20 Years of IMPACT: 2015

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From the moment he arrived in TNA in October 2013, EC3 was destined for greatness. Part of that was nepotism of course – he was Dixie Carter’s nephew after all – but the larger part was he could back it up in the ring. EC3 defeated everybody that was put in front of him – with legends like Sting, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Bully Ray, Rhino, Austin Aries and Eric Young all failing to defeat the cocky upstart. For all of this he had the loyal and steadfast Rockstar Spud by his side. Many of those victories came with an assist from Spud, but after Dixie Carter was powerbombed through a table the relationship between Spud and EC3 began to fracture. This culminated in a memorable Hair vs. Hair encounter in Wembley Arena in London as a bloody and resilient Spud fought with absolutely everything he had to take down his old friend EC3, but ultimately came up short. Spud’s head was shaved bald.

EC3’s victory over Spud catapulted him to the next level and the World Championship was squarely within his sights. Kurt Angle defeated Lashley in a dream match to become World Champion just a week after EC3 beat Spud and the two men – who had already butted heads in 2014 – were on a collision course. EC3 vanquished the Olympic Gold Medallist to capture the World Championship for the first time on a special July 1 episode of IMPACT. EC3 finally truly lived up to the Carter name and TNA was his to control. EC3’s reign would come to a controversial end at Bound For Glory as Matt Hardy won the title with an assist from the special referee – his brother Jeff. This resulted in the title being declared vacant and a company wide tournament called the World Title Series was set up to determine who the next champion would be. 

Jeff Jarrett returned to TNA shortly before Slammiversary, announcing the return of the King of the Mountain match which Jarrett would go on to win. Jarrett would then be inducted into the Hall of Fame in a feelgood celebration, but not all was as it seemed. Jarrett’s true plan emerged as he sought to reclaim power and control by force. Allies of his including Trevor Lee, Brian Myers, Sonjay Dutt, PJ Black and Chris Mordetzky invaded TNA as the hostile takeover was on. This culminated in a Lethal Lockdown match with control of the company at stake as Team TNA of Drew Galloway, Bram, Lashley and The Wolves defeated Team Jarrett to keep Dixie Carter in control of the company. 

Taryn Terrell dominated the Knockouts division for much of 2015 – holding the title for longer than any other Knockout ever had at that point. The returning Awesome Kong failed to take gold as Terrell built her own stable – the sinister Dollhouse group led by Terrell included the debuting Jade and Marti Belle. Brooke would return to TNA to end Taryn’s record reign but the Knockouts Title ended the year revisiting the most iconic rivalry in the history of the division – Awesome Kong once again challenged Gail Kim for the title at Bound For Glory, this time with Gail emerging victorious and ending the year as champion. 

The X-Division Championship had a turbulent start to the year – changing hands in each of the first three defenses. Austin Aries beat Low Ki, Low Ki regained the title from Aries before Rockstar Spud cashed in his Feast or Fired case to become champion. Kenny King would win the title but Spud would regain it and exercise Option C to challenge TNA World Champion Kurt Angle. Despite Spud once again fighting with every ounce of strength he had, Angle came out on top. Tigre Uno defeated Grado and Low Ki to become champion and reign for the rest of the year with defenses against DJZ, Manik, Sonjay Dutt, Kenny King and Andrew Everett. 

After wowing fans in their series against The Wolves and Team 3D in the summer of 2014, The Hardys set their sights on becoming Tag Team Champions once again. The Hardys won the titles in a huge Ultimate X match in April but before they could even make a single defense of the titles, an unfortunate injury to Jeff Hardy forced them to vacate the belts. The Wolves and the Dirty Heels team of Austin Aries and Bobby Roode then engaged in a Best of 5 Series to determine who the new champions would be. The Wolves won the series 3:2 scoring the ultimate victory in a 30 Minute Iron Man match. The Wolves would dominate the tag team division for the rest of the year, only briefly being dethroned by Trevor Lee and Brian Myers only to regain the titles at Bound For Glory. 

Other notable events from 2015: Drew Galloway made his shocking debut on an episode of IMPACT emanating from Glasgow, Scotland. James Storm and Magnus had a heated personal feud that involved Storm attempting to push Magnus’ wife Mickie James onto train tracks. The King of the Mountain Championship was introduced following Jeff Jarrett’s return and victory at Slammiversary – the belt would also be held by Bobby Roode and PJ Black. Vader made a surprise return to TNA in the buildup to Slammiversary to face Bram. 

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