Since March 2014, TNA’s X Division has been dominated by a 26-year-old Japanese superstar known as Sanada. After winning the title from Austin Aries on home turf, the protégée of the legendary Great Muta has been in near unstoppable form.
After tasting victory at both the Lockdown and Sacrifice pay-per-views, and successfully defending his title against the likes of Tigre Uno, DJ Zema Ion and Christopher Daniels, his relentless reign looks set to continue for some time. GiveMeSport looks at the top contenders to the title, including possible challengers for the upcoming Slammiversary event, which takes place on 15th June:
• Tigre Uno
The 33-year-old Mexican, a former two-time AAA World Cruiserweight and AAA World Tag Team Champion, has endured a mixed start to life with TNA. After making a successful debut at Lockdown, defeating Manik, he has struggled to cope with the dominance of Sanada, losing three potential title matches. However, having both competed against, and tagged alongside Sanada, the defending champion will have now been well scouted by the masked high-flyer.
• DJ Zema Ion
A one-time X Division title holder, the 27-year-old became the first Pilipino to win a TNA title in 2012, when he defeated Kenny King, Mason Andrews and Sonjay Dutt in an Ultimate X match. He held the title until Bound for Glory, when he was defeated by Rob Van Dam. He has challenged for the title twice in recent months, cashing in his Feast or Fired briefcase to unsuccessfully take on Austin Aries, before a three-way defeat to Sanada in a match also involving Tigre Uno. However, the influence of Ion’s associates – the Bro Mans – cannot be discounted, with the former two-time World Tag Team Champions keen to help DJ Z to glory.
• Austin Aries
The most decorated man in the division’s history that is currently part of the TNA roster, 36-year-old Aries is a four-time X Division title holder, recently dropping the belt to current champion Sanada. Having just returned from a storyline absence to challenge the new heel stable of MVP, Kenny King and Bobby Lashley, fans will be clamouring to see A-Double get his hands on gold once again. Perennially popular, this fan favourite once cashed in his X Division title for a World Championship shot. Don’t be surprised if history repeats itself.
• Kenny King
Another one-time X Division title holder, King defeated Rob Van Dam to win the title back in February 2013, in a match which also had his membership to the division on the line. At Slammiversary, King dropped the title to Chris Sabin in a match also involving Suicide. But with the might of MVP and Bobby Lashley now behind him, King will fancy his chances of winning back the title. The cocky arrogance of his character, as well as his undoubted talent, always make him fun to watch.
The outsider for a title shot – Manik is currently inactive on the roster, having not been seen in TNA since Lockdown. The masked crusader, currently played by T.J. Perkins, won the vacant title in July 2013, holding it until Bound for Glory when Chris Sabin emerged victorious in an Ultimate X Match. Despite his long-standing absence from TV screens, it feels like his return might not be too far away, with the character having been billed as one of the favourites to appear on TNA’s new family friendly version of Xplosion.
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