Thursday 11 October 2012

Bound For Glory 2012 preview

I fell out of the habit of previewing every TNA pay-per-view some time last year. At the time the promotion was not enjoyable to watch and I wasn't keeping up with storylines enough to make previewing shows and predicting match outcomes worth anybody's time.
2012 has seen TNA improve their product significantly. Bobby Roode was given a lengthy and enjoyable reign as world champion, allowing him to establish himself as a top card player and return some prestige to the title. Since defeating 'The It Factor' at June's Destination X Austin Aries has continued to make the world title mean something and proved that he too warrants a regular headline spot.
The company is using talent better and, for the most part, presenting clear, logical storylines. The Claire Lynch plot may have become very silly very quickly but, to take a positive stance, it was at least designed to give four of the promotion's best wrestlers something to do and proved an efficient way of reinvigorating the dreary tag team scene.

Why do wrestlers never look happy when they pose for posters?
Despite these positives Bound For Glory doesn't feel like anything truly special. It is talked about as TNA's biggest show of the year, which should make it comparable to WrestleMania. Perhaps not in terms of star power or arena size but certainly with regards to the culmination of storylines and presenting the biggest bouts possible. BFG has a strong main event and some potentially great bouts on the undercard but it also has Al Snow scheduled for action. That may seem a small thing but if there's space on what is alleged to be the biggest card of the year for a road agent to wrestle then it can't be that big a card.
The whole Joey Ryan situation has been one of the least interesting things about IMPACT since it began. TNA has attempted to present Ryan's quest for a contract as a shoot and it has never been anything less than unconvincing. Had they simply signed Ryan after his Gut Check appearance (or admitted they made a mistake passing on him and done it a week or two later) then he could have been established enough by now to be wrestling Zema Ion for the X Division championship on the show. As it is the high-flying pretty boy doesn't have a match for the show (not at time of writing anyway)… but Al Snow does.
I like Joey Ryan. I enjoyed his appearances as a comedic heel for Ring of Honor very much. I don't think he's cut out to play the threatening, conniving tough guy though. I hope we see more of him in TNA in the future but with a revised role. I expect the younger man to win. What will putting a road agent over achieve?
Another match I'm less than thrilled about is Samoa Joe v Magnus. It's not that I think the match will be bad, it's more that it seems to have come too early.
A few months ago Joe and Magnus were working together as a tag team and doing very well. They held the tag team titles and would have slotted very nicely into the feud pitting Kurt Angle and AJ Styles against Chris Daniels and Kazarian.

Their split wasn't hinted at and seems to have been booked because TNA doesn't want them as a unit at the moment, which is bizarre when you consider that the two were recognised as NOAH’s GHC tag team champions until Monday evening. TNA’s opinion on the two as a pair could change in a few months, and even if it doesn't Joe and Magnus would have benefited from a slightly more drawn out de-pairing.
Another reason to dislike the match is that the television championship is involved. I hate TNA having that belt. They don't have the roster depth to support three singles titles and the TV strap dilutes the importance of the other two. They should have quietly retired it when Devon left.
A few years ago I would have been convinced that 'The Samoan Submission Machine' would win this match. Now I don't think it's anywhere near as clear. The days of Joe beating everyone but an elite few are gone, and perhaps a Magnus singles push is planned. A win over Joe at a big event, for a title no less, would be an excellent way of launching the Brit up the ranks. I'd like to see that happen so I’ll pick Magnus to win.
One of the matches I expect to be a highlight is the tag team title clash. Defending champions Daniels and Kazarian (a.k.a. the World Tag Team Champions of the World) defend against Chavo Guerrero Jr and Hernandez and the duo of Kurt Angle and AJ Styles. Styles, Angle, and the champs are not only four of TNA's very best wrestlers but because they've been working together so much lately I expect this to be among the night's best outings. Even Hernandez and Chavo can't stop this being any less than enjoyable.
I think it's possible Guerrero and Hernandez could leave with the gold. TWTTCOTW v 'The Phenomenal One' and 'The Olympic Hero', as good a rivalry as it is, has been going for a while now. I suspect the writing team will want to get the titles back on to a long term team. In an ideal world the champs would keep the belts for a while longer though.
The Knockouts championship match between challenger Tara and champion Miss Tessmacher is not fresh. It has been presented several times over the last several weeks, partly because TNA have been crafting a storyline in which Tara has turned heel on her tag partner slash protégé and partly because so many of the company's Knockouts have either left or are on sabbaticals.
The gradual turn of Tara has been handled well. The veteran has pulled it off believably and the reasons behind her new attitude make sense. Adding a stipulation or gimmick to the bout would have been preferable, given that the two women have clashed on TV lately, but the lack isn't catastrophic. I think it will be Tara's night to lift the strap.
Speaking of repeats, Bobby Roode and James Storm will clash once again at BFG. The two haven't met in several months, but they did have a high profile feud for 'The It Factor's' world title that spanned six months. I think a bout between the two at this year's show is fitting, considering what happened to the two at last year's instalment and in the days following. It's apt. I don't think it's the beginning of another long programme between the two though. It seems more likely that it’s being used to tie up loose ends in the feud, give 'The Cowboy' a win over the former champ so he can make a case for getting a title match sometime soon, and launching a feud between Roode and King Mo.
The MMA star has been installed as the guest enforcer for the bout. It's a clever move. Mo has spent the last few months learning how to wrestle at TNA's satellite league OVW. He may look the part and have the swagger of a wrestler but I’ll be astonished if he's particularly good yet. Having him stand at ringside allows him to get physically involved without having to work a lengthy match.

His debut will also allow TNA to present BFG as one of their bigger events and should ensure a larger than average audience witness the beginning of his rivalry (well, the continuation) with Roode. I hope that's TNA's plan anyway: the former world champion is hated enough to stop fans turning on Mo when he starts wrestling and is talented enough to guide him through his first few matches as a pro wrestler.

Perhaps the most hyped match on the card is the showdown between Aces and Eights and TNA representatives Sting and Bully Ray. There are plenty of variables involved in this match, the majority of them revolving around Aces and Eights membership and the question of whether Sting can trust the bully.

Will Ray and ‘The Stinger’ be tangling with two former WWE stars such as Chris Masters and Luke Gallows, both of whom are favourites to ultimately be unmasked as A&E members? Will Matt Morgan resurface on TNA television, having been on run-in duty for the last several weeks? If so will he take the obvious route and join Aces and Eights or provide us with a genuine surprise and side with Sting? Will Abyss and-or Joseph Park show up?

The big question is will ‘Calfzilla’ turn on Sting? He’s been portrayed as untrustworthy and he is still a heel, but I think Bound For Glory would be the perfect time to have Ray go face. It would give him a number of new opponents, allow him to be part of a key storyline for several months and could be used as a way to build him up for a run at the world title.

Another possibility is that Devon hasn’t really left TNA at all and will return as an Aces representative, allowing Bully to feign surprise before turning on Sting for a Team 3D (or Dudley Boys, if you’re a more long standing fan) reunion. I’d like to see that as I think it would catch many people off guard. It could be used to draw another babyface, such as Rob Van Dam or Mr Anderson, into the Aces and Eights conflict.

At this point I’ll say that if the Devon return does happen, which I think is unlikely, the chances of Hogan hobbling to ringside to make the save are very high.

Whatever happens it seems obvious who’s going to win. The stipulation is that Aces and Eights will gain unfettered access to the IMPACT Zone if they can notch a victory. With this feud nowhere near over it’s clear they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

Finally there’s the TNA world championship match between Austin Aries and winner of the Bound For Glory series Jeff Hardy. The writing team deserves praise for constructing a much better tournament this year. Last year’s inaugural effort was sloppy and uneven with some competitors getting twice the number of chances to gain points as others. The decision to have every man face each other once this year made it a much more enjoyable experience, and had the desired effect of making wins and losses matter.

‘A Double’ has heard boos over the last few weeks. I think it’s a great shame that fans have turned on him so quickly. He has been a breath of fresh air at the top of the TNA card and deserves to stay there for a while yet. Perhaps it’s just the unbridled popularity of Jeff Hardy causing fans to pick sides. Whether that’s the case or not it may cause TNA to turn the champ heel.

BFG would be the ideal place to officially turn Aries. It would capitalise on the sizeable audience the show is likely to draw and would be guaranteed a reaction because Aries would be turning on ‘The Charismatic Engima’. Personally I think TNA should hold off on switching ‘The Greatest Man That Ever Lived’ again so soon because he was chosen as a babyface by the fans. It’s worth persevering for a little longer.

Whether Aries turns heel or not I expect this to be one of the best matches of the evening and get a good amount of time. Twenty minutes or more should allow them to put on a really memorable show. The booking hasn’t really favoured either man so it’s tough to predict a winner but I’ll go with Aries. He’s the man I want to leave as champion. That’s as good a reason as any to pick him.

On paper Bound For Glory looks like a decent show but, as I noted above, it doesn’t look like one of the biggest wrestling events of the year. In TNA’s favour is the fact that it will be broadcast from somewhere other than their regular haunt (Phoenix, Arizona to be precise) which should mean a lively crowd and a larger arena. This time next year I hope the company is putting on a show that can be described as a blockbuster. For now we can take solace in the fact that they’re giving us logical storylines and making the most of their talented locker room.
Predictions summary:
Austin Aries to defeat Jeff Hardy
Aces and Eights to defeat Bully Ray and Sting

James Storm to defeat Bobby Roode
Chavo Guerrero Jr and Hernandez to defeat AJ Styles and Kurt Angle and the World Tag Team Champions of the World
Tara to defeat Miss Tessmacher
Samoa Joe to defeat Magnus
Joey Ryan to defeat Al Snow

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