X Division: Honoring Innovation With 50 TNA/Impact Wrestling Champions

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Where Is He Now? – He’s likely smoking a spliff and having fun with Katie Forbes. That wasn’t a joke! Seriously though, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame last year. He rarely takes bookings to make some money on the side, as he stated that’s all wrestling is to him these days. His last match was with Pro Wrestling NOAH this month.


Impact

#29. Kenny King — 2 Reigns, 150 days

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Kenny King signed with Impact because he felt that his run with All Night Express was enough to make ROH take him seriously, but that turned out not to be the case. So instead, he entered Impact’s X Division and worked for over six months before beating Rob Van Dam for the title.

He won it again two years later by defeating Rockstar Spud, but neither of his reigns got him to the next level. There’s not much more I can say about Kenny, other than he has all the tools. For whatever reason, he was more of an afterthought.

Remember when I said Impact lifted the weight restriction so Rob Van Dam could win the title? They brought it back during Kenny’s first reign in 2013, only this time the limit was 230 Ib and all matches had to be triple threats. Stupid, right? The fans didn’t like it, but they kept it until August.

Where Is He Now? – After several years away, he recently returned to Impact and sided with the ROH outcast group called Honor No More.


X Division

#30. Manik (TJ Perkins) — 2 Reigns, 185 days

“Suicide or Manik?” – During Manik’s first reign, the weight limit and triple threat thing were abolished and thankfully never returned.

TJ Perkins had wrestled in the X Division before, but this was his breakthrough. Impact management wanted the Suicide character to return, but renamed it Manik, possibly to make it more family-friendly? Either way, despite the change, Impact classes this as the Suicide character’s second reign. TJP later changed the look of Manik, and he was still masked, but he looked nothing like Suicide anymore. Was it an improvement? I guess it was alright, but it was far from impressive.

When TJP returned to Impact in 2020, he won the title again, but this time with an updated attire (the one seen above). Suicide showed up, and for a time we saw him and Manik pair up as a tag team. This was short-lived, however, because TJP unmasked and kept on wrestling as the X Division Champion.

Aside from the mild confusion, TJP did very well as the X Division Champion. WWE took notice of his work. TJP was the first Cruiserweight Champion and face of 205 Live when it began.

Where Is He Now? – TJP has been working for New Japan for the past couple of months. Before that, he was taking bookings in MLW, CMLL, and other promotions.


Impact

#31. Seiya Sanada — 1 Reign, 110 days

“First Japanese Champion” – Early in his career, Keiji Mutoh (The Great Muta) was a big backer of his student. Through a working relationship with his promotion, Wrestle-1, Impact produced joint events with them. Sanada got a major push, including wrestling in the main event of a Bound For Glory event held in Japan. During a different PPV, Sanada challenged and defeated Austin Aries to become the first Japanese X Division Champion.

The companies reached a deal to give Sanada dual contracts between Impact and Wrestle-1. By May 2015, his Wrestle-1 contract ended and Sanada focused solely on Impact. It slowly went downhill from there, and even more so after turning heel and joining James Storm’s stable, The Revolution.

Sanada was treated poorly by Storm because he kept failing to live up to expectations. Eventually, Storm kicked him out of the Revolution for his poor performance, and was released from the company shortly after.

Where Is He Now? – Sanada has since become a major star for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Initially getting over as a tag team wrestler, he has recently transitioned into singles competition. Sanada is currently sidelined with an injury, but before this, he was the IWGP United States Champion.


X Division

#32. Rockstar Spud — 2 Reigns, 43 days

“Lightest Champion” – Spud is the biggest underdog in X Division history. His Impact career began as a manager for Ethan Carter III, although before that, he had gotten over as a wrestler on the British independent scene. He got his big break by winning the first British Boot Camp over Marty Scurll and The Blossom Twins, despite being more than a handful (he was known for partying and showing up late).

Because he played the cowardly manager so well, his transition to wrestler was difficult for fans to accept. I had seen his previous work, but Spud had to work extra hard to prove that he belonged in this spot. He was often ridiculed and insulted for his size, but his persistence led to him defeating Low-Ki for the X Division title.

After losing the title to Kenny King, he got it back a few months later in a gauntlet. He immediately cashed in Option C, which guaranteed him a World Championship match against Kurt Angle. A month later, he faced Angle on an episode of Impact and had the match of his life. He didn’t win, but Kurt Angle showed his respect afterward.

The X Division has always been a stepping stone to greatness. Some use it well, while others never take the chance. Spud knew he would never be the World Champion, but he can always say he got to wrestle Kurt Angle for the World title. And that’s the beauty of the X Division.

Where Is He Now? – Under the name Drake Maverick, he worked as the General Manager of WWE 205 Live, before becoming a manager on Raw for the Authors of Pain. WWE fans remember him mostly for chasing after R-Truth for the 24/7 Championship. He was then moved to NXT as a wrestler but was released during the COVID pandemic. Maverick produced a heartfelt Twitter video, sharing the love he has for the business, and the appreciation for WWE giving him the chance.

WWE liked the video so much that they asked him to return for a tournament. What they didn’t tell him, is that after winning the thing, he’d be given a contract. Triple H appeared in person immediately after his win and handed him his new contract.

Despite this, he struggled to get regular air time until he formed a new team with Killian Dain. The oddball team gradually gained steam, but WWE later released them. Spud produced another video, but this time it was about returning to his roots. In February, we reported that WWE’s creative team had brought him onboard.

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