Title: World X Cup 2008
Synopsis: In anticipation of Destination X, I present to you the last time the X Division was truly in the spotlight (I’m not counting last years Destination X because Abyss was in the main event and AJ Styles fell into a hole). It was in the Summer of 2008 that TNA held their third World X Cup Tournament and all four rounds are here in their entirety on one disc, along with three bonus matches featuring participants from the tournament competing in non-tournament matches. Feel free at this point to skip ahead to the main review but for now, I’d like to provide a little background info on the tournament for newer fans who are interested in a little wrestling history.
The World X Cup, for those who don’t know, was held every two years and featured four teams of four, each representing a different country/promotion/style, competing for points in various matches. Such was the importance of the tournament that TNA took the time to bring in international talent from different promotions around the world. The four teams were always Team USA (later Team TNA so wrestlers like Sonjay Dutt and Curry Man could join), Team Mexico, Team Japan and Team Canada (later Team International after the stable disbanded in 2006). In 2004 the entire tournament took place in one night, and in 2006 and 2008 it was spread across several episodes of Impact with the finals taking place on Pay Per View. The last tournament was in 2008 which happens to be the focus of this DVD. There should have been a fourth tournament in 2010 but I suppose Hogan and Bischoff decided that there were more important things to focus on instead. That or the fact that they simply couldn’t be bothered recruiting, promoting and most importantly of all paying wrestlers that they (and in their minds the fans) had never heard of.
Reasons to Buy this DVD:
The DVD kicks off with a well produced highlight video which introduces the four teams and explains the rules of the tournament. But more importantly than that, it stresses the importance and prestige of the World X Cup. Within 30 seconds the viewer is already given the impression that this tournament is a big deal. Thumbs up for that! Furthermore Mike Tenay makes a hell of an effort in every match throughout the DVD to put over the stars from other promotions for the fans who have never seen them before. He also puts over the World X Cup itself (like reminding the fans that Team TNA wants to defend the WXC Trophy rather than compete for it because they won it in 2004 and 2006). Little things like that go a long way. Don West tries to put it over to an extent but he comes across as if he’s exaggerating and marking out. Tenay has mastered the ability to enjoy a match while staying professional. In another nice touch, during a 1st Round match between Team Mexico and Team Japan, the other two teams (TNA and International) stand at the top of the ramp to watch, either to scout their future opponents, or simply out of respect for the competition. So simple but so incredibly effective.
Most of the Matches
I hate to sound lazy but I can’t give every match it’s own paragraph when they’re all about 5 minutes long and are roughly the same. All of the bouts are good but not good enough to stand out from the rest. There are no bad matches apart from Rey Bucanero vs Alex Kozlov which went less than 2 minutes, but without it the tournament wouldn’t be complete so technically I can’t fault it being on the DVD. The best matches in my opinion were The Motor City Machine Guns vs Tyson Dux and (Shawn) Daivari, Speed Muscle (Doi and Yoshino) vs Ultimo Guerrero and Rey Bucanero and Kaz vs Ultimo Guerrero. The rest are still worth seeing so as to follow the tournament brackets, especially if you’ve never seen any of the Japanese or Mexican stars, in which case they will blow your mind.
Team TNA vs Team Mexico vs Team Japan vs Team International 12 man Elimination match (Victory Road 2008)
Team TNA was Curry Man (Christopher Daniels) and the Motor City Machine Guns. Team Mexico was CMML stars Ultimo Guerrero, Rey Bucanero and Averno. Team Japan was Dragon Gate wrestlers Masato Yoshino, Milano Collection A. T. and Puma. Team International was former Team Canada member Tyson Dux, current FCW star Alex Kozlov (recently seen jobbing to Alberto Del Rio on Smackdown last year and selling in the Sin Cara vignettes) and future Tag Team, X Division and Television champion Doug Williams. Random Fact: Because of all these international names, the Spellcheck option hates my guts right now! This 12 man elimination match was fast paced, innovative, and at times simply insane. A unique blend of American, Lucha Libre, European, Japanese, and whatever style Curry Man brings to the table. Team Mexico quickly get themselves over with the Houston crowd and Team International had great heat. Team Japan quickly lost two of their members but their remaining wrestler Masato Yoshino (currently one half of the DGUSA Open the United Gate Champions and one of my favourite Japanese wrestlers!) stayed on until the final two and left the fans jaws all over the arena floor. As Don West rightly said he was the star of the match. As for Sabin and Shelley? This was their kind of match. They tore the house down. To be fair it does leave the viewer feeling physically exhausted afterwards (well what would you expect from twenty four minutes of nonstop high risk spots?) but you can’t take away from the outstanding efforts of all four teams. For what it’s worth this one is also in my personal top 20 favorite matches ever.
Kaz vs Naruki Doi vs Volador Jr. vs Daivari Ultimate X (Victory Road 2008)
As a rule I always include Ultimate X matches as a Reason to Buy but I must also point out that this match while good, was flawed from the beginning. Since three of the four teams were from different promotions, it is inevitable that three out of the four wrestlers in the Finals were competing in Ultimate X for the very first time. So you can see the problem. Naturally this wasn’t as good as some of the previous UX matches but it’s still a fitting conclusion to the DVD and the tournament. The wrestlers appeared to learn pretty fast as they all took turns on the cables and each managed to pull off some kind of spot. I loved how Naruki Doi climbed the cables backwards to keep an eye on his opponents climbing behind him. It was something different. The most amazing moment of course was Kaz’s leg drop off the steel truss onto Daivari. If you’ve not seen it yet I demand you look it up on Youtube sometime. In fact Youtube it right now. I’ll wait.
Seriously go ahead and Youtube “Kaz Daivari Ultimate X”. You’ll thank me for it.
You’re welcome! Anyway all three of the bonus matches are pretty good. They featured TNA wrestlers taking on International wrestlers outside of the Tournament brackets. The clear best of the three is the Motor City Machine Guns vs Speed Muscle from Team Japan. It’s unfortunate that a tag team dream match lasted only five minutes, but I once read a comment on Youtube which called this the best match to go less than five minutes ever. It’s not saying much I know but the match is good while it lasts. For those who only watch WWE and TNA this DVD would be a good way to sample Dragon Gate or DGUSA.
My final thought on the Tournament is that the points system is easy to understand and makes perfect sense: 1 point for a victory in the 1st Round. 2 points for a victory in the 2nd Round. 3 points for the winner of the 3rd Round with the runner up getting 2 points and the runner up behind them getting 1 point. And obviously a victory in the 4th Round gets you … hang on … carry the three … 4 points. What I’m trying to say is that the points system in this tournament is much better than the current system they’ve got for the Bound For Glory Series (which I believe is a blatant rip-off of Chikara‘s “12 Large Summit” tournament but that’s another story) where a win can get you 7 or 10 points. It’s more believable to get between 1 and 4 points for a win, not to mention easier to keep track of the score.
Reasons to Avoid this DVD:
Matches are too short
None of the matches are bad, or at least not bad enough that I’d not recommend the DVD but the fact remains that the matches from the first 2 rounds, especially the singles matches are over far too quickly and it’s a shame because some, like Curry Man vs Milano Collection A. T. and Doug Williams vs Masato Yoshino had the potential to be really great TV matches. Despite the efforts of Mike Tenay that I mentioned earlier, one gets the impression that TNA was only promoting this tournament because it was “that time of the year again” and not because they actually cared about it.
Prior to one of the bonus matches Daivari cuts a promo in Arabic which is translated (rather poorly) in English subtitles. I know going in, Team International were heels, but there was no need for that. We all know that Daivari can speak perfect English whether you’ve seen him in WWE or TNA, so this to me came across as TNA trying to get extra heat for Daivari and his team. If I had my way the whole concept of foreign heels speaking their native language to get cheap heat would just disappear.
Why only 2008?
I first started watching TNA in 2004 around the time the first ever World X Cup was held. In fact I was watching when TNA promoted the first America’s X Cup Tournament (the predecessor of the World X Cup with only two teams) and since then I have been hoping to see both the 2004 and 2006 tournaments released on DVDs like this one. Come to think of it I wouldn’t say no to the America’s X Cups on DVD either. Yet we only have the 2008 tournament and since there was no World X Cup in 2010, I’m convinced that TNA has given up on them. So it looks as if the America’s X Cup and World X Cup Anthology DVDs will continue to wait … and wait … and wait.
Some may find the short matches and lack of familiar faces off putting, which is understandable but for one disc you get plenty of fast paced action and the last two matches are spectacular. This is definitely recommmended for fans who only watch American wrestling, and want to experience something new, but don’t know where to begin. The 12 man match alone will make you forget everything you think you know about wrestling and with luck the next DVDs you buy may be from international or indepenent wrestling promotions.
I know this website is strictly WWE and TNA but as long as I’m on the subject of Indy Wrestling I’d like to give a cheap plug to ROH, Dragon Gate USA and my favorite Indy promotion Chikara Pro. I would seriously recommend any of those three promotions to fans looking for something new. You could do worse.