Recently that trend seems to be disappearing. While Joe and Styles are no closer to regaining their former momentum and moving back into residence at the top of the card two relatively unlikely names have risen to prominence instead. They are former Beer Money Inc. teammates James Storm and Bobby Roode.
Last summer TNA did a solid job of building Roode up as a challenger to the supremely talented Kurt Angle. Months of preparation went into their match at Bound For Glory. TNA did everything right as they prepared the tag team star for his most important singles match ever. It was unthinkable that he would lose, because the promotion had done such a superb job of elevating him and presenting him as the next big babyface star.
Then they messed it up and had Angle retain the gold.
That was a horrendous blow to Roode’s momentum and a disastrous setback for TNA (read my feelings from the time here). The story they decided to tell with Roode should only be told if the underdog challenger is going to succeed. When TNA decided to have the former member of Team Canada lose they made him look inferior to Angle and ensured it would be difficult for any future stars receiving a similar push to gain acceptance in TNA. It was a short-sighted move that shouldn’t have happened.
In fairness TNA did have Roode lose to Angle for a reason. It just wasn’t a good enough reason.
At the IMPACT tapings in the days following the pay-per-view James Storm (Roode’s tag partner) toppled Angle in a shocking two minute match to become the TNA world champion. A couple of nights later Roode challenged Storm for the title and “shockingly” smashed a beer bottle on Storm’s bonce to capture the gold.
Why TNA thought this would be a better approach than having Roode beat Angle and then turn heel on Storm to retain the gold (rather than win it) is something I’ll never understand. It would have made Storm look less like a fluke champion and turned Storm into the wronged babyface out for retribution.
Since the debacle of those title changes TNA have gotten their act together and pushed both men the right way. Bobby Roode has morphed into a credible top line heel, carrying himself like a champion and showing just how much being the world champion means to him. His performances on the microphone and in the ring have been among the best of his career. ‘The It Factor’ has proven that TNA made the right choice in moving him up to the top of the card.
Bobby Roode has done a fine job of representing TNA like a champion
Meanwhile James Storm has done a commendable job of being the likeable, relatable babyface. He too has had some of the best matches of his career in the last several months and his verbal skills have vastly improved too. ‘The Cowboy’ now comes across as a confident singles star who can tackle anybody in the promotion.
The men themselves deserve praise for working hard to earn the opportunity and for making the most of it when it was given to them. Both are in excellent shape and are clearly dedicated to performing their roles to the best of their ability. TNA deserves praise too, for having the confidence to promote two long-time tag specialists to prominent singles roles. They planned things out well and have done a great job of making the two men look like the company’s future.
I hope all of this good work results in a strong buy rate for Lockdown. Storm and Roode need a good number to show that they deserve to stay at the top of the card. I think they’ll get it. Whether they do or not I hope TNA have the sense to continue the good work they’ve been doing with Storm and Roode.
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