The June 23, 2011 edition of Total Nonstop Action's Impact Wrestling was the first that I had actually watched in several months. Due to my work schedule, I've had to keep up with TNA through online reports, with the occasional YouTube viewing.
And I was okay with that. From the sound of things, I hadn't missed much. But, the last couple weeks, I've been hearing rumblings that things have started to change. There had been rumors for the last couple years that the "Destination X" pay per view would be an exclusively X-Division pay per view. That had not happened until this year. July 10, 2011, will be a day that diehard TNA fans will enjoy. The X-Division - a high-flying, hard-hitting division that emphasized that it wasn't about weight limits, but no limits - will be featured exclusively.
In the early days of TNA, this division was what truly set this promotion apart from WWE and helped it carve its identity in the world of professional wrestling. The X-Division helped create legitimate stars out of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and Christopher Daniels. It gave prominence to formerly unknown names like Jay Lethal, Petey Williams, Sonjay Dutt, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Frankie Kazarian, Michael Shane, etc...
Over the years, though, the X-Division faded from prominence. Styles, Joe, and Daniels left for the Heavyweight division and that division seemed to fade to the background as a cavalcade of former World Championship Wrestling (WCW) stars took all the attention away.
But, that appears to be changing, for a month at least. The X-Division will be the stars of the Destination X pay per view, to be held July 10.
Several old and new names have been brought in for the pay per view. An old name that has elicited several positive reviews has been Austin Aries. Click here to see what Pro Wrestling Illustrated columnist Brady Hicks recently blogged about the man who dubbed himself "A Double."
Some new names have been brought in for the event as well. One I'd like to talk about is 24-year-old Michael Paris, who has gained a cult following over the last several years under the moniker Shiima Xion. Xion is one of those guys who I haven't really watched much of, but I had heard the name. I knew who he was, and in the process of keeping up with all aspects of wrestling, had loosely kept up with him.
About a year ago, I began dating my girlfriend. When she found out about my love of professional wrestling, she mentioned one day, "I have a friend who wrestles. His name's Michael. He calls himself Shiima Xion."
They went to college together. In what may be a testament to how humble he is, my girlfriend seemingly had no idea how big of a deal Xion was becoming. She would tell me things every so often like, "I'm helping Michael study for a test." And then she'd add something like, "He's going to Mexico this weekend to wrestle."
When Xion was announced a few months ago as being a participant in the ECWA Super 8 Tournament, I was trying to explain to her what that meant. I was scanning my head trying to think of wrestlers she would know who had participated in the tournament. "Do you know who Christopher Daniels is?" Nothing. "Do you know who Jerry Lynn is?" Nothing. "Paul London?" Nothing. "Daivari?" Nothing. We finally got somewhere when I mentioned Daniel Bryan, the WWE version of Bryan Danielson, who particpated in the 2001 Super 8.
When she told me that he was going to be on Impact and at the Destination X pay per view, I was pretty excited. I've never met him (although I did see him on the other side of a room at her graduation), but it's really cool for her to see him succeed and I'm happy that one of her friends is doing well for himself.
Impact Wrestling was an interesting program in and of itself. There were good matches and good angles, and the product itself appears to be going in a good direction.
Zema Ion - the TNA version of Shiima Xion - defeated Dakota Darsow and Federico Palacios in a triple-threat match to earn a spot at the Destination X pay per view. Palacios is a wrestler who usually goes by the name Azrael. If you follow wrestling hardcore, that name means something to you. If not, it doesn't. Darsow is the son of former WWE superstar Barry Darsow, who had successful runs as The Repo Man and Smash, one half of the Demolition tag team.
Before the matches, all three did short interview segments to introduce themselves to the audience. I feel like Palacios did the worst of the three. He didn't come across like a star, he came off like a complainer, talking about busting his ass for so many years and finally getting a shot. In terms of sounding like a star, I feel like Zema Ion sounded the best. He was smooth, comfortable, and came off like he was somebody that the audience should already know. I enjoyed the idea of what Darsow was going for. In his promo, he said that he wasn't just the greatest wrestler in the world, he was the greatest in the world, period. I think if developed properly, that could be a pretty cool character.
The match itself was short, but got all three over to a national audience. They all got their moments to shine, with Zima Ion coming out on top, after hitting a 450 Splash, a move invented by 2 Cold Scorpio, and presently used by WWE Superstar Justin Gabriel.
Destination X will likely be a short-term focus on the X-Divison championship. But, it will be fun for wrestling fans. July 10, 2011, will be a good day for people who want hard-hitting, high-flying, athletic wrestling. X-Division pioneers like AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels will be leading that charge, but younger guys like Shiima Xion/Zima Ion will be looking to make their mark at this event. If you remember the glory years of the TNA X-Division, tune in. If you like good wrestling, tune in. The new Impact Wrestling slogan is "Wrestling Matters." That will definitely be the case July 10.