In June 2003, AJ Styles shocked the National Wrestling Alliance world by besting two of Total Nonstop Action’s best wrestlers (Raven and Jeff Jarrett) to become the NWA World champion. The win came tainted, though. Only through the help of Vince Russo did Styles find himself atop the NWA-TNA mountain. It would take constant interference from Russo and his crew of up and coming stars to keep his golden boy as the World champion. But as the weeks progressed, and his upcoming rematch with Jeff Jarrett nearing, AJ went against the Russo grain in hopes of proving his superiority on his own.
Though Jarrett had a World title opportunity, something else was on his mind – the impending arrival of Hulk Hogan. After attacking Hogan in Japan, Jarrett set up, potentially, the biggest match in NWA-TNA history. But rumors were swirling that Hogan wouldn’t be able to wrestle. With many questions swirling, lets find out if the sixty-sixth episode of NWA-TNA’s weekly pay-per-view series is a classic.
NWA-TNA Pay-Per-View #66
October 22, 2003
1. 3 Live Kru (Konnan, Ron Killings & BG James) defeated Sonny Siaki, Joe Legend, Ekmo
2. Kid Kash defeated Sonjay Dutt
3. Simon Diamond & Johnny Swinger defeated Danny Doring & Roadkill to successfully defend the NWA Tag Team title
4. Michael Shane defeated Christopher Daniels and Chris Sabin to successfully defend the X-Division title
5. Raven defeated Slash in a Dog Collar match
6. America’s Most Wanted defeated The Naturals
7. Jeff Jarrett defeated AJ Styles to become the new NWA World champion
Not So Live Now: This highly anticipated TNA pay-per-view kicked off not so spectacularly from a storyline perspective. Sonny Siaki, Ekmo, and Legend – representing the Vince Russo task force – failed to defeat America’s Most Wanted and Dusty Rhodes the week before. So, the three Vince Russo cronies decided to take on a team even more established as a three-man unit, the 3 Live Kru.
The early minutes showcased just how effective they were as a unit and by themselves when Killings made short work of Siaki. The possible equalizer for Team Siaki was his fellow Samoan Ekmo (the future Umaga). Unbelievably kipping to his feet, Ekmo almost turned Killings inside out with a clothesline.
For the next several minutes, Killings found himself being tossed by Ekmo and kicked by Legend. It would take some quick maneuvering by the former NWA World champion to save him from being crushed by Ekmo; and that’s exactly what happened. BG James tagged in; helping turn the tides for his team a set up Killings hurricarana that took Ekmo to the floor.
In the ring, James used his opponents’ inference from their valet Trinity to his advantage by avoiding a missile dropkick that knocked Siaki into James’ Pumphandle Slam for the three count. A high energy opening contest that got the fans into the show – just like any good opener should do.
A Slave to No One: In the weeks leading to this show, former X-Division champion Kid Kash destroyed his partnership with “The Monster” Abyss, beating him over the head with a chair over and over again. Abyss paid Kash back by not only fighting Kash, but also defeating him. A week before this show, Sonjay Dutt impressed everyone in his TNA debut.
As expected, Kash and Dutt used slick counters and quick maneuvering to wow the fans while doing their best to gain a solid advantage. A frustrated Kash made the mistake of slapping Dutt rather than shaking the happy man’s hand. Kash eventually got dropkicked to the floor for a springboard corkscrew plancha that seemingly spelled the end for Kid. But the intelligence of Kash allowed him to drop Dutt across the top rope throat first, setting up a springboard attack of his own.
Kid Kash dominated Sonjay for a short period of time, looking for a submission victory with the Romero Special. Dutt survived the submission and eventually avoided a frog splash to set up a series of innovative offense that saw Kash get his head spiked on the mat several times. Just when it seemed Dutt had this match in the bag, Kash caught Sonjay on the top rope, executing a super Michinoku Driver II. The pin fall was elementary, but Kash wasn’t done.
Kash attacked Sonjay after the match, bringing out Abyss. Instead of just running Kid away, Abyss used the Black Hole Slam on an unsuspecting Dutt to prove he’s a friend to no one. Exhilarating match to say the least. Dutt looked incredible in this match, warranting another match in the company while Kash continued to prove why he was one of the best things in TNA at the time.
A Rivalry Reborn: Former ECW rival teams of NWA World Tag Team champions Johnny Swinger & Simon Diamond and Danny Doring & Roadkill re-ignited their feud in TNA when Roadkill & Doring repeated history by defeating the champs in a non-title bout.
With Glen “Disco Inferno” Gilbertti and David Young in their corner, Swinger and Diamond looked to get rid of “The Amish Chicken Plucker” Roadkill, but ended up getting slammed and elbow dropped to set up Doring’s guillotine leg drop on Diamond. Smartly, the champions took the fight to the floor so Swinger could whip Doring into the steel ring steps.
As usual, the hated Tag Team champions took control of the match; wearing out Doring while keeping him close to the champions’ corner. Even when Doring tried to fight back, Diamond or Swinger would use something shady like a poke in the eyes to make sure Doring stayed down. Swinger made the big mistake of letting Doring up, getting clotheslined for his trouble.
Roadkill entered, clotheslining both opponents from the mat and the sky. Things were looking good for Roadkill when David Young jumped onto the apron. Swinger cracked Roadkill between the eyes with one of S & D’s Tag title belts, but couldn’t pin the big man. As Doring took out Young and Gilbertti, Roadkill signaled for the end on Diamond. Simon Diamond avoided the Roadkill Splash, using the Problem Solver with Swinger to pin Roadkill relatively clean.
Competent, yet forgettable bout featuring two of the last good teams in the original ECW’s history. Not a bad match at all and kept the show going, but didn’t set the world on fire or felt special in any way.
Finding the New Franchise: Before the X-Division title match, a video featuring Shane Douglas, two women, and an unknown individual, Douglas declared one of the competitors in this match would become the new “Franchise”. Interestingly enough, champion Michael Shane came out to a spliced version of his song with Douglas’, adding fuel to the fire that Shane was the person Douglas was talking to; though the announcers still played stupid when everyone heard Shane’s entrance music.
As you’d expect from the men involved, things started off fast and furious, with Sabin shining with a head scissors on Daniels before taking the champ down with a simple right hand. With Douglas watching from the crowd, Michael Shane took control with the help of Daniels’ hotshot. Choking and punching Sabin over and over again gave the champion a chance to set up something, but ended up getting dropkicked to the floor.
Just when it seemed Sabin was going to fly to the floor, Daniels almost gained a three count with the blue thunder bomb. Like Shane moments earlier, Daniels took control of the match while working over Sabin’s back and keeping Shane on the outside. When Shane finally reentered, the stereotypical tower of doom superplex ended with Daniels taking the worst of the fall. Sabin fired himself up, looking to end the night as champion. Bodies started flying thanks to Daniels taking Shane to the floor. Sabin soon followed suit to take down Daniels and leave Shane all to himself. This proved to be detrimental for Sabin as Daniels was unable to stop the pin fall on Sabin following a super kick.
Stereotypical early X-Division bout – bell-to-bell fun. Daniels came across as the consummate wrestler able to go anyway in the ring. Sabin was a spitfire able to take the fight to champion and challenger alike. And Shane was the opportunist you’d expect from a man being promoted as such.
Bound For Disappointment: After showing footage of Jeff Jarrett’s attack on Hulk Hogan in Japan, Hogan’s manager Jimmy Hart came to the ring to announce that Jarrett’s attack left Hogan with a hurt knee and he couldn’t face Jarrett in three weeks. Instead of ruining a good moment with a simple, disappointing explanation, Hart called out Jarrett. “Double J” attacked Hart, whipping him with a belt. Thankfully for Hart, AJ Styles hit the ring to run off his challenger for later on in the evening; further cementing the double turn of Styles and Jarrett while getting rid of the elephant of rumors in the room that was Hogan’s inability to actually wrestle for TNA.
Hangman’s Warning: For several weeks, Raven and his Gathering spent their time feuding with Jim Mitchell’s New Church. After disposing of Sinn, Raven challenged Slash to a Dog Collar match. The feeling out process ended quickly, with Raven using their chained connection against Slash by sending him face first into the steel ring post, getting busted open in the process. Slash had a hard time getting anything going until he yanked Raven’s face against the steel ring steps.
Raven was reeling, especially when Slash tried to hang Raven over the middle rope. Slash’s momentum was ended thanks to something as simple as reentering the ring on the wrong side; getting the chain tied around the ring post. Raven survived the Death Valley Driver and a neck breaker after Slash stopped the Evenflow DDT, seemingly calling for the end following several near falls. Out of nowhere, Raven used the chain to hit the DDT for the three count.
But Raven wasn’t done. Unchaining himself, Raven hung Slash over the top rope until Mitchell made the save. Vampiro had to help Mitchell from taking too much abuse, setting up their Hangman’s Match for the following week.
Not a bad match at all. Raven and Slash had good chemistry and produced a worthy addition to the Raven/Gathering-New Church feud.
Four Months in the Making: After his winning the NWA World title thanks to the help of Vince Russo, AJ Styles had been a target of the former champion Jeff Jarrett. In the weeks leading up to the title bout, Jarrett attacked Vince Russo and put him in the hospital, almost came to blows with Dusty Rhodes, and attacked Hulk Hogan in Japan.
Before the match, Jeff Jarrett tossed in a slew of steel chairs to keep Styles out of the ring for some reason. When things finally got settled, Styles locked up sternly with Jarrett, shoving him across the ring and dictating the pace by taking things to the floor so the champion could fly. As the announcers talked about Styles’ want to stay a champion forced him to take risky maneuvers like a somersault plancha that saw the champ take “Double J” into the third row, Jarrett recovered and planned. Jarrett’s strategy of stopping a springboard maneuver worked perfectly, leaving Styles clutching his abdomen after falling stomach first across the top rope.
With various members of the TNA roster coming out to watch the match, Styles did his best to avoid the figure four leg lock. The champion started rallying a comeback, gaining the fans’ support in the process. The momentum started swinging back and forth. Styles, though he tried his best, couldn’t avoid the figure four submission; bringing out Sonny Siaki thinking his fellow Russo-mate couldn’t get the job done on his own. Dusty Rhodes took Siaki to the back, but Sonny was completely right. Styles took a chair shot to the head behind the ref’s back, leaving him hurt and almost defenseless. Once again, with the referee out of position, Jarrett clobbered Styles between the eyes to pin and become the new champion.
After the match, Jimmy Hart’s face came on the screen to declare that he called someone who would help Hart get his revenge. But what mattered was what happened here. And what happened here was the typical Jeff Jarrett main event featuring run-ins, weapons, near falls, and Jarrett coming out on top. And it perfectly worked to get Styles over as a valiant babyface and Jarrett as a dastardly heel. A great way to top off a highly anticipated show.
Making An Impact: Andy Douglas and Chase Stevens – The Naturals – came to TNA under the watchful eye of Glen Gilbertti. The former “Disco Inferno” entered the Asylum, immediately getting into a slugfest with America’s Most Wanted. James Storm became the focus of The Naturals after a hot start, being hip tossed on the unprotected floor before they started working over his back. Harris tagged in behind the ref’s back, leading to another two-on-one situation for Storm after it seemed “The Cowboy” had a chance to tag out.
Thankfully for Storm, he found another opportunity to tag out thanks to avoiding a Stevens’ moonsault. “The Wildcat” was on fire, slamming and clotheslining his opponents with ease. Somehow, Stevens survived the Hart Attack seconds later, leading to a situation that saw the numbers game take over and give Stevens a chance to hit Storm between he eyes with a steel chain wrapped around his hand. Though it didn’t knock Storm out, the strike left him hurt enough that he couldn’t save Harris from being tripped by Gilbertti and pinned by Stevens.
The crowd was stunned silent when it was declared The Naturals had won. Thankfully for AMW, Director of Authority Erik Watts restarted the match; where AMW made short work of Douglas. A donnybrook broke out after the bell, bringing the return of Heavy D of Black Shirt Security (one of the Harris/Blu Brothers).
It’s sad because they had a real good match that could’ve set up something for the next week or later. The fans booed the second finish seemingly because they were happy to see someone other than AMW win. Watching The Naturals actually trump TNA’s top tag team gave them instant credibility, only for it to be shattered in a couple of minutes.
Is It A Classic: Though TNA tried its best to make every show special during the early days of weekly pay-per-views, there were editions that actually felt like a big deal. This is a perfect example of the latter thanks to the main event. But the final match wasn’t the only highlight of the show. The X-Division stars showcased their talents greatly, making a strong case for having the best matches of the night. The rest of the matches were either solid, if unforgettable, or featured great action, yet a disappointing ending. If you have the chance, check this show out for the X-Division bouts and the main event.