Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret… but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige".
This beautiful quote was said by the iconic Michael Caine in Chris Nolan's 2006 masterpiece, "The Prestige". In the film, two magicians (Hugh Jackman and Chistian Bale) struggle along the course of their bitter rivalry – one that would inevitably take the lives of both of their lovers. In a weird way, the magicican's code so poetically uttered by Caine can be used as a metaphor for most of pro wrestling storytelling.
The Pledge. A small handful of ordinary, happy-go-lucky wrestlers. Devon Duddley. Garrett Bischoff. Mike Knox's beard.
The Turn. TNA takes those men – having done nothing of merit for themselves – and does something "extraordinary". Thus is born the Aces & Eights, a motorcycle gang that in the past year has beaten up every member of the TNA locker room (including their own members), won championships (if you count that TV/Global/Legends garbage) and held the Impact product hostage in more than just the obvious literal way.
The Prestige. This Sunday at Lockdown, TNA finally pulled the trigger. They turned Bully Ray, aligned him with the Aces & Eights, gave him the World Heavyweight title, and announced him as the President of the organization. That was "the prestige" of the last year's build to TNA and Impact Wrestling.
The funny thing about magic – erm, wrestling – is that much like Michael Caine said in our quote above, "you're looking for the secret … but you don't really want to know." Wrestling fans today can read all the spoilers they want, and claim to know all the inner-workings of the business, but at the end of the day, you're not looking for the trick.
Bully Ray was going to turn. I saw it coming. You saw it coming. Mark Madden in all his infinite wisdom saw it coming (sort of). The fun of a magic trick isn't wondering what's going to happen – you already know something is going to disappear. It's waiting for the obvious, because when it does come, the prestige is what ties it all together. Sunday at Lockdown, Bully Ray made the obvious – but brilliant – turn. And in one moment he became World Champion, his character gained back its much-needed legitimacy, and the Aces & Eights FINALLY (finally, finally, finally) were granted a leader worthy of this tiring angle.
"YES, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE PPV!?" you're screaming at me.
After that moment in the main event, when Bully Ray announced his position as the President of the Aces & Eights, nothing else mattered. You want my actual review of the show? It wasn't that great. There it is. The three X-Division stars put on a fun match to kick off the PPV, but the actual star – Rob Van Dam – who was champion not two weeks ago, wasn't even considered worthy enough to be involved.
The tag team 3-way – probably the best match of the night – was dull for the first half because (get this) nobody cares about four guys beating up Chavo Guerrero.
Lethal Lockdown wasn't even Lethal Lockdown – where the hell was that ridiculous gimmicked ceiling? The pyramid of doom was cool, but it wasn't worth sitting through fifteen minutes of Royal Rumble-style entrances to get there – kick, punch, struggle in the corner.
So that's my review of Lockdown. I'll give it a C+ because while the first half of the show didn't matter in the slightest (Joey Ryan and Joe Park? Really?) there was some entertaining stuff. The tag contest DID get good, eventually. And the main event, which stood on its own two legs from a technical standpoint, was made brilliant by the finish. But that's all I'm going to give you about the rest of the Lockdown card, because like I said, nothing else but Bully Ray really matters here.
So where do they go next? The answer isn't Hulk Hogan.
The answer probably isn't Jeff Hardy, after the Hulkster did everything but kick him in the balls going into that title match.
My money is on AJ Styles. Some fans want to see Captain Grunge return as a heel – the last time that happened, it only slightly worked because of Ric Flair. No, TNA needs to get down on their knees and BEG AJ Styles to "come back" to the light. Even go so far as to have Hulk Hogan lift AJ's ban on title shots so that he can face Bully at Slammiversary. They need to have the Aces & Eights with their new-found leader, run through everyone on the Impact roster. Hardy, Sting, Hogan, EY, etc.
AJ Styles is the only savior in this equation. It can't be Hulk Hogan. It can't be Dixie Carter. Styles vs. Bully for Slammiversary – book it.