Hulk Hogan’s and Eric Bischoff’s single-mindedness of purpose dragged TNA down. But, after a year-and-a-half, the two homegrown talents who built TNA from the ground up met once again to headline another pay-per-view. No, it wasn’t Sting. Not a WWE cast off. Nor a WCW wrestler, or ECW wrestler.
It was AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels.
Christopher Daniels, who returned to TNA to fill in for AJ Styles in Fortune’s fight against Immortal, challenged Styles to this match at Destination X to determine the greatest X-Division wrestler of all time. Wrestling fans argued about the main-event, proclaiming that it should have included Samoa Joe to settle on who was the greatest X-Division wrestler.
However, Samoa Joe’s recent string of loses could have ill afforded the very impact of the match. Especially since Joe extended his streak by losing to Kazarian in the opening contest at Destination X.
Consider the recent battles between Styles and Daniels: Styles pinned Daniels in a 3-Way match to retain his X-Division title in the main-event at Unbreakable 2005, Styles capitalized on Daniels’s BME to pin Samoa Joe in another 3-Way match to retain his TNA World Heavyweight title at Turning Point 2009, Styles put away Daniels with a mid-rope Styles clash to retain his TNA World Heavyweight title at Final Resolution 2009. When it comes to comparing the careers of these two men in TNA, AJ Styles certainly surpassed Christopher Daniels. But as of late, despite being members of Fortune, both men have been lost in the shuffle since the arrival of The Hogan-Bischoff Regime.
Yet don’t mistake this for Bischoff finally accepting non-WCW/WWE guys. As much as guys like AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels deserve to headline pay-per-views and to be featured more on Impact Wrestling, Eric Bischoff’s direction of controversy creating cash has not changed.
Styles and Daniels delivered another classic, wrestling for 30-minutes. The start of the bout featured a lot of grappling and chain wrestling counters. Then Daniels attempted the first major move by locking Styles in his own finisher Styles Clash to no avail. He followed up with two suicide dives, one through the ropes and the next over the top rope. He even attempted to lock Styles in the Koji Clutch submission, but Styles grabbed onto the bottom rope. Styles fired away by unsuccessfully attempting Daniels’s finisher Angel’s Wings.
It was the last 15-minutes where business started picking up. Both men kicked out of the other’s finish. Daniels drove Styles with an STO to set up the BME, but Styles met the BME with a raised boot. In the closing moments of the bout, AJ Styles climbed to the top turnbuckle to deliver Spiral Tap for the 3-count.
This bout was not for a championship, or contender’s spot, it was about the pure pride and respect that a wrestler earns when wrestling at their best. Although Daniels hesitated, he shook Styles hand and the two embraced over the hard-fought wrestling bout that had not been see in TNA since Final Resolution 2009.