To Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles, wrestling still matters to them
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.
Brian Kendrick vs Abyss: A story as old as David and Goliath
If we can’t make you the World champion, we’ll make you the Television champion. And if that doesn’t work out, we’ll make you the X-Division champion. As long as you stick with Immortal, you’ll be a champion. Perhaps that’s what Eric Bischoff told Abyss after Hulk Hogan’s plans of making him greater than Hulkamania didn’t exactly pan out.
Known throughout his career as a hardcore behemoth, “The Monster” Abyss, sent as an agent of destruction, defeated Kazarian to capture the TNA X-Division title back on the May 19, 2011 episode of Impact Wrestling. Abyss’s goal was not to uphold the values of the X-Division, but to destroy it. Armed with the philosophy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Abyss came to the realization that he no longer needed weapons to deliver destruction, he simply needed to identify his opponent’s strategy and attack it. However, Abyss had not counted on Brian Kendrick’s belief that the X-Division is about No-Limits.
The possibility of Kendrick walking away from Destination X as the new TNA X-Division champion was certainly a long shot, especially when Earl Hebner was knocked out, inviting Eric Bischoff and the members of Immortal to storm the ring. But when Brian Kendrick drew blood from Abyss’s head, and knocked out Bischoff, the spirit of No-Limits came alive inside the hearts of all the X-Division members as they rushed to the ring to fend off Immortal. With enough time to recover, Abyss attempted to put away Kendrick with the Black Hole Slam, but Brian countered with a roll through in time for Hebner to count the three to award Kendrick the X-Division title.
God knows the repercussions Kendrick will face this Thursday on Impact Wrestling when he comes face to face with Bischoff. But it doesn’t matter because this match was critical to the survival of the X-Division, and Brian Kendrick was its white knight.
Rob Van Dam vs Jerry Lynn: The match ten years in the making
It was anticipated. It was savored. It was worth it. And most of all, it was nostalgic.
The match between Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn was originally booked for the TNA Hardcore Justice pay-per-view in August 2010, but due to Jerry Lynn injuring his back while training for their match, it never took place. Until now.
Many may recall their battles in the original ECW, fighting over the ECW World Television title and the ECW World Heavyweight title. How Lynn mocked RVD by dubbing himself “The New F’N Show” as opposed to “The Whole F’N Show.” But what made this match so special is that Rob Van Dam finally took a wrestling match (post WWE) seriously.
The rematch–ten years removed–proved to be a humbling experience for Rob Van Dam. From the start of the bell, RVD and Lynn were evenly matched, with neither competitor getting the distinct advantage. The turning point occurred when RVD kicked Lynn out to the barricades, and held the ropes for his old rival. When Lynn cautiously re-entered the ring, he threw RVD out to the barricades. Upset that Van Dam was taking him lightly, Lynn started employing an edgier style through hair pulling and foot stomps across the face. He even introduced two steel chairs into the match, with Earl Hebner shouting warning of disqualification. The first chair broke RVD’s head open after a well placed leg drop to the back of the head; the second was felt after Lynn sunset flipped RVD clear across the ring with the back of Van Dam’s head landing on the steel chair. But as Lynn attempted to finish off Van Dam with a direct and blatant chair shot to the head, RVD dug deep to channel the reserves left in his body, and countered with Van Daminator followed by the Five-Star Frog splash to get the pinfall. The same move used to retain his ECW World Television title against Jerry Lynn back in that bingo hall in South Philly.
Whether Lynn and Van Dam were X-Division before X-Division could be argued amongst ECW purists. But for one night, we not only got to see these two hardcore legends do battle one more, we also got to see the old Rob. Van. Dam!
In other bouts at Destination X, Kazarian defeats Samoa Joe … Douglas Williams beats Mark Haskins in Open Challenge match … Eric Young and Shark Boy pin Generation Me … Alex Shelly defeats Shannon Moore, Amazing Red, and Robbie E for the number one contender’s spot for the X Division championship in 25th Ultimate X match … Austin Aries pins Low Ki with Brainbuster in a 4-Way match, involving Jack Evans and Shiima Xion, to win an exclusive TNA contract.
Aside from the Douglas Williams’ match where Mark Haskins slips off the top turnbuckle in a high-risk attempt, Destination X presented a fairly descent card with each match raising up the bar. The post match celebration with Brian Kendrick hoisting his newly won X-Division title was treated as if he had won the World title, speaking wonders of how important the division is to TNA. Now that TNA has a new champion and a fresh new talent in Austin Aries, will this pay-per-view prove to be the catalyst that reignites the X-Division?