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.
NWA World Tag Team Titles – Ultimate X Match
The Latin American Xchange (Homicide and Hernandez with Konnan) vs. AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels
TNA No Surrender 2006
September 24, 2006
Over the course of its twenty-year history, TNA has been known for its hilariously wacky (and at times, incredibly stupid) match stipulations. It got to a point where they truly became part of the fabric of the promotion, for better or for worse. From gimmicks that were mainstays for many years like the King Of The Mountain Match (which I honestly don’t hate that much) or the Steel Asylum, to the incredibly memorable one-offs like the Last Rites Match, the Electrified Six Sides Of Steel, or whatever variation of “X On A Pole” Vince Russo conjured up on that particular week. However, out of all the different gimmick matches that TNA has done over the years, the one that has truly stood the test of time is the Ultimate X Match.
Looking back on it, by the time I started watching wrestling in 2004, there really didn’t seem like anything else that could be done in terms of creating new match stipulations that would not only be unique, but would have the chance to become popular enough to be more than just a gimmick match that would be a one-and-done. In the early 2000’s, WWE gave us two new matches in the form of the Elimination Chamber and the Money In The Bank Ladder Match, and while both became popular enough to the point that they’re still in use twenty years later (the Elimination Chamber has been one of my favorite gimmick matches for many years), they’re really just variations of other match types that came before it. The former is just a melding of various other matches (Hell In A Cell meets WarGames meets Royal Rumble), while the latter just offered a different kind of prize.
When the Ultimate X Match was conceived, and perfected in the ensuing years, it felt like TNA was truly exploring the final frontier when it comes to gimmick matches. It was something that was totally unique and different, and seeing highlights of some of these Ultimate X matches totally captured my imagination when I was younger. I was such a fan of the match that I made my own Ultimate X for my WWE action figures (I took a Hell In A Cell set, removed the roof and the walls so that only the four corner trusses were left, and used ring ropes from a spare ring to create the shape of the Ultimate X using the trusses). Getting the chance to actually play the match in the TNA video game was even cooler. It’s a match type that truly fits the high flying, no-limits style of the X-Division, and The Ultimate X Match is the pinnacle of pro-wrestling creativity, and if TNA ever does die one day (and I’m not expecting it anytime soon, considering how many times they’ve cheated death before), I hope that the match lives on in some form or fashion.
Now that my brief love letter to Ultimate X is over, I can actually start talking about the bout I picked, which was LAX vs. AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels in an Ultimate X Match for the NWA World Tag Team Titles. While Ultimate X had always been a multi-person bout from the jump, this was the first-ever tag team Ultimate X match. This was the third encounter between the two teams, with Daniels and Styles winning the first bout at Hard Justice, while LAX won the title in a violent Border Brawl on Impact a few weeks later. It was a bout that definitely put Daniels and Styles in their element, and after a (quite literal) leap of faith from Daniels, the babyface side was able to regain the NWA World Tag Team Titles.
This was an awesome contest from start to finish that showed all four guys at their best. We got some incredible high-flying offense from AJ Styles, incredible moments from Daniels, great feats of strength from Hernandez, and a little bit of everything from Homicide. So many cool moments throughout as Mike Tenay and Don West were going crazy (I don’t care what anybody says, they were a GREAT announcing duo). The numerous dives, Hernandez tossing people around like they were nothing, Homicide nailing the Koji Cutter off the X, Styles busting out the Spiral Tap, Styles putting Homicide through a table on the floor with the Styles Clash and, of course, the finish I mentioned earlier. So many awesome moments in this one, but it’s stuff like that which helped me fall in love with the Ultimate X Match. This was right before I started watching TNA (maybe not surprisingly, I became a regular watcher shortly after Kurt Angle joined the promotion), but when I got the chance to watch it back on DVD years later, I absolutely loved it, along with the rest of the matches in this feud. An awesome and memorable Ultimate X Match that was one of the highlights of TNA’s 2006.