When Ultimate X was first introduced, Chris Sabin was almost always part of it. Because of this, he has appeared in 17 of the 47 (to date) Ultimate X matches. He won 8 of those, which is a record unlikely to be beaten. He has been in over double the amount of Ultimate X matches to his closest rivals in this field. It’s fair to say that this match type used to be more common back in the day, so he may have had an unfair advantage over present-day talent. Still, it gives him something that no one may ever beat.
Innovating Ultimate X hasn’t just inspired male wrestlers, but female wrestlers too. At this year’s Hard To Kill PPV, the Knockouts worked their first Ultimate X for the Knockouts Championship. After the show, Chris Sabin was there to take a picture with the competitors. While many fans will always think of Motor City Machine Guns when they see Chris Sabin, his peers may see him as the biggest pioneer of the X Division and Ultimate X. Decades from now, the next generation will see how his work created a legacy for them to follow.
Where Is He Now? – Sabin is one of a few TNA Originals who still actively works as a competitor for Impact Wrestling. At 40 years old, he still has enough in the tank to work for several more years. There’s more to come.
#10. Michael Shane — 2 Reigns, 154 days
“Most Underrated?” – I don’t know, maybe it was just me, but I always respected the hell out of Michael Shane. Considering TNA had a stacked roster of athletic types, Shane did very well for himself as a heel. He wasn’t afraid to talk or cut corners, but he could go in the ring, too. And he had to be good because his cousin Shawn Michaels trained him.
I’d love more feedback on this because I feel much like Roxxi Laveaux in the Knockouts Division, Michael Shane should have been significantly more. It could be a case of being lost in the shuffle when TNA picked up Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe.
Where Is He Now? – Shane has been semi-retired since 2008. After working a squash match on WWE TV, he started a rock band with his friends, and they do gigs in Florida. His last match was in 2015 for Global Force Wrestling.
#11. Frankie Kazarian (& Suicide) — 5 Reigns, 239 days
“Double Duty” – There are two guys on the list who won the X Division title not just for themselves, but for the “Suicide” character. I don’t want to include Suicide as a separate entry, just because several people have portrayed it over the years, and I’d rather give credit to those who won the title when they were him.
Chris Sabin recently stated that Kazarian was one of his biggest rivals in the early days. They had some brilliant matches, and they worked their first in many years last month. Kazarian may not have dominated, but he was always a go-to guy. If you need someone to run with the title and produce some quality matches? He’d reliably deliver, and he still does.
Where Is He Now? – He helped the Impact Originals to defeat Honor No More at this year’s Slammiversary but is actually on loan from All Elite Wrestling. Where he goes from here is up in the air.
#12. Petey Williams — 2 Reigns, 310 days
“Best Finisher” – In his prime, Team Canada’s lead guy was a force to be reckoned with. Some of the best X Division matches of all time involve Williams facing Styles and Sabin, which I believe gets overlooked because of later matches between Styles, Daniels, and Joe.
It’s a little disappointing that Petey never got further than being an X-Division guy. Part of it could have been because he was paired up and made somewhat of a joke with Scott Steiner as “Little Poppa Pump”, but maybe he just got unlucky? He didn’t connect with the fans like Styles, nor did he have the longevity of Sabin. What he has is his finishing move, which has inspired a new generation of talent.
It kills me to see it used as a mid-match, near-fall move to pop the crowd. The Canadian Destroyer was, and should always be, a devastating finisher you don’t kick out of. Because if you can kick out of that… you can kick out of anything, and then it cheapens everything. I don’t think Petey ever wanted his move to be cheap like this, but at least he has left a mark on the industry.
Where Is He Now? – After years of loyalty to Impact Wrestling as an on-air talent and backstage worker, WWE signed him as a producer.
#13. Christopher Daniels (& Suicide) — 4 Reigns, 280 days
“The Biggest Rival” – What skyrocketed the X Division to the top was a combination of AJ Styles’ popularity and Christopher Daniels’ heat. The “Fallen Angel” got the title and held it for a record (at the time) of 182 days. As obnoxious as he was skilled in the ring, fans tuned in and respectfully hated Daniels. They wanted to see someone beat him, but they also knew he deserved to be the champion.
He was the antithesis of AJ Styles. They made an excellent tag team, but even better enemies. When you think about Impact Wrestling feuds, AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels tops it. Daniels was AJ’s nemesis, and then you throw in the next guy on the list? Pure gold. Because of his X Division run, fans often name Daniels among the greatest wrestlers never to win the World title in the company.
And I almost forgot to mention the Suicide character. He and Frankie Kazarian brought the character to life and even shared a title reign. You should also know that Daniels is the second most successful competitor in Ultimate X. With 5 victories from 8 appearances, that’s a pretty impressive record! He didn’t work as many as Sabin but won more often than not. Christopher Daniels in Ultimate X was always a threat, and pretty daring. Some fans will remember that dangerous spot… you know which one!
Aside from that, we know that the X Division peaked around the time Christopher Daniels got the title. When we look back on the history of Impact, you cannot do so without the Fallen Angel.
Where Is He Now? – Still wrestling! You can find him working for NJPW Strong, and rarely for AEW and the independents. His day job is being the Head Of Talent Relations for All Elite Wrestling.