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.  



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.


TNA Turning Point 2012 Preview & Predictions

TNA Television Championship
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


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.


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.