Feeling that they didn’t get the respect they deserved, The Main Event Mafia decided to take it by force in 2009. Sting, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner declared war on the young stars of TNA. AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, The Motor City Machine Guns, Eric Young, Petey Williams and more banded together with the support of Team 3D to form the TNA Frontline – the first wall of defense against the Main Event Mafia. Angle and company used mob tactics to attack the TNA originals, including taking out Petey Williams. This didn’t align with Sting’s vision of the Main Event Mafia however. While Sting was willing to fight for the respect he felt they had earned as legends, Angle’s willingness to push the violence too far left him uneasy. The Main Event Mafia took over IMPACT on January 29, with Booker T and Kevin Nash on commentary as well as Scott Steiner as ring announcer.
Tensions continued to mount between Angle and Sting culminating in a memorable Empty Arena match between the two. A visceral brawl ensued but nothing was settled. Angle then challenged Sting for TNA World Heavyweight Championship at Destination X but Sting would have to focus on his title rather than Main Event Mafia political woes as a new challenger emerged. Sting and Mick Foley had a famous series of matches in the 90s, and Foley once again set his sights on Sting – this time in pursuit of the World Championship. After weeks of mind games, Foley defeated Sting to become TNA World Heavyweight Champion at Lockdown. A combination of Foley being champion and Executive Shareholder made for an interesting reign – including a match against a cardboard cut-out of Rocky Balboa. The Main Event Mafia booted Sting from the group and convinced Samoa Joe to defect in a plan that fell into place at Slammiversary, where Joe handed Angle victory on a silver platter in King of the Mountain.
Angle would have successful defenses against Sting, Foley and Matt Morgan before AJ Styles would step up to the plate once again to win his third World Championship at No Surrender. After three straight title wins at Bound For Glory, Sting tried to make it number four against Styles. Styles would become the first man to conquer Sting on TNA’s biggest stage only to renew his rivalry with Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels at Turning Point. Styles, Daniels and Joe delivered just as a memorable a match for the World Title as they did for the X-Division Championship four years prior – as Styles rounded out the year as champion with one more successful title defense against Daniels at Final Resolution.
Beer Money’s reign as World Tag Team Champions came crashing to an end when the Jay Lethal and Consequences Creed team of Lethal Consequences cashed in Feast of Fired to become champions. Their reign would be short-lived though as Beer Money regained the titles at Genesis. This sent Beer Money into a dispute with Team 3D culminating with Brother Ray and Brother Devon capturing gold in a thrilling brawl in Philadelphia at Lockdown. Once again though, Beer Money couldn’t be kept away from the titles for too long as they regained the titles at Slammiversary only to lose them again to Scott Steiner and Booker T at Victory Road. The British Invasion team of Doug Williams and Magnus emerged in TNA in May as part of the Team 3D Tag Team Invitational tournament and despite losing in the finals to Beer Money at Sacrifice, The British Invasion ended the year as Tag Team Champions after victory in Full Metal Mayhem at Bound For Glory.
In September 2008, the TNA iMPACT! video game hit store shelves featuring the original character Suicide. Suicide emerged from the digital world and quickly won the X-Division Title, taking the title from Alex Shelley in Ultimate X at Destination X. This prompted an inquest into who exactly Suicide was from The Guns, as they fixated on Christopher Daniels as their prime suspect. This rivalry continued through the summer as Suicide retained the title in King of the Mountain at Slammiversary, only to lose it to a Feast or Fired cash-in by Homicide. Samoa Joe returned to the X-Division at Hard Justice to capture the title for the Main Event Mafia. Amazing Red, who had returned to TNA earlier in the year, pulled off a huge upset to become champion for the second time and finish off the year as champ.
The Knockouts Division expanded in 2009 with the introduction of the Knockouts Tag Team Titles. Taylor Wilde and Sarita came out on top of an 8-team tournament to become the inaugural champions, reigning for the remainder of the year. The Beautiful People took over the division in April as Angelina Love became champion. A new threat debuted though as Tara arrived in TNA in June and quickly captured gold. From there Tara, Angelina Love and ODB traded the title for the rest of the year.
Other notable events from 2008: Bobby Lashley made his TNA debut, most notably opposing the Main Event Mafia and facing Samoa Joe at Bound For Glory. Two generations of Hardcore Icons went to war at Bound For Glory as Abyss faced his hero Mick Foley in Monster’s Ball. Kurt Angle settled his bitter grudge with Jeff Jarrett in a hate-fueled out of control No Disqualifications brawl at Genesis. Shane Douglas returned at Slammiversary to take on Daniels. Daffney and Taylor Wilde made history at Sacrifice as the first Knockouts to compete in Monster’s Ball. Desmond Wolfe arrived in TNA to have a sensational pair of technical classics against Kurt Angle at Turning Point and Final Resolution. And Dixie Carter ended the year with a bombshell announcement – Hulk Hogan was coming to TNA…