This Sunday, at Hardcore Justice, Austin Aries will defend the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against former champion Bobby Roode. If their match at Destination X is any indication, we will see another classic put on by these two great performers. If Aries emerges victorious, will this be the start of a long-term run as champion? If so, is Austin Aries the answer to the company's long-term success?
Putting the belt on Austin Aries was a smart move by TNA. Pound for pound, Aries is one of the best in the business. He's a trash talker, but more important, he's a trash talker who can actually back it up. As the X-Division champion he proved himself to the world that he was more than ready for the big time. Now, as the heavyweight champ, it's a whole new ballgame that Aries has to play in order to continue to prove himself worthy. Aries will thrive as the spotlight shines on him.
For the last couple of months, TNA has been praised for the direction it has taken. Keeping the belt on Bobby Roode as long as they did showed TNA was willing to make changes and take chances. They can continue to keep their momentum going with "A Double" taking the lead.
If TNA is consistent in showcasing "A Double" in a positive light and fully committed to change, then his title run will not be in vain. At his core, Aries is a professional wrestler, dedicated to TNA, a wrestling company, and its success. He's also still hungry enough to prove that he is one of the best, if not the best, this business has to offer whose name isn't CM Punk or Daniel Bryan.
Aries in many ways reminds me of CM Punk. Both are the last type of wrestlers you would expect to be showcased as main event players despite being talented. Neither are extremely flashy, just a lot of mouth. The biggest difference is that despite being WWE champion, CM Punk is still struggling for respect from his own employers, often having main event matches, but being left out the main event. It's only after taking matters into his own hands with a change in attitude that Punk matters again.
TNA and Aries are perfect together because they're both looking for respect. TNA will continue to let its new champion shine, putting him in the main event, which is exactly where he belongs. He will not have to take a backseat to any returning superstar looking to make a quick payday. The Aries era will continue.
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