“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”Friedrich Nietzsche
I don’t believe there is a better quote that can describe the almost 22-year journey of TNA Wrestling than this quote. I’ve been watching wrestling for almost 26 years and have read and watched documentaries on the history of this business, and I can confidently say that there has never been a promotion that has been pronounced dead or dying more than TNA.
My Thoughts On The TNA History:
This is a promotion that has had more turnover both in front of the camera and behind the scenes that any other during its existence. It is truly amazing for me to witness this promotion to once again rise from its exiled irrelevancy from many of the fans of the IWC to capture their attention once more. There was certainly a buzz surrounding last night’s Hard to Kill show where Impact Wrestling is gone, and TNA Wrestling is back.
Any of my long-time readers know that I have been a supporter of Impact/TNA for years, I haven’t been on the journey the entire run as I admittedly gotten on and off the train as it had its struggles and I myself thought the promotion would die at different points. However, during the pandemic I decided to give Slammiversary 2020 a shot since the card looked decent and I was absolutely blown away and I’ve been on the train ever since promoting it to my fellow WR crew.
I wrote about TNA being the moneyball promotion and how amazing their recent Bound for Glory show was, however, the moment they announced at BFG that they were going back to the brand of TNA, it was met with a mixed reaction. At first there were those saying it was desperate move or too little too late. Even my fellow colleagues at WR doubted the move to compete with WWE and AEW.
However, my argument is TNA knows its place and purpose in this industry and they’ve learned from their past they are not trying to compete with the big dogs in the yard. Being led by one of the most underrated EVP in this industry, Scott D’Amore, has been truly setting TNA to be the alternative in this industry. Much like ECW was the alternative against the WWF and WCW machines in the 90s, TNA is now the alternative of this generational boom.
In my opinion the wrestling world hasn’t been this hot since the late 90s during the era of the big three, so when I’ve been asked can TNA thrive as a number three promotion? My answer is yes because they have shown time and time again a refusal to die and continue to move forward. They’ve learned from their own and others historical mistakes in this industry so yes, I was very optimistic going into the rebrand at Hard to Kill.
Hard To Kill Delivers:
From top to bottom it was one of the most solid cards on paper going into the show, but you knew which ones would truly deliver going into the show and I want to focus on some of my personal favorites here.
3-Way X-Division Championship – Chris Sabin vs Kushida vs Vikingo:
Sabin has held literally every version of the X-Division Championship in its almost 22-year existence which is a stat the commentators mentioned last night. No one else can say that and as the only 10-time champion, there is no question that Sabin is the greatest X-Division champion of all time in my opinion. Kushida and Vikingo have dominated in Japan and Mexico respectively and to put these three together in a match for the title and the division that has been the cornerstone that defined TNA, you knew it would be magic.
I stated on the WR Daily Broadcast on Friday, that this was the match I was most looking forward to as I am a big fan of all three men. They delivered an absolute classic and continued to represent the legacy of the division that was built on the backs of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley just to name a few of the OGs. Sabin retained in fitting fashion and all three men elevated themselves, each other and added to the prestige of the title that has been about NO LIMITS from day one.
4-Way TNA Tag Team Championship – ABC vs Rascalz vs Grizzled Young Vets vs Mike Bailey and Laredo Kid:
If anyone has been sleeping on ABC as a team, you have been missing out, they are maybe the best tag team in the business that don’t get enough credit. When people rave over the Young Bucks being the best tag team in the business, I roll my eyes because the ABC like the MCMG before them are one of the smoothest and innovative teams in this business. For the record I would take MCMG and ABC over the Bucks. I like the Bucks, but I don’t believe they are the GOATs.
These four teams absolutely tore it up last night, TNA knows how to deliver must see tag team matches as they have a long history of it. The ABC and Rascalz have gone to war with each other but now you add in a thrown together team of Bailey and Laredo and an established team making their debut in GYV, you had magic.
ABC defied the odds and retained, but it was a great showcase match for all involved.
TNA Knockouts Championship – Trinity vs Jordynne Grace:
Trinity has had an amazing post-WWE run in TNA and personally think she should stay in TNA, but I’m not surprised WWE came calling and I expect to see her in the Rumble in 2-weeks. Trinity has spent 8-months in TNA and has certainly helped to show the world that once again TNA continues to excel in Women’s wrestling. Long before WWE was touting the Women’s revolution, TNA was highlighting Gail Kim vs Awesome Kong and others as top stars in the company.
Jordynne Grace, who goes by the moniker the juggernaut, showed once again that it isn’t just a fun nickname, she absolutely delivered once again. Trinity and Jordynne delivered an absolute classic and a possible front runner of an early best women’s match of 2024. Trinity did the time honor tradition in putting someone over on the way out. As it is rumored, she is finishing up with TNA this weekend, but even in defeat everyone was better for having this match together.
I would be remised not to give praise on the women that sacrificed so much in the opening match of the night in the Knockouts Ultimate X. All those women deserve a standing ovation for everything they did in that match. Jordynne will not be able to rest for long with Gisele Shaw looming ready to cash in her title shot.
Dream Match – Josh Alexander vs Alex Hammerstone:
I will be very clear going into this match I was looking forward to it, but it absolutely blew me away and was the match of the night. Josh has been without question the heart and soul of TNA just like AJ Styles once was back in the day. Josh is the measuring stick and the best talent in this business not under a WWE or AEW contract in my opinion. Josh is one of those talents that can have a great match with pretty much anyone. Much like HBK, AJ Styles, Kurt Angle, Bret Hart, Will Ospreay, Eddie Guerrero, Gunther and Nic Nemeth that can elevate anyone that they are in the ring with.
I have zero issue comparing Josh with those men that I truly consider the best in ring talents of all time. Then you put him in the ring with Hammerstone, who was the cornerstone of MLW before he left. Hammerstone was way too big of a talent to continue to waste his time and talent there in my opinion. Despite the “major league” in the name, I don’t think anyone really truly views them as the majors.
Josh and Hammerstone absolutely tore it up and Josh made sure that even though he was going over that Hammerstone looked like an absolute beast as he overpowered Josh throughout the match. Personally, I’m hoping Hammerstone signs with TNA especially after this match because I think he could absolutely be a cornerstone of the new TNA.
TNA World Championship – Alex Shelley vs Moose:
Alex Shelley who is one of the most respected men in this industry that is a TNA original that has seen the company through most of its changes from inside the company. Shelley has said when he was in TNA during the early days the TNA World Championship was not a title a X-Division guy like himself was supposed to hold. Shelley has held that title proudly and is the third longest reigning champion in the company’s history.
Moose has been another flagship player in Impact and certainly earned his spot in the main event of the relaunched. These men delivered a great competitive main event. Even though I was rooting for a Shelley retention, I don’t have any problem with Moose winning the championship. A heel Moose with his version of the Bloodline in the form of the System, can create compelling TV with faces chasing him for the title.
Other Major Happenings:
TNA furthering their long working relationship with AAA, by creating a formal partnership was certainly interesting. I’m not sure what exactly that means since they were already working together, maybe that means we see more crossover and perhaps Forbidden Door like shows between them.
Former WWE star, Dana Brooke debuting as Ash by Elegance (ridiculous name), it looked like she took Jade, Taya and Toni’s looks and combined them. I know a lot of people were furious thinking that she was the major signing that TNA had been hyping. I was literally in conversations with WR’s Archie and Soul about this very thing and I said I don’t think she is the major signing, and they are doing it to throw everyone off.
Sure enough just like Survivor Series’ main event ending early to allow for CM Punk’s return, the TNA World title match ended 8-minutes to 11PM so sure enough the wrestling world was shocked when former WWE World Champion, Nic Nemeth made his shocking debut as the latest TNA signee literally mire days after appearing in NJPW.
After laying out newly crowned TNA World Champion, Moose, having Nemeth in the crowd revealing a TNA shirt as fans loudly chanted TNA, TNA, TNA! to close out the show was perfect.
TNA delivered with this show which is exactly what they needed to do last night as they faced stiff competition from AEW and NJPW last night, there is no question in my mind that TNA was the one I was going to watch live. The future for TNA should be very bright if they can continue to build on the momentum from last night’s show.