08 March 2014

PREVIEW: Gunner vs James Storm

Whilst Lockdown 2013 provided one of the minor highlights of the Aces & Eights saga as Bully Ray clouted Hardy with a hammer to become World Champion, it will not go down in history as a PPV that delivered on non-title matches.  Who remembers the epic clashes between Robbie E and Robbie T?  Joseph Park and Joey Ryan?  Kurt Angle and Gerald Brisco's son?

Me neither.  If you do remember any of these matches, I'd hasten to guess it is for the wrong reasons.

Fast forward one year, and what better example of the improvements that have been made in TNA's storytelling than with the non-title showdown between Gunner and James Storm.  TNA have done a great job of creating non-title feuds that deliver week on week with the likes of Roode vs Angle, Bully vs Anderson, and this rivalry looks set to equal or even surpass those battles.

The dissension between this former tag team began way back in November at Turning Point when Gunner threw in the towel for James Storm, saving him from a possibly career ending bump at the hands of Bobby Roode but simultaneously ending his chances in the World Title tournament.  Ever since then the friction between this partnership has ebbed and flowed, simmering away nicely in the background of other storylines.

Just when it looked like all was forgiven, Gunner cost Storm a second shot at the World Title by stepping over his partner to grab the World Title briefcase in the Feast or Fired match.  Feeling cheated once more by his tag team partner, a feeling Storm knows only too well, Storm managed to earn two shots at Gunner's World Title briefcase and failed on both occasions.

On the UK tour it looked as though there was some kind of reconciliation in order for these two.  In a briefcase versus briefcase match against Magnus and EC3, Gunner and Storm managed to set aside their differences and Gunner got his hands on the Tag Team Title briefcase.  In an emotional showdown in front of the Glasgow crowd, Storm apologised for his actions and his jealous behaviour.

In a show of renewed friendship, Gunner handed his partner the Tag Title briefcase.

Gunner finally cashed in his World Title briefcase to take on Magnus, and Storm came to ringside to fend off Dixie's minions.

Gunner climbed to the top rope and jumped high to deliver a match winning diving headbutt.

Storm kicked Gunner in the face.

Bad times.

Whilst their achievements as a tag team may not be remembered in years to come, Gunner and Storm certainly look set to forge a legacy together with this bitter feud borne from greed, jealousy and broken friendships.  If you're looking for technical excellence inside the steel cage at Lockdown, you may be disappointed.  This Last Man Standing match in the wake of Storm's screwjob is going to be brutal.  It is going to be intense.  It is going to be a war!

"This match is very complicated when trying to choose a winner.  Gunner is getting a push while Storm needs a resurgence with his character.  I choose James Storm in this bloody battle."

Nick Mann
"I love the intensity and realism of this feud. Both guys are hitting out of the park on the mic lately and both are plenty capable in the ring. I expect a bloodbath and a Storm win to keep Gunner the underdog."

"This one will be brutal in my eye's, both men have good reason to win, however I think Storm gets the win here."

Chris Regal
"Before the stipulation was announced last night, I had been conflicted as to whom would win this match.  In a Last Man Standing match, I see Gunner finishing James Storm off. "

Lewis Harris
"In a non-title feud like this, there isn't so much of an end goal in terms of titles swapping hands.  Its all about great fights and a great story.  They seem to be building Gunner as a future World Title contender, and I think it would benefit him a lot by having a strong win here against Storm.  It'll be close, but Gunner will take it."

Whilst there has been tension between these two for months, I think this feud is only just beginning and will run for some time.  I expect both men will benefit tremendously from this feud, but Gunner in particular should come off well from it.  A lot of people questioned whether Gunner was worthy of being in the World Title scene, but TNA put their faith in him, built him up well, and it paid off big time in a PPV quality match with Magnus.  I think over the coming weeks (or even months) TNA will continue to mould Gunner into a main event face during this feud, ready for when a spot opens again for him to challenge for the World Title.

Storm's heel turn was long overdue, and I have every faith that he will do a great job with the opportunity. The beer-drinking, catch-phrase burping cowboy routine had become quite stale and this new direction could see him become the top heel outside of Team Dixie.

It will be interesting to see what they do with the Tag Team title briefcase, although I am also worried that it could see one or both of them returning to the tag team scene on a permanent basis when I would much rather see them both have a long stint in singles competition.  It may lead to a Gunner vs Storm tag match with random partners, but I am hoping the briefcase ultimately changes hands once more and goes to one of the currently established tag teams.

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