TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Chris Cash: I hope catering is better at the Reliant for Booker because my gut tells me that they keep the strap on Joe for the time being. However, with Kevin Nash as that constant, confusing, tiresome factor that I’m personally ready to end at this point, my wish is for him to turn on Joe already. Despite who TNA is thinking about putting the title on next, they could hold it off for another pay per view and have Nash as the next challenger for Joe. Booker still doesn’t have to get out of the picture and can come back at Bound for Glory to take the title. I’d say the title switches hands there and not this Sunday or at Hard Justice. Joe keeps the title, regardless of the outcome.
Eric Stein: I have to agree with Chris, I’d be very surprised if Joe didn’t retain. I feel like the build to FINALLY put the strap on him was so drawn out for months/years that they now owe it to him and themselves to give his title reign the chance to flourish. I don’t think Booker is hot enough to demand a change, so I believe we keep the status quo on this one. While it’s possible that TNA needs the “names” for their TV deal/merchandising/advertising/etc., the fact is, they are still better off with a young, homegrown talent as champ than a 40 year old WWE castoff. And I love Booker. However, if TNA is ever to grow, guys like Joe will need to take the reigns and hold them for a while. Hence, Joe retains. I expect the entire Nash saga to be drawn out even longer, so I’m expecting more tease, but no true payoff on that angle.
Scott Hudson: I hate to jump on a bandwagon but – I’m jumping. Joe retains to keep the build to the inevitable blow-off with Nash. Booker is a good opponent for Joe as they continue to add to his legitimacy as champion. I must admit that Joe’s look (the subject of many rumors over the last few weeks) is a detriment. I don’t necessarily think a wrestler with Joe’s morphology (look it up) should never be pushed, but they certainly could change his attire to at least hide the fact that he does not “look” like a world champion. I really am loathe to even mention this issue but, it is 2008 and a promotion simply cannot ignore the issue. Don’t put him on Weight Watchers or anything, just change his look in the ring.
Kevin Kelly: Is there room for me as well? Not much drama in this one as Joe retains in a match that may be reminiscent of a Smackdown Main Event. A win here for Joe unfortunately doesn’t do much for the blase attitude that many have since he won. Booker T isn’t the right guy to make Joe look like a monster which he needs right now.
TNA Tag Team Championship
Cash: If Roode and Storm don’t win the titles this weekend, I would actually feel bad for them. They have garnered a lot of heat lately, but somehow still find a way to get beat down week in and week out. Oh, and they have lost just about every match they’ve been in since pairing up, with two in one week this past Impact. It all pays off for them this weekend as they win the straps from a team that can’t seem to get back the momentum they once had with Konnan.
Stein: Boy, do they seem lost as to what to do with Roode & Storm or what? Are they main eventers? Are they jobbers? Why are they even friends? This entire pairing has always reeked of them simply not having a clue as to how to use these guys. And I agree with CHris once again, LAX just isn’t the unit it once was either. This is kind of a toss-up here, with a “who cares” feel to the outcome anyway. I’ll agree and go with Beer Money simply because TNA loves to force pointless title changes on PPV and pass them off as exciting.
Hudson: Roode and Storm are ridiculously underrated and, although this tag team seems more than a bit forced, their innate abilities will overcome a sloppy backstory. LAX are still a great team, but it has now become obvious exactly how much Konnan meant to the faction. Beer Money should win the straps (that part is easy) but the real question is where do they go with them after the PPV. Not so much as which team to feed to them but how does the team/gimmick evolve. Again, these two are worth the effort.
Kelly: I love all four involved but this match does nothing for me at all. What happened to all of TNA’s great tag teams they had in 2005-06? Beer Money will win as Storm and Roode are office favorites and LAX is too close to Konnan and the company needs to turn the page.
World X Cup Finals
Cash: Given the fact that TNA has not held this tournament consistently over the years, it’s hard to say that the history is going to help determine the outcome of this year’s contest. Now, if I understand the rules right…wait I don’t. Mexico did win this tournament once in the past and TNA has won every other time. Now that I have set the stage with history and facts, I still have no idea where they may go. I say Team International wins to steal the trophy by one point. But I’d also be willing to bet that the winner could be Team TNA…Team Mexico…or Team Japan.
Stein: Some expert analysis there from Chris, haha. Somebody will win. I truly think the World Cup is a great concept. Unfortunately, in actuality, the execution never matches the idea. I’m pretty sure there’s a 12 man elimination match first, followed by the ultimate X match as the grand finale. Naturally, it’ll be positioned that whoever wins the final match will win it all. As lame as it seems, I have to pick Team TNA for the win. They will lose the elim match, but there’s no way they job their boy Kaz to an international guy we’re never going to see again.
Hudson: Only because it is a way to get the brand over, I gotta go with Team TNA winning the cup. But this belies a larger issue. TNA, in my humble opinion, presents the best wrestling pay-per-view product out there. Inside the ropes and between bells, TNA is the best. The issue is that even good wrestling (hell, even GREAT wrestling) will not draw a dime unless its marketed and especially booked correctly. Case in point – this match. Nowhere on the TNA website are the team members listed (nowhere readily accessible anyway). These matches should be incredible to watch but, in order to get impulse buys and/or casual fans, TNA should at least billboard the participants. These fans want characters (not the Umaga kinda character just a face to put with a name) to care about.
Kelly: What is the focus of TNA? This match and Scott’s expert analysis is why TNA makes my guts ache. But as far as predicting a winner, TNA team will lose in a surprising upset. Why not?
Cash: The only reason I’m buying the pay per view is right here (note: sarcasm guys, don’t jump on me). I honestly don’t care what the outcome is, but if anything is going to save this feud for me, let’s try Val as a heel instead of a boring, not-as-pretty-as-she-once-was babyface. I’m not big on the “Guru” gimmick for Dutt either – can’t more of the X guys just have a standard heel gimmick? I’m sure the match will be fun from an in-ring standpoint, but because I don’t really care, let’s say Dutt takes it.
Stein: Sarcasm noted. The only thing is, I truly do think this is the only entertaining thing about this PPV. Sure, turning Jay Lethal into Randy Savage and limiting his move set to that of a mid-80’s wrestler was questionable. Sure, the average TNA fan is 16 and has absolutely no idea that this entire angle is a replay. Sure, in turn the rating for it absolutely stink and the entire thing makes little to no sense. Sure, Sonjay Dutt on his best day isn’t fit to shine Jake Roberts’ snake or George Steele’s turnbuckles, nor could Jay Lethal massage Savage’s jock. Okay, maybe the whole thing is awful after all – but in an amusing kind of way. I have a bad feeling this is far from the last of this, so I predict some sort of cluster of an ending yielding more of this fun! Personally, I still think SoCal Val is plenty hot.
Hudson: A little bit of the “Black Machismo” has gone a long, LONG way. Jay Lethal has proven himself (and SoCal as well) are capable of doing just fine without the gimmick. I though the gimmick was good idea because it at least separated Lethal from the pack but, Jesus, he’s separated! Let him be himself. I do not mind the Guru gimmick for Dutt for one reason above all others – it seems original. That’s good enough. This match is a toss up but I will take Machismo to get the duke with some SoCal chicanery.
Kelly: I have liked this feud and think that a SoCal turn is in the offing. Watch for Dutt to go over and poor Machismo to see his former girl make it with Dutt. In fact, what if we learn that Sonjay is related to Dutch Mantell, then we can call him Dirty Dutt Mantell. I smell money.
Gail Kim vs Angelina Love
Cash: I actually like Angelina Love in the ring. She will compliment Gail Kim very well and this could be yet another great match between the uber-popular Knockout division. Another toss-up on my end, but I say Love is the victor in this one to continue strengthening the Beautiful People duo.
Stein: I think in order to capitalize on the inexplicable popularity of the Not At All Attractive People, they actually need to win some matches and be a true force in the Knockout division. It seemed like they were running with this about 6 weeks back when they were heeling victories with hair spray etc. Then the following week they cleanly jobbed to ODB. They need to keep them strong or nobody will care. Angelina via Velvet interference.
Hudson: I like Eric’s analysis. Angelina should and will win this one. More testimony to how good a booker Dutch Mantell is (full disclosure – he is a great friend of mine). He has taken a women’s division from literally (and deservingly) non-existent to being some of the most if not THE most compelling cast of characters in TNA. Bravo, Dutchman!
Kelly: This pairing could be superb and may steal the show. I hope that the upcoming departure of agent Scott D’Amore doesn’t hurt the Knockout Division but as far as this PPV is concerned, look for the heels to go over and Kurt, AJ, Karen and everyone else to be involved.
Cash: I’m sure there will be a couple more matches thrown into the mix and that will only help matters, but it is still amazing how far TNA’s pay per views have gone from being a “must see” to mostly predictable and bland, with only a couple of matches you want to spend money on. I’m going to order it as always, but this doesn’t stand out as one of their better efforts this year. At least, not on paper.
Stein: Man, who really even cares about this entire PPV? What a horrible build-up and useless, wasteful matches. As I was looking at each match, I kept waiting to care…and it never happened. Sure the World Cup finals will undoubtedly be a great match, but I don’t even feel slightly invested in it. The rest doesn’t even look promising on any level. Thankfully, we don’t work for TNA, so I don’t need to pretend – this card stinks.
Hudson: Victory Road 08 presents a real dichotomy for TNA. They stand poised to have one of the year’s better pay-per-views from a wrestling perspective but also may be on the verge of one of their lowest buy rates. Damn shame. They really have got to turn up the heat on character development and marketing. If merely good wrestling sold PPV’s, Ring of Honor would be TNA’s equal in that area and they are not. You know, I heard Paul E. isn’t doing much these days. Maybe someone should give him a Xanax and a telephone call.
Kelly: My friend asked me “What’s going on with TNA?” I had no answer. Does anyone? What the f is going on? TNA reminds me of WCW in 1997-98. They were making money but the creative was so lazy and uninspiring that no one could hold Eric’s feet to the fire because they were making money. TNA is growing in scope and presence and that’s good news but the creative makes my head hurt.