Title: The Best of the X Division Volume 1
Synopsis: A one disc DVD composing nine X Division matches (eleven if you count the two bonus matches) held between November 2004 and July 2005. The focus, as you would imagine is on TNA’s then signature division which at the time was the hottest thing going in the company. I should mention of course that a lot of these matches are very spot-heavy, but rest assured there’s plenty of excellent wrestling mixed in.
Reasons to Buy this DVD:
20 Man X Division Gauntlet (Victory Road 2004)
If you think I’m giving a hold for hold analysis of this match then guess again! I can barely remember all twenty guys in there. Although current TNA stars in this match include reigning X Division Champion Kazarian, the pre-MCMG Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley (who looked like a teenager back then!), Amazing Red and Brian “Spanky” Kendrick. Other notable names are former TNA stars Matt Bentley, Sonjay Dutt, Sharkboy, Sonny Siaki, as well as former WCW Cruiserweights L A Park, Hector Garza, Psychosis and another teenage looking young wrestler by the name of Matt Sydel, who you probably know as Evan Bourne. What makes this match so enjoyable is that they manage to maintain a fast pace for over twenty minutes because of all the talented wrestlers flying in and out of the ring at various intervals. There is literally no point during this match when nothing is happening. Back then TNA rules dictated that in Gauntlet/Battle Royals the final two men would then have a standard wrestling match to determine the winner and the final minutes between the two remaining wrestlers (who for obvious reasons shall remain nameless) are heated and dramatic.
AJ Styles vs Petey Williams (Victory Road 2004)
Anyone who read my last review (HINT HINT) knows that I’m not a fan of having two matches from the same Pay Per View on a Best Of set, but this match is too good not to include. Petey Williams faces his most difficult challenge yet in the Phenomenal AJ Styles. A nice back and forth match where Petey really looked like an equal to the former Heavyweight Champion. Sadly I don’t see John Cena being able to pull off that same feat with The Miz in three weeks. The finish to this match is a thing of beauty!
AJ Styles vs Petey Williams vs Chris Sabin Ultimate X (Final Resolution 2005)
Both Ultimate X matches on here are great but I must single out this triple threat bout from Final Resolution 2005 because it’s one of the best ever! All three men go above and beyond (well obviously since that’s the only way to get the belt down from the cables!) to put on a MOTY worthy spectacle. Highlights include AJ’s flip bump off a dropkick from Chris Sabin, an unbelievable hurricanranna from Petey Williams to Chris Sabin off AJ’s shoulders, and the spectacular finish which at the time was probably the best seen yet. This is also available on TNA Ultimate Matches but I’m not going to rant about that this time since this DVD came out first.
AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels Iron Man Match (Against All Odds 2005)
This 30 minute match is nothing short of excellent. Their chemistry in the ring is unparalleled. Styles got in some good offense for the first five minutes or so but then Daniels takes his opportunity and dominates more than half the match. The story involved his great too because the match ends on a tie with one fall each, which is realistic in the sense that if you get pinned or are made to submit say five times in half an hour you don’t deserve to be X Division Champion. Also keep an eye open for Daniels using the Koji Clutch, the same move CM Punk recently used on Cena (which was not the Anaconda Vice).
Chris Sabin vs Matt Bentley vs Sonjay Dutt vs Shocker Xscape Match (Lockdown 2005)
The original Xscape match from the first ever Lockdown Event sees four men competing under elimination rules and the final two men trying to escape the cage. This is pretty much what you’d expect from four X Division wrestlers in a cage. Fast paced action and some good spots, particularly the amazing moonsault off the top of the cage from Trinity. I’d like to see any of TNA’s current Knockouts try that! The ending between Sabin and Shocker wasn’t exactly smooth. I believe they were both supposed to touch the floor at the same time, you know a typical TNA non-finish. The announcers certainly put a lot of emphasis on how close it was, how Sabin and Shocker were neck and neck, how it was a “photo finish” and how Shocker just barely landed on the floor first. However what I saw was Shocker clearly falling from the cage first, then Sabin letting go of the cage and falling second, and then Shocker clearly landing on the floor first while Sabin was still halfway down in midair. Either Sabin waited too long to drop or Shocker dropped too early, but whichever way you saw it, it was far from a photo finish. Besides that though, this was a good match and worth revisiting.
Chris Sabin vs Samoa Joe (No Surrender 2005)
There is also a match before this one from the same event, a match between AJ Styles and Sean Waltman with Jerry Lynn as the referee. It’s a very good match as Waltman (at that point in his career) still had much to offer professional wrestling. However the best match of the night from No Surrender 2005 was this match here between Chris Sabin and Samoa Joe who had only been with TNA for a month at this point, but had already made sure the entire roster knew exactly who he was. The match wasn’t exactly back and forth as Joe dominated a good 75% of it, but Chris Sabin made several impressive comebacks, only to be immediately put down again. I loved how the announcers noted that at that point nobody had been able to sustain any serious offense on Joe. Sure they might catch him here or there with a few slaps, chops, or dropkicks, sure they might move out of the way if he’s charging towards them in the corner, but nobody was able to continuously stay on him for more than a few shots before the advantage swung back in his favour. That was exactly what happened here, and even when Sabin did manage to string a few combos together to really put Joe on the defensive, he still couldn’t hold Joe down long enough. A great match. My only regret is how far Joe has fallen in 2011.
Hey this is actually the first time I’ve included the Bonus material as a Reason to buy. We only get two extra matches and neither is really given more than ten minutes, in fact the second one went less than five minutes, but they were good while they lasted. The first match is a very good freestyle match between AJ Styles, Kazarian, Kid Kash, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley and Amazing Red. I would have rather put this match on Pay Per View and given it twice as much time, but what we get here is pretty good for an Impact match and sensible for the Bonus material instead of the main feature. The second match is a tag team match with Christopher Daniels and Elix Skipper vs Amazing Red and Sonjay Dutt. It’s short but sweet and I think this was Triple X’s last match before they were forced to disband in that incredible Cage match against Americas Most Wanted at Turning Point 2004.
Reasons to Avoid this DVD:
AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels vs “Primetime” Elix Skipper vs Ron “The (R-) Truth” Killings Ultimate X (Destination X 2005)
This mach isn’t quite as good as the earlier Ultimate X match and with good reason. This is the first and only “Ultimate X Challenge Match”. First we have a standard tag match with Styles and Primetime vs Daniels and Truth (Yes Truth is exactly who you think he is). When a fall takes place the wrestler who was pinned or made to submit is eliminated. The remaining three men compete under standard Triple Threat Rules (all while the X Division Title hangs above on the X). The wrestler who is pinned or made to submit is the next one eliminated. The final two men compete under Ultimate X Rules with the man who takes down the Title becoming X Division Champion. Got all that? Irregardless of how complicated I just made that sound, the match is still very good and the triple threat portion of the match is a blast! Unfortunately it just peaks too early as once it comes down to the final two men, the pace just slows down completely. Both men just keep going up, then falling down, then they lie there selling, then they go up again and again and again. It shows why a third or fourth man is always needed in a match like Ultimate X. So that when two wrestlers are selling the effects of all the high impact stunts, there are two more to keep the pace going. Don’t get me wrong the match is still very good if you can look past those little inadequacies, though in order to keep this review objective, I must point out the flaws in this match to ensure that you readers know exactly what you are in for.
Only One Disc?
This was a great DVD so why not include a second disc with more matches? There was an X Division DVD before this one covering matches from 2002 and 2003, so why not use this one to cover matches from 2004 before the Victory Road Pay Per View? And it does end right before all the incredible matches between AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Samoa Joe. Couldn’t it have gone a little further? Luckily those matches are somewhat covered on the sequel Best of the X Division Vol 2 which I’ll get round to reviewing very soon.
This is an excellent DVD. The high impact wrestling here is unlike anything seen in WWE or even TNA nowadays. Unfortunately the X Division of today isn’t nearly as significant, and it’s a real shame because looking back at these matches, you’d think that anyone with half a brain would make the X Division the main focus of their promotion. Anyone who has only just started watching TNA Wrestling, or is looking for early DVDs for their collection, or just wants to relive the glory days of this wonderful Division, I would seriously recommend picking this one up straight away. There’s no Robbie E. on here!