Looking back at many of TNA‘s worst blunders in the company’s 12-year history, it is hard to narrow down just one. However, one of the absolute worst offences was the main event at the 2006 edition of TNA’s Slammiversary pay-per-view. In the card’s main event, Jeff Jarrett won the King of the Mountain match to capture the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. It was an emotionally-deflating moment, and it was a booking decision that caused almost half of TNA’s viewing audience to collapse.
By 2006, Jarrett had become one of the most stale acts in the company. His matches were boring and dull. Jarret’s promos were the same tired schtick over and over again. Not only that, he had many tiresome runs as the world champion. By this point, fans wanted to see new faces in the main event. TNA, Jarrett and President Dixie Carter did not believe that. They believed that the future of TNA was in a Jarrett and a Sting feud that no one wanted. It would have been smart to book and build up Samoa Joe vs. Sting at Bound For Glory, which could have been an incredible event.
Going into Slammiversary 2006, Christian Cage was the NWA world champion. Cage came in as a face and soon won the title from Jarrett. Coming off a run in the WWE, Cage was a huge acquisition for TNA. He was seen as a top WWE Superstar. The WWE company did not pull the trigger on Cage when he was becoming very popular and could have been a main eventer. Instead, Cage went to TNA and became the champion there. However, Cage’s run as a face was a lame duck since he did not play a strong babyface wrestler. Besides Cage and Jarrett, Abyss, Sting and Ron “The Truth” Killings were also in the match.
After Earl Hebner joined the TNA roster and was named the special guest referee, he ultimately assisted Jarrett in winning the match. Fans pelted garbage into the ring and left in absolute disgust. A mark of a good heel? Perhaps, but then TNA ratings dropped almost in half after this event.
This seemed to lead TNA down a path toward utter destruction. The creative team was reassembled after this debacle. Carter and Jarrett re-hired Vince Russo as the head of the creative team, despite the terrible work he did in the past. At this point, fans were so disgusted with the booking that TNA shut down its official website fan forums because fans were constantly speaking out against the product and wanting to see improvement. TNA constantly changed directions that saw little in the way of long-term growth or positive changes.
Would it have been so terrible for TNA to try something different in the match? For example, TNA could have had Abyss win the title. Was Jarrett truly a needle mover? No, he was not. Fans and Impact viewers were repulsed by Jarrett as the champion. He made them want to change the channel. TNA committed many damaging acts, but this was one of the worst. It led to Russo’s return and further damage to the product. At least before this, most of the mid-card booking and the X-Division were fairly solid and did not insult the sensibilities or intelligence of pure wrestling fans.