29/12/2012

The 2012 Impact Wrestling Awards

BEST FEUD
Bobby Roode vs James Storm


In a rare display of long-term booking, the saga of Bobby Roode and James Storm ran an entire year and could even be picked back up today with a minimum of difficultly. Hostilities broke out in the wake of James Storm's impromptu World Heavyweight Title win in late 2011, as Bobby Roode's jealousy got the better of him. The feud peaked with matches at TNA's biggest shows of the year - Lockdown and Bound for Glory. In the initial bout, they headlined the all-steel-cage pay-per-view, battling it out for the World Title and bringing life to an otherwise dead crowd. Their latter encounter, while not for the Championship or even in the main event, showed a rare intensity, left both men bloody wrecks and stole the show.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Joey Ryan


Starting out the year working for TNA's Indian side project, Ring Ka King, Joey Ryan was already well on his way to a debut at Orlando's Impact Zone. The big day finally came in the form of a Gut Check match against breakout star, Austin Aries. Rather than greener than grass rookies the Gut Check competition had been founded upon to that point, Ryan was a tried and true indy veteran, with a decade in the ring already under his belt. But what was meant to be a formality quickly became a nightmare, as the contest's judges didn't like Joey's attitude and promptly kicked him out of the competition, minus one contract. But rather than disappearing (like the Gut Check "winners"), Joey Ryan rightfully aired his grievances on any and all social media platform that would listen. 87% of the Impact Wrestling audience were for giving him a contract and through hard fought feuds with Taz and Al Snow climaxing at Bound for Glory, Joey finally earned his spot on the roster.

BEST PROMO
Austin Aries goes "off script" on Jeff Hardy


Heading into their eagerly anticipated Bound for Glory main event, both the World Champion Austin Aries and his challenger Jeff Hardy were fan favourites. While not unheard of, every good story needs it's villain. Put in the unenviable position of going up against Jeff Hardy's legion of "creatures", Austin Aries took to that role with zeal and relish. On the final Impact before the pay-per-view, the Greatest Man That Ever Lived hit the ring and decided to air his grievances with the Charismatic Enigma live to a global audience. Visibly throwing the show's "script" to one side, Aries pointed out all the insincere glad-handing that came with being the World Heavyweight Champion. Management told him how to act, how to present himself, how to suck up to fans and from that moment, it was done with. Taking issue with Hardy as a focal point, the Champion went on an impressive tirade, bringing to light his challenger's rap sheet, his poor health and how everyone caters to his every whim without a second thought. But not only did he verbally run rings around Hardy, he also cheapshotted the challenger and hit his signature Brainbuster, acting as the ultimate fullstop and ending any confusion as to who was the villain of the piece.

WORST WRESTLER(S) & WORST MATCH
Garett Bischoff & Wes Brisco


Words cannot describe just how bad these rookies are, both in the ring and on the mic. You simply have to see it for yourself. Go, check Youtube, right this second, I'll wait.... Did you see? Oh my god, it's terrifying isn't it. Why either of these men think Professional Wrestling is the career for them, I don't know. I can only imagine the immense pressure that comes with their family names. Being a Bischoff and a Brisco in this industry must come with as much stigma as it does benefit. Up until recently, they'd mercifully been kept to the background of scenes, usually behind the Olympic Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle. Bischoff only rarely ventured into the ring, typically for terrible Xplosion matches not seen in America (yet the horror is entirely visited upon we Brits). Brisco, on the other hand, wasn't even on the roster, instead being this disturbing sycophant following Angle around like a lost puppy. Unfortunately, that all changed with a recent Gut Check match between the pair. For several ungodly minutes, we were subjected to the worst display of nepotism in the history of the business. Now not only does Wes Brisco have an Impact Wrestling contract, but he has the distinction of being the only Gut Check contestant to win his respective match. Not that beating Garett Bischoff looks particularly difficult...

WORST ANGLE
Clare Lynch


Where do I begin. Let's start with a positive shall we. Clearly TNA management recognised the skill and talent of AJ Styles and Christoper Daniels and wanted to give them a bigger spotlight. As entertaining as their pure athleticism is, this sport often needs a small injection of soap opera sensibilities to keep the casual viewers interested. But this was no small injection. This was an overdose. Thinking back, I struggle to remember all the twists and turns of this debacle, as my mind has most likely blocked them out. Something to do with Daniels insinuating AJ was having an affair with TNA President Dixie Carter, only they were really helping a family friend kick drugs. Then Daniels paid off that family friend and made it look as though AJ had impregnated her. I mean truly, WTF? Daniels plan was basically bragging about how many women Styles has had sex with and how verile he is. Thanks buddy, can you do me next, sounds like great PR! The true sign of how bad this angle had become was in it's dying days, when the actress TNA had employed to play the role of Clare Lynch actually refused to return and finish out the story. She'd received so much hate-mail and scorn from TNA fans over the course of the summer, it was literally destroying her career.

SURPRISE OF THE YEAR
Austin Aries wins the World Heavyweight Championship at Destination X


Going into the Destination X pay-per-view, Austin Aries was riding an unprecedented wave of popularity. At the time, he'd been the reigning X Division Champion for damn near a year, he'd defeated a string of larger opponents in impressive fashion (Bully Ray, Samoa Joe, etc) and it all built to a frenzy which Hulk Hogan couldn't ignore. Offering Aries a once in a lifetime opportunity, Hogan gave A-Double the chance to relinquish his X Division Championship in exchange for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship, then held by the IT Factor, Bobby Roode. While the fans were firmly behind Aries in spirit, all logical thought pointed towards Roode retaining the belt and going on to defend against James Storm at Bound for Glory a couple of months later. The Roode/Storm feud had been the centerpiece of Impact Wrestling for almost the entire of 2012. It was their money match they'd spent a year building to. There was no way in hell someone could derail that sort of momentum. Only they could and they did. That man was Austin Aries. Taking on Bobby Roode in the main event of Destination X, he surprised everyone by succeeding where so many others had failed and became the new World Heavyweight Champion. Giving us the feel good moment of the year in the process.

BEST TAG TEAM/FACTION
Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian aka Bad Influence


Long have professional wrestlers feared the moment Creative turn around and tell them "sorry, we don't have anything for you". To look at Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, you'd imagine they've had that message alot over the years. After the dissolution of their former group Fortune, they watched as AJ Styles, Bobby Roode and James Storm went on to bigger and better things, while they were left to languish in the undercard. Rather than despair, Daniels and Kazarian saw this as an opportunity...to have fun. Forgetting the Clare Lynch nonsense, these two took the Tag Team division by storm and soon became the World Tag Team Champions of the World (not redundant). Instead of indulging in the angst of a traditional feud, they seek simply to amuse themselves. Just last week, they called out Santa Claus for a promo. If that doesn't say it all, I don't know what will. Whether they have the championship belts or not, Daniels and Kazarian continue to be the most impressive tag team in all of Impact Wrestling and deserve no end of credit for turning nothing into something.

BEST ANGLE
Joey Ryan and the 87%


As I mentioned earlier, Joey Ryan had a tumultuous time breaking into TNA Wrestling via Gut Check, but never fear, social media is here! Ironically, my favourite angle of the year, didn't actually take place on Impact for the most part. In being rejected by the Gut Check judges, Joey Ryan pioneered a subversive smear campaign against his haters. Taking to Youtube for a series of scathing promo videos, Ryan tore the judges a new one. First focusing on Taz and slowly transitioning toward Al Snow. I never entirely knew when or where the next installment of this feud would be. Hell, for the longest time, I didn't know whether it was a work or a shoot. The Gut Check judges DID have an agenda in saying no to Joey and it's only right that he be pissed off about that. So it's not unthinkable that he would make these videos against the powers that be. It's not even unthinkable that he'd turn up in the crowd of the Impact Zone. It's a free country! Due to Joey Ryan's involvement, every further Gut Check segment was must-see-tv. You never knew when he'd appear at the guard rail, how many 87%'ers he'd have in the building that week or if he may finally get his hands on his targets. It's tough to pull off the "outsider" gimmick without giving yourself away as a work, but "Hollywood's Own" did it with aplomb.

MOST IMPROVED
Magnus



Just a quick nod to my fellow Englishman. For whatever reason, Magnus' stock is most definitely on the rise. Whenever a TNA legend takes to an interview and points out the next generation they are hoping to encourage and work with in future, Magnus' name always comes up. Not just for political reasons though, as Magnus has improved exponentially in the ring also. In 2012, the Samoan Submission Machine, Samoa Joe, clearly took the Brit under his wing. Starting out the year as a curiously mismatched tag team, they gelled surprisingly well and were even rewarded with a reign as Tag Team Champions. Building off that momentum, the pair springboarded into fantastic singles feud with each other over the Television Title. While Magnus never managed to go over and get the big win, he progressively upped his game until in the final pay-per-view bout he physically passed out rather than submit. He's currently "on the shelf" selling a random beating from Aces & Eights, but you can bet that upon his return, he'll quickly attain that brass ring that's eluded him for so long. After that, it's only so long before he sets his sights on the World Title itself.

BEST PAY-PER-VIEW
Destination X


While I'm not typically a fan of gimmick pay-per-views, this show acts as a much needed spotlight on an often flagging division. TNA was built on the X Division, attracting so much buzz and attention in the early years. Yet for no real reason, it's frequently ignored for long stretches of time. At least having Destination X in place, it guarantees once a year, the company pauses and remembers where it came from. My favourite part of the show for the past few years being the influx of new talent. These men are by no means guaranteed a permanent spot on the roster, but for the month prior and the show itself, they shine like never before. This year's offering included Mason Andrews (shut up Harold!), Rubix, Dakota Darsow, Lars Only, Flip Cassanova and the lone survivor, Kenny King. Also on the card, we had rematches of classic bouts in Kurt Angle vs Samoa Joe and AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels. Last but not least, the epic main event of Austin Aries challenging Bobby Roode for the World Heavyweight Championship. All in all, the perfect mix of old and new. Everything I look for in a pay-per-view.

WORST TITLE REIGN
Jeff Hardy as World Heavyweight Champion


I simply do not get the appeal of this man to the masses. He's called "The Charismatic Enigma", but as far as I can tell, he has the least charisma of all the active wrestlers. Hell, if we included backstage agents, even D'Lo Brown and Al Snow could run rings around him. But, for whatever reason, the crowd loves him. They go nuts when his MANY musics hit, they go nuts when he nails the Twist of Fate on a badguy. As a result of such unquestionable adulation, TNA don't hesitate for a second to have their cash-cow win the Bound for Glory Series or go on to lay claim to the World Heavyweight Championship.

However, his run with the belt so far has been boring and uneventful. Just like when John Cena wins his umpteenth WWE Championship, there's a distinct feeling of "now what?". There's simply nowhere to go with Jeff's character or even the TNA Title itself. He's a literal narrative dead-end. He's only functioning as a target for the heels to bicker over, who in the process are having far more fun than the champion himself.

But at the end of the day, do you know what Jeff Hardy's title reign will be remembered for? The inner monologues. Due to the Enigma's complete and utter lack of ability on the microphone, he's incapable of cutting even the simplest of promos to back up his claims or to denounce his opponent. Instead of subjecting the Impact Zone (and we at home) to a bumbled attempt at verbalising his feelings on the spur of the moment, TNA have been covering this inherent weakness with pre-taped voiceovers that play at particular moments during a Hardy segment. All motion slows to a crawl, the camera moves in and...OH MY GOD WE'RE INSIDE HIS HEAD! Kinda dirty in here and I don't mean the fun way. Jesus, Jeff, do you never wash off the day-glo paint?

BEST TITLE REIGN
Bobby Roode as World Heavyweight Champion


256 days. Nuff said.

But that'd be a short segment, so let's verbalise a little.

In the modern era of professional wrestling, short uneventful title reigns are the status quo. A wrestler gains a certain amount of momentum and he'll be rewarded with a brief run with whichever title suits best. But a couple of months down the line, their act will grow stale and some shiny new talent will have the pull to swoop in and steal that title away. It's not even a bad thing in the strictest sense. Sometimes divisions do need revitalising. It's all about who's right for that spot at that moment. So to say Bobby Roode was the right man to lead TNA Wrestling forward for 256 days is the biggest compliment anyone can give.

During this record breaking run, Bobby Roode dubbed himself "The leader of the Selfish Generation" and went on to back up his claims with classic heel victories over the heaviest hitters in Impact Wrestling history. James Storm, Jeff Hardy, Bully Ray, Mr Anderson, Rob Van Dam, Sting, they all fell to "the It Factor of Professional Wrestling" like a line of dominoes. Even when it finally came time to drop the title at Destination X, he put over his challenger, Austin Aries, like a champ. In doing so, Bobby Roode has become the touchstone of TNA. It really does pay to be Roode.

BEST NON-WRESTLER
Jeremy Borash


Jeremy Borash is perhaps the unsung hero of TNA Wrestling. He's been there since the very beginning, doing so many undefined tasks under the umbrella of his job, it'd be easy to forget him, as he's such a staple. But you have to give credit to the man, he's a fixer through and through. Fronting episodes of TNA Today, Spin Cycle, Xplosion, numerous backstage interviews and even a short stint commentating on the first hour of Impact Wrestling, JB bleeds TNA. Your good works do not go unnoticed, sir.

WTF OF THE YEAR
Eric Young disappears for months getting KFC for ODB


While more a string of moments than one singular moment, I was forever taken aback by the segments of Impact featuring ODB phoning her missing-in-action hubby, Eric Young. In reality, EY was away fronting a successful nature show on Animal Planet. To explain such long absences, promotions usually just write the character out of storylines and pretend they never existed until they're available again, but TNA weren't going to let this one slide. For month after month, ODB would be seen in the backstage area phoning her "husband", leaving voicemail after voicemail. She'd instructed him to go pick up a bucket of chicken and he simply never came back! No calls, no texts and most importantly...no chicken!

BEST KNOCKOUT
Tara


In a year where the Knockouts division has been sadly neglected, Tara continues to be the firm foundation for any greatness to come. She's got the looks, the talent, the title, the valet and the begrudging respect of all those in the locker room. Having entered her forties, you'd think she'd be winding down her in-ring career, but with momentum like this, I see her going for years to come.

Her year started out with an unsuccessful run at Gail Kim's Knockouts Championship, but at the time she was clearly just fodder to establish Gail's dominance of the division. Biding her time, her moment finally came in the beginnings of a feud with her "Boo" Miss Tessmacher. The former Knockouts Tag Team Champions came to blows as Tess challenged her mentor on an Open Fight Night themed episode of Impact. Tara came out on top with ease, a fact which stuck in the craw of her opponent. The pair went back and forth until their matches became for the Knockouts Championship and any semblance of friendship was lost. Finally, at Bound for Glory, the biggest show of the year, Tara defeated Miss Tessmacher to capture the title for a record-tying fifth time.

MATCH OF THE YEAR
Bobby Roode vs James Storm at Bound for Glory


In their second show-stealing PPV match of 2012, James Storm came for his final revenge on former friend and tag partner, Bobby Roode. But no simple wrestling match was going to do his anger justice. This had to be balls to the wall, anything goes, no coming back, finality. This had to be a street fight. And oh my god was it ever. For the best part of half an hour, these two men took strips out of one another...and it wasn't even the main event! Storm and Roode's epic feud spanning almost a year at this point, had built up to such intensity, it surpassed the need for the World Heavyweight Championship. This was about pride, not titles. In doing so, these men took this match to an extreme rarely seen since the days of ECW.  James Storm spent 99% of the time with a waterfall of blood raining down his own face. I genuinely worried whether he'd need a transfusion after they were done. But don't let the base brutality fool you into thinking this was a simple hardcore bout. The former Beer Money duo were telling a story, like only they knew how. By the time the thumb tacks came out, I was getting flashes of Cactus Jack and Triple H tearing it up over a decade ago. When you can be mentioned in the same breath as a classic like that, you know you're on the right track. To think this was only the third match of the night, it's a wonder anyone attempted to follow it. They brought their big game to the big show and even though James Storm finally got his victory and this feud is meant to be over, you can tell TNA won't hesitate to revisit it in the future in hope of recapturing the magic. Bravo, gentlemen.

Written by Mark Clements

18/12/2012

Trash Talking: Changing Faces

Written by Robbie_G_CH
Photos (c) TNA (http://www.facebook.com/ImpactWrestling/photos_albums)

It's happened to many over the years, it happened to Austin Aries earlier in the year and now it's happened to Bully Ray, I'm talking about the unwanted face turn that came about after a rise in fan support, but doesn't really work for the character. 

Do You Know Who I Am?

Bully dons the facepaint to team with Sting
For the best part of this year Bully Ray has been at the top of his game, putting on good matches and being a tough S.O.B that crowds have loved to hate; so much so that one memorable part of last years Maximum Impact Tour was the crowd taunting him with the name 'Pussy Ray'; but this all change with his involvement in the Aces & Eights angle and by the time Bound For Glory had rolled around he was playing to the crowd and people were cheering him along with Sting.
In the aftermath of BFG, Bully has essentially turned face by starting a relationship with Brooke Hogan, playing to the crowd when they demand tables and smartening his appearance with wearing shirts rather than his usual vest and shorts; the only problem is that this the Bully Ray character doesn't really work as a face, he clowns around and plays the fool for the crowd undoing the past two years of work; rather than playing to the crowd he would be better carrying on with his characteristics, because the cheers only came from his pairing with Sting it seems like management have turned him to please the fans on a short term basis much like they did with Austin Aries over the summer.

Multiple Turning Points

During the start of the year Austin Aries was the cocky heel X Division Champion who was winning the crowd over with his work ethic in the ring rather than his character, when management caught on to this they began to push him into the main event taking on heavyweight opponents, he became the David to the Goliath's that were the top guys in the company, the turning point was his victory over Bully Ray at Sacrifice which was when the majority of fans got behind TGMTEL which also powered him to the feel good moment of the summer when he dethroned Bobby Roode as the World Heavyweight Champion. 
Again rather than just allow him to continue with the way he was, his character was tweaked to please the fans with him playing so when he reverted to his former traits in the lead up to his BFG main event against Jeff Hardy fans started to resent him again (except for the actual live crowd for the match itself), within six months he had turned face and then heel again on the back of what fans wanted and to fit with who the creative team wanted him to face at the time. 

Often wrestlers can get the crowd to react in ways they want them to, just look at the recent match between AJ Styles, Bobby Roode and James Storm, all three are former stable mates and when the former Beer Money hit one of their old signature moves the crowd went nuts but thankfully had the sense not to conclude otherwise the may well be back in the tag division. Just because the crowd reacts a certain way for certain decision should not result in a wrestler flipping between heel and face on a whim.
Looking back over the history books they would read totally different if this had occurred in the late 90's, Steve Austin wouldn't have become the massive character he did as he would have removed the edgier parts of his act rather than the beer swilling, swearing readneck we all know and love; or Wrestlemania 18 would have seen The Rock turn heel on Hogan after the Canadian crowd booed him rather than stick it out until eventually turning nearly a year later.

When the crowd reacts positively to something they either gain respect for the wrestler in Aries case or take a moment when character is broken and cling onto it much like Bully's recent turn, when these turns occur it's hard to understand why the characteristics of the wrestlers change from those that made them popular in the first place, if they have done enough to get the crowd on side then let them run with it, let the crowd cheer the bad guys and boo the good guys, hell WWE would never consider turning John Cena.



12/12/2012

Ringside Report: NBW Southside Wrestling: Ill Manors (30/11/12)

After attending Southside's Supremacy in August there was no chance I was going to miss the natural follow on event which was Ill Manors. SWE have run a number of shows in between the two events; including their 2nd Anniversary show; but this show was billed as SWE vs House Of Pain (HOP) whose rivalry had been boiling over since Supremacy with this seemingly being the 'pay off' event. 

The event took place in a different part of the arena than the last event, presumably down to the fact the event had changed date, with the ring side area feeling more open than last time with dual entrance tunnels  and the ring being lower than normal. Again I was seated at ringside, on the opposite side of the ring to last time, but again on the HOP side which I chose to embrace this time round. 

The show kicked off in similar fashion to last time with Harvey Dale and Diamond Dale Mills taking to the ring to set up the show and start banter between the two sides, with both men being the ring announcer for their sides and responsible for riling up their side of the crowd respectively. Dale is so entertaining on the mic,   is always in character and can draw heat with the best in the business, he reminds me of Paul Heyman and if he keeps up the good work will be one of the biggest characters in the industry.

BBB and El Ligero take things high risk
The first match saw El Ligero pick up the first victory for SWE against Bam Bam Barton. I had previously seen Ligero before in his 1000th match at LCW and he had left a good impression mixing high flying action with comedy and in this match he brought intensity to match the serious nature of the evening. The match was solid but did little to last in the memory with the dueling chants from the crowd taking over a little from the in ring action.

Up next was Max Angelus; who at Supremacy rolled up TNA British Boot Camp contestant Rock Star Spud after being told to lie down by Harvey Dale; against former SWE Champion T-Bone. The two put on a good showing and I was glad to see more of Max this time round, although he played to the HOP side of the crowd despite the underlying issues he seems to have with the organisation, but he picked up the win evening up the scores.

The Predators showing unity
The third match saw the Tag Titles on the line as The Hunter Brothers made their debut for SWE against The Predators. The Champions looked a tighter team than the last time that I saw them as they were now wearing matching ring gear and looked like they had toned up, whilst I had seen the Hunters a couple of times before and have been impressed with the brothers who remind me of the Hardy Boyz circa 1999. 
The match lived up to my expectations as both teams are up there as the best in the country, both teams gave it there all which saw the champs retain their belts although I expect a rematch will be booked for one of the next events.

Robbie X defended his Speed King Championship against Alex Gracie who was defending his Full Throttle belt in a 10 minute time limit match (which is Full Throttle rules). Despite the time limit the two seemed to not want to go 'full throttle' until the second half of the match, once the last minute had been announced Robbie X locked in a few different submission moves but Gracie held on until after the bell without tapping out ending the match in a draw. 
Once the ring bell had rang Max Angelus' music played to bring him out with his MITB briefcase in hand with Harvey Dale yelling at him to win him the title (Speed King) as he wanted it, this caused Max to turn on Dale who threatened to fire him before Max quit and left through the fan entrance. 

Devitt playing to the crowd
The last match of the half was billed as an 'International Dream Match' between ROH's Michael Elgin and New Japan's Prince Devitt, and boy did it live up to it's billing. The two pulled out all the stops to impress the crowd which showed what true pro's they are as they could have done half as much and still put on a excellent match.
Although the two wrestle different styles with Elgin being more power orientated to Devitt's 'high flying', they showed that two different styles can work together really well with risks, reversals and great mat wrestling thrown in. Devitt picked up the win but the real winners were the crowd, I would highly recommend tracking down a copy of this match!

After the intermission it was back to the theme of the night with HOP leading 2 -1 going into the second half, with the odds looking stacked in their favour going into the next match as it was a triple threat match pitting SWE's Nathan Cruz against HOP's 'Diamond' Dave Andrews and the HOP Champion LJ Heron who was billed as a tweener for this due to him wanting to become a full time member of SWE roster. Heron's alliances or lack there of were made clear straight away by helping Cruz clear Andrews out of the ring, who spent the majority of time out of the ring but his personality shone through for me with out bursts like 'come on sunshine' which made him my favourite in the match. The match took on a familiar triple threat formula with two guys in the ring with one outside, with the odd triangle moments thrown in including a three man suplex from the top. Cruz picked up the victory after Heron hit 'Dave' with a spear and Cruz then dispatched  LJ with a punt to pin Andrews.

Up next in the penultimate match of the evening was SC Supreme (HOP) taking on Mad Man Manson in a light hearted affair before the seriousness of the main event. The match was as expected to be with Manson including nipple twists and comedy moves all to aggravate SC, which worked with Supreme taking multiple trips to the outside of the ring to vent his frustration until finally picking up the victory.

Heading into the Main Event, Southside were 3 - 2 up, bringing on the title re-match of Stixx defending against Mark Haskins in a Last Man Standing match. The last time these two faced each other at Supremacy was brutal so expectations were high and these two didn't let down the crowd as they started brawling outside the ring straight away which saw Haskins Irish whipped into a wall and then Stixx take out multiple members of the crowd as he charged at Haskins who avoided contact with a leapfrog. The match found its way into the ring eventually where the action was back and forth until the introduction of a chair which is when all hell broke lose, brutal chair shots, ref bumps and the emptying out of the locker room which saw Robbie X hit a moonsault to the outside of the ring onto the ensemble of wrestlers brawling at ring side.
Once everybody had brawled to the back Haskins put Stixx through a table causing both men to be down, the ref started the count to ten, at the seven mark Haskins started making his way to his feet but was nailed with a chair by Harvey Dale and just before the ten Stixx rolled out of the ring to his feet to be declared the winner and to retain the title.
The match was excellent until the end, I am only able to tell you the ending because that is what I have read online, from my viewpoint I thought Haskins had won after seeing him get up and not seeing Stixx up until after the bell so was slightly confused.

Max celebrates his title win over Stixx with the crowd 
After the match Stixx re-entered the ring to celebrate with Harvey Dale which was short lived as the music  of Max Angelus hit again with him holding the MITB briefcase in hand. After entering the ring Max nailed Stixx with the briefcase and despite Harvey pleading and apologising for his actions against him, he cashed in the title shot to become the new Southside Heavyweight Champion.
Max left the ring with the belt and celebrated with the Southside fans as Stixx lay prone in the ring to end the show.

The show as a whole was solid and the rivalry between the two promotions was stunned into silence with the ending but left open as technically the scores finished at three apiece. The card may not have been as strong as Supremacy but it was still worth the price of admission just for the Devitt / Elgin match, Southside have recently celebrated their second anniversary and from this showing they will be having many more years with quality events; just looking at some of the stars they have lined up for the start of next year is an exciting enough prospect for all British grapple fans.

Words and Photos by @Robbie_G_CH  

08/12/2012

TNA Final Resolution 2012 Preview & Predictions


Aces & Eights vs Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Garett Bischoff & Wes Brisco


This has the honour of possibly being the most random and yet the most foreshadowed match on the card. For months now, Aces & Eights have been targeting Kurt Angle and tonight is no different. However, while some may be fooled by the overt beatdowns on the Olympic Gold Medalist, the group's plan is actually far more sinister. For whatever reason, they've spent an inordinate amount of time positioning the rookies, Garett Bischoff and Wes Brisco, by his side. Absolutely anyone with a pair of eyes can see that the pair are actually members of the rogue biker gang. Bischoff's tattoos, Brisco's hair, the fact neither of them seem to be able to make it down to the ring in time to fight off the heels. It's Wrestling 101 and as plain as the caveman brow on Brisco's ugly mug.

An interesting little hiccup to their plans is the addition of Samoa Joe to the posse calling for Aces & Eights' heads. This past week on Impact, A&E's Sergeant at Arms, Devon, used underhanded methods to rob the Samoan Submission Machine of his Television Title. It gives Joe every reason to be on the frontlines of this match and as such, the biggest wildcard of the bunch.

The obvious outcome to the match has Bischoff and Brisco turning on Angle, revealing themselves to be Aces & Eights members from the beginning. However, there's something a little TOO obvious about these events. Would it be out of the realm of possibility that Kurt Angle himself was in on it all along as well? He's been complicit with the pushes of both men from the get-go. Everyone assumes he's the sap and his kindness will result in betrayal, but what if he's the VP they've all been answering to? As the group stands now, the majority of members are cloaked in shadow, with the only recognisable faces being clapped out vets and green as grass rookies. They're in desperate need of a figurehead and sorry, but that man isn't Devon.

Whatever happens, this won't remain a wrestling match for long. Look for multiple swerves, some obvious, some not and I wouldn't be surprised to see the night end badly for Samoa Joe, as the latest victim of Aces and Eights' inexplicable vendetta against the Impact Wrestling roster.

Prediction - Aces & Eights defeat Angle, Joe, Bischoff & Brisco via Pinfall.

TNA X Division Championship
Kenny King vs Rob Van Dam (c)


Continuing the trend of never quite knowing what to do with the X Division (beyond the Destination X pay-per-view every year), TNA have thrown together this impromptu title match to get their marque name, Rob Van Dam, on the card. To facilitate this, they arranged a surprisingly impressive triple threat on this week's Impact Wrestling between former champions Zema Ion, Kid Kash and newcomer, Kenny King. After a dazzling display of dominance, the recent acquisition from Ring of Honor prevailed and will meet Mr Pay-Per-View one on one this Sunday.

After the quality of the qualifying match last Thursday, dare I say that the challenger may well embody what the X Division stands for, far more so than the wayward main-eventer, Rob Van Dam. Don't get me wrong, for the past several months, RVD is exactly what's been called for. It's been mutually beneficial, keeping both he and the title in the spotlight, when either could easily drift from thought. However, that triple threat really highlighted the potential of the division and given only a few minutes, those neglected cruiserweights can shine.

Unfortunately for Kenny King, we're STILL very much in that same quagmire as to what to do with the X Division and Rob Van Dam. TNA need the title on a respected veteran and RVD needs the spot on the card. I don't see them budging and trying their luck with a new guy anytime soon. Rather than focus on the task of winning, this match should be a spotlight on King. Introduce him to the Impact audience in a big way. He may not walk away champion, but if he comes THIS close and keeps the chase going for a couple more months, he could eventually earn that top spot.

Prediction - Rob Van Dam defeats Kenny King via Pinfall to retain the X Division Championship.

TNA World Tag Team Championship
Matt Morgan & Joey Ryan vs Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez (c)


Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez have been Tag Team champions for a couple of months now, after winning the titles at Bound for Glory. Ideally, a new title holder will ignite a fire in the heart of the division and inspire others to do the same. Something I haven't seen in the current champions. Their run so far has always struck me as a small gesture to keep Chavo interested and happy, as we all know TNA loves having a Guerrero on the roster. He's a solid cruiserweight wrestler, don't get me wrong. He's even had a string of impressive singles matches. But he's no Eddie.

The real staples of the division continue to be Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian aka the former World Tag Team Champions of the World aka the newly christened 'Bad Influence'. Despite not challenging for the titles, and one of the pair even going back into singles competition, they continue to innovate on a weekly basis. When you aren't the champions and consistently steal the spotlight, you know you're doing something right.

As for tonight's challengers, their assault on the Tag Team division has been more about sticking it to Hulk Hogan than being a serious threat to Guerrero or Hernandez. Just like last month, when Joey Ryan challenged Rob Van Dam for the X Division Championship, it isn't so much about the match itself, simply what will best piss off the General Manager. However, unlike last month's unsuccessful bid for gold, the Tag Team Championships would make for the perfect vehicle to encapsulate both 'Hollywood's Own' and 'The Blueprint' at the same time.

However, TNA have proven in recent months, they're not in the habit of hot-shotting titles from one talent to another, simply based on who has more momentum. They're taking the long form approach and sticking with one set of champions for a healthy amount of time. As such, I can see them happily sticking with Guerrero & Hernandez for the next several months at least. After all, Joey Ryan and Matt Morgan will be getting airtime regardless, but take the Tag Team titles off of the new Mexican America, they could easily fade away into obscurity.

Prediction - Guerrero & Hernandez defeat Morgan & Ryan via Pinfall to retain the World Tag Team Championship.

One Final Time
Christopher Daniels vs AJ Styles


It's one final time for one final time, the billing that never gets old. Until we see both men pinky swear in the middle of the ring on Impact, let's just assume it's something they say to each other any given day. Like "I'll drive to the arena with you ONE. FINAL. TIME. but I get control of the stereo" or "I'll pick up the cheque ONE. FINAL. TIME. because you only had that salad". On the dying days of planet Earth, as the continents shatter around them, Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles will still be wrestling each other, locked in an immortal contest that neither of them can truly win. They should just get a hotel room and sleep together because the sexual tension must be killing them.

In this latest go-around, which has about as much depth as "you looked at me funny", Christopher Daniels decided to cut a promo mocking AJ Styles for his recent loss and banishment from the World Title picture for an entire year. This, of course, did not sit well with 'The Phenomenal One', who promptly came out and confronted his long-time nemesis, challenging him to one final match (right after their one final hug, one final beer and one final French kiss with oodles of tommy-tongue).

The running theme of all Styles' recent matches seems to have been just how bad he is at the moment. He'll botch moves, he'll miss entirely, he doesn't know when to tag, etc. So we should probably ignore the fact he's still winning these matches. Victory is a tough thing to be pissed about. But to Styles' credit, he's taking the gimmick and running with it like a trooper. Just like when he was a Ric Flair wannabe heel and it was the most awkward fit in the history of wrestling. I can never fault the man for his effort. However, you have to assume this is building to yet another ill-advised heel turn and if there were wrestling gods, I would implore them to never let AJ Styles turn heel ever again.

The funny thing is, even with this frustrated screw-up gimmick they've foisted upon Styles, I still think he'll walk out of Final Resolution the victor. His matches with Daniels have almost unanimously ended with a Styles victory, whether he's on his game or off it. Daniels is like his personal jobber. Twenty minutes of making AJ look like solid gold, he'll lie down on the canvas like a good little helper monkey.

Prediction - AJ Styles defeats Christopher Daniels via Pinfall.

TNA Knockouts Championship
Mickie James vs Tara (c)


I'm a big fan of both these ladies, dating back to their time in WWE fighting over the Women's Title. Just like Styles vs Daniels elsewhere on the card, it's a tried and tested match-up that everyone has seen a hundred times over. Why? Because we know it works. If ever there were two combatants to build a Knockouts division around, it's Mickie James and Tara. The highlight of their battles would have to be a couple of years ago on Impact, when they faced each other in the main event of the show inside of a steel cage. Never has women's wrestling been so impressive. If they can bring even an inkling of that intensity to this pay-per-view contest, they'll have no complaints from me.

An interesting element that's been thrown into the mix at the last moment is Velvet Sky's return to Impact Wrestling. The former Knockouts Champion has been missing in action since July and as far as anyone knew, would continue to be so. However, right in the middle of Mickie and Tara's big moment, wouldn't you just know it - let the pigeon's loose!

Now, rather than keeping attention on the coming match, we're looking forward, anticipating just what Velvet's promise of 2013 being "her year" entails. Typically, I would've said save Velvet's re-debut until AFTER Final Resolution, when the program can truly focus on her. But with them giving it away unannounced BEFORE the pay-per-view, I wouldn't be surprised if this Beautiful Person played a significant role in the climax of the match. Whether it be costing Tara the Title or costing Mickie her opportunity. It really depends upon whether she'll be a heel or face and who is the best opponent going forward.

Prediction - Tara defeats Mickie James via Pinfall to retain the Knockouts Championship.

Bully Ray vs Austin Aries


In a rematch of their Sacrifice classic, Bully Ray gets another shot at 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived' Austin Aries. Arguably the two hottest acts in TNA today, it's surprising to see their dynamic completely flipped from mere months ago. Where once Aries was the heroic cruiserweight taking on the impassable might of the locker room bully, he's now the despicable villain looking to get between a warrior and his lady love. The object of affection being Hulk Hogan's own daughter, Brooke.

While Aries has effortlessly transitioned back to his natural heel state, taking great relish in attacking the reputations of the General Manager and his opponent, Ray's journey towards fan favourite has been an odd one to say the least. They've taken an act that was getting over being the worst of the worst...and softened him. First through aiding Sting in the Icon's battle against Aces & Eights and now by making him the dough-eyed lover/Hogan in waiting.

I fully expect Brooke herself to get involved in the match towards the end. Most likely costing her favourite Bully the match by accidentally distracting him at an inopportune moment. Aries has proven more than happy to take advantage of any sudden openings in an opponent's defenses and he'll do so here without shame or repentance.

Prediction - Austin Aries defeats Bully Ray via Pinfall.

TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Bobby Roode vs Jeff Hardy (c)


And so, we come to our main event of the evening! After an extended absence from the World Title scene, due to getting on the wrong side of the General Manager (seems to be a habit when dealing with Hulk Hogan), we have the long awaited return of Bobby Roode, the self-proclaimed 'IT Factor of Professional Wrestling'. His opponent being the current TNA World Heavyweight Champion, Jeff Hardy. Fresh off of defending his title for the first time against the former Champion, Austin Aries, at last month's Turning Point pay-per-view.

The interaction between the two men has been sudden, but fierce, none the less. After winning the number one contendership from 'The Cowboy' James Storm several weeks ago, Roode has made his intentions crystal clear. Attacking the Champion after a grueling match against Gut Check contestant, Christian York, the leader of the Selfish Generation left him laying in a pool of his own charisma. Quickly following up on this, Roode cut a scathing promo on the Champion, mocking him for being so challenged by a supposed rookie. Hardy tried to take the challenger by surprise with a Twist of Fate, but he skulked away like the cowardly heel he is.

Having had several previous encounters during Bobby Roode's own reign as World Heavyweight Champion, I can say for certain the match will be a sight to see. Roode has come along in leaps and bounds this past year and if anyone can carry the admittedly difficult Hardy to an enjoyable match, it's the IT Factor, picking up effortlessly from the work Austin Aries had been doing the past several months. Any feud involving Jeff Hardy will suffer as a result of the Champion's inadequacies on the microphone and in the ring, but his popularity seems to mask that fact. Thankfully, any cracks in their program have been plastered over by Roode's exceptional mic work and in-ring talent. Keep the focus on Roode's strengths and away from Hardy's shortcomings and we'll be in for a treat.

As for the victor, I don't think TNA are in any rush to remove Jeff Hardy as their Champion. His contract runs until early next year at the worst, so to have him front and center, making the most of his popularity in that short time, it's win-win. The only downside being that's all he's good for. In the past two months, I can't remember any true benefit Jeff Hardy has gotten from being Champion. He still can't cut promos, his matches are still sloppy, etc. Be grateful for good PR, Jeff, or you'd be dead in the water with a shark like Roode.

Prediction - Jeff Hardy defeats Bobby Roode via Pinfall to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.

20/11/2012

A Clash Of Styles: What Will A.J. Do Next?

Styles reflecting on Impact
Written by @Robbie_G_CH
Photos by Impact Wrestling 

At the Turning Point PPV, A.J. Styles lost the number one contenders triple threat match, falling prey to James Storm's 'Last Call Superkick', in usual situations this would be just a small bump in the road as another chance would usually come up in the coming weeks or months, or as Bobby Roode found the next TV taping, but for A.J., thanks to a stipulation in the match, he has to wait until at least Bound For Glory XI for his next shot at the championship, the question now is what will the Phenomenal One do until he can challenge again?

Dwelling On The Past

On Impact A.J. addressed the situation he finds himself in and how it reflects the year he has had referring to the issues he has had with Daniels, Kazarian and Claire Lynch. After being interrupted and berated by the former 'World Tag Team Champions of the World', Daniels and A.J. agreed to face each other for 'one last time', many people will be thinking that this match has been played out, and they would have a fair argument as I have lost count at how many times these two have locked up over the last 18 months, but besides a few tag matches with Kurt Angle, A.J. never got the closuer on the chapter with Daniels regarding the Lynch issues, and in all honesty who wouldn't want to see these two lock up for 'one last time'? 

Road To Redemption?

With Styles being portrayed at a major low point in his career and outcast from the title picture for 11 months the similarities can be drawn with Jeff Hardy's redemption storyline; returning from a major low point, proving himself to his peers, and then going on to win the BFG series and the World Heavyweight Championship; once A.J. has finished his business with Daniels who in this case signify the 'demons of the past' but unlike Hardy who managed to stay around the main event scene, he will need to go a different route to get back to the top. 

There are two possible routes that he could take over the next few months until his likely participation in the BFG series, the first would be to go back to his roots in the X Division whilst the second would be to guarantee TV airtime by competing for the TV Title. Both options would mean dropping down the roster but often in wrestling to gain the top spot you need to work your way up from the bottom. 

Ultimate X

It is no doubt that A.J. is most known for his time in the X Division and what a better place for him to rediscover himself than where he began. Since winning the title RVD has done very little in way of elevating the division besides the odd match and I would be surprised if he reign as champion and his run in TNA lasts much longer. Being a former champion brings a certain credibility and if anybody is to get an entertaining match out of RVD then it would be Styles. 

High Flying is Styles Speciality
Like the Knockouts division (but executed better as to not happen month in month out), the X Division needs a match or tournament to establish the players, A.J could enter this tournament and come up short in the final to allow someone like Joey Ryan to get another shot and further add to Styles' woes whilst giving the rub to newer members of the roster, in the following month he could then become number one contender and defeat RVD, depending on what the situation is with Van Dam's contract (remember last year when Gunner put him out around January) they could have a rematch with the title on the line and a stipulation of the loser leaves TNA.
Over the next few months Styles could defend the title whilst using his experience to elevate the likes of Joey Ryan, Zema Ion, Kenny King and even Jesse Sorensen once he returns from injury, before dropping the title in the lead up to or at  Slammiversary to someone who will be looking for a short cut to the Heavyweight Championship whilst P1 enters the BFG Series looking to headline Bound For Glory. 

The Face of Impact Wrestling

The second option would be to follow in Samoa Joe's footsteps and secure a spot on TV every week and go after the TV Title. Like the X Division this is an area in much need of competition, especially since Magnus, whom has been pushed to match Joe, will likely be off air until the UK shows following his beat down at the hands of Aces & Eights (and his appearances in panto).
A.J. and Joe are no strangers to one another and a feud over TNA's second belt could boost both competitors and the image of the belt, throw a returning Magnus into the mix and the TV title could become hot property over the opening months of 2013.

Bound For Glory

The fact that the stipulation states that Bound for Glory is the the first opportunity to get a shot at the silverware suggests that Styles will be victorious in the BFG series and get his shot at the biggest stage, but this year everybody had James Storm as a dead cert to win and we all saw how that played out.

It is doubtful that TNA would book the same outcome to the same story, it is more likely that Styles will come up short in the finals of the BFG Series; hopefully to Bully Ray who has been the losing finalist in both the tournaments so far; and then go on to become number one contender in the following months, maybe even not until one of the bigger events in 2014.

What ever path Styles takes it will lead back to the top, it may even be for the final time in his career, but it seems safe to say that when that shot does come, A.J. will be the new Heavyweight Champion.  





  


18/11/2012

Clem Shoots: All Quiet On The Impact Front


Last week, TNA Wrestling held their annual Turning Point pay-per-view. Coming off a string of high-quality shows in the months preceding it, I had high hopes. The potential was certainly there on paper and it stood every chance of continuing the trend. So why did it fail to entertain this fan in particular? By playing it safe at every turn.

No risks taken, no surprises sprung, no titles changing hands, no cliffhangers to keep me coming back. I mean, I've heard of transitional pay-per-views, where nothing much happens because they're in the process of furthering long term angles, but this was a joke. It was little more than a placeholder. Fans could tune into Impact Wrestling the following Thursday and not have missed a beat. You could make the argument TNA have always profited more from (and preferred) Impact over pay-per-views, but they're not exactly trying to swing the balance back the correct way.

Looking at each championship division on it's own, it's hardly surprising they put out such a lackluster show. They're all merrily chugging along with a single token challenger, but they don't have any juice. No lightning-in-a-bottle feud every professional wrestler should be striving for the moment they lace up their boots for the first time. Whether it be the TV, Knockouts, Tag or X Division Championships, they're being defended, but only in a professional sense. No butting heads, no personal insults, no grudges to hold. Close to 90% of the show this month is feud free, and the other 10% is relying on the tried and tested programs of Bobby Roode vs James Storm and AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels. Two matches that have played out a million times and aren't even for titles!

All of this would be moot if the top tier battle for the World Heavyweight Championship was shouldering the burden. Unfortunately, Jeff Hardy has been about as enigmatic as a cardboard cut-out. He may inexplicably sell the most merchandise, but that doesn't mean he's earned this blind faith and devotion. In the past two months, Austin Aries has pretty much had to lead Hardy by the hand to half decent segments and matches. But it seems 'A-Double' is not long for the World Title picture. What with the Number One Contendership being such a big deal elsewhere and ominous allusions to Open Fight Night, I can feel 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived' being quietly swept under the rug. Leaving our World Champion wandering the backstage area cutting promos in his head like a roaming psychopath. Who is this modern day wordsmith going to shout "creatuuuuuuuuures" at next? Whoever it is, I don't envy their task. It's akin to babysitting.

However, we do have three weeks until the next pay-per-view 'Final Resolution' and assuming he can put his issues with James Storm to the side for a little while, I have every faith in Bobby Roode to try and coax some life out of Jeff Hardy. I was pleasantly surprised by the renewed focus on 'the IT Factor' this past week. Even with him treading well worn territory with his former tag team partner, Roode carried Impact Wrestling on his back for the majority of 2012 and he did it with style. So much so, I wouldn't be adverse to seeing him end the year in the same manner, as our World Heavyweight Champion.

10/11/2012

TNA Turning Point 2012 Preview & Predictions


TNA Television Championship
No DQ
Magnus vs Samoa Joe (c)


In the first Bound for Glory rematch of the night, Magnus once again challenges Samoa Joe for the TNA Television Championship. The feud spans back to their brief stint as Tag Team Champions, but has since taken on a life of it's own. The latest reasoning being Magnus not believing Joe to be a good representative for the Television Championship, seen "the world over". They've fought each other regularly for the past couple of months, but Joe always seems to come out on top via a variety of submission maneuvers. The addition of the No Disqualification stipulation strikes me as the perfect opportunity for Magnus to finally win his first singles title. Look for a weapon or some illegal move to put Joe down for good. Personally, I'd keep Joe's TV title reign going a while yet, to rebuild a little credibility for the much derided Championship, but he's held it a respectable length of time and I could definitely see TNA experimenting with Magnus' viability as a Champion going forward.

Prediction - Magnus defeats Samoa Joe via pinfall to become the NEW TNA Television Champion.


Tara & Jesse vs ODB & Eric Young



This will clearly be the comedy bout of the evening, designed to keep things light and fun. Probably booked either after a despicable heel victory or right before in the main event in order to let the crowd catch their breath. This match will be the epitomy of filler, especially looking at who's involved. In a rare turn, I'd actually prefer the women to carry the majority of this match over the men. Tara and ODB have a nice little feud going, which will most likely lead to a Knockouts Title match down the road, whereas Jesse is as green as they come and EY will be too busy grappling with the referee to care. In recent weeks, I've actually grown to pity ODB, carrying a mixed tag team/marriage, with one partner always absent. I know it's because EY is off filming his nature show, but I'd like to see ODB take her "husband" to task, maybe even kick him to the curb eventually. But not tonight.

Prediction - ODB & Eric Young defeat Tara & Jesse via pinfall.


TNA X Division Championship
Joey Ryan vs Rob Van Dam (c)


In what could be the dark horse bout of the night, this is Joey Ryan's first real opportunity to showcase his talents to the TNA fans. It's not a Gut Check, it's not against a retired trainer, it's not Open Fight Night, this is a fully fledged title shot at a pay per view, so he better be on the top of his game. The feud itself hasn't really gotten going yet (if ever). Ryan has simply targeted RVD and gotten a sly victory over the Champion. What won't work in Ryan's favour is his new associate, Matt Morgan, being banned from ringside for the bout. I'm sure we'll see him after the final bell has rung, but until then Joey is on his own. As for who will come out of Turning Point victorious, this may be a strange opinion to have, but 'Hollywood's Own' may infact have more clout going forward than the legendary RVD. If you think about it, Ryan's coming off a hot angle, he's a rising star, carrying promos and getting infinitely more airtime than Van Dam. It's sad to see TNA play hot-potato with the X Division Championship, but the fact of the matter is RVD doesn't need it. Hell, he's such an afterthought these days, I wouldn't be surprised if TNA wanted to cut him loose and save on his fee. One man's career is winding down, the other's is gearing up. I think it's time for a Mustache Ride.

Prediction - Joey Ryan defeats Rob Van Dam via pinfall to become the NEW TNA X Division Champion.

The Director of Chaos vs Joseph Park


Coming hot on the heels of his month-long imprisonment at the hands of Aces & Eights leading upto Bound for Glory (How did that imprisonment work exactly? I feel sorry for the member that had to take Park to the bathroom!), the naive attorney Joseph Park has requested a match against one of his captors. It just so happens, he's managed to unmask the former Luke Gallows, current Director of Chaos, making his choice of opponent crystal clear. I'm always happy to see Abyss have a match on a card, but in his current non-wrestler persona, it's borderline maddening. I anticipate a solid five minutes of selling a brutal beating at the hands of Doc, with all the usual hardcore tricks finding their way in (even if this is meant to be a straight wrestling match). It'd be easy to feed Joseph Park to the Aces & Eights to establish their credibility somewhat, but I have a sneaking suspicion this will be thematic payback for Park's imprisonment and he'll rightfully get the pin over a very surprised Doc. They'd do well to harken back to Park's mysterious Black Hole Slam he pulled out of nowhere on Bully Ray a few months ago. It'll close the door on the Aces & Eights chapter and further the Abyss conspiracy.

Prediction - Joseph Park defeats The Director of Chaos via pinfall.

TNA Tag Team Championships
Daniels & Kazarian vs Guerrero & Hernandez (c)


In a somewhat sort-of almost rematch from Bound for Glory, Daniels and Kazarian demand their return match for the Tag Team Titles against current Champions, Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez. However, this time, it will be without the main event magic of AJ Styles and Kurt Angle, which carried the majority of their previous encounters. That's not to say both teams can't stand on their own though, as we saw this very same match last month on Impact Wrestling and the former World Tag Team Champions of the World put in a tremendous effort. While the new Tex-Mex tag team triumphed at the last pay-per-view amidst the frantic confusion of a triple threat match, I don't think their luck will carry them much further. I mostly get the feeling TNA put the Tag Titles on Chavo specifically, in an effort to prove what a big deal he is. After a month of no signs of breaking out, all the while the former Champions are on a massive roll, I can't see reason to justify this continued faith in Chavo. Sure, he's a Guerrero, but he's never going to break out of Eddie's shadow. Leaving the Titles with Tex-Mex, you'll simply have another boring listless tag team ala Mexican American. Whereas the WTTCOTW are setting this division on fire and any longer without their moniker, they run the risk of losing valuable momentum.

Prediction - Daniels & Kazarian defeat Guerrero & Hernandez to become the NEW World Tag Team Champions of the World!

Devon vs Kurt Angle


Having been singled out for an epic beating by Aces & Eights several weeks ago, the Olympic Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle, goes in for revenge on the highest profile member unmasked so far (kinda says it all about the story, doesn't it). Where earlier in the night, the victim Joseph Park is sure to get a measure of vengeance, I doubt Kurt Angle will be so lucky. If TNA really want to build the credibility of Aces & Eights as a force to be reckoned with, the best wrestler on the roster is the perfect place to start. If anything, it'll be interesting to see how Devon fares in his highest profile singles match yet. Having already eliminated the Icon, Sting, on this week's Impact Wrestling, Angle's backup is in short supply. Namely, Garret Bischoff and Wes Brisco, two youngsters anyone with a brain cell can see are turncoats in the making. I'm expecting a majorly screwy finish, involving Garret and Wes coming to Angle's aid in the face of Aces & Eights, only for them to floor him from behind and become the latest "patched-in" members of the rebel group. All of this allowing Devon to take advantage for the hollow victory.

Prediction - Devon defeats Kurt Angle via pinfall.

TNA World Heavyweight Championship #1 Contender's Match
Bobby Roode vs James Storm vs AJ Styles


In what could very well be match of the night, the three former Fortune members duke it out for the right to be number one contender to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. A desired reward indeed, but the real kick to the match will be who takes the pinfall, as whoever loses will be barred from the World Title picture until Bound for Glory 2013 next October. That's ten whole months knowing full well you're not top of the deck, leader of the pack, best of the best. A devastating blow to whomever takes the fall and sure to send them off into a brand new direction for their character. No doubt filled with resentment and hostility. The easiest choice would be Bobby Roode, just coming off of one period where he wasn't allowed to compete for the World Title, would absolutely blow his top to spend the next year on the proverbial bench. However, that wouldn't be very surprising at all and whoever wins the match will simply be fed to Jeff Hardy to continue his reign of terror, so they can't be a genuine threat. My every instinct points towards a continuation of the Roode/Storm feud, but that's gone on a year now and despite five star matches, should probably end. In my opinion, Roode (being the only heel) makes for the best future opponent against Hardy, so he'll get the pin over AJ Styles, who after a solid year of bulls*** angles meant to sully his name, flies into an impotent rage.

Prediction - Bobby Roode defeats James Storm and AJ Styles via pinfall to become the NEW #1 Contender to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Ladder Match
Austin Aries vs Jeff Hardy (c)


Ladies and gentlemen, your main event of the evening. In a rematch from last month's Bound for Glory, 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived' Austin Aries attempts to regain World Heavyweight Championship gold from 'The Charismatic Enigma' Jeff Hardy.

While Aries' title reign over the summer was decidedly muted due to his forced face turn, there's been a decided reawakening in him since his heel turn on Jeff Hardy last month. Like most of the greats in professional wrestling, one gets to the top of the card as a heel, everyone begins to support them (as a sign of respect for their good work) and this unfortunately leads to them losing that "IT factor" which made them popular in the first place. Austin Aries most definitely fell prey to this and has ever since been in the process of rebuilding his credibility. It began shortly before Bound for Glory with Aries' "tearing up the script" promo and subsequent kick to Hardy's balls. In the weeks since, Aries has been on top heel form, getting in the face of the Champion at every turn. Most notably during Hardy's victory celebration, where he brought cookies, balloons and a healthy disdain for whatever that monstrosity is that Hardy calls a custom World Title. Following up on this, Aries went so far as to steal the REAL World Title back, to "keep it safe" (can't say I blame him).

Unfortunately, even with this renewed vigor and spring in Aries step, I don't think it'll be enough to win back the World Heavyweight Championship. In a sane world, Aries would be handed the belt and carry it for years, he's that damn good. However, what he doesn't have is contract negotiations looming i.e. leverage. For months now, Jeff Hardy has been making noise about his contract being up in February and how he wouldn't mind one last big money run in the WWE. Wanting to dissuade their biggest merchandise seller from leaving, you can literally see TNA throwing undeserved accomplishment after undeserved accomplishment at him. First he "wins" the Bound for Glory Series, then the World Heavyweight Championship. What next, the Impact Zone itself? Nothing about the past couple of months has felt like a natural progression for he or his character, merely a desperate plea to make him stay. I mean, look at what Hardy has done with the World Title since he's had it...throw it away and replace it with one of his own visage. Apart from that, bland promo after bland promo that I can sum up in one word "creatuuuuuuures" *sigh*.

Despite the obvious politics in play, I fully expect Austin Aries to go out there and bust his gut putting Hardy over. He'll have to be particularly careful with the ladder in play, as Hardy is renowned for his sloppy ringwork and relying on insane bumps. The last Hardy ladder match I can remember is from Against All Odds 2011 when he took on Mr Anderson for the "Immortal Title" and my god was it a wretched affair. An utter disgrace of a main event. You could probably put it down to Hardy having been in the throws of his latest drug binge, what with his infamous Victory Road performance only a month afterwards, but it still doesn't bode well. The fact of the matter is he's lazy, sloppy and a danger to those around him. I pray for Austin Aries' safety.

Prediction - Jeff Hardy defeats Austin Aries to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

Written by Mark Clements

Follow Canned Heat on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Canned-Heat/225595667504614

06/11/2012

This Is Awkward: TNA post BFG

Written by Robbie_G_CH
Photos by Impact Wrestling

The dust has well and truly settled on this years Bound For Glory event as TNA gear up for the Turning Point PPV but the after effects from BFG can still be felt and the build up to next year has already started. A few major talking points have emerged with this years 'reset' but does this make the next few months and year excitable or disposable.  

The Redemption Of Jeff Hardy

Jeff Hardy celebrates with his
Heavyweight Championship.
The main event of BFG saw Jeff Hardy rise back to the top of the locker room by becoming the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion and complete his redemption after his drug ordeal including the infamous main event at Victory Road 2011.

As much as it was annoying to see Aries lose the title after such a short period, the BFG series really needed to produce a winner otherwise the tournament wouldn't have the impact to carry it through another year, it's just a shame that it wasn't Bully Ray, James Storm or Samoa Joe that came up trumps in the series; but at least Aries managed to get a good match of Hardy. 

After winning the Championship Hardy has since swapped the belt for a personalised one, although at times he was carrying both until Aries stole the actual title back to set up the rematch at Turning Point. Aries has done most of the promo work to set up the rematch as Hardy's mic work is still less than stellar with creative deciding to go with inner monologues to work with the shortcomings taking away from the 'live' aspect of the show.

Unfortunately for those of us who are not 'creatures' I can see Jeff holding the title for a few months until he decides on whether or not to stay with the company or jump ship for a bigger pay day; which is likely the reason they have taken the actual belt away from the champion for fear of him walking away from the company with it in his possession. If he decides to leave a title change will likely happen at Victory Road but if he decides to stay we may be looking at an extended run at the top for the 'Charismatic Enigma'. 

Dead Man's Hand

Devon was unmasked as one of the group. 
The other big talking point that came out of BFG which has significantly changed the landscape of Impact Wrestling is that the group of Aces and Eights have gained access to the Impact Zone after putting Bully Ray through a table in a No DQ match-up.  

Devon was unmasked at the event as one of the group members to the shock of Hulk Hogan, Sting and his former tag partner Bully Ray causing a deathly silence between them filled by the arena crowd chanting 'This Is Awkward'; with Luke Gallows being unmasked on a later edition of Impact. 

The access has caused many brawls between the group and roster members which is quickly becoming tedious as every match the group are involved in ends with the group causing a disqualification with a beat down bringing out various wrestlers to match them. 

The story has massive flaws, starting well before BFG but being continued with questions including: isn't that assault? are they contracted? why did Hogan make the match a No DQ without having a back up plan to ensure the group wouldn't win? The biggest question will be how do they plan on transitioning the action from brawling back to wrestling? why would the group who have had so much success thus far by just fist fighting decide that holds and slams would be the way to go. 

It's clear that members of the group are going to be unmasked at various stages of the next few months with a few shocks to be had along the way, which will likely end in a multi man tag match similar to a traditional Survivor Series match-up, although it remains to be seen how they will filter into the roster once the big reveals are said and done.

Morganmania 

Morgan and Ryan
Matt Morgan returned at BFG by hitting Al Snow with the Carbon Footprint and starting a war of words with Hulk Hogan whilst also allowing Gut Check reject Joey Ryan to win a contract. 

Morgan is annoyed with TNA management, especially Hogan for holding him back and has vowed to go through the whole roster to get to the Heavyweight Championship, unfortunately this is occurring the same time as the previously mentioned Aces & Eights with both there quests being very similar.   

Joey Ryan however has set his sights on RVD and the X Division Championship. This is a strong feud to throw Ryan into but if booked correctly could put him over and could see him become the face of the X Division for a good part of the next year, maybe even until Destination X where the title holder has the chance to transgress to the main event scene. 

The two are on odd pairing and I doubt they will stay together for very long with one likely to screw the other over, I just hope they don't decide to make them team as that would harm both parties. 

Minor Impacts

The commentary of Impact has been overhauled with two sets of commentary teams, Jeremy Borash and Todd Keneley take the microphone for the first hour and hand over to the familiar Taz and Tenay. No explanation has been stated for this change but it is akin to how WCW's television shows were called. So far Keneley has done a solid job as the play-by-play for the first hour despite Borash usually taking this role on Xplosion but time will only tell of how long this will continue, whether a member drops out and they form a three man team or whether further changes are coming.

Tara's Hollywood boyfriend was revealed to be Jessie Godderz who was apparently on Big Brother for a number of series, further research has shown that he has been in Ohio Valley for a year honing his skills and has won a few tag team titles whilst there, at least this explains how he knows to wrestle.

Bobby Roode, A.J Styles and James Storm will compete in a three way match for a shot at the Heavyweight Championship but with a price, the man who gets pinned won't be able to have another title shot until next years Bound For Glory!

With a number of title changes, new members to the roster & commentary team and new feuds started the foundations of TNA have been shaken to give the feeling of a new year to freshen things up, change isn't always a good thing but with everything you can't please everyone! The company have been moving in the right direction in the past year and they are not going to get everything right but besides a few things to iron out, Impact Wrestling remains to be a consistently good wrestling show.