wrestling / Columns

Will The Rascalz Benefit Dezmond Xavier?

December 6, 2018 | Posted by Dino Zee

When Dezmond Xavier first arrived in Impact Wrestling, he appeared to be a beacon of light – a show that the future was going to shine ever so brightly as far as the X Division was concerned. While he was unsuccessful that night – watching as Low Ki would win a six-way match for the X Division Championship – Xavier impressed the audience enough that night that it seemed obvious that he was going to be a huge fixture on the scene for a long while.

Xavier would slowly move up the ranks over the next few months, and would enter into the Super X Cup Tournament that went on during the summer of 2017. In that tournament, Xavier would find himself matched up against fellow hungry up-and-comers, as he’d defeat both Idris Abraham and Drago in hard-fought encounters. This would line him up for a Finals showdown at Destination X against current Bone Soldier, Taiji Ishimori. Ishimori himself was coming off of two huge wins over Davey Richards and ACH, and was a slight favorite heading into the match.

In another fun encounter, the two traded moves, dazzling the crowd with a display of aerial excellence not often seen. Xavier would show his grit when he’d survive the 450 of Ishimori, and rally shortly thereafter with a backflip kick that kept Ishimori down for the three count.

At this point, Xavier’s future was bright. Winning the Super X Cup guaranteed him a future shot at the X Division Champion, and with all that momentum in his corner, it didn’t appear that there was anyone who could hope to stop the man. Unfortunately, the man was never able to turn that Cup victory into a championship. In fact, his momentum would come to a grinding halt following his win over Ishimori. At last year’s Bound for Glory, the man would compete in a six-way match for the X Division title, which felt like a huge injustice to the man. He had earned a proper spotlight against the champion, but did not get it. Trevor Lee – the man who walked into the match champion – would leave the match still holding the strap.

Many journalists – myself included – had pegged 2018 as the year to keep an eye on Dezmond Xavier in Impact. Unfortunately, that just didn’t pan out the way I had hoped. Xavier would appear sporadically in Impact, but never as someone looking to strike gold or make big headlines. Instead, he seemed happy to just sort of meander through the X Division, though he did at least challenge Brian Cage this summer.

It also went about as well as one would expect. With Brian Cage using the summer to dominate the X Division, Xavier sort of just disappeared into the mists.

Then just last month, he reappeared from the mists. And, immediately, it was clear that there was a change in Xavier.

Along with his friends Zachary Wentz and Trey Miguel – collectively known as The Rascalz – Xavier seemed to have a new demeanor. Wentz would even mock the man we had come to know over the last year, referencing how his friend was ”Super X Cup… super serious” in a way that let you know he didn’t think much of what Xavier had accomplished. Dez himself said that he really needed to relax. For a man who had gotten nearly to the top of the mountain so quickly, it really hit me weird to hear him making fun of his past accomplishments.

Is it possible that The Rascalz are the worst thing for Dezmond’s career?

Heading into their in-ring debut for last week’s Impact, that was the question that I asked myself repeatedly. What kind of friends would talk their high-achieving compadre into goofing off with them instead? Why wouldn’t Wentz and Miguel want to ride the coattails, instead of dragging the star back down to earth? I just couldn’t make sense out of that promo. Xavier had so much promise and potential, was so gifted in his skillset, that not wanting to push himself just didn’t register to me.

With all of that going through my mind, I realized that I wasn’t being fair. I’m not super familiar with The Rascalz, but I do know that they’ve got quite the following on the indie circuit, and that there was a definite buzz once it was announced that Dez was bringing his friends with him to Impact. Maybe Dez knew what he was doing, and maybe he knows himself better than I do. Maybe he did just need to relax. Maybe that instant stardom in 2017 was too much, too soon, and after taking some time to refocus, the man made an adult decision on how he wants to run his career.

Maybe. Maybe not. But it was only fair to leave that open as a possibility, especially without having seen the team in competition.

To be truthful, Xavier and Wentz worked very well as a team, which wasn’t that surprising. Wentz has just as much aerial ability as Dez, and their friendship allows them to do things in tandem that other teams might need years to perfect.

While their competition wasn’t the highest level, it still showed what the duo can do. And, being honest, they can do a lot. The tag team division is always exciting in Impact, but with The Rascalz now doing their thing, it might get even better.

The obvious matchup – should they prove worthy – would be against LAX. Santana and Ortiz bring it better than anyone else, but it would be incredible watching them go move for move with Wentz and Xavier. There’s also a chance that LAX – despite the incredible battles that they’ve been on since arriving in Impact – has never really dealt with a team like The Rascalz, which makes the matchup even more intriguing.

To get there, though, the team is going to have to do more than laugh at their own jokes. Last Thursday was a great start, sure, but there’s much to be done before a shot at the Tag Team Championship can be considered. They’re going to have to beat real teams, and prove that they’re taking this seriously, even if it’s not super serious.

Xavier seemingly threw away the man we know, and is happy to give us the man who wags his hand under his chin. It’s an odd gamble, but not everyone in sports is cut out to be so high-strung. Perhaps he truly does perform at a higher level by just winging it, as he claimed to have done in the Super X Cup. Maybe the thrill of the unknown is all the motivation he needs.

Or maybe the man couldn’t stand up to the instant fame and success, and he’s trying to find a way to admit it.

For now, the jury is out. I’m happy to allow The Rascalz the time needed to develop. But I’ll always do it with an eye on how it affects the progression of Dezmond. If they can win gold, then this was definitely the right move.

If, however, The Rascalz lose momentum and fade away, then this could be considered the moment where Dezmond Xavier let the world know that he was done trying. And what a shame that would be.