Booking Blunders in Wrestling History: Ravens 2005 TNA (NWA) Title Run

With TNA officially ending and “Impact Wrestling” rising from the ashes (although they tried to do this like, five-plus years ago…) I figured it was time for a patented top ten! This time around, we’re looking at the mistakes of Raven’s run in TNA. I started off with this topic because I’m an admitted TNA fan, and sometimes I feel like people actually think I’m unable to call things like I see them. So before I put over the talent, and how great so many moments were, I’m going to be looking at some of the mistakes they made. First and foremost, the biggest booking blunders.

(*It should be noted that most, if not all of Raven’s World Title run happened when they didn’t have a television deal, and were just uploading full episodes to TNA’s website at the time.*)

Raven’s Title Reign
– Where do I start about this? Firstly, it began in King of the Mountain, at Slammiversary. When Jarrett wasn’t even in the match due to “punching a fan”. Raven wins, without his long time rival being in the match and….boo. Then we get a few months of him feuding with Abyss and Rhino, but never really Jarrett. Sure he had a tag match with Jarrett and Rhino, while Raven paired with Sabu, but that wasn’t the same thing. When did we get Jarrett vs. Raven? In Canada, at a Border City Wrestling live event. That’s right true believers, Jarrett defeated Raven, ending their rivalry, at a Canadian house show for another company. *Sigh*. Now, at first it wasn’t so bad. It was interesting, helped promote any duel branded live event as “anything can happen”, which you need, and set up an interesting dynamic between these two men. The move also made sense because Jarrett was the guy Spike TV had the most faith in as the champion. The problem comes later, but we’ll get to later…well….later.

How Would I Fix It? – So lets sit this up right. But first, lets go back a month to May’s Hard Justice. At the event, Tito Ortiz was the special guest referee between AJ Styles and Raven. Styles gets the win, ending Jarrett’s record setting reign. I’d scrap that whole thing. I’d have Jarrett retain, and do so in the most dastardly way I could sell to Styles. So heading into Slammiversary, instead of Styles defending, it’s Jarrett. Now, I don’t think Jarrett gave up his spot to Sean Waltman because he was too hurt to compete, so lets assume he was fine. So Jarrett stays in the match and faces off with Raven. However, prior to the match, I’d have Raven “haunt” Jarrett. When Jarrett goes home, Raven is there outside of his house. When Jarrett is heading into the changing rooms, Raven is walking out. Everywhere he goes, Raven is there, stalking him. Never at any point does Raven do anything illegal. This isn’t Enzo Amore. You just want to make Jarrett start to fear Raven.

In the match it’s anything goes, so every time Raven tries to brain Jarrett with a chair, or a trash can, Jarrett runs away. In fact, Jarrett rarely, if ever really gets involved in the match. He spends the whole thing constantly avoiding Raven and rarely engaging AJ Styles and Monty Brown, and occasionally on Abyss. The ending eventually sets up when Styles takes out Monty and Abyss with a high spot and only Jarrett and Raven remain. Jarrett, who hasn’t become eligible yet to hang the belt, has to try and pin someone on the ring side floor, but because of the time it takes to do so, Raven is able to capture the belt and climb, hanging the belt and ending Jarrett’s Year of Doom as champion.

So, Raven loses the belt in Canada, thanks to interference on behalf of AMW. However, we’re going to tweak this a bit. Instead of Raven losing a straight up 1 on 1 match, you don’t do that, because that’s stupid. Instead, you have both men advertised for matches. Jarrett faces someone Chris Sabin on the under card, while Raven defends against Christopher Daniels in a title match (both men are at the show already). After Jarrett beats Sabin and Raven beats Daniels (this is where you bring out more cameras than the two we already have). Scott D’Amore (who runs BCW where the event is taking place at), comes out and books Raven in another title match against a young “up and comer”, named Kid Canada. The masked wrestler comes out with members of Team Canada, only to be cut off by America’s Most Wanted. AMW though turn on Raven, hitting him with a Death Sentence before the match can start. Kid Canada runs in immediately after, and pins Raven thanks to D’Amore acting as the official. The place goes nuts (hopefully), until the masked star pulls of his mask and reveals Jarrett underneath.

On iMPACT! the next week, Larry Zbyszko comes out and as he’s the mouth piece to the Championship Committee, declares that due to the title fight happening in a non-NWA/TNA event, and out of country, Zbyszko claims he can’t strip Jarrett of the title. Raven (rightfully so) claims horse crap, and demands a shot at Jarrett’s belt (this is where Zbyszko and Raven’s feud starts to develop). They duck and dodge and blah blah blah but eventually Mike Tenay announces that at Bound for Glory Jarrett and Raven will in fact fight, because he was just told by the head of the Championship Committee just contacted him personally over the headset and declared that Jarrett and Raven will indeed fight at Bound for Glory in a NWA Title Fight, and if Jarrett loses, Zbyszko will be fired.

However, Don West cuts of Tenay declaring the biggest detail that was mentioned. The match will be a Clockwork Orange match! This is relevant because during Raven’s title reign, he would brutalize several people in this match, never once dropping his own blood, but spilling the blood of others (Kip James, Rhino, Sabu, Matt Bentley, uppder to lower mid card guys.) So Jarrett goes into this match knowing that Raven doesn’t lose at this match and tries everything he can to avoid it.

The match comes and the two face off in semi-main event. Jarrett retains after Zbyszko interferes. Because they won, Zbyszko retains his job, but Tenay, speaking for the Committee are angry that they’d conspire to cheat. Because Raven got his rematch, but was also screwed, they won’t give him another shot, but will let him pick another opponent to face Jarret, “Since Raven had to face two men essentially”. Raven goes into the back while Jarrett complains. The “main event” is the Iron Match rematch with Styles going over Daniels to retain the X-Division championship. In the main event, Raven brings out his hand picked opponent for Jarrett; Rhino. Rhino assures Jarrett he’s not going to fight him, before Goring him twice, and getting the win. Raven’ll nod towards Rhino, letting him know he’s coming for him next. Then the Jarrett-squad comes down to beat on Rhino, until Team 3D returns just like in real life.

If you did this, there’d be finality, Rhino would get his title run, and you’d still have Spike appeased by having Jarrett as their champion so to speak when he beats Rhino, catapulting that feud.