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

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Where Is He Now? – Acting as a manager for Jay Lethal and Satnam Singh on AEW & ROH programming. He also works as a producer. From 2019 to 2021, he worked for WWE as a producer. And as far as I know, he hasn’t wrestled since a few months after losing the X Division title.


Impact

#39. Taiji Ishimori — 1 Reign, 64 days

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“Before The Bone Soldier” – Knowledgeable wrestling fans will know that Ishimori has been a member of New Japan’s Bullet Club stable for some time. But before he joined up with them, he made a name for himself in Impact’s X Division.

Ishimori got to Impact because GFW and Pro Wrestling NOAH had a working agreement, so he was permitted to work for Impact. A win over Trevor Lee set him on the path to getting his work noticed by bookers in Japan. After losing his title, he signed with New Japan and hasn’t looked back, although he worked a one-off for Impact at Slammiversary XVI. I always liked Ishimori’s style and losing him was difficult, but that’s the nature of the business.

Note: I should let you know that the X Division Championship went through a stage of crowning new title holders. From 2017 to 2020, 8 reigns after Ishimori all saw somebody new holding the title. Manik (TJP) broke this trend in late 2020. I say this so you know that for the next eight entries on this list; they defeated the previous guy.

Where Is He Now? – Bullet Club for life! He has since won 7 titles, including 3 Junior Heavyweight, 3 Junior Tag Team (w/ El Phantasmo), and a NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship (w/ Guerrillas of Destiny).


X Division

#40. Matt Sydal — 1 Reign, 191 days

“Third Eye” – Matt Sydal got obsessive about having a third eye. It was strange, but not as much as Josh Mathews being his “spirit guide”. It’s not shown here, but Sydal was a double champion.

His encounter with Ishimori was a title vs. title match, so Sydal was the Impact Grand & X Division Champion. The less said about the Grand Championship (Billy Corgan’s idea), the better. His reign was decent, almost beating that of Tigre Uno’s. But yeah, you might already see why he didn’t hold it longer.

Where Is He Now? – Sydal is currently signed to AEW as a wrestler. He sometimes works singles matches, but usually teams with his older brother Mike Sydal, or more recently, Top Flight’s Dante Martin. And yes. he’s still spiritual. Most won’t know this, but Sydal is a Buddhist and his spiritual influences are Alan Watts and Timothy Leary.


Impact

#41. Brian Cage — 1 Reign, 112 days

“The Machine” – Brian Cage entered Impact with considerable hype. There was hope that he could be the heavyweight star the promotion had been looking for. With Bobby Lashley on his way out, it was time to build him up as the next big thing. Within six months of signing, Cage went to Slammiversary and defeated Sydal for the title.

When it came time to invoke Option C, it seemed a foregone conclusion that he would defeat Johnny Impact to become the World Champion. Only, he went to Homecoming and lost. He became World Champion eventually, at Rebellion, but he was then marred by injuries. Despite the recurring injuries, he kept hold of the title until Sami Callihan got him in a steel cage.

Brian Cage used the X Division as a stepping stone, and it initially failed. Yet, it put him in the title picture, and while he achieved what he set out to do, the injuries made it impossible for him to prove why he deserved to be in that spot. He has since struggled to gain momentum because his injuries limit what he can do in the ring.

Where Is He Now? – He signed with AEW and was the lead talent in Team Taz. After being given the FTW Championship, he didn’t get many opportunities to do anything with it. He was eventually kicked out of the group and written off TV.

After many months away, he returned to wrestling on the ROH PPV, Supercard of Honor, now being managed by Tully Blanchard. While he is technically still signed to AEW, he works exclusively for ROH.


X Division

#42. Rich Swann — 1 Reign, 194 days

“Redemption” – In early 2019, Rich Swann won the X Division title in Ultimate X after Brian Cage vacated. This was huge for his career because, at that point, he was known for two things. He was a 1) former WWE Cruiserweight Champion, and he’d been 2) arrested for alleged domestic abuse directed at his wife and fellow wrestler Su Yung.

While the reported incident was investigated and they did not charge Swann with anything, the stink on his reputation remained. He needed to wash that off by proving himself. His run as X Division Champion was excellent. I have to admit that he surprised me, and even more so when he used that as a springboard to winning the World title.

Perhaps that step felt a touch too far for some, but Impact’s current management is up for giving chances to anyone who will give everything they have. Swann did this, he put everything into making sure he was a worthy X Division and World Champion. No matter what happens now, he can say that he enjoyed this success after a controversial time. He could still be with WWE had that not happened, so at least something positive came out of the negative.

Where Is He Now? – He is the current Impact Digital Media Champion after defeating Matt Cardona.


Impact

#43. Jake Crist — 1 Reign, 93 days

Near the end of Sami Callihan’s time as the leader of the oVe stable, Jake Crist was getting over. He began focusing on himself, much to the bemusement of oVe and got one over Rich Swann to claim the X Division title. It seemed like if anyone other than Callihan would break out as a star from the stable, it would be Jake. We had seen little of his brother Dave, and they did not explain his absence on TV.

During the Speaking Out movement, Dave’s girlfriend accused him of sexual assault. Some of his coworkers had become concerned about him not apologizing after causing injuries. Also, his abrasive behavior had created incidents that got him thrown out of the locker room. Later, Dave was let go from his contract, but Jake carried on for several months until he left in late 2020.

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