It's Destination X night! TNA turns the X-Division loose in Louisville tonight and gives them a showcase. It's centered around Chris Sabin taking on Bully Ray for the World Heavyweight Championship. He cashed in his X-Division championship in order to get his shot against the Aces and Eights leader. Will he be successful?
Show Open, live from Louisville, KY
We open with a shot of Chris Sabin getting ready. They feed it into a package that highlights his road to the title match and reflects on his childhood.
The announcers check in on commentary, but it's JB and Taz. Borash says he has no idea where Taz is. The crowd looks good.
Bully Ray comes out on the ramp. He yells for the music to be cut, and says enough is enough. He says everyone is talking about one little boy, Chris Sabin. The fans respond with "Let's go Sabin." Ray tells the fans they could chant that until high heave, but he has no shot to beat the World Heavyweight Champion. He says the fans are planning a parade, but they should be planning a funeral.
Ray says it's the perfect night for him to beat Sabin and destroy the Mafia. He says that business is done and demands that Brooke come out. She does, and calls him Mark then says she doesn't know what he wants. She says she tricked everyone and she has moved on, and he should also. She holds her hand up to show her engagement ring.
If you didn't know, Brooke did get engaged in real life to a member of the Dallas Cowboys - his name escapes me though.
Ray talks softly, then yells she was done when he says so. Hulk comes out to a good pop and says Ray is right - enough is enough. He says that Ray raped and pillaged his family to get what he wnated, and that was the championship, and it's over. He tries to leave with Brooke, but Ray yells that he won't give her a divorce and he won't lose the title. There's nothing Hogan can do about it.
Kurt Angle appears on screen with the rest of the Mafia. He says Ray will lose his title tonight in a fair fight with Sabin, and there's nothing Ray can do about it. Sting adds that they will find out tonight if Ray's crew is as strong as the family.
They did a good job here of hyping this match up with a big fight feel. Good opening segment.
HerveyCam talks to Robert Roode about his memories of Destination X. He sums it up in one word: fluke. He says he doesn't want to concentrate on the past because the future is him winning the Bound for Glory Series and getting back the title.
They give us a rundown of the Bound for Glory Series leaderboard. Magnus has a 30 point lead over Samoa Joe.
Match #1 - Bobby Roode vs. Austin Aries; Bound for Glory Series Match
The announcers talk about Dixie tweeting a picture of the new X-Division title belt, "before anyone else." Roode sends Aries to the floor with a clothesline before commercial.
Out of break, Roode tries a superplex but Aries knocks him down and follows with a 450 splash. The crowd pops for the near fall. Both try to set up their finishers, but Roode ends up locked in the crossface. Aries rolls back and they work through some reversal holds. Aries hits a DDT from his knees.
Aries cues the Brainbuster, but Roode counters and tries for his finish. Aries counters and hits the Brainbuster and gets the win.
The announcers point out that Roode is now 0 for 4 in the Bound for Glory Series. Roode goes nuts and destroys things around the ringside area.
I enjoyed this match, and I like the serious turn for Roode's character. Good stuff here.
Homicide is talking to Hernandez. Chavo walks in and tells Homicide he's a big fan. The two shake hands and Homicide walks off. Chavo says he will win the X-Division championship, and Hernandez will win the Series. He says that next year, they will face off for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
Anderson tells Knux his no vote pushed DOC over the edge, and he turned in his cut. He asks the rest of the assembled gang if they know what their jobs are tonight and they go out to do them.
As you may have read on the site, Drew Hankinson, AKA DOC, left TNA after his contract expired. This was a really weak write-out for him though.
Match #2 - Homicide vs. Petey Williams vs Sonjay Dutt; X-Division Ultimate X Match Qualifier
The announcers tell us the X-Division Champion will be crowned in an Ultimate X Match next Thursday. Homicide hits a stiff diving headbutt on Williams, and Homicide nearly knocks himself out.
Late in this one, Homicide hits the Gringo Killa on Williams, but takes a standing Sliced Bread from Dutt. Dutt follows up with a moonsault double stomp to get the win.
I had a hard time suspending my disbelief that one of these guys could win it all, but it was a good match. I liked seeing Homicide again too.
Out of commercial, we're right into the next match.
Match #3 - Kenny King vs. Chavo Guerrero vs. Manic; Ultimate X Qualifiying Match
Manic is the only one who gets a televised entrance. The three work in the ring most of the match.
The fans have been hot, but they died down a little during this one. Manic hits both Chavo and King with suplexes, then goes to the top rope. King knocks him down with an enziguri. Manic recovers and hits a double underhook suplex to get the win.
It felt obvious to me that Manic would win based on the fact that he got his entrance and the other two did not.
Backstage, Sting gets the Mafia all fired up and they head out of the locker room in an almost repeat segment like Anderson did with the Aces earlier.
They repeat the Sabin hype package from the show opening.
The Mafia comes to the ring. Sting says this is the night he has been waiting for, because this is the night they destroy Aces and Eights. Angle says they are the greatest collection of wrestlers ever and they're going to prove that. Magnus says they're all ready to go and the crowd gets hot. Magnus calls out the Aces.
Anderson shows up on the big screen with the gang. He says they're not going to come to the ring because they were called out. He says they need to conserve energy for their celebration party later tonight. He invites the Mafia to the party. Joe gets the mic and says they're thirsty, so they're going to drink the gang's drinks and kick their asses right now. The Mafia heads backstage.
The camera cuts backstage where the Mafia finds Anderson by himself. They chase him into a room. Devon and Ray grab Angle from behind and slam him into a wall. Devon locks the rest of the Mafia in the room and Ray throws Angle in a truck and drives off.
TNA really likes "kidnapping" angles. And the faces just look dumb for how this went down.
The announce team hypes up the social media clearing house, then feed it to a replay of Angle being abducted.
Match #4 - Rubix vs. Rockstar Spud vs. Greg Marasciulo; Ultimate X Qualifying Match
Rubix is Jigsaw on the indie scene, and Greg is Trent Baretta of WWE fame.
Spud starts off with a little bit of comedy spots, but it gets serious in a hurry. Spud gets heat from Greg first, then Rubix. Greg hits a flip drive out to the floor and it seems like Spud leaves him hit a bit hard. Rubix takes advantage and hits a coast to coast drop kick in the ring. Spud knocks Rubix down to get a near fall.
Spud plays to the crowd a bit, which lets Greg recover to hit a reverse piledriver style move to get the win.
Greg's got a hard name both to type and get over. We're definitely getting someone fresh as the X-Division Champion next week, so that should make things fun.
HerveyCam catches Bully Ray talking on the phone by spying on him through a crack in the door. He thanks whoever he's on the phone with for driving off with Angle and puts Wes Briscoe over for taking the beating during the abduction. Ray tells the person on the phone to do things "mafia style" and give Angle an offer he can't refuse.
Bully did a nice job of pointing out how the babyfaces were dopes in the abduction segment. They tried to blame it on Rampage being trigger happy, but even that was ridiculous.
The truck that took Angle away shows up. Angle stumbles out of the driver's side and into the building.
Mickie James has come out, and she talks in glowing terms about what sounds like the ladder match, but instead when she throws it to the screen it's a tape of her concert. She throws out the new "heart breaking, history making Knockouts Champion" catchphrase.
Gail Kim cuts Mickie off. She says that all anyone is talking about from last week is her ladder match with Taryn Terrell. She says what will make it perfect will be when she wins the title from Mickie. Mickie gets catty and calls it a 2.5 star match, but her performance was a five. She counts to five on her fingers and goes to slap Gail.
Gail ducks and slaps Mickie back, then they brawl until officials run out to break things up.
Aries confronts Chris Sabin and tells him he doesn't want to take anything from him, but Sabin owed Aries for this opportunity. Aries tells Sabin that he made Sabin raise his game last week. Aries says he beat Bully Ray, and Sabin beat him. He says that all Sabin needs to do is complete that equation to become World Champion. He says he's pulling for Sabin and walks away.
So, suddenly Gail Kim and Austin Aries are faces? These were good segments, but that felt like awkward, half-assed turns.
AJ Styles cuts a promo. He says he has been there and done that, and put the X-Division on the map. He says that he will take his Bound for Glory Series points next week against "the hero" Jeff Hardy.
The announcers set up the main event, which does a good job of building to the match. Sabin gets a good pop for his entrance, and Ray gets heat. JB hits the ring to do the old-school introductions.
Match #5 - Bully Ray (c) vs. Chris Sabin; TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Ray starts by getting in Sabin's face and threatening him. He walks off but Sabin gets in his face in return. Ray shoves Sabin and we're underway. Sabin hits a kick, then no sells a chop from Ray. Ray dares him, so they repeat. Ray hits a heavy chop. Rinse and repeat two more times. Ray goes after the knee now and the announcers highlight Sabin's knee issues.
Sabin rolls out to the ramp and sells. Aces and Eights come out and they're laughing and clapping. They close in, but here comes the MEM to equal the sides up. Everyone heads to ringside without incident.
Out of break, Ray continues to stalk Sabin, and taunts Rampage along the way. Ray takes Sabin's boot and knee pad, then the knee brace on his left leg. Ray works over the leg, playing the crowd. He teases taking the shoe as well, but something goes wrong - looks like he's got knots, so he gave up.
Sabin hits a kick in the corner and goes up top. The title belt is laying there for some reason. Ray crotches Sabin the hits a superplex. Ray tries the BullyBomb, but Sabin blocks him and hits a kick. He goes up top and hits a missile drop kick but Ray tumbles into the official for the normal TNA referee bump.
Anderson tries to throw the hammer to Ray. Sting breaks that up and the two factions begin to scrum. It starts in the ring and makes its way to the back. Ray gets the hammer but Sabin kicks him and grabs it instead. Ray tries the Bully Bomb one more time, and Sabin clocks him with the hammer. Ray falls down, Sabin is on top so he has the cover. The official recovers to count the win.
Sabin holds the belt and celebrates to close out the show.
I am not sure how I like this move. The match was very good and they told a good story, but this title change feels off to me. Sabin lost a TON of momentum in that one-week title change with Suicide/Manic/Austin Aries happening. The promo he cut last week was great, but it didn't overcome what he had lost and it just didn't feel like it was time for this. Not to mention the dirty finish. Sabin got battered around for most of this match, then hit Ray with a hammer to get the win.
And why on earth would you give away Bully's title loss on free television?
Destination X never got a big-show feel going in. I know I was among many who just assumed Bully would retain his title, so I doubt many cared enough to tune in. I can almost guarantee the number of eyes on the product was not any different than any other week.
Don't get me wrong - I like Chris Sabin a whole lot and think he's a great talent. I just think Ray's loss should have seemed bigger than it does right now.
The show was good - a strong opening, sprinkled with good and enjoyable segments. That finish was just odd though. Perhaps this is another way TNA is attempting to freshen things up. Or, it could be a poor temporary title change.
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