Destination X-Cellence: High Risks and High Rewards
This Thursday sees the Spike broadcast premiere of Destination X, IMPACT'S annual blockbuster event where the current X Division Champion is allowed to cash in his title for a shot at the World Heavyweight Champion. This year, champion Chris Sabin will vacate his title to challenge the current World Heavyweight Champion, the dastardly Aces and 8s chairman Bully Ray.
It's certainly been a wild ride for Sabin since returning to IMPACT last Spring. In recent years he's had to undergo surgery to repair problems with his knee and, just after returning to us last year, tore his ACL and had to take more time off. In his most recent return he's been better than ever. He wasted no time in acquiring the X Division Championship, and not even the skills, onslaught, and nefarious planning of Austin Aries could derail his pursuit of glory.
Now he hopes to follow in Aries' footsteps. Last year, Aries used the Destination X clause to cash in his World Title opportunity. It ended a record 298 day run as X Division Champion, but it ended up being worth it. In the main event of Destination X 2012, he defeated Bobby Roode to become the new World Heavyweight champion and only the fifth triple crown champion in IMPACT history.
A Sabin victory at Destination X would make him the sixth ever IMPACT Triple Crown champion. And this year, for the first time ever, you'll be able to watch Destination X for free when it airs as a live episode of IMPACT WRESTLING this Thursday.
It's a historic move for a show that has traditionally put everything on the line and provided some of the biggest moments of the year. Let's take a look at the history of Destination X and some of the more notable matches.
Destination X 2005
In a Falls Count Anywhere match, IMPACT icons clashed as Jeff Hardy narrowly survived a harrowing encounter with the monster Abyss in a Falls Count Anywhere match-up.
In the evening's Ultimate X match, Christopher Daniels defeated champion AJ Styles, Ron Killings, and Elix Skipper to win his first X Division championship. He would hold onto the belt for 182 days, a record that would hold up for six years.
Destination X 2006
Thursday's challenger Chris Sabin won an exciting Fatal Four Way match over X Division greats Petey Williams, Sonjay Dutt, and Puma.
In one of the evening's marquee bouts, Christopher Daniels avenged the loss of his title the previous fall by defeating Samoa Joe, the man who defeated him, and champion AJ Styles in a three-way Ultimate X bout. The feud between the three men would continue throughout the year and provide some of the most exciting matches in IMPACT history.
Destination X 2007
For the first time ever, the X Division Championship was successfully defended at Destination X when champion Chris Sabin defeated the legendary Jerry Lynn in a 2 out of 3 Falls match-up.
In the evening's main event, the icon Sting came face to face with the monster Abyss in a Last Rites match.
Destination X 2008
In one of the matches of the year, Jay Lethal retained his X Division championship against former champion and IMPACT legend Petey Williams.
Destination X 2009
Suicide, who recently became an unwilling pawn in Austin Aries's nefarious (and thankfully unsuccessful) scheme to steal the X Division Championship and World Heavyweight Championship title shot from Chris Sabin, won his first and only X Division Championship in a classic Ultimate X match.
Destination X 2010
Before they strut their stuff as Bad Influence and taught us the true meaning of friendship, Kazarian and Daniels were bitter rivals in the X Division. Along with fellow former champions Amazing Red and Brian Kendrick, they were involved in a brutal ladder match that ended with Kazarian retaining his X Division Championship by the skin of his teeth. Watching this match now is like looking into a post-apocalyptic mirror universe, where black is white and an unbreakable friendship like the one we see between Kazarian and Daniels could be compromised. Thankfully, that's no longer a world we have to live in.
Destination X 2011
Austin Aries, making his return to IMPACT WRESTLING, won an exclusive contract in a thrilling four-way bout. It began a two-year reign of terror that saw him win literally every title in the promotion.
In the evening's X Division Championship bout, Brian Kendrick beat the monster Abyss.
The main event of the evening was a clinic put on by AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, whose longtime competitive rivalry has come to epitomize the greatness of the X Division and IMPACT WRESTLING as a whole.
Destination X 2012
In 2012, Hulk Hogan made the announcement that Destination X would now feature the ability for the reigning X Division Champion to vacate his title for an automatic opportunity for the World Heavyweight championship.
The vacancy was filled by a one-night tournament, culminating in an Ultimate X final match. The winner, and new champion, was Zema Ion.
In the main event, Austin Aries set the bar for future X Division champions and IMPACT superstars in general when he defeated Bobby Roode to become the new World Heavyweight Champion and joined AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Abyss, and Kurt Angle as the fifth ever IMPACT triple crown champion.
The ninth annual installment of Destination X may be free for fans, but the cost will be high for participants up and down the card. Will Chris Sabin be successful in his Destination X opportunity, or will he be thwarted by dangerous Aces and 8s chairman and current champion Bully Ray?
Also, how will IMPACT determine the new X Division champion? We know that stars from the division's past, present, and future will be on hand, so whatever decision is made, it's certainly going to provide even more highlights.
Destination X airs live this Thursday at 9/8c on Spike.See when IMPACT WRESTLING is coming to a city near you at www.impactwrestling.com
Image credit: TNA Entertainment