Since the anniversary has just passed, this seems like a good a time as any to commemorate the very best pay per views that IMPACT Wrestling has had to offer. Now, certainly, some of you will laugh, "TNA has *never* had a good pay per view!" and that's a gross statement. From the time the company began producing three-hour Sunday night cards at the end of 2004, up through to today, there have been plenty of shows on their part that have ranged from "excellent" to "quite solid". Naturally, events like Victory Roads 2009 and 2011 are the contra to those cards, Orlando's answers to Halloween Havoc 2000.
But in the spirit of positivity, let's take a look at the best pay per views that TNA has ever produced.
20. Turning Point 2008
On the list of "Most Underappreciated Kurt Angle Matches Ever", you're likely to find his Falls Count Anywhere with Abyss, a man that has sacrificed (sacer-ficed?) more for this promotion than probably anybody else. The fans in Orlando lost their minds for a hellish war augmented by Angle's usual 110 per cent effort and Abyss' willingness to do whatever a match like this requires to reach an insane level.
Turning Point was an event that further solidified the ranks of the Main Event Mafia, as the four pillars all won notable matches. Along with Angle's victory, the double main event saw Kevin Nash defeat Samoa Joe in a somewhat-surprisingly great brawl, and TNA Champion Sting (the conscience of the group) scoring a clean pin over AJ Styles. Also of note, Booker T essentially shipping Christian Cage to the ECW brand, where the commentators would be about as excited to see him as you or I are to see a census taker.
19. Genesis 2009
Some have called WrestleMania X a "two match show", which is hardly a criticism - those two matches are among the greatest of all time. This isn't to say that Genesis 2009 is anywhere near the level of 'Mania 10, because it definitely isn't. But it's a two-match show, and those two matches were able to justify a pretty mediocre show otherwise.
First off, you have a No Disqualification match between Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett that does a very good job of shutting down every single criticism about Jarrett's abilities as a performer. Angle and Jarrett matches were sadly often overlooked, almost always delivered, and this might have been the best of the bunch. The runner-up would be Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin's tournament final for the vacant X Division title, an extremely well-done battle of two friends who know each other too well. On the merit of these two matches, it's a thumbs up unto itself.
18. Bound For Glory 2006
The first monthly TNA pay per view to leave Orlando behind took place in front of 3600 fans in a suburb of Detroit. It would mark Kurt Angle's first in-arena appearance on a TNA pay per view, as he presided over the Jeff Jarrett-Sting World Championship vs. Career bout. This would be the first of three straight Bound For Glory events in which Sting left as World Champion.
In all, the event demonstrated the growing versatility that TNA had to offer, with fast-paced X Division fare (Chris Sabin vs. Low Ki for belt), heated tag team wrestling (AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels vs. LAX for those belts inside a steel cage), and a wild brawl between two established names (Christian Cage vs. Rhino in an "8 Mile Street Fight"). Flaws aside, this was around the time that TNA really began to feel like a WCW/ECW void-filler, thanks to considerable talent and acquisitions.
17. Sacrifice 2005
The TNA roster started to come together nicely by this time, with a potent blend of veterans and youngsters creating a viable national alternative to a WWE product that wasn't as strong as it had all that recently been. The Super X Cup tournament final in which Samoa Joe toppled recent World Champion AJ Styles via submission was part of a crowded field of Match of the Year candidates that the company produced in 2005.
Curious note: Rhino and Sabu squared off in the main event, just two months after facing off at ECW One Night Stand. In this case, the two were partners of Jeff Jarrett and Raven, respectively, in what amounted to an ECW-style bloodbath. Also more than worth checking out was Jerry Lynn and Sean Waltman turning back the clock with a junior heavyweight battle that made the IMPACT Zone feel like the Dallas Sportatorium.
16. Genesis 2005
Beginning with the prior entry, the year 2005 will be well-represented on this list, as a combination of X Division showcases and an influx of big names (Team 3D, Rhino, Samoa Joe) started to shape TNA into a worthwhile entity. Genesis is notable for featuring the debut of Christian Cage, a mere 12 days after last appearing on WWE programming. He gave the typical pro-TNA/anti-WWE speech (referencing the awful Vince McMahon "Dr. Heinie" skit), a good three years before going back there.
The best match of the night was a four-on-four elimination bout featuring X Division standouts, concluding with Samoa Joe violently assaulting fellow co-survivor Christopher Daniels. The final two bouts brought the show to a satisfying end, with AJ Styles retaining the X Division title over Petey Williams in a great bout, and Team 3D and Rhino felling a rather underrated heel trio in Jeff Jarrett and America's Most Wanted.
15. Bound For Glory 2008
How's this for a curiosity: Daivari vs. Xavier Woods for TNA's relative equivalent of the Cruiserweight Championship. Or rather, Sheik Abdul Bashir against Consequences Creed for the X Division title. It was far from the most notable occurrence of the night, but in 2018, it's kinda funny to point that out.
The Chicago BFG (in the same venue as the forthcoming All In, with only about 5500 fans on hand) was a rather star-studded affair, a night that saw Sting win the TNA title from Samoa Joe (facilitating the debut of the Main Event Mafia), Jeff Jarrett toppling Kurt Angle in a match officiated by Mick Foley, and Booker T winning a Triple Threat match over AJ Styles and Christian Cage. The wildest matches were the four-way tag team title match won by Beer Money (in which Abyss badly burned himself on a flaming table spot) and a frenetic X Division "Steel Asylum" opener.
14. Bound For Glory 2011
Pop quiz: Hulk Hogan's last pay per view match took place in Philadelphia, but for what promotion? Barring his outlandish claims of getting another WWE in-ring run ever coming true, then it was at TNA's big annual event, in a brawl with Sting that saw Ric Flair get involved and take a fair share of bumps. The match was actually a lot of fun, albeit with the expected smoke and mirrors.
The event left a bit of a bad taste with hard-pushed Bobby Roode falling short in his bid to win the TNA World title from Kurt Angle (the ensuing storyline made up for it), but the work on the show was mostly excellent. Violence was delivered in droves, via Mr. Anderson and Bully Ray's Street Fight, and Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn's Full Metal Mayhem match. Austin Aries and Brian Kendrick's speedy X Division title provided enjoyable contrast.
13. Hard Justice 2008
If the recent list of best WWE Last Man Standing matches here on Cultaholic included entries from other promotions, no doubt the AJ Styles-Kurt Angle fight to ruination would have made the cut. Though sold as a Last Man Standing bout, it was actually more of the Texas Death variety (meaning pinfalls counted), and the two broke each other down in accordance with their summer-long rivalry.
Much of the show resorted to gimmick matches, sort of a TNA precursor to Extreme Rules, and what worked, worked very well. Christian Cage and Rhino defeating Team 3D in a New Jersey Street Fight came off like a pay per view-calibre brawl, while Samoa Joe and Booker's weapons-filled Cage Match for the TNA World title was a few cuts below. The title matches in the undercard (Beer Money vs. LAX for the Tag, Petey Williams vs. not-yet-Xavier Woods) rounded out a mostly-superb card.
12. Final Resolution 2009
The final pay per view before the Hogan/Bischoff/Flair/Hardy/Hall/Waltman/hell even the Nasty Boys infusion earned a hearty thumbs up on account of the final two matches. The all-too-brief TNA run of Desmond Wolfe (that's Nigel McGuinness if you weren't aware) gave us some true brilliance in matches against Kurt Angle. In this instance, he and Angle about stole the show with a 2-Out-Of-3-Falls match somewhat similar to the Three Stages of Hell.
But in all, I've got to give the nod to AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels' World title main event as the show's best, precisely what you'd expect from two men that had faced off so many times before. No BS, no convoluted finish, no outside interference, just a purely competitive bout among old rivals. Sometimes, it's the little things.
11. Lockdown 2008
To be fair, there were some pretty inane things on this show, like the over-contrived "Cuffed in the Cage" match, and the disorganized eight-way Women's Cage Match. The show was sold on the merits of its main event, Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe for the TNA World title in an MMA-themed cage bout. And for that, 55,000 fans parted with their money to make this the second or third-most bought TNA PPV ever.
Angle and Joe delivered a vicious, heated slugfest, with Joe winning the belt cleanly and definitively following the Muscle Buster. The annual Lethal Lockdown match (War Games with weapons) did the gimmick a good service, and it's not every day you see two guys (Christian Cage and AJ Styles) go through a table that's on top of a steel cage.
10. Genesis 2006
Perhaps it was too soon, perhaps it was far too rushed for what should have been a money match down the line. But you can't argue with the boost, as the 60,000 buys done for the event are believed to be the promotion's all-time record. Once Kurt Angle arrived in TNA, he was immediately paired with Samoa Joe for what promised to be a battle for the ages.
And it was; Angle became the first man to score a fall over Joe in TNA, tapping him to the Ankle Lock in a tremendous main event. Elsewhere, AJ Styles and Christian Cage, and an X Division title match between Christopher Daniels and Chris Sabin aided the card's ascension above standard fare. The World title changing hands on a pointless DQ was dumb, but eh, with TNA you keep your standards lowered sometimes.
9. Against All Odds 2005
We're just going to pretend that former NASCAR driver Jeff Hammond pinning Kazarian in a tag team match, while pantomiming driving a car around the ring, didn't happen. Striking that from my mental record helps me sleep better at night, believe me. Besides, if you can get past that silliness, you're left with a damn good show otherwise.
When you have AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels in a 30-minute Iron Man Match for the X Division title, you're shooting for the stars. Not only was that match near perfection, but you also get some classic old school tag wrestling pitting champions America's Most Wanted against Kid Kash and Lance (Archer) Hoyt, an appropriately-crazy Abyss/Jeff Hardy plunder-fest, and a Jeff Jarrett/Kevin Nash World title match that, while contrived, was far from bad. The variety made it fun.
8. Lockdown 2010
Through the ill-fated attempt at competing with Raw on Monday nights, and the uneven sheen of the Hogan/Bischoff/Russo-helmed programs, it's fair to say that 2010 wasn't exactly a banner year for TNA. But every dark age can have its glimmers, and Lockdown 2010 was just such a show for the company. Some of the booking was a bit akilter, but the action was tremendous.
You'll likely never see Mr Anderson/Kennedy and The Pope/Elijah Burke have better matches in their careers. Pope's World title match with AJ Styles was competitive and feverish, but the Anderson war with Kurt Angle was a genuine Match of the Year candidate for 2010. Seeing Anderson enrage Angle into "RoboKurt" mode, and take a monumental ass-whipping puts this among even *Angle's* best career bouts. With a decent War Games-style main event and Kazarian winning the X-Division belt in a spotty three-way, this show was a winner.
7. Destination X 2012
While it couldn't quite equal the X Division-exclusive event of the previous year (more on that in a bit), the 2012 follow-up was still an excellent showcase for the daredevilry and panache of the more athletic performers. And it did boast the better match of the two shows, that being Austin Aries' World title victory that ended the nine-month reign of Bobby Roode. The fans in Orlando rightly went nuclear for the title switch, and the match felt worthy of being a show-ender for any company.
AJ Styles' Last Man Standing victory over Christopher Daniels, and Samoa Joe's BFG series victory over Kurt Angle, took second and third, respectively, on a night where action spoke louder than swerves. With so many TNA events that rely on needless gimmickry and double-crosses, this felt like a Takeover by comparison.
6. Turning Point 2004
Notable for being the only time in which Macho Man Randy Savage wrestled on a TNA pay per view. And with all due respect to one of the true all-time greats that this biz has known, "wrestled" is used loosely. Savage joined AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy in the closing minutes of a six-man tag that saw the intriguing trio beat Jeff Jarrett, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash. Really, it sounds like a match that could only be booked with the aid of a WWE2K game.
The best WCW-centric match of the night was Diamond Dallas Page vs. Raven, but even that placed distant third to two matches boasting established TNA regulars: Petey Williams and Chris Sabin's exciting X Division title bout, and the "losers must split" Steel Cage Match pitting America's Most Wanted against Triple X, memorable for Elix Skipper's psychotic cage-walk Hurrachanrana.
5. Final Resolution 2005
And Turning Point begat Final Resolution, which was a delightful way to rid oneself of the bad taste that the one-match wonder New Year's Revolution left the prior week. Sadly, the Jeff Jarrett-Macho Man Randy Savage World title match would not come to pass, as Savage bowed out of the showdown, and the promotion. Fresh-faced replacement Monty Brown proved to be an upgrade from an in-ring standpoint, at least.
It was, however, the other title matches that carried the show to great heights. The Ultimate X match for the belt pitting AJ Styles, Petey Williams, and Chris Sabin exceeded even raised expectations, while America's Most Wanted's Tag Team title win over Bobby Roode and Eric Young was like something out of 1980s NWA. The show felt a bit anachronistic with DDP, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Dustin Rhodes, Raven, and even Erik Watts all wrestling (what is this, a 1992 Clash of the Champions?), but the new class were the standouts.
4. No Surrender 2005
I wasn't kidding about the 2005 representation on this list - the latent NWA/WCW feel in parts, along with the innovative X Division and the incoming WWE refugees gave fans seeking an alternative something to dig into. No Surrender was among the better shows of that underrated year, highlighted by great matches up and down the card.
Whether it was Samoa Joe's victory over Chris Sabin in an enthralling cat-and-mouse battle, or AJ Styles defeating Sean Waltman in a high-quality junior-heavyweight clash of eras, the wrestling quotient was certainly not light. The main event saw NWA Champion Raven topple Abyss in a bloody Dog-Collar match, satiating the renewed love of ECW-style violence in wrestling at the time. Also of note: Christopher Daniels retaining the X Division title over Petey Williams in a match where my screen went black for 10 seconds during the deciding pinfall. Boooo.
3. Destination X 2011
Turns out that July 2011 was a great month for wrestling pay per views. Not only was Money in the Bank immediately elevated to pantheon status, but Destination X was easily TNA's best pay per view in more than one year. By focusing solely on X Division-related endeavors, and loading up the show with a few classic rivalries, it was basically a One Night Stand for the cruiserweight aficionados.
The most well-received match of the show was a four-way match for a TNA contract, as Austin Aries kickstarted his well-received comeback by defeating Low Ki, Zema Ion, and Jack Evans in a true show-stealer. Callbacks to noted feuds in AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels, and Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn anchored a card that was designed entirely for fan enjoyment.
2. Turning Point 2009
The Final Resolution 2009 entry that came about 10 spots earlier on this list was, in and of itself, an excellent show, and followed Turning Point by five weeks. And this show was even better, thanks almost entirely to the excellence of the double main event.
When you put AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and Christopher Daniels together in the same ring, you're asking a lot of even them to match the perfection that was their Unbreakable 2005 bout (a five star match, even if that show doesn't make this cut). This version, for the TNA World title, came damn close, and was likely the promotion's best match of 2009. Kurt Angle and Desmond Wolfe had their original meeting on pay per view here at Turning Point, and overall was a smoother showing than their rematch at Final Resolution. Add some very good midcard action (Amazing Red vs. Homicide, Tara vs. Awesome Kong, a six-man Street Fight), and it's an overall success.
1. Sacrifice 2007
Before he was pretty much ruined by his 2008 WWE run as Braden Walker, "Wildcat" Chris Harris was part of the old school-style America's Most Wanted tag team. And after that team split, he and former partner James Storm had one of the greatest TNA matches of all time here at Sacrifice, a hate-filled Texas Death match with pints of blood shed. It's a must-see if you love heated blow-offs, and hey, even if you don't.
The rest of the show fell into two categories: quality matches in the main event sector (Bobby Roode vs. Jeff Jarrett, Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles) and quality matches from the X Division (Chris Sabin vs. Jay Lethal vs. Sonjay Dutt for the belt, a four-way won by Jerry Lynn). Even the World title main event with Christian Cage, Sting, and Kurt Angle was a damn good match, but with a corny, screwy finish. Even then, the combined efforts considered, I'd still put it slightly above the other top contenders as the best TNA PPV ever.