The time has come once again for TNA to put it’s original showcase division on display. Over the years, TNA has gotten on the map thanks to it’s X-Division and the high flying, no limits matches that come with it. However, in the last few years, the division has fallen off the map and really hasn’t been as entertaining as it used to be. This problem was already in motion for years, but then something happened in 2012 that changed everything.
In the summer of 2012, Austin Aries was the longest reigning X-Division Champion in the title’s history. However he wanted it to lead somewhere, and was given two options: he could keep the X-Division Title or cash it in for a World Title shot at “Destination X 2012”. Aries created Option C: he would cash in, as long as this became an option for the X-Division Champion every single year going forward. General Manger Hulk Hogan agreed to the terms and a new concept was born. This concept has been the worst thing to ever happen to the X-Division and it’s championship.
In both years since, the months before Destination X have seen the title change hands at least once. In 2013, Chris Sabin won the title, lost it three weeks later to Suicide (Austin Aries in a mask), then won it back a week later, allowing him to cash the title in for a shot at the World Title. Sabin won the World Title, held it for a month, then dropped it back to Bully Ray four weeks later. He was released from TNA about six months later.
Following Sabin vacating the belt, a series of matches were held to crown a new champion. Manik won the championship, held the title for three months, successfully defended it once on TV, then lost it at Bound For Glory. The new champion Chris Sabin traded the title with Austin Aries a few times in a series of short matches on Impact. Aries came away with the gold, only to lose it to Sanada at a show that didn’t air in America for four months.
In 2014, Austin Aries has taken the title from long reigning champion Sanada and will likely cash in the title in a few weeks. Aries vs. Sanada was an entertaining match, but if last year is any indication, it means that we’re heading for another series of matches before the title stops meaning anything for months. The only question will be “can the new champion hold the title until Destination X”?
This is the problem that Option C presents: with Destination X taking place every summer, the title almost doesn’t matter until early July. Instead, we’re stuck sitting through a long series of meaningless title changes in matches that aren’t given enough time or prominence to matter. Austin Aries has won the X-Division Title five times now. Four of these reigns have come in the last year and none of them have lasted more than three months.
The other issue that Option C presents is a vacant title. While this happens a lot, in this case it’s even worse as the champion was never defeated for his title. Instead, we have a group of wrestlers fighting to become champion, but none of them ever defeated the former champion for the title. Whoever becomes X-Division Champion has beaten a lower class of talent, making them much more of a paper champion than anything else.
However, there are a few easy options to solve this problem.
The easiest of all is very simple: let the X-Division Champion keep the title. While this doesn’t prevent the title reigns from meaning less in the meantime, it does keep the title looking strong and the champion legitimate. If the X-Division Champion wins the World Title, then they should drop the X-Division Title of course, but otherwise, keep the title’s importance intact.
A second alternative is a bit more complicated but would make things much more interesting: if the X-Division Champion can successfully defend the title a set amount of times (let’s say seven for this example), they’re allowed to challenge for the World Title one time only. This solves several problems as well as causing a few perks.
Above all else, it builds up a new challenger. If there’s one thing TNA needs, it’s some fresh blood at the top of the card. By having someone win a series of matches rather than a single match or being appointed #1 contender, it makes the challenger look like a proven winner who has survived a series of opponents and earned a chance at a title.
It would also keep things active. Instead of the title being forgotten about for weeks and months at a time, this method would create an active title, yet not rush the title shots. Even if someone were to successfully defend the title once a week, it would take nearly two months before a title match could be reached. This is of course assuming that the champion wants to defend weekly. He might get nervous about putting the title and streak on the line, which creates a few other possibilities.
While there are countless other options, Option C continues to only provide a few weeks of entertainment and drama throughout the course of a year. While it can be a fun moment, without the champion being built up over time, the title becomes more of a prop than usual. Why should I care about the title all of a sudden when the wrestlers haven’t treated it like something that matters for so many months? Make it about the wrestling instead of the calendar and things will get better.
Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews, check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com and pick up my new book of on the History of Survivor Series at Amazon for just $3.99 at:
And check out my Amazon author page with wrestling books for under $4 at: