly applies here. When Roode fell out of the ring, he was shot from behind with the beer bottle in the background. Almost as if it were destiny that it were there. That the universe conspired to present him with this single choice. A choice that would define who he was. They then switched to a camera shot with the bottle in the foreground that captured everything going on in Roode’s head. He was conflicted but the wheels were turning. He didn’t explicitly set out to screw his tag team partner but when the opportunity presented itself you could literally see the moment when he decided to take what he felt what was his. The execution, the story, the production, the camera work – all flawless.
23. Josh Alexander vs. TJP – 60 Minute Iron Man (BTI and IMPACT – June 3, 2021)
In many ways, this is simply a stand-in for any of Alexander’s fantastic matches during his X-Division Title run. Delivering a compelling 60 Minute Iron Man Match – the first 60-minute match in IMPACT history – in an Empty Arena setting is an astounding feat but this could easily be any of Josh’s matches against Black Taurus, El Phantasmo, Jake Something or Chris Sabin from his 2021 title reign.
22. Pentagon vs. Sami Callihan – Mask vs. Hair (Slammiversary – July 22, 2018)
Few people find a company that just fits them and their style better than Sami Callihan did in IMPACT, where he immediately began connecting with the audience and delivering some of the most memorable matches of his career. This was everything you could want from a Hair vs. Mask match – emotional, violent and bloody with an insanely hot Toronto crowd – it was one of the best matches on one of IMPACT’s best PPVs.
21. Chris Sabin vs. Juventud Guerrera (NWA-TNA #61 – September 3, 2003)
TNA’s penchant for international tournaments created a number of interesting matches through the years and this was the pick of the bunch. The best of two eras collided as the WCW Cruiserweight division of old clashed with the modern X-Division to create something special and proved the value of forming an international coalition to bring big names and unique styles together.
20. America’s Most Wanted vs. Team Canada (Final Resolution – January 16, 2005)
A bit of patriotism can go a long way in wrestling sometimes. The beloved Americans vs. the dastardly hockey stick-swinging Canadians. That simple dynamic created a molten hot environment in the iMPACT!! Zone. Harris, Storm, Roode and Young – four men who would go on to form the backbone of TNA for years to come – produced one of the best old-school tag team matches in TNA history.
19. Austin Aries vs. Bobby Roode (Destination X – July 8, 2012)
It’s rare that TNA absolutely nails somebody’s story from beginning to end but that was the case with Austin Aries. The one-year arc from Destination X 2011 where he earned a contract to Destination X 2012 where he dethroned Roode to win the title was nothing short of masterful. He conquered the X-Division, had stature-enhancing wins over Bully Ray and Samoa Joe before beating the longest reigning TNA heavyweight champion. The match itself saw the crafty champion doing everything in his power to fend off the young upstart and failing. It was the perfect crowning moment to a tremendously well-executed elevation.
18. Sabu vs. Abyss – Barbed Wire Massacre (Turning Point – December 11, 2005)
This warrants watching for sheer spectacle alone. A no-ropes Barbed Wire Massacre, this was the closest TNA has come to going full-on death match. Not for the faint of heart, the toll this match took on both Abyss and Sabu was plain to see – the scars on Abyss’ arms are still visible to this day – you couldn’t help but wince each time they got tangled in the wire. While this is certainly not something you’d like to see very often, you have to admire these two’s willingness to sacrifice their well-being to entertain.
17. A.J. Styles vs. Christopher Daniels – 30 Minute Iron Man (Against All Odds – February 13, 2005)
In many ways the defining rivalry across the 20-year history of TNA; you could reasonably list five of their matches on a Best TNA Matches list. Their best however was their first PPV clash as it happens. A gripping 30-minute Iron Man match – the closing imagery of Styles being trapped in a Koji Clutch, blood dripping down his face as he waits the clock out was extraordinarily striking.
16. Chris Harris vs. James Storm – Texas Death Match (Sacrifice – May 13, 2007)
After the debacle of their Steel Cage Blindfold match the month prior, the former America’s Most Wanted teammates quickly erased all memory of that with a shockingly bloody Texas Death match. What should have been a star-making performance for Harris, this was a satisfying conclusion to the demise of one of the greatest teams in TNA history.
15. Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy – The Final Deletion (IMPACT Wrestling – July 5, 2016)
On the surface patently absurd lunacy where the Hardys fought in their garden, jumped out of trees and shot fireworks at each other – The Final Deletion was equally a vital step in one of the best stories TNA ever told. The Final Deletion, aside from being wildly entertaining, was the key pivot point of the dispute. The point of no return, the point at which all seemed lost. Matt lighting a symbol of the Hardy team on fire to defeat his brother was more than a brilliant piece of imagery, it was also profoundly melancholic. Yes, it was absolutely crazy but it was grounded in substance.
14. A.J. Styles vs. Kurt Angle (iMPACT! – January 4, 2010)
While January 4th, 2010 will be remembered as the night Hulk Hogan arrived in TNA, it was Kurt Angle and A.J. Styles that stole the show. Not unfamiliar with each other (they had 17 matches together on TNA television), this was their very best. Leaving absolutely nothing on the table, this was simply the two most consistent wrestlers in TNA history rising to the occasion.
13. Ethan Carter III vs. Rockstar Spud – Hair vs. Hair (IMPACT Wrestling – March 13, 2015)
From the moment Spud stood in the middle of Wembley Arena and belted out God Save The Queen at the top of his lungs, the tone of this match was set. Not only was Spud fighting for his country, he was fighting for respect. EC3 had taken Spud’s loyalty for granted and abused it, now it was finally time for Spud to stand up for himself. All of that subtext poured into an emotionally charged match where a bloody and battered Spud fought for every inch he could get. Spud lost in the end, the bully won the day, but Spud’s dynamic underdog performance ensured he would be remembered for a very long time.
12. The Wolves vs. The Hardys vs. Team 3D – Full Metal Mayhem (IMPACT Wrestling – October 8, 2014)
Harkening back to the infamous WWE ladder matches of the early 2000s, the inclusion and attempted elevation of The Wolves more than raises this match from simple facsimile. It was as thrill-filled and action-packed as the participants suggest, brilliantly paced and full of callbacks to their previous three matches. The Full Metal Mayhem conclusion to their series of matches, this was the best TNA had to offer in 2014.
11. A.J. Styles vs. Abyss – Six Sides of Steel (Lockdown – April 24, 2005)
The main event of the first-ever Lockdown PPV, this proved exactly what Abyss was capable of at a higher level. Working with Styles – who broke out as one of the very best in the world in 2005 – Abyss showed the range that would make him a vital asset for TNA long into the future. It’s a shame he was pigeonholed into a particular style so much through the years because performances like this displayed what an essential wrestler he could be.
10. Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels (iMPACT! – April 13, 2006)
Right in the swing of Joe’s streak as TNA’s resident destroyer, it was Daniels who truly shined here. Delivering a career-best performance, making for a bloody figure as he clawed to take down the seemingly insurmountable Joe – it was everything you could ask for from an underdog performance as the crowd bought into every comeback and near fall. They believed in Daniels in his finest hour as a singles wrestler.
9. A.J. Styles vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe (Turning Point – November 15, 2009)
While not as famous as its Unbreakable predecessor, this rematch four years after the original maintained the lofty standards associated with these three. In many ways this match reflected the maturity of the three performers, this gains a considerable deal with experience of their prior matches. Call backs and reversals are peppered throughout making reference to and at times subverting the older matches’ beats. It doesn’t carry the same historical weight as their 2005 bout but it’s damn enjoyable nonetheless.
8. Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle – Six Sides of Steel (Lockdown – April 13, 2008)
While their first-ever match at Genesis 2006 was billed as the “Dream Match of the Decade”, this was Angle and Joe’s best encounter. Thoroughly unique in that it was worked as an MMA hybrid that slowly morphed into a more traditional pro wrestling match as Joe became more and more dominant, this could have been a new template for TNA had they been swift enough to capitalize. Serving as the conclusion to Angle and Joe’s 18-month dispute as well as the culmination of Joe’s three-year TNA ascension, for one night at least it looked like Joe was TNA’s breakout star.
7. A.J. Styles vs. Jerry Lynn vs. Low Ki vs. Psicosis (NWA-TNA PPV #2 – June 26, 2002)
This defined what TNA could have become. It defined TNA’s potential. Two established stars proving their worth coupled with two younger wrestlers showing their wares on a national stage for the first time. And the younger wrestler beat the established wrestler. It had a wonderful balance of leveraging veteran names to establish new ones, while giving the veterans a stage to shine on once again in a superb match.
6. A.J. Styles vs. Petey Williams vs. Chris Sabin – Ultimate X (Final Resolution – January 16, 2005)
This was an exemplary example of Ultimate X done well. A wonderful mix of remarkable feats of athleticism and breath-taking stunts – this is the match that made Ultimate X actually mean something and it hasn’t been topped since.
5. Kurt Angle vs. Mr Anderson – Steel Cage (Lockdown – April 18, 2010)
There are certain times where the stars align and a match just clicks. Of course, it always helps proceedings when Kurt Angle is willing to go to the extreme of throwing himself off a cage to make it so, but regardless the conclusion to this blood feud was a molten hot affair. Far and away the best match of Anderson’s career, this was a more than fitting conclusion to a story about respect and patriotism. And Kurt Angle moonsaulted off a cage. That too.
4. Samoa Joe vs. A.J. Styles (Turning Point – December 11, 2005)
The most physical match in TNA history, Joe and Styles beat the unmerciful life out of each other to the degree that Joe bust Styles’ lip open. Joe the relentless monster, Styles the tireless underdog – this was a timeless formula elevated by sheer violence and brutality.
3. The Motor City Machine Guns vs. Beer Money – 2 out of 3 Falls (Impact Wrestling – August 12, 2010)
While one could lament how Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley never quite reached the heights they should have in TNA, there is little doubt that their Best of Five series with Beer Money was the pinnacle of their run. Seamlessly blending a more traditional tag-team style with a modern high-impact touch, their 2 out of 3 Falls finale in particular was a stirring example of tag team wrestling at its best. Two of the best teams TNA have ever had to offer, two teams with superb chemistry in the culmination of their tremendous Best of 5 Series in front of a rowdy crowd with more double team moves than you can shake a stick at. Everything worked.
2. A.J. Styles vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe (Unbreakable – September 11, 2005)
Perhaps the most famous bout in TNA history, this was the night the X-Division broke into the mainstream. Main eventing a PPV for the first time, TNA’s signature division stole the show and defined Styles, Daniels and Joe’s legacy on their largest stage yet. Abandoning the regular two in, one out three way formula – these three delivered an action-packed match full of unique and inventive sequences in front a raucous Impact Zone. Not only a killer match, this would cement the three participants as the very lifeblood of TNA.
1. America’s Most Wanted vs. Triple X – Six Sides of Steel (Turning Point – December 5, 2004)
While most notable for Elix Skipper’s incredible, daring cage walk – this was the Six Sides of Steel conclusion to the greatest rivalry of the early years of TNA. The two teams had faced eleven times over the prior two years and this was their final encounter; the losing team had to disband. An ultra-heated war managing even to vastly exceed the quality of their excellent 2003 cage match, you simply couldn’t help but be sucked inside that steel cage with them. The main event of TNA’s second-ever monthly PPV – this was brutal, violent, disturbingly bloody and emotionally charged and showcased the very best of TNA Wrestling; young talented pro wrestlers simply given a platform to be the very best they could be and delivering in spades.
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