Another month, another TNA PPV. This time out however TNA has a lot of us actually very excited for one of their PPV offerings, with the all X-Division themed Destination X this year. Lots of good stuff on the card tonight including Styles/Daniels, RVD/Lynn, an Ultimate X match and several other excellent match-ups featuring good workers for once. Let's see if TNA can deliver what on paper looks like a slam-dunk show, shall we? Two things worth mentioning before we get started; first that tonight the six-sided ring makes it's return for one night only. Second, Taz couldn't make the show for some reason, so Jeremy Borash is replacing him on commentary (no complaints here!).
TNA Destination X 2011
July 10th, 2011
Impact Wrestling Zone, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: 1,400 +/-
We open the show with Abyss and Kendrick reciting their personal philosophies on life and combat in the opening hype video package. Just how I like to start my wrasslin' show, with Nietzsche quotes.
Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Jeremy Borash
Samoa Joe vs. Kazarian
Not a bad choice for the opener here, though many expected Joe to be thrown into the main event with AJ and Daniels. Kaz quickly hits the floor after Joe tries for the rear naked choke and Joe nails him with a forearm. Kaz tries a leaping kick off the apron but Joe nonchalantly walks out of the way and tosses him back inside. Joe hits a big boot and a senton back splash for two. Kaz blocks a Muscle Buster attempt by Joe and nails him with a huge springboard dropkick. He hits a springboard tornado DDT for a two count as the crowd starts to rally behind Joe (though I get the feeling they're "supposed" to be cheering Kaz here). He slingshots into the ring and plants Joe with another DDT, but again Joe gets the shoulder up. Kaz gets sent to the floor by a kick and Joe wipes him out with a tope suicida. Back inside Joe blocks the Fade to Black with a powerbomb and transitions right into the STF. Kaz gets the rope break so Joe tries for the Coquina Clutch and manages to sink it in this time, but again Kaz gets to the ropes. Joe tries for the Clutch again but Kaz rolls him up for the win at 11:21!
Winner: Kazarian @ 11:21
Rating: **3/4 - This was a solid opening contest, but I'm really not a fan of that finish, especially after Joe dominated so much of the match. Joe can't seem to buy a win these days in TNA, but I suppose it's better to do the J-O-B to someone talented like Kaz instead of to guys like Devon like Joe has been doing on Impact recently. Solid but unspectacular opener.
Backstage we see Christopher Daniels arriving to the building before cutting to footage from earlier today of Eric Young looking for a tag partner. Curry Man, Suicide, and Sangriento are all signing autographs. Shark Boy walks up and agrees to be Young's partner tonight. He's still rocking the Austin vest, by the way.
Doug Williams vs. Mark Haskins
Williams is out next to face his mystery opponent...who is announced as British indy star Mark Haskins. Well that was certainly a let down (the crowd chants "Who are you?" at him). Haskins apparently got this spot after impressing on the last TNA UK tour. Both men trade pinning cradle attempts and Williams escapes to the outside for a breather. Back inside Haskins leapfrogs over Williams and sends him outside again. He tries for a moonsault but Williams sweeps his legs out from under him, sending him crashing to the floor. Snap suplex on the floor by Williams. Back in the ring Haskins hits a sloppy missile dropkick. He nearly pins Williams with a backslide and then springboards off the second rope with a sloppy flying forearm. Williams tries for the Chaos Theory, but Haskins counters out and nails him with an ace crusher for another two count. Haskins misses a shooting star press off the top and Williams rolls him up for the pin at 7:43. After the match Williams shakes Haskins hand.
Winner: Doug Williams @ 7:43
Rating: **1/4 - Solid little debut for Haskins here, even though he was noticeably sloppy during a few points and the crowd was on his case for it from the get-go. Bit of a letdown as a "mystery opponent", but a solid little contest while it lasted despite the sloppiness.
Backstage So Cal Val is with The Greatest Man to Ever Live, Austin Aries. She asks him his strategy tonight and Aries flirts with her a bit. Aries says to all of the "true wrestling fans" (and also to the dastardly fans watching via illegal stream) that he's not just some spot monkey or guy who can do a bunch of flips, but that what he is is one of the most complete wrestlers in the industry tonight. He promises tonight will be a big night for both him and TNA.
Generation Me (Max Buck/Jeremy Buck) vs. Eric Young/Shark Boy
Quite the odd tag match here, but any chance we get to see Shark Boy Austin back on PPV is a good one in my book. Shark Boy and Jeremy start us off with Shark Boy dominating early with some Austin-esque right hands and elbows. Young tags in and eats an elbow from Jeremy, who quickly tags Max in. Max and Eric do some nice counter sequences and Shark Boy tags back in and literally bites a chunk out of Max's ass. The Bucks double-team Shark Boy behind the refs back. Standard heel double-team tactics from Gen Me as they isolate Shark Boy and take out Young on the apron before he can tag in. Young eventually gets the lukewarm tag and hands out belly-to-belly suplexes to the Brothers Buck. Slingshot facebuster from Jeremy on Young and he moonsaults out of the ring onto Shark Boy while Max nearly gets the 3 count in the ring on Eric. Shark Boy hits the Chummer on Max and Young finishes him off with a wheelbarrow suplex at 7:23.
Winners: Eric Young/Shark Boy @ 7:23
Rating: ** - Not much of a "bonus match" here and I'm shocked to see Generation Me job cleanly to Eric Young and Shark Boy of all people. Just a filler match really, and it came off like one.
Jeremy Borash reminds us of Daniels and Styles tag team title history together as we cut to the back where So Cal Val is with Zema Ion (better known as Shiima Xion to those that follow the US indy circuit). He says tonight is the biggest night of his career.
X-Division Title Number One Contender's Ultimate X Match
Alex Shelley vs. Shannon Moore vs. Amazing Red vs. Robbie E
Strange choice of match to use the Ultimate X gimmick on, as you'd think they'd use this for the contract match later tonight, but no complaints here as this should still be pretty good. Typical chaos to start with all four men quickly scrambling to climb the rafters before attacking one another. Moore cleans house on Shelley and Robbie quickly and then eats a headscissors from Red. Red pulls Robbie off the ropes and nails him with a spin kick. Robbie gets sent into the second turnbuckle with an STO by Shelley, who then dropkicks Shannon Moore on top of Robbie in the tree of woe position in the corner. Shelley tries scurrying across the cable, but Robbie drops him down quickly as Cookie screams on from ringside. Moore hits an Asai moonsault to Shelley on the floor as Red tries to grab the big red X. Moore pulls him down and sends Red into Shelley's mid-section in the corner. He uses Red as a launching pad to hit Shelley with a leg lariat in the corner, but Red turns it right around on him by using Moore as a launching pad to hit a shooting star press on Shelley. Robbie tries to climb the rafters but gets taken down by a flurry of stiff kicks from Red, who then goes flying over the top rope to the floor, wiping out Moore and Shelley with a corkscrew pescado! Robbie scurries across the cable again to try and grab the X, but Red sends him crashing to the mat with a springboard dropkick. Moore climbs all the way to the very top of the metal X structure as the crowd chants "Please don't die!" because of the height. Moore slowly makes his way to the middle of the structure while Red scurries on the ccables to the middle to meet him. Moore kicks Red's hands and sends him crashing to the mat, and a scurrying Shelley does the very same to him before unhooking the X to win the match at 10:40!:
Winner: Alex Shelley @ 10:40
Rating: ***1/4 - This one ended rather abruptly and really should have been given another five to ten minutes to give it a chance to deliver a "classic" match, but the ten minutes we did get were very good and a big step up from the last Ultimate X match a few months back. Shelley deservedly gets the title shot and Chris Sabin comes out on the ramp to meet him after the match to celebrate.
Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn
These two had one of the best rivalries in wrestling ten years ago in ECW, and it's been nearly ten years according to my admittedly brief research since they've faced one another, going back to a hardcore title match in the WWF in 2001. TNA tried to book this match for the ECW reunion show last year, but unfortunately Lynn injured himself the week before and had to pull out. Thank God we've got another excuse to book this match. Dueling chants to start as both men go into their trademark opening exchange, evading each other's lightning fast kicks and hold attempts. Lynn ducks a moonsault attempt from RVD who then sweeps his legs out from under him and works an armbar as JB references his famous Forever Hardcore documentary. Spinning heel kick from RVD and he tries to superplex Lynn but gets dropped onto the apron. He blocks a DDT attempt from Lynn and clotheslines him back into the ring. Both men miss elbow and leg drop attempts and they nip up again, so evenly matched yet again. I think it's safe to say the incredible chemistry between these two is still alive and well. Lynn is sent to the floor with a spinkick, and RVD holds the second rope down for Lynn to return to the ring in a sign of sportsmanship. RVD extends his hand, but Lynn tosses him out of the ring instead. Lynn seems to be playing the heel here, surprisingly. Somersault senton off the ring apron from Lynn wipes out Van Dam. Back inside Lynn gets a near fall as the crowd comes alive. RVD blocks a tornado DDT and tries a reverse DDT, but Lynn counters out of that and hits a big bridging German suplex for another near fall. Lynn complains about Earl Hebner's count and tries a hip-toss, but RVD counters and hits the Rolling Thunder. Lynn is sent to the floor again and he gets hung waist-first over the guardrail as RVD lands his signature spinning leg-drop off the ring apron and over the guardrail. He tosses Lynn back into the ring and takes too long to set up for the frog splash as Lynn sends him flying off the top rope and into the steel guardrail on the outside. Lynn tosses RVD back in and grabs a steel chair. Lynn ducks a Van Daminator attempt and Lynn drops the chair and plants RVD's face into it with a legdrop counter! RVD is busted open with a nasty cut above his right eye, but he fights off Lynn with the chair again. Lynn counters with a top rope sunset flip power-bomb that sends Van Dam halfway across the ring onto the steel chair again, but somehow Rob kicks out at two! Van Dam nails Lynn in the face with a spin-kick into the chair and then hits the Five Star Frog Splash to pin Lynn at 16:54!
Winner: Rob Van Dam @ 16:54
Rating: ***3/4 - This was just a small step below some of their better work in the past, but it was still an excellent contest that delivered everything you could have asked for from these two longtime rivals. Great counter-wrestling at a frenetic pace mixed with a few brutal spots elevated this to match of the night so far and easily Rob's best match in TNA in 2011.
Backstage So Cal Val talks to Jack Evans about the contract match later on tonight. He talks about how nervous he is to face his three opponents tonight and then quotes Eminem's "Lose Yourself" to pump himself up a bit.
Four Way Match for a TNA Contract
Austin Aries vs. Low Ki vs. Jack Evans vs. Zema Ion
Just to put over how much everyone is looking forward to this match and the return/debut of all of this great talent, the crowd starts a big "Everybody!" chant as the match starts, unable to only cheer for just one participant. Evans hits a big hurricanrana and spinkick for a quick nearfall before Low Ki takes out Ion for a quick near fall of his own. Aries tries to jump into the mix but eats a triple dropkick from all three of his opponents. Aries hops back in, escapes a backslide attempt and dropkicks Ion. Evans springboards back in the ring but eats a boot from Low Ki. Ki works a dragon sleeper on Evans while Aries works a Muta Lock on Ion in a neat moment, but Aries breaks up Low Ki's submission quickly. Both men trade stiff chops and Ki tries a bridging roll-up, but Evans breaks it up with a springboard senton! Ion hits the Hostile Takeover (Ion flips his opponent face-first onto his knee) but then takes a kneebreaker/discus elbow drop combo from Aries for a near fall that Ki breaks up. A hurricanrana from Evans sends Ki to the floor but Ion low-bridges him before he can dive out after him. Ion gets cut off on his dive attempt by an elbow from Aries too and finally Aries tries to dive out on Ki but gets met with a spinning kick instead from the man formerly known as Senshi/Kaval. Springboard spinning heel kick from Evans takes out Ki, but Aries takes him out with a spinning elbow as he tries to celebrate with a bit of dancing. The fans chant "Sign them all!" and I agree completely with the Impact Zone for once. Guillotine neckbreaker over the second rope on Ion from Aries, but he gets met with a handspring jumping pele kick from Low Ki before he can follow up! Evans springboards into the ring with a top-rope frankensteiner on Low Ki, but Ki kicks out so Evans calls for the 630, but Ion tosses him off and hits Ki with a 450 splash for a two count. Aries takes Ion out with an elbow drop and Evans goes for the 630 on Ki, who gets his knees up at the last second! Aries nails Ki with the brainbuster and pins him clean to win the TNA contract at 13:31!
Winner: Austin Aries @ 13:31
Rating: ***3/4 - This was balls-to-the-wall crazy non-stop action from bell to bell, which is exactly the concept that the X-Division and TNA itself originally sold itself on. There wasn't a moment to catch your breath here and while I'm excited that Aries won the contract, all of these men proved tonight they would be great additions to the roster. Excellent, signature X-Division action, which is exactly what was promised.
After the match So Cal Val comes down to ringside with a mic and asks Austin Aries how he feels about winning the contract, to which Aries responds "Were your surprised? I told you I was the greatest man that ever lived!". TNA made a great decision in giving Aries the contract win here, but TNA should absolutely look into signing the other three men in that match anyways if they're serious about rebuilding the X-Division.
Abyss squashed Kendrick clean in less than five minutes a few weeks back so on the surface this wouldn't exactly seem like a blockbuster title match, but I'm a big fan of Kendrick's so him getting a title shot is never an issue in my book. Kendrick tries to utilize his speed advantage from the get-go, launching his body violently into Abyss with a cross-body that doesn't even startle the big man. Abyss tries for a choke-slam but Kendrick bites his fingers instead. Abyss grabs his copy of Sun Tzu's Art of War for some inspiration while Kendrick struggles to his feet in the corner. Kendrick responds with a big right hand and Abyss is busted open already. Big dropkick from Kendrick sends Abyss to the floor and he follows him out with a tope suicida into the guardrail. Kendrick hits a missile dropkick back in the ring for a two count. Abyss hits the Shock Treatment, but Kendrick kicks out. Kendrick gets sent into the ref as we have our first ref bump of the night and Eric Bischoff comes down to the ring to get in Kendrick's face. Kendrick nails him with a right hand which brings out Bully Ray, Gunner, and Scott Steiner to beat down Kendrick, which then prompts members of the X-Division to hit the ring to try and defend Kendrick (Amazing Red and Shark Boy among others). Nearly the entire X-Division hits the ring and it's a total Pier 6 brawl (I've always wanted to say that). Finally the ring is cleared and Kendrick counters a chokeslam into a victory roll and Hebner counts the 3 count from outside the ring to give Kendrick the title at 10:18! The whole X-Division hits the ring to celebrate with Kendrick as red confetti drops from the ceiling.
Winner: Brian Kendrick @ 10:18
Rating: **1/2 - They tried to have this come off as epic, but all it came off as was slightly above average at best. The huge brawl with half the roster towards the end of the match really killed any flow or momentum this match had going for it and the results made Kendrick's win look like a total fluke. Pretty disappointing, not that I was expecting a classic or anything.
AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels
We've got nearly 40 minutes left until the top of the hour, so this should get plenty of time to be the classic we're all hoping for (though many of us are still struggling to understand why Joe wasn't thrown into the mix to make this a three way). Daniels appears to have new music, so hopefully that means he won't disappear from TNA again after the PPV. Both men are respectful of one another's abilities to start, cautiously exchanging wrist and headlocks. They trade armdrags and hip-tosses, showing off how evenly matched they are. Both men show off their knowledge of one another's movesets by countering out of everything the other one tries. The only things that seems to work for either man are armdrags and dropkicks. Seriously, they just go back and forth with armdrags and armbars for probably the first ten minutes of the contest before Daniels takes out AJ on the floor with a dive off the apron, followed by a second big tope, this time over the top rope. A trio of backdrop suplexes back in the ring from Daniels nets him a two count. AJ sends Daniels to the floor next and wipes him out with a pescado on the floor again. Back in the ring AJ tries a Fujiwara armbar to little success. AJ hits a nasty snap suplex on Daniels onto the ring apron, nearly losing his footing in the process. He tries to springboard back in but Daniels knocks him off the ropes back to the floor. They trade cradle attempts back in the ring and Daniels rolls through into a deep crossface submission. Both men trade chops and AJ nails him with an enziguri. AJ slips off the top rope in a springboard attempt in a nasty spot and Daniels gets a two count off of it. AJ grabs Daniels off the top and delivers a huge Blue Thunder bomb, but Daniels kicks out and applies the Koji Clutch! AJ powers out of the hold but gets slammed off the top rope anyways and again manages to kick out. Daniels tried a quebrada but Styles moves and hits his trademark springboard backflip into a reverse DDT spot. Both men trade attempts at the Angel's Wings to no avail. AJ blocks the Best Moonsault Ever with his knees and then hits the Styles Clash on Daniels, but the Fallen Angel kicks out at the last second! Daniels blocks a springboard 450 splash and then hits AJ with the Angel's Wings, but it's Styles turn to kick out of a finisher this time. Daniels tries for the Angel's Wings from the top rope, but AJ back drops him instead. AJ hits the Spiral Tap off the top to pin Daniels at 28:24! After the match Daniels seems upset, but he still shakes AJ's hand as we go off the air.
Winner: AJ Styles @ 28:24
Rating: **** - Although not quite the classic I was hoping for, this was still an outstanding match up that built logically to bigger and bigger moves as the match progressed and was without a doubt the match of the evening. The fans calling out for the Spiral Tap before AJ was even close to hitting it was a bit depressing, but otherwise this was another excellent addition to archive of great matches these two have had with one another over the years.
That does it for the show as Tenay and JB plug the Mr. Anderson vs. Sting title match on Impact later this week as we go off the air.
Bottom Line: Probably the best and most consistent offering on PPV from TNA so far this year, and a potential candidate for PPV of the year for the company most likely by the time the end of the year rolls around. Almost everyone delivered here and while a few matches were a tad bit underwhelming based on pre-show expectations, the overall bulk of the show consisted of highly entertaining, hard fought contests showing off some of the best "X-Division" style talent in the world today. An easy and enthusiastic thumbs up here for Destination X.
Thanks for reading! For more of my reviews and an extensive archive of match ratings, check out my personal site: X's Wrestling Review