So far, Jeff Hardy advanced by defeating Chris Sabin in a Full Metal Mayhem match, and Kurt Angle defeated Austin Aries on this past week's episode of Impact Wrestling in a really good submission match. The tournament continues on this week's live Impact as both remaining first round matches feature former partners facing off to advance, as James Storm faces Bobby Roode in a Bullrope Match, while Samoa Joe takes on Brutus Magnus in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
Let's start off with the Roode-Storm match, which I have a sneaking suspicion that Roode is going to win. I really would prefer to see Storm win, and nothing against Roode, but Storm should be main eventing and should have regained the TNA World Title by now, but because the plans for last year's Bound For Glory changed once Austin Aries got his big push, Storm suddenly wound up on the back burner. Even though he won what was supposed to be the blowoff against Roode at BFG 2012, Roode's gotten one over him every single time out since then, and while Roode's been featured as a TNA World Tag Team Champion and a regular main eventer, Storm has been treading water since late 2012 and hasn't done much outside of winning the TNA World Tag Team Title with Gunner, a title they rarely defended.
I think Storm has deserved to main event for a long time now, but for whatever reason, TNA hasn't pushed him back to the top like I thought they would as part of the original feud with Bobby Roode. Given that Roode's in the middle of a feud with Kurt Angle that has been teased to reignite if they meet later in the tournament, I don't get the feeling like Storm's advancing. I would expect Angle to take a ringside seat to observe Roode's match like Roode did when Angle wrestled Aries last week, but I don't think it's going to be enough to keep Roode from advancing to face Jeff Hardy in the second round.
That brings us to Joe and Magnus, who have spent the last two years going back and forth from tag team partners to enemies to partners again and now back to opponents. Joe and Magnus are civil this time around, unlike last time around when they were feuding over the TV Title, but I don't expect that civility to last long given Maguns' recent streak of heelish behavior. I think both guys will play it straight until Magnus sees an opening where he can beat Joe by sneaking in a cheapshot that Joe won't be expecting.
Joe got the better of Magnus in their last series of matches, but I don't see how Magnus doesn't come out on top this time around. He's spent most of the year getting the push of a lifetime from TNA, joining the Main Event Mafia, leading the Bound For Glory Series until literally the last week of regular season matches, coming within an eyelash of winning the whole series, and then defeating Sting by submission on TNA's biggest show of the year. The arrogance he's shown, as well as his apparent unwillingness to contradict Dixie during last week's in-ring promo, gives me a pretty strong feeling like he's going to win the tournament and become Dixie's new corporate champion.
So this brings us to the semifinals, which I've predicted to be Jeff Hardy vs Bobby Roode and Brutus Magnus vs Kurt Angle. I think both matches will somehow see Roode and Angle cost each other their chance to advance in the tournament, and I'm fine with that because their feud has been so awesome so far that it doesn't really need the World Title to put heat on it. Plus, having Magnus take advantage of Roode's interference to score another questionable win over one of his Main Event Mafia buddies seems like the right thing to do in this situation, especially if they do some kind of backstage promo afterward where Angle asks him what the hell he was doing out there, and Magnus hands him a line about doing what any wrestler would to get the win.
This brings us to the finals, which I predict to be between Jeff Hardy and Brutus Magnus. I think this has all the potential to be a hell of a match and, as I said, I expect Magnus to come out on top. I'd like to see him beat Hardy clean, but I doubt that's going to happen. I think it's more likely that Magnus wins via dubious means like I think he'll do in his first two matches, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Dixie screw Hardy just to steal one more idea from the McMahons.
Once Magnus is the champion, I think he'll probably do the rematch with Hardy and maybe one or two other challengers before AJ Styles returns to re-unify the two branches of the TNA World Title. It's actually pretty good storytelling to have them come full circle and come back around to the same match that set AJ Styles on track to regain the TNA World Title, and the same match that rattled Magnus so badly that he was willing to resort to any means necessary to become the TNA World Champion.
So how do you think the tournament will play out? Let me know your predictions and any other feedback on this column by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.