April 14, 2012

TNAswerve Roundtable: the Second Edition 4/11/12

I'd like to officially welcome you, our readers, to the Second Edition of The Round Table - a panel discussion in which staff members of TNAswerve, along with passionate fans of Impact Wrestling, share with you their thoughts on various topics having to do with TNA and Impact Wrestling.

The following is this edition's panel, as well as a personal quote from each one briefly describing the last time a TNA moment caused them to mark out:

FK9 TNAswerve Columnist
"The last time TNA made me literally mark out was when James Storm won the world title. I've been a proponent of James Storm for years and it bugged me that Bobby Roode always seemed to be the member of Beer Money who got all the hype when Storm had just as much, if not more to offer IMHO, so seeing him finally win the big one, against Kurt Angle no less, was pretty damn sweet."

The Messenger TNAswerve Columnist
"I think I marked out a bit for "Joseph Park" on Impact. That said, Impact has been so good of late, that I mark out often for that. Just this past week, Bully Ray, AJ Styles, Bobby Roode, Sting and Austin Aries all had me on the edge of my seat. So for me, marking out happens a lot."

EmJayHix TNAswerve Supporter
"If you would have asked me about the last real TNA mark-out moment before October 2011, it would have been a hard question but when "The Cowboy" James Storm won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, it was a true TNA mark-out moment for me. After the recent disappointment with Bobby Roode losing at BFG and title reigns by Anderson, Hardy, Angle and Sting it was an awesome moment to see a TNA original win the championship again!"

Michael Sangregorio TNAswerve Columnist
"The last time I literally marked out for TNA was when Kurt Angle debuted."

NMUfred TNAswerve Columnist
"The last time I marked out was Samoa Joe and Magnus winning the tag titles. If James Storm wins the title at Lockdown, I will mark out about 10 times as much."

JSO TNAsylum Columnist
"I'll never forget marking out for James Storm's first world title victory. It was very surreal yet moving to see the hard-working journeyman pull off the big one so unexpectedly and then celebrate the way he did with the fans and his peers."

Charlie Groenewegen Bleacher Report & Enigmatic Wrestling Columnist
"The most recent TNA mark out moment has to have been the March 1st edition of IMPACT. Seeing the fresh faces such as Samoa Joe, Magnus and Austin Aries in the main event was a real test for them, but at the same time, a treat to the fans. Those three (along with Bobby Roode, Bully Ray and James Storm) worked an excellent six-man tag team match to main event IMPACT."

MisterTNA TNAsylum Columnist
"I kind of marked out when I saw that Samoa Joe, Austin Aries and Magnus were going to main event Impact, but I literally marked out when James Storm won the World Title, such an amazing moment in TNA history."

QUESTION #1: Let's begin by discussing the Lockdown main event: TNA Heavyweight champion Bobby Roode vs James Storm. How would you book the match? Is anything other than a James Storm victory unacceptable or do you think TNA can milk this feud for a little while longer, presumably until Slammiversary?

FK9: That's hard to answer without having seen all the build up to the match yet because that's what's going to largely determine how this should play out. If Roode were booked very strongly and had a lot of momentum going into Lockdown, then I would say let Storm beat him clean and send the Tennessee fans home happy, but that's not quite what we've been getting. They have made Roode look pretty despicable, but he hasn't looked as strong as I would like. And the Victory Road match didn't help matters any; he didn't beat Sting because he was better than Sting, he beat Sting because he caught a lucky break just when Sting pretty much had the match won. Then on the following iMPACT episode, instead of the focus being on Roode and Storm, the focus was on Sting, Dixie Carter and the return of Hogan. Granted, there was a storyline reason for Roode being absent, but him not being there didn't help his momentum at all.

What needs to happen is Storm winning the title from Roode when both guys are white hot and are being booked like they're at the top of their game. After the one-two punch of Hogan and Sting, I don't feel like Roode is in that position at the moment, therefore Storm winning the title from him at Lockdown might not mean as much as it should. There's still time to salvage this, though. If they can make Roode look like a dominating force who is NOT playing second fiddle to Hogan, Sting, or anyone else during the last batch of TV before Lockdown, then that will be a good time for Storm to go over. If not, Roode may need another big win to reaffirm his status as the top dog, forcing Storm to earn one more shot at the title, setting up their final confrontation at Slammiversary which, considering it's the company's 10 year anniversary, could be the most timely night to vindicate him.

Most people seem to think Storm is going to win at Lockdown, but holding off on that until Slammiversary, while being less predictable, might be waiting too long to pull the trigger on him. There's pros and cons for each approach, but ultimately I think I'd be more in favor of strapping a rocket to Roode from now until Lockdown and then putting Storm over in his home state.

MisterTNA: I think they have to have Storm win for the feel good moment. In his hometown, after six months of chasing Roode and his Title, he finally wins it back, I think it's the only way it can go. Match-wise I think the match should be a back and forth contest, both guys hit each other with everything they have, ending with Storm hitting a Last Call Superkick for the win. I think if they give Roode the month after Lockdown off, and have Storm face a top contender at Sacrifice, then have Roode return and attack Storm after the match, they should have everything they need for these guys to go one more time at Slammiversary in some type of intense stipulation match (preferably a Last Man Standing match or an Iron-man match) and it should result in a great ending to TNA's 10th anniversary show.

The Messenger: This is a very tough question and now is exacerbated by questions about James Storm's health. He seems to get injured fairly frequently and, to the eye at least, is not in the kind of condition that Bobby Roode is.

Honestly, I'd like to see Roode hold the title a while longer, but the way he is being booked, there are only so many finishes to continue an "easy way out/always gets lucky" angle. I wish they hadn't booked Roode so narrowly - let him win clean occasionally over guys who aren't quite main event caliber, but have near escapes against top foes. That might keep it fresher if you want to keep him on top until, say, Bound For Glory 2012.

I don't know if others feel this way, but I kind of feel like Storm's momentum has stalled a bit. I don't think is the time to put the world title on him. A Roode/Bully Ray feud while building Storm back up might be really good, except that it would probably turn Bully Ray face, which I don't think TNA wants yet.

I'd have Roode retain the title at Lockdown and look legit doing it, but also allow Storm to look like a true threat. Maybe have Storm hit the Last Call superkick, Roode go down but then something not of Roode's doing prevent from the referee from calling the 1-2-3 really quick. When the ref finally gets over for the pin, Roode lifts his shoulders just before the count of three, and then goes on to win relatively clean.

EmJayHix: There are many ways you could go with the Bobby Roode vs James Storm feud. Personally I would have Roode win at Lockdown and allow the feud to go on a bit longer. Roode's character is so great that whatever he does just hits the mark, so if he was to just eek out a win even by shady means it would fit the direction he is going. TNA really can't go wrong with Roode vs Storm right now because both are two of the strongest wrestlers and performers in wrestling today. Down the road (ie. circa Bound for Glory) if this is still going on it may be a bit stale.

The only way that this feud could get screwed up is if ANYONE other than Storm or Roode win the world championship, at least for the foreseeable future.

Michael Sangregorio: I do believe that James Storm should win the title at Lockdown because story-wise they are in the cage. There's no running from this confrontation. Bobby Roode can then say he was distracted by something that's been bothering him since day one of being champion and that's Sting. Roode's next goal before he goes for the title again will be to end Sting's career.

Storm can then be pursued for the title by Bully Ray. Those two have great chemistry together in my opinion.

NMUfred: I do believe now that they have the TV deal secured, this has to be a decisive victory for James Storm with obviously the Last Call Superkick, as much as that move has been built up, it would be a complete shame to not use it for Storm's victory. Now it might take a couple of them, but that has to be the move to finish off Bobby Roode. Roode's re-pursuit of the title has to be the next storyline told expanding upon that weasel character with Bully Ray, Austin Aries and Jeff Hardy all pursuing that title as well.

JSO: There's no doubt in my mind that Bobby Roode and James Storm will deliver another outstanding 15-20 minute match, this time in the steel cage. As for the outcome, I think it definitely has to culminate in a Storm title victory at Lockdown. With the way this feud has been built up, Storm is bound to dethrone Roode of his precious championship and gain some retribution for the latter's betrayal. So I don't see any point dragging on the inevitable for a little while longer, considering TNA has gone all out with the hype videos and such for their Lockdown match. Take into account what happened with the Angle/Jarrett feud last year. Remember their standard "final battle" didn't have as much juice behind it as their cage match, in terms of the storyline psychology and match quality.

QUESTION #2: If you're in charge of booking, does Jeff Hardy win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in 2012? If so, when and how? If not, state your reasons why.

The Messenger: Jeff Hardy definitely does not win the TNA world title this year if I am booking. I'm not crazy about him being in the title picture at all, but there's certainly no need to put the title on him.
As far as worthy candidates go, Hardy must line up behind current champ Bobby Roode, top challenger James Storm and Bully Ray, who would make quite an interesting champion. TNA/Impact Wrestling has come a long way in recent months, putting its main event spotlight on two homegrown wrestlers - Roode and Storm - and a third, Bully Ray, who has completely reinvented himself in TNA.

I'd like the title picture to revolve around those three, with Matt Morgan and/or Crimson gradually being worked in. The days of "hey, look who we picked up from WWE" should be over and guys like Hardy, Ken Anderson and Kurt Angle should only be in the title picture if they are doing something new and fresh and getting over with it.

That is not case with Hardy right now - despite his usual fan support, he is not doing much different than what he has done for years. In fact, the style of pants he wears in the ring goes back to his earliest days in WWE, when he and Matt were being managed by Michael Hayes. The face paint is great, but otherwise I think Jeff Hardy's look needs some updating.

MisterTNA: Hardy winning the title in 2012 depends on TNA's vision for the belt this year. With guys like Storm, Roode, Bully Ray and inevitably Austin Aries joining the party in the coming months as potential future champions in 2012, I think in both TNA's and my own vision, Hardy's chances of winning "the big one" are slim. It seems everyone thinks that Hardy's redemption story must end with him winning the World Heavyweight Championship to truly redeem himself for his actions at Victory Road 2011, but if I was running things in TNA, I would simply have Hardy face Sting at Slammiversary, and right the biggest wrong in TNA's history at their 10th anniversary show, and give fans a great feel good moment. While Hardy has impressed me since returning to TNA, I think that the four men I previously stated have made more of a case to hold the World Title at some point in the next eight months of 2012, therefore I believe that Jeff Hardy's vision of capturing the Heavyweight Championship in 2012 is a very blurred but still a possible reality.

JSO: Jeff Hardy has completely exceeded my expectations with his comeback. His performances and even his creative face paint designs lately have proven that he is back to being that unique top level star he should be and a little more. That being said, I don't see Hardy winning the World Title in 2012 primarily because his redemption story to regain his lost glory warrants more time. Even in the next eight months, it still won't feel like he has truly come full circle from all the trials and tribulations that nearly destroyed his career for good. He can still be a capable contender, but not actually the champion until at least 2013.

FK9: No. Call me paranoid if you want, but I still don't trust Jeff Hardy not to screw up again. Yes, he does seem to have pulled himself together, but we've heard that song before a number of times and it's always ended the same way. Just because he's managed to show up for work on time, clean and sober, for a few months in a row now, that doesn't mean Victory Road 2011 didn't happen. TNA management need to be absolutely 100% sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hardy isn't going to self-destruct at a critical moment before they even think about putting the title on him again, and he doesn't earn that kind of trust overnight. Not after what he did.

If it were up to me, he would have to be a model employee for at least a year, prove that he can be a responsible adult, prove that he can be relied on to do his job to the best of his ability for more than a few months at a time without relapsing. If he could manage that for a year, then I'd think about it. Until then, he's still got a lot of work to do to convince me that he deserves the spotlight back, especially when Roode and Storm have it now, and have both proven that they won't drop the ball when you give it to them.

EmJayHix: If I am in charge of booking Jeff Hardy does NOT win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in 2012. WHY?

I do commend Jeff Hardy in his rehabilitation from his substance issues and his great in ring work and fan interaction, he really is a major piece of what TNA is striving for. Jeff's ring work, mic work, physical fitness and brand building have been GREAT since his return. He looks as good as I have ever seen him. That said, I don't think he can be trusted to be "the guy" in TNA at least for a few years. Relapse is a possibility, a real one at that.

Jeff is great right here he is, he is a top level guy working with any and every one on the roster making them better and rebuilding himself in the process. But it is just too soon to really hand the ball back to Jeff. Especially when the World title picture is in great hands with Bobby Roode and James Storm with guys like AJ Styles, Bully Ray and Austin Aries ready should they need to be because of injury or unexpected circumstances. Jeff kinda fits into that category of fall back guy but he is not the one I would call on first AJ or Bully Ray should be first in line given the specific situation of heel champ or face champ.

Michael Sangregorio: I believe that Jeff Hardy has established himself as a star who doesn't need a championship title reign. He is in a position where he can put over someone in need of it to elevate them to the next level. Also he can be put in angles where he is delivering exciting matches. If he did get another title reign I feel it should be more towards the twilight of his career in order to drop it to the next big star in TNA.

Charlie Groenewegen: Does Jeff Hardy become World Champion in 2012? I'm going to say no.

Bobby Roode has been a great World Champion and it appears as if his days as champ are numbered. Many people, myself included, expect to see him lose that title to former Beer Money partner, James Storm on April 15 (Lockdown). From there, I'd like to see Storm get a nice, long reign.

Storm's first reign as World Champion was just a stepping stone to elevate Roode as a selfish heel. Storm has more than earned a long reign as World Champion.

In my opinion, I'd like to see Storm champion until October. Bound For Glory.

I just feel that there's plenty of other talented guys more deserving of the belt than Hardy. Bully Ray, AJ Styles, Austin Aries, Daniels, Matt Morgan and, some would say, "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero. I also feel that Jeff Hardy is at a level where he doesn't need a World Championship.

Jeff has made his mark, he's proved his point and there's almost nothing left for him to accomplish. He's on similar ground as Kurt Angle and Sting. He's a notable name with such star power that a reign as World Champion isn't even necessary at this point.

Hardy has "been there, done that" and there's just much more deserving wrestlers on the roster.

QUESTION #3: TNA recently announced that the Motor City Machine Guns will challenge Samoa Joe and Magnus for the TNA tag team titles at Lockdown? The match will essentially take place with very little build up. Do you think this is the right decision, being that the MCMG have only just re-formed? As for the match, what is your prediction?

Michael Sangregorio: Personally I think if they want to put some life into the decision with the limited amount of tag teams they have they need to go in with guns blazing. Give the audience something to grab onto and get hooked into. The Guns will match the unique style of Joe and Magnus' deadly alliance and provide a quality match much like they did with the unlikely duo of Beer Money. Let's see a good start to this redeveloping of the tag division.

The Messenger: I think this is a terrible decision that just underlines the lack of depth in TNA's tag division. And that in itself just underscores laziness, because the promotion has had good results with two thrown-together teams - Matt Morgan and Crimson, then Samoa Joe and Magnus.

Why aren't under-utilized guys like Doug Williams being used to fill out the tag ranks? With a star like AJ Styles not in any title picture at the moment, why not put him with someone and have them pursue the belts? (For that matter, how about teaming AJ with Williams? They could start out working against Daniels and Kazarian, with one of those teams then moving into the tag titles picture.)

During the April 5 Impact, I was not greatly impressed with the Guns. To me, they didn't look all that crisp, at least by the high standards they set for themselves in the recent past. There is no way they are ready to be the tag champs yet - I hope Joe and Magnus go over clean at the PPV.

MisterTNA: Whether or not having MCMG vs Joe & Magnus at Lockdown is a decision TNA made and one I back. While I do agree the match has had little build to it and their first match against each other should have in most peoples' eyes taken place at Slammiversary with a good amount of build behind it, the fact is if it wasn't Shelley & Sabin challenging for the titles it would have probably been either Mexican America challenging for the belts at Lockdown, something everyone would of hated and complained about, or Joe & Magnus not appearing at Lockdown, something people would have been unhappy with and moaned about because they are TNA champions and also two of the breakout stars of 2012 who so far and have been very fun to watch. In my eyes the fact we are going to see this match at Lockdown is something I take positives from, it adds another great match to what is shaping up as one of TNA strongest cards in quite some time, it also adds more legitimacy to the claim that Lockdown is a big PPV for TNA and will give fans what should be a fantastic cage match. As for the match itself, I predict a great match with Joe & Magnus retaining their titles, followed by a rematch at Slammiversary. Its seems to me that some people are forgetting that if MCMG vs Joe & Magnus 2 took place at Slammiversary, it would be a completely different match for one simple reason, their first match will be in a steel cage. People are claiming that if they try to do a rematch between the 2 teams at Slammiversary with big build, it wont work and excite fans because they have already seen the match, yet I can only assume if they had a re-match, it wouldn't be in a cage, and the structure of the match would be completely different because of the fact that Sabin, Shelley and Joe all like to do big out of ring dives in matches, something that they can not do in a cage. I still expect we will see a match of the night, and possibly a match of the year candidate from these two teams that will end with Joe & Magnus standing tall over MCMG on the night.

NMUfred: Given the state of the tag team division right now, I feel like it is a good idea to bring them back. I just can't see Mexican America or the Robbies competing with Joe and Magnus for the belts at Lockdown. I hope there is some build up on the go home show to give this more of a boost, but if not, many hardcore fans will be happy with this match at Lockdown. As far as the prediction, well, you'll have to wait for my preview column for that one!

EmJayHix: The tag title match at Lockdown with the Motor City Machine Guns facing the champs Magnus and Samoa Joe has the potential to be a great match. The match has had very little build with the Machine Guns just making their triumphant return and Joe and Magnus burning through what was left of the tag team ranks. I see this as something done out of necessity more than anything. The Guns and Magnus/Joe are the only legit teams in TNA with Crimson and Morgan battling each other and Mexican America being Mexican America. Some times this is just how the cards lie so to speak, TNA let their tag division lapse and we are only left with two teams. This is the only step TNA could have made because I don't think the fans would be happy with MA vs Joe/Magnus or The Guns vs MA at Lockdown, on one of the biggest shows of the year.

That said, we will get a good to great match between the two teams. I don't see this being the end of this story. I think Magnus and Joe hang on to the Tag Team Championships at Lockdown but it ends in such a fashion that the Guns will demand a rematch. That really is the only way to go cause their are no other teams remaining for either team to face.

Charlie Groenewegen: As good as the Machine Guns are, and as could as the match could be, I don't think Shelley and Sabin should get a title shot just yet. They only had one match back and they're already being placed into the title picture. Which is understandable when looking at the current state of the tag team division, but I would've liked to see this match with more hype around it.

A feud between the team of Samoa Joe and Magnus against the Motor City Machine Guns could be just what tag team wrestling needs right now. However, it's not getting its full hype. Granted, there's one more IMPACT before Lockdown but I'm afraid we'll see very little hype.

Between hyping Storm/Roode even more, revealing the other participants for Lethal Lockdown and furthering the build for matches like Crimson vs. Morgan and Velvet vs. Gail, we won't get much from the Guns or the champs.

I feel like they should've saved this match for Slammiversary, a pay-per-view just as big and important as Lockdown. This way the hype and buzz about this match could be at its highest and they can produce a quality match-up at another big-time pay-per-view. Since this match is being given to us at Lockdown, I expect Samoa Joe and Magnus to retain. They'll win the battle on April 15, but not the war in the long run.

JSO: It's hard to say if this was the right decision because TNA didn't really have any other alternative. There were no other legitimate tag teams left and the fans were anxious to see the Guns return as soon as possible. On top of that, the timing just happened to coincide with one of TNA's biggest events of the year. Regardless, the lack of buildup doesn't concern me because this is simply a case of the former champion(s) challenging the current champion(s) to determine the best in their division, just like in any combat sport. I think Joe and Magnus will retain the titles at Lockdown. While Sabin clearly hasn't lost a step after a year-long absence, the Guns as a tag team will probably realize that they have a few kinks to work out to fully re-establish their chemistry, which will lead to Joe and Magnus taking advantage and scoring the victory.

FK9: I'm not sure if it was the right decision, but it was almost surely the best decision. The tag division is still very lacking in talent, and Joe & Magnus needed someone to defend the tag titles against, with only a scant few weeks to hype up the match. The Guns are the only team on the roster you could put in that spot and have the fans buy into it. They're the only team you could throw into a title match at the last minute that wouldn't feel like they're out of place or they hadn't earned it because, aside from the current champs, they're the only team in this company with any credibility whatsoever. Hernandez & Anarquia, having clearly fallen out of favor with management, are now glorified enhancement talent, and Robbie E & Rob Terry have been a complete joke from day one. Sabin & Shelley are stars, those other two teams are about the furthest thing from stars on the entire roster.

The only issue is that, since the Guns just returned, the writers only have two weeks to hype this match, which might not be enough considering the MCMG vs Joe & Magnus is the biggest match you can make with the tag team division right now. Again, the Guns are the only team TNA has with enough star power to pull this off, but personally, I would have waited. Had it been up to me, I would have had Joe & Magnus issue an open challenge to anyone on the roster to face them at Lockdown, have them plow through a few makeshift teams at the PPV in a match designed to showcase them and affirm their dominance, then after the match, have the Guns come out and stare them down from the stage, and have THAT be their official return, rather than a TV match with Mexican America. From there, they could build up to a title match between these two teams at Slammiversary, which would give them two months to hype it up like the big match it should be. And let's be honest, exercising patience here might not be a bad idea, seeing as how this is the tag team feud that's going to have to carry the division until some viable new teams can either be signed or put together from the current roster.

For me, that would have been the best way to approach this, but I'm thinking about it as a fan. TNA have to concern themselves with buyrates, which means they'll want to load this show with as much star power as they've got, and the Guns proved by the reaction they received from the iMPACT Zone crowd after being out for an entire year, that they've got star power in spades. TNA officials are probably thinking, "Well, it's one of our biggest shows of the year and this is the biggest tag team title match we can make, so let's fast-track this thing and make it happen!" They may very well be blowing their wad with this feud too soon, but I imagine making sure Lockdown is a success is going to supersede that concern.

My prediction is that the champions will retain the titles. Even though I'm a huge mark for the MCMG, this needs to happen. The Guns have already been cemented as a top team; Joe & Magnus are still working on that. They would gain much more with a victory here and be hurt much more by a loss than Sabin & Shelley would. They're still being established as a force in the tag team division and could really use a big win to solidify themselves. Plus, the Guns have an easy out; they haven't teamed together in a long time and Sabin just returned from an injury that put him out of action for a year. Realistically, there's only one way this match can go. The Guns can win the tag titles back later, but for right now, Joe & Magnus need this win a lot more.

QUESTION #4: Recently, Zema Ion was asked about the injury he inflicted on Jesse Sorensen and he showed no remorse. In fact, he threatened to attempt the risky move that seriously injured Sorensen on future opponents. How do you feel about Ion's response? Do you think that the writers should implement a story arc in which Zema Ion consistently tries to hit his opponents with a move that legitimately injured another wrestler?

The Messenger: I have no problem with Zema Ion's response to the Jesse Sorensen injury, provided that his response is a work, which I assume it is. I think Ion is doing great, despite the unfortunate injury to Sorensen. He had developed a clearly identified heel character that sets him apart (yes, it borrows greatly from Rick "The Model" Martel of 20+ years ago, but the point is that Ion does the gimmick very well.)
Ion has chosen a difficult role to play - a pretty boy heel. So when he injuries someone, I think he needs to be indifferent to get over the heelish part of his character, since he doesn't have "monster heel" credibility.
That said, no, I don't want TNA to now gimmick Ion as a guy who tries to injure other wrestlers - that's not the character he's been playing. He's playing a selfish, vain "all about me" character and his indifference to Sorensen's injury plays into that well - but Ion doesn't need to be made sadistic. That would alter a character too much that is working just fine as is, I think.

EmJayHix: Zema Ion's recent actions in regards to Jesse Sorensen were fine. Anyway he or TNA wanted him to go with it is OK in my opinion. At this point hopefully we all as wrestling fans know that it is just "storyline" and Zema does not really feel this way. Zema was for sure broken up about the incident with Jesse but if the direction they choose to go with the incident is that Zema will do anything to win and he will intentionally injure someone with no bones about it then that is fine. Once again it is just wrestling and characters and hope we all understand that at this point.

In fact if TNA could come up with a "outlawed move" type of storyline where Zema intends to injure his opponents with said move it could be a very good story to continue Zema's push and growth.

NMUfred: It's been interesting to see Ion both use the injury in his promo along with Tazz and Tenay discussing it whenever he does the moonsault. My opinion on it is that when the injury occurred, Ion posted a "Get Well Jesse" type tweet and nothing else for the next day or two. That made an immediate impact upon me as a fan and person. He could have stayed in character, but for the sake of it, he was classy.

And as far as the storyline goes, I'm all for it because of one thing, their VERY well done video packages showing Jesse's recovery and I hope that they continue these because they are needed to make this have any class or credibility. I'm also okay with him using the move, because I think that the injury was a fluke and only happened because of the miss by both Ion and Sorensen.

FK9: I wasn't comfortable with them going down this road, but I accept that it's just a part of the business. I've never really liked it when shoot injuries get turned into angles like this, but I don't expect them to NOT do it because the bottom line is, as distasteful as it might be, it works. It's a really easy and effective way to put heat on someone, and more often than not, doing good business is going to override good taste.

What happened to Jesse Sorensen was a horrific accident, but an accident nevertheless, and he is expected to recover. Meanwhile, they've got a rising X-division heel in Zema Ion and a golden opportunity to build a feud that could be hot as hell when Sorensen eventually returns. If they keep showing the videos of Sorensen's injury and recovery in conjunction with Ion's continued rise, maybe have Ion capture the X-division title in the meantime, that's an angle that could make Jesse a star when he comes back. When he was chasing Austin Aries, he really didn't have any reason other than wanting the title, but if/when he comes back and starts chasing Ion, it would be about more than just the title -- he'd be seeking retribution on the man who broke his neck and nearly paralyzed him. That's a grudge as deep and personal as anything that's ever been done in the X-division. Realistically, we can't expect them to not take advantage of it.

JSO: I wasn't thrilled about it because neck injuries are an extremely sensitive medical issue. Ion was obviously talking in character, but there's still an uneasy vibe bringing up this type of unfortunate situation in that manner. What's even worse is that his general response was the same old cliché of "This isn't ballet; this is pro wrestling." That didn't come off too well. I don't feel this can work as a continuous story arc. Sorensen's injury was just a freak accident, nothing more. Plus, Ion's whole "I'm not just f'n pretty, but I'm pretty f'n dangerous" line sounds very cheesy, in my opinion.

Charlie Groenewegen: The most recent TNA mark out moment has to have been the March 1 edition of IMPACT. Seeing the fresh faces such as Samoa Joe, Magnus and Austin Aries in the main event was a real test for them, but at the same time, a treat to the fans. Those three (along with Bobby Roode, Bully Ray and James Storm) worked an excellent six-man tag team match to main event IMPACT.

The response Zema Ion gave over Sorensen's injury was good in the sense that it would benefit his character. He's going into Victory Road against Austin Aries who stands alone on the X Division pedestal with no challengers close to taking his belt away from him. If Ion's response will help make him look like more of a credible threat, then yes. I liked Ion's response.

I think the thing between Zema and Sorensen has gone long enough. Ion has been bragging about the injury and it has gotten him a good amount of heat amongst fans. However, this type of ordeal just wouldn't fit Zema's character. Dangerous, near career-ending moves for Ion? I don't think so. His character doesn't that killer instinct. His gimmick is being a pretty boy who, maybe, more concerned with his hair rather than his match.

Something of this nature appeals more to Gunner. Remember his DDT and/or pile driver on concrete? Gunner has the right gimmick to fill this role, I don't think Zema Ion does. Besides, we've seen what Ion's move has done in the past so why take the chance of having that accident happen again? Giving him more attempts for that move only increase the risk of injury during a match. I know if I were facing Ion, I wouldn't want him trying that move on me. Not with the past damage it has done.

QUESTION #5: What is your excitement level for the Lockdown PPV? Do you think the build up to one of TNA's biggest events of the year has been sufficient or underwhelming?

FK9: I'd say my excitement level is at about a 7 out of 10. This is mostly due to the strength of the main event, the tag team title match and the fact that Lockdown is traditionally my favorite PPV of the year. But if I'm being brutally honest, I could go either way on the rest of this card.

Angle/Hardy would most likely be amazing under any other circumstances and it might still be, but Angle's going to be working with a torn hamstring and will probably be trying to protect himself for the Olympic trials. I'm sure Hardy can be counted on to deliver some suicidal high spot, but with the Angle situation being what it is, I can't help but worry about him and wonder if this match should even be happening.

The Knockouts title match has Velvet Sky in it. Velvet Sky in a singles cage match. Yeah. That says everything that needs to be said. Velvet Sky has absolutely no business being in a match like this and is only going to embarrass herself, and probably the company along with her. I feel so bad for Gail Kim, who deserves a better Lockdown opponent than the one they stuck her with (coughSARITAcough).

Crimson vs Matt Morgan is a feud I like. I like both guys in it and I thought their first singles match at Turning Point got a lot of unfair criticism. That being said, part of me wonders if a steel cage is the right kind of match to put them in. They have a better chance of getting the crowd into this with Crimson now a heel and Morgan seeking revenge, however, I keep thinking that Morgan isn't going to fare very well in this type of environment and I'm not sure why. I'm rooting for them to prove me wrong, but I can't shake the feeling that this one might not turn out well.

Lethal Lockdown is always a fun match and the participants this year promise to make this one no different, with the exception of two. The fact that Eric and Garett Bischoff are not only in this match (taking spots away from two deserving wrestlers), but captaining their respective teams makes me nauseous. They've been trying to tell the story of Garett attempting to rid TNA of his father, but the fact that the feud has been stretched out this long has only exposed Garett as someone who was thrown into the spotlight totally unprepared. Pretty much all the build up focused on the Bischoffs with the rest of the participants picked from other feuds that had nothing to do with this and thrown in at the last minute. I suppose it will have been worth it if one of the Bischoffs truly is leaving TV after this match as the stipulation suggests, but good God, the build up to this has pissed me the hell off.

Robbie E vs Devon... good grief... No offense to Devon, but this is a strong candidate for Most Pointless Match in Lockdown History. Robbie spent several interminable months doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING with the TV title, barely even appearing on TV, and when he did, it was usually to job to someone, then he mercifully lost it in a random one-off squash match with Devon at Victory Road, and neither man has appeared on iMPACT since then. Devon is certainly a step up from Robbie 'rest hold of doom' E, but was ANYONE really asking to see this match again? Even the writers don't care about this feud -- that's why it's been completely ignored since the last PPV! This match is nothing but a time-filler that will be the majority of the audience's piss break. If Devon had issued an open challenge to get a better opponent or maybe been put in a 4 corners match with some viable midcarders, at least that would be worth watching. I am honestly expecting Garett Bischoff to perform better on this PPV than Robbie E -- that's how completely worthless this clown is. That we're apparently getting THIS instead of an X-division Xcape match is a joke, plain and simple.

The build up to Lockdown has been hit and miss. I'm on board with Roode vs Storm and Joe/Magnus vs the MCMG, but the rest of the card is problematic. Some of the matches could very well turn out to be great, but some of the others are potentially good matches with insufficient build up or matches with a lot of build up that probably won't amount to anything. I'm not saying it won't be a good PPV, but the path to getting there has been rockier than I hoped it would be.

JSO: I'm very excited for Lockdown. Every match on this year's card either has a simple premise for championship gold or a personal grudge/history between bitter rivals. I like that all the matches are basic singles and tag team matches (aside from the five-on-five Lethal Lockdown). This gives it a much more focused, big fight night card vibe like an all-steel cage event should. The Nashville crowd should also be hot, so overall this promises to be a superb, top notch wrestling PPV.

The Messenger: Right now, I have mixed emotions about Lockdown. They've picked up the build to Roode vs. Storm for the world title and with the event taking place in Tennessee, I really expect Storm to go over. But I'm not sure the timing is right. I think Roode is a hot champion and I'd stay with him a while - and allow him to look good in the ring on occasion, even if it's just against enhancement talent. But I don't think I'm the only person who feels like Storm's momentum has stalled a bit. In fact, if TNA were to do a title change, I think a heel vs. heel confrontation between Roode and Bully Ray might be the hotter match.

Bully Ray vs. Austin Aries promises to be great - maybe the show-stealer. In my columns in recent weeks, I have opined that TNA was going to have a hard time keeping each of these guys heel, even though each is excellent in his role. Well, I never expected these two to go head-to-head but they are and it looks like a gradual face turn for Aries.

Samoa Joe and Magnus vs. the Motor City Machine Guns feels rushed and based on the Guns' initial match on Impact vs. Mexican America, I think they have some rust to work off. I hope we won't see a title change here.

Gail Kim vs. Velvet Sky for the Knockouts title? Sigh, here is another match in which I hope we don't see a title change.

Finally Matt Morgan vs. Crimson in what Hulk Hogan indicated would be the blowoff to their feud. Really? One the one hand, they've been paired together for probably over a year in different way - but their tag team just split it up and it seems soon for a conclusion. If this is the blowoff, I hope they have a clear direction planned for each wrestler.

Lockdown looks really interesting - it appears TNA is building this up kind of like WWE does with Summer Slam - its major mid-year PPV where some angles get finished and new ones start, with the march to Bound for Glory. I am confident we'll get good matches - but good program finishes and promising new directions? I am less certain about that.

Michael Sangregorio: As big as an icon as Sting and Hulk Hogan are, I feel that one of TNA's arguably biggest PPVs of the year has had its momentum taken away with Hogan in the spotlight. I don't mind sporadic appearances that are used when necessary but what happened to the focus on James Storm, Austin Aries, Bully Ray, and Bobby Roode? I'd much rather see the focus on them than the war between the Bischoffs. The power struggle and authority figure characters are played out. Let's move on from that and just let these guys do their thing.

Charlie Groenewegen: Lockdown has always been one of my favorite pay-per-views in wrestling. WWE, TNA, et cetera.
There's just something about Lockdown that makes it awesome. The atmosphere, the different setting (This year it's Nashville), the hype and, oh yeah, every match in a cage! I'm always excited for Lockdown.
The entire card for TNA's all cage classic looks great. But I feel like some matches should've been hyped up a bit more. We have one more IMPACT left before the big pay-per-view and we have yet to hear what the Lethal Lockdown teams will shape up to look like.
The build for the Tag Team Championship match isn't quite there yet either. The Motor City Machine Guns had one match since returning and are already getting a title shot. Hopefully, they get some air time this week to hype their match.
The build up for some matches has been great thus far (Roode vs. Storm, the Bischoff feud, Angle vs. Hardy and possibly Bully Ray vs. Aries), but some other matches need some more hype to them (Crimson vs. Morgan, MCMG vs. Joe & Magnus, Velvet vs. Gail and Robbie E vs. Devon). Hopefully the go-home show before Lockdown can accomplish that and further hype some of these matches going into April 15.
Some matches clearly received more hype than others, but Lockdown should entertain nonetheless.

MisterTNA: My excitement level for Lockdown is very high, and I expect it to increase after the final build to the event on Impact this week. I think the build to the event has been very sufficient, due to the fact TNA has spent the last six weeks promoting the main event of the show between James Storm and Bobby Roode. I do feel that some of the matches have been announced a bit to close to the event, especially the participants of Lethal Lockdown announced only three days before, but I do feel that the overall event has been promoted very well, and it has certainly come off as one of the biggest events in TNA's yearly calendar.

EmJayHix: Lockdown is one of the big two PPV's for TNA. I see this year's build towards Lockdown as being very good, it has me very interested in what is going to take place.

Bobby Roode vs James Storm is one of the best builds TNA has done in a long time and is the most important and meaningful match in professional wrestling this year. The long term build and a back-story that really MATTERS makes this the must see match of the year. The way it has been built, anyone that says they have any idea of who is going to win is kidding themselves.

Lethal Lockdown is doing something I like to see, that is combining feuds and story-lines together to continue them or end them. The story-lines coming out from Team Garret Bischoff vs Team Eric Bischoff should be interesting.

Crimson vs Matt Morgan is another long term feud with the two tag partners facing off in what was built for the last few months. Crimson putting his undefeated streak non the line against the 7ft tall monster Matt Morgan after their run as a formidable tag team. Crimsons new heelish persona puts this feud in a great place.

Jeff Hardy vs Kurt Angle has been built well and you know both these slightly crazy individuals will make this match something to witness. Angle has been going after and interfering with Hardy for a while and the two had a great encounter on the 2nd to last episode of Impact before Lockdown.

The Machine Guns vs Joe and Magnus for the tag team belts was put on late and did not have much build. It is a great addition to the card and will be a major attraction to the show on wrestling alone.

Gail Kim vs Velvet Sky in a long awaited rematch. Since Velvet lost the Knockout title about a month after winning it at Bound For Glory to a returning Gail Kim, Velvet and Gail have had their run ins and Gail has defeated all challengers to her title. Now she must finally give Velvet her rematch for the Knockout championship after Velvet won the #1 contender-ship.

Robbie E vs Devon for the TV Championship is another rematch. Really no build here but none was really needed. Devon came out of no where to win the TV title and now Robbie E gets his rematch.

NMUfred: My excitement level is really high for the main event. The build up for Storm has been amazing and the parallels with the push for Roode have been uncanny. The rest of the card will be filled out by some of my favorite "gimmicky" matches. There will be a Lethal Lockdown match and I'm a fan of Garett vs. Gunner, so I'm excited that these two men will be featured in this match although I don't know the rest of the lineup given that I don't read spoilers. There will also be a wonderful (and hopefully bloody) match between Crimson and Matt Morgan who know how to put on a great big man match. I also hope there's an escape the cage match for the #1 X-division contender's spot and if it's anything like last year (which apparently was a down year for it), I will be loving it! So basically, YEAH, I'm psyched for it!

Source: TNAswerve

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