FIVE YEARS LATER – A Brief History of the TNA X-Title

History of the TNA X-Division Title

The X-Division title was the first true TNA belt. When TNA formed in 2002, they were using the NWA’s world and tag team titles. The X title was their own, and it would become one of the company’s defining points.

The belt debuted at TNA’s second weekly PPV, which was on June 26. The belt would be decided in a four-man double-elimination tournament. The tournament began with Psicosis and AJ Styles that Styles won. Low-Ki was Styles’s next opponent and a facebuster put him away. Jerry Lynn was next and he quickly defeated Styles with a cradle piledriver. That brought Psicosis back in to face Lynn. A cradle piledriver put Psicosis out of the running. Low-Ki came back in and another cradle piledriver put him out. Styles came back in and put Lynn down for his first loss with the Styles Clash. That put us into the finals (which served as the week’s main event), which brought Ricky Steamboat in to referee. Styles put Lynn down with the Spiral Tap to become the first X-division champion.

Styles would hold the belt until August seventh. That night saw Styles facing off against two foes – Jerry Lynn, Styles’s tag team partner who had begun feuding with Styles, and Low-Ki, who had defeated the Amazing Red in a #1 Contender’s match the week before. In the end, Styles climbed up top as Low-Ki covered Lynn for a pin. A Spiral Tap from Styles was unable to break the pinfall and we had a new champion.

Low-Ki became a dominant champion for a short period of time. Over the next two weeks, he defended his title against the Flying Elvises (Sonny Siaki, Jimmy Yang, and Jorge Estrada) and the SAT (Amazing Red and Joel and Jose Maximo).

On the August 21st show, Low-Ki had challenged both Styles and Lynn (who had been competing in a three match series against each other that night) to a triple ladder match the next week. In the end, Jerry Lynn hit a cradle piledriver on Low-Ki from the ladder to become the third champion.

Jerry Lynn had an interesting reign. He found himself embroiled in a series of matches with NWA World Heavyweight champion Ron Killings where neither could capture the other’s title (although Killings had retained his belt thanks to some help from Sonny Siaki).

Lynn’s reign came to an end on October ninth. Lynn and Siaki wound up in a brawl that wound up injuring Lynn’s knee. As a result, Bill Behrens came out and stripped Lynn of the title due to injury, then set up a ladder match for the main event between the Maximos, Ace Steele, AJ Styles, Kid Kash, and Tony Mamaluke. Styles was climbing the ladder for the win when Syxx-Pac appeared out of nowhere, suplexed AJ off the ladder, then climbed and captured the title for the win.

Waltman had a lot on his plate as an infuriated AJ Styles gave chase. Styles had a shot against Syxx-Pac the next week. In the heat of the match, Waltman had elbowed the referee (who was trying to pull him off Styles at the time) to draw a disqualification.

Styles had a rematch the next week, and Waltman made it a no DQ match. This was a mistake as Brian Lawler hit the ring. Earlier in the night, Waltman had made out with Lawler’s storyline girlfriend April Hunter on the stage, costing Lawler a match against BG James. Lawler hit the ring and clocked Waltman with a canned soft drink, which gave Styles the opportunity to hit the Styles Clash and become the first two-time X-Division champion.

Styles had an old foe stalking him. Styles faced off against Jerry Lynn on November sixth. Sonny Siaki wound up pulling the referee out of the ring while Styles was being pinned. As Lynn yelled at him, Styles’s manager Mortimer Plumtree wedged a chair into the ropes. Styles sent Lynn into the chair and went for a pin, but Lynn kicked out. Styles hit the Styles Clash and Lynn kicked out. Styles went up top and Lynn hit a superplex for a two count of his own. A Styles flapjack got another two. In the end, Lynn won a battle of counters to hit his cradle piledriver to recapture the gold.

Lynn defended his title successfully, but finally did an interview on December fourth where he admitted that his shoulder was injured and he wasn’t 100%. Still, he said he was ready to defend the belt against old enemy Sonny Siaki the next week.

On the eleventh, Lynn had headed up top to finish Siaki off when a mystery woman (Miss Desire – Kim Nielson) came out and knocked Lynn off the turnbuckle. Siaki hit the Siakalypse and began his first title reign.

Siaki’s reign ran until February. Along the way, he again defeated Jerry Lynn and then joined Vince Russo’s Sports Entertainment eXtreme (SEX). On February twelfth, Siaki’s reign ended as Kid Kash captured the gold.

However, the reign went to Kash’s head. His attitude soured, and he began looking down on his valet Trinity. On April 30, Kash (who had just announced that he was suspending Trinity without pay) was defending against the Amazing Red. Suddenly a mysterious masked luchador (later revealed to be Trinity) hit the ring and nailed Kash with a reverse DDT. Red wound up covering Kash, the referee counted the pin, and Red was the new champion.

Red’s reign would not last long. Two weeks later he was facing Jerry Lynn and Chris Sabin in a three way match. SEX representatives Elix Skipper, Christopher Daniels, and Low-Ki came out to watch. In the end, Skipper dropped Red and Sabin pinned him to win the title. Afterward Sabin accepted an SEX t-shirt to signify his entrance into the group.

Sabin would make history less than two weeks into his reign as he defeated Jerry Lynn, Frankie Kazarian, and Johnny Swinger to unify the TNA X-Division title with the WWA International Cruiserweight title. In June, Sabin would begin having problems with Frankie Kazarian after Kazarian defeated him in a non-title match. Sabin and Kazarian would continue feuding until the August sixth show, where Sabin knocked out Kazarian with the title belt for the win behind the referee’s back. Another referee restarted the match and Kazarian won with the Wave of the Future. As the referees argued, head referee Rudy Charles came out and took possession of the title before saying that Director of Authority Erik Watts would make the decision.

The next week we saw a #1 Contender’s ladder match between Kazarian and Michael Shane (Matt Bentley) who had won a similar match the previous week. Sabin inserted himself into the match and grabbed the contract hanging from the ceiling. Management Consultant Don Callis came out and confiscated both the title and the contract.

Later in the night, Callis announced a title match for the following week. He displayed a graphic that showed the belt hanging above the ring and introduced it as Ultimate X.

The match was between Sabin, Kazarian, and Shane. Despite the belt falling and being reattached to the crossed cables twice, a bloody Michael Shane beat Kazarian to it and became X-Division champion.

Shane soon made an enemy of Sabin. In early September, Sabin had won the Super X tournament (Shane had gone out in the first round at the hands of Frankie Kazarian). On October 8, Shane put his title on the line against Sabin’s X Cup trophy and wound up winning the Cup. Soon thereafter, Shane revealed his new manager – Shane Douglas, who proclaimed Shane the new Franchise.

On the final live TNA PPV of the year, Low-Ki, Douglas, Shane, Sabin, Christopher Daniels, and Elix Skipper were brawling. Erik Watts came out and made a match for the first show of the year – Shane would defend his title against Sabin, Low-Ki, and Daniels in Ultimate X.

The Ultimate X match on the January 7th show was as insane as was expected. It didn’t take long for Shane Douglas to appear as he brought a ladder (illegal) to ringside. Elix Skipper came out to attack Douglas, and all four competitors fought with the ladder as a weapon. Finally Shane was climbing the scaffold for the belt when Chris Sabin kicked him off. As Shane went through a ringside table, Sabin climbed the scaffold and claimed the title to begin his second reign.

Sabin’s second reign ended badly. After competing as part of team NWA in the America’s X-Cup Tournament, Sabin suffered a knee injury in March of 2004. Sabin was stripped of the title and came out on the March 31st show to surrender the belt.

Afterward, Frankie Kazarian and the Amazing Red met in a match to crown a new champion. Kazarian won the match, grabbed the belt, and started showing it off to Sabin, who was on crutches. Sonjay Dutt, Elix Skipper, and Jerry Lynn came out of the back and ran Kazarian off.

Kazarian’s reign was not notable. Throughout May, Kazarian would not defend the title once as the focus switched to the World X-Cup tournament. On the first Impact, AJ Styles won a #1 contender’s match against Michael Shane, Elix Skipper, and Chris Sabin. After the match, Styles promised to win the title on the coming Wednesday’s pay-per-view.

AJ kept his promise. On June 9th, he defeated Frankie Kazarian with the Spiral Tap. After the match, he was attacked by Kid Kash and Dallas (Lance Hoyt).

Styles would continue feuding with Kid Kash until Kash appeared on a radio show, making negative remarks about TNA management. Kash found himself suspended and the feud was allowed to slide.

After the feud ended, Frankie Kazarian and Michael Shane each defeated Styles in non-title matches. As Shane was the number one contender, Kazarian appeared on the July 21st PPV and said that he was sure he’d have the first title shot against Shane. Kazarian and Shane then tag-teamed and lost a match against Jerry Lynn and Chris Sabin. Afterward, AJ came out to the ring on crutches and told Shane and Kazarian that he’d see them the next week in Ultimate X.

The match ended unexpectedly. AJ was going for the belt when Shane grabbed a crutch and cracked AJ with it, knocking him from the cable. Shane and Kazarian then went up opposite scaffolds and grabbed the belt together. Therefore, they were named co-champions.

The next week, Shane and Kazarian had an interview with Scott Hudson. Shane said that Vince Russo had an idea to crown a true champion, but they would never face each other one-on-one.

Russo had set up a gauntlet match to crown an undisputed X-Division champion. AJ Styles won the right later on to enter as #20 after he defeated Kid Kash in a grudge match.

The next week the gauntlet took place. Kazarian was number one, and he was followed by Sonjay Dutt, Chad Collyer, LA Park, Kazushi Miyamoto, Jerry Lynn, Joey Matthews, Nosawa, AJ Styles, Chris Vaughn, Petey Williams, D-Ray 3000, Mikey Batts, Jason Cross, Jerelle Clark, Kid Kash, Nigel McGuinness, Psicosis, Shark Boy, Chris Sabin, Amazing Red, and finally, Michael Shane.

Dutt was the first eliminated. Collyer was second, then Lynn, Miyamoto, Matthews, D-Ray, Batts, Vaughn, Nosawa, Park, Cross, Kash, Styles, Shark Boy, Nigel, Psicosis, Sabin, Shane, and Kazarian.

The last two entrants, Petey Williams and Amazing Red faced off to determine the new champion. A little help from Team Canada captain Scott D’Amore ensured that Petey got the win and began his first title reign.

D’Amore helped keep Williams a dominant champion throughout the remainder of 2004. However, there was one match where D’Amore’s influence would be nullified – the Ultimate X.

January 16 saw Final Resolution taking place. AJ Styles and Chris Sabin had won matches on Impact in the weeks leading up to the show to earn their spots in the match. Despite the rules of the match, it didn’t take long for D’Amore to try to insert himself into the works by pulling Sabin off the scaffold. D’Amore was sent back to the locker room as the battle continued. In the end, Sabin and Petey were fighting over the title as AJ jumped out of nowhere and grabbed the belt out of their hands to begin his fourth title reign.

AJ Styles spent several weeks defending his title against Christopher Daniels. Their battles weren’t over going into Destination X, where the X-title would be decided in a three-match sequence. First was a tag match, which saw Styles and Elix Skipper tagging against Daniels and Ron Killings. Skipper pinned Killings, which eliminated him.

Second was a three-way dance between Styles, Skipper, and Daniels. Daniels rolled Skipper up for the win and Skipper was sent home.

The final match was Ultimate X. Styles grabbed the belt, but the referee had been knocked down. Before the referee could see what was happening, Daniels hit Styles with the Angel’s Wings and grabbed the belt. The referee saw Daniels with the belt and crowned him the new champion.

Daniels would prove to be a fighting champion. However, he had two major problems. The first was the fact that AJ Styles wasn’t willing to let go of the title belt so easily. The other was a newcomer to TNA from Ring of Honor – Samoa Joe.

At September’s Unbreakable PPV, the three would face off for the first time in a TNA ring. The significance of the match was seen early on, when it was placed as the show’s main event. Daniels didn’t get the match off to a good start as he informed Joe and AJ that the belt was his and they weren’t going to take it. In the end, Joe missed a charge and went through the ropes to the floor. Daniels gained the advantage on AJ with a Greco-roman thumb to the eye, but Styles turned the Angel’s Wings into a bridge, which earned him his fifth X-title reign.

Despite the fact that Styles again fought off all comers, he had the same threat on the horizon as Daniels had. The violent (and unbeaten) Samoa Joe was watching and waiting. Styles, however had finally had enough after a vicious attack from Joe that put Daniels on the shelf with a concussion. As Joe paraded around with a towel covered in Christopher Daniels’s blood, AJ confronted Joe about an unwritten code of honor in the X-Division. Joe responded on the December 3rd Impact by attacking Styles and telling him he didn’t care about the code.

That brought us to Turning Point, where AJ defended his title against Joe one-on-one. AJ soon discovered that he may have been in over his head, and nothing in AJ’s arsenal could put Joe down for the three count. Even the Styles Clash failed to put him away. Finally AJ tried a roll up, which Joe countered into the rear naked choke. AJ fought to the ropes but wound up passing out, which gave Samoa Joe the win and the title. After the match, Joe continued to attack the fallen Styles, which brought Christopher Daniels out for the save.

Regardless of the win, Joe still had Daniels and Styles chasing him. Three months later, they had a plan. Daniels and Styles were challenging Joe in the one match that they could easily defeat Joe – Ultimate X. Surely Styles and Daniels would have the advantage here against the much heavier Joe.

Joe battled valiantly but was unable to overcome his limitations in the match, instead spending most of his time keeping Styles or Daniels from grabbing the belt. In the end, Joe knocked Styles from the cables with a chair which gave Daniels the opening he needed to claim the title for his second reign.

Daniels would not have a long reign. About one month later, Impact started with Joe and Daniels brawling. Daniels was already bleeding. Daniels tried to mount a comeback but failed and Joe captured the gold for the second time.

Joe would continue his dominance of the X-Division as he continued defeating every opponent – even legendary competitors like Sabu and Scott Steiner. On the June 22nd Impact, Joe was defending his title against Senshi (the newly-renamed Low-Ki) and Sonjay Dutt. Suddenly Scott Steiner came out and cracked Joe with a chair to take him out of the match. Senshi hit the Warrior’s Way on Dutt and won the title for the second time.

Senshi dominated the X-Division for four months. Finally Chris Sabin (who along with Sonjay Dutt and Jay Lethal had engaged in Jackass-styled antics for weeks) had refocused and faced Senshi at Bound for Glory. When focused on his wrestling, Sabin was able to counter the Dragon Clutch into a rollup for the three count, which made him X-Division champion for the third time.

Unfortunately, Sabin’s reign would not last. Two weeks later on Impact, Sabin was facing AJ Styles in the Fight for the Right tournament, and put his title on the line as well. In the end, Styles won the match to advance in the tournament and won the X-title as well for the sixth time.

Styles would not keep the belt long. On the November 16th Impact (a two-hour primetime special), Styles was defending his belt against Christopher Daniels and Chris Sabin. Styles was holding his own (and seemed to have an understanding with tag team partner Daniels) until the bloody Christian Cage (who had been in a barbed wire cage match with Rhino earlier in the night) came out. Cage claimed that he was still the number one contender to the world title and AJ attacked him. While this was going on on the floor, Daniels countered the Cradle Shock and pinned Sabin for reign number three.

Daniels soon saw his problems begin to grow. He still had Sabin nipping at his heels, and Styles was beginning to turn on him (with no help coming from Rhino, who was trying to patch the two friends up). The feud may have distracted Daniels as he went into Final Resolution.

At the PPV, Daniels was defending his title against Sabin and Jerry Lynn (both of whom were feuding after Sabin had repeatedly disrespected Lynn). Lynn also felt that Daniels had disrespected him. In the end, Lynn hit a cradle piledriver on Daniels, only for Sabin to swoop in for the cover, the win, and his fourth title reign.

The coming weeks would see Sabin continue his feud with Jerry Lynn, notably mocking Lynn for his age. At Against All Odds, Sabin successfully defended his belt against Jerry Lynn in a two out of three falls match, only to be attacked by a masked man afterward who then unmasked to reveal Christopher Daniels.

Sabin would go on to lose the title to Black Machismo Jay Lethal at Slammiversary on June 17th.

To close, here is the complete title history of the TNA X-Division title belt:

1. 6/19/02 – 8/7/02 AJ Styles
2. 8/7/02 – 8/28/02 Low-Ki
3. 8/28/02 – 10/9/02 Jerry Lynn
4. 10/9/02 – 10/23/02 Syxx-Pac
5. 10/23/02 – 11/06/02 AJ Styles (second reign)
6. 11/06/02 – 12/11/02 Jerry Lynn (second reign)
7. 12/11/02 – 2/12/03 Sonny Siaki
8. 2/12/03 – 4/30/03 Kid Kash
9. 4/30/03 – 5/14/03 The Amazing Red
10. 5/14/03 – 8/20/03 Chris Sabin
11. 8/20/03 – 1/7/04 Michael Shane
12. 1/7/04 – 3/31/04 Chris Sabin (second reign)
13. 3/31/04 – 6/9/04 Frankie Kazarian
14. 6/9/04 – 7/28/04 AJ Styles (third reign)
15. 7/28/04 – 8/11/04 Frankie Kazarian & Michael Shane
16. 8/11/04 – 1/16/05 Petey Williams
17. 1/16/05 – 3/13/05 AJ Styles (fourth reign)
18. 3/13/05 – 9/11/05 Christopher Daniels
19. 9/11/05 – 12/11/05 AJ Styles (fifth reign)
20. 12/11/05 – 3/12/06 Samoa Joe
21. 3/12/06 – 4/13/06 Christopher Daniels (second reign)
22. 4/13/06 – 6/22/06 Samoa Joe (second reign)
23. 6/22/06 – 10/22/06 Senshi (Low-Ki, second reign)
24. 10/22/06 – 11/2/06 Chris Sabin (third reign)
25. 11/2/06 – 11/16/06 AJ Styles (sixth reign)
26. 11/16/06 – 1/14/07 Christopher Daniels (third reign)
27. 1/14/07 – 6/17/07 Chris Sabin (fourth reign)
28. 6/17/07 – present Jay Lethal

For Pulse Wrestling’s title histories for all WWE and TNA titles, click here.

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