Monday, 22 July 2013

TNA Impact Wrestling: Destination X Review

It was a big week for Impact Wrestling as they presented their special episode Destination X on free television, headlined by a World Heavyweight Championship contest between Bully Ray and Chris Sabin. It was a night where TNA had to deliver some quality wrestling action and hope that the show would get strong rating. They delivered on the ratings, but was the quality there? Let’s find out.

World Heavyweight Championship Match: 

Chris Sabin 


Bully Ray ©

This was the match that TNA had been building up to over the last month or so of television, therefore it was the one that most needed to deliver, in terms of both in ring action and story development. We kicked off the show with World Heavyweight Champion Bully Ray in the ring. Bully quickly glossed over his match with Sabin, before calling out his wife Brooke Hogan. For me, this made absolute no sense, for one you’ve just made your main event look like nothing, and then dragged up a storyline that should have been over months ago and wasn’t even that good to begin with. After Brooke said her piece, her Dad Hulk Hogan came out to tell Bully it was over, before the two of them left. Hopefully this is it now for the Bully and Brooke story because I’m not sure how much more I could take of it, to be quite honest. Main Event Mafia turned up on the screen to tell Bully he’d lose his title in a fair fight tonight to close what was a pretty poor opening segment.

As we built up to our main event, Chris Sabin received two pep talks to get him ready for Bully Ray. The first came at the hands of General Manager Chris Sabin. Sabin seems to be Hogan’s newest best friend, we’ve seen him latch onto the likes of Jeff Hardy, Austin Aries and Abyss before, and to be honest they really didn’t need Hogan there, and neither does Sabin. The second pep talk was much better, as Austin Aries turned up just before the big match. Aries spoke about how he did the same thing last year to win the World Heavyweight Championship, as well as the series of matches he had with Sabin on television over the last month, which once again helped to build Sabin as a credible contender and lead well into the main event.

The opening section of the match, with Bully Ray and Sabin swapping kicks and chest slaps was a good start, that helped to show Sabin’s attitude and heart as he fought well against the stronger man before Bully got the upperhand. Just as the match seemed like it might be heading somewhere with Bully working the previously injured knee of Sabin, out came Aces and Eights and Main Event Mafia, which is where the match began to lose pace. It was an over complication that the match didn’t need, as well as detracting from Sabin, as he isn’t a member of either group, so it didn’t quite make sense to have them out there, for what essentially became a Lumberjack Match. The action in the ring continued to be fairly good, as Bully methodically worked over Sabin, even untying Sabin’s boot and removing Sabin’s protective knee braces.

It was all building well for a comeback from Sabin, as at every turn Bully would get the better of Sabin and continue his assault of offence. Then there was another turn for the worse, as a missile dropkick from Sabin took out both Bully Ray and referee Brian Hebner. Sabin apparently had the pin here, after a missile dropkick but the ref was down so couldn’t count the pin. This of course saw the Main Event Mafia and Aces and Eights storm the ring to continue their fight, in another piece of over complication that this match really didn’t need. After the warring factions had left the ring, Bully Ray attempted a powerbomb, but Sabin had control of the signature weapon of Aces and Eights, the hammer, bringing it down on Bully Ray to pick up a pinfall victory and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Once again, this ending made absolute no sense to me, Sabin has been on a journey over the last two years that TNA have been constantly hyping leading into this match, so why would they then cheapen his victory by having him win with a hammer shot? This match really only had a simple story to tell, yet it was over complicated by Aces and Eights, Main Event Mafia and a Hammer shot that really weren’t needed. However, I’m happy to see Chris Sabin as World Heavyweight Champion, as after the work he’s put in over the last two year, especially in the last two months or so, he thoroughly deserves to hold that big belt. 

Aces and Eights and Main Event Mafia Feud Continues…

Aces and Eight continued to dominate the show this week, with their current fued with the Main Event Mafia continuing. We started with Aces and Eights backstage with new Vice President Mr. Anderson explaining that DOC had left the group after Knux voted for Anderson the week previously, which was a pretty crap way to explain away DOC’s absence after being released from the company, before the group looked to be heading out to the arena. Later in the show, the Main Event Mafia were also shown backstage, with Sting and Kurt Angle readying the group for “Part One of Tonight’s Mission” with Rampage Jackson saying he was going to knock someone out. It was quick short segment that set up the dynamic of the group well, and built up the anticipation for the confrontation later in the night.

Main Event Mafia then came to the ring,  with Angle and Sting both delivering similar promos to what we had seen earlier backstage, before Magnus did a solid job of his promo, eventually calling out Aces and Eights. It’s great to see a Brit positioned so prominently on a main stream wrestling show, and doing so well. Aces and Eights turned up on the tron, with Mr. Anderson telling the Mafia to come backstage and meet them there, which Samoa Joe accepted on behalf of the group. It was pretty obvious that we were going to get an ambush from Aces and Eights, as the set up was little contrived.

As expected when Main Event Mafia arrived backstage, they were met by Anderson who goaded them into entering the clubhouse. Just as Kurt Angle was about to enter he was ambushed by Bully Ray, with Devon looking the door on the rest of Aces and Eights and the Main Event Mafia. Bully Ray threw Angle into the back of a pickup truck, which hastily drove away. It was a bizarre segment, and I’m not quite sure what was being implied with Angle being driven away, what exactly were Aces and Eights planning to do with Kurt? Later in the night, Bully was seen talking on the phone to the driver of the truck, telling them to take Angle to the spot they had agreed on earlier and make him an offer he couldn’t refuse. It was this point when I realised I had no clue what was happening and I don’t think TNA did either. We also found out that Wes Briscoe had been injured in the fight with Main Event Mafia thanks to Rampage Jackson.

Later in the night the truck that drove Angle away, reappeared this time being driven by Angle. Angle was then seen with the rest of the Main Event Mafia during the main event between Bully Ray and Chris Sabin, making all the previous segments feel pretty pointless. I’d hope that TNA will follow up on the offer that was supposedly given to Angle, and who was actually driving the truck for Aces and Eight, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. It was disappointing that after weeks of build up to a confrontation on this episode, we actually saw very little of the altercation between the two factions. 

Best of the Rest (In the World)

Elsewhere, on the sole Bound For Glory Series match of the night, Bobby Roode faced off against old tag team partner Austin Aries. There was a lot for this match to play off in terms of story, with it being a year since Austin Aries defeated Bobby Roode for the World Heavyweight Championship, at this very event. Also thrown into the mix was the fact that Bobby Roode is yet to pick up any points in the Series losing every single match and his search for that elusive first win here. All these points were highlighted in a backstage interview with Bobby Roode prior to the match which helped to refresh the audience’s memory of past events and build up the match well.

As expected the match was a cracking television contest that was only really held back by being restricted to around eight minutes of television time. The dynamic between the two was interesting here, with both still presumably playing heel, this could have be a difficulty that we’ve see na lot of heel vs. heel matches walk into in the past, but with so much history between the two and with Aries still being extremely popular with the crowd, it was one the match avoided well. The spot of the match for me, saw Aries dive between the ropes and send Roode straight into the steel steps, with the build flowing well, this spot looked pretty painful for Roode. After some nice back and forth Aries picked up the win and seven points in the Bound For Glory Series with a Brainbuster. This match wasn’t up there with their contests at last year’s Destination X or Hardcore Justice, but was certainly a very entertaining television bout and a great way to open up the show.

There was also three qualifying matches, for an Ultimate X match to take place next week, for the vacant X Division Championship. For me, it felt strange that TNA would have a new X Division Champion decided at Destination X, and it gave the show an uncompleted feel. The first match focused on what TNA referred to as the “Past” with Homicide making his first TNA appearance in three years (bar this month’s One Night Only: Hardcore Justice 2), Sonjay Dutt making his first appearance in four months and Petey Williams first appearance in two months. It was a little disheartening then, when the three men labelled as the past of the X Division delivered the best of the three qualifying matches. The three used the three way concept well making sure each man was involved for the optimum amount of time. The end was also clever, revolving around Petey William’s Canadian Destroyer and Homicide’s Gringo Killer. With Petey heading to the top rope, Sonjay who was trapped in a tree of woe, managed to German Suplex him from the position allowing Homicide to finally hit a painful Gringo Killer, before Sonjay took control hitting a Sonjay Cutter and a Moonsault Double Footstomp to the victory.

In another three way qualifying match, this time labelled as the “Present” of the X Division, Manik, Kenny King and Chavo Guerrero did battle. It seemed like a strange decision to have Chavo in the match, as he’s rarely wrestled in the X Division since his debut, instead spending most of his time in the tag team ranks. The match couldn’t quite capture the excitement of the one that had gone before it, sticking mainly to a one on one style, whilst one man sold a move for an extended period of time. The one on one action was solid, but it’s important that these wrestlers nail the three way format, because that’s all they’ll be wrestling for TNA. There was a bizarre tower of doom tease that didn’t quite happen, and I’m really not sure what was meant to be happening. After the confusion of that spot, Manik picked up the win with an Elevated Double Chickenwing, into a Double Knee Gut Buster to advance to next week’s match. 

The final three way qualifying match, saw the “Future” of the X Division do battle for a place in Ultimate X next week, with the debuting Greg Marascuilo, formerly Trent Barretta in WWE, facing off against British Bootcamp’s Rockstar Spud and Rubix (also known as Chikara’s Jigsaw). The match at times utilized the three way element well, especially in an exciting opening segment, but the match couldn’t keep this up, as it quickly descended into one on one action. At the times the match seemed a little awkward with moves not quite linking up as smoothly as they should have, but this was probably down to nerves and an unfamiliarity with each other. Marascuilo went on to pick up the victory with a Cradle Belly to Back Piledriver on Rockstar Spud. All three men were impressive in the bout with a number of good highflying moves, I think each has something to offer to the X Division and will hopefully be seen more often.

Knockout’s Champion Mickie James also appeared at Destination X, getting into a confrontation with new Number One Contender Gail Kim. James’ opening promo seemingly talking about the Ladder Match between Kim and Taryn Terrell last week on Impact Wrestling, only to reveal she was actually describing her concert in the same week. It was a nice piece of work, which fitted well with James’ self centered character. Kim came out to reply to James, with the two eventually getting into a cat fight, having to be separted by the referees. It would appear Kim is playing the face in the rivalry, after James disrespected Kim’s match the previous week, it’s an interesting dynamic and I’m hoping it will payoff with the two facing off for the Championship next week.

AJ Styles also turned up this week, cutting a promo in a darkened stairwell, reminiscent of a number of Raven promos. Styles spoke about the X Division saying it was in his past, before moving on to his opponent in the Bound For Glory Series next week, Jeff Hardy. It was a decent promo that quickly summed up where Styles’ character is at the moment but it would have been nice to get a little more depth as well. 


What have I learnt from this Destination X?

1. Winning the TNA World Heavyweight Championship is great for Chris Sabin, the over complication of his win, not so great.

2. After week's of build up, it was disapointing not to see a proper showdown between Aces and Eights and Main Event Mafia.

3. The "past" of the X Division is better than it's "Present" or "Future". 

Bound For Glory Series Standings

1. Magnus - 49 Points (Non-Mover) 
2. Samoa Joe - 19 Points (Non-Mover)
3. Jeff Hardy - 17 Points (Non-Mover)
4. Austin Aries - 14 Points (Up Two)
4. Christopher Daniels - 14 Points (Non-Mover)
6. AJ Styles - 12 Points (Down One)
7. Hernandez - 7 Points (Down One)
7. Mr. Anderson - 7 Points (Down One)
9. Bobby Roode -0 Points (Non-Mover)
9. Jay Bradley - 0 Points (Non-Mover)
9. Kazarian - 0 Points (Non-Mover)
12. Joseph Park - -10 Points (Non-Mover) 

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