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16 December 2014

A Salute to the Spike TV-TNA Era


Things have been quiet around here in the cage. The tinsel and decorations are up. I've got my barbwire laced tree up, topped with a ninja star for good measure. I find myself feeling nostalgic this year however, as I know we approach an end of an era. After the holidays are said and done, TNA and pro wrestling will be leaving Spike TV. Now, to most this isn't a very big deal, but for some reason I keep going back to it in my mind. I've been watching wrestling on that station (on and off) since I was in high school. I even found myself being hooked on UFC because of Spike. Of course it wasn't always Spike TV, but the same channel nonetheless. When the news broke that Spike and TNA were parting ways, many fans lashed out at Spike and pointed out the lack of promotion for Impact on the channel. However, I found myself feeling a little sad. I knew in my heart of hearts that TNA would find another channel to broadcast Impact, so that wasn't what made me nervous. It was just for some reason I really liked watching wrestling on Spike, maybe it's a silly thing to be attached to, but that's why I wanted to take the time to give a Salute to Spike TV-TNA era. I'll run down my Top 5 favorite moments, take a look at Spike's impact on TNA and give my thoughts on what's next. So let's turn off the Bar Rescue and Joe Schmo re-runs and unlock the cage for one last time on Spike TV...

Was everything perfect between Spike and TNA? No, of course not. I think back to some missed opportunities that Spike and TNA had to really branch out. Does anyone remember when Raw was preempted in 2006 and Spike-TNA ran "This is TNA" best of special instead of new content? Think about the opportunity they passed up there. Why wasn't Hulk Hogan used elsewhere on Spike TV to cross promote TNA more? Why not put James Storm as a guest on Bar Rescue? OK that last one was a joke... or was it? Nevertheless Spike TV did give TNA a place to air programming for over nine years and was very instrumental in names like Kurt Angle, Sting and others coming on board with TNA. Trust me, without Spike TNA wouldn't have looked the same or may not have even survived for as long as it has. So before we as TNA fans say goodbye to Spike TV, here are my Top 5 Moments that happened on Spike TV from TNA. Now, this isn't my favorite matches, and we don't count pay per view moments since, well, they didn't happen on Spike. This is just my opinion and my favorites, in no way am I saying that these were the most significant (although I believe most of them are pretty important) or did the best ratings. So here we go...



5. October 1st, 2005: TNA Debut's on Spike TV

For me this was a big deal as I had been watching TNA since the Asylum days and was paying 10 bucks a week to watch it. While I was a big fan and tried to get people to check it out (and was able to get some to watch at my place while I was footing the bill) I was excited to see that more will be able to watch TNA as it is now free on television. Now, this wasn't an ideal time-slot at the time, and really outside of the AJ Styles vs. Roderick Strong match, the show isn't the greatest, but it marked the start of the TNA-Spike TV era and frankly will be something I'll always remember fondly as it was, in fact, the first Impact episode I ever watched. I didn't get FSN and didn't have the internet capabilities to watch online as much, so from 2004-2005 I was regulated to only watching the monthly pay per views. To me, it was a fast paced show that felt different and was providing an alternative that was desperately needed.



4.  July 11, 2006: Rhino burns ECW title

In 2006, Vinny Mac decided to relaunch ECW. I think the idea was to have his own little niche product that he would market to the hardcore audience. Of course, we all know how that turned out (in fact, the current NXT product is doing a much better job at that then WWECW ever did, but I digress). At the time, I remember TNA fans actually being somewhat worried that this new alternative that Vince was producing may take away some of the steam that TNA had built up. If fans can get the alternative from WWE, why watch TNA? People were buzzing about the ECW relaunch and not so much about TNA at the time. Well, I guess TNA felt they needed to have a response, so Rhino (the final ECW Champion and at the time TNA wrestler) came out and cut a promo lashing out at Vince McMahon. The fans were rallying behind Rhino like I've never seen, but it was what he did in the back lot that really made this moment wild. Now, I normally don't really dig it when promotions use TV time to trash on another company. In fact, I feel it does nothing but bring attention to the other guys; I like my digs to be subtle, like a little jab on commentary or in an interview. But, I felt Rhino really hit it out of the park with this one and at the time it surprised me. I know the actual belt wasn't burned, but it was a pretty cool moment and made TNA look like the real new rebellious promotion that could.



3. August 6th, 2009: The Riot

Just so you know, I love TNA circa 2009. A lot of folks talk about the greatness of the Asylum era (which I love as well) or the solid wrestling and booking of 2005, but for me as a fan, nothing beats 2009. It had a good balance of star power, great wrestling, fun and craziness that gave TNA it's charm. I know some will point out some of the flaws in the storylines but man, I found TNA to be so much fun in this era. I loved the Main Event Mafia, Beer Money, the crazy multi man X division matches and the Knockouts still had talents like Awesome Kong, Hamada and Roxxi. The peak of this year came in August when TNA had a full scale riot in the Impact Zone. A wild brawl between the Main Event Mafia, World Elite and the heroes of TNA wrestling. It spilled everywhere and even the cops showed up. When I think about it, maybe this inspired Spike to put Cops and TNA together! OK I kid, I kid. I loved the security footage and I remember Spike promoted this episode really well going into it. It also seems to be a moment that many fans remember as I always hear people mention it when they talk about their favorite TNA moments. Well, it makes my list as well.



2. January 4th, 2010: The Monday Night Fight

Alright, you caught me, I'm cheating a little bit. A whole entire show is hardly one moment (I've done it twice now), but well, it's my cage, my column, my rules and it's hard to pick a moment from this show to centre out as one of my favorites. We all know the Hulk Hogan era of TNA didn't work out to be all that it could be (or what TNA and Spike TV wanted it to be) but man this show was a ton of fun when it aired. The surprise debuts of Jeff Hardy and Ric Flair, the return of Scott Hall and Syxx and of course the much anticipated arrival of Hulk Hogan. It was also capped  off with a kick ass Kurt Angle/AJ Styles match in the main event This show was far from perfect, who could forget that horrible Steel Asylum (RIP) match where the crowd chanted "Bull-Shit" or the much forgotten about debuts of the Nasty Boys, Orlando Jordan and Bubba the Love Sponge. However, January 4th, 2010 gets on this list because it brought me back to my high school days when the Monday Night Wars was still hot. I enjoyed flipping back and forth between the two shows that night and with all bias I did watch TNA's effort more. "The Monday Night Fight" would turn out to be a one sided affair with TNA not coming out on the winning end by any means, but this as a stand alone show this was one of my favorite TNA-Spike memories.



1. October 19, 2006: The Headbutt Heard Around the World

Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe may go down as the greatest rivalry in TNA history. It has been at very least the biggest money match that TNA has ever had. When Kurt was announced as TNA's newest superstar, fans immediately talked about the dream match with The Samoan Submission Machine and on October 19, 2006, fans got to see those two in the ring together for the first time. Watching highlights of it, I still get chills. In a world where wrestling had become more entertainment than sport, where wrestling credibility and toughness took a backseat to catch phrases and T-shirt slogans, there were two guys who came across like legit bad asses and now they were squaring off. That was also the beauty of the headbutt as well. Joe had been built up like a monster, undefeated for over a year, dominating everyone from AJ Styles to Scott Steiner and even defeating then TNA World Champion Jeff Jarrett at the previous pay per view. Kurt came in, headbutted him and tossed him around. NO ONE DOES THAT TO JOE! I also loved that Joe wore a white shirt in order to emphasize the blood, that's a pro for you. This easily gets my number one moment from Impact on Spike for the sheer impossibility of it just a few weeks earlier.



There you have it folks that's my top 5 moments on Spike TV from TNA. Going forward, I think I can speak for every TNA fan out there that we want NEW moments to be created on Destination America (or as I like to call Destination 'MERICA, I don't know why, i just like the way it sounds). Yes, it's a smaller network and we really don't know how things will play out here, but judging by what's come so far from Dixie Carter and others involved it looks positive. For yours truly I will miss TNA on Spike TV, mostly because I get Spike and don't get Destination America (Blame Canada!) and I wonder if we will see wrestling on Spike still. I mean there are other players out there that could provide content. Spike has had wrestling on its network since the late 1990's. Is it really the end of pro wrestling on Spike? Me thinks maybe not, who knows? Either way, Spike TV has helped TNA provide some great memories and moments for TNA fans and I for one want to thank Spike TV for that. I also want to hear from you guys. What were your favorite Spike TV-TNA moments? Comment below and let me know! Hey that rhymed!  I would also like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday! Be well, be merry or be loaded, just try to be patient, TNA will be back with new content on Destination 'Merica in the new year. Until then, I will batten down the hatches here in the Cage for the winter and celebrate the holidays by perhaps going through my old NWA-TNA pay per view tapes, thinking about TNA eras gone by. Hmmm, perhaps that could be my next column.

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