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.
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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