Title: Best of the X-Division Matches
Synopsis: One of the three fabled original DVD releases from TNA in 2003, this set focuses on (you guessed it) the best of the X Division matches. Included are 14 matches from the very first match in TNA history (a 6 man tag which opened the first Pay Per View in June 2002) to the first ever Ultimate X match between Michael Shane, Chris Sabin and Frankie Kazarian (August 2003). Prominent players in this one are AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn, Kid Kash and Amazing Red. Mike Tenay and Don West are your hosts. Tenay is competent as always. West maddeningly reveals the outcome of every match in the links. More on him later.
Reasons to Buy this DVD:
The Flying Elvises vs AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn and Low Ki (June 2002)
This match doesn’t go very long and in truth it’s just a quick spot fest to get the live crowd into the show, but I still found this one to be very exciting. All six men do a lot with the time they’re given and the crowd were definitely into the action. This match is also an essential addition to any TNA fans collection because it’s the first match in TNA history! Yes this 6 man tag opened TNA’s inaugural Pay Per View event and as you will learn on other DVDs, they performed in a broken ring which was fixed just moments before the show.
AJ Styles vs Jerry Lynn vs Low Ki vs Psychosis Double Elimination Match (June 2002)
The match to crown the first ever X Division Champion had to be included. This 26 minute four-way elimination match is an excellent display of high flying and fast paced action. It is exactly what was needed to establish the X Division as TNA’s premiere style, although I refuse to believe that AJ Styles had a broken foot during this match. I’m not saying he wasn’t injured but nobody could pull off half of what Styles did with a broken foot!
Low Ki vs Christopher Daniels vs Kid Romeo vs Tony Mamaluke vs Elix Skipper vs Jerry Lynn (July 2002)
This six man elimination match is significant for being the TNA debut of Christopher Daniels (well actually everyone except Low Ki and Jerry Lynn made their debut, but Daniels is the only one of significance). We get a long, but fast paced match complete with dives, reversals, stiff kicks and spectacular performances from all around. My only gripes are that Lynn was somehow eliminated by count out when he wasn’t even legally in the match (two men in the ring with four on the apron), and Elix Skipper’s horrendous botch when he hits the ropes wrong. That looked nasty! Still the final minutes of the match between Daniels and Ki are excellent.
Jerry Lynn vs Low Ki vs AJ Styles Ladder match (August 2002)
The triple threat ladder match is one of the best matches on the set. Styles, Lynn and Low Ki all deliver incredible performances and painful looking spots, the most jaw dropping of which was Lynn’s famous piledriver on Low Ki off the ladder. That was insane!
Amazing Red vs Jimmy Yang (November 2002)
This match is clipped for some reason, which sucks because I would have loved to see the match in it’s entirety. These two incredibly agile and high flying athletes deliver a clinic in aerial wrestling. It’s too bad Yang never made it that far in TNA (or WWE for that matter). He’s a joy to watch in the ring. As for Red, well I’m just getting started with his matches!
Amazing Red vs AJ Styles (December 2002)
Hands down the best match on the DVD. These two have incredible chemistry together and this match is definitely my favorite of their series. Solid booking with the underdog face Red vs the cocky heel Styles. The match is packed with aerials and reversals and unique moves you could only see from these two. It’s also interesting seeing Styles face a smaller opponent. I mean he’s not that small himself, but he’s rarely the bigger man of the match. That’s why it’s great seing him experiment with innovative power moves.
Kid Kash vs Paul London (February 2003)
I’m not sure how well known London was in 2003, but he got a nice response from the crowd and there was one sign which read: PAUL LONDON MARK. Fair enough. Now I had three problems with this match that I’ll just get out of the way. One, before the match started they showed a replay of the previous weeks match where Kash won the X Division Title from Sonny Siaki (remember him?). Unfortunately he won the match with the most F’d up moonsault I’ve EVER seen and while I’m glad Kash is still walking, TNA really should have destroyed all evidence of that footage. It’s hard to watch. Two, This match happened a week later and Paul London was only just making his TNA debut. How exactly had he qualified for a shot at the the new X Champ? Three, Kash was a face at the time, yet at one point he introduces a chair and tries to throw it full force in London’s face. This was not an isolated incident either. In fact later in the DVD he uses the chair on Amazing Red. Twice. Why did the face need to use a chair? And why the hell did the ref allow it?
Anyway with that being said, I must admit that once the match started, my doubts were put to rest as these two worked very well together. It seemed neither man had the upper hand for a while as they kept reversing each other and Kash was very generous in selling London’s offence and making him look strong in his debut. Though Kash won the match, London came out looking like his equal. This match was an education in how to get a young guy over in defeat.
Jerry Lynn vs Juventud Guerrera (February 2003)
These two veterans square off in a back and forth bout that was met with a great response from the lively Asylum crowd. Juvi was only making a one-off appearance so despite playing the heel, he was super over.
Chris Sabin vs Michael Shane vs Frankie Kazarian Ultimate X Match (August 2003)
The first ever Ultimate X match isn’t likely to blow anyone away by today’s standards but it is still an exciting attraction and worth possessing for its novelty value. Since this is the first match of it’s kind, there were clearly kinks to be worked out and it’s very obvious that the wrestlers were tentative about what would work and what wouldn’t. According to Kazarian, they had originally intended to support the cables with four poles (similar to the ones used in Item on a Pole matches). On the day before the taping, the three men tested the poles by climbing a ladder in the middle of the ring and then grabbing the cables, but as soon as Kazarian took his feet off the ladder, he hung for all of one second before the whole thing collapsed and all four poles bent inward. While that error was thankfully fixed with the steel trusses still used today, the three men encounter another unexpected problem: the cables are not connected in the middle, that is to say they were hung from corner to corner, with one cable on top of the other. As a result when the men climb across the cables the belt falls twice (both incidents are edited out)! Still I am willing to overlook these blunders since this was only the first match and lets face it: the Ultimate X match is tough to prepare for even nowadays eight and a half years later.
Reasons to Avoid this DVD:
Syxx Pac vs AJ Styles vs Ace Steel vs Joel Maximo vs Jose Maximo vs Kid Kash vs Tony Mamaluke Ladder match (October 2002)
Unlike the first ladder match this match is a total disaster. Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to take anything away from the effort that everyone put into this match, or the very real punishment that they absorbed (Joel Maximo took a horrific bump off the ladder and the ladder came down between his legs with AJ Styles’ weight behind it. It looked VERY painful!) I didn’t like this match because unlike your average Money in the Bank ladder match with the same amount of people, nobody seemed to have any idea what they were doing. Many spots were botched (I hope Ace Steel was disciplined for failing to protect Kid Kash after a moonsault attempt) and most looked like they were improvised on the spot. There were too many people and the ring was too crowded. At least in WWE the wrestlers lie outside the ring selling. Overall I just felt uncomfortable watching so many bright young talents take so many serious risks with their careers and lives. These kind of matches retired Edge after all. Tony Mamaluke at one point looked like he broke his arm. Either that or his selling was first class, but I’m convinced he really was hurt and should have been taken out of the match. Worst of all after six of TNA’s young up-and-coming stars destroy themselves in this unnecessarily brutal match, surprise entrant Syxx Pac shows up at the end and simply climbs the ladder and takes the belt for himself, thus becoming the new X Division Champion. Ridiculous!
Amazing Red vs Kid Kash (April 2003)
This match is significant for Amazing Red finally winning the X Division Title. I was enjoying it until the end where Trinity interfered disguised as Venom (or some kind of spider themed luchador) and cost Kash the match. That Red, one of TNA’s most over babyfaces who had been chasing the title for months was booked to steal a tainted win instead of winning clean and having an emotional and heart warming celebration is flabbergasting. Worse still referee Andrew Thomas took way too long recovering from the bump that made the interference possible. In the time it took him to turn around and count the fall, Kash could have easily kicked out. Red should have improvised and hit a Red Star Press or Infrared while the ref was selling. It would have made his victory look less cheap and more believable. First this, and then his second title victory six and a half years later when he defeated Samoa Joe with help from Bobby Lashley (whose interference Earl Hebner allowed for some reason). Poor Red! And to cap it all off Red was not even allowed to celebrate his anticlimactic victory. Despite accepting the interference and taking a cowardly cheap win, Red was still a babyface and because of his genuine connection with the Asylum fans, his title victory was met with cheers and applause. The applause died instantly when Venom/Trinity returned and nailed the new champ with a DDT. Thus the final image of Red’s “celebration” was of the masked assailant retreating through the crowd, where hilariously a fan can be heard shouting “F**k you!” I agree with him.
Don West’s Commentary
Now we all loved West’s heel persona in 2009. And Lord knows I would rather hear Tenay and West on commentary than Tenay and Taz any day of the week. But his commentary in the early matches on the DVD, particularly the first two matches, is so awful, it’s almost hilarious. During the 6 man tag he was so desperate to put over the wrestlers and sell the product that every ten seconds he would gasp and scream and make ridiculous exaggerations. No joke, at one point he marked out over a dropkick. A freaking dropkick! Several times I was worried he was going to have ten heart attacks. Here are a few quotes:
“THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE!” (just 44 seconds after the opening bell), “SOMEBODY’S GONNA GET KILLED TONIGHT!” (during the 7 man ladder match where I was already concerned about the wrestlers’ health. Thanks Don!), “ALL THIS FOR JUST $9.95 A WEEK? I’D PAY A HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR THIS!” (What?) and of course his most overused catchphrase at the time: “THIS IS THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH!” (seriously take a drink every time he says that and you’ll be hammered before the end of the first disc).
I am happy to say that the talking head clips from Styles, Lynn, Sabin, Shane and Kaz are non kayfabe. As we all know by now that is very good news. Unfortunately these clips are inserted during matches and they are extremely distracting and annoying. I mean would it really be so hard to include these before or after the matches instead of during?
This is the fifth X Division themed DVD I’ve reviewed and so there is really nothing to say that I haven’t said before. I love the X Division. I love the roster that TNA has assembled in this DVD release. Most of the matches deliver exactly what they promise: Fast paced, high flying spots and stunts with some great wrestling thrown in for good measure. There’s some questionable production issues with the commentary and some dodgy booking to be sure, but as always the wrestling action is A-1. If you can still find it, buy it. Simple as that!