Trash Talking: Evolution of the X Division

written by Rob Poulloin 

On the March 21, 2013 episode of Impact Wrestling new rules for the X Division were implemented which are:

  • A 230lb weight limit
  • All matches will be contested under triple threat rules
  • In matches contested for the championship who ever gets pinned / submits will be illegible for the next championship match.
These new rules are another attempt by TNA to freshen up the division and restore the attraction to its former glories but will this change in rules add anything to the product or will it just vanish like the previous attempts at shinning up the former star attraction?

Weight Limits

This rule change is the second attempt TNA have made in placing a weight limit on the X Division, the first coming in August 2011 after Abyss had reigned supreme over his smaller opponents until the Destination X event where the entire division helped Brian Kendrick defeat the monster, with the rule implemented weeks afterwards to stop it from happening again although this limit was removed in March 2012 to allow wrestlers  who wrestle in the style of the division such as Samoa Joe and Rob Van Dam to compete.

I'm not a big fan of an imposed weight limit as it restricts the division too much, the previous mentioned champions can no longer compete for the title if they wish to and if current champion Kenny King puts on just 1lb he would go over the restriction. If a limit is needed then it should be closer to 300lb to stop the Abyss' of the roster dominating the division again rather than forcing wrestlers such as King to watch their weight in fear of being stripped of his title. 

Triple Threats

Zema Ion going high risk at Lockdown
In an unusual twist all matches will be contested under triple threat rules, making one on one matches in the division a thing of the past but going through the history books the more memorable moments from the X Division have been when there have been more than two wrestlers in the ring. The decision to make the matches triple threat's are unclear but I imagine the opener of Lockdown had something to do with it with as King, Christian York and Zema Ion put on an entertaining match that was more memorable than anything put up by the division in the last year despite the dangers the match posed.

There are limitations to this new rule though with the most noticeable being the lack of wrestlers currently on the roster who would compete for the championship. With the number of wrestlers required for a match increasing we will be seeing more of the same faces competing against one another so unless TNA are looking at bringing in new wrestlers or some from developmental then the matches come under threat of getting old quickly. 

The division will also have to tread carefully between conventional matches and 'spot fests', X Division matches are famed for having high spots to increase the excitement but increasing the number of wrestlers will raise the bar of those looking to stand out and could be dangerous for the health of those involved, just look at the injury's suffered by Jesse Sorensen, Chris Sabin and Sonjay Dutt over the last couple of years along with the painful looking moments suffered by Marty Scurll on Impact and Kenny King in the previously mentioned Lockdown match. I'm a fan like most of the exciting spots but I don't wish to see wrestlers taking unnecessary risks on their career and more importantly their life just to get an extra crowd pop.

The new rules follow on from last years failed attempt of boosting the division by offering the Champion a trade for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship (which was cashed in successfully by Austin Aries) as the idea has gone by the wayside after the PPV was dropped. 
TNA will have to push the division and invest in new talent to bring back the former glories to make the X Division relevant again; it is an area that WWE are  currently overlooking on their main products but slowly building on NXT; but this is a chance to for TNA to differentiate themselves again, making use of the fresh crowds on the road  to lap up the action to create a buzz that has been missing for a number of years. Given enough television time the change in rules could be a success in the short term but developmental of talent is vital to ensure that the company builds stars for the future and doesn't find themselves in the same position in another couple of years. 


Review: Impact Wrestling 07/03/2013

So ends the era of the Impact Zone! Not counting the six 'One Night Only' specials to be filmed in Orlando across March 17th to 19th, this is the last episode of Impact Wrestling to emanate from Universal Studios. Considering the long storied history of the venue, I'm of the opinion TNA could've made a much bigger deal about leaving their safety net behind. For the past decade, the Impact Zone has been their fallback position and no matter what went wrong, rain or shine they'd be back in that studio filmed more material than you could shake a stick at. But that all changes next week on March 14th, as they take Impact Wrestling on the road permanently, starting in "The Windy City" Chicago. As such, that was exactly where TNA's focus was on with this episode - the future. But even so, have a closing ceremony or something. Don't just pack up and leave the Zone behind without a proper send off. And a Youtube thank you video doesn't count.

Starting the show, we were treated to yet another go-around of current World Heavyweight Champion, Jeff Hardy, and recent title contender, Austin Aries. A-Double is eerily talented when it comes to carrying Hardy through high quality matches, with there being every reason why he was called upon to do so across multiple pay-per-view main events at the tail end of 2012. Clearly, the novelty has worn off though, if TNA are willing to give this combination away as the curtain jerking opening match on free TV. Unfortunately for Aries, Hardy always gets the upper hand at the last minute, as if from nowhere *cough*SuperCena*cough*. The moment the Champion starts with his MANY Twists of Fates, the conclusion is all but decided. This encounter proved to be slightly different, as the ending was interrupted by the disgruntled big boot of Matt Morgan. The timing of this new quest for the TNA World Title is definitely curious, as the focus should be on Bully Ray's contendership, not Morgan's. Actions such as these, give the impression that Morgan will soon be chasing Hardy's Championship well beyond Lockdown, deflating Bully's own efforts for no apparent reason. Why should we potential pay-per-view customers buy a show, when the challenger doesn't stand a chance?

The mystery of the Aces and Eights VP finally came to an end with this episode of Impact Wrestling, as the small stocky masked individual was revealed to be none other than D'Lo Brown himself. You're looking at the real deal now...or at least that's what they'd like us to believe. Having been unmasked off-screen at the close of last week's show, D'Lo decided to take the wind out of Kurt Angle's own reveal by beating him to the proverbial punch. I've always been a fan of D'Lo and would hilariously mark out whenever he'd appear on screen, usually breaking up a brawl between two wrestlers, working as defacto security with Al Snow. But the fact of the matter is that once again, TNA have revealed a member of Aces and Eights with no viable future or payoff. I thought it was bad enough several weeks ago when they revealed Tazz as the new mouthpiece of the group. Admittedly, they do need that added kick behind the microphone, but Tazz is a severely injured FORMER wrestler and current commentator. Just where exactly that revelation was meant to lead, I have no idea. The same goes for now, as they've revealed a mastermind behind the group to be a broken down former wrestler turned backstage agent. There's a good chance they may lure D'Lo back into the ring for one or two matches down the road, but nothing of meaning or substance. Ergo, pointless. My only hope is that there is yet an unnamed force behind Aces and Eights, pulling their strings and truly making the decisions. D'Lo is only meant to be the VICE President after all. I don't think we've ever actually seen the true President, so it could conceivably be anyone.

The Gut Check segments turned out to be somewhat farcical this month, as they introduced a new judge (OVW's Danny Davis) and were faced with a no-win situation, as frankly both women deserved a contract. The Knockouts division has been severely depleted in recent months, with only a core four or so seeing regular work. If you're not Velvet, Tara, Gail or Tessmacher, you're not on the show, period. As such, the division could really have done with hiring both Ivelisse Velez and Lai'd Tapa. The former having an impressive MMA background and a minor buzz around her previous appearances on WWE Tough Enough, the latter having a scary size advantage over most men, let alone women. Their David and Goliath match last week was a refreshing change of pace to the usual Knockouts style and highlighted both ladies' strengths going forward in this competition. Personally, I preferred Ivelisse as a potential Knockout. She has a wonderful look, a hard-hitting history and reminded me of a young Lita. For whatever reason, despite winning the match, she was the first to be eliminated and never even made it infront of the judges. TNA could really be missing a trick by letting her walk away like this. Even without a contract, I'd whisk her away to OVW and hire her on the sly. As for the eventual winner of the contract, Lai'd Tapa, I feel as if her look will be the sole positive in her hiring. Ever since losing Awesome Kong to the WWE several years ago, TNA have lacked a monster heel in the women's division. Tapa looks to fill that void nicely, but also with notable drawbacks. For starters, she should remain silent at every opportunity. Her promo work was uninspired and cliche, not to mention when given a final chance to impress the judges, she pretty much repeated everything she said the first time. But my reservations are moot, as she is now a member of the Impact Wrestling roster. Hopefully, we will see her a bit more often than the last female Gut Check winner, Taeler Hendrix, who has spent the best part of a year hidden away in the developmental territories.

The six person tag between Chavo, Hernandez, Velvet Sky, Daniels, Kazarian and Gail Kim was a fantastic idea in theory, but struggled to capture my interest. I'm a big fan of the heel side of things, with Christopher Daniels lighting up my screen every chance he gets. However, the Chavo/Hernandez tag team continues to bore. When they first got together, I thought of them as a low-rent Mexican America/LAX knock-off and six months later, I still think of them as a low-rent Mexican America/LAX knock-off. Their promos have been trite and manipulative (mostly of fan's love of Chavo's Uncle Eddie) and their ring work predictable. Neither man is doing the best work of their career and whatever this gimmick is meant to be, it could use a shake up. At the moment, they're simply a known quantity that can be thrown out in front of a crowd with minimal set up and illicit a basic reaction from the audience. I respect Chavo, but part of me wonders whether the crowd ever really noticed Hernandez's former partner Anarquia being switched out and simply believes Mexican America is still going. As with most inter-gender tag team bouts, the finish found the men brawling on the outside of the ring, while the women battle for the pinfall on the inside. It proved an impressive victory for Gail Kim over current Knockouts Champion, Velvet Sky, and I'll never get tired of her finisher "Eat Defeat", which looks downright nasty to take. I don't for a second think Gail stands a chance at derailing Velvet's latest title reign, as it's still early days. But this heel win goes a long way to instilling doubt in the viewers as to the former Beautiful Person's viability as Champion. Just what's needed on the eve of a pay-per-view bout. The only thing that truly puzzled me, was the lack of representation for the actual Tag Team Champions, Bobby Roode and Austin Aries. The pair are about to defend their titles against both teams present in this match, however, their focus was entirely elsewhere, still hounding current World Heavyweight Champion, Jeff Hardy, or outright absent, mysteriously so. It basically leaves the Tag Team division ticking over exactly as it was before Roode and Aries made their mark, only without any titles to feud over.

The series of Team TNA/Aces of Eights matches never truly took off in the way that one would hope. Beginning with the poor showing of Sting and Devon, which oddly relied upon the use of a fan throwing a drink in the Icon's face, they started the night out on the wrong foot and rarely showed signs of recovering. Unfortunately, this is par for the course in regard to Sting's current in-ring career. The Icon has long since lost the ability to keep up with younger men and hides his inadequacies with base brawls and few actual wrestling moves. Hell, the man is afraid to take his t-shirt off, how is he meant to be taken seriously as the leading crusader against Aces and Eights. However, despite the poor showing in the ring, the intensity of his promo work is second to none. I greatly enjoyed the backstage scenes of the bloodied legend stomping around, eager to destroy something with his baseball bat and further inspire his troops. Later in the night, Samoa Joe & Magnus vs Garett Bischoff & D.O.C. proved to be a much better product, reuniting a set of former Tag Team Champions and their ensuing double-team move set. Joe and Magnus, while not an obvious pairing, make for a fantastic team and it's a wonder they were ever broken up in the first place, as they were much stronger together than apart. I got a particular kick out of this match, not for the wrestling itself, but the merciless crowd chanting at Garett Bischoff "You can't wrestle". I couldn't agree more and I'm happy to see the audience realising it! Finally, the series was decided with the (technical) main event of "The Cowboy" James Storm taking on a decidedly muted Mr Anderson. The match barely got going before being rudely interrupted by both teams coming down to ringside and Storm walking into a spontaneous Mic Check from Anderson. While giving Aces and Eights the benefit of entering Lethal Lockdown first this Sunday, the cheap victories do little to give this band of bikers a sense of credibility. Their membership is second rate, their accomplishments few and their end goals confusingly murky at best. The fact they've taken a former TNA World Champion like Mr Anderson and made him one of the faceless masses in an oversized faction, taking orders from a jobber like D'Lo Brown no less, just goes to show how little upside there is from this angle.

This evening, we also got another brief glimpse into the rugged new lifestyle of one AJ Styles. Known for being a noble and respected family man, this latest angle has him behaving as anything but. Last week, TNA aired a series of interviews with his "estranged" wife and best friend, wherein they documented the drastic change in personality after the Clare Lynch debacle last year. Upon finding a camera crew in his home, Styles refused to comment and took off for parts unknown on his motorcycle. Catching up with the man this week, the crew finds him about town lingering in a store/barfront talking to someone. Noticing their continued presence, the shaggy-haired, bearded Styles confronted the TNA camera man and forced him back into his vehicle before the feed cut out. Where exactly this is leading is a mystery, but one I'm eager to get to the bottom of. As it transpires, we won't have to wait long, as Styles has since tweeted that as TNA are so happy to show up at his residence uninvited, so too will he show up in Chicago next week uninvited. This angle bears an uncanny resemblance to Bobby Roode's heel turn in the wake of Bound for Glory 2011. Only instead of turning into a well-oiled, suit-wearing World Champion, Styles is taking the opposite approach and literally coming apart at the seams. Just who will take the brunt of his anger remains to be seen. At this rate, he'd fit right in with Aces and Eights. He's got the leather, the bike and the facial hair, all he's missing is the patch on his back.

The final Impact Zone show ultimately came to a close with promos from current TNA World Heavyweight Champion, Jeff Hardy, his opponent for Lockdown this Sunday, Bully Ray, and Impact Wrestling General Manager, Hulk Hogan. Any other day and the prospect of a Jeff Hardy promo would send me running for the hills, but with a seasoned vet like Bully Ray standing next to him, guiding the direction of the segment, I felt we were in safe hands. With neither man playing the villain of the piece, the tone was generally that of mutual appreciation. I particularly liked how Bully Ray made a point of saying how he wasn't going to defeat Hardy by climbing over the cage walls or by walking out of the cage door, but instead by hitting the Champion with his best move and winning the Title fair and square in the centre of the ring. It was at this point, that they were interrupted by General Manager, Hulk Hogan, who as per his usual sabotaging tricks, tried to steal the spotlight from the Champion and his challenger. The focus should've been entirely upon Hardy and Bully as the show came to a close, but instead, Hogan tried to make it all about him (despite being a broken old man on crutches and never being able to wrestle ever again). Whatever "The Immortal One" was trying to say, it paled in comparison to the words of the younger men in the ring before him. Hogan tripped over his lines at multiple points, making for a garbled and incoherent promo. It even proved to be borderline insulting to TNA, as he referred to them as a "small company". Surely, the point of paying this supposed legend so much money is to have him elevate and not denigrate. TNA could've saved themselves status and a week's paycheck by telling the crazy old man with the handlebar mustache to stay home. Thankfully, his ramblings were soon interrupted as well, as Aces and Eights randomly brawled with Team TNA to end the show.

Not really the ending the Impact Zone deserved to be honest. I'm hoping the upcoming 'One Night Only' tapings prove to be a more fitting send off to a location that has been TNA's bread and butter for the best part of a decade. This particular episode of Impact Wrestling was always going to struggle, as last week's cliffhanger promised an immediate resolution to the Aces and Eights mystery, despite the fact it needed to carry over to the pay-per-view and beyond. There's no way possible to spin the reveal of D'Lo Brown as anything but a dud and that's what this week will always be remembered for. But fear not, as all can change in a single week, as TNA take both their pay-per-view and their weekly show on the road, beginning this Sunday at Lockdown. The San Antonio Alamodome promises to be a spectacular venue and the electricity of the largest crowd in TNA history is sure to up everyone's game going forward into the live Impact Wrestling tapings next week in Chicago. It's an exciting time for the company and could very well be a turning point that sees them actively competing with the WWE on a regular basis. The trick is giving us a product both we and they can be proud of.

Preview: TNA Lockdown 2013 Update

As is always the way with TNA pay-per-views, there have been several last minute additions to the card. I'd hoped that as we were entering a new era of four major shows, with plenty of time to build towards meaningful matches in between, we would've seen the end of short term booking such as this. Unfortunately, in the two months since Genesis, we're right back to the same old padding. Fingers crossed that with the next show, Slammiversary, the booking is done far in advance, even for the undercard.

TNA X Division Championship
Zema Ion vs Kenny King (c) vs Christian York

Having won the X Division Championship from Rob Van Dam on a recent episode of Impact Wrestling, Kenny King comes to his very first title defense. As with most thrown-together X Division matches added to pay-per-view, there's no feud to speak of, merely a group of past contenders with no momentum. Both Ion and York have had multiple shots at the gold, but had always come up short against former Champion, RVD. Whether new Champion, Kenny King, proves a challenge, it remains to be seen.

What is surprising, is the complete absence of Van Dam, who you'd at least assume would want his contractual rematch for the belt. But knowing TNA, they'll be saving the higher profile contender for a future installment of Impact Wrestling, to get as many eyes as possible on the match. This continues the fall from grace of the Whole F'n Show, who debuted in TNA with a deafening fan-fare, but has since dropped down the card at an alarming rate. Where once there was a respected World Champion, he's no longer fit to lead the charge for the least important Division of all.

As far as the match itself, this instantly reminds me of King and Ion's recent cage match filmed on the UK tour for TNA Xplosion. As one of the few, if not the only, original match taped for the show, King and Ion put on a tremendous bout that would out-class most main event efforts in this day and age. However, that was the two of them working alone, whereas in this case, they'll be contending with the sloppy bull in a china shop move set of Christian York. Despite the hype of his debut on Gut Check, York has failed to live up to expectations, at least for this humble writer. His ring-work has always been one step off the pace and I have consistently noticed his opponents lingering during their matches, waiting for York to get into the proper position. Even worse, when he finally does hit a move, it appears sluggish and ineffective.

Ultimately, Kenny King should retain his X Division Title following the bout, as he has been the stand out competitor since his debut at last year's Destination X pay-per-view and continues to be a bright spot in the division to this day. Zema Ion had his opportunity as Champion last year following Austin Aries' relinquishing of the title, but the division sank into obscurity during his reign. As such, I am in no rush to see a follow up. In regard to Christian York, if my previous statements weren't indictment enough, he has been entirely absent from Impact Wrestling for several months now and I never once questioned it.

Prediction - Kenny King defeats Zema Ion and Christian York via pinfall to retain the X Division Championship.

Joey Ryan vs Joseph Park

Why this match exists is a mystery. I checked back through recent episodes of Impact Wrestling just to make sure and I can't remember a single instance of these two sharing airtime. So to see them both in the ring together is puzzling to say the least. I guess you could make the argument that Park doesn't actually need a reason to challenge heels such as Ryan, as his character thrives on regular competition rather than feuds.

Don't get me wrong though, as I'm more than happy to see both men on pay-per-view. Park hasn't had the most consistent of appearances since making the switch from former gimmick Abyss to current persona Joseph. While being fresh material for the giant, it must be infuriating to him on a certain level, as he's spent the best part of the last year actively not being booked on shows. Park is a genuinely talented wrestler in reality, so credit to him for biting his tongue and evolving his character's skill set at the proper pace.

Things appeared on the up for "Hollywood's Own" Joey Ryan at the beginning of the year, as he partnered with "The Blueprint" Matt Morgan challenging for the Tag Team Championships and the X Division Championship before that. However, due to his not being on the UK tour, he effectively dropped off the map for an entire month of programming. This appears to have hindered his progress somewhat, as his former partner, Morgan, has broken away, decimating Jeff Hardy on last week's edition of Impact Wrestling and looking to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship in the near future. Ryan, on the other hand, shared no part of this and as evidenced by this match, has no current story to speak of. While I doubt a long term feud with Joseph Park is in the cards, this at least keeps Joey in the spotlight for another month and I highly look forward to seeing his further exploits going forward.

Joseph Park matches are all basically of the same formula. So as a regular viewer, I'm expecting the heel Joey Ryan to dominate for the majority, only to inadvertently bust Park open and upon the sight of his own blood, the Monster Abyss is reawakened, leading to a last second Black Hole Slam from an amnesiac Park.

Prediction - Joseph Park defeats Joey Ryan via pinfall.

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News: TNA Announce New 'One Night Only' Themes

Today, VIP ticket holders to the latest round of 'One Night Only' pay-per-views were informed of the three day taping schedule. Taking place across March 17th to 19th, TNA will film the following specials for undisclosed future release.

Sunday, March 17

1:00pm - Knockout Knockdown: Crowning the true “Queen” of TNA.

7:00pm - TNA 10 Reunion: A celebration of the stars from the past 10 years of TNA.

Monday, March 18

1:00pm - Tag Team Tournament: To determine the greatest Tag Team in TNA history.

7:00pm - World Cup of Wrestling: Teams of wrestlers from around the globe compete in Heavyweight, X Division, Tag Team Division and Knockout Division matches.

Tuesday, March 19

1:00pm - Hardcore Justice 2: Hardcore rules for the stars of Hardcore wrestling

7:00pm - Heavyweight Title Tournament: The top World Champions in TNA history battle to determine the greatest of all time.

Clem's Opinion: These are all fantastic themes for the 'One Night Only' specials and have my absolute attention, even if they have been taped and sat on a shelf for months. Each show highlights an important area of TNA and gives them the undivided spotlight for the evening. Not to mention, gives each division a well-deserved pat on the back for their ten year contribution to the company.


Preview: TNA Lockdown 2013

Robbie E vs Rob Terry

In what is sure to be the comic relief of the evening, the tale of two Robbies finally comes to an end. For over a year now, E and T have presided over who makes it onto "The List", but when push comes to shove, which of them will? The breakup of TNA's favourite duo had been teased for months, but the pair always found a way to reconcile, leaving their feud lightly simmering in the background of their comedy segments.

The instigating incident that led to this match came several weeks ago, while during the UK tour, Robbie E mocked anyone from our great country, calling us all "hamsters" (I've been called worse). In doing so, it immediately raised the ire of his towering bodyguard, Rob Terry, who ended up siding with the debuting Rockstar Spud and helped the newbie go over. This past week on Impact, Robbie E once again tried to make peace with his best friend, handing him the spotlight in one last "Bro-Off". But it was all a ruse, as E smashed their long-standing VIP sign over Terry's head and sealed his own fate.

The match itself probably won't be anything special, as neither man is renowned for their wrestling ability. However, what they will excel at is telling a good story. If this is to be the end of their affiliation, they'll go all out in an impressively quick squash to warm up the crowd for bigger things later in the night. Look for Robbie to initially try falling back on their friendship, followed by a few underhanded heel tactics, before Terry finally unleashes his inner-monster and tears Robbie a new one.

Prediction - Rob Terry defeats Robbie E via pinfall.

Lethal Lockdown
Aces & Eights vs Team TNA
Devon, Anderson, Knox, D.O.C. & Bischoff vs Sting, Magnus, Joe, Storm & Young

In the crown jewel of this speciality pay-per-view, a year's worth of story pays off as the Icon, Sting, tries to run off the biker gang, Aces & Eights, once and for all. Not just in a regular match though, this is Lethal Lockdown. After all participants have entered the cage, the roof will seal and allow access to a multitude of weapons. If they had a choice, it'd be baseball bats and hammers at dawn!

I've long since forgotten exactly why Aces & Eights are invading TNA, that's if they ever explained it in the first place. But what this match does have is a team of pissed off Impact wrestlers who've been systematically attacked and taken out, put on the shelf for months at a time, who're ready for some payback. The star of the angle is undoubtedly Sting, who has forever led the charge against the outlaws since they first attacked him last summer. However, the legend is getting on a bit and I don't expect him to do even half the legwork this match needs. That task falls to his teammates. Most of whom are borderline main event talent with nothing better going on due to their being no room left at the top of the card. The wildcard of the bunch being "Showtime" Eric Young, who is more often than not, strictly a comedy act. Just what role the bearded wonder will play is anyone's guess. But you could say that about the underdeveloped flunkies that are D.O.C. and Mike Knox.

While wrestling promotions inevitably play up the finality of encounters such as these, the feud between Aces & Eights and TNA is far from over. Especially with Kurt Angle having barged into the clubhouse and unmasked the leader of the group on last week's Impact. Something tells me the final reveal of the leader's identity won't be given away this week in the lead up to the pay-per-view, but instead saved for this match, when one of Team TNA itself are revealed as the mastermind. Due to Kurt's reaction to this off-screen fiend, we know for a fact it's surprising and a deep personal betrayal, one that could be achieved by few members of the ragtag group.

Sting himself is a possibility, but how many times now would he have orchestrated his own beat-downs? It'd be literally insane. Samoa Joe would be a good bet, having stuck closely by Angle in recent months, but similarly he's lost far too much in the process, what with his Television Title defeat and humiliation at the hands of Garret Bischoff and Wes Brisco. As for Magnus or Eric Young, it'd be a shocking reveal, but only because they're so low on the TNA totem pole and make Aces & Eights look even worse for having followed them. That leaves the finger pointing squarely at the Cowboy James Storm, who would certainly fit in with the rowdy beer-drinking bikers and finally give him something to do, as he's been toiling in obscurity since his feud with Bobby Roode came to an end last year. However, I would hate to see Storm turn heel now, as I don't feel as though TNA fully capitalised on his popularity as a babyface upon winning the World Title, if only for a matter of weeks. Put him against the right opponent and let the crowd get behind him and they could have the next Stone Cold Steve Austin. Turn him heel now and they're leaving money on the table, simple as.

The match will no doubt come down to the wire and just as faces get the upper-hand, the leader of Aces & Eights will stand revealed as a traitor in the TNA ranks, winning the match for the opposite team with a despicable act of betrayal, most likely aimed at the Icon, Sting. He's been their favourite patsy all along, so why break the habit of a lifetime.

Prediction - Aces & Eights defeat Team TNA via pinfall.

TNA Tag Team Championship
Daniels & Kazarian vs Roode & Aries (c) vs Hernandez & Guerrero

After spending the entire of 2012 dominating the World Title picture, it's time for Bobby Roode and Austin Aries to move on to other things. While I would much prefer they return to the main event scene (where they clearly belong), their current tag team effort has been entertaining at every opportunity. Whether it's their backstage skits or selfish antics in the ring, the IT factor and the Greatest Man That Ever Lived have brought renewed vigor to the ailing Tag Team division. As it stands now, their opponents are the only two true tag teams in the entire promotion, so it's no wonder the two brightest stars in the business today were brought in to spice things up. On past pay-per-views, that honour had fallen to the Olympic Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle, and the Phenomenal One, AJ Styles. The pair worked tirelessly to put over their opponents, but it seems we're back to square one and now it's Roode & Aries turn at bat.

As the Champions are currently in the middle of a fantastic angle, having vowed to win all the gold in TNA before making their return to the World Title, it would be a shame to see their effort derailed so early on. I am genuinely interested to see if they can achieve the epic challenge of their own making, in contrast to the other two teams, who aren't in need of the Tag Titles on any level. Daniels and Kazarian fill their own unique role on the show, having become the resident pantomime villains of Impact Wrestling. It may involve lots of jobbing, but just last week they were mixing it up with Bully Ray and Jeff Hardy, the pair battling it out for the World Title and it doesn't get much higher. Meanwhile, there's Chavo and Hernandez, who on the opposite end of the spectrum, have failed to get over on any level. Chavo merely plays up the nostalgia we fans have for his Uncle Eddie, while bringing nothing new to the table. Not to mention, having been in both LAX and Mexican America, Hernandez has danced this dance a thousand times and he must be just as sick of it as us.

I don't see the Titles changing hands on this show at all. The Champions are building serious momentum in their push to win everything, while the contenders have a palpable feeling of been there, done that. Be on the look out for an insane amount of heel tactics, from both Roode & Aries and Daniels & Kazarian. The two teams are renowned for their "creative tactics" and are positioned for an outright cheat-off.

Prediction - Roode & Aries defeat Daniels & Kazarian and Hernandez & Guerrero via pinfall to retain the TNA Tag Team Championship.

Steel Cage Match
Wes Brisco vs Kurt Angle

Kurt Angle brought it on himself. Literally. Having spent months mentoring Wes Brisco and subsequently pushing for a Gut Check match, Angle personally opened the door and rolled out the red carpet, practically gift-wrapping the legacy's TNA contract. Of course, at the time he was unaware that his favourite stalker...I mean protege...was a patched-in member of the outlaw biker gang, Aces & Eights. Anyone with their eyes open could see Brisco's heel-turn coming, it was just a matter of when. That time finally came on the UK tour, following Angle's cage match against Mr Anderson, when both Brisco and Garret Bischoff showed their true colours and beat the Olympic Gold Medalist down in the centre of the cage. As such, it's only fitting that their confrontation comes in the very same venue as the initial betrayal.

I won't lie, I honestly don't see the appeal of Wes Brisco. He has an extremely odd look, a questionable move set and if his last name weren't Brisco, I have a suspicion we wouldn't be seeing him on the roster, let alone on one of TNA's premiere pay-per-view events. Kurt Angle's dogged appreciation of the young man is equally mystifying. I know Kurt is all about paying it forward now, what with him being in the final years of his career, but surely there is someone more deserving of the legend's attention. Due to his association with Brisco, Angle may as well have fallen off the radar entirely in 2012, he made so little impact. TNA need to make use of the former World Champion while he's still able and fumbling with rookies doesn't cut it. I have a horrible feeling that the match itself will be a genuine low-point in Angle's career, whether in amateur, WWE or TNA. Brisco desperately needs the rub Angle would give him, but he doesn't deserve it. I can't bring myself to entertain the possibility of Brisco going over, ergo Angle must win. He's too good not to.

Prediction - Kurt Angle defeats Wes Brisco via pinfall.

TNA Knockouts Championship
Gail Kim vs Velvet Sky (c)

Time for take two. While Velvet Sky's first run with the Knockouts Championship, following Bound for Glory 2011, left much to be desired, this latest push gives her a genuine shot at redemption. Ironically enough, against the woman who came out of nowhere and crushed her dreams the last time. Gail Kim's re-debut with TNA, mere weeks after Velvet's big win, left the former Beautiful Person in the dust. But not this time. Both women have long storied histories with the company and if anything, Velvet is now the shiny new object of affection, after a brief absence of her own.

Strangely, there's no real feud to speak of between the two Knockouts and this match is more perfunctory than anything else. You could argue that alot of Velvet's recent victories have come at Gail's expense, but nothing out of the ordinary for professional wrestling. The past few weeks have been far more Tara-centric, with the former Champion cashing in her rematch and gracefully fading back into the pack. The focus is only truly coming onto Gail with the match itself.

I expect Gail to carry the majority of the match, as no matter how much progress Velvet has made in the ring over the years, she still pales in comparison to the very first Knockouts Champion. Luckily, Velvet doesn't have to get over with her move set, as the crowd will be behind her from the word go. Quite literally. Let the pigeons loose! If she can gain enough momentum through defeating a series of top tier opponents like Gail, Velvet could very well be the industry's next Trish Stratus.

Prediction - Velvet Sky defeats Gail Kim via pinfall to retain the TNA Knockouts Championship.

Steel Cage Match
TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Bully Ray vs Jeff Hardy (c)

It's been a long journey to get to "Bully Ray: Legitimate Main Eventer", but we're finally here. After two banner years in 2011 and 2012, the former Bubba Ray Dudley has drawn the entire wrestling world's attention and oddly enough, their respect. TNA have flirted with the idea of Bully Ray in the World Title picture for a while now, always having him reach the very end of the Bound for Glory series. For whatever reason, they never pulled the trigger, having him put over previous winners, Bobby Roode and Jeff Hardy, like a pro. But now, his time has finally come, and being on the grand stage of one of TNA's four remaining pay-per-views, it means more than ever.

Jeff Hardy on the other hand, despite being one of TNA's most recognisable faces, has had a rather forgettable run as World Champion. Since defeating A-Double, Austin Aries, for the Title back at Bound for Glory 2012, Hardy has been as quiet as a mouse. He defended his Title most notably against Aries and another former World Champion in Bobby Roode. But throughout these assaults on his position at the top of the card, he's been his usual moody monosyllabic self, never truly engaging in a feud, merely participating. Of course, it hasn't helped the Charismatic Enigma that he's coming off a disturbing absence of four Impact Wrestling episodes in a row. Having the Champion simply disappear with an injury for the entire month's programming, while they were in the UK, was unacceptable on so many levels. With only two weeks back in the Impact Zone before a major pay-per-view, Hardy has been noticeably handicapped. As opposed to Bully Ray, who's had that entire month of UK shows to steal the spotlight.

The pair have had little time to build a truly noteworthy program with each other, but given their tremendous shared history, dating all the way back to their infamous TLC matches in the early 2000's, they almost don't need a reason. In fact, Bully's ascension has come entirely on the back of General Manager, Hulk Hogan, and his faux marriage to Hogan's own daughter, Brooke. Several months worth of television now, have been devoted to developing this "romance" and just whether or not Hulk could trust his new son-in-law. It bares all the hallmarks of WWE's own attempt at such an angle with the McMahon-Helmsley marriage a decade ago, only Bully and Brooke have played nice up until now. Given the father's new-found faith and acceptance of the couple, not to mention the high stakes of the World Title on the line, I'm leaning towards an almighty heel turn on Bully Ray's part. Whether his new wife was in on the deception is another thing entirely, but looking at the current situation, he's gotten absolutely everything he could ever have wanted or asked for. Now is the time to drop the sham and use this ill-gotten power to become the new World Heavyweight Champion.

Prediction - Bully Ray defeats Jeff Hardy via pinfall to become the NEW World Heavyweight Champion.

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News: Bring Impact to your City

As announced on Impact Wrestling last night, Dixie Carter is open to suggestions as to where the next set of TV tapings will occur!

The TNA President tweeted...

"More #ImpactLive locations soon. Where should we bring @ImpactWrestling Live on the road? Tweet me your city with #WeWantImpact!"

Just like the newly-announced Indiana, Pennsylvania! Coming to you live from the Kovalchick Complex on April 25th.