The most difficult part about writing columns in this heat is making sure the computer doesn’t get wet. The Greek god of wrestling is spending so much time in pools these days that I think I’m developing gills.
Writing by the pool can be quite distracting, especially when beautiful women are re-applying suntan lotion or massaging my broad back and muscular legs. So, in case you find a rare error in this column – and I’m betting there won’t be any – Achilles Heel wants you to understand why.
Let’s start this week with “Destination X,” TNA’s pay-per-view this Sunday from Orlando. TNA has been on a bit of a roll lately, producing good pay-per-views and, with the exception of the A.J. Styles paternity angle, creative storylines that make sense. TNA will try to keep that streak going with what appears to be a promising card.
The main event features World Heavyweight champion Bobby Roode defending his title against Austin Aries, who gave up his X Division Championship to go after the world title. Aries’ move elevates the importance of the world title, which has already been elevated by Roode’s excellent championship reign. To make sure the X Division title doesn’t get devalued, TNA has also set up an X Division tournament to crown a new champion (more about that in a few minutes).
The Roode-Aries match should be excellent. Aries is the best opponent, from a pure wrestling standpoint, that Roode has faced this year. I expect Roode to win, but, if booked properly, this match should benefit both wrestlers.
Another bout features A.J. Styles vs. Christopher Daniels in a Last Man Standing match. The ex-girlfriend/paternity storyline seems forced – the acting has been atrocious – but that shouldn’t detract too much from this match. Styles and Daniels are both skilled wrestlers. If Vince Russo were still in TNA, I’d be fearful that the angle would overshadow the wrestling. I think the opposite will be the case Sunday.
The other announced match has Kurt Angle battling Samoa Joe in a match that’s part of the Bound for Glory Series, a tournament to become the No. 1 contender that adds meaning to otherwise run-of-the-mill matches. Angle is still terrific and Samoa Joe, who seems re-energized in 2012, is a fresh opponent for him. This should make TNA 3-for-3 in terms of quality matches at Destination X.
Destination X has a solid foundation. Whether this is a good or great pay-per-view will depend on the X Division tournament.
Eight wrestlers will compete in four matches on Sunday. The winners of those four matches will participate in an Ultimate X match, which has the title hanging above the ring. Similar to WWE’s Money in the Bank match, the first wrestler to get to the championship belt will be the X Division champion.
The participants thus far are Zema Ion, Kid Kash, Doug Williams, Sonjay Dutt and Rashad Cameron, who should be well-known to Combat Zone Wrestling fans as BLK Jeez (formerly Sabian). He may even seem familiar to sharp-eyed WWE fans, who saw him as one of the victims in one of Ryback’s 2-on-1 handicapped matches a few weeks ago. The final three wrestlers in the tournament will be determined on Thursday’s Impact Wrestling.
The success of this pay-per-view will be determined by how the crowd treats the X Division tournament. If the fans treat the X Division as filler between the three matches listed above, then this could still be a good pay-per-view, but it can’t be great. If the fans are excited about the X Division matches and treat the crowning of a new X Division champion as a big deal, this could be one of TNA’s best pay-per-views.
If you’re a fan of good in-ring action, I recommend purchasing Destination X. If you’re going to be disappointed that Sting, Jeff Hardy and other stars aren’t booked in matches, then Destination X might not be for you. On the other hand, if you check it out, you might just find out that you like it.
U-S-A! U-S-A! When WWE needed a couple of All-American wrestlers to team up with United States champion Santino Marella for its Great American Bash live Smackdown broadcast on Tuesday, the choices were Jim Duggan and Sgt. Slaughter. Duggan and Slaughter were the top two names on my top 10 list of most patriotic wrestlers last week.
Coincidence? You decide.
McINTYRE SIGHTING: Not only did the six-man match mentioned above affirm my choices for the most patriotic wrestlers, but it also featured TV time for Achilles Heel’s favorite underutilized wrestler, Drew McIntyre. Hunico, Camacho and McIntyre were the “foreigners” served up to Duggan, Slaughter and Marella for a six-man tag team match at the Great American Bash.
Fortunately, McIntyre was somewhat protected. He got his shots in on Marella and was outside the ring when Marella pinned Hunico, whose career has gone downhill since he was the second (and then heel) Sin Cara. The protection of McIntyre in this match is a small morsel to hang your hat one, but I hope it’s the sign of better things to come for this Scottish wrestler.
Hey, Cliff Lee finally won a game this week. Maybe McIntyre’s first victory on TV this year isn’t far behind.
EXTREME NIGHT: There was some new blood, if you’ll pardon the expression, at Extreme Rising’s June 30 show at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory, but the fans who came to see the old ECW stars went home happy. The winners were ECW favorites Homicide, Stevie Richards, the Gangstas, the FBI (Full Blooded Italians), Sabu, Balls Mahoney and Perry Saturn. There was also a promo by Shane Douglas and a run-in by Sandman.
In terms of new blood, Bestia 666 defeated Pesadilla in a match that received rave reviews. Some other new wrestlers were introduced to the “Extreme” crowd, albeit in losing efforts.
Extreme Rising will return to Philadelphia on Nov. 17 to crown its first champion. There will also be a steel cage match in which the fans choose the participants.
COMBAT ZONE: Combat Zone Wrestling returns to the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees on July 14 (7:30 p.m.). The main event is a one-hour Ultraviolent Ironman match between CZW World Junior Heavyweight champion Drake Younger and challenger Sami Callahan.
Other matches include Masada defending the CZW World Heavyweight Championship against A.R. Fox, and Azrieal and Bandido Jr. putting the CZW tag team titles on the line against the Nation of Intoxication’s Danny Havoc and Lucky 13 . There will also be a ladder match. I’ll provide more details in next week’s Heel Turns.
RING IN THE FUTURE: As I look at the main events for the TNA and WWE pay-per-views the next two weekends, it’s interesting to note that Austin Aries, C.M. Punk and Daniel Bryan (then Bryan Danielson) were all world champions in Ring of Honor. Samoa Joe was also a Ring of Honor champion.
I may explore this topic further in the future, but the point is that Ring of Honor has proved to be a good training ground for future stars of other organizations. This is why Ring of Honor is a preferred destination for many independent wrestlers. With more television exposure, Ring of Honor may become an even bigger player on the national wrestling scene.
SUMMER CAMP: Ring of Honor will host a two-day seminar on Aug. 4-5 at its offices in Bristol (Bucks County). Interested wrestlers should go to the Ring of Honor Web site to find out how to sign up.
MONEY IN THE BANK: The list of participants in the Money in the Bank match for the contract to challenge the World Heavyweight champion grew by two at Tuesday’s Great American Bash. Cody Rhodes defeat Intercontinental champion Christian in a terrific match, although it made little sense to have Christian, who already qualified to be in Money in the Bank, to participate in this match simply to be a spoiler. Dolph Ziggler earned the other spot with a win over Alex Riley.
Rhodes and Ziggler are both wrestlers worthy of winning the Money in the Bank contract, so adding them to a match that already includes Christian, Santino Marella, Tensai, Damien Sandow and Tyson Kidd is a good move. Sandow and Kidd won’t win, and you wouldn’t expect a current champion (Christian or Marella) to win a world title shot. Expect one more participant to be added next week.
The participants in the Money in the Bank match for a shot at the WWE Championship are John Cena, Big Show, Kane and Chris Jericho. That is a star-studded lineup, but one or two more wrestlers could be added to that match.
All of this takes place at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view on July 15, which will also feature a World Heavyweight Championship match between Sheamus and challenger Alberto Del Rio and a WWE Championship match between C.M. Punk and challenger Daniel Bryan. A.J. will be the guest referee. I’ll have an extensive preview of Money in the Bank next week.
That’s enough for this week. It’s time to get back in the pool!