Chris Sabin Is Your New TNA World Heavyweight Champion?
On July 18th, at Destination X, Chris Sabin realized a dream, becoming the TNA World Heavyweight Champion for the first time. Needless to say, most of the wrestling world was in a state of shock following his win over Bully Ray, the leader of Aces & Eights. I was more than shocked; I was a little put off by the whole thing. After giving it a few days to set in, I’m still not sure what exactly we’ve seen, but I did decide this isn’t going to be an article dedicated to bashing Chris Sabin and/or TNA. It is, however, going to be an article fraught with confusion, a measure of dismay, but ultimately, hope for the future of the company.
Chris Sabin has been a good wrestler for ten years. He’s performed for million of fans around the world, held several singles and tag championships, and been a reliable hand. He’s been a member of one of the most dynamic Tag Teams in TNA history, the Motor City Machine Guns, winning both the TNA and IWGP Tag Team Championships. He’s been a successful single competitor as well, holding the TNA X-Division Title six times. He’s been all these things, but one thing he never was, at least in my eyes, was a superstar. Perhaps I’m completely off the mark, but between he and his partner in MCMG, I always saw Alex Shelley as a more viable option for a big singles push. Again, perhaps I’ve got it all wrong. Considering TNA is hitching its wagon to the guy, at least for the short term, I hope I am, because after all the upheaval that’s taken place within the company over the last few weeks, they could use a measure of stability.
Over the last few weeks, Joey Ryan, Matt Morgan, Taeler Hendrix, Crimson, Tara, and Luke Gallows have all been released from their TNA contracts. Add to that list a couple of backstage guys in D-Lo Brown and Bruce Prichard, along with the releases of Rob Van Dam and announcer Todd Keneley from a few months ago, and you have enough smoke to at least forge an educated guess that there’s a fire somewhere. Rumors of a financial crisis may well be just that, rumors, but just the idea of it is bad for business, regardless of whether there’s any truth to them or not. Chris Sabin, after all he’s gone through to rehab his way back from two years worth of ACL/MCL knee surgeries, after all the heart he’s shown in making it back and ascending to the very top of the TNA mountain, could well be just the kind of feel good story TNA needs to divert a little attention away from their backstage goings on and get the eyes back on something happening in the ring. If nothing else, I admire TNA for thinking a little outside the norm and giving him a chance to see what he can do.
Bully Ray, the man Sabin is replacing, did a very good job, despite being burdened with a ho-hum storyline with a C-list cast of characters. Bully is the one superstar in Aces & Eights, and their uneven biker gang is less than convincing. Him being mired in their collective mediocrity did nothing for his title run, so I’m hopeful he gets another go at it under better circumstances. He deserves better than what’s been given to him to work with over the last several months. Truth be told, I thought he did some of his best work at Destination X, where he made Chris Sabin look better than I’ve ever seen him look. I’ve seen Chris Sabin wrestle a couple of hundred times, at least, and Destination X was the very first time I ever saw him look like more than that other guy in the MCMG. Time will tell whether that was some Bully Ray veteran heel magic, or whether Sabin can sustain that level all on his own. I have my reservations, but as a fan of Chris Sabin, I’m more than willing to give him a serious shot.
I’m cautiously optimistic that Sabin will continue to shine, since I’m sure he’ll remain entrenched in a feud will Bully Ray for the foreseeable future. If anyone can make Sabin look like ‘the man’, it’ll be Bully Ray. I just hope TNA has more in mind for him than they seem to have for guys like A.J. Styles and Bobby Roode, two other longtime TNA wrestlers now treading water amongst an ever-decreasing roster. With all the recent releases, and with all the negative press, Sabin has certainly got his work cut out for him. I don’t know that Chris Sabin is the guy to make it work, but I’m positive he’ll give every last drop of blood, sweat, and tears he has to try and make it work. None of us can really ask for much more than that.