Trash Talking: Destination X Fallout

The landscape of TNA has changed, Bobby Roode has lost his prized possession and Austin Aries has forced his way into the history books as the man who dethroned the longest reigning champion. The match between the two headlined the Destination X pay-per-view and was a thrilling end to yet another decent TNA event.
The crowd were hot for the title change as everybody was resigned to another Roode cheap win, yet this would have been more enjoyable live as by the time the event was shown on Challenge TV images of Aries with the title had been circulating the internet for days, for casual fans this would have been no problem but for those who read wrestling sites and follow social networking sites the title change was ruined, if the event was aired on the Monday night it would have been possible to avoid spoilers but by Wednesday the secret was out of the bag, it's good that viewers in the UK get events for free but it would be nice to have them a little earlier. 
It's excellent that Aries has gone from fighting for a contract a year ago to being the top dog, but his performances and promo's have proved why the company should have faith in the man, it just depends how long they will let him run for, whether it be to have a quick switch before Bound For Glory back to Roode to have the eventual Roode / Storm title match or whether he will walk into the biggest event of the year with the belt on his shoulder.

Ultimate X
Destination X also crowned a new X Division Champion, after a tournament involving signed and non-signed talent Zema Ion captured the belt in an average Ultimate X match involving Sonjay Dutt, Mason Andrews (Scorpio Sky) and Kenny King. The match was hindered by the fact Dutt was carrying a shoulder injury sustained in his opening match against Rashad Cameron which showed during the closing spot of the match. 
The other qualifying matches were entertaining but more of the same spotfests that had been shown on Impact in the lead up to the event to showcase what the talents could do. The four losers from the earlier qualifying matches were allowed a final shot which showed the lack of depth TNA had, its a shame that Mark Haskins wasn't given an opportunity as his role seems to just play home town hero on the UK tours.  
The X Division needs to rebuild now that Aries has progressed and Zema Ion was the logical step for the short term being the only contracted wrestler in the match. It is clear that TNA would have liked to have given this to Jesse Sorensen and is building a feud between the two based around the injury Jesse sustained earlier in the year but it is doubtful Ion will hold the belt for the length of time before he comes back especially with the wealth of talent being brought in with the likes of Dutt, King and the recently announce Chavo Guerrero. Aries elevated the championship with his undefeated reign and now it's up to everybody else to build upon that legacy and restore the division to the forefront of TNA and with the added incentive of the option of a shot at the Heavyweight Championship at next years Destination X there is no reason why it shouldn't.

The event whilst showcasing the X Division also had two other excellent matches involving ex X Division champions, A.J Styles defeated Christopher Daniels in a bloody last man standing match after Styles hit the Clash of the ramp through a table. Although many hoped this would be the end of the feud that has been ongoing for a year it appears not as Claire is claiming that A.J. is the father of her baby although nobody actually cares as it is this type of soap opera story that the 'wrestling matters' motto was trying to rid from the company. 
The other match had no such overhanging story where Samoa Joe claimed 10 points in the BFG Series against Kurt Angle after a hard fought match that nearly went the time limit distance after Angle was deemed passed out after refusing to submit. The match showcased the competitive nature of the series and continued to build up to BFG and proved the unpredictability of the competition as Joe went on to lose to RVD on the following Impact. Joe and James Storm remain the break outs of the competition so far but as last year showed that an winning streak or injury can change everything.

Besides the BFG series the biggest story is the Aces and Eights invasion, a bunch of masked men attacking Sting, Hogan and a number of TNA wrestlers. Whilst not being opposed to a faction storyline as TNA has always seemed to have factions around such as the Main Event Mafia and more recently Immortal and Fortune, this story so far goes against everything we are currently being treated to as fans. We as viewers are to believe the masked men; who's message is the 'dead man's hand'; have broken into Universal Studios during a live television show and attack Sting in the middle of the ring whilst nobody from the back, security or wrestlers come down and help him! With Gut Check using inside terms and the BFG series making matches more like a sport where wins matter, this invasion story feels out of place and slightly out of time.
When the NWO went to WCW and when ECW invaded WWE there was an excitement about the angles, wrestlers from other promotions turning up on television, but the fact these guys are hiding behind masks and have yet to reveal why they are there, what they are doing and what they hope to achieve. Hopefully once these intentions are announced then maybe this can move along although why Dixie Carter or Hulk Hogan would offer any of them on contract in storyline terms remains to be seen, or maybe we are meant to overlook that small fact, making the Gut Check segment pointless if you can just walk in and not need a contract. 
Luke Gallows and Wes Brisco are rumoured to be two of the gang which doesn't excite that much at present but maybe it's good that they are not more superstar names arriving from WWE or ROH to not over stack an already crowded roster, while the others are unknown, maybe an angle involving guys like Garret Bischoff who have nothing else to do and have decided to join the group to make a bigger name for themselves and force some television time.

Finally Joseph Parks black hole slammed Bully Ray after 'spacing out' while bleeding post match to add another far fetched angle, the television title is still MIA or should that be non-action and the most interesting angle is continuing online with Joey Ryan continuing to post videos on youtube continuing his feud with Taz, it is not known whether this is a work but it is very entertaining non the less. 

Until next time;


Pictures by  Impact Wrestling (http://www.facebook.com/ImpactWrestling/photos)


TNA Destination X 2012 PPV Predictions

Last Chance Fourway Dance
Dakota Darsow vs Rubix vs Lars Only vs Mason Andrews

In the first match of the night, the four wrestlers who lost their respective qualifiers will be granted one final opportunity to win our hearts and carry on to the tournament later in the evening. I have no prior knowledge of them all before seeing them lose on their Impact Wrestling debuts. I would guess much of the audience at home will be rather in the dark also, so I would hope this fatal fourway to be short and sweet, carried by their high-flying X Division shenanigans. However, I did take a liking to Rubix for his unique look and TNA certainly don't have any masked competitors at the moment, so the niche is always open.

Prediction - Rubix wins via pinfall and progresses to the X Division Tournament

X Division Tournament
Featuring Douglas Williams, Kid Kash, Zema Ion, Flip Cassanonva, Kenny King, Rashad Cameron, Sonjay Dutt and the winner of the Last Chance Fourway Dance

In what will make up the majority of the night's action, eight X Division competitors will compete in a tournament to decide the new X Division Champion. The Title was previously worn for the best part of a year by Austin Aries, but upon being offered a chance at the World Heavyweight Championship, he forfeited his prized belt in exchange. While I don't see history being quite as favorable to this latest crop of talent, there is a lot of potential in this group and we could be in for a spectacular array of matches. With the roster being made up of half established and half newbies, I expect that we'll see one veteran for every rookie, who under the worst circumstance can carry them through to the end of their respective matches. Whoever wins such a singles match will then progress to Ultimate X and compete to become the new champion. As for the eventual victor, your guess is as good as mine. None of the competitors stand out as truly memorable and would struggle to follow in the footsteps of the departing Aries. However, Sonjay Dutt has always been there for TNA when they needed him, now it's time they returned the favour and gave him his first ever X Division Championship! 

Prediction - Sonjay Dutt wins Ultimate X to become the new X Division Champion

Bound for Glory Series
Kurt Angle vs Samoa Joe

Long-time TNA fans will immediately peg this match as a special occasion. Not only will it feature fifteen minutes of quality mat wrestling, but the history between the Olympic Gold Medalist and the Samoan Submission Machine goes back years to Angle's own debut in 2006. At the time, Samoa Joe was the NWA World Heavyweight Champion and in the midst of an impressive undefeated streak. Upon arriving in the Impact Zone, Angle made his intentions clear with a swift headbutt to the Champ's face. What followed was one of the hallmark feuds in TNA's ten year history.

In retrospect, I think the bookers were far too eager to appease their new imported star. By allowing him to be the first to defeat their homegrown monster and strip him of the Heavyweight Title, they put the brakes on Joe's momentum, something he's never entirely gotten back. He beat Angle several times in the next two years, the pair going back and forth, but the damage was already done with that initial loss.

Knowing how much Samoa Joe has struggled to climb back to the top of the proverbial ladder, I'm extremely happy to see him sitting pretty at number two in the Bound for Glory Series so far. Last year, TNA lumbered their formerly unbeatable monster with a ludicrous losing streak, so I was pleased they avoided repeating themselves. Now they've finally decided to start treating Joe with the respect he deserves, I'd hate to see them fall back on old habits and have Angle go over for no other reason than he's a bigger name in the industry. With Kurt winding down his career, this is the perfect time to pay it back to the next generation and start putting guys over. He certainly doesn't need to win the Bound for Glory Series to have a place on Impact Wrestling, but it'd do Samoa Joe the world of good.

Prediction - Samoa Joe defeats Kurt Angle via submission

Last Man Standing
AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels

This feud has been the backbone of Impact Wrestling since the last Destination X pay-per-view in 2011. First it began with  the pair as friends simply wanting to know who was the better wrestler. His eventual loss led to jealousy for Daniels and he spent the better part of last year trying to find a way to best his former friend. Frankly, the whole angle should've ended back at Bound for Glory, when it escalated to Daniels threatening to kill Styles with a screwdriver. I certainly zoned out around then.

Somewhere along the line, Frankie Kazarian was lured to the darkside by Daniels and the pair proceeded to spend the past six months taunting Styles with evidence of imagined improprieties with TNA President, Dixie Carter. In theory, this climaxed several weeks ago, when it was revealed that they were simply aiding a troubled family friend named Claire with rehab. But did it end there? Oh no. Now we have Daniels making even more accusations that family man Styles is having an illegitimate child by Claire. What Daniels says could be true in the context of a new swerve storyline meant to add an edge to AJ's boyscout image, but we're long past caring.

I once thought I could watch AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels wrestle all day long and I wouldn't get bored. Then it lasted a year. Now I'm at the point where I never want to see these two men in a room together, let alone wrestling each other for twenty minutes. I'm sure the match will be technically sound and even try to teach the upstart X Division kids a thing or two, but the terrible storyline has killed whatever interest I had in either man. The sooner they go their separate ways and focus on fresh material, the happier I'll be. Styles probably won't win this match, but I wish he would.

Prediction - AJ Styles defeats Christopher Daniels after he fails to answer the count

World Heavyweight Championship
Bobby Roode (c) vs Austin Aries

With this being the match the entire pay-per-view has been built around, tremendous pressure lays on the shoulders of "The IT factor of Professional Wrestling" and "The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived". A year ago, the notion of this match would've been viewed as absurd, but here we are and both men have earned the privilege, their ascension through the ranks of TNA second to none.

While this match is most notable for Aries' first ever main event on PPV, it also holds an element of mystery for Bobby Roode, being the first time he's ever been relied upon by TNA as a dependable, bankable World Champion. For the past seven months, Roode has run a gauntlet of icons, whether it be Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam or Sting. He's always been the question mark, relying on other wrestler's star-power to get over with the crowd. Even against long-time Beer Money partner James Storm at Lockdown, you could argue the feud itself had precedence over any draw on Roode's part. Only, this time, he is the big name and all eyes backstage will be watching to see if that trust on TNA's part was well-deserved.

As for the match itself, I haven't seen a bad performance out of either man in months. The wrestling quota will be top notch, with both men putting each other through a physical war and elevating their status in the process. They have a lot to prove and I think we'll get their top game as a result. The only downside is the inevitable screwjob finish. No matter the momentum Austin Aries has coming out of a solid year of success and notoriety, Bobby Roode is unquestionably locked in for the Bound for Glory main event in October and will hold the World Title until that day, guaranteed. As a huge fan of Austin Aries over the past year, I'll be disappointed to see him take the loss and leave Destination X with nothing, but I take solace in the fact that he made it to main event level and if he can do it once, he can do it again.

Prediction - Bobby Roode defeats Austin Aries via foreign object to retain the World Heavyweight Championship

Written by Mark Clements


Trash Talking: 03/07/12

Going into July and the Destination X event TNA can hold there head up high, despite ratings not showing it the quality of product has been top notch most of the time with some great matches, promos and invasions. 

TNA has done a great job transforming the product in recent months, mainly since Vince Russo has parted ways with the company, for the most part the product feels fresh, this may just be down to the Bound for Glory Series and the X Division Championship tournaments but at the minute the stupid angles seem to have been cut down.

Claire Lynch clogging up TV time 
Unfortunately the amount of good on show highlights the bad, the main culprit being the 'affair' angle between AJ and Dixie Carter, which has been just awful from the start. Daniels and AJ have enough between them to make us want to watch their matches, even if we have seen the pair match up on numerous occasions, but this has been a big fail and a reminder that soap opera remains within the wrestling business.
Another reminder of this is Madison Rayne crushing on a mystery wrestler which is just dragging the Knockouts back into Diva territory by taking away the strong independence the division is known for, there is nothing wrong with pairing wrestlers up, just look at EY and ODB, but don't reduce a former KO Champion to a giggling teenager. 

Joseph Park's character still remains to entertain, but we all know he is Abyss and the sooner this reveal is made the better, hopefully the challenge laid down to Bully Ray on Impact (28/06) will bring about the end of this angle and match where Park's reveals the secret we all know. As much as Abyss has done in TNA the business seems to be at a point where supernatural situations and parts unknown are not needed any more, with more realistic characters such as Aries and Roode taking president which leaves the Abyss character looking dated and more of a throwback to the early TNA years, hopefully the coming weeks will blur old and new although has the damage been done with two separate characters already?

Sting remains off air since his beat down on Impact (14/06) by three masked men, although just a tool to take The Icon off TV for a while and get him out of the feud with Roode we are still left with the fact three guys jumped the barriers and no one came to the rescue, no security stopped these men and not one of the wrestlers praising Sting for being the first inductee to the HOF cared that he was being taken out!

The Bound For Glory series is under way and is more structured than last year, whilst annoying that some of the matches have been over in a matter of minutes in typical television matches its good to see random matches that actually matter. Samoa Joe is making up for his poor outing last year with a number of submission victories with the crowd behind, a match with Kurt Angle taking us back to 2007 is on the Destination X card which is making the event a must watch.

Ryan gets in Taz's face
Gut Check continues and is very hit and miss, it is a good way of getting new talent on TV but seen as Alex Silva hasn't actually appeared on Impact since is it worth while? Silva and Taeler Hendrix have both wrestled previously in OVW so were likely on there way to having a shot on Impact at some point anyway.
The highlight of Gut Check so far has been Joey Ryan, since getting turned down in May he has started posting videos on YouTube against TNA and on Impact (28/06) invaded the Gut Check segment holding up a sign saying '87% of people can't be wrong' in reference to the percentage of people who voted for him to get a contract. This work has been the biggest talking point so far and hopefully will launch Ryan who could be this years Austin Aries.

high flying X Division action
With Aries trading in his X Division title for a shot at the Heavyweight Championship the mad scramble to become his replacement has started with independent wrestlers taking part to qualify for a tournament taking place at Destination X. Doug Williams, Kid Kash and Zema Ion get automatic spots in the first round as they are the only people left in the X Division following last years reboot and hopefully Mark Haskins may make an appearance as he to is still on the books. 'The original playa from the Himalaya' Sanjay Dutt returned after three years to book his spot at the ppv as did Rashad Cameron (Sabian). The matches on display on Impact showed the X Division style off and the crowd were lapping it up, it's just a shame that most of these wrestlers such as the losing pair of Rubix (Jigsaw) and Mason Andrews (Scorpio Sky) will likely not be seen in the division again, much like last years fan favourite Jack Evans; if TNA wants the X Division to be a weekly talking point again then these high flyers are the way to go! This week's Impact has some more qualifying matches to look forward to, although no one has been announced it's exciting to see who will come down to the ring!

Hulk Hogan said the TV Title was to be defended every week on Impact, Devon said he was a fighting champion, so where is it?

Finally, this week sees Angelina Love and Shannon Moore leave TNA, both have had great moments in their careers but have recently been given little opportunity to shine, we wish them best in their future endeavours.

Writer: @Robbie_G_CH
Photos by: Lee South and Impact Wrestling (@LeeSouthPhoto) (http://www.facebook.com/ImpactWrestling/photos)