20 Years of IMPACT: 2014

2014 started with two TNA World Heavyweight Champions: AJ Styles and Magnus. Both men had a claim to the title – Styles defeated Bully Ray at Bound For Glory while Magnus won a tournament in his absence. However, there could only be one true TNA World Heavyweight Champion. Styles and Magnus faced off in January to crown a true champion. After interference from all of Magnus and Dixie’s goons, Magnus was crowned the undisputed champion. Sting tried to school his old Main Event Mafia associate and was willing to put his TNA career on the line to get a title shot: in a similar story, with help from a lot of outside interference Magnus retained and cast Sting out of TNA.

In a similar story to Chris Sabin the year prior, Eric Young had been in TNA for a decade and had done it all in the company – except win the World Title. While Magnus retained against the challenges of Samoa Joe, KAI and Gunner, he faced the unlikely challenge of Eric Young after Young won a Gauntlet Match to earn a title shot. EY shocked the world to defeat Magnus and become the new champion. EY proved to be a fighting champion, defending the title against Abyss, Magnus and Roode but his ultimate stumbling block would be the new man in charge of TNA – MVP. 

MVP arrived in January to a hero’s welcome. He promised to wrest control of the company away from the corrupt Dixie Carter and be a champion of the people. MVP did win control of the company but his promises of change rang hollow. MVP betrayed the fans and used his new position of power to advance the interests of himself and his associates. MVP placed himself in the World Championship match at Slammiversary however he would have to be removed due to injury. While Young survived Slammiversary against Aries and Lashley in a cage, EY would fall to MVP’s chosen champion as Lashley won the title in June.

After a short run in 2009, Lashley returned to TNA at Lockdown and was dominant. After aligning with MVP and winning the World Title, Lashley seemed completely unstoppable. Finally fulfilling his true potential, he dominated every single athlete put in front of him. Former World Champions Jeff Hardy, Austin Aries and Bobby Roode were all left in the wake of “The Destroyer” as he Speared his way to victory time and time again. Bobby Roode would get himself a rematch though and here he would be the one to finally defeat Lashley and reclaim the World Title from MVP’s clutches. Roode, now in his second reign as champion, would hold the title for the remainder of the year.

The X-Division would have a more international flavor in 2014 – first with the introduction of Seiya Sanada. Sanada won the title in Tokyo, Japan – defeating Austin Aries on a show co-promoted with partner promotion Wrestle-1. Sanada would then travel over to the US and defend the title on IMPACT. Sanada engaged in rivalries with DJZ and Tigre Uno before eventually losing the title back to Aries. This set Aries up for an Option C challenge against Lashley as Aries tried to repeat the magic from 2012 but Lashley was too much this time. Samoa Joe would return to the X-Division once again to capture the vacant title before losing it to returning X-Division pioneer Low Ki.

Much of the Knockouts Division in 2014 centered around icons of the division. Madison Rayne, Angelina Love and Gail Kim all held the championship for stages in the first half of the year as three of the most decorated and experienced competitors in the division looked to prove who was truly the best. Gail Kim once again renewed her rivalry with Taryn Terrell but both were interrupted by newcomer Havok – the most imposing figure in the division since Awesome Kong. Havok destroyed Gail and won the title but it was Terrell who would end the year as champion after defeating Gail and Havok in a three-way match.

The debut of The Wolves in January reignited the spark of the tag team division in 2014. Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards brought years and years of experience from around the world and quickly captured the gold from The BroMans. It was the return of two legendary teams that would take things to another level. Matt and Jeff Hardy reunited in June and challenged The Wolves for the Tag Team Titles. While The Hardys came up short in a fantastic match, this was only the beginning. Team 3D also returned to IMPACT and challenged The Hardys to one more match, one more contest between two of the best teams of all-time. This quickly spiraled into a fondly remembered series involving The Wolves. The Wolves, The Hardys and Team 3D battled in a series of matches where the first team to score two victories would be declared the winners and the World Tag Team Champions. Team 3D won match one, The Hardys emerged victorious in a Tables match, The Wolves then outfought their opponents in a Ladder match before it all came down to a Full Metal Mayhem match between the teams. With tables, chairs, ladders and anything else metal legal, The Wolves won the series in a classic that stood right up there with some of Team 3D and The Hardys matches from the past.

Other notable events from 2014: Bound For Glory emanated from the historic Korakuen Hall in Tokyo in association with Wrestle-1 – featuring a stacked card of TNA stars vs. some of the very best names from Japan. This also saw Japanese stars like The Great Muta and Tajiri compete in the US for TNA for the first time.

Bully Ray powerbombed Dixie Carter through a table in the Manhattan Center as the building exploded. 

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