Pulsed power driven metallic wire-array Z pinches are the most powerful and efficient laboratory x-ray sources. Furthermore, under certain conditions the soft x-ray energy radiated in a 5 ns pulse at stagnation can exceed the estimated kinetic energy of the radial implosion phase by a factor of 3 to 4. A theoretical model is developed here to explain this, allowing the rapid conversion of magnetic energy to a very high ion temperature plasma through the generation of fine scale, fast-growing m=0 interchange MHD instabilities at stagnation. These saturate nonlinearly and provide associated ion viscous heating. Next the ion energy is transferred by equipartition to the electrons and thus to soft x-ray radiation. Recent time-resolved iron spectra at Sandia confirm an ion temperature Ti of over 200 keV (2×109 degrees), as predicted by theory. These are believed to be record temperatures for a magnetically confined plasma.