The X-Division reached another level in 2005. AJ Styles recaptured the X-Division Championship in an all-time classic Ultimate X match against Petey Williams and Chris Sabin at Final Resolution, as all three took the high-wire spectacle to new limits with death-defying high risk moves. From there one of the defining feuds of not just 2005 but all of TNA history began. AJ Styles defended the title against Christopher Daniels in a 30 Minute Iron Match at Against All Odds.
Styles and Daniels were the perfect match for each other. While Styles was young and explosive and dynamic, Daniels displayed technical mastery, crisp execution and cunning. For 30 minutes they went back and forth with some of the best wrestling you’ll ever see. As Daniels had a bloody Styles locked in the Koji Clutch, Styles desperately dramatically hung on for a draw as the time limit expired. Dusty Rhodes restarted the match as Styles clinched victory in overtime. Daniels would not be denied though, he finally captured the title for the first time the following month at Destination X in Ultimate X.
Styles and Daniels were just two thirds of the equation though: enter Samoa Joe. Joe made his TNA debut at Slammiversary as he destroyed Sonjay Dutt. Physical, intense, violent – Joe was about to put the no limits nature of the X-Division to the test. Joe smashed through Sabin, Dutt, Shelley, Skipper and Delirious in short order only to meet his toughest test in the 2005 Super X-Cup tournament finals. There Joe faced Styles for the first time in TNA. AJ was the face of the division, the heart and soul of the company but that meant nothing to Joe. Joe delivered some of the most brutal kicks and strikes you’ll ever see to assert his dominance in the division – defeating Styles in an incredible match to win the trophy.
It was at Unbreakable that the X-Division truly took center stage as Daniels defended the Championship against Styles and Joe in the main event. This was the first time the X-Division title had main evented a Sunday three-hour pay-per-view and they did not disappoint. Widely regarded as one of the best and most famous matches in company history, all three delivered state of the art pro wrestling as Styles pinned Daniels to regain the title. Samoa Joe, however, would not be denied. Styles made successful defences against Daniels and Petey Williams before he was defeated by Joe at Turning Point in another classic. The X-Division was now Samoa Joe’s division.
Jeff Jarrett’s reign of dominance continued into 2005 as he retained the title against Monty Brown, Kevin Nash and Diamond Dallas Page. As he approached a full year as champion, Jarrett seemed unstoppable. At Hard Justice however Jarrett faced the same man who ended his previous two reigns. AJ Styles proved he firmly had Jarrett’s number as he captured his third World Championship with a little help from special referee Tito Ortiz.
One word lingered in the air: destiny. After over two years of roadblocks and obstacles, two years of demanding he got what he deserves – Raven finally fulfilled his destiny. Styles would fall at the first the first hurdle as Raven captured the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in King of the Mountain at Slammiversary. Raven brought an extreme edge to the title with wild defenses against Rhino and Abyss but as usual Jarrett couldn’t be denied for too long.
Jeff Jarrett aligned with Scott D’Amore’s Team Canada and America’s Most Wanted to screw Raven out of the title. While Rhino would briefly capture gold at Bound For Glory, Jarrett reclaimed the gold shortly after. While Jarrett would once again begin and end the year as champion, this time a threat emerged that even Jarrett couldn’t suppress. At Genesis, “Captain Charisma” Christian Cage arrived in TNA and set his sights firmly on Jarrett and the ten pounds of gold. He was coming for that title in 2006.
America’s Most Wanted followed their historic victory over Triple X at the end of 2004 by ending Team Canada’s reign as NWA World Tag Team Champions at Final Resolution. AMW were the perfect foil for the dastardly Canadians as the crowd in the iMPACT! Zone was desperate to see them win. While The Naturals would reign through most of the summer, AMW’s newfound allegiance to Jarrett led them to tag team gold again as they ended the year as Champions. However just like Christian and Jarrett, a new threat emerged to AMW’s dominance as Team 3D arrived in TNA looking to add the NWA World Tag Team Titles to their esteemed resume.
Abyss had quite the year in 2005 delivering many of the wildest and most memorable extreme matches in company history so far. Abyss struck up a rivalry with Jeff Hardy that had them battling all over the iMPACT! Zone as you’d never know exactly where inside or outside the building Hardy would hit a Swanton Bomb from next. Abyss then moved on to a violent feud with Sabu that culminated in the first Barbed Wire Massacre match at Turning Point. With the ropes removed and entirely replaced by barbed wire, it was a match that ensured it would leave its mark on the two competitors. Sabu emerged victorious in a gripping contest that nobody could forget.
Some other notes from 2005: TNA struck up a relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling that saw the legendary Jushin “Thunder” Liger make his TNA debut in an international dream match at Bound For Glory. Jerry Lynn and Sean Waltman renewed their long-standing rivalry one more time to deliver another memorable encounter at No Surrender. Wrestling’s first ever all-steel cage match show premiered in April as Lockdown was headlined by an unbelievable AJ Styles vs. Abyss main event.
The year ended with a single tease that would define 2006: Sting was coming.