TNA Turning Point: Why Roode, Styles and Storm Could Be Match of the Year
This Sunday sees TNA's Turning Point hit the screens, the first big event since Bound For Glory and the beginning of the road back there for next year.
Turning Point's lineup makes this another pay-per-view not to miss for TNA fans, as the card is packed with the company's biggest stars and some of their most ambitious stories.
There are some huge matches to anticipate, notably the chance to see Jeff Hardy defend his World title in a Bound For Glory rematch with Austin Aries. Hardy takes to the air again to prove himself, returning to the ladder match, where his name was made and his popularity skyrocketed.
Aces and Eights continue to dominate proceedings too, and the story there looks to be picking up some more pace after last month's disappointing Devon reveal.
But the match of the night, the biggest draw on the card, has got to be the triple threat for the No. 1 contender's spot.
AJ Styles, Bobby Roode and James Storm are set to clash in a match with so much intrigue, and this could be the best match of 2012 in TNA.
Bobby Roode's Chance to Return to the Big Time
Bobby Roode has been an impressive figure in TNA since his arrival in 2004. Face or heel, Roode has consistently been a big part of Impact Wrestling in the past few years.
High profile tag team title wins led him into the 2011 Bound For Glory series, which he duly won that summer.
Although his Bound For Glory title shot ended in defeat, it was his heel turn that made him main-event material. Defeating old friend James Storm in controversial circumstances, Roode finally became the World Heavyweight Champion.
Victories against the best the company had to offer came every month, with Sting, Rob Van Dam, Storm, Jeff Hardy and Styles all left defeated by the champion.
256 days after he captured the belt Roode was finally defeated, a run that makes him the longest World Heavyweight Champion in TNA history.
His feud with the new champ, Austin Aries, forced him to desperate measures to reclaim the gold, and eventually, in defeat, he had to forfeit his chance to have any match for the title whilst Aries held the belt.
This forced him out of the main-event scene and back into a feud with old friend Storm.
But now we could see the best heel on the TNA roster back on the hunt for World Heavyweight Championship glory against the new face of the company, Jeffrey Nero Hardy.
Roode and Storm's Intense Rivalry
Former tag-team champs and beer drinking buddies James Storm and Bobby Roode had the most almighty falling out.
Once known as Beer Money, they had arguably the best tag gimmick in pro wrestling at the time.
But when they went their separate ways into the main event, it was always going to end badly. Bobby Roode went heel, smashed then-World Heavyweight Champion Storm in the head with his own beer bottle, took his gold and severed his ties.
Nearly a year later, and the hatred has grown.
The big main-event title feud at this year's Bound For Glory got pushed down the card for Aries vs. Hardy, but just because there was no title to win did not make this match any less meaningful.
TNA fans may well judge their street fight at Bound For Glory as the Match of the Year. Brutally hardcore, it had blood, sweat and tears of a real wrestling feud, built over time and left to simmer in the minds of the two stars. Not rushed, with a rewarding payout.
And now these two get to meet again, this time with a few more obstacles and the chance to challenge for the biggest prize in TNA: the World Heavyweight Championship.
The High-Flying AJ Styles Added to the Mix
An intense, bitter rivalry always produces good TV, but you cannot have them repeating the same match over and over again. How can you make something great even better? Add someone "Phenomenal."
Not only have TNA added a huge name as the third man in this match, but they have quickly, yet successfully, built heat between all three men and given them a realistic reason to feud. The chance at a title shot will bring any wrestler out to face another.
They have real history too, as part of Fourtune, although TNA has had little interest in bringing that back up.
AJ Styles could take the chemistry Storm and Roode have and then take it to another level with his eye-catching ring work. Roode and Storm are fighters, Styles will bring aerial spots and athleticism, as well as great tempo and unpredictability.
Styles has been held back by some awful feuds and stories recently. His run against Christopher Daniels and Kazarian was abysmal, whilst the tag-team title feud in partnership with Kurt Angle never really excited anyone.
But the man is top quality, as proved by being the first TNA wrestler to have topped the PWI Top 500 list back in 2010.
He is even showing a few heel tendencies of late, could this be the night he turns?
If you loved Storm vs. Roode at Bound For Glory, then you are going to love the added variant of AJ Styles.
We've all seen triple threat matches for titles and title shots. There is nothing especially dramatic about it. As with every match you shout on your favorite to win, and in triple threats, you may well have a second choice too, the safety option.
What TNA has done with this match makes things interesting.
The loser cannot have a shot at the title until Bound For Glory 2013. Three of the biggest names in TNA go into this match, and one will be written out of the title scene for 11 months.
That's a risk for TNA. They are cornering themselves here.
We all know that 11 months is a long time in wrestling. It's more than likely neither Austin Aries or Jeff Hardy was planned for the Bound For Glory main event this time last year, and WWE fans will know the likes of Ryback can suddenly explode with momentum in weeks and months.
Both Roode and Storm could have headlined last month's pay-per-view, whilst AJ Styles is one of their biggest stars. One of them is out of the main event for 11 months.
What a disaster that would be for all of them. Bobby Roode was the longest reigning champion only a few months ago, forced out of the main event due to an agreement he not be able to challenge Aries. Now he could be pushed aside for an even longer period.
This makes every pin-fall exciting. Now you not only want your favorite to win, but you are desperate he is not the man pinned. It is something to invest in, with obvious repercussions.
It's an Open Contest
Arguments can be made for each man winning. It really is open to all of them. And is that not exactly what you want from a big match, the feeling that you do not really know what is going to happen?
Styles, Roode and Storm are all big enough names to face the champion; they are even big enough names to hold the belt.
They are all in their prime, and have the ability and personality to carry huge feuds in and out of the ring.
There are individual aspects, too.
Firstly, Storm has momentum from his win over Roode at Bound For Glory. TNA invested in him as the big winner of that feud, and he has been given the platform to succeed.
His place in the title scene is consistent with recent events, and his stature is high enough that he would keep the title matches relevant and strong. He would be a worthy champion and a great challenger to beat for any champion.
Roode is arguably still the top heel in TNA. He had a 256-day run with the belt in recent times, and was forced away by Austin Aries.
It makes perfect sense that he reintroduces himself into the title running, and he could legitimately feud with both the current champion Hardy and his challenger at Turning Point, Austin Aries. He would completely legitimize Hardy's run as the face of TNA.
AJ Styles is very interesting. Recently he has shown the nastier side to his personality, jealously storming away from Angle after a defeat, and squaring off with rage backstage at Storm.
A turn could make him a fresh man to take on Hardy with intrigue around their duel and his personal story. If he stays face, he is still a big scalp for Jeff, and whatever the nature of Styles they could definitely put on outstanding high-flying, high-risk matches.
It's an open fight with any man a valid winner.
The Impact on the Main Event
The repercussions of this match will be huge on the title picture.
Whilst any man could win and face either winner of the main event, a face vs. heel scenario is more than likely.
As such, Bobby Roode has got to be the favourite for victory because he is a top heel, and Jeff Hardy looks to be being built as the babyface champion for TNA for a good few months.
But if Aries wins, he could easily continue his nasty streak against Styles or Storm, even if this means he faces a triple threat match of his own against Hardy and Storm/Styles at the next PPV.
On a basic level, whoever wins here will be able to put over the persona they want from Hardy and/or Aries.
If it follows formula, then expect Hardy to win if Roode does, and Aries to win if Styles or Storm does.
This is no guarantee, of course.
These three are all big names, and would do the stature of both Aries and Hardy a hell of a lot of good if they were to overcome them.
There is certainly a lot to look forward to from this match.
Three big names who are not even topping a PPV card.
Ignoring the stories of past, present and future, this is certainly going to be an outstanding wrestling match.
The ring is full of experience and a nice blend of styles, as well as three men at the top of their games.
But the coming few months of the main-event title scene will be shaped here too.
And 11 months of one man's title chances will disappear.
That is your intrigue. Not only who wins this and goes back into the main event, but who is sunk and forced to fight away from it. Arguably, a story will be made of this 11-month wait, and maybe a feud between winner and loser.
This writer thinks Roode wins it. He fits in against either man as a heel to take on babyface Hardy, and a man with a continuing rivalry with Aries. He slots perfectly into a three-man feud too, with reason to take on either man.
Aces and Eights, along with the Hulk Hogan circus, may continue to distract from the title scene, but this could breathe fresh excitement into the World Heavyweight Championship.
Bring on Turning Point.