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.