Austin Aries arrived in TNA during an open tournament to give contracts to some new X-Division talent. Since Hogan and Bischoff had taken over TNA they had basically killed off the entire X-Division. Clearly, they were not fans of the division and had no idea how to run it. The legends of ECW had been brought in to TNA and named Extreme Version 2.0 or EV2.0 for sort. On top of that, the monster Abyss had been on an unstoppable run after creating Janice (a piece of wood with nails through it) and used it to end Rob Van Dam's title reign. As a result, Bischoff and Hogan turned the X-Division into the Extreme Division. So a division that was created to give the young high flying risk takers a chance to show off their moves was now full of huge old washed up hardcore wrestlers, and the new X-Division Champion was the biggest monster of them all... Abyss.
I think the fan reaction to this may have been worse than when Hogan and Bischoff changed the TNA six-sided ring, into a tradition four-sided ring. So very quickly it was announced that the X-Division would be returning to its original form. However, most X-Division wrestlers in TNA had either moved up to the main event or left the company. So as a result, they needed new talent. That is where the whole tournament started to earn an TNA contract. It was a chance to audition new X-Division style talent.
Now to be perfectly honest, I had never seen any matches from Ring Of Honor. So I had no idea who Austin Aries was. And when I saw him compete in his first match in TNA I did not like what I saw. I was actually hoping someone else in his first match would win so he would not go on to the finals. I was very disappointed when he won. I thought he was scrawny and cocky and just really annoying. I think most of the crowd agreed with me because he was booed out of the building. Especially when after he won he refereed to himself as "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived." Not exactly modest for an unknown rookie.
In their attempt to rebuild the X-Division, Hogan and Bischoff gave the X-Division an entire PPV. This was the PPV Destination X. The main event was between the X-Division Champion Abyss and the #1 Contender Brian Kendrick. But the real story of the PPV seemed to be the finals of the tournament, which was a fatal four-way match. Again, to be honest, I was cheering against Austin Aries. I actually wanted the kid that could do the 630 splash to win the match. I thought that move was amazing! But again, Aries disappointed me and won the match.
He would go on to defeat the X-Division Champion Brian Kendrick and become the new Champion not long after winning his contract. I was disappointed to see Brian Kendrick lose, and later leave the company, but I was becoming impressed with the new Champion Austin Aries.Since becoming Champion, Aries has not had any real competition. He has defeated such challengers as Kid Kash, Jesse Sorensen, Zema Ion, and other unknown wrestlers. Yet somehow he has managed to steal the show with his matches each week on Impact and on every PPV. There is an old expression that Ric Flair was so good he could wrestle a mop and make it look good, well TNA has given Austin Aries quite a few mops but each time he manages to make himself and the mop look good lol.
You would think this would put him over with the fans and with management and he would move up the card, but that did not happen. Sometimes I get the impression management must think, if someone is doing good in the opening matches then keep them in the opening matches. Well that is not how it should work, if you do good you move up the card. I assume in TNA the next step is the Television Championship, which Devon recently won from Robbie E... well Austin Aries is clearly better than both of them so it would be an easy next step to make. Perhaps he should find a partner and go after the Tag-Team Championships, but he seems like a guy that doesn't get along with anyone else and would rather work alone.
Well, around this time Hogan and Bischoff were out and Sting was in charge. Sting left Aries in the opening match and booked himself in the main event of the next PPV. Aries did not like this and voiced his opinion on Twitter. Well Sting and TNA management found out. The Tweet was removed by Aries, but it was too late. The fans and seen it, TNA management had seen it. They had no choice but to make it a storyline on the show. So now Aries was a Heel with a chip on his shoulder who thought he deserved to be in the main event. So that is what they did, they put him in the main event. Well by now the crowd was beginning to take to him, and his main event push seemed long overdue.
I think the crowd responded so well to his push that TNA has decided to turn him Face. This huge joke of a match between Bischoff and his son is actually the big Lethal Lockdown match that always steals the show each year at TNA's Lockdown PPV. Well Garrett Bischoff's team is like a who's who of TNA today... Ken Anderson, AJ Styles, Rob Van Dam... and Austin Aries! If that is not a statement that you have arrived in a company, to be teamed with those three, then I don't know what is!
This push might also have to do with the fact that recently Aries became the Longest Reigning Champion in TNA History! I posted recently on my blog... "April 10, 2012 is Austin Aries’ 213th day as TNA X Division Champion. That makes him the longest reigning TNA Champion of all-time. The previous record holders, Beer Money (former TNA Tag Team Champions), held the gold for 212 days from January 9, 2011 to August 9, 2011." So not only is Aries the longest reigning X-Division Champion, he is the longest reigning for any title in TNA. I remember he came out to the ring to celebrate with his trademark glass of wine when he became the longest reigning X-Division Champion. I think they should have made a big deal when he surpassed Beer Money to became the Greatest TNA Champion of all time! (Instead, on this past week's Impact, James Storm and Bobby Roode were discussing their glory days as Beer Money and stated that Beer Money had the longest title reign in TNA history... that was no longer true at that point).