2002. Ah what a year! The WWE were just a year in after having purchased WCW and some things were improving but weren’t great. In the lead up to what was then NWATNA, WWE were building towards the 2002 King of The Ring PPV which was won by Brock Lesnar.
In the lead up to their first show, I remember reading a lot of news on it and who they had signed to their roster. Admittedly it was exciting so of course with a lot of excitement, I couldn’t wait, I mean WWE didn’t have a direct rival and maybe this could be it.
Now here is something that may sound odd but I find it amusing now especially because it tells me how the internet has also changed. On the day after their first inaugural show, I remember reading the results of their show and thinking how I really wanted to watch. This went on for almost two years until I discovered a Torrent site that would upload it weekly so I was in heaven!
The company as a whole has had A LOT of great moments, no doubt. There have also been some really bad ones but the memorable ones still give me goosebumps to this day. I am not going to rank them but in no particular order, these are definitely the ones that always come to my mind every time I watch their past shows or PPV’s.
I mean think of moments like when Elix Skipper and that Hurracanrana off the Cage at Turning Point 2004, Jeff Jarrett hitting Hulk Hogan with his guitar (A bit of an odd choice but knowing what it was going to lead to, it makes my list. Team 3D debuting, Christian Cage’s appearance at Genesis 2005 and countless others. It truly was a special time, no doubt but my all time favourite moment will always be Kurt Angle’s video package after No Surrender 2006, it blew the roof off the Impact Zone that’s for sure.
The roster. Their roster was packed but nicely. They always had room for everyone and knew exactly what to do with them, be it the Tag Team Division or the X-Division, it was a fascinating time. So many came and went but those that stuck around for a long time definitely rose up the ranks and did a fascinating job to not only elevate their careers but their in-ring skills too. I close my eyes and think of AJ Styles, Ron Killings, Raven, Abyss, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, America’s Most Wanted, Triple X, Team Canada and so on. Even legends would join for one last hurrah and did so in style, some more than others though admittedly.
When 2005 rolled around that is when I watched my first TNA show but on TV! Thanks to The Wrestling Channel. I can’t recall exactly what the first TNA show I watched on there was but I remember being ahead of their schedule and it was in January 2006 when I believe they ended up being up to date with the US. I did watch a lot of their earlier shows though so that was a huge treat for me.
The Knockouts Division in my opinion is where the Women’s Revolution began. They were being given the same opportunities as the men and boy did they take advantage of that! High kudos to the likes of Gail Kim, Mickie James, Tara, ODB, Awesome Kong, The Beautiful People and countless others.
My brother is pro WWE and even though he loved WCW as much as I did, he gave TNA a chance and became a fan, Abyss was definitely the selling point as were many others.
If there is one thing that definitely kept bringing me back to their product, it was definitely the commentary. I ABSOLUTELY loved Don West and Mike Tenay. They made an excellent pair, a match made in Heaven if you will. Between Mike’s knowledge and Don’s enthusiasm, it was just different and genuine.
Everything was going their way in my eyes and I dare say it was a desperate move but the company signing Hulk Hogan wasn’t a good idea. I love Hulk as many of you know but it wasn’t their finest moment..
20 years have passed. They have definitely had A LOT of ups and downs BUT the point I am trying to make here is simple. I would have never thought back in 2002 that they would still be going! Be it Total Nonstop Action Wrestling or Impact Wrestling, they have definitely provided us with some amazing moments and before AEW came into the picture, they were a good alternative to WWE.
Happy 20th Anniversary to all those at Impact Wrestling and to all those that came and left their mark!