July 10, 2011
Destination X proves that wrestling matters
By BOB KAPUR -- SLAM! Wrestling
In the early days of TNA, matches featuring the X-Division stars would invariably be the highlight of any show. In recent years, however, the X-Division has seemed to shift its focus towards storylines featuring more veteran stars, sometimes at the expense of in-ring quality. At Sunday's Destination X pay-per-view, the spotlight was once again on the X-Division, and the result was a solid and refreshing show that lived up to the company's "Wrestling matters" slogan.
The difference was personified by one of the main events of the night, a match that saw Brian Kendrick challenge Abyss for the X-Division Championship. Abyss was hand-picked by Eric Bischoff to take over and take apart the X-Division, so Kendrick was fighting for the honour of the entire division in addition to the gold. His task wasn't that easy, and early on, it looked like it would be impossible, when Abyss seemed to shrug off every offensive move that Kendrick threw at him. After being smashed and squashed for some time, Kendrick took a desperate measure, and smashed Abyss with his own copy of Sun Tzu's Art of War book, busting open the monster in the process. Seeing the big man bleed sparked new life in the challenger, and he started attacking Abyss with reckless abandon, including a big missile dropkick. Abyss fought back, and charged Kendrick in the corner, but Kendrick moved and Abyss ended up squashing the referee instead. Kendrick hit Sliced Bread, but the ref was knocked out and couldn't make the count. At this point, Eric Bischoff came to the ring, but received a punch by Kendrick for his troubles. This brought out Immortal, followed by all of the X-Division stars, and a brawl ensued. As the ring cleared out, Kendrick took advantage of the confusion, and rolled up a groggy Abyss for the pin, and the championship. Kendrick and the X-Division stars celebrated the win, both literal and symbolic, as confetti filled the ring.
In the other main event of the night, two X-Division pioneers AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels squared off for the first time since 2009. The two friends started off a bit slowly, with neither man getting a clear advantage early on. This was a purist's match early on, with lots of chain wrestling, moves and counters and many stand-offs. AJ hit the first big moves of the match, hitting a pair of dropkicks, and then held the advantage, until Daniels hit him with a couple of dives on the floor. Later, AJ turned things around, and he caught Daniels going for a move off the ropes, and after Daniels landed, AJ hit him with a flying splash, driving Daniels hard onto the ground. As the match progressed, things picked up even more, and the two exchanged many of their signature moves, including AJ's Styles Clash and Daniels' Angels Wings. In the end, Daniels got his knees up while AJ was going for a 450 splash, and was going to follow that up with Angels Wings off the top, but AJ reversed it and sent Daniels hard to the mat. AJ followed that up with the Spiral Tap, and that was enough to get the pin. After the match, a despondent Daniels shook his friend's hand, congratulating him on the victory.
TNA's next pay-per-view will be Hardcore Justice on August 7.
DESTINATION X FULL RESULTS
Match 1: Kazarian vs Samoa Joe
This one started off hard and fast and both of them gave it their all. Kazarian is always solid, and and Joe looked like he did during his first year in TNA when he was filled with p&v - certainly he seemed a lot more excited about this match than he has in recent months. A big springboard dropkick by Kazarian slowed him down, though. He came back soon enough, though, and turned things around with a flying dive to the floor, earning a “This is awesome” chant from Orlando faithful. A finger bite got Kaz out of an STF, but Joe then locked on a Kokina Klutch. Kaz reached the ropes, and pushed off Joe, knocking him into the referee. As the big man explained to the ref what had happened, Kazarian sneaked up behind him, and rolled Joe over for the pin.
Match rating: 8/10
A clip was shown from earlier today, where Shark Boy agreed to team up with Eric Young against Generation Me.
Match 2: Douglas Williams vs Mark Haskins
Haskins, who looks like a shorter version of Edge, earned a spot on the roster after he was given a tryout with the company on their recent UK tour. [SLAM! Wrestling profiled him last August: Mark Haskins a rising UK star attraction.] The commentary team of Mike Tenay and Jeremy Borash noted that he was a ground-and-pound specialist as opposed to the typical X-Division style. Williams took control early, and it looked like the six-sided ring gave some problems to Haskins -- it looked like he mistimed a flying clothesline early on, and later seemed to slip off the top rope. That latter misstep cost him, though, since it gave Williams a chance to recover, and roll away from a Shooting Star Press attempt. After Haskins crashed hard, Williams covered him for the easy pin. After the match, Williams shook the newcomer’s hand, maybe in an effort to recruit him to the British Invasion in the future.
Winner: Douglas Williams
Match rating: 7/10
Backstage, Austin Aries cut a good promo, saying that he would win the contract tonight in his four-way match.
It was explained that the Buck brothers reunited in order to show solidarity with their X-Division colleagues against Bischoff and his Immortal group. After some comedy, Shark Boy started off by stomping a mudhole into Jeremy. This match was fun, and unlike some of Eric's recent matches, wasn't too bogged down by bad comedy. Shark Boy hit Max with a Chummer, and then Eric followed it up with a wheelbarrow neckbreaker, for the pin.
Winners: Eric Young and Shark Boy
Match Rating: 7/10
Backstage, Zema Ion told So Cal Val that he would win the contract tonight. His promo wasn’t as good as Austin’s, and he didn't seem nearly as comfortable in front of the camera.
Match 4: Shannon Moore vs Robbie E vs Amazing Red vs Alex Shelley – Ultimate X Match
The action was, as expected, very quick in this one, with all four men hitting moves in between making attempts to try to capture the X. Each of them got a chance to shine with some dizzying moves, with nobody looking out of place. While this wasn't the best Ultimate X match, it was pretty fun with some fast action -- though nothing that was mindblowingly innovative. In the end, Moore climbed to the top of the truss, way above the X cables, which was a smart move, since nobody could grab his legs and pull him down. In the meantime, Amazing Red shimmied himself into position. Moore swung down from the truss, and stomped on Red’s hands sending him to the mat. Then, as Moore lowered himself into position, Shelley scaled the X, kicked Moore a few times, and knocked him down too. After that, grabbing the X was merely academic, and Shelley earned himself the number one contendership.
Winner, and new number one contender for the X-Division Championship: Alex Shelley
Match Rating: 7/10
Backstage, Low-Ki cut a deep-voiced promo, saying that he would win the contract.
Match 5: Rob Van Dam vs Jerry Lynn
Winner: Rob Van Dam
Match Rating: 8/10
Backstage, Jack Evans quoted Eminem in predicting his win in the four-way for the contract.
Match 6: Austin Aries vs Zema Ion vs Low-Ki vs Jack Evans - winner gets a contract
In what might have been a first, the crowd simultaneously voiced their support for all of the competitors with an "Everybody!" chant. There was a funny moment early on where Aries hit each of his opponents with a fingernail rake in succession, and then all three got their revenge by blasting him with stereo dropkicks. This was a really good match, with action too quick to call, what with bodies flying all over the place. Some stellar aerials by Evans in particular, though all four shone throughout the match. After numerous pin attempts being broken up, eventually, Aries hit a Brain Buster on Low-Ki to get the win and earn himself a contract. This one should really earn all four competitors a spot on the roster -- a true throwback to the early X-Division days in terms of action.
Winner: Austin Aries
Match Rating: 9/10
Match 7: Abyss vs Brian Kendrick - for the X-Division Championship
Winner, and new X-Division Champion: Brian Kendrick
Match Rating: 7/10
Match 8: AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels
Winner: AJ Styles
Match Rating: 9/10
Overall Show Rating: 8/10Bob Kapur is hoping to be cast in the adult wrestling film Destination XXX. Any ladies looking to co-star can e-mail him at email@example.com.