Until last year Destination X was one of TNA’s twelve
annual pay-per-views. The move to four annual pay-per-views this year has
resulted in the event being demoted to the status of TV special. As the name
suggests it traditionally focused on the X Division and its competitors. In
practice that had been something of a problem for TNA for a few years, thanks
to the general inability of the company to keep the X roster sufficiently
The answer to this, as far as TNA’s concerned, is to
bring in outsiders for Destination X. If the sole aim is to put on a decent
show featuring X Division matches then that’s a fine answer. But in actually it’s
a course of action that overlooks the fact that TNA has to attract an audience
for their weekly television show and market pay-per-views.
Bringing in outside talent does not help in these areas.
Very few people are going to buy a pay-per-view or tune in to a television
special to watch a bunch of guys that they don’t know. The ones that do tune in
are going to be disappointed when they watch the next episode of Impact and
discover that most of the X Division guys will be appearing.
The answer is obvious: sign new talent to be a part of a
rejuvenated X Division. That’s easier said than done, of course. TNA is going
through some pretty public financial difficulties right now, which makes
signing new talent unlikely.
TNA management have nobody to blame but themselves.
Instead of concentrating on big names like Sting and Hogan they should have
spent their money on enlarging the roster, allowing them to create their own
names. It’s now reached the point where the TNA roster is comprised almost
exclusively of men and women who have been with the promotion for years, making
fresh matches impossible to come by, which in turn leads to an uninspiring
product that uncontracted wrestlers don’t want to be associated with, which
means TNA can’t bring in sufficient new talent and so the problem becomes worse.
It’s a vicious circle. Right now it looks like the
problems are too far gone to be fixed. TNA should have acted years ago. I hope
they survive and can become a worthwhile number two promotion but I can’t see
Anyway, last Thursday’s Impact was this year’s
Destination X. It featured the return of Homicide, Sonjay Dutt, Petey Williams,
and Rubix, as well as Boot Camp victor Rockstar Spud. The former Trent Barreta
also made his first TNA appearance, wrestling under his real name of Greg
I’m sure all or most of these wrestlers combined would
work for the same amount of money as Sting or Hulk Hogan. They’d be better for
the product too. But TNA would rather have the former WCW names, doing the same
things they’ve been doing for years and being incapable of offering anything to
the future of the company.
The show opened with a shot of the men who would be
wrestling in triple threat X Division matches during the night. Chris Sabin was
then shown preparing for his main event match with Bully Ray (more on that below)
in what appeared to be a bathroom. That’s how you make talent look like stars!
TNA champion Bully Ray kicked the night off with an
in-ring promo. It was standard stuff. ‘Calfzilla’ belittled Chris Sabin, said
he’d leave with the title, and assured us that Aces and Eights would be
destroying the reformed Main Event Mafia very soon. He also referred to himself
as the most hated man in wrestling. He’s not at the top of the list but I’d say
he’s pretty close.
Bully called out Brooke. She came tottering out and told
him that she’s moving on with her life. She brandished the ring she was given
by NFL hunk Phil Costa to drive her point home. For those unaware Brooke and
Bully are married in TNA storylines and Brooke is engaged in real life to the
aforementioned NFL player. This uneasy marring of storyline and real life is a
standard move from TNA.
Hogan came out and told Bully that he’d raped and
pillaged TNA and his family for long enough. I thought the use of rape was a
little strong but it came from the same guy who called Aces and Eights
terrorists and pussies at Slammiversary. ‘The Hulkster’ is not the sort of man
to tone things down.
Anyway, Hogan said the raping and pillaging is over
because enough is enough. Someone needed to remind him that’s not how pro wrestling
works: things get sorted in matches, dammit! Luckily Kurt Angle and the MEM
were watching things from backstage and took this moment to pipe up. Appearing
on the big screen ‘The Cyborg’ told Bully he’d lose the TNA title in a fair
fight and there was nothing he could do about it. Powerful stuff, right?
Mike Tenay and JB (who was on commentary because nobody
knew where Taz was, which could be a shoot or work considering how chaotic TNA
is) hyped the Bully Ray v Chris Sabin main event and then showed Austin Aries
victory over Bobby Roode from last year’s show. From there we saw Roode walking
down a corridor saying he was going to get his first few points in the BFG
series later in the evening.
Gail Kim was shown watching a TV and playing around on
her phone. She was live tweeting the show apparently. I’m sure that was a
barrel of laughs.
Roode v Aries was the first match of the night. At first
I wasn’t keen on Roode, a guy with no ties to the X Division, appearing on the
show. But then I remembered two things. First of all, this is TNA and there are
for bigger things wrong. Secondly, it was a rematch from the previous year’s
show so it made sense.
Yep, he's a good guy again
‘A Double’ played face in a fast, intense bout. They
crammed in a bundle of pinfall attempts, signature moves and finishers. It made
for a lively match. Aries eventually went over clean with a brainbuster. The
crowd were very into him.
Afterwards ‘The It Factor’ lobbed a few chairs about to
illustrate his frustration. I think that could be a great gimmick for Roode:
the man who takes his losses out on chairs.
Backstage Hernandez and Homicide caught up. Chavo showed
up and the conversation stopped. It was super-awks. Homicide wandered off and
Chavo told ‘SuperMex’ that they’d face off at next year’s DX as the X and world
champions. I think that’s a bit optimistic, and not just because the chances of
either man winning a singles belt are slim: there’s every chance TNA won’t be
around to promote a Destination X show next year.
Mr Anderson rallied the Aces and Eights troops, asking if
everyone knew what they had to do. They did. That’s hardly surprising when
Aces’ plan was basically to wander to ringside and watch the main event. This
segment existed simply to let viewers know that DOC’s left A&E and TNA.
The first X match of the night was Petey Williams v
Homicide v Sonjay Dutt. Because none of the men are regulars on TV Tenay had to
resort to referring to an online feud between Dutt and Williams. Had they been
under contract that dispute could have been built up with some high quality
wrestling matches. I thought that was supposed to “matter” in TNA. Has that
slogan outlived its usefulness now?
Petey got hit with a Gringo Killer but Dutt made the save
and nailed ‘cide with his moonsault into a double stomp for the victory. The
match was pretty cool but nothing special.
After a break Kenny King and Chavo Guerrero were both in
the ring awaiting the third man in their match. That was Manik. Formerly
Suicide. Formerly TJ Perkins. The Suicide name has been consigned to history
and TJP is now wrestling in the same suit under the Manik name. The point of
this is known to no one. Perkins would be far more likely to get over if he
wasn’t hampered by absurd gimmicks.
This match wasn’t quite as good as the one before it but
it did feature a nice spot: Manik applied an Indian death lock on King and hit
a Northern Lights suplex on Chavo. After that the commentary team started
putting Chavo over as a singles guy, referencing his cruiserweight title wins
in WCW and WWE, the last of which occurred in 2007. If TNA did what I suggested
and concentrated on building up their own name talent they wouldn’t need to
stoop to embarrassingly referencing accomplishments achieved in other
Manik went over with a double underhook into a gutbuster.
It was an impressive move. Definitely believable as a finisher.
In the back the MEM had a pep talk. Rampage said he was
going to knock somebody out. That’s to show how manly and unpredictable he is,
That was followed by another pep talk, this one being
delivered by Hulk Hogan to Chris Sabin. ‘The Hulkster’ said he’d had no idea
that the injuries and the setbacks suffered by Sabin had been setups for
greatness. Sabin was told to make the fans remember him and bring the world
championship back to TNA. Sabin’s one line in this segment was “Thank you.”
That told us all we needed to know about who the star was.
The Main Event Mafia came to the ring. Four of them were
wearing sunglasses, indoors and at night. They looked like idiots. Rampage
Jackson (he of MMA fame) was wearing a T-shirt, army fatigues and a big chain,
so he looked out of place. I appreciate what TNA are trying to do resurrecting
MEM but they’ve made a mistake by having two headline guys in the group. The
focus should be on boosting younger talent. At this point they should embrace
the inanity of the faction and bring Scott Steiner back to cut all the promos.
The gang talked about how they’re going to rid TNA of
Aces and Eights. I find it hard to care about this programme anymore. It’s been
going for a year and hasn’t made a single new star or given us any truly
excellent matches. I just want it to end and for a new lead storyline to be
Mr Anderson appeared on the big screen to say Aces were
conserving their energy for a party later in the night. Joe took the mic to say
that he and the Mafia were going to head to the back and drink the heels’ beer.
And that’s what they did.
The segment ended after all the Mafia members bar Angle
were locked in a room with Aces and Eights. Bully and Devon threw Angle into
the back of a track and he was driven out of the arena.
The final triple threat match saw Greg Marasciulo beat
Rubix and Rockstar Spud. It was a decent enough match, but again it was nothing
amazing. Triple threats are hard to pull off for wrestlers. They’re equally
hard for audiences to watch when there’s no legitimate reason for them to
A rare appearance for Rockstar Spud. Why they don't use him every week I've no idea
We got a shot of Bully Ray chatting to someone on the
phone. He put over how great his plan was and told the mystery person on the
other end of the line that Angle was being taken to the location discussed to
be made an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Hilariously, the next shot was of Angle driving back into
the arena without any explanation as to how he’d escaped his predicament. We
didn’t see him again until the main event and no mention was made of MEM having
been stuck in a room backstage. Presumably Angle let them out. But it is possible they escaped by magic.
Out in the ring knockouts champion Mickie James talked
about the great Knockouts division moment she'd had the week before. The
footage she had played revealed that she was talking about her singing at a bar
and being part of a parade. Until that footage played the fans had been
cheering her. They booed her after that.
Mickie talked herself up until Gail Kim came striding
out. She told Mickie the only thing people were talking about was her win in a
ladder match the week before. Mickie tried to slap Gail but Gail ducked and
struck first. They tussled but referees broke them up. Mickie's great as a self-absorbed
heel. Gail's promising as a babyface who doesn’t back down.
Backstage Austin Aries told Chris Sabin he was the reason
Chris is getting a title shot. Not because of the cash-in clause (more on that
below) but because Aries tested him and drove him to improve in their recent
match. Acting like a true babyface Austin said he'd be rooting for Sabin. Sabin
didn’t say anything. He did not come across as a star.
Borash did the in-ring introductions for the main event.
If TNA want to save themselves some dosh they should release JB. Don't feel
sorry for him. He could get work on a shopping channel, no trouble.
So… this match came about because Chris Sabin was the X
Division champion. A ruling was introduced last year that allows X Division
champions to turn in their title for a shot at the world championship. This
process has been referred to several times as “cashing in”, which makes the
obvious Money in the Bank rip-off even more obvious.
Nabbing the MITB concept is not, in and of itself, a bad
idea. The trouble is that it’s just one of many instances of TNA emulating WWE
as opposed to trying to forge their own identity and creating fresh ideas. It
also serves to devalue the X Division championship. The belt now comes across
as trinket that’s traded throughout the year in order to get a more important
prize come July. As the X Division is the one thing that sets TNA apart from
WWE that’s a real problem.
For the first several minutes of the match champion and
challenger exchanged strikes, kicks and chops. Sabin pelted Bully’s ribs while
Bully targeted Sabin’s knees, which had been the cause of him missing two years
of action. It was a sensible story to tell.
Sabin rolled out on to the entrance ramp after a particularly
vicious elbow was driven into his knee. Aces and Eight sauntered out on to the
ramp which predictably brought out the Main Event Mafia. The two gangs
surrounded the ring as Sabin was chucked back in by Bully.
Bully continued focusing on Sabin's knees, stopping
occasionally to shout at the MEM. Bully tugged down Sabin's knee pad for extra
damage (whadda heel!). The crowd started a "Bully sucks!" chant as
the champ mocked Hulk Hogan's ear cupping pose but it quickly petered out when
Sabin showed no signs of making a valiant comeback. He’d tried a few times but
got put down every time with an attack on his knees.
Bully hit a suplex from the middle rope. Sabin kicked
out. The champ pulled the challenger up and went for a Bully bomb but Sabin
escaped and kicked him in the head. The challenger made it to the top rope and
scored with a missile drop kick. Unfortunately the referee was caught by that
too, so the subsequent cover didn't get counted.
A brawl between the factions kicked off when Anderson
passed the trusty rubber hammer to Bully. A&E and MEM all headed backstage,
leaving Bully and Sabin in the ring. Bully tried to use the hammer, which has
put down such names as Sting and Jeff Hardy, but Sabin saved himself by kicking
him in the gut.
Bully responded with a low blow and went for a power bomb
but Sabin managed to reverse into a pin for the three count. Yep, just like
that Chris Sabin won the TNA world heavyweight championship. The crowd reaction
was not as animated as I’d expected. It could be that that result came from
nowhere (a swift exchange of big moves and near falls would have been a good
idea) or it could have been shock that Sabin had actually won. Maybe a
combination of the two.
I don't think many people predicted this outcome
Bully feigned unconsciousness as Sabin celebrated, even
though he hadn't been struck with anything that would knock him out. Perhaps
the result had stunned him into fainting?
I don’t think the result is a good idea. Sabin does not
have the star power to get over as a headliner in TNA. The way he won the title
won’t help him there either, his victory was presented as a fluke. He’s going
to be overshadowed by the Main Event Mafia and the storyline with Bully. It
also seems pretty clear that the title change occurred in order to keep Bully
busy until Bound For Glory. He’ll regain the gold and work against the BFG
series winner in October. Sabin will have a short reign and be bumped back down
into the X Division. It will look like he was out of his depth at the top.
I’m all for TNA trying new things and giving guys that
deserve it a run on top. But the trouble is that Sabin didn’t deserve it. He
was fine as an X Division guy. There was no call from anyone for him to become
a world champion. It could work out. I’d love to be wrong and for this to be
something that helps TNA turn things around. But it’s not going to happen.
Overall, Destination X was a decent show. It was an above
average episode of Impact but it paled in comparison to previous instalments.
That’s about what I’d expected, to be honest.