By: Thomas Sanders
TNA’s X Division represents intense competition regardless of size, but its championship has enjoyed quite the evolution since the company’s inception in 2002. Held by numerous IMPACT WRESTLING superstars of both yesterday and today, the TNA X Division Championship first established itself as an innovative, extreme compliment to the more traditional World Heavyweight Championship. To be considered part of wrestling’s elite, which many rising superstars at the time like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Kazarian certainly desired, competing in the X Division was a foregone conclusion. As TNA grew in both size and stature, the X Division transformed into a viable proving ground for new roster additions. This isn’t to say that more established superstars wouldn’t gladly accept the opportunity to earn TNA’s original championship, as we saw most recently at “Bound for Glory” when multi-time World Champion Rob Van Dam took the coveted title from Zema Ion. To celebrate RVD’s newest title reign and the continued prosperity of the X Division, let’s take a look at some of the champions that helped make the high-flying division what it is today.
The “Phenomenal” AJ Styles earned all four TNA championships over the course of his career, making him a Grand Slam Champion, a feat that only Abyss and Samoa Joe have matched. His undeniable athleticism and aerial prowess helped him defeat Low Ki, Jerry Lynn, and Psicosis to become the very first X Division Champion in June of 2002. Ten years later, Styles boasts a record-setting six separate X Division title reigns spanning 273 days as champion.
Chris Sabin sits atop the X Division record books with a combined 338 days as champion over the course of four reigns. His first taste of X Division gold came against Jerry Lynn in May of 2003 at a weekly Pay-Per-View event before IMPACT WRESTLING had even become the worldwide phenomenon that it is today. Sabin would earn the title for the fourth and final time fittingly against Jerry Lynn again in 2007 at “Final Resolution,” which he would defend for the next six months.
Before he was sipping martinis and antagonizing the IMPACT roster with tag team partner Kazarian, Christopher Daniels established himself as a premiere force in the X Division. At the inaugural “Destination X” in 2005, on a night where the stars of the X Division are on display, Daniels captured his first championship victory in an “Ultimate X Challenge” match. He would clash with other X Division greats like Samoa Joe, Low KI, AJ Styles and Chris Sabin during the next two years while on his way to earning two more reigns and 178 days as champ.
The “Samoan Submission Machine” Samoa Joe made an immediate splash just weeks into his first TNA contract by winning the X Division Championship at “Turning Point” in December 2005. By 2009, Joe was a multi-time champion spanning three divisions, which he added to by winning the X Division title for the fourth time at “Hard Justice.” Since those later days, the X Division has generally featured lighter superstars to showcase a more aerial style of wrestling; but don’t tell the reigning TNA Television Champion Samoa Joe that he can’t compete in the X Division or he may put you in one of his submission holds.
Now the seasoned veteran and former TNA World heavyweight Champion RVD proudly holds the X Division Championship for the first time. Nobody knows what the future holds for this distinctive championship, but whatever its fate may be, TNA fans can always rely the X Division for no limits, extreme high flying action.