Ups & Downs Of The X-Division
October 5, 2006 by Anto G.
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When I first found out about something called the “X-Division” that was promoted as the crown jewel of an upstart indy promotion called TNA which was under the NWA banner, I was intrigued that it was essentially a cruiserweight division with a flashy name and that there was no weight restrictions yet the action would emphasise high-flying and overall athleticism in the ring. While I wondered what the “X” part actually meant, there’s no denying that it has been a breath of fresh air to those many indy wrestlers who are essentially classed as cruiserweights. Over the last four years, the competition of the division has surpassed mine and many experts expectations in the area and has been compared to WCW’s cruiserweight division and NOAH’s Junior Heavyweight division. While this version of a cruiserweight division has been unique and been evolving into one of the most sought after titles in the U.S in such a short time, it hasn’t won over all the people, most noticeably, the casual fans. While I’ll admit it’s not the most perfect division I’ve seen, it’s definitely the most exciting. I’ll go into detail the good and bad points of TNA’s X-Division
Competition: What I most like about this division is that among a wide variety of opponents, that most of them are presented as a potential champion. It could be AJ Styles, Senshi, Christopher Daniels, Alex Shelley, Petey Williams, Jay Lethal, Austin Starr (Aries), Sonjay Dutt, Chris Sabin or Frankie Kazarian, all of which are good wrestlers whom a lot of them are different in look and style. The fact that the division is quite open and can be a vast choosing of good candidates leaves you wondering who will be the next champ (or the next no.1 contender). It’s also a very well rounded division as you can work out quickly who is a jobber, a mid-carder and a main guy in the X-Division.
Innovative: TNA has done well to view the X-division as a unique division to it’s peers. The six-sided ring enhances the fast pace action and gives it a different feel and more dimension. The original matches have been a major factor in making it more action packed and exciting then it’s dying adversary. The “Ultimate X” match has been used as no.1 contender and title matches and has been viewed as a tradition of the X-division used mainly on the big TNA cards or in heated feuds to underscore the importance of the match. Also there is the “World X Cup” which consists of four teams of four wrestlers from around the world who compete in various different matches on a points system. What I like about his is that you get to see different styles of wrestling and it attracts stars like Jushin “Thunder” Liger and Shocker (much like WCW did with the cruiserweight division in it’s peak) as well as other foreign wrestlers to be part of the roster in the future.
Presentation: This again has been done well to promote why the X-Division is uniquely different to other or typical cruiserweight divisions. It mentions thoroughly that “it’s not about weight limits, it’s about no limits” and mentioning the “code of the X-division” which encourages straight laced wrestling and no outside interference (much like ROH’s Pure wrestling division) and mainly inside the ring action. Also the X-division is compared but kept separately from the Heavyweight division meaning that you don’t see constant beat downs or devaluing the division from the heavyweights (like WWE) to make it seem like a sideshow division.
Prestige: Despite only being around for over fours years, it has become arguably the greatest cruiserweight division in the World and definitely one of the top U.S titles. Great wrestlers such as AJ Styles, Senshi, Jerry Lynn, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe and Chris Sabin just to name a few are all worthy champions whom have all held the belt on more then one occasion. Even people who are now in the WWE like Kid Kash (former champion), Paul London and CM Punk whom have competed in this division (and have moved on to better things) shows how strong the division is.
Matches: Anyone who tells you the X-Division doesn’t have good matches is an idiot or a TNA mark. Pick one: Psicosis vs. Low-Ki (Senshi) vs. Jerry Lynn vs. AJ Styles (4-way double elimination match), AJ Styles vs. Low-Ki vs. Jerry Lynn (3-way ladder match), Chris Sabin vs. Petey Williams (Turning Point 04), AJ Styles vs. Chris Sabin vs. Petey Williams (Ultimate X Match, Final Resolution 05), Chris Sabin vs. Samoa Joe (No Surrender 05), Kid Kash vs. Amazing Red, Christopher Daniels vs. AJ Styles (Iron man Match Against All Odds 05), Ron Killings vs. Elix Skipper vs. Christopher Daniels vs. AJ Styles (Ultimate X Challenge, Destination X 05), AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe (Unbreakable 05), Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles (Turning Point 05), Kid Kash vs. AJ Styles (iMPACT!), ok you get the picture. Point is, this is the reason it’s talked abut so much is that you don’t see that type of match at that level anywhere else on a national stage.
Personality: This is the biggest fault of the X-Division, the quality of the matches are often overseeing the actual personality of each X-Division wrestler. I don’t agree that it’s full of bland wrestlers though as wrestlers like Christopher Daniels, Alex Shelley
and Eric Young have good personalities and are entertaining, and Chris Sabin and Petey Williams have decent personalities but don’t get enough credit for it. The fact that iMPACT! is only an hour long, it can’t focus enough on this problem. Apart from that wrestlers like Senshi, AJ Styles, Jay Lethal and Sonjay Dutt are all good but generic wrestlers with little or no personality.
No Limits: While it’s known that they are no limits, it’s puzzling at times when you see Samoa Joe compete against much skinner opponents whom he outweighs by 60 odd pounds (or over 100 pounds against the likes of Senshi and Sonjay Dutt). While he was only put in there to build momentum and his undefeated streak, casual fans were left confused and naturally hated Samoa Joe and assumed he’s overrated. Die-hard fans however, will understand that it’s those who wrestle a certain style that qualifies as X-Division. Another example of this is Kevin Nash who ripped the X-Division and it’s wrestling. Although he does compete in this matches, his role really is to elevate the mid-card wrestlers like putting over Chris Sabin and being alongside Alex Shelley to get him noticed on a national stage.
Spot fest: While I don’t agree that the X-Division is just full of spots and no-selling, I do agree that there is a lot of continuous spots in many matches (mainly the mid-card) a can-you-top-this, if you will. There is too much of it at times especially in tag matches and gauntlet where the focus is on everyone trying to get noticed. While I don’t have a major problem with this, it’s a lot more exciting to watch, much better then WWE’s cruiserweight division, but I don’t like however wrestlers who depend on constant high spots. The top-card of the X-division always has wrestlers who can wrestle and are over with the crowd, wrestlers like Sonjay Dutt and Jay Lethal are mostly going to wow the mid-card if they don’t show more on a constant basis.
I have gone through the pros and cons of the X-Divisions, what it’s good at, what it’s not so good at. Overall, the X-Division is a very good division and one that I thoroughly enjoy watching. While they are plenty of good things about it, there are main flaws that need to be urgently corrected. Sure some X-Division wrestlers get stick by casual fans and TNA marks that they lack personality and are spot wrestlers but when has that been not the case? All cruiserweight divisions have this problem.
The X-Division is regarded as the crown jewel of TNA for a reason and if you haven’t seen it yet, you owe it to yourself just to have a look at it at least. It doesn’t matter if you like them or not, shorter, skinner wrestlers have become the norm in modern wrestling and if you like Rey Mysterio and Jushin Liger, you’ll love the X-Division.
by Anto G. ..
The Rob 316 wrote:
This is a solid column Anto, you've analyzed the key points of your subject and did it in a non-subjective way. I feel you could break the "Spot Fest" section down and call one of them "No Direction for Midcarders". The reason for the constant tag and gauntlet matches is that TNA offers no direction/storylines for X-division wrestlers that are not directly involved with the X-division Champion.
They instead use the same 6 wrestlers and put them in a variety of matches (6 man tags, triangle tags, 6 way dances, etc.). Then they'll rotate one of them out to work with the champion and bring someone else in to fill the void. Getting the win in one of those tag matches or 6 ways is meaningless. The X-division is TNA's crown jewel, but it definately needs some heavy polishing.
Jon Rosaler wrote:
You think the X division is good? You're damn right it is, but it would be even better if Chris Sabin is X Champion, he never even lost it. To be the man, you gotta beat the man. WOOOOOOOO! Hopefully him, Dutt, and Lethal are done with the Jackass stuff. It would be cool if Jerry Lynn would lecutre them on how these Jackass pranks cost Sabin the title. Not that Jackass #1 or #2 was bad ^_^ heh heh
Will Knight wrote:
I tend to doubt that the X-Division really sells or tells a story. Many times we see on Impact a six man "tag" match where I normally witness 1 to 2 tags and a major amount of flips and leaps out of the ring to hear the audience cheer "T-N-A", where no one stays down for 5 seconds and show no signs a move actually hurting them for a period of more than a few moments...Where is the storytelling or selling of moves to show more powerful or deadly it is? Look at the match at Unbreakable 2005 (?) with Joe, Styles, Daniels for the X-Division title that many consider a classic, Though (once again) Joe (overrated) really never bothered to sell his injuries, the match was filled with a bunch of 1-2 move combos to a near fall everytime...entertaining yes, and they could have build on something to make the X-Division more legit, but now they have taken that made it into this sad spot fest with guys who are apparently better male cheerleaders and gymists than "wrestlers". If this is the future of wrestling then I will not be there to watch it...
Kilo Charlie! wrote:
The X-Division has some of the best athletes in wrestling, and does have a tendency to be a no-selling spot-fest o-rama. But, it’s hard not to watch guys like Sabin, Lethal, Williams, Shelley and Dutt do their thing. These guys can wrestle!! Now all they need is some character. Samoa Joe was the face of the X-Division and at the time I did think he was over-rated seeing as how he outweighed all the guys he fought (still waiting to see him put the musclebuster on a big guy). He has since changed my mind. I do think the Ultimate X match is over-hyped. I would rather see then do their thing in a six sides of steel type of match, or maybe a Ultimate X in a six sides of steel!
Anyway, they have the talent, just no face since Joe left. Senshi is a boring, boring wrestler. Chop, kick, chop, another kind of kick, chop…oh yeah, chop. Okay let’s stalk around the ring a little and make faces, oh yeah chop! Then it’s double stomp off the top rope (great finisher though, must be brutal on the guy who’s taking it). X-Division just needs a champ with some personality and a good challenger.
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