13 August 2013

The Times They Are a-Changin'

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The landscape of TNA is always evolving, and over the years the changes have come quicker and quicker. Right now TNA is going through another transition, with changes going on in-front and behind the camera. While there have already been several changes, there are more to come, specifically on screen. Those changes have been foreshadowed in the top three storylines in TNA, and they all look to happen at this Thursday's HardCore Justice.

Recently the World Heavyweight Title changed hands when former champ Bully Ray lost his beloved title to Chris Sabin. Sabin's victory was certainly a shock. I doubt anyone really believed that Chris Sabin would get the nod to go over Bully Ray. A Sabin win was what the company needed, as complaints had been made for months about the speed and predictability of the storylines. To have an unexpected Title change that effected multiple storylines created a new buzz about the company, and made the predictions that people had as certain outcomes thrown into doubt.

Claims have been made since the change that maybe Sabin shouldn't have been the man to beat Bully, and that maybe Austin Aries should have been the one to do so after he won the X Division title as Suicide. Look at it like this, if they did stick with Aries after that seemingly last minute X Division title change, an Aries win would have been expected due to the knee jerk change for the Destination X main event. With Sabin, nobody thought he would win the big one, so when he did, it shocked the World and gave the fans what they wanted, unpredictability.

Since winning the title, Sabin hasn't done bad at all as being Champion. While it may have been less than a month since the win, Sabin has connected with the majority of the audience and is becoming more and more accepted as World Champion. Last week he also partook in a media tour to promote the upcoming Impact taping in Little Rock, AR, including a press conference where he presented the mayor of North Little Rock a TNA World Title belt. Sabin's performance promoting TNA was exceptional. He came across as very humble and happy to be doing the interviews. To say it was his first time doing that kind of thing, Sabin pulled it off like he'd done it many times before, and really showed he was a World Champion in all aspects.

In two days, Sabin defends the title against former Champ Bully Ray in a Steel Cage match. The added stipulation to this match is that if Bully loses, he can never wrestle for the World Title again. Its now common prediction that Bully will win back the World Title this Thursday an HardCore Justice, hell even I think that will be the case. However, I wouldn't be shocked if Sabin retained.

When Team 3D retired, their final match was a losing effort against the Motor City Machine Guns. Yes the finish did set up the Bully vs Devon feud, but if I remember correctly, Team 3D wanted to lose to the Machine Guns to give them a huge rub and give them further credibility. Having this kind of stipulation is something Bully would be willing to do to help out someone as deserving as Chris Sabin. While its something Bully as a person would be willing to do, it could result in several different things happening as a result of it.

If Bully does lose, this could cause him to snap and begin taking it out on the Aces & 8's. He could lash out at some members and take away their cuts, maybe even look to give the group a much needed re-boot. It could also see the build begin for the rumoured Bully vs Hogan match at Bound For Glory. Bully could blame Hogan for not being able to challenge for the World Title ever again and this could lead to the months of hatred between them finally boiling over. 

As for Sabin, a win would establish him as the Champion and more than likely lock him in to defend the World Title at Bound For Glory. If Sabin does go into BFG as the champion, I have to say AJ Styles becomes my favourite to win the BFG Series. The story behind that match could be Sabin wanting to retain because being Champion is his dream, while Styles' motivation is money, and I must say, Sabin vs Styles could be one hell of a match.

The landscape has also changed when it comes to TNA's top faction, the Aces & 8's. For months they dominated TNA TV, they were the unstoppable unit, unfortunately for them the phrase “every action has a reaction” caught up with Bully Ray's biker gang. Since Slammiversary, the resurrection of the Main Event Mafia has taken place, seeing veterans Sting & Kurt Angle join forces with Samoa Joe, Rampage Jackson & Magnus to form a united front with the goal of destroying the Aces & 8's.

Since their formation, the Mafia have already caused Aces & 8's President Bully Ray to lose the World Title. This Thursday they have the chance to continue their mission when they face the Aces & 8's in a 5 on 5 match, where the man who gets pinned or submitted is gone from TNA. After taking power away from the group, the Mafia can now begin to permanently eliminate members of the biker gang stating at HardCore Justice.

While the stipulation works both ways, the Aces & 8's are the odds on favourite to lose both the match and one of their members. The most likely member of the group to lose the match is Knux, with 2nd favourite being Devon. Due to Kurt Angle's recent entry into rehab, the match may change to 4 vs 4, which would result in one Aces & 8's member dropping out of the match and being safe from exile. If it does come to that though, I can see the scenario of Mr Anderson pulling rank and dropping out of the match, which could add more problems for the group. One way or another, after the match at HardCore Justice, somebody's going home, and the landscape of this war will change yet again.

The BFG Series changes on a weekly basis, but this past Thursday may have foreshadowed that the tournament's standings are about to change dramatically. As the points leader from almost the outset, Magnus was riding high. With multiple wins including a victory in the Jokers Wild tournament, Magnus looked unstoppable, but this past Thursday, that changed. During the match between Mr Anderson & Magnus, Bobby Roode appeared with a chair. Roode looked like he was about to hit Magnus, but shockingly turned around and hit Mr Anderson. Due to Roode's attack, Magnus was disqualified and lost 10 points thanks to a re-focused Bobby Roode.

Roode was busy last Thursday, after costing Magnus 10 points, he then announced an alliance with fellow BFG Series participants Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian. Roode highlighted that this new trio, apparently known collectively as E.G.O. (The Extraordinary Gentlemen's Organisation) were 25% of the BFG Series. Their goal is to come together and attempt to get the three of them into the Final Four by the end of the series, so one of them can go on and challenge for the World Title at Bound for Glory.

I have to admit, after being 0-4 a few weeks ago, Roode has quickly become a favourite to win the Series, even though he only has 7 points. Roode has gotten back to his roots, exploiting every loophole and using every advantage he can to get what he wants, which is the World Heavyweight Championship. It should be very interesting to see how E.G.O. implore their tactics over the next several weeks, starting with Kazarian's Four Way Ladder match and Bobby Roode's Four Way Tables match at Hardcore Justice. This new twist along with the D'Q loophole being brought up again could shake up the standings entirely, which should make the BFG Series very interesting from this point forward.

A lot of different scenarios could play out this Thursday, and could directly effect where certain storylines are heading on the road to Bound For Glory. As I stated at the start, the TNA landscape is always changing and evolving, and HardCore Justice will more than likely be the night the TNA landscape changes again.

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