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Posted in: The Crow's Nest
The Crow's Nest - Hardcore Justice Predictions and Wishes
By TheCrow
Aug 12, 2012 - 4:15:17 PM



1) Hardcore Justice Predictions and Wishes (12/08/12)



In just a few short hours, TNA will be airing another of their annual PPVs, Hardcore Justice. As the name of the event might suggest, Hardcore Justice usually will show at least a few matches with "hardcore" stipulations attached to them, and this year is no different. There are THREE big stipulation matches on tonight's card, but winning those matches is especially important for the men involved as each winner will receive a whopping 20 POINTS in the Bound For Glory Series.

In case you forgot (or weren't aware in the first place), the rankings of this tournament are locked on the September 6th edition of iMPACT, meaning that there are only EIGHT more shows (including live events) after the PPV tonight for these wrestlers to earn points. Tonight, TNA has the chance to close the gap between the top contenders in this tournament and the rest of the pack, and by doing so create a much more "real" sense of drama surrounding who might win it all.

So without further delay, let's take a look at tonight's event.

******




I'm still not entirely sure what to think of Zema Ion. His in-ring work and character have been steadily improving, and he is able to get the crowd to hate him without having to do very much at all, but his mic work is still sub-par. He's not quite at the level he should be, especially if he's going to hold TNA's #2 Championship, and the company missed the boat on the height of Zema's heat in the weeks following the incident with Jesse Sorensen, though with Aries' amazing work as X-Division Champion I can't really blame them for holding off.

Kenny King is already a proven in-ring talent, though much of the TNA audience might not be aware of his previous work. King had a brief stint in TNA back in 2005/06, mostly working as a jobber, before going on to find more success in Ring of Honor. I won't pretend to be King's biggest fan, because truth be told I don't follow RoH as regularly as I probably should, but the work of his that I have seen has impressed. He is a much more seasoned talent than Zema Ion, and perhaps that makes him better suited to lead the X-Division.

So who's going to walk out of Hardcore Justice with the belt around their waist?

Zema Ion's reign has so far been uninspiring. Simply put, I just don't think he's ready to be the X-Division Champion. Yes, he's been improving steadily, but that doesn't mean he's at the level he needs to be at. That being said, someone in TNA appears to like the kid as it seems his push shows little sign of slowing down. Working with a guy like Kenny King and establishing a real rivalry could be just what he needs to boost himself to that next level, even if it eventually ends in him dropping the title to King. At the same time, King obviously has his supporters as well. Ever since his debut earlier in the year, King has been pushed. He almost won the tournament at Destination X, Aries hand-picked him as the next #1 Contender after that, he teamed with Aries against Roode and Zema, and right after that match was named #1 Contender again. I'm sure it's a matter of WHEN not IF King wins this title. Ion might be alright and all, but he's just not ready yet. Let him work a program with King, and maybe test the water again later in the year. For now though, it's time for a change.

What I Predict Will Happen: Kenny King wins the X-Division Championship
What I Wish Would Happen: Kenny King wins the X-Division Championship



I do what I can to stand up for the Knockouts Division, I really do, but even I have to admit that it is kind of stagnant right now. I still believe it is significantly superior to the WWE Divas Division, but it is far from as good as it used to be. Even Gail Kim, who I believe is one of the best female wrestlers around today, is showing signs of slowing down. The potential is all there, it's just not being capitalized on.

Miss Tessmacher is perhaps the one shining light that could start to turn things around. She isn't the greatest wrestler or talker this industry has ever seen, but you know what is undeniable about this woman? Her attitude. Every single time she appears on screen, you can tell she loves what she does for a living. That positivity in turn makes me care about her character, and that is (obviously) a crucial element of success, especially for a face. She's continuously improving, and she will only get better with time.

And of course, we have Madison Rayne. It may not seem like it as much anymore, but there was a time not so long ago when Rayne was one of the hottest characters going in wrestling. Despite being so young and relatively inexperienced, she became an absolute heat magnet in TNA. She certainly still gets a heel reaction now, but it pales in comparison to how it used to be. Luckily she can still go in the ring and cut a promo, so if TNA decides to give her another shot on top I have no doubts that she'll be able to make it work.

That being said, I don't see any way that TNA takes the belt off Tessmacher just yet. She's too over with the crowds and her reign is still too young. When Rayne finally does regain the Knockouts Championship, it should be at the end of a real feud that's been given proper time to develop. If it happens to be against Tessmacher down the line that's great, but it's just not the right time to have a title switch.

What I Predict Will Happen: Miss Tessmacher retains
What I Wish Would Happen: Miss Tessmacher retains



I'm surprised it took this long for Chavo to debut in TNA. Granted he was involved with Ring Ka King, even becoming one-half of the first RKK Tag Team Champions with the former David Hart Smith, but he never appeared on iMPACT. I've always enjoyed Chavo's work, and I personally believe that the only reason he isn't held in higher regard by more wrestling fans is because he spent so long being in Eddie's shadow. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Chavo is superior to Eddie in any way. Chavo is an above-average talent that has the honour of being a part of a legendary wrestling family, and that alone has given him more success than most of us could dream of achieving. Chavo was never going to win multiple World Titles in WWE, regardless of who his uncle was. I'm excited to have Chavo in TNA. I don't want him to win the World Championship, at least not any time soon, but as a member of the midcard/tag divisions, he could be a great veteran addition. But enough ranting, on to the match.

The outcome of this match seems so obvious that I don't even know what to say about it. Chavo is so fresh off his debut that I don't see him losing his first PPV match. Also, Hernandez is apparently in the middle of a big face turn, and he still needs a big(ish) PPV win. Kash is primarily an enhancement talent these days anyways, and it seems like any momentum Gunner might have had is dead now. Maybe they'll do well as a tag team, maybe not. But they won't be winning tonight, that much is obvious.

What I Predict Will Happen: Chavo and Hernandez win
What I Wish Would Happen: Chavo and Hernandez win



Of the three BFG Series matches on the card tonight, this one has the least amount of "star power". I don't think any of these guys have a chance of actually winning the tournament. That being said, I still think this match is going to be entertaining to watch. The "Falls Count Anywhere" stipulation can be great to watch if the wrestlers know what they're doing, and luckily there's enough talent and/or experience here to do just that.

Picking a winner here is difficult, because it really depends on who TNA decides to keep for the "Final Four" of the tournament. Anderson is already in 4th with 40 points, RVD is tied in fifth with Jeff Hardy with 35 points, Magnus is in 9th with 21 points and Pope is in 11th with 7 points. At this point, it's pretty clear that Pope is never going to accomplish anything in TNA, and the fans seem to have lost all interest in the guy. That makes it pretty clear to me that he won't be winning tonight. Anderson is already in 4th, and while I wouldn't be surprised if he made it to the "Final Four", he's not going to be put in 2nd place tonight.

That leaves me with 2 men: RVD and Magnus. I've made it no secret that Magnus is one of my favourite TNA talents on the roster, and I think he's going to be a massive part of the future of that company. The kid is a natural wrestling talent, and if he were put in the main event scene tomorrow, he wouldn't seem out of place. I'm glad that TNA is taking their time with his push though, because it NEEDS to be done right. If Magnus can put on some strong showings in this tournament (as he has already), Magnus will greatly increase his stock with the fans and the company, and perhaps set himself up for that big push in the coming year. It's a matter of when, not if.

Despite not being able to use him much due to a limited number of dates on his contract, TNA seems to have a massive hard-on for RVD. Regardless of how mediocre his matches and crowd reactions are, TNA loves the guy. He's past his prime, and regardless of whatever name value he might have, keeping him around is hurting the product for me. He's currently tied for fifth place in the tournament, and I hope he stays out of the "Final Four". There was a point in time where TNA needed veterans like RVD to help legitimize some of their main event talents, but that time has passed. TNA has built enough stars that they can stand on their own now.

So which of these guys will win tonight? Unfortunately I only see this going one of two ways. Either Anderson pulls out the surprise win and then slips back down to 4th place by the time the rankings are locked in, or RVD pulls out the win and jumps up the rankings. As I said earlier, I'm sure Anderson is going to make it to the "Final Four", but tonight's not going to do it. He'll be around for the next few weeks to have more matches, but chances are RVD won't. If TNA wants anybody to believe RVD has a chance of making it to the finals, he'll be winning tonight. Excuse me while I go vomit.

What I Predict Will Happen: RVD wins
What I Wish Would Happen: Magnus wins



Let's get one thing out of the way real quick. Does anyone actually believe Robbie E. has any chance of winning this match? Anyone? Bueller? Alright, I didn't think so.

I think the outcome of this match is fully going to depend on whether or not Bully Ray has reached an agreement with TNA management regarding his new contract. He's currently sitting in 8th place with 28 points, so making it to the finals is going to take some big wins, and getting 20 points tonight would certainly help. But if he plans on leaving the company, or if there at least hasn't been any progress made towards re-signing him, why would TNA give him this victory? Bully Ray is easily one of the top heels in the company right now, and it only makes sense to have him make it to the finals again this year. Will he win the tournament? Doubtful. If/When Bully Ray does finally win the World Heavyweight Championship, it won't be through a tournament like this. The BFG Series should be used to elevate new talent to the main event much like the "Money in the Bank Briefcase" does for WWE guys. Bully Ray is already ready to be in the main event, so let someone else get this win.

Jeff Hardy has struggled to regain the momentum he lost after the now infamous moment with Sting where Hardy showed up to the PPV too messed up to work his title match. TNA seems somewhat hesitant to give Hardy the ball again, and I can't say I blame them. Hardy needs to prove he's changed before TNA gives him another true shot at the top. That being said, he is still CRAZY over with the fans. I would be beyond shocked if he didn't make it to the "Final Four" simply because of how over he is. But, like I said for Bully Ray, Hardy doesn't need this win. If he were put back in the title hunt tomorrow, he would look like he belongs. He doesn't need this tournament win to legitimize his main event spot.

Like I said earlier, the outcome of this match is going to depend largely on whether or not Bully Ray has re-signed (or is coming close to re-signing) with TNA. If so, he's going to get the win. If not, it's going to Hardy. Both men need the points to move up in the rankings, and both men would be entertaining to see in the "Final Four". I'm really not sure what Bully Ray is going to end up doing. I think he'd be better off staying with TNA for now, because there's no way WWE would give him this kind of push, but that's a topic for another column entirely.

Oh, and the reason I didn't mention James Storm at all here? He's not going to win. He's already so far in first place that he doesn't need this win, especially with so many events left between now and September 6th. Storm will probably finish in first place, and a 20 point win tonight would be a waste.

What I Predict Will Happen: Jeff Hardy wins
What I Wish Would Happen: Bully Ray wins



If this match is booked properly, it has real potential to be something special. Each of these men has, at at least one point in their careers, put on a match at the 5-star level, and each of these men is still capable of doing it in 2012. Ladder matches are tricky since they can easily devolve into spot-fests, but there's so much talent in this match that I don't see that happening. These guys are going to rock the arena tonight.

With Daniels and Styles being so involved in a non-tournament feud right now, I don't see either of them winning, either tonight or the tournament overall. The BFG Series is such an afterthought in their feud that it's not hard to forget they're even involved in the tournament. So once again, my prediction comes down to two wrestlers: Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe.

The interesting thing here is how close these two are in the standings. Joe is in 2nd with 54 points, and Angle is in 3rd with 48. One of these guys is going to be in 1st place by the end of the night (assuming things go as I've predicted they will) and virtually guarantee their inclusion in the "Final Four".

I think this is the hardest pick for me of the bunch tonight because I could argue that either man needs/deserves it more. In the end, I think it comes down to who is more likely to wrestle (and thereby gain more points) between now and September 6th. I doubt Angle will be an in-ring regular, whereas Joe will likely appear at least at those live events. Joe is going to be in the "Final Four" this year, and I believe he has a real chance of winning the whole thing. His spot in the rankings is in no danger if he fails to win tonight, so I'm going to hesitantly choose Kurt Angle as my prediction.

What I Predict Will Happen: Kurt Angle wins
What I Wish Would Happen: Samoa Joe wins



And of course, the main event of the evening.

What can I really say about Austin Aries? The man has been absolutely on fire since debuting in TNA, and he single-handedly made the X-Division Championship actually matter again. Now, as the World Heavyweight Champion, Aries has the chance to do the same thing for this belt. Even the TNA haters have been forced to admit how good this man is at what he does.

I've been hated on for my fandom of Bobby Roode before, but I don't care what you haters say. The man is great. That being said, I'll be the first to admit that Austin Aries is the superior wrestler. While I could see Roode in WWE as a Smackdown main event guy (maybe even with a WHC win at some point), I know that he wouldn't have the same kind of success that Aries would if he were to jump ship. WWE is much friendlier to the "indy darlings" these days as seen by the successes of guys like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, and Austin Aries would continue that success, should he ever jump ship. However, Roode has improved significantly since the BFG Series last year, and with a solid World Title reign under his belt now, he's ready to cement his position in the TNA main event.

Aries is too fresh into this title reign to lose it right back to Roode. A lot of people doubted he would even win the belt because they thought Roode would go on to feud with James Storm at Bound For Glory after Storm won the tournament. Like I said way earlier this year, James Storm is NOT going to win the BFG Series, which means Roode doesn't have to regain the belt between now and then. Austin Aries needs to be given a proper first World Title reign, and beating the former champ again is a nice start. Aries will likely lose the belt before 2012 comes to an end, but it's not happening tonight.

What I Predict Will Happen: Austin Aries retains
What I Wish Would Happen: Austin Aries retains

******

So there we have it, my predictions for tonight's PPV. Unfortunately I won't be able to watch the show live tonight as I'm currently visiting my family and have plans with them for the evening. That's actually why this predictions column is being posted much later than I would normally do it. I've been crazy busy since getting off the plane here and didn't really get a chance to write a column until today.

So what do you guys think? Let me know what your predictions for the night are, and of course your thoughts on my predictions and wishes. Until next time though, thanks for stopping by.

************

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