NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett’s next challenger steps up, as Diamond Dallas Page attempts to end the King of the Mountain’s 9-month reign at Destination X. We’ve reached March 2005 for TNA’s third pay-per-view of the year on our journey. February’s show, Against All Odds, was slightly below average but featured an excellent Ironman match between A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels. Tonight, they’ll star in a 4-Way Ultimate X Challenge to determine the X Division Champion – I have no idea what that entails but it sounds encouraging! Let’s get stuck in:
TNA Destination X, March 13th 2005:
The introduction doesn’t focus on a particular theme; as usual, the wrestlers will either attain glory or endure eternal suffering. Destination X is a cool name for a show, unfortunately the card doesn’t have an emphasis upon the X Division as I had hoped. The first arena shot: an extreme close up of a woman’s ass – she’s never introduced. Once again, we’re live from Universal Studios in Orlando with Mike Tenay and Don West on commentary. We learn that security ejected Abyss during the pre-show following a situation involving Jeff Hardy. The announcers ponder how it’ll effect their match tonight. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t! Tenay remarks “crazy situation earlier, we’ve got it resolved” ahead of their contest with no further explanation, how bizarre.
1: Team Canada (Petey Williams, Eric Young, Bobby Roode & Alastair Ralphs) (w/Coach D’Amore & Johnny Devine) def. 3 Live Kru (Konnan & B.G. James) & America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) in an Eight Man Tag Team Match in 8:53.
Alastair Ralphs is a new addition to Team Canada, the stable were lacking a hoss and he’s certainly jacked. The faces start stronger, with Konnan removing his shoe mid-offense and throwing it at Young the highlight. Harris and Storm both execute outside dives before Team Canada predictably break the rules to gain the advantage. They work over the shoulder of Harris until he hot tags Konnan. He applies Tequila Sunrise on Roode, which everyone interprets as an invitation to interfere. Amid the mayhem, Coach D’Amore climbs to the top but gets gorilla pressed by Konnan. Regardless, that provides the distraction for Roode to hit the Northern Lariat for the finish. The conclusion felt abrupt because the bout didn’t excel beyond third gear. Nonetheless, this wasn’t intended to be a classic – there were fun moments and it provided a reasonable appetiser for the coming action. Sensible choice to open, with both groups over amongst the live crowd. **1/4
Dusty Rhodes, the Director of Authority, is backstage with Traci and Trinity when former Survivor contestant Jonny Fairplay approaches. He begs for another chance to be Dusty’s assistant. Like an NPC setting a side quest, the DoA grants him the remainder of the evening to find a tag team.
2: Chris Sabin def. Chase Stevens (w/Chris Candido & Andy Douglas) in 6:18.
This match was a vehicle for its aftermath to take place; I doubt it would have been on the show otherwise. Sabin overcame interference from the heels to beat Stevens in a well-wrestled, albeit brief contest. The heels assaulted him in response until a masked man made the save – performing a perfect tope con giro on all three! The man behind the mask is Shocker, “direct from the McDonalds commercial!”. Regrettably, I was unable to find the footage but I understand that he wears a luchador mask in the advert and tries to eat a Big Mac. He can’t quite fit it in his mouth, however, therefore he peels off the mask, only to reveal another one underneath, much to the disappointment of the onlooking customers. Oh yeah, he’s also the current NWA Light Heavyweight Champion and wrestles for CMLL. **
That’s why they call him Shocker.
3: Dustin Rhodes def. Raven in a Texas Bullrope Match in 6:10.
Their effort at Against All Odds was subpar, so I was disappointed to realise that we’re running it back. It’s Texas Bullrope rules this time though, which means the competitors are tied together with a rope and there are no disqualifications. Dustin, who is more experienced at this match-type, uses this to his advantage. Considering the stipulation, the intensity is lacking and there are no stand-out moments in this match. Nevertheless, this was an improvement upon their previous outing, it wasn’t long enough to drag (faint praise, yes) and the stipulation allowed this to vary from the rest of the card. To be fair, the finish was satisfying, with Dustin executing a bulldog onto the back of an open chair. A.M.W make the save afterwards when Team Canada attack Dustin – I’m unsure of their motives beyond wanting to have an inevitably lacklustre match with him on the next PPV. *3/4
4: The Disciples of Destruction (Don Harris & Ron Harris) (w/Traci) def. Phi Delta Slam (Bruno Sassi & Big Tilly) (w/Trinity) in a Tag Team Match in 10:18.
This concludes a storyline that started back at Final Resolution in January, where Dusty Rhodes asked Traci and Trinity to find respective tag teams to represent them in a match, with the winner appointed his personal assistant. That is literally the highest honour a woman could hope to achieve in early 2005 TNA. The nicest thing I’ll say about this is that it makes storyline sense for both women to employ teams of big guys to provide a theoretically higher chance of victory. From a booking perspective, a match between these four hosses was inevitably going to be ugly. Regardless, they’re given over 10 minutes and they drag. The storyline is heatless and the action is sloppy. For example, Trinity executes a moonsault to the outside onto a Harris, who fails to catch her. She’s promptly launched into the crowd before D.O.D utilise the classic twin magic trick to earn the win. DUD
5: Monty Brown vs. Trytan ended in a No Contest in 5:26.
Trytan is a making his much-anticipated debut after weeks of vignettes; I’m still uncertain of what he’s supposed to be regardless. He introduces himself with a botched gorilla press. Nonetheless, he dominates until Brown executes an impressive dropkick and a fallaway slam, both reminders of the Alpha Male’s incredible multifaceted athleticism. He attempts a POUNCE but we’re plunged into darkness. A masked man, obviously not Trytan (probably not Shocker, either), attacks Brown when the lights come back on. Brown wipes him out with the POUNCE, he goes for the cover and the referee counts three. Huh? I suppose they’ve assumed that the masked man is Trytan but the resemblance isn’t even close. Trytan himself backs off into the smoke on the stage. So, I imagine the intention was for him to appear mysterious and calculating by remaining “one step ahead” of Brown. What are we doing here, just what is the point of all this, if the wrestler isn’t remotely interested in winning? It would have literally been easier and more rewarding for him to simply counter the Pounce, rather than to concoct this laughable plan and retreat. Additionally, we saw a masked man gimmick less than an hour ago – pure laziness and a lack of creativity. DUD
6: Jeff Hardy def. Abyss in a Falls Count Anywhere Match in 15:48.
The Monster attacked Hardy after the Charismatic Enigma’s victory at Final Resolution and was victorious at Against All Odds in Full Metal Mayhem. Hardy is the early aggressor, hitting a chair-assisted dive before they fight through the arena and into the parking lot, where Abyss sets up adjacent tables. He’s dug his own grave, as the daredevil Hardy scales steel girders and executes a Swanton onto Abyss, crashing through the tables. Falls Count Anywhere spot done, so they head back to the ring. They had a glorified T.L.C. match last month and used the same weapons again here. Abyss uses a steel chair to add some mustard to a top rope splash. Jeff typically utilises a ladder to great effect, hitting a leg drop from the top. An attempted top rope hurricanrana by Hardy backfires, as Abyss counters with a powerbomb through a table. It’s the ladder that proves decisive, however, as Hardy reverses an attempted chokeslam into the Twist of Fate on the steel for the pinfall (in the middle of the ring). The most notable spot occurred post-match, when Abyss retaliated to his loss, punishing the winner with a Black Hole Slam on thumbtacks.
Thumbtack bumps are always a sight to see, this spot came off very well, yet felt unnecessary, possibly even detrimental. The story hasn’t evolved and this feud has essentially circled back to square one after two similar pay-per-view matches. The Falls Count Anywhere rules merely seemed an excuse to have one more hardcore brawl, with the table spot in the parking lot purely done to justify the stipulation. This, again, smacked of laziness and a lack of creativity. There’s minimal psychology behind the spots, although they were better executed this time and the sequences were generally well intertwined, putting this a shade above their prior outing. **3/4
7: The Outlaw def. Kevin Nash in a First Blood Match in 11:20.
The Outlaw (Billy Gunn) interfered to cost Kevin Nash the World Championship in February, leading to this heated collision. Tenay acknowledges Outlaw’s past as a Hardcore Champion in WWE, which could benefit him tonight, a fantastic minor detail. The intensity escalates in a hurry when, after targeting Nash’s leg, Outlaw attempts to pierce his forehead with a screwdriver! Nash wants to retaliate with a steel chair but the referee, oddly, prevents him striking, providing the opening for his opponent to go low. Outlaw is given carte blanche to smash his opponent with the chair. Still no blood, though. A steel turnbuckle is exposed, which the official decides is too fair – he’s caught in the crossfire and misses the first blood, when Nash opens up his rival following snake eyes on the exposed steel. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett runs in and strikes Nash with the title belt before Attorney Daggett and a “doctor” arrive to clean the blood from Outlaw and stop the bleeding. Naturally, the referee recovers just in time to see Nash’s blood and calls for the bell. An outraged Nash punishes Outlaw post-match, executing a Jackknife Powerbomb whilst falling on his ass.
I enjoyed the early intensity displayed, whilst the cerebral pace, which some may consider slow, suited the gimmick. Frustratingly, the referee enforced rules which shouldn’t have applied, purely to facilitate the match reaching certain outcomes, which is lazy booking. Nash was protected by the finish, which was contrived. Outlaw picked up the (undeserved) win but was left laying afterwards, meaning neither man truly went over and the match resolved nothing. *3/4
8: Christopher Daniels def. A.J. Styles, Ron Killings & Elix Skipper in an Ultimate X Challenge to win the X Division Championship in 25:19.
So, there’s three stages to this Ultimate X Challenge. We open with tag team action pitting, A.J. Styles & Elix Skipper against Christopher Daniels and Ron Killings. The loser of the fall is eliminated, with the remaining competitors contesting a Triple Threat, where another loser is removed. The final two square off in an Ultimate X match in order to determine the champion. Commentary establish that Daniels and Skipper were not allowed to team due to the repercussions of their loss at Turning Point, which is nice continuity. Despite belonging to opposing teams, they work together. Skipper strikes his own partner from the apron to assist Daniels, who returns the favour shortly after by saving him from a certain exit. Skipper capitalises moments later with Sudden Death on Killings for the first elimination.
Triple Threat time: Styles, Skipper and Daniels. The Ultimate X stipulation is quickly a factor when Daniels climbs the overhead ropes and nails a moonsault on both opponents! This is the beginning of the end of the Triple X partnership, as Skipper confronts his former partner about breaking their alliance. Daniels calms Skipper down before betraying him – there’s no going back now. The Triple Threat provides consistent excitement until its culmination, where Skipper hits Sudden Death on Styles, only to be rolled up by his former partner for 3! It’s down to champion and challenger in an Ultimate X match for the gold. The action initially meets expectations; I could watch the duo wrestle all day. Sadly, this had to end – that’s where it slipped up. They meet high in the middle before falling several times, it appears they’re trying to attempt a finish that doesn’t come off. A.J. eventually retrieves the gold but it’s déjà vu, as the referee is knocked down and doesn’t witness it. The opportunistic Daniels hits Angel’s Wings and steals the title. He’s the first man the official sees with the belt, meaning we have a new X Division champion!
I appreciate TNA trying new innovations. Was this stipulation slightly convoluted? Perhaps. It wasn’t hard to follow, though. Crucially, we were still treated to the expected danger, drama and awe-inspiring high spots. The running story between Triple X was smart as it connected the first two parts nicely and set up Skipper as a natural imminent challenger for the Fallen Angel’s newly-won gold. It’s a shame Styles and Daniels were unable to successfully execute the closing spot. I’m uncertain that this was the planned finish, although what we got was a replica of the previous match: another cheap, underwhelming conclusion. ***1/2
Jonny Fairplay is backstage, running out of time to recruit a tag team, after unsuccessfully asking A.M.W and Team Canada in earlier segments throughout the evening. He approaches Buck Quartermain & Lex Lovett in an effort to convince them to be his tag team. They appear to agree because of the prospect of increased exposure. I had literally never heard of them ahead of this writing, so I’m assuming that doesn’t work out too well.
9: Jeff Jarrett def. Diamond Dallas Page in a Ringside Revenge Match to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in 21:40.
The ring is surrounded by wrestlers previously wronged by the champion, including Monty Brown and the 3 Live Kru. Attorney Daggett, along with Chase Stevens, Andy Douglas and Chris Candido are out to oppose them. Technically, it’s not a lumberjack match because they’ve all been instructed to not make physical contact – we’ll see how long that lasts. They’re involved early, when Double J gets into an altercation with Brown, allowing D.D.P to capitalise. He takes the fight into the crowd and beats the champion from pillar to post. Jarrett eventually cuts off his momentum and targets the leg of the bigger man before Page replies with a spinning uranage and a giant sit-out powerbomb for near falls. Interference from the heels at ringside allows Jarrett to hit the Stroke and the babyfaces are incensed, taking the fight to the heels – it’s pandemonium at ringside!
The Outlaw is back, he hands Jarrett a guitar, which B.G. James snatches away. Konnan holds the champion for James to strike, but he inadvertently hits his partner! This is already chaotic, how could that escalate? A referee bump, of course. He’s down like a sack of potatoes, allowing Outlaw to execute the Famouser on the challenger. Sean Waltman returns once again! Energised by a good reception, he takes out Outlaw and Jarrett to even the odds. D.D.P goes for the win and sets up his opponent on the top turnbuckle, hoping for a big-time Diamond Cutter. Douglas, Candido and Stevens intervene, each receiving Cutters for their trouble before Dallas finally hits the top rope Cutter on Jarrett! Attorney Daggert is the latest on the conveyer belt of interrupting heels but Brown enters to deal with him – or so it seems, he POUNCES D.D.P before dragging the lifeless Jarrett into the cover for the win. Brown celebrates with the victor; the Alpha Male has sold his soul to the devil.
Outrageously overbooked. It mirrored Jarrett’s previous title defences against Monty Brown and Kevin Nash. Once again, the match was jam-packed with twists and turns to a borderline ridiculous extent. It’s a footnote compared to the insanity that followed, but Jarrett and D.D.P shared decent chemistry. They were heading toward a solid main event in front of an invested crowd, until chaos took over. I hadn’t anticipated the Monty Brown heel turn ahead of the bout. Once he got in the ring, sure, it was obvious, but it was not the direction I had initially expected them to take, with Brown having gained such popularity as a home grown babyface. **1/2
To close, we see a promo for next month’s PPV event: Lockdown. Probably the most famous TNA PPV concept, with each bout held inside the Six Sides of Steel. I pray it’s better than this.
This show was plagued with issues that hindered previous events. In my Final Resolution review, I said that “the main event was unable to build upon the prior championship matches, as it felt over-reliant on tropes that were utilised earlier on the show”. Following on from that thought in my Against All Odds review, I said that “interference, referee bumps and foreign objects have been an ever-present feature of Jarrett’s championship defences. It seems the shenanigans are utilised as a crutch”. Those issues were amplified at Destination X and unfolded to an even more damaging extent. The official was knocked down in each of the last three matches, which all featured unsatisfying finishes. There were no clear, decisive resolutions to any of the headline bouts.
It would be generous to call this minimal attention to detail rather than sheer complacency, with glaring repetition of key moments. The repeated masked man spot early on the card was particularly egregious. Yet the entire event was simultaneously over-thought, even the Ultimate X match – the one shining light on this card – suffered the consequences of simply doing too much.