Jake Crist is the new Impact Wrestling X-Division Champion.
That is perhaps one of the strangest sentences I’ve written since starting this column last year, but as of this week it’s a reality.
Crist, a fairly middling guy in the ring traditionally seen as a tag wrestler more than anything else, defeated Rich Swann to win the title, ending the former champion’s reign at just over six months.
To be quite honest, it wasn’t a title switch I saw coming or one I would have booked. There are unquestionably some issues of belting up Crist but for once, this miserable old man has found some positives.
It was a first title switch on Impact television since the Lucha Brothers won the tag belts in Mexico in January, and the first time a singles strap has changed hands on TV since Tessa Blanchard won the Knockouts title last August. By having Crist win and not building the match up in such a way that the outcome is too telegraphed, it reminds viewers that switches can happen on TV, which is important to retain interest and intrigue.
Likewise, it actually gives Crist a purpose on television. Since Jake and Dave Crist lost the tag team straps at the beginning of 2018, they have more often than not felt like an afterthought or an extension to whatever Sami Callihan is doing. While Callihan undoubtedly has more upside, this gives Crist something to do and makes him feel more of a credible threat.
Indeed, the manner in which Crist won the title also has its benefits. The interference from Dave and Madman Fulton paid off the existing issues between Swann and OvE and the outcome at last week’s Mash-Up tournament that set up Crist’s title shot. The interference presents a disparity in skill and card placement between Swann and Crist, keeping the former champion strong and allowing him to move onto new things without getting stuck in a cycle of rematches with Crist.
Giving Crist the belt also represents a pay-off for the promotion’s clear and concerted effort to present him as a singles competitor this year. Crist has featured on all three PPVs this year, as well as the Mania weekend special, as a singles competitor in multi-man matches. He has also worked singles bouts with Dezmond Xavier, Willie Mack, Tessa Blanchard, Brian Cage and Moose on Impact TV, Xplosion and the monthly specials. They have tried to position as a singles guy and this title win is a logical conclusion to that.
Blanchard has two pinfall victories over Crist this year, and given her continuing issues with Callihan that could lead to a title match of some kind in the coming months. I may be clutching at straws, but there are avenues to go with this Crist title run despite him clearly not being a top guy or the same sort of star that Swann is.
Ultimately, I see Jake Crist as a transitional champion and that’s totally fine. It gives Crist some credibility and it provides some variation from the lengthy title reigns that have become commonplace in the promotion over the last 18 months. It allows the promotion to build up someone to win the title at Bound for Glory and allows Swann to move onto something new.
On a show which featured both good booking (the segment with Rhino and Michael Elgin and the women’s match to open the show) and horrendous booking (Rob Van Dam beating Willie Mack after a 12 MINUTE MATCH IN 2019), Jake Crist becoming the new X-Division Champion has far more logic to it than meets the eye.
The Week in Review
- The match between Jordynne Grace and Kiera Hogan was strong, and probably represents Hogan’s best showing in the promotion.
- Moose got a good squash win and his post-match promo showed good fire. I now hope they actually do something with him.
- It was entertaining in bursts, but the Rob Van Dam/Willie Mack match was too long and I do not understand why Van Dam was given the win. It kills all of Mack’s momentum coming off Slammiversary and it ignores the fact that 2019 RVD sucks.
- The Ace Austin segment was AWFUL. All-time AWFUL.
- Next week will feature Madman Fulton against Tessa, a rematch between RVD and Mack and The North defending the tag team titles against the Rascalz.
Well, until next time…