Across the Line: Ex-division?

Across the Line

Across the Line

Ex-Division?

By Richard Jennings

The X Division has always been one of TNA’s strongest aspects, and, since WWE retired its Cruiserweight Championship in 2008, it has also become one of the most distinctive. Unlike WWE – whose dedication to the style of wrestling showcased in such divisions has never been more than perfunctory – TNA have generally placed the X Division at the heart of its product. It’s something that would seem logical when you consider that it has consistently produced high-quality matches since its inception eight years ago. Now that WWE has all but abandoned the idea of a division dedicated to the high-flying, quick-paced style you would expect TNA to push the X Division in the same way that it is pushing its tag team division, wouldn’t you? Well judging by the way the X Division has been buried and its title devalued in recent weeks it would seem like TNA disagree.

For most of the year the X Division has been dominated by Doug Williams. He has had two separate title reigns racking up 202 days as champion. It is also worth remembering that the first of those reigns didn’t end with his defeat in the ring, but with him being stripped of the title due to his being stuck in the UK because of flight cancellations. Even as a cocky heel he was always booked as a strong champion whose cheating could always be backed up with his mat skills.

Some complained that his mat-based style of wrestling was unsuited to the X Division, which is ostensibly a cruiserweight division without weight limitations, but these critics overlooked the fact that he was more than capable of putting on good matches with more typical X Division wrestlers. Moreover his in-character hatred of the “acrobats” that comprised those wrestlers made him the perfect foil for opponents like Brian Kendrick, whose feud with Williams was perhaps one of the most underrated of the year.

As Fortune was established and, in early August, Williams joined you would have expected the X Division Championship to become one of the major focuses of the new stable, especially with Brian Kendrick joining Fortune’s polar opposite in the form of EV2.0 and the emerging contender, Jay Lethal, coming off of a hot feud with the Nature Boy himself. Instead what we got was a few directionless weeks when real contention for the title was subsumed by the Fortune/EV2.0 feud before Williams dropped it in a short, un-hyped and, frankly, quite poor match on the September 16th edition of Impact.

Jay Lethal then dropped the title to Amazing Red at a live event after only six days as champion. Despite the quick title change this seemed like it could be a good thing for the X Division, not least because Amazing Red is one of the best wrestlers in the company and has been criminally underused in the last year or so. However what happened next was enough to make any X Division fan uneasy: at another live event a few days later Amazing Red dropped the title back to Jay Lethal without ever even appearing on television as the champion. Both of these changes took place in the respective winners’ home states and so seem somewhat logical, but when taken in the context of Williams’ loss these quick, un-hyped and untelevised changes cheapen the belt as well as being reminiscent of the on-the-fly booking that became something of a bane for late-era WCW.

If those events were enough to make X Division fans uneasy what has happened since is enough to make them utterly apoplectic. The next contender for the title emerged as newcomer Robbie E. Accompanied by his terribly-named valet Cookie, Robbie E quickly made his intention to challenge for the title clear, and also managed to elicit some genuine heat from the audience, although it was more due to his and Cookie’s overly long and mind-numbingly dull promos. It wasn’t a great start. Things only got worse when he entered the ring and it became apparent that he was not even remotely an X Division wrestler in either style or skill. Surely he wouldn’t go over Jay Lethal and become the champion?

Apparently he would; at Turning Point Robbie E was hotshotted to the title in a terrible match which represents a nadir for the X Division. It completes the denigration of what a few short months ago was one of the jewels in TNA’s crown. It’s not as if there weren’t numerous opportunities for the division. For a start TNA’s bookers have missed a trick by not making more out of Jay Lethal defeating Flair’s boy Doug Williams when Lethal had such a high-profile feud with Flair only weeks previously. On top of that great talent like Amazing Red and Kiyoshi who suit the X Division down to a tee are nowhere to be seen. Here’s hoping that the X Division’s current state represents nothing more than a blip in the booking of what should be one of TNA’s major draws.

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About Richard Jennings
A fan of professional wrestling since his early years, Richard Jennings writes the "Across the Line" column for TNA UK.

One Response to Across the Line: Ex-division?

  1. Tracey says:

    its so sad that they aren’t pushing the X-Division like they should – i love watching these guys, so much talent but never used 😦 or if used, then they aren’t used right.

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