Sunday 8 July 2012

'A Double' Is No Champ Double

Tonight TNA will air their Destination X pay-per-view. This event will be headlined by a match for the TNA world championship, pitting champion Bobby Roode against challenger Austin Aries. Aries earned this match by trading in his X Division title on the June 21st episode of IMPACT because, in the storyline, GM Hulk Hogan didn’t want one wrestler holding both belts but had acknowledged that Aries was worthy of a shot at the world strap.

In reality Aries was relieved of the gold because he is being promoted to the main event and the company wants to freshen up the X Division. Having a vacant title is the perfect opportunity to do that and giving up the strap doesn’t doesn’t harm Aries’ momentum.

Of course the argument to that is that stripping ‘A Double’ of the title, no matter the reason, means that whoever is next in line to hold the X belt doesn’t get the rub of dethroning the longest reigning champ in the belt’s history. Had Aries been booked to put over a new champion in a competitive match a new star could have potentially been created.

As I say I understand TNA’s reluctance to take this approach, having Aries lose right now would make the decision to give him a world title match on a PPV questionable. The company is protecting its breakout star. While they could have had Roode cost Aries the title via interference of some kind it’s not a catastrophic decision. The important thing is that Aries goes into Destination X looking as strong as possible.

Is Austin Aries the next TNA world champion?

The relaunch of the X Division has been needed for a while. Aries was the longest reigning champion ever in part because there were so few wrestlers who could have been booked to defeat him. The division’s roster was stretched thin. The recent influx of new talent Rashad Cameron, Flip Casanova, and Kenny King and the reintroduction of Kid Kash, Doug Williams, and Sonjay Dutt gives the X Division a much needed talent injection.

If an emphasis is placed on in-ring action over silly and frivolous stories the league has a real chance of becoming a highlight of the company again. The X Division has always been something that sets TNA apart from its competitors, particularly WWE, and should be concentrated on far more than it has been lately.

It was at last year’s Destination X pay-per-view that ‘The Greatest Man That Ever Lived’ returned to TNA (he had previously had a run with the company under the ring name Austin Starr). It shows how good Aries is that in the space of a year he earned himself a contract, a title, a hefty push and, to top things off, a headline match with the promotion’s top heel.

Can Aries leave Destination X with the world championship? If he does so he will become only the second man in history to have reigns as ROH champion and TNA champion (the first being Samoa Joe). I don’t think he’ll be victorious though.

‘The It Factor’ has been pushed as TNA’s premier star since late last year and I don’t think enough members of the company’s management team will be convinced that Aries can work as champion to authorise a title switch just yet.

The promotion seems keen on giving Roode a lengthy run as TNA world champion. It’s a decision designed to help establish him as a star attraction and convince viewers that he’s a formidable force. It’s the right approach with the right guy. As much as I like Aries I think taking the belt off of Roode now would be a mistake, he should hold onto it for a while longer and continue getting over as the promotion’s lead villain.

That’s not to say that ‘A Double’ shouldn’t win the world title at some point. He’s gotten himself over as a star babyface and is talented enough to work in the role. In a few months’ time, perhaps after this year’s Bound For Glory series, Aries could rise up and challenge for the gold again. At that point he could win it without harming Roode’s carefully cultivated image.

For now though I think it’s Roode’s time, and Aries is going to have to make do with producing an excellent headline bout. That’s something he is very capable of doing.

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