20 Years of IMPACT: 2007

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The Knockouts Division was born in 2007. After years of the likes of Gail Kim, Traci Brooks, Roxxi, Trinity, Alexis Laree, Desire, Jackie Moore, Christy Hemme and more fighting for the right to a division, the Knockouts Championship was finally introduced at Bound For Glory. That night ten women including staples like Gail, Jackie, Traci, Christy and Roxxi as well as newcomers like Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, ODB and Awesome Kong competed in a Gauntlet for the right to make history. Gail Kim ultimately pinned Roxxi to become the first ever Knockouts Champion but a rivalry with Awesome Kong was looming. The monstrous and imposing Kong defeated Gail in her debut prior to Bound For Glory and proved to be the first Champion’s greatest opponent. Their matches were pure dynamite as the underdog Gail fought for her life against the dominant Kong. Their matches defined what the Knockouts Division would be all about.

2007 featured a historic first for TNA. After five years of partnering with the NWA to use their World and World Tag Team titles as the marquee Championships of the company, TNA would finally introduce their own titles. As the final NWA World Tag Team Champions of the TNA era, Team 3D –having defeated LAX for the titles – were crowned the first ever TNA World World Tag Team Champions, starting a new continuity. Chris Sabin remained X-Division Champion, receiving a new belt design but maintaining the same continuity. However, as the controversial conclusion to a three way between Christian Cage – who had defeated Abyss for the time – Sting and Kurt Angle at Sacrifice, the NWA title was held up. The first ever TNA World Heavyweight Champion would be crowned at Slammiversary in King of the Mountain.

AJ Styles, Chris Harris, Samoa Joe, Christian Cage and Kurt Angle all fought for the honor to be called the first champion by Angle came out on top making history. One title wasn’t enough for Angle though. His rivalry with Samoa Joe would re-emerge at Hard Justice with every title on the line as Angle held the World Title and Joe held the X-Division and Tag Team Titles. One man would walk out with all the gold. Angle defeated Joe to carry the belt of every division in the company. While this seems great in theory, in practice it meant Angle had to walk into three title matches the next month at No Surrender.

Jay Lethal beat Kurt Angle in one of the biggest upsets in TNA history to become X-Division Champion, the Team Pacman combination of the controversial NFL star Adam “Pacman” Jones and Ron Killings capitalized on dissension between Angle and his partner Sting to become Tag Team Champions, while Angle held onto the World Title by the skin of his teeth against Abyss. The issues with Sting led to a monumental World Championship match the two in Atlanta at Bound For Glory as “The Icon” defeated Angle to become World Champion at Bound For Glory, capturing the championship at the marquee event of the TNA PPV calendar for the second year in a row. Angle would quickly regain the title on iMPACT! and remain champion for the rest of the year. Sting recruited his long-time friend Booker T into TNA to try and regain the title in a special tag team match at Genesis but Angle escaped with the help of Kevin Nash.

Kevin Nash’s influence on the X-Division continued to be felt as multiple wrestlers saw an injection of personality. Jay Lethal was rebranded as “Black Machismo” taking influence from “Macho Man” Randy Savage, while Sonjay Dutt went by “The Guru”. Sabin and Lethal went back and forth in the X-Division for much of the year until a much bigger threat to the division emerged, as Team 3D set their sights on it. This caused Lethal to band together with Sabin and Shelley to defend the honor and integrity of the division they held so dear from the invading bullies Team 3D and their turncoat associate Johnny Devine.Kevin Nash’s influence on the X-Division continued to be felt as multiple wrestlers saw an injection of personality. Jay Lethal was rebranded as “Black Machismo” taking influence from “Macho Man” Randy Savage, while Sonjay Dutt went by “The Guru”. Sabin and Lethal went back and forth in the X-Division for much of the year until a much bigger threat to the division emerged, as Team 3D set their sights on it. This caused Lethal to band together with Sabin and Shelley to defend the honor and integrity of the division they held so dear from the invading bullies Team 3D and their turncoat associate Johnny Devine.

After 18-months in TNA, Team 3D added the NWA World Tag Team Titles to their extensive resume by defeating LAX at Lockdown 2007, before being crowned the first ever TNA World Tag Team Champions in May. After all the drama around Angle and Joe’s Match of Champions, the division settled down once again when Team Pacman were defeated by the Christian’s Coalition combo of AJ Styles and Tomko. Team 3D would also enter a rivalry with The Steiner Brothers as two iconic teams of different generations battled to prove who was better – this culminated in a Steiners victory at Bound For Glory.

After four years together as a team, James Storm turned on Chris Harris at the end of 2006 following a losing team must disband match to LAX. America’s Most Wanted was no more. Harris would miss multiple months with an eye injury inflicted by Storm after Storm broke a bottle over the face of “The Wildcat.” After months of tension and disgust, they finally settled their grudge in a Texas Death Match at Sacrifice. In one of the bloodiest matches in TNA history, Harris and Storm left it all out there to prove they were the superior member of AMW. In a twist of irony, both Harris and Storm held a bottle in their hands but it was Harris who was quicker to the draw – smashing Storm with a bottle and emerging victorious.

Other notes from 2007: The first Elevation X match took place at Destination X as Rhino knocked AJ Styles from the scaffold to the ring below. Bob Backlund made a surprising return to wrestling in an issue with The Motor City Machine Guns, culminating in a tag team match at Victory Road as Backlund and Lynn faced The Guns. Some strange stipulation matches like the Last Rites match at Destination X or the Electrified Steel Cage match at Lockdown failed to capture fan’s imaginations. And perhaps most importantly, Rellik debuted at Genesis. It’s very important that we tell you that Rellik is killer spelled backwards.

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