What if…Kurt Angle didn’t defeat Samoa Joe at Genesis 2006?
Our story begins in the Impact Zone, Orlando, Florida, during the final moments of Samoa Joe vs Kurt Angle. Angle has just hit Joe with his signature slam for the second time, and has applied the deadly submission twice already. He is no great shape himself either, covered in his own blood from a brutal gash suffered early on.
November 19th, 2006: TNA Genesis
…Joe grimaces in pain, trying to shake off the effects of a second Angle Slam. Groggily, he sights Angle pull the straps up, only to pull them down again. The cocky display lights a fire in the Samoan Submission Machine, who rolls backwards, regaining his feet. His opponent has only a moment to register shock, before a brutal lariat smashes him to the ground. Joe follows the path, going down with the blow for the cover. Angle beats the count by split seconds, and both men, drained, reach their knees. From this position, they trade shots, but Angle begins to give, slumping under a Joe head butt tohis open wound. Joe rubs his hand on the gushing wound from the start of the match, stares at the blood on his hand, and delivers a thunderous chop to the chest of Angle, leaving a bloody hand print on his chest. Joe returns to his feet, licking the blood from his hand, as the crowd chant “You sick fuck!” Joe laughs, revelling in the bloodshed. Angle struggles to the corner, showing a lack of research in his opponent. Slumped in the turnbuckle is the last place you want to be against Joe. Joe punishes his ignorance with brutal Olû kicks. He hits the ropes for the final running kick, but some deep instinct kicks in, and Angle grabs his foot, transitioning into a Anglelock. They are next to the ropes, however, and Joe is able to get a hold of it. Angle relinquishes the hold only once the count reaches four, and both men stumble slowly from each other. They meet in the middle, each connecting with a clothesline, downing both. Earl Hebner begins to count the double down, but stops at six, staring in surprise at the bleached blonde man who jumped the guardrail. The stranger rushes the ring, and it is only when he applies a key lock to Angle, who taps furiously, that we get a proper look at the man’s face. Tenay screams in shock “Daniel Puder?! What the hell is he doing here?” Hebner has no choice but to call for the bell, giving the victory to Angle, by way of DQ. Joe is furious, and when he regains his feet, he pushes the intruder off of Angle, and showers him with punches. Puder uses a thumb to the eye to buy him a moment to escape, rolling under the ropes and fleeing up the ramp. The commentators bemoan the lack of a decisive winner in this match, and the same frustration is etched upon the features of Samoa Joe, who hangs his head, dejected. Genesis ends with Angle lain out in a bloody heap, Joe kneeling dejected next to him, and Tenay telling the fans to “Tune into this week’s iMPACT, we’ll try to make sense of all this…”
November 23rd, 2006: TNA iMPACT!
iMPACT opens inside Cornette’s office, posters of past TNA events litter the walls, as well as a few yellowed fliers from Smokey Mountain Wrestling that Cornette has obviously brought with him. Daniel Puder sits in a chair across from Jim Cornette, pen in hand, scribbling onto a piece of paper on a clipboard, which he finishes, and roughly shoves across the table to the director of authority. This lack of respect seems to have ignited the inch short fuse on Cornette’s temper, and he begins shouting, standing to face Puder, seeming as ever unintimidated, despite the present company. Puder, for his part, seems unconcerned, leaning cockily back in his chair as Cornette begins his tirade, a fact which only serves to further infuriate the Director Of Authority.
“Look, you’re lucky to have a contract to work here, when I should have just had you arrested for assault, and sued your ass for loss of revenue! I get that you’re some big martial arts badass, but you will show me some damned respect! And I’ll thank you not to ruin my Main Events. What reason do you even have for doing that, other than to piss me off?”
A coldness enters Puder’s eyes and voice, it’s obvious from the first words he says in this company that he’s here for a purpose.
“My chance at a career up north was ruined by that man. I school him on the mat, and not only is he too scared to fight me, but he’s such a little bitch, he has to politic me out of that company. I figure he’s not been here long enough to buddy up to the right people. He’s not dodging me again.”
A smile begins to creep across the mouth of Jim Cornette, who is ever the businessman. He places a hand to his chin, as if to stroke a beard, had he one there.
“Puder vs Angle. Yeah, there could be money in that fight.” The hand moves from his mouth, and is now folded into the other, held in front of him, all business again. “But I can’t just give you a fight against one of our headline acts, without you proving yourself in that ring. You’ve got a match up next, kid. Go meet Jay Lethal in that ring, show me what you can do.”
Puder’s official debut with the company is a short, decisive affair. After the two circle each other, Lethal moves in for an enzuigiri. Puder dodges the kick, however, and takes Lethal to the ground. Lethal struggles, throwing wild elbows and trying to reach the ropes, but Puder quickly mounts him with punches, before applying the key-lock for a quick submission. No sooner is the match over, however, than the figure of Kurt Angle hurtles furiously down the ramp, and violently hoists Puder up for an Angle slam. Puder drops out of the attempt, showing tremendous presence of mind, and surprising the fans, not to mention his attacker. Wasting no time, he is immediately on the offensive again, attacking Angle from behind, throwing a swift combination of skilled punches and knees. Angle covers himself up, and trips Puder from the guard, before mounting him with punches. It is now that security stampede the ring, dragging the two fighters apart. Angle throws his keepers off in a blind fury, and barrels towards Puder, before being successfully recaptured, still struggling against his captors towards Puder, who mirrors the actions of Kurt, pushing himself with determination towards continuing the brawl.
Jim Cornette storms out onto the ramp, microphone in hand, face in that familiar beet red shade, and yells at the two men still struggling futilely against their guards
“Fine! I get it! Obviously, you two aren’t going to let each other have a moment free, and not let me have any peace and quiet until this is settled! So, you two can go ahead and beat each other’s brains out, so far as I care! But since you’ve already ruined one pay per view, you guys can wait until the next one to get your hands on each other. Yes, at Turning Point, December 10th, Kurt Angle will face Daniel Puder. Now, if you don’t mind, I have more important business than your squabbling to deal with, so I’ll just leave security to escort you two from the building.”
The ever excitable TNA loyalists that populate the iMPACT zone in Universal Studios give a loud cheer at the first announced match for Turning Point. They certainly don’t take the volume down for the appearance of the Phenomenal Angels, who head to the ring after commercial for a match against America’s Most Wanted. Normally a superb match up, this one is marred by Styles and Daniels never really getting on the same page, and Styles eventually falls while Daniels is down and out outside the ring. As Styles walks back through the curtain, frustrated, Christian Cage is waiting for him. Angry at the result of the match, and never fond of Cage anyway, Styles is impatient and doesn’t wait before demanding “What do you want?” of Christian
The older wrestler seems hurt by his recent opponent’s short temper with him
“Look, man. I just wanted to warn you. If you don’t have the time to listen to what I have to tell
Knowing that this will be enough to draw his attention, Christian walks down the corridor, a smirk crossing his face when AJ chases after him, grabbing him by the elbow, and spinning him around, before holding thumb and forefinger about an inch apart, warning Christian that
“I have about this much patience left. What is it?”
Christian puts an arm on his the shoulder of Styles, before adopting an almost fatherly tone in talking to the former grand slam champion.
“Hey, kid. You got a future. You know it, I know it, and my word, does Daniels ever know it.”
Styles looks puzzled, wondering what his best friend, sometimes rival and sometimes partner has to do with anything, asking Christian for his response. Cage sighs deeply, before answering the young star’s queries
“He’s jealous man, real jealous. Year or so ago, all anyone can talk about is Styles, Daniels and Joe, and how they’re tearing it up everywhere they go. You three are the talk of the world of wrestling. Now you’ve been a world champ, and Joe’s headlining pay per views. Where’s Daniels? Exactly where he was before. Look at the match you just had. Look at you and me, last Sunday. Now that could’ve gone either way. Then Daniels is out there, and suddenly you’ve lost. You really believe that was an accident?”
Styles head hangs low, and he has a hand on the forehead, as if to prop his head up. He murmurs a response, obviously shocked by the suggestion.
“I…I need to think about this. What you’re saying makes a lot of sense, but I don’t want to believe it. Just…give me some time to think, ok?”
Cornette’s eventful night is not yet over, as an angry Samoan storms into his office, and sits himself down. Wasting no time, Joe demands a match for the title.
“You’ve been dodging giving me that shot for too long. And you and me both know I had Angle all but beat last Sunday, before that punk stepped in.”
Cornette is flustered, and shouts at Joe
“Look! I have important business to deal with! You’ve been stealing titles, and demanding a shot, and hell, maybe you deserve one! You’re a hell of a wrestler! But you never beat Angle! I want this business between you two decided before I’ll give you the shot.”
Joe stands up, angrily, and warns Cornette that if he keeps Joe away from the gold much longer, he’ll just take matters into his own hands. After he barges out of the office, Cornette puts his head slowly into his hands, deep in despair about the collapse of order within his company.
After the main event of the night, which sees Joe steamroll through Lance Hoyt, an image of a dark room appears on the screen, and Abyss is in a position we’re unused to seeing him in: Laid out backstage. Sting stands over him, bat in hand, a murderous look on his face. Another figure is barely visible in the background, watching with interest, as iMPACT fades to black…
November 30th, 2006: TNA iMPACT
Kurt Angle is stretching in his locker room, doing his usual warm up routine, when it is interrupted by the door to his room swinging open so violently it looked ready to come off it’s hinges. The cause is Samoa Joe, who barges towards Angle, pinning him forcefully against a locker, and making his demand
“Give me the rematch. I don’t care about any issues you have with this little punk, but I don’t get that belt until I beat you. Which I will. At Turning Point.”
Angle doesn’t back down, pushing Joe away from him. He is only able tp push Joe back a few steps, but he is no longer pinned to the locker, instead standing eye to eye with the Samoan Submission Machine, and the tone of his answer is surprisingly respectful
“This is something I’ve got to sort out. When I’m done with Puder, we’ll meet in the ring again. I promise. Aside from you being maybe the best I’ve ever been in that ring with, I want to prove to you, to the world, and most importantly to myself that I’m better. I just have to take the trash out first.”
Joe sneers, concluding that Angle’s answer is “not good enough” before delivering a brutal head butt. From here, Joe throws Angle against the locker once more, and catches Angle with a series of knees as he staggers forwards. When Angle hits the ground, Joe announces “Guess I’ll go see what Puder has to say about it”
As the door slams behind Joe, the camera catches a close up of a bleeding, grimacing Angle clutching his head.
Team 3D vs Phenomenal Angels should have been a great contest, but miscommunication between Styles and Daniels lead to Styles becoming quickly frustrated, leaving the ring, the match and his partner to head backstage. Daniels took a 3D, and the resulting pin. As Styles walking through the curtain, he bumps into Christian, who places a hand on his shoulder, and tells him reassuringly that he “Did the right thing.”
Styles slowly responds “I’m not so sure” before walking away.
Not long after, Daniels storms through the curtain, and Christian’s tone has changed completely
“What the hell was that? Your own partner goes and sells you down the river. I’d watch your back, friend.”
Daniels isn’t fooled for a moment, pushing Cage up against the wall, and growling at him
“I have no idea why you’re doing this, but I know exactly what you’re doing. Stop it, or there will be consequences.”
Cage pushes Daniels off him, sighing deeply, before embarking on a tirade
“You want to know why I did this? You really don’t already know? Ok, punk, here it is, good and simple for you. I come to this company because it will be good for my career, and great for this dump to have a real life superstar. And for a while, everyone’s grateful, everyone’s excited. But it quickly returns to being all about Sting, all about Joe, all about Styles, all about Daniels.”
Christian’s voice grows in volume and intensity as he lists off the names
“Just when I’m able to bring some focus back to my career, you go and team with your naive pal there, and it’s all about you people again. So when’s it going to be my time? It’s not going to be my time, until I force the change. And what better timing than you costing him a big match to do it?”
Daniels looks the jealous wrestler in the eyes, and coldly tells him to meet him in the ring next week.
The camera has to leave the staredown, as it is distracted by a woman’s scream, closely followed by Christy Hemme running from a nearby corridor. Rushing to where she was fleeing from the camera is confronted by a horrific scene. The first that it captures is a grotesque pattern of blood slicking the floor, being added to in a slow, swaying rhythm. The camera pans up, and we see Daniel Puder, suspended from the ceiling by a cable around his ankles, slowly swaying, blood streaming from his head.
Later on in the show, Jeremy Borash is able to get an interview with Sting. JB wants to know about Sting’s recent brutal assault on NWA World Heavyweight Champion Abyss. Sting explains, in his usual slow cadence
“Since I returned to wrestling on January 15th, I’ve hunted for that title. I fought, I bled, I was betrayed, but ultimately, nine months on, I was victorious. And just one month after I finally topple Jeff Jarrett for that title, I lose it. And I don’t even lose it because I was beaten. I lose it by disqualification. It set a fire inside of me. A fire that only blood and gold can quench.”
The lights flick out, and Sting is no longer standing next to JB. In his place is Raven. JB visibly jumps in shock, before asking what Raven’s doing here. Raven laughs and responds
“I always knew this day would come. I just never knew it would be so…glorious. He knows. At long last, he knows.”
Raven stalks off into the background, as JB looks thoroughly shaken.
Towards the end of the night’s show, Samoa Joe heads down the ramp, microphone clasped firmly in hands caked in blood. He steps purposefully between the ropes, and shouts into the mic
“Cornette! You know that I’m just going to run through your entire roster, if I have to. Give me my match! Just come down here right now, and give me what I deserve.”
Cornette steps out onto the ramp, looking more pissed off than usual.
“Just who the hell do you think you are, Joe? You storm around like you own the place, beating down anyone who won’t give you what you want! Well, if it’ll make you stop throwing all your toys out of the pram, fine! December 10th, Turning Point, I’m adding you to the match between Angle and Puder. And if you win, you can get your shot at Final Resolution. But if you don’t, I want you to shut the hell up about it already!”
Joe grins from ear to ear, looking as happy as if the title were already in his hands.
“Oh, don’t you worry. I’ll beat down both your little boys, with no more challenge than they posed tonight. And then I think I’ll show Abyss who the real monster is. And if Sting beats him, to get that belt back around his waist, I hope he can reconcile losing it within a month again, because I’ll just have to come for him.” Joe drops the mic and heads up the ramp, raising his arms to close out iMPACT.
December 7th, 2006: iMPACT
iMPACT starts with Kurt Angle, dressed immaculately in a sharp suit, his pristine image marred by the plaster covering his nose, already in the ring. As the crowd’s pop for him slowly dies down, Angle begins to pace, obviously angered by recent events. This anger is even more apparent in his voice once he speaks
“Last Thursday was not a banner day for Kurt Angle! I’ve been very proud of a lot of days. The day I won an Olympic Gold Medal with broken freaking neck! The day I married my wife, the day my kids were born…but last Thursday… Well, last Thursday I turn up at the arena, looking to beat seven shades out of that disrespectful little shit Daniel Puder, then I’m informed that if I strike him before the match, I’ll face a fine, and possible suspension. Then some Samoan storms into my locker room, and” – he points to the plaster on the bridge of his nose – “Breaks my freaking nose! Now, I guess that’s no big deal on one level. If I can win a gold medal with a broken freaking neck, a broken nose isn’t going to stop me tapping Puder out. It just might give him another four minutes before I do. But hey, they guy needs his five minutes of fame, right? But then he goes and inserts himself into my match, and if that wasn’t enough, could get a title shot out of it. So, Cornette, I guess what me and all these fans want to know is this- where’s my shot? Why should he get a shot at the title if he wins, when I’ve beaten the current champion clean, in the centre of this ring? When I’m a former world champion and gold medallist? Samoa Joe is neither of those, and holds no recent win over our champion.”
He pulls a chair out from under the ring, setting it up inside, and promises that he’ll stay there until he gets his shot.
Vein throbbing on his forehead, face beet red, impatience etched on every feature, TNA’s director of authority paces the top of the ramp, shouting his displeasure at the Olympian in the ring
“Whatever happened, Kurt, to the time when people got their shots by wrestling? I’ve got Joe trying to kill people, and whining at me that he’s hard done by, and now you’re going to join in? Well, since you’re a stubborn ass too, very bloody well. And since I know that I’ll get Puder telling me how terribly cruel I am, I’ll make the offer open to any of you. Whosoever can win the three way match this Sunday is the number one contender. Are you happy now? Can I actually go do my job now? Because moonlighting as a babysitter is starting to piss me off!” He drops the microphone in frustration and storms backstage.
Our first match of the night is Sting vs Robert Roode, and is intended to warm Sting up for his title match this Sunday. Roode, hungry to prove himself against the legendary figure across the ring from him has no intention of being a mere warm up for Sting. It is this that allows him the early advantage in the match. Roode surprises Sting, not to mention the fans, by holding his own when the pair trade shots, before raking the eyes, and using the cheap shot to hold the advantage. From here, Roode pushes Sting into the corner and delivers a series of chops, followed by a lariat. Sting staggers out of the corner, but is pulled into a suplex. Roode shows impressive skills, and never lets up from his opponent, pressing the offence to keep Sting from building any momentum. However, his cockiness proves the undoing of him, as he charges to hit Sting with the Stinger Splash, only for Sting to dodge out of the way, before felling him with a single mighty chop that echoed throughout the building. A pair of hiptosses, a clothesline and a DDT get a two count for the Stinger. He whips Roode into the corner, and follows up with a Stinger Splash. The comeback is interrupted by a familiar string motif, followed by a pounding guitar riff hits the air, a sure sign that the NWA World Heavyweight champion, Abyss is here. The monster makes his way threateningly down the ramp, and Sting makes the unusual gesture of not being afraid of the monster, going to the ropes and beckoning Abyss to come to him and fight. The distraction is all that Roode needs, and he quickly rolls the Stinger up for three, running around the ring, arms in the air, celebrating as if the victory were deserved.
As Roode rolls from the ring, and Sting regains his feet, Abyss rushes into the ring, and begins decimating Sting. He throws him against the ropes, before delivering a Black Hole Slam. He then goes outside the ring, throws a chair inside, and chokeslams Sting onto it, as the fans chant the name of “Sting” in support. Little help it does the icon, however, as the monster strikes his usual crazed pose, before holding the title over his head, and heads backstage, the damage done.
The main event of the night sees Christian Cage and Christopher Daniels go to war with each other. The two men, both of whom are renowned for their technical expertise, circle each other briefly, as the duelling chants ring throughout the iMPACT zone, Christian evidently still having some fans amongst the crowd. As they lock up, Cage puts Daniels in a front headlock, and uses the advantage of having his face hunched over to knee it repeatedly. As Daniels sinks to one knee, Christian hits the opposite rope, and returns with a lariat as Daniels is regaining his feet. The referee has to pull Cage off from stomping on Daniels, threatening a disqualification. Daniels groggily reaches his feet, and Cage pushes him to the corner easily as a show of dominance. Cage’s arrogance is such that he turns his back on Daniels to taunt to the crowd. Daniels rushes forwards, bowling Cage over, and smashing him with strikes on the ground, much to the joy of the crowd, who chant “Fuck him up Daniels, fuck him up!” Daniels, for his part, is only too happy to oblige, but the official has other ideas, prying Daniels off of Cage with the same disqualification threat. Daniels hits the opposite ropes for a springboard moonsault. Unbeknownst to him, however, the referee is checking on Cage, causing him to be in the way of the moonsault. The full force of both of Daniels knees catch the official in the head, taking him out of commission. Daniels goes to check on the downed man, and Cage uses the opportunity to deliver a sneaky low-blow to his opponent. Cage whips Daniels into a turnbuckle, and comes charging at him, but Daniels thinks fast enough to hunch his back, a moment before Cage reaches him, and backdrop him over the top rope, drawing the crowd into chanting the companies initials in appreciation. From here Daniels takes a moment to regroup, as Cage begins to show signs of life again. Daniels hits the opposite ropes, and dives between the second and top ropes in a suicide dive, but Cage is able to dodge out of the way, and Daniels collides with a sickening crunch into the guardrail. Cage smiles cruelly, looks at the downed ref, and fetches a chair from under the ring. He takes a moment to prop Daniels against the guardrail, before delivering a conchairto, using the barrier as the second chair, the brutal clanging ringing throughout the arena. Tenay and West express their disgust at Cage, who grins widely, showing the sick, violent side he first displayed in his war with Rhino. A second shot follows, and as Daniels slumps lifelessly into the floor, Cage holds the blood covered chair up high, soaking in the detestation from the fans. The jeers quickly turn to cheers however, as, dressed in his everyday clothes, clutching a chair in his hand, Styles runs to the ringside area. Christian goes to head Styles off, but is caught with a running chair shot, dropping the arrogant wrestler immediately. Styles then tosses Cage into the ring, following him in. The crowd chanting his name, AJ ignores them, focused entirely on revenging his friend. He picks Cage up to his knees, and the fans cheer, knowing what comes next. And it indeed does come, as Styles hoists Cage up for the Clash, and delivers it to a resounding pop from the live audience. Daniels staggers groggily back into the ring, and holds Styles’s arm up in a victory pose.
Tenay goes over the card for Sunday’s Pay Per View, giving especial focus to Sting vs Abyss for the title, the triple threat match for number one contendership, and a new match added to the card: AJ Styles vs Christian Cage. The stage is set for Turning Point…
December 10th, 2006: TNA Turning Point
The triple main event of the evening starts with AJ Styles fighting Christian Cage. On a night already full of great action, there’s a lot to live up to, but considering the calibre of the men involved, this shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge. Christian’s usual mixed reaction is replaced by a chorus of boos as he leaves the entrance tunnel. He struts to the ring, even lifting the hood cautiously from his head, mocking his opponent’s trademark pose. He postures in the ring just as he would had he received the heroes welcome he enjoyed in his early days here. A frustrated look flashes across his face, and he is scowling deeply as he paces the ring.
The electrifying opening riff of “I Am” pops the crowd in a big way, and the arrival of AJ Styles, sprinting out of the tunnel to roll into the ring, going immediately face to face to Cage pops them even more. As the chants of “AJ’s Gonna Kill You!” echo throughout the impact zone, Cage shows no signs of intimidation, going eye to eye with the franchise player of TNA. Styles removes the ring jacket from his arms, and turns around to hand it to the assistant outside.
This is the first of his mistakes, as the moment his back is turned, Cage has buried a forearm in it, and as Styles turns to answer with shots of his own, he finds himself battered to his knees with clubbing shots to his head. Styles attempts to pull himself back together, groggily reaching his feet in time to meet a lariat from Christian. From here, it’s all Christian, who lays the boots in to Styles, until the ref tells him to stop. The only respite Cage will offer his enemy is to apply a chinlock rather than his boots. From the hold, Cage proceeds to once again land blows on Styles, this time throwing elbows into the top of his head. Cage eventually picks Styles up for a suplex, but Styles is able to roll over, scoring a quick two count off the roll up. As Cage picks himself up, Styles rolls backwards, and is on his feet in time to rush the veteran with a mixture of knees and forearms that send him reeling against the ropes. Styles whips him off the ropes to those on the other side, and as Cage heads back, greets his return with a running frankensteiner. The young star raises his arms, soaking in the cheers of the fans.
Styles is able to keep control of the match from here, using his trademark high impact offence to keep “Captain Charisma” from mounting much of a counter offensive, until Styles misses a tope suicida to the outside, when Cage is able to duck out of it’s path. The dull thud that accompanies the collision, and the sudden, silent stillness of Styles, after so much energy in his assault is unnerving to everyone save for Christian Cage, who looks to have got Christmas a little earlier this month. Styles is left down and out, bleeding from the head following the brutal dive. Cage cockily rolls into the ring, and tells Andrew Thomas to start the count. Thomas is far more concerned with the permanent well being of AJ Styles, however, as the impact from him spiking into the guardrail has left a dent in the rail, and who knows what effect it must have had on the young man. A hushed silence falls over the crowd as the medical team moves out to rush Styles backstage for treatment. As the first one reaches Styles, however, he pushes the away angrily, before slowly reaching his feet, clutching at his head. Another man grabs him by the arm to lead him away, and is shoved roughly to the floor. Styles rolls back into the ring, with the crowd applauding his bravery. Cage’s reaction is similarly pleased. A sick smile twisting at the corner of his mouth displays that one thing is as abundantly clear to him as it must be for the fans: his opponent is in no state to continue.
Cage toys with Styles from here, clearly dominant, and whenever Styles is able to mount a comeback, it’s cut off with a blow to the head. Perhaps tiring of dismantling Styles now that he can barely stand, Cage finally ends the encounter with an Unprettier, and the resulting three count is a surprise to no-one, which doesn’t stop it being treated with venom by the loyalists, or Cage from going over the top in his celebration of victory, the two opposite reactions driving the other to be more pronounced.
An unusual sense of furious intensity surrounds Sting, who doesn’t wait for his opponent to reach the ring, attacking Abyss on the ramp, with his bat instead. James Mitchell attempts to intervene, but is quickly taken down with a shot across the back. The melee works it’s way towards the ring itself, and Abyss is able to catch a reprieve when he reverses a Sting irish whip, sending the man in black hurtling into the guardrail. The monstrous champion, more used to being on the other end of such a violent attack, paces away, running a hand distractedly through his hair while releasing a vile scream. The Stinger rushes back towards him, but collapses after a collision with the prize he fights so hard for. Handing the championship belt to an eager and recovered Mitchell, Abyss tosses Sting into the ring, where he works over him with stomps and clubbing forearms.
Abyss dominates the pace of the match, tossing the veteran challenger around the ring, evoking the sympathy of the Orlando crowd. After a vicious big boot gets Abyss a two count, he hoists Sting up by the throat, only for the sharp ring instincts of the seasoned pro to kick in, as Sting floats over into a Scorpion Death Drop. Impressive though this unexpected high impact counter is, it is not enough to put the champion away, as Abyss kicks at the two mark. It succeeds in giving Sting the time needed to regain his feet, and a series of chops, followed by a clothesline manages to down the monster almost as soon as he regains his. From here, Abyss is thrown into the turnbuckle for a Stinger Splash. Sting feeds on the energy of the crowd, and his hunger to regain the title he fought so hard only to fleetingly hold, and a new life seems to enter him, as he lays a flurry of blows upon the corner bound champion.
The champion is not undeserving of the moniker of “Monster”, a fact he demonstrates when he roughly shoves Sting over in the midst of his assault. Sting, undeterred by this show of overwhelming force, charges back towards his enemy, and the two forsake all the usual rules of the match to engage in a rough brawl. Earl Hebner, not wanting to call another title match by DQ, leaves the two to fight, but looks unhappy about it. The younger, larger and stronger man unsurprisingly gets the better of his opponent in the brawl, and as Sting lays prone, Mitchell slides the title belt slyly into the ring, and jumps onto the apron, distracting Hebner. With the referee’s back turned, Abyss picks up the NWA World Heavyweight Title, and measures Sting for a shot. Sting ducks the shot however, and is able to grab the belt and down Abyss with it. Sting drops the belt, moving the evidence from his assault to outside the ring, but then his attention suddenly becomes focused on the entrance ramp, as Samoa Joe, chair in one hand, walks towards the ring.
Mitchell also notices Joe, and foolishly runs at him with the cane, only to be shoved casually aside. Joe walks confidently to ringside, and props the chair up, sitting himself down on it. Sting leans over the ropes, and shouts to Joe “What the hell are you doing here?”, to which Joe replies that he’s “getting a close look at his next victim.” While Sting and Joe argue, Abyss returns to his feet, and picks Sting up from behind to deliver a shock treatment, and this time, Sting stays down for the three count. Abyss celebrates in the ring with his title, and then drops down to the outside, where he and Joe have a tense staredown. Mitchell recovers his feet, and pulls Abyss away, knowing that fighting the Samoan Submission Machine after a match like that is too much, even for his monster.
With Joe already in the ring, his opponents for the night make their way to the ring. Joe cockily holds the ropes open for Puder, and the two stare at each other, assessing the threat the other poses. Angle is the next to make his way to the ring, and he stands on the apron, next to where Joe and Puder are trying to take the measure of each other. Both men’s attentions are diverted, Joe and Angle staring each other down, the question of who the better man is yet unanswered, before Angle’s gaze falls on, and is met by, Daniel Puder, a man trying to make a name for himself at Angle’s expense. The three men begin trading shots in a triangle, as Hebner rings the bell to start the main event of the evening. The three way punch fest tires all three men, and Angle tries to quickly end it with a headbutt that downs Puder. Joe catches him with a high kick to the head, which knocks him off the apron. Joe grabs Puder by the head, tossing him roughly over the top rope, where he lands on Angle, who was regaining his feet. As both men stumble back to their feet, Joe hits the opposite rope and comes back with a suicide dive between the middle ropes, spearing himself onto the two amateur wrestlers, eliciting a “T-N-A” chant from the live crowd.
Joe takes charge from here, hurling Puder into the guardrail, and irish whipping Angle into the ringpost. Puder is tossed roughly back into the ring, obviously Joe’s favourite target for ending this match quickly, as he sits Puder up, chopping him across the back, planting a soccer kick into the chest, and hitting the ropes for a knee drop, as the fans chant his name. Angle rolls into the ring behind Joe as he stands up, and surprises the Samoan with a german suplex over the top rope, leaving Angle with Puder. The fans cheering for Angle shows Puder to be clearly the one with the least fan support, as the fans seem split between wanting Joe or wanting Angle to win. Angle rolls Puder onto his face, and then stands over him, paintbrushing the back of his head with slaps. Puder grabs his leg, and shows his amateur skills by surprising the Olympian by turning him over into a heel hook. Angle limps to the ropes, where Earl Hebner starts the five count, Puder stopping at one. There should be no question of foul play when he beats Angle, so far as he’s concerned. Angle and Puder circle each other cautiously, before engaging in an impressive chain wrestling exchange, with both men returning simultaneously to their feet, to the pop of the crowd, in a scene reminiscent of the Malenko/Guerrero clashes from ECW. Joe re-enters the ring, and charges towards both opponents, and clapping them each with one foot with a dropkick. Joe lets his opponents regain their feet, before rushing them with a double clothesline, which is caught by Puder and Angle into a double hiptoss. The teamwork is brief, as the two rivals start to throw punches at each other again, as Joe rolls to the outside.
Angle and Puder have an even handed match to start, but Angle shows his veteran wiles, scoring an Angle Slam out of seemingly nowhere on Puder. Joe meets Angle with a rush of knees and forearms, before sending him into the corner, and smashing him with a series of boots across the face, followed by the final charging kick to end the combination. Joe’s attention turns to Puder, whom he attacks with a lariat, only for Puder to throw Hebner into harm’s way, the senior official taking yet another harsh fall tonight. This doesn’t bother the Samoan Submission Machine, who uses a series of strikes to beat Puder into submission, before hoisting him onto the turnbuckle for a musclebuster. As Joe stands, the only man on his feet in the ring, the lights go out. When they come back on, Sting is in the ring, and furiously attacks Joe, seeking revenge for earlier in the night. As the brawl between the two spills outside the ring, Angle, Puder and Hebner are all back to their feet, and Angle, having not just suffered a musclebuster, is able to outmanoeuvre the dazed Puder, pulling him to the ground and applying the anglelock. With Joe busy fighting Sting outside the ring, and the ropes too far away to reach, Puder struggles, his pride hating the idea of tapping to Angle. Eventually though, it’s obvious that he will have to, and he taps the mat furiously in submission, making Kurt Angle the number one contender to Abyss’s world title. Turning Point draws to a close as security struggles to separate Joe and Sting, to chants of “Let Them Fight!” from the TNA faithful.
December 14th 2006: TNA iMPACT
iMPACT opens with Mike Tenay and Don West reviewing the ends to both Sting vs Abyss and the triple threat, before informing the fans that in tonight’s main event, Abyss will tag with Samoa Joe against Sting and Daniel Puder, in a match made to settle some of these scores.
After a blistering opening bout between Chris Sabin and Jay Lethal, we go backstage, where Kurt Angle is watching a monitor intently, taking notes. The camera moves in, and shows an Abyss match in progress on it. The camera fades out on this scene, as Angle continues to make notes on his upcoming opponent.
The main event rolls around, and as all four men stand in the ring, each wanting to prove themselves, or in the Monster’s case, just to inflict damage, the anticipation within the iMPACT zone slowly grows. Eventually, Earl Hebner steps in, and the senior official forces each team to choose a man to start. Joe pushes himself nose-to-nose with Sting, before telling the icon that he can “get you anytime I want”, and heading to the corner. Sting heads to his own corner, evidently wanting to be fresh when he gets Joe in the ring.
Puder starts the match, clearly unsure, having never faced an opponent like Abyss. Abyss, on the other hand, has a very clear idea what he wants to do, and uses his size and strength to toss Puder around the ring with a series of slams and clotheslines. When Joe enters into the ring, the vicious strikes on an already worn out Puder start to take their toll. Puder is able to gain a brief respite when he grabs hold of Joe’s forearm during a series of stiff strikes with it. Using his amateur skills, he uses Joe’s momentum on the shot to flip him over, who give a cheer when Puder uses the chance to tag his partner in, bringing Sting and Joe into the ring together.
The events of last Sunday, when each man cost the other the world title, or a shot at it are obviously in both men’s minds, as the two skilled wrestlers forget all the nuances they’ve learned, opting instead to rush each other in a whirling melee of fists, chops and knees. While Sting has obviously had a fire lit under him, fighting furiously, the fact remains that he is the much older man, and begins to lose the brawl, before toppling to a Joe enzuiguri that downs the icon. Joe spots from the corner of his eye Abyss, who is pacing the apron, obviously desperate to inflict pain on Sting once more. Joe obliges, and allows the monster to enthusiastically dominate Sting, tossing him roughly into a neutral turnbuckle. Abyss charges into him, but more out of decades of experience than anything else, Sting is able to catch Abyss on the chin with both feet. It isn’t enough to down the runaway freight train that is Abyss, but it catches him off guard long enough for Sting to mount a comeback, throwing a flurry of blows before whipping Abyss into the corner with Puder waiting on the apron. Puder holds the monster’s arms back, allowing Sting to land the crowd pleasing Stinger Splash. Neither the crowd nor Sting are pleased with what follows, however, as Puder blind tags himself in.
Puder uses the window of opportunity he has with Abyss dazed to avenge his earlier beating, as he tackles Abyss’s legs in an amateur takedown, and uses a variety of submissions to keep the monster grounded. Sting, meanwhile looks furious at having his momentum cut short by his own partner, not to mention his chance for a measure of revenge on Abyss. Abyss is able to get to his feet, groggily throwing elbows at Puder’s midsection, forcing the break. As both men stagger apart, Sting stretches his hand towards Puder, who ignores it, while Abyss chooses to tag his partner in.
Abyss, a barely controlled monster having better teamwork than his own team is clearly the final straw for Sting, who pulls his trademark aluminium baseball bat from under the ring, before entering, clubbing first Puder, then Joe with the bat. Both men fall, and Hebner is forced to call for the bell, ruling the match as a disqualification in favour of Abyss and Samoa Joe. Abyss heeds Mitchell’s warnings and advice from ringside, stepping off the apron, and leaving with his title. Meanwhile, Sting seems to have lost all control, repeatedly smashing the bat into Joe’s back. iMPACT draws to a close with Sting being lead away by security. Standing on the top of the ramp, smiling approvingly at Sting’s wanton violence is a familiar figure, Raven. Why he seems so pleased at this turn of events is questioned by Tenay and West, and unanswered, as Raven stalks to the back, a self satisfied smile covering his face the entire time.
December 21st: TNA iMPACT
This edition of TNA iMPACT is hyped up in the early goings by the announcers as featuring a sit down interview with Kurt Angle, where he’ll talk about the strategy he’s decided on from watching tapes of Abyss. Before that, however, there is a confrontation backstage, that luckily, a camera crew has managed to capture. Raven watches with great interest as Sting and Samoa Joe stand face to face. Sting is the first to speak, uttering in a low threatening growl
“You’re all that stands between me and my rightful prize. Last week was only a taste. Step aside, kid.”
Joe responds by drawing a hand in front of Sting’s face, and listing off on his fingers all the big names he’s beaten, a who’s who of TNA, including names like Japanese legend Jushin “Thunder” Liger.
“…and not a one of them could beat me. What makes you think some old man is going to stop me now?”
Sting and Joe continue to stand face to face, as road agents and referees quickly get between the two, and Raven grins with psychotic glee. Over this, Tenay confirms for the fans that at Final Resolution, Sting will face Samoa Joe for number one contendership to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
When the interview comes around, we see Kurt Angle and Jeremy Borash dressed in sharp suits, sitting in comfy chairs in a studio. J.B. thanks Kurt for joining him, before getting right to the point, and asking Kurt what his game plan is.
“Well, JB, I was watching the tapes, and the most obvious thing is that power of Abyss. I was watching him smash everything put in his path, always on the offensive. And I don’t mind telling you, it was a little intimidating. I thought ‘This is it Kurt. How can you form a plan against someone that dangerous and unpredictable?’ But Abyss hasn’t won a olympic gold medal with a broken freakin’ neck!” Angle holds the medal up, as if to illustrate his point. Angle grows in intensity “Kurt Angle has won an olympic gold medal with a broken freaking neck! Kurt Angle is a national amateur wrestling champion, and while you might be unstoppable with that power and size, all men are the same size on the ground, Abyss! So come January 14th, Final Resolution, I’m going to take the fight to Abyss, not let him take it to me. I’m going to control the fight, and keep him on the ground. Now I’m sorry, JB, but I’ve important training to do, not waste time talking to someone like you!”
With this Angle walks off set, as JB looks at a loss for words.
December 28th 2006: TNA iMPACT
iMPACT opens in the ring, with Sting facing off against Robert Roode. Roode struts up and down the ring, goes between the ropes and stands on the apron, proudly telling a fan in attendance about how he’s beaten Sting, but Sting’s never beaten him, and how he’s going to embarrass Sting again. Sting has heard enough, and runs behind Roode, pushing him from the apron to the outside, where he collides with the barrier. Sting launches himself over the top rope onto Roode with a plancha, eliciting a “You’ve Still Got It!” chant from the crowd. Sting seems unaffected by the crowd’s appreciation, focussing on viciously and repeatedly kicking Roode, who is leaning on the barrier for support. Referee Slick Johnson’s count reaches 10, and the match is ruled a double countout. The bell ringing for the decision seems to shake Sting to his senses, and he backs off from Roode, who tries to recover his feet.
The camera switches now from this “match” to Samoa Joe backstage with Jeremy Borash. Just as he opens his mouth to talk, Raven walks over, interrupting the interview before it begins. Joe looks at him with obvious disdain, which Raven ignores. Joe turns to Raven and asks him
“What do you want, you little snivelling goth?”
Raven ignores the insult, and carries on regardless
“I came here to thank you, of course.”
Samoa Joe looks just as confused as Borash as to what Raven’s talking about.
“If I ever did anything for you, I promise you it was by accident. And I already gave you your five minutes of fame when I choked you out in September, so you’re a little late in thanking me for that. What did I ever do for you?”
“I’m thanking you on behalf of Sting as well as myself. You woke up the darkness in him. Things are going to get real interesting around here”
Raven walks off, and Joe heads the other way, JB shrugs his shoulders, far too intimidated by the two men to chase either down if they’re not in the mood to give an interview.
The main event, and last TNA match of 2006 is set to see Christopher Daniels tangle with Kurt Angle for the first time. Daniels makes his way to the ring, and awaits his opponent a look of determination on his face, a win over Kurt Angle could do big things for his career. Angle’s music plays, and the crowd grows louder in anticipation of the great match that is sure to come. However, no-one comes out for a long time. Suddenly, a figure comes out, and the crowd pop, before realising it’s Jim Cornette, in his usual foul temper, carrying a microphone.
“Cut the god-damn music already! As I’m sure you can all see, Kurt’s not here tonight. I never even got told why Kurt’s not going to be here this week, the man’s impossible to get hold of right now. I’m not going to rob you people of a match though, so we’ve got another amateur wrestling star here in his place…Daniel Puder!”
Puder makes his way to the ring, to a fairly disappointing reaction and chants of “We Want Angle!” Puder and Daniels start off slow, letting the crowd’s displeasure die down before the match gets going fast. When it does, Daniels uses his superior size to run rings around Puder, until Puder is able to catch him in an arm drag, again using his momentum against him to flip him with extra force. From here, Puder goes straight to work on the arm of Daniels, trying to soften him up for a later keylock, and keep him grounded with submissions, so that he can’t use his speed to win the match. Daniels is a master at wrestling on the ground however, and is able to reach his feet, where the two trade shots, the fans cheering each Daniels punch, and booing each one that Puder returns. Daniels gets the better of the exchange, and hits the ropes, only for Puder to duck the lariat and roll him up into a schoolboy for a near two. Standing over his opponent, with the legs trapped, Puder engages in some MMA style ground and pound, rocking Daniels with a series of punches before the ref separates the two, giving Puder a warning.
Daniels is able to build some momentum from here, rallying the crowd behind him as he executes headscissors, leg lariats, tornado DDTs and other high impact moves. For the third time, Puder is able to catch him as he runs in, however, and hits the already hurt chin with a stiff lariat. Puder is quick to capitalise from here, and locks on the keylock. In the middle of the ring, with nowhere to go, Daniels is forced to tap, and Puder gets some momentum behind him, after his recent losses.
The show ends on the annual TNA end of year awards. The ceremony culminates in naming AJ Styles the TNA MVP of the year, granting him a title shot on the first iMPACT of 2007. If he wins, he would go on to face Angle at Final Resolution in Abyss’s place, providing purists with something of a dream match. AJ’s celebration is cut short by the strings motif that signals the arrival of Abyss, however. AJ beckons Abyss into the ring, and fans get a preview of the action next week, as Styles rushes Abyss with a series of quick strikes, before hitting the ropes, only for Abyss to smash the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt across his head, before raising it high above his head, while standing over AJ’s prone form, as iMPACT fades to black for the last time in 2006.
January 4th, 2007: TNA iMPACT
The sadistic grin of James Mitchell is the first sight viewers of iMPACT in 2007 are greeted with. Standing in a dark room, the only other definable object in the room is the monster who looms behind him. Mitchell smiles cruelly, and speaks condescendingly to the audience
“A lot of you seemed upset at Angle’s absence last week, so here’s a bit of a public service announcement. A happy new year’s gift, from me and monster to you. You see, Angle was…otherwise indisposed last week. Let’s watch the footage…”
We cut to a Paparazzi Productions video, where Abyss and James Mitchell stand outside a house in the suburbs, in the early hours of the morning. Mitchell raps on the door with his cane, and it is answered by Kurt Angle, groggy, wearing a navy blue dressing gown. Abyss launches himself at Angle, catching him with an uppercut, sending him staggering into his hallway. Abyss grabs Angle by the head, and hurls him into a wall, throwing a series of knee shots to Angle’s body, before beating him down with clubbing forearms. He drags Angle by the head into another room, the kitchen. Angle’s head is smashed repeatedly against the kitchen counter, and suddenly we hear a woman’s shrill scream from off screen, along with pleas to “Stop it! Stop it! Oh god, no!” The camera turns briefly to see Karen Angle, weeping at her helplessness at the scene in front of her. The camera turns back in time to see Kurt battle to his feet and throw a sloppy punch at Abyss, only to be roughly shoved away. Abyss grabs a frying pan that is hanging on the wall, and cracks it across Angle’s head with a dull thud. Mitchell cackles with insane glee, standing over Angle, who is bleeding profusely, and may well have been knocked out in his own home.
“You want to talk about how you’re going to take the fight to Abyss? This, my friend, is how you take the fight to someone! You want to talk about how all men are the same size on the ground? Well, don’t you look awful big lying there in a heap, huh, big guy?”
Mitchell slaps the barely conscious Angle across the face, before continuing
“And didn’t you have something to say about how you’d keep him on the ground? Well, looks like you can stay there yourself, doesn’t it? Come on, Abyss, let’s go.”
As the monster and his master leave, Mitchell turns to Karen, who is kneeling by her beaten husband, and wishes them a happy new year, before laughing maniacally one last time.
We cut from here to the shocked faces of Mike Tenay and Don West at the announce desk. Tenay is the first to speak “Well, that’s not how anyone wanted the new year to start. As soon as we know about the condition of Kurt Angle following that horrific home invasion, we’ll let you know. I can promise you that tonight, you’ll see Abyss defend his title against AJ Styles.”
Don West interjects with “I hope AJ rips his god-damned head off.”
Before the main event, we go backstage to see Raven enter Samoa Joe’s locker room. Joe spots him, and hurls him bodily, pinning him to a locker, a look of rage on his face
“You want to talk about the darkness inside of Sting? Take a look at what was in my locker room when I came in here!”
Joe grabs Raven by the back of the neck, flings open the door to his locker, where we see a glass tub, full of black scorpions. Joe tosses Raven across the room.
“What the hell am I going to do about that?”
Raven grins evilly, and answers in elated tones
“We can use this. This is perfect. You and me, we could manipulate Sting, if we worked together.”
Joe looks disgusted at Raven.
“I don’t need to manipulate anyone to win. You’re lucky I’ve got other things on my mind, or I’d use you as a message to Sting. Now get out of here.”
Raven scuttles out of the room, but when the door is closed, a wide smile spreads across his face, and he mutters “It’s really begun” before walking off.
The main event sees AJ Styles use the tactic he’s used in every fight against Abyss, hurling himself over the top rope onto Abyss as he makes his way to the ring. Styles recovers his feet, and goes into the crowd, using the guardrail to deliver his springboard forearm smash. A running dropkick, and a tornado DDT onto the outside, running across the apron to perform it, follow, before Abyss is thrown into the ring. Styles keeps moving through the match, knowing from past experience that this is the only way to best the monster. Abyss finally catches him with a massive flapjack, however, hurtling Styles almost a foot over the monster’s head, before he comes crashing down. Abyss has control of the match for a good time now, using his superior power to dominate Styles. When Abyss misses a charge in the corner, Styles pele kicks him to begin his comeback, and baseball slides out to strike Mitchell, before the manager can insert himself. Styles begins turning the match in his favour, and is so focused on this that he doesn’t notice Christian Cage makes his way to ringside. As Styles hits the ropes to charge at a standing Abyss, Christian grabs his legs out from under him, causing him to stumble. Abyss takes the opportunity, and catches him with a black hole slam to retain his title, much to the frustration of the TNA faithful, who had really got behind their franchise player’s chances. And so the first iMPACT of 2007 ends the same way the last one of 2006 ends, with Abyss standing tall in the middle of the ring.
January 11th, 2007: TNA iMPACT
Raven starts tonight’s proceedings, sitting in a steel chair in the middle of the ring, microphone in hand. When he talks, it’s in a slow, reasonable tone.
“Last week, I made a proposition to Samoa Joe. And, though he rejected, I know that his eyes had been clouded by rage and fury, and confusion at an emotion that was, until now, unknown to him: fear. And so, being a forgiving man, I will give him another chance. Joe, why don’t you come out here, and make your amends? I will welcome you, and absolve you of those rash actions last week.”
The familiar drumming rhythm, and chorus of “The champ is here” echoes through the arena, and Samoa Joe paces purposefully to the ring. Raven stands to meet him, and Joe gets within arms reach, and asks Raven for the microphone. Raven passes it willingly to him, expectantly awaiting his response.
As was ever the case with Joe, he comes to the conclusion that actions will speak louder than words, and after hesitating as if considering his answer, shrugs, and settles for smashing the microphone across Raven’s head, the thud ringing out through the arena. He drops the microphone, grabs the chair Raven had been sitting on, folds it closed, and busts Raven’s head wide open with it, sending Raven staggering through the ropes to escape, only for Joe to follow with a corkscrew plancha, showing his usual incredible agility for a man his size, which Raven is too busy being crushed to appreciate. Joe tosses Raven back into the ring, and as Raven struggles to his feet, is met with a brutal missile dropkick. The chants of “Joe’s gonna kill you” go quiet when the lights go out, to be replaced with a loud cheer as Sting, baseball bat in hand, appears behind Joe, ambushing him with a shot to the back of the head. Sting stands over him, ready to deliver another shot, when Raven grabs the microphone, and eggs Sting on.
“Yes! Yes! Accept it! Embrace it! Embrace the darkness inside you, Sting!”
Sting hesitates for a moment and walks up the ramp, ignoring Raven’s goading
“Coward! You can hide from it, but it’ll find you! Just learn to love it!”
This would start a theme for the night that would be continued later in the evening, of wrestlers coming to the ring to address an issue, and it getting quickly out of hand. The next emergence of this came when Christian Cage hit the ring to a chorus of boos. He waited for the jeers to die down, before speaking in an almost apologetic manner.
“I’m sorry. I know that normally, I come out here, and I solve all of your confusion, all of your problems, but this week it’s my turn. I have a question that just keeps confusing me. I mean, I asked my grandma, my dog, my buddy on the road, my inspirational poster of Rocky, and none of them had an answer for me. So, with all my usual sources of wisdom dried up, I thought I’d take a last ditch effort, and ask you.”
Waiting for the boos to die down again, Cage continues
“I know! I know! It’s sad how desperate I’ve gotten! Anyway, here it is: when I beat AJ Styles 1,2,3 in the middle of the ring two Pay Per Views in a row, why is it that he got a title shot, and there’s no gold around my waist?”
Christian’s rant is cut short by the arrival of AJ Styles, who walks onto the ramp, microphone in his own hand.
“Let me answer your question for you there. I spent the year wrestling all the top level wrestlers in the Tag, X and heavyweight divisions. You spent your year groaning and moaning about how everyone loves Sting more than you and how Rhino didn’t say thank you enough times, stabbing your friends in the back, and trying to split other friends up. I spent 2006 wrestling, maybe if you’d done the same, you could have had been kicked around by Abyss again. In fact, why don’t I give you a nice start on wrestling this year, right now?”
Christian puts a hand up, as if to stop him, as the brash young star makes his way down the ramp.
“Woah, woah, little guy. I’ve already pinned you twice, and neither you, nor anyone else for that matter, has beaten me. I’ve got nothing to prove. I know one man who does though, one man who, like me, has been constantly overlooked and underestimated.”
At this cue, Daniel Puder rushes behind Styles, burying a forearm in his back. As the fans jeer, Puder beats on Styles all the way to ringside, before tossing him in. As Puder lays the boots into Styles in the corner, referee Andrew Thomas runs to the ring, making the match official.
Puder dominates the early goings of the match, although Thomas forces him to use more wrestling, as supposed to the illegal boots. An accomplished amateur, Puder has no problem complying. With his unfair advantage, Puder pushes the chance for a big upset, and to show that the win over Daniels was not a fluke. He is perhaps over enthusiastic in this, as he goes for his keylock finisher early on, and Styles reaches the ropes, forcing a ropebreak, and a chance to reach his feet.
From here, Styles uses his high impact strikes to keep Puder from closing in on him. However, while Puder is knocked down, Styles is reluctant to follow up, fearing another onslaught on the mat. Sensing that Styles fears his ground fighting, Puder shoots in for a double leg takedown, only to realisethis was exactly what Styles was goading him into in the first place, as Styles reacts instantly, dropping his knee onto the head of Puder. From Puder’s face down position near the knees of Styles, it’s a simple matter to hoist him up for the clash, and the accompanying three count.
Christian rushes the ring, going for an unprettier, which AJ avoids, fighting back against his rival with a series of punches and chops. While he’s working Cage in the corner, he doesn’t notice Puder recovering his feet behind him. The numbers game quickly becomes too much, even for the phenomenal one, until Christopher Daniels, chair in hand chases Puder and Cage from the ring. He gestures to be given a microphone, and when he gets one, speaks in a commanding voice
“Christian, Danny-boy, it’s simple. You guys are tired of being overlooked, we’re tired of your faces! Let’s kill two birds with one stone here, you two get a match with TNA’s greatest tag team, the Phenomenal Angels, this Sunday, at Final Resolution! You get your big match, we get to shut you up once and for all. Everyone wins, right?” The fans cheer the announcement, as the card for final Resolution gets a third big match, alongside Angle’s challenge for Abyss’s title, and Samoa Joe vs Sting, for the first time ever.
As the show draws towards it’s end, Mitchell and Abyss head out to a ring, looking sombre. Well, Abyss looked clinically insane, and Mitchell not far off. But Mitchell has his most serious and saddened expression on, even trading the red jacket in for a solemn inky black suit. Stepping between the ropes, microphone in hand, Mitchell addressed the unforgiving audience
“We are gathered here today, to mourn the TNA career of Kurt Angle. Though it only touched our lives very briefly, I think there were plenty of memories made. Let’s take a look, shall we?”
The video screen begins to play a video, accompanied by a mournful piano serenade. The image of Kurt Angle staggering in the ring, blood gushing from his head in his match against Joe, is followed by that of Daniel Puder forcing him to tap out after the match, and then by the brutal assault on Angle in his own home, with several of the shots covered in slow motion, and the final one where Abyss cracks Angle across the head with a frying pan repeated several times, before it fades to a black screen, with white lettering reading ‘Kurt Angle’s TNA Career, October 2006-December 2006′
Mitchell wipes an imaginary tear from his eye, when his attention is grabbed by the sudden, unexpected cheers of the crowd. Mitchell turns behind him, to see Angle jumping the guardrail, armed with a chair. Mitchell dives for cover, as Angle hits the ring fast, smashing the chair across the head of Abyss, once, twice, the fans cheering each shot, before throwing it away, for the more personal attack of a flurry of punches and clothesline, bowling Abyss over the top rope. Angle leans over the ropes, screaming in rage at the two men fleeing up the ramp. Angle stands furious and victorious in the ring, as iMPACT fades to black.
January 14th, 2007: TNA Final Resolution
Of the three main event bouts, the first to be contested is the tag battle between the Phenomenal Angels and the team of Christian Cage and Daniel Puder.
Cage and Puder realise early on, when Daniels outmanoeuvres first Puder, who then tags out, only for Christian to receive the same punishment, that they cannot let the fight build momentum. And so Christian’s veteran experience with fighting dirty and Puder’s excellent mat wrestling are put to good use, keeping Styles and Daniels from mounting any real counter offence for a good time, until AJ Styles counters a takedown from Puder by rolling back with it, landing on his feet, while Puder is left sitting on the mat, until Styles drops both boots into his face with a crisp dropkick, followed up by a knee drop. Styles and Daniels then use quick tags of their own, combined with a new found wariness to manage to hit both of their opponents with high impact dropkicks, hurracaranas, DDTs and planchas to the outside on both men, making it quickly apparent why Cage and Puder feared letting them build up steam.
The personal issues between Styles and Cage quickly boil up, resulting in the two of them abandoning the match proper to brawl around ringside, neither man gaining an obvious advantage. Meanwhile, in the ring, Christopher Daniels is able to deliver a brainbuster on Puder in the ring, and point to the turnbuckle, signalling for the Best Moonsault Ever. As the fans cheer, Daniels hops onto the bottom turnbuckle, up to the second, but is caught as he jumps onto the top one from behind, and rolled up by Puder for the three count. Puder exits the ring, having sneaked a win from Daniels, he doesn’t wait for Daniels to seek out retribution.
The fans are torn between who to support as Samoa Joe and Sting pace around each other, taking their time to start their match. Duelling chants for both men bounce across the arena, the 900 strong crowd sounding like a much larger crowd. The two tie up, and Joe throws a knee into Sting’s midsection. A series of chops and forearms follow this, and it’s topped off with a spinning heel kick, downing the icon, who rolls under the bottom rope to catch his breath. Joe waits in the ring for Sting to come back in, knowing that he has the power and speed advantage, and doesn’t need to risk losing his high ground by going outside with the increasingly violent Sting. Sting slowly enters, his eyes on Samoa Joe, and the two circle each other again, each knowing how much rests on the match, and the calibre of opponent they have. Sting runs in with a lariat, catching Joe across the chest, before hiptossing him down, and chopping him across the chest as he stands up, with enough force to make the tough Samoan stagger away. Sting follows with a series of chops to Joe, who goes to rest in the turnbuckle. Sting puts enough distance to get a good run up for the Stinger Splash, only to be caught mid-air by Joe for a uranage, earning a two-count. Joe locks the choke on from here, and could very well have sent the match home early, were it not for Sting getting his left foot on the bottom rope.
Hebner breaks the submission, but Joe doesn’t give Sting enough time to properly reach his feet, hitting the opposite rope, and dropkicking Sting through the middle rope he’s resting on. Joe grabs a chair from under the ring, placing it in a corner of the guardrails, and sitting Sting down in it. Joe rolls back under the ring, restarting the count, before Olû kicking Sting’s head against the steel barrier, and running the outside of the ring, coming full circle for the final dropkick. Sting is tossed roughly back into the ring, as the crowd is split once again between calling “Joe’s Gonna Kill You” and having sympathy for the brutalised veteran. Sting scores an uppercut as he reaches his feet, surprising his opponent, and sending him staggering. A kick in the gut is a precursor to a DDT, only earning a two count for Sting. Sting exhaustedly clambers the turnbuckles to deliver a missile dropkick to Samoa Joe, taking a break to revel in the “You’ve still got it!” chant that meets this move.
Sting goes for the kill from here. With Joe down, Sting rolls outside the ring, grabbing hold of a steel chair. As Sting stalks Joe in the ring for the shot, Raven rushes to the ring, shouting encouragement to Sting through the ropes. Sting hesitates, before tossing the chair at Raven instead. Raven staggers backwards, his lip cut open by the thrown chair. Joe and Sting circle each other once more, Sting having decided to settle this without weapons. Joe sends Sting reeling with a jumping kick to the head, which is all the opening he needs to rush Sting, planting him on the top rope, and delivering the musclebuster for the three count. Joe’s streak remains intact, and he has finally gained the title shot he has been pushing so hard for. Joe waits in the ring for Sting to regain his feet, and the fans cheer as Sting shakes hands with Joe, and raises his arm.
One match which is bound to contain less goodwill is the bout between Kurt Angle and Abyss. The match kicks off with Abyss in the unfamiliar position of being overwhelmed, as Kurt’s rage carries him through the early stages with a flurry of strikes, clotheslines and suplexes performed at furious speed and intensity. Angle, in his rage, goes for the finish early, however, trying for an Angle Slam, only for Abyss to reposition his weight, landing on his feet on the apron. From here, Abyss grabs Angle by the head, throwing him over the top rope to the outside. Abyss drops down, and launches on a targeted attack on the head of Angle outside, making good use of the announce table, ringpost, steel steps and apron. This area is obviously still sensitive, as it gets busted open quickly, and all the power of Angle earlier seems gone. Angle is eventually thrown back into the ring, where he barely kicks out at two. Abyss measures Angle for a chokeslam, his first real wrestling move of the match, but Angle floats over, delivering a thunderous german suplex to the monster. Hebner begins his count as both men are down, reaching eight before both men fight to their feet. They trade shots, and Angle is obviously outmatched in this style, until he resorts to a desperation head butt. Abyss staggers, dropping his head enough for Angle to score a spinning neckbreaker for two. As Hebner is distracted by Mitchell’s attempts at entering the ring, Daniel Puder runs into the ring, bringing a steel chair smashing across the skull of Kurt Angle. Angle staggers into the corner, and Puder flees before the referee spots him. Angle charges in for Abyss, but is easy pickings for the black hole slam, which puts him away for the three.
January 18th, 2007: TNA iMPACT
James Mitchell parades his monster, the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Abyss to ringside to open up tonight’s show. He wastes no time in gloating, while Abyss menacingly paces the ring.
“Mind over muscle! I know i’s a difficult concept for you imbeciles to understand, but last week, you saw a superb display of it. Kurt Angle was blinded by his fury, so blinded, in fact, that he forgot all semblance of his game plan. Instead he tried to overpower the strongest man in wrestling.”
Mitchell seems to conveniently forget the assistance of Daniel Puder in this matter, moving swiftly on
“Which brings me nicely onto you, Samoa Joe”
He pauses, allowing the pop at the mention of Joe to die down.
“Joe, Joe, Joe…Just back down. I know you’ve been making a real ruckus about this title shot you supposedly deserve, but you have to look after your own interests. You see, this undefeated streak of yours, it’s all you’ve got. Don’t throw it away just for five minutes of glory. You see, me and Abyss have got all the power. He’s the strongest man here, and I’m the smartest. The two of us are an unbeatable unit. Don’t lose the only thing you have, just to prove us right. I know that you’re a smart man, so you’ll do the right thing. I also know how stubborn you are, and that you’ll have to take a while to reach that decision. I can wait. Give me your answer next week.”
With this, Mitchell and Abyss stomp back up the ramp, serenaded by calls of “Joe’s Gonna Kill You!” from the iMPACT Zone regulars.
The cameras cut to a corridor backstage, where Sting bumps into a man who looks a little less than pleased: Raven. Raven doesn’t even hide his disgust when he looks at Sting, and immediately launches on a tirade towards him.
“What the hell happened last Sunday, Sting? Everything you’ve fought for was in arm’s reach. But you just throw it away, for what? For the respect of Samoa Joe? The man’s a predator, Sting. The man doesn’t care for, or respect anything but himself. You and me, we’re carrion. We’re the ugly underbelly. Carrion and predators don’t keep company, Sting.”
Sting cuts him off
“I did it so I can look in the mirror, and not feel shame. I did it so that when I have that title around my waist again, I know that I earned it.”
Raven laughs at Sting, who looks confused and angry
“Look yourself in the mirror?”
A serious look crosses his face, and he pushes himself nose to nose with Sting
“All you see when you look in the mirror is a lie. It’s a mask”
He runs his hand roughly across Sting’s face, holding the smeared paint on his hand up to Sting’s face, to illustrate his point
“It’s a mask you wear, so that everyone won’t see the darkness inside you, just the light on the outside. But they’re the same, don’t you see?”
Raven smears the white paint and black paint on his fingers together, showing the grey smudge to Sting.
“And if you won’t embrace the dark like you did the light, then you’ll never be a champion again. You’ll never be anything but the guy who could’ve been someone great, but was no-one instead.”
Sting has had enough, he shoves Raven back, and raises his trademark bat. Raven spreads his arms wide in the crucifix pose, eyes shut, willing Sting to strike him. It is Sting’s turn to look disgusted now, as he drops the bat, and walks away from Raven, who shakes his head, muttering “Soon….Soon…”
The clash in the ring that follows this brings this episode’s first taste of actual wrestling, although it proves to be a brief one, as Johnny Devine is utterly out of his depth against Kurt Angle, who brings him straight to the mat, applying the angle lock for a tap out. Head bandaged from the war with Abyss last Sunday, Angle looks determined to seek some retribution, and calls for a microphone.
Once he has it, he wastes no time in getting to the point:
“Puder! You cowardly little shit! I would have thought when I had you down and screaming on the mat, it would have been enough to make you realise that this thing between us is over! I beat you! I’m better than you! But you had to make things worse for yourself, huh? You just had to piss me off again! Well, I’ll beat you one last time, at Against All Odds, you’re mine!”
He throws the microphone down, and storms off.
When iMPACT draws to it’s end, it is much the same way as it started, with gloating in the ring. Christian Cage, dressed in a sharp suit, makes his way to the ring. Pacing around the ring, and climbing the turnbuckles as if the fans were giving him a heroes welcome, Christian cannot keep the smile from his face. Eventually, he raises the microphone to his mouth, brings it back down, swallowing as though choking back tears, and finally speaks
“I know! I could just sit here and bask in this all day!”
He spreads his arms wide, pretending to enjoy some adoration from the fans.
“What? No cheers? Don’t you fans realise that I’m the new franchise player here? Sure, it used to be that AJ guy, but let’s look at his last three Pay Per View outings… Let’s see, at Genesis, I beat him. At Turning Point, I beat him. At Final Resolution, I’m sure he managed to…no, wait, me and Daniel Puder beat him and Christopher Daniels. He’s done with. He’s the past of this company, I’m it’s present and future. Get used to the sight of me celebrating in the ring, peeps. It’s your future.”
The electrifying guitar riff of “I Am” hits the speakers, and out comes AJ Styles, to a huge pop from the live crowd. Dressed in wrestling gear, a serious expression on his face, he marks an immediate contrast to the ‘Instant Classic’ Christian Cage. He raises his own microphone, and begins to speak
“None of those were clean wins, and you know it, you little punk! Give me one more match, give me one more chance. I’ll prove to you who the better man is. It can be at Against All Odds, it can be next week, it can be right now, it can be after the show in the car park, for all I care! Let me get my hands on you one more time.”
Christian laughs, sitting cockily on the top rope “Listen, kid. I’ve beaten you. I have nothing, nothing to gain from beating your hick ass all over the ring again.”
Styles has heard enough, and dashes towards the ring furiously. Christian bolts just as fast, ducking into the hostile crowd, flanked by security, to make his escape. iMPACT ends with AJ Styles standing alone in the middle of the ring, look of deep frustration etched on his features.
January 25th, 2007: TNA iMPACT
Mike Tenay and Don West open the broadcast by telling viewers about tonight’s main event, which will see Vampiro return to the company to tag with Abyss against Team 3D. Before that, however, there’s a match about to start in the ring to deal with.
Already in the ring, having made their entrances before the taping, are Daniel Puder and Sonjay Dutt. Puder paces Dutt in a predatory fashion, and Dutt looks scared of the dangerous shoot-fighter. Puder feints with a jab, which sends Sonjay stepping back. Puder throws another jab, and Dutt makes a little less of a jump back. The third jab is ducked, and Dutt swings his right leg in for a head kick. This turns out to be exactly what Puder was looking for, as he immediately grabs Dutt’s leg, and drags him down to the mat. He scuttles up to the arm, quickly applying the key lock. Dutt screams in pain, and looks in vain for a way out, before tapping to make Puder relinquish the deadly submission. Puder wastes no time in finding himself a microphone, apparently having a message of his own for Kurt.
“Kurt, I don’t like having to take cheap attacks like I did. But the fact is, it’s the only way to make you pretend you’re a man long enough to fight me! I came right into your house, and beat your bitch ass at it’s own game in 2004, and rather than fight me again, you screwed me out of a future! Well, February 11th, you can’t dodge me, because we’re gonna have us an old fashioned cage fight.”
His point made, Puder tosses the microphone down and storms to the back.
AJ Styles is the next to take the ring, microphone in hand, grave expression on his face. When the pop dies down, he visibly hesitates in the ring, contemplating what he’s about to do. Finally, he raises the microphone to his mouth, and begins to speak
“Christian. Last week, you told me I couldn’t fight you, because you had nothing to gain. Well, how about this?”
Again, he pauses
“How about, if I put a year of my career on the line? I will not step foot in a ring, I will not do the very thing that I live for, for 365 days, if you can beat me at Against All Odds. Suddenly, the main event’s a lot thinner, and you can make your mark again.”
Christian, smug grin on his face, saunters onto the entrance ramp.
“So, all I have to do, is do what I’ve done for the last 3 months, and show everyone once again, that I’m the best in this company, and you’ll be out of sight for a year? I’m game. Enjoy your vacation.”
He strolls off the stage, and AJ leaves through the crowd, being slapped on the back by supportive fans.
As Senshi makes his way to ringside, Mike Tenay informs the viewers that Sting has requested a match against Senshi to prove to himself that he can still go with the best of them. Indeed, Sting looks solemn as he steps between the ropes, as if his career rested on this match. Sting and Senshi circle each other, and tie up, Sting getting the best of a chain wrestling sequence. However, caution seems to cut off the killer instinct, and he backs off. Senshi gets back to his feet, recognising his advantage. A loss to Sting doesn’t hurt him at all, so long as he can show that he can hold his ground against the seasoned wrestler. A loss for Sting, however, would be devastating. And it’s Sting’s fear of the loss that makes him most likely to lose. Senshi circles Sting for another tie up, but as they go to the middle to tie up, Senshi throws a kick hard into Sting’s ribs, driving all the air out of them. He follows up with a series of forearm smashes across the head. Sting staggers back, dazed. Senshi gives him no time to regroup, whipping him across the ring to the turnbuckles, and charging in with a lariat. Sting uses the ropes to pull himself up, but is caught midway with a DDT for a two count. Senshi knows that if things continue this way, the match is his. The same fact seems to trigger something in Sting too, who fights his way to his feet, the fire reignited in him, as he hurls punches and chops frantically, before capping it off with a Stinger Splash. Sting takes a moment to do his trademark scream to the crowd, before returning to the business at hand. Dragging Senshi to the middle of the ring, Sting puts him in position for a Scorpion Death Drop. Senshi, sensing opportunity, however, trips the legs of Sting, rolling him forward into a pinning combination that surprises Sting, and gets the job done. Senshi earns a major upset victory, and Sting, dejected, rolls from the ring, and heads backstage.
Sting’s night isn’t yet over, though, as he bumps into Raven backstage. Raven is the first to speak, using a taunting tone
“What was that? Admit it, without the darkness, you’re nothing. You’re past it. If you won’t embrace your destiny, why don’t you just go and find somewhere to curl up and die? I don’t want to even look at you.”
Raven pushes roughly past Sting, who offers no resistance, and is left standing alone and defeated in the corridor.
Another man who is having no fun backstage is Vampiro. Almost as soon as the cameras pick him up arriving at the arena, they see Samoa Joe, steel pipe in hand, enter from stage left, and smash it into Vampiro’s back, before laying the boots in. He turns to the camera, and speaks in a deadly calm voice
“Here’s your answer, Mitchell. I’ll see you and your boy at Against All Odds.”
The message delivered, Joe leaves, and the cameras take one last close up on the battered form of Vampiro.
The main event rolls around, and it seems no-one else was willing to take the part of Abyss’s partner, whether out of fear of the man, of his opponent’s or disgust at the home invasion. Whatever the reason, Abyss was out there alone, Mitchell not fool enough to put himself into a match with Team 3D. Abyss holds his own against the brothers well enough, but with the men involved, this was always going to quickly degenerate into a brawl, and Abyss finds himself quickly battling both brothers on the entrance ramp. While the melee on the ramp continues, Joe emerges from the crowd, leaping over the guardrail, behind James Mitchell. Mitchell has no time to turn around, being caught instantly in the Coquina Clutch. Joe slings the fallen form of Mitchell over his shoulder, and disappears with the manager, back through the crowd. Abyss downs D-Von with a head butt, before spotting the retreating form of Joe, and ploughs through the crowd, looking in vain.
Earl Hebner is left with no option but to call the match as a countout in favour of Team 3D. Team 3D look as irritated at the non-ending of the match as the fans do, and sate their rage by pulling Hebner into a quick 3-D to pop the crowd one last time before iMPACT goes off air.
February 1st, 2007: TNA iMPACT
Mike Tenay, sitting in a studio, confirms for the fans that Vampiro will be making it to tonight’s main event, facing the man who took him out of last week’s-Samoa Joe.
But first, to address what he’s doing in a studio, rather than at the desk. Well, since last week, he tracked down MMA Analyst Frank Trigg, and talked to him about his thoughts on Angle vs Puder.
The camera pans left, and we see the former fighter himself, sitting on a sofa. He takes a drink of water as Tenay asks him
“So, obviously Angle’s got a great history as an Olympic gold medal winning wrestler? Do you think Puder can match him on the ground?”
Trigg pauses a moment, before answering
“It’s easy to underestimate Daniel Puder. He’s a champion amateur wrestler himself. I’d give the edge on the ground to Angle, but I wouldn’t give it by much.”
“Interesting. And how about on their feet? Who will win the stand up game?”
Trigg takes another drink of water before continuing
“Well, Angle’s got those mean throws, but Puder’s a solid boxer, and kickboxer, and I think he could shut Angle’s suplex game down, so I’ll give him the edge here.”
Tenay moves to wrap the interview up
“Any final thoughts? Who do you reckon will come out on top?”
Trigg pauses, and thinks for a moment.
“I’d put my money on Puder. He’s just that much hungrier. He has so much to prove in this fight. I reckon he can stop Angle.”
Tenay wraps the pre-tape up
“Well, thank you for joining us, and I suppose that on February 11th, we’ll find out…”
We fade back into the iMPACT broadcast, where Tenay is now sitting with Don West at their ringside table. The camera quickly cuts to the ring, where Senshi is awaiting the entrance of Sting, who is looking to avenge his recent loss to Senshi. When Sting arrives, however, the confidence he usually carries himself with is gone, and he trudges dejectedly to the ring, sliding under the bottom rope.
Remembering the overconfidence that cost him his last match in going for the finish too early, Sting is the exact opposite here, fighting timidly, using his greater size to keep Senshi from closing in on him, but not doing much more. Senshi slowly begins to boil over, and eventually looses his frustration, charging Sting, but bowling referee Andrew Thomas over in the process. Sting and Senshi roll to the outside in their brawl. Raven, steel chair in hand, stalks his way to ringside, just as Sting hurls Senshi into a guardrail. He turns around, spotting Raven standing behind him, wielding a chair. Raven hands the chair to Sting, who wails on Senshi, smashing him repeatedly against the barrier with it. Raven cheers him on, until Sting turns on him, cracking him across the head with the chair, drawing blood. Sting dives on his tormentor from here, pummelling him into the ground. Security rushes to take Sting away, as Raven lies in a bloody heap, laughing victoriously through the pain.
When the cameras switch from the disturbing visual of Raven laughing triumphantly, covered in blood, they change to Christian Cage backstage, the usual self assured smirk plastered over his face. It seems he hasn’t said enough to AJ Styles, as he once again holds a microphone. When he speaks, it’s with a faux friendly tone
“AJ! My man! I thought you might want to warm up for our little match that’s coming up. Especially since it’ll be your last for a year. I thought I’d let you get in the ring with my…problem solver, next week.”
At the mention of “problem solver”, a hulking bald man, covered in tattoos steps into the picture, arms folded menacingly.
Christian continues, with the reason for his even higher degrees of self confidence fairly evident.
“Next week, Tyson Tomko will give you the beating of your life. Well, aside from the one I’ll give you just three days later, of course…”
The show’s main even between Joe and Vampiro sees the Vampiric One engage in his usual attempts at intimidation. Joe stares, blank faced throughout the proceedings, breaking his stillness only to slap Vampiro across the face when Vampiro goes nose to nose with the Samoan Submission Machine. Vampiro returns the gesture, which is the only piece of offence he gets in during the match, as from here, Joe smashes Vampiro from one end of the ring to the next, before sending him outside for the same treatment. The brutality stops only when Abyss storms to the ring, changing Joe’s attention. The two make an instant beeline for each other, as security, referees and road agents fill up the entrance ramp, fighting to keep the two monsters apart as iMPACT draws to a close…
February 8th, 2007: TNA iMPACT
The focus as iMPACT opens up tonight is once again on the battle between Angle and Puder, as the two stand in the ring, glaring daggers at each other. Both are dressed in suits for the event. Puder steps up to the scales, and Jeremy Borash calls the weight as 235 lb. Puder steps off the scale, gesturing casually with one arm for Angle to step onto the scales himself. Angle does so, never taking his eyes off of Puder as he does. The announcement comes in at 240 lb, and Tenay and West debate, unable to come to a decision about whether this is an advantage, or a disadvantage for Angle. As Angle steps off the scales, he goes nose to nose with Puder, and the two look ready to fight, before turning tensely to sign the contracts for the fight that Sunday, postponing business until then.
Before the main event of the night, the camera inside Cornette’s office picks up a meeting between him and Samoa Joe. Cornette is his usual furious self
“For the love of god, Joe! You kidnapped a manager, not that I care much for the creep myself, I’ll admit. But you can’t wreak havoc all over this company. And what’s worse, is that you’ve given Abyss free reign to do just the same! It’ god-damn chaos, Joe! And what are you going to do about it?”
Joe is calm and steely, marking an immediate contrast to Cornette.
“Make my match with Abyss no-DQ. Let me and him tear each other apart, rather than this company.”
Cornette pauses for a second, before replying
“You know what, Joe? I think you might just be the only son of a bitch crazy enough to request a no-DQ match with Abyss. Go ahead, it’s yours. Maybe one of you will beat some god-damned sense into the other.”
Joe stands to leave, and as he opens the door into the corridor, a hand grabs him, pulling him into the corridor. The cameras quickly pan to show Abyss using the element of surprise to pound Samoa Joe into the ground. Once again, Security, Referees and Road Agents rush in, pulling Abyss away from the unusual sight of a downed Samoa Joe.
Tyson Tomko makes his TNA debut in the ring next, using his size and power to keep AJ Styles briefly in check, before Styles is able to start to build some momentum of his own, quickly proving to be too much for Tomko to handle. It’s at this point that Christian Cage makes his way to ringside to interject himself in the match. Spotting the approach of his rival, Styles quickly hits the ropes, and hurtles over the top rope, smashing into Christian with a corkscrew plancha that popped the crowd. Styles rolls back into the ring, just as Tomko regains his feet. Styles keeps on the attack, kicking Tomko in the gut, and delivering a picture perfect Styles Clash for the three count.
Before iMPACT fades to black, however, the cameras go to a strange room, with Raven sitting hunched on a crate. He looks up at the camera, and begins to talk in an almost reverent manner.
“In three days time, the journey of a decade will complete. It will have been over ten years since Sting first descended from his lofty heights, adorned in the guise of a crow. Well, this Raven recognises the fellow carrion creature. He knows you for what you are, just like me: A creature of darkness. And on that day, when you first descended from the rafters, I thought you had accepted your descent to my level. But no, you continued to fight for those same “virtues”, those same lies. But I knew the day would come that you would accept your place with the night, with the shadows, with the Raven. And this Sunday, ten years of destiny will culminate, and you will transcend to a new plane of being. And I will be there to guide you to the promised land, your anti-hero, your rejected messiah, your Raven. Quoth The Raven, Nevermore.”
With this, Raven stands, and stalks back into the dark, as the cameras finally fade to back.
February 11th, 2007: TNA Against All Odds
After an undercard of the usual high impact wrestling and car crash booking, the maincard starts off with Sting vs Raven in a Raven’s Rules match. Sting descends from the rafters looking solemn, determined to rid his life of Raven, and get his stalling career back on track. He forgoes pacing, or playing to the crowd at all, and stands in a corner, signature baseball bat at his feet, awaiting the arrival of his enemy.
When Raven arrives, it’s in an unorthodox way. Rather than the descent from above of Sting, Raven rises on a platform up to the ramp, before taking his time reaching the ring, allowing Sting and the fans to get a good look at his face, painted all black, with white markings in the same place as Sting’s black markings stand. Raven seems resolute that the darkness in Sting be acknowledged, and if Sting won’t do it himself, he may as well stand as a representation of it.
Sting outwrestles Raven in the early goings, using fairly low impact moves, but keeping in control of the match, until a Raven low blow turns things around. Sting soon finds himself under attack with all manner of weaponry, climaxing when he is brought outside to receive a russian leg sweep into the guardrail, followed closely by a piledriver on the outside. Raven roughly tosses Sting into the ring, and fetches a table from under the ring, sliding it in, and taking the time to set it up. He takes too long doing this, however, and Sting is able to reach his trusty baseball bat, which he brings crashing down on Raven’s back. Sting pushes Raven onto the table he had set up, before ascending the turnbuckles to splash both him and his opponent through it. This desperation act was sadly not enough to earn him the victory, as Raven is able to kick out at two. When both men regain their feet, they trade shots amongst the wreckage of the table, Sting gaining the advantage, and whipping Raven across the ring, only to have it reversed, and take a drop toe hold into a chair. Raven then drags Sting’s limp form up by the head, and drops him roughly with the Evenflow DDT. Raven rolls his left arm exhaustedly across the prone form of Sting, the lacklustre cover not enough to keep the icon down. Raven slowly sits up, and starts hurling abuse at Andrew Thomas, who he feels was slow in his count.
While Raven is arguing his case, Sting is crawling towards his goal, his salvation, his aluminium bat. His fingers outstretched, he makes contact, pulling it close to him as though it were something or someone very dear to him. Fighting from his back, not yet recovered enough to find his feet, he swings violently at Raven’s right leg, causing him to drop in pain, and stare in shock at Sting. The fear in Raven’s eyes seems to drive Sting up to his feet, and as soon as he is standing over Raven, he is delivering shot after shot to the legs with the bat, demolishing them in animalistic fury. He yanks Raven to the centre of the ring, where escape is not an option, before locking in his patented hold for the second time. The visual of Raven, paint partially worn from his face, screaming in pain is mirrored by the rage filled screams of Sting, his face likewise a patchwork of flesh and paint. There is no escape for Raven this time, who screams in anguish as his hands repeatedly slap the mat. Sting celebration of his victory is initially joined in by West and Tenay at commentary, before Tenay brings up in a concerned tone that Sting may have inadvertantly proven Raven right about the darkness in his heart with that vicious onslaught.
The six sides of steel descend onto the ring, setting the scene for Kurt Angle vs Daniel Puder. Angle makes his way out, wrapped as ever in the American flag, looking calm and determined. The look of calmness dissapears, however, when Puder, bearing a sign that reads “I Hurt Kurt”, cockily swaggers his way to the cage.
Angle and Puder each are assigned a corner by “Slick” Mark Johnson, while Jeremy Borash goes over the rules for the fans. There will be no ropebreaks, the fight can end only in knockout, submission or referee stoppage, and closed fist strikes are legal.
Angle and Puder move carefully around each other, sizing the other up. Angle is almost squatting in an amateur wrestling stance, keeping his centre of gravity low, while Puder has a boxer’s guard up. The boxing is the first to come into play, as Puder keeps Angle at bay with jabs, some of which connect. Angle learns the rhythm, however, and goes under a jab, sweeping Puder to the ground.
The two engage in a quick chain wrestling sequence from here, with neither having an obvious advantage. Back on the feet, Puder’s kicks come into play, staggering Angle each time he’s hit. Angle manages to get inside one of them, however, and throws Puder over his head with a belly to belly suplex. He quickly turns around, and moves for Puder’s ankle, which he seizes firm hold of, turning it over and grapevining the leg. Puder screams, and crawls away, but is unable to find a way out of the hold, eventually tapping furiously.
Kurt raises his arm triumphantly. Though the match itself was short, it was a hectic battle from start to finish, and looks to have taken a lot out of him. When Puder is able to stand, Angle extends a hand to him, and Puder shakes it, each having earned a grudging mutual respect for the other.
Another bout built on respect follows next, with Christian Cage feeling that he hasn’t been given his dues in the company, while disrespecting the franchise of TNA, AJ Styles. AJ makes his way to the ring full of emotions, about what may be his final outing in what would be a long year for TNA fans, and an eternity for AJ Styles, who lives to wrestle. He throws his trademark ring jacket into the crowd, and stands on the top turnbuckle, staring deep into the sea of people, as tears well up in his eyes. The overwhelming emotions take a turn for the enraged when Christian Cage, accompanied by Tyson Tomko, makes his way to ringside.
Styles wastes no time, hurling himself over the top rope onto both antagonisers in a picture perfect three-quarter turn senton. From here, Styles props Christian up against the steel steps, and lands a kick hard against Cage’s head, knocking it into the steel steps with a clanging sound. The crowd react loudly to it, prompting Styles to repeat the process several times. Unknown to him, however, Tyson Tomko is back on his feet behind Styles, a fact he’s quick to alert Styles to, grabbing him by the back of the neck and ramming his head hard onto the apron, before irish whipping Styles into the turnbuckle. Styles doesn’t go down, but instead is sent stumbling away from it, busted open before the match has even begun. With the match not officially started, Styles is at the whim of Tomko and Cage, who put this to good use, performing a con-chair-to on Styles, before high fiving. Things look grim for the firm fan favourite, who Tomko press slams into the ring, Earl Hebner starting the match officially.
The scene in the ring is eerily familiar to the last outing between this pair, at Turning Point, with an injured Styles at the mercy of Christian Cage. Considering the conclusion to that last bout, things do not bode well for the career of AJ Styles. Sensing this, Christian stalks Styles, pushing him down with his boot each time he attempts to regain his feet, toying with Styles. In underestimating Styles, however, he has made a huge mistake. His other mistake lay in enraging Styles further, as Styles kips up to deliver an incredible frankensteiner off his back. He then hits the ropes, rage and adrenaline pushing him on, as he charges into giving a running enzuiguri to Cage that leaves him staggering to the corner to regroup. Styles gives Cage no time to do such, rushing right into the corner, and hooking Cage’s head for a Tornado DDT in one fluid motion, which earns him a two count when Cage gets his foot on the ropes. Sensing that his employer is in trouble, Tomko ascends the apron behind Styles, but Styles has him spottted from the corner of his eye, flipping over to pele kick Tomko off the apron. Tomko is not alone in receivership of kicks, as a spinning heel kick downs Christian again, giving Styles the requisite time to spring up to the top rope and perform a beautiful frog splash, that once again falls just short of keeping Christian down for three. Styles goes to the apron, waiting to hand out his innovative springboard forearm smash. As he leaps up for the start of the manoeuvre, however, Tomko grabs at his leg, pulling him down to a face first collision with the apron that looks to have knocked the young star out. With their hero lain face down outside the ring, seemingly oblivious to Earl Hebner’s count, the TNA faithful attempt to revive him with a rousing chant of his name
AJ is groggily back to his feet, face covered in the proverbial crimson mask
AJ re-enters the ring, Christian looking on in disbelief. He slaps AJ across the face, his hand coming back stained in blood from the contact. A fire awakens again in AJ, who throws a head butt, an uncharacteristically finesse-less move, which makes for a spectacular visual, as Christian’s head is now stained in AJ’s blood. Cage back pedals, desperately trying to escape, but is caught with a flurry of strikes. He is able to duck a superkick, however, and it finds a different target in Earl Hebner. No sooner has Hebner hit the ground than Tomko is in the ring, helping Christian. Styles fights valiantly against his two opponents, but the numbers game quickly wears him down. Tomko leaves the ring, but due to an impulse to set up a table outside the ring, rather than any sudden rush of sportsmanship, and he soon re-enters, taking up a premature victory pose with his employer. Out to even things up is long time friend and ally of Styles, Christopher Daniels. The Fallen Angel springboards off the top rope for a tornado DDT that downs Tomko, as Christian stares open jawed. Shock at the easy dispatching of his henchman soon translates to anger. How dare Daniels get involved? A quick rush at Daniels is clumsy, however, and easily switched around into an Angel’s Wings facebuster, keeping Christian down. Styles is back on his feet now, hugging Daniels in gratitude for the potential saving of his career from his sometimes rival, always friend. The two of them part from the embrace, and both look at the table set up outside the ring, then to Tomko, the saying “Great minds think alike” springing to mind.
Two men are enough to put Tomko in the unusual position of the one being manhandled, as he is dragged by the head towards the apron, and double suplexed from the ring, to the table on the outside, prompting the fans to chant “T-N-A!” in appreciation. Styles feels an obvious need to finish this on his own, shaking Daniel’s hand, before asking the X division pioneer to leave. The playing field evened, Christian no longer looks so sure of victory as he groggily reaches his feet following the Angel’s Wings. The two go back and forth, but Styles will not be denied his victory at last over Christian, and things soon turn in his favour, staying that way long enough for a Styles Clash to come into play, allowing Styles to pin Christian, the first time he, or anyone else in the company has managed such a feat. Styles is ecstatic in victory, having defeated his long time foe, broken his recent streak of big match losses, and kept his career alive, all in one outing. Styles jumps the guardrail, sharing in the excitement of the moment with the enthusiastic fans.
Anticipation is at fever pitch for the first ever meeting between TNA’s resident monsters, Abyss and Samoa Joe. With no disqualifications, and the title on the line, as well as the right for the winner to call themselves the most dominant man in TNA, this has big fight feel written all over it. After Jeremy Borash announces the match, he dives from the ring, not wanting to get caught in the cross fire between these two giants.
The two rush towards each other as soon as the bell rings, and Joe’s strikes buy him the early advantage, using his mix of speed and power to overwhelm Abyss, the power of them eventuall sending him outside, where Joe hurls himself onto Abyss wit a twisting suicide dive. Abyss laying down next to the apron, however, gives him ample chance to seek a weapon under the ring, which he uses to turn the tide, smashing the chair across Joe’s skull. From here, Joe is violently tossed around, with Abyss making use of the chair and the ringside environment to keep in control, the high spot of which sees him pin Joe’s head against the ringpost, and deliver a thunderous chairshot, sandwiching his skull between the two steel objects. Joe is tossed into the ring, but kicks out at two, refusing to be denied the title so early.
Abyss opts to throw his weight around literally, as after tossing Joe into the corner, he charges in for an avalanche splash himself, only for Joe to catch him with a Uranage, the force of which brings Joe to his knees himself. Abyss sits up dramatically, a sight which usually inspires fear, but represents only opportunity to Joe, who chops Abyss across the back, kicks him in the chest, downing him again, and finally delivers a big knee drop. Abyss is the draped into the bottom turnbuckle, and given repeated boots across the face, prompting songs of “Óle” from the crowd, before hitting the ropes to deliver the final running boot. Joe rolls from the ring, bringing a table in, and propping it a short while from the turnbuckles, before then retrieving the bag of thumbtacks that Abyss brought to the ring with him, pouring them all over the table. He moves back to the corner Abyss lies in, and hoists him onto the top of it, measuring him for a musclebuster. Moving Abyss’s weight in this difficult way proves a struggle for Joe, which Abyss is able to use to hammer Joe across the back, doubling him over. Still sitting atop the ropes, Abyss grabs the hunched over Joe into a powerbomb position, and hurls him through the thumbtack covered table with a super-bomb. As he lays motionless amongst thumbtacks and broken table shards, Joe looks as close to losing the streak as he ever has, but somehow finds the strength to kick at 2.
Abyss runs his hands through his hair in shock, pacing the ring feverishly as Joe regains his feet. Joe staggers towards Abyss, throwing kicks. Abyss is able to grab the throat of Joe, however, going for a chokeslam. Joe plants a boot in Abyss’s gut, and manages to powerbomb him. The bomb only earns him two, but he soon turns it over into a boston crab. Abyss shows exactly how much the title means to him when he crawls through the thumbtacks on his hands towards the ropes, eventually reaching them, forcing a break of the hold. A low blow earns Abyss a moment to pull tacks from his hands. He grabs a shard of table, smashing it across Joe’s skull, turning him around with the force of it. With Joe’s back to Abyss, he scoops him up for a Shock Treatment, but Joe is somehow able to float over on it, pulling Abyss back as he locks his arms around the neck of Abyss, locking in the clutch to choke Abyss out, and finally earn his NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
As he celebrates, one question is raised by Tenay. With Joe holding the belts now, could the stakes possibly get higher when Angle and him decide to see who the better man really is…