With No Surrender behind us, we’re gearing up for Sacrifice on March 13th as the final stop before Impact Wrestling’s next PPV, Rebellion. It’s shaping up to be a strong show that will help lay the groundwork for what the Rebellion card will look like with the winner of Moose vs Swann set to square off with Kenny Omega in a title for title match. Plus, the forbidden door remains open as FinJuice will challenge for the tag team titles.
Impact has been consistent with their Impact Plus specials, naming them after the signature shows that fans remember from the early days of TNA. Last year, Impact hosted Victory Road, which allowed Eric Young to give Eddie Edwards a World Title rematch before being able to focus on Swann at Bound for Glory.
These specials have acted as fantastic feeder shows to help generate a buzz for the bigger PPV events throughout the year. Sacrifice is the latest in that line of specials.
The first Sacrifice took place in 2005, remaining a key event for TNA all the way into the 2010s. Sacrifice returned last year and it’s looking like it could become an annual event once again.
Since its inception, there have been some stellar, standout matches that have taken place on the show. This list will highlight some of those classics that this year’s card can only hope to live up to.
10. Samoa Joe (c) vs Scott Steiner vs Frankie Kazarian | Sacrifice 2008
Sacrifice 2008 was not a good show. Most of the card is comprised of the Deuces Wild Tournament to crown new Tag Team Champions as well as a Knockouts number one contender gauntlet and a X-Division TerrorDome match as part of the companies insistence on getting everyone on the card.
While the TerrorDome is one of the worst gimmick matches ever put together, it did serve a purpose. Kaz won the match to take the place of the injured Kurt Angle in the show’s main event. We also saw the infamous Steiner Math promo in the segments leading to the match, making this a truly special night.
Steiner dominated the early portion of the match, taking out Joe on the ramp so he could isolate Kaz. Commentary did their best to make Kaz seem like he could shock the world despite not originally being in the match. He got his chance to shine coming off the top to drop kick Stiener off Joe’s shoulders reminding his opponents not to take their eyes off him. In the end, the numbers did lie as it was Steiner who ate the pin from champion Joe.
9. Jushin Thunder Liger vs Petey Williams | Sacrifice 2006
Kicking off Sacrifice 2006 was a World X Cup match pitting Team Japan captain Liger against Petey Williams who was representing Team Canada. Going into the match, both teams were on 0 points, so this was a must-win match.
Williams was a key player in the X Division so was well known to TNA viewers, but Liger may not have been known to an audience who didn’t follow Japanese wrestling. Luckily, Mike Tenay, having called many of his matches in WCW, was able to educate us on his accomplishments and why it was a big deal that Liger was appearing for TNA.
For those hardcore fans, this was a dream match as Liger is a legend in the cruiserweight style of wrestling that was a major behind the X Division. Taking control after a dive to the outside Liger brought it to the mat locking in the surfboard lock before transitioning into the dragon suplex. Williams, however, wouldn’t go down that easily, managing to kick out of the running Liger Bomb. Thanks to shenanigans involving the rest of Team Japan, Liger was able to get the win.
This put them in second place going into the World X Cup gauntlet later in the night.
8. Sanada (c) vs Tigre Uno | Sacrifice 2014
Fans of New Japan will know Sanada as “Cold Skull” of the laidback stable Los Ingobernables de Japon. Two years before this, he was a bright-eyed babyface who just wanted to make his mentor, the Great Muta, proud. His blond hair and bright blue gear massively contrasts with the goth pirate look he sports today.
This was the final match of a best of three series for the X Division Championship with the scores going in being one apiece. Sanada defeated Austin Aries at a show in Japan co-promoted with the now defunct Wrestle 1 promotion and this program with Uno was part of a plan to give the division an international feel. They did the best to make both men seem like they were on an even playing field as each got a chance to showcase their signature moves.
Uno looked to take one last risk only for Sanada to get his knees up and capitalise with a moonsault to retain. Uno didn’t lose too much momentum as it was made clear that if he had been a few seconds quicker he could have come away as champion.
The Orlando fans didn’t seem too familiar with either man, but they made sure that everyone remembered them after this frantic nine and a half minute match.
7. Tessa Blanchard vs Ace Austin | Sacrifice 2020
The return of Sacrifice as an Impact Plus special came from the home of OVW, a place with strong wrestling connections and they got a big main event pitting Impact World Champion Blanchard against X-Division champ Austin in a non title affair.
Austin won his title in a ladder match that also featured Blanchard, so when Blanchard became World Champion, Austin felt he was the rightful challenger. Ace even paid tribute to Steiner math in his pre-match promo.
While Tessa has become a controversial figure since this event, her title win is still significant. This match was an example of how good intergender wrestling can truly be, as the focus was the company’s two top champions squaring off. Ace didn’t think he was better because he is a man, but because his ego is inflated by how successful he has been in such a short time.
Ace played the perfect foil for Tessa as he was willing to do anything to break her down psychically and mentally including using a playing card as a weapon. Everyone knows that a paper cut sucks especially, between the fingers, so Tessa’s selling was all the more authentic.
Early on, he seemed to have an answer for whatever Tessa had, even catching her with a kick on a suicide dive attempt. This served to build more anticipation for Tessa’s eventual comeback which comes after Ace’s arrogance caused him to let his guard down.
The final moments featured both throwing their biggest moves at one another, but nothing was good enough. Ultimately the World Champion stands tall, after Tessa hits a version of the Hammerlock DDT across the top rope, stacking Ace up for the win.
6. Kaz (c) vs Douglas Williams | Sacrifice 2010
What a strange road to this title match. Williams was X-Division Champion, but due to real travel issues, he couldn’t fly over to the US to defend at Sacrifice. Therefore, TNA stripped him of the title, working it into an angle with Kaz winning the title while Williams claimed to be the rightful champ. Williams even refused to relinquish the physical belt to the new champion.
As a master of the British technical style, Williams refrained from the high flying that fans had come to expect from the division. This allowed him to take advantage of Kaz, going to the top and sending him neck first off the elevated ramp, leaving the head and neck prone for attack, finishing with the Chaos Theory and allowing Williams to rightfully call himself the X-Division Champion.
5. Abyss vs Christian Cage (c) | Sacrifice 2006
In 2006, fans got to see Christian get the main event run that he always deserved. Despite retaining over Abyss at Lockdown, “The Monster” continued to make his life hell, forcing them to raise the stakes. Full Metal Mayhem is a Ladder Match that allows for the use of tables and chairs, a format that Christian was somewhat familiar with.
He did what he could to outsmart his much larger opponent, drawing him into the corner and sending him into a steel chair. The X factor going into this was Father James Mitchell being in Abyss’s corner and this paid off with Mitchell introducing a bag of tacks that, thanks to Christian, he was the one feeling the wrath of.
4. AJ Styles vs Kurt Angle | Sacrifice 2012
During his TNA tenure, Angle had a select group of rivals and one he never failed to steal the show with was AJ Styles. While there wasn’t as much of a story as their previous encounters, it had the work rate you’d expect. Sometimes all you need is to put two of the best wrestlers in the world, give them 20 minutes and they’ll tear the house down.
AJ was distracted heading into this match as Daniels & Kaz were holding a secret over his head. Styles made a poor decision of trying to mat wrestle the former Olympic gold medalist. Angle was technically still a heel so he was more aggressive, even hitting AJ with his own Styles Clash.
Daniels tripped Styles behind the ref’s back, allowing Angle to cinch in the Ankle Lock. Post match, Angle saved Styles from a beatdown and would become an ally against Daniels and Kaz.
3. The Rascals vs The North (c) – Sacrifice 2020
Going back to last year’s addition to the Sacrifice lineage with an example of great tag team wrestling for the fans in Louisville. The North were in the middle of their record-breaking tag title reign and their latest obstacle was the rare Rascals combination of Wentz & Trey.
Rascals constantly felt like the underdogs, trying to keep the match at their pace to counteract their stronger opponents. The North, on the other hand, tried to turn it into a handicap match, isolating the legal member of the challengers.
The champions continuously took back control of the match, with Page hitting a well placed Superkick to cut off Trey’s hot tag. The Rascals looked resilient, kicking out of just about everything thrown at them, until they were put away after interference from Rohit Raju. The interference didn’t take away from the finish as The North, regardless of how they won, still regarded themselves as the greatest tag team of all time.
It’s hard to believe that one year later, Ethan Page is in AEW and Wentz is now one half of MSK while Trey & Alexander are set for singles pushes in Impact.
2. James Storm vs Chris Harris – Sacrifice 2007
It’s a shame that when most people think of this feud, they think about the horrendous Blindfold Match from Lockdown the month prior. While it’s a bad match, it takes away from what should be a blood feud. These two came together as America’s Most Wanted (AMW) on one of the first weekly TNA PPVs, so the break-up should have been a big deal.
Those looking for blood got their fair share in this brutal Texas Death Match. To win the match, you pin or submit your opponent, who then has until the ref’s ten count to get back to their feet, so you knew to expect a lot of punishment.
They had the classic trope of the competitors in a no DQ-style match, showing up in street clothes, with Harris even ripping off an AMW t-shirt. Chairs, tables and anything else that wasn’t nailed down was used, until both men were wearing the crimson mask.
The match ended in the most fitting fashion as Harris smashed a beer bottle over his former partner’s head, the same thing Storm did to him several months ago to end their friendship. With both men down and having lost a lot of blood, Harris just manages to get to his feet before 10, securing the victory.
1. Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles – Sacrifice 2005
When TNA’s popularity was increasing in the mid 2000s, it was thanks largely to the strength of the X-Division. This list has shown that no matter the era of the company, the X-Division always shines through.
The inaugural Sacrifice PPV featured two cornerstones of both TNA and the X Division going to war to win the Super X Cup. They were also guaranteed a shot at the X-Division Champion, Christopher Daniels, who watched from commentary.
Joe had just begun his undefeated streak and AJ was already a triple crown champion. Joe picked up the win, forcing AJ to tap to the Coquina Clutch, but prior to that there was controversy. Daniels taking advantage of a ref bump to hit AJ with Angel’s Wings before being scared off by Joe. While unnecessary, it did lead to the iconic triple threat match at Unbreakable the following month.
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