The 2012 Impact Wrestling Awards

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.

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.

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.

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...

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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!


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.

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


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.


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  


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.