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.
Christian Cage vs. Monty Brown
TNA Turning Point 2005
December 11, 2005
“Though according to my estimate the soldiers of Yueh exceed our own in number, that shall advantage them nothing in the matter of victory. I say then that victory can be achieved. Though the enemy may be stronger in numbers, we may prevent him from fighting.” – SunTzu, The Art of War
2005 was a watershed year for Total Nonstop Action. From a failed bid on Fox Sports Net, and a period of the doldrums of a web-only show, where access was only a fraction of what it is today – YouTube was in its literal infancy, and streaming services would still be years out on the horizon, TNA inked a deal with then-Spike TV, and Impact Wrestling would have a television home on a major network.
Even back then, WWE’s product was fading from decidedly more halcyon days, and TNA’s move to Spike felt like the genuine birth of a North American rival to the established Connecticut juggernaut. One of the key ingredients that added to this feeling was the jump of Christian Cage from WWE to TNA. He’d let his contract expire, and decided to make TNA his new home. It harkened back to a time just years before where pro wrestling competition was at its apex, and wrestler free agency was red meat for the fan base to consume raw and unabashedly.
But more importantly, it felt like there was a viable alternative for those who understood the distinction between pro-wrestling and sports entertainment, and preferred wrestling.
However, for all of the excitement that came with Christian’s arrival in TNA, and the potential that signing could herald for a future of the promotion that it’d never fully realize, there was an obstacle in Christian’s path to glory: The Alpha Male Monty Brown.
Monty was TNA’s signature performer in the realm of power wrestling the way AJ Styles was to high-flying in that era. He had physique, charisma, presence, and an impressive list of accomplishments within the record books of the young Total Nonstop Action. An undeniable threat to the NWA World Heavyweight Title scene at the time – his challenge was one that was constantly avoided in the storytelling mosaic of the company. However, it was getting to be clear that Monty Brown and his desire for championship gold could be denied for very much longer. But along comes Christian Cage, drawing lines in the sand against world champion Jeff Jarrett – and seemingly Monty Brown was to be passed over once again. Of course, the Alpha Male had no intention of simply stepping aside for the newly-arrived Cage.
Before either Monty Brown or Christian Cage would have a chance to deliver a comeuppance to Double J, they would have to face one another at 2005’s Turning Point Pay Per View for the opportunity to become Number One Contender. But even with only the title aspirations being highlighted to frame this bout, there was definitely a sense of TNA’s Present (Brown) being pitted against TNA’s Future (Cage). From the moment of the entrances, the crowd in the Impact Zone was lively and excited. While the fans in the Impact Zone were subject to much-deserved critique about their lackluster responses, on this night, the Impact Zone came to play, making the match feel hot before the bell had a chance to ring.
The match itself is something of a conundrum. Many have held TNA to account from the mid-aughts for bringing in middle-tier talents from WWE and letting them achieve unearned wins over established, top-level TNA talents. And while that is what happened here, with Christian ultimately triumphing over Brown, it lacks the damaging perception that matches such as Samoa Joe vs Orlando Jordan had. In this match, it very much seems that while it’s designed to elevate Christian into the TNA title picture, it’s not to do so at the Alpha Male’s expense.
Brown’s power and athleticism are on display early on in the match and it never truly lets up. He’s stronger than Christian. He’s faster than Christian. And it shows. Christian’s offense never really has a chance to get out of the blocks throughout the bulk of the match. Monty cuts off Christian at every turn before the veteran had the chance to string together significant offense. Likewise, Christian’s veteran craftiness afforded him quite little. Reversal attempts made by Captain Charisma would be reversed in turn by the much more powerful Brown.
Indeed, this match was indeed Monty Brown’s to win. In the match’s closing minutes, the Alpha Male scored with the Alpha Bomb, his secondary finishing maneuver. With this, he scored a visual pin on Christian, but with the referee out of position, Cage managed to escape a pinfall. Shortly thereafter with a head-on collision into an exposed turnbuckle by Monty, it was one Unprettier later that Christian had scored his first Pay Per View win in TNA. However, in doing so, it didn’t seem to come at the cost of Monty Brown losing face. Brown owned easily 75 -80% of the offense in the match, and at the end, one had to wonder if Christian wasn’t just a little bit lucky to come out on top against one of TNA’s best.
Unfortunately, for as much as Christian gave to Monty, and ultimately selfless he was for Brown in the match, this would not be a herald of things to come for when WWE talent would come over to the TNA side of the fence. The only similarities would be the victories WWE alumni would score over top TNA stars. Gone would be the attempt to make the TNA mainstays look like stars and powerhouses, that WWE defectors would have to give their everything to defeat. This match was meant to be a blueprint on generating interest without causing harm to your foundation. Sadly, the blueprint would prove to be discarded along the way.