As noted, new Impact World Champion Austin Aries took part in a conference call with the media this week, which Wrestling Inc. was on hand for. During the call, Aries, who defeated Eli Drake on last week's episode of Impact Wrestling to win the championship, addressed rebranding his newly won title and removing the term "heavyweight" from it.
"I decided to return as a world-class wrestler," Aries said. "That's why I made sure that people understand that it is the Impact World Championship. For me, weight divisions in wrestling's a little silly because we never adhere to them. We never use them."
He said that the term "heavyweight" on the title implies that you can't be considered a headliner. Aries noted that with Superstars like Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in boxing and MMA, it proves that you don't have to be a heavyweight to be considered a major draw. He said that wrestling needs to follow suit, and he hopes to change that perception, adding that there's no weight restriction for his title.
Given his thoughts on weight divisions, I asked Aries what he thought of the X-Division now and what can be done for that division to evolve. Aries held the X-Division Championship on six occasions, and has also holds the record for the longest reign with the title.
"That's a good question, and I've always been a little torn on the X-Division," Aries admitted. "Obviously, I was very prominent in the X-Division, I owe a lot of my later success through what I was able to do in the X-Division, including the Option C idea. But for me, the thing I've always struggled with is, 'What is the X-Division? What's the definition of it?' I remember having that discussion with Eric Bischoff back when he was part of the team and they wanted to bring a weight limit. The style of wrestling has changed so much, who is in the X-Division anymore? You've got guys like Keith Lee who's 300+ lbs., is he [an] X-Division [wrestler]? Samoa Joe back in the day, he's a 280 lb. Samoan, he's X-Division? So to me, the struggle has always been about what is the X-Division.
"If you're going to implement some kind of weight limit - I think at one time they did 215 lbs. - well, if that's the case, then you need to do it. Then anyone who's not [at least] 215 is in the X-Division. Then all of a sudden, you're like, 'Wow, then AJ Styles is in the X-Division. Jeff Hardy's in the X-Division. Now your top guys would be in the X-Division."
Aries drew a parallel with the X-Division and WWE's cruiserweight division, where wrestlers that should be in it are kept out because of their star power. He noted that ultimately hurts the perception of it.
"That goes along the lines of the 205 Live thing, you've got some guys who aren't 205 lbs. that are considered to be too big of stars to be put in 205 Live. Well what does that say about what you think about your division? If you're going to use weight limits and weight restrictions, then use it.
"When's the last time someone's seen a weigh-in at a pro wrestling show? We haven't. So we have these weight restrictions, but we don't use them. Or in the case of the X-Division, there's really no definition of what it is other than it is a stylistic type of wrestling, which may be back in its inception made a lot of sense. Fast-forward 15 years later and that's the prominent style that most guys work. So for me, that's always been the struggle of the X-Division is to define it and what it is. Is it just a secondary title, are there weight limits, are there not weight limits? So I think that's something that [the new management team] has talked about. There's a lot of history and lineage with the X-Division, and obviously it's not something that you want to go away, but kind of figuring out exactly what it is in this current state and this day-and-age is important."