20 Years of IMPACT: 2003
The NWA represented honor and respect and custom in skilled wrestling. That’s the legacy NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett regarded to hold on into 2003 in TNA. However one power opposed him, one group that stood in opposition to these values in each manner – Vince Russo’s Sports activities Leisure Xtreme. Russo recruited stars like Triple X, Chris Sabin, Glenn Gilbertti, Sonny Siaki, Mike Sanders and extra to take management of TNA by power. Interrupting broadcasts, ruining anticipated matches – they’d do something to destroy the traditions of the NWA. Whereas Jarrett was the focus of the resistance, quickly a pacesetter would arrive to ally with Russo and grow to be Jarrett’s greatest rival.
Future. No phrase outlined TNA in 2003 extra. When Raven made his surprising arrival on January 22, he insisted it was his future to grow to be NWA World Heavyweight Champion and would cease at nothing till he made that occur. Whereas he wasn’t at all times on the most effective of phrases with Vince Russo and S.E.X., they have been a helpful asset to assist him get what he needed – a shot at Jarrett. Jarrett and Raven represented two polar reverse personalities representing both facet of the custom vs. sports activities leisure conflict. And on April 30 they lastly confronted.
Jeff Jarrett vs. Raven was the most important match in TNA historical past up to now. A ravenous sold-out Asylum had strains ready down the block as individuals eagerly awaited the massive championship match. In a match the place the stakes have been so excessive, there have been many events. Raven’s allies Julio Dinero and Alexis Laree (later often known as Mickie James), tried to intrude on Raven’s behalf. Representatives of the NWA and of Sports activities Leisure Xtreme cancelled one another out. Even a bunch of Raven’s outdated excessive associates that includes Justin Credible, The Sandman, New Jack and Perry Saturn tried to show the tide in Raven’s favor just for Sabu to intervene. However when all of it got here all the way down to it and all the skin interference was cleared out, Jarrett retained the Championship with a Stroke. Raven’s future must wait.
From there Jarrett and Raven would go in numerous instructions. Whereas Sports activities Leisure Xtreme would disband, Russo struck up an alliance with AJ Kinds and collectively they defeated Jeff Jarrett on June 11 handy AJ Kinds the primary World Championship of his profession – cementing his place in historical past as TNA’s first Triple Crown winner. Kinds would make profitable title defences in opposition to D’Lo Brown, Low Ki, Jerry Lynn, Raven, Frankie Kazarian and Dusty Rhodes earlier than Jarrett regained the gold on October 22 when Kinds’ relationship with Russo fractured. Jarrett would finish the yr as he started, holding the ten kilos of gold, however he would not stand for custom and respect – from right here Jarrett could be out for himself.
Raven discovered himself in a bitter blood feud with James Mitchell’s Disciples of the New Church for the rest of the yr. Raven, forming The Gathering along with his personal disciples CM Punk and Julio Dinero, often had the benefit for a lot of their dispute however James Mitchell had a plan. Ever the tactical thoughts, he launched Shane Douglas to TNA to match Raven’s crafty and Vampiro to match Raven’s sadistic facet.
This culminated on September 17 in a brutal Hair vs. Hair match between Raven and Douglas. Vampiro lastly revealed himself to assist “The Franchise” rating the victory. Raven, regardless of the unfair circumstances of his defeat, accepted the results with honor as James Mitchell brutally shaved his head with shears to the purpose of eradicating sections of Raven’s scalp. The picture was unforgettable. Whereas Raven appeared to conquer Mitchell for good in a Final Man Standing match between the 2 on November 5, Mitchell had the final snicker convincing Punk and Dinero to betray their mentor and be part of his facet.
America’s Most Needed have been TNA’s defining tag crew in 2003 however a power emerged within the division that was greater than their equal. The truth is, the Triple X unit of Low Ki, Christopher Daniels and Elix Skipper used their numbers benefit to thwart AMW repeatedly. Triple X would seize gold from AMW on January 22 and used the Freebird rule to their benefit. Their numbers domination allowed them to regain the titles after briefly dropping them to Superb Crimson and Jerry Lynn. Each time AMW would try to topple Triple X, the numbers benefit allowed Triple X to flee with victory. That may all change on June 25 – AMW would lastly get Triple X inside a stable Metal Cage with the titles on the road. In a stroke of irony, after an unimaginable match Elix Skipper was trapped exterior the cage and it was lastly AMW that had the numbers edge. AMW struck down Christopher Daniels with a breath-taking Demise Sentence from the highest of the cage to grow to be NWA World Tag Staff Champions for the third time. All through the remainder of the yr, Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger would defeat AMW in a memorable collection of matches to grow to be Champions earlier than they have been dethroned by the extraordinarily common 3 Reside Kru unit of BG James, Konnan and Ron Killings.
A brand new technology of the X-Division stepped up in 2003. Whereas AJ Kinds moved on to chase the Heavyweight Title and Low Ki shaped Triple X, a brand new period of expertise emerged to fill their sneakers. Athletes like Chris Sabin, Frankie Kazarian, Michael Shane, Paul London, Child Kash and Superb Crimson joined the ranks alongside the ever-reliable Jerry Lynn. These males took the division to a complete new stage when Don Callis launched his brand-new match thought: final hazard, final drama, Final X. Poles could be constructed in every nook of the ring with metal cables criss-crossing the ring. Wrestlers must navigate the wires and pull down the title belt to emerge victorious with just one rule – no ladders.
On August 20, three males stepped into the battlefield and made historical past. Defending X-Division Champion Chris Sabin battled two of his greatest rivals Michael Shane and Frankie Kazarian within the first ever Final X match. Every fall from the cables drew gasps from the group as all three males took the drama and spectacle of the X-Division to a complete new stage. In the long run Frankie Kazarian was closing in on victory just for a bloody and battered Michael Shane to swoop in out of nowhere to drag down the gold and grow to be X-Division Champion for the primary time. Final X continues to be the signature match of the X-Division to this very day and returns at Slammiversary on June 19.
The opposite huge growth within the X-Division in 2003 was the inaugural Tremendous X-Cup. Competitors within the X-Division gained a global taste as the most effective wrestlers from world wide joined X-Division staples to crown the most effective X-Division athlete. Mexico’s Juventud Guerrera, Canada’s Teddy Hart, England’s Jonny Storm and Japan’s NOSAWA joined Jerry Lynn, Chris Sabin, Frankie Kazarian and Michael Shane to battle to find out the perfect on the September 3 one night time particular. It got here all the way down to Chris Sabin vs. Juventud Guerrera in a sensational remaining match as Sabin proved precisely why he glided by the moniker “The Future” by scoring a historic victory.
And to spherical out 2003, one of many greatest appeals of the weekly PPVs was the shock issue. Following on from shock debuts like The Street Warriors and Roddy Piper in 2002, many fan favorites would make their shock debut in 2003. Names like Mike Superior, Dusty Rhodes, Nelson Frazier, New Jack, Lex Luger, Mad Mikey, D’Lo Brown, Tony Schiavone, Perry Saturn, Mike Barton, Kenzo Suzuki and so many extra would shock the wrestling world showing in TNA. The most important of those visitor cameos was the debut of “The Icon” Sting. The Asylum broke their decibel report as The Stinger arrived in TNA to crew with Jeff Jarrett and face AJ Kinds and Sean Waltman on June 18. Whereas it will be just a few years earlier than Sting would name TNA his full-time house, his appearances in 2003 proved that he was a agency favourite within the hearts of the TNA trustworthy.