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RICHARD TRIONFO PREVIEWS TNA FINAL RESOLUTION 2006

By Richard Trionfo on 2006-01-14 12:30:00

Final Resolution Preview
by Richard Trionfo

Coming off a very strong pay per view at Turning Point, it is time for TNA to try to continue its run into 2006 with their second edition of Final Resolution. Last year’s pay per view featured a main event of Monty Brown versus Jeff Jarrett for the NWA World Title. This year, the two opponents have become tag team partners as they will face the two newest major acquisitions to TNA, Christian Cage and Sting. While the NWA World Heavyweight Title is not being defended on this pay per view, the other two titles in the company will be on the line this Sunday. The NWA World Tag Team Titles will be on the line when America’s Most Wanted defend the titles against Team 3D. Will Team 3D build on their victory against America’s Most Wanted in the tables match at Turning Point. The new X Division champion, Samoa Joe will have his first title defense against Christopher Daniels, the man he brutally attacked after their victory in the Elimination X match at Genesis.

In addition to those title matches, the former X Division champion A.J. Styles will face New Japan’s Hiroshi Tanahashi in an International X Showcase match. The battle between Raven and Larry Zbyszko continues and may end this month with the announcement that if Raven cannot defeat Larry’s hand picked opponent, he will released from his contract. However, if Raven can win the match, he will get a title match. Abyss moves on from his bloody and brutal feud with Sabu to face the former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Rhino.

As is the case with all of my pay per view previews, the opinions are solely those of the author and do not reflect any member of the ownership or staff of this site, unless they state it themselves. All of the picks are for (sports) entertainment purposes only and should not be considered for any other purpose if you should be making actual monetary wagers on these matches.

Before I get into the matches on the show, I want to thank Buck Woodward for providing the information in this preview about Hiroshi Tanahashi since he is very knowledgeable of the Japanese product and I have never had the opportunity to see his work.

Since this preview is being prepared prior to the final episode of Impact being shown on SpikeTV, I have included information about matches and segments that were shown during the last set of Impact tapings. Additionally, since they will be announcing additional matches for the pay per view other than the six that have been announced on this week’s Impact, I have included two matches that I think they will book based on what I saw at the last tapings. One of the matches was brought up on the site by Mike Johnson, and another is a six man that I think will happen out of a match that happens tonight and could logically not be announced until the last minute. There is a chance that the six man match that I think will happen might be a one-on-one match based on this week’s Impact, but if I had to choose between the two, I would expect the six man tag match.

Here are the matches for the pay per view:

Jeff Jarrett and Monty Brown versus Christian Cage and Sting

The first pay per view main event of 2006 for TNA includes the two men who were in the main event of last year’s Final Resolution plus the last two ‘major’ additions to the TNA roster. This match will probably do a lot to set the NWA World Title storylines for the start of 2006 since we have the man with the NWA World Title, two men who have stated that they want the NWA World Title, and the man who will probably be getting a title match in the next few months. We found out that this match would happen shortly after midnight on January 1st when they could make the official announcement that Sting was coming back to TNA. How will Sting and Christian work together in this match? Will Monty Brown continue to have issues with Jeff Jarrett and affect their ability to work together in this match?

Jeff Jarrett starts off 2006 the way that he started 2005, as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. During the year, he held the title for 240 days with breaks when A.J. Styles, Raven, and Rhino held the title. Despite being the champion, he still feels like there is a conspiracy against him with ‘TNA management’ bringing in all of these people from ‘up north’ to take the title from him and spots from the others who built the company. During the last few months, Jarrett has brought Team Canada, America’s Most Wanted, Abyss, Jim Mitchell, and his tag team partner at Final Resolution on the same page to deal with this issue. Jarrett provides an old school attitude to TNA and he tries to maintain that tradition that he dealt with throughout his career.

Monty Brown still thinks that he should be the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and one thing that is keeping him from getting that opportunity is his alliance with Jeff Jarrett. Monty is an example of someone who has been both helped and hurt by the influx of talent in the heavyweight division. This match should be an opportunity for Monty to show that he should still be considered a viable contender for the World Title. However, with the stipulation for Raven’s match as well as the people on the other side of him in the ring in this match, it might be a while before Monty gets his chance at the title. Monty has shown that he is good on the mic as well as in the ring; and he should be a vital part of TNA into 2006.

Christian Cage has made quite an impact since his debut with TNA at Genesis. Along with Team 3D, his entry into TNA were the biggest stories of the year for TNA from a mainstream standpoint. At this point, it looks like a smart investment since Christian has been over with the Orlando crowd regardless of what he does or says. Despite appearing that he would join Team Canada for a minute, he showed that he will not be take the short cuts to get to the top. There has been one thing on Christian’s mind since entering TNA and that is winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. With his victory last month over Monty Brown at Turning Point, as well as his victory over Chris Harris in a singles match and a victory over America’s Most Wanted with Rhino; it looks like Christian will have a World Title match sooner rather than later.

The wild card in this match is the newest member of the TNA roster, Sting. The reports on the internet have said that Sting is in great shape, so he will probably not embarrass himself in the ring like some other people who were brought in to make a big impact at the end of 2004. Sting’s last match in TNA was a victory over Jeff Jarrett in a non-title match on the December 17, 2003 pay per view. His last appearance in TNA was at the March 31, 2004 pay per view when he was an ‘enforcer’ in a four way match between Raven, A.J. Styles, Ron Killings, and Abyss. The interesting thing is the way that Sting’s return has been received by the Orlando crowd. I don’t know if it was because they wanted to actually see him make an appearance, but he has received a mixed reaction. While the obvious reasons to hold off for the first physical appearance of Sting to be on a pay per view because people might not be as inclined to buy the show if they know that they will be able to see him on Impact.

At Turning Point, Jeff Jarrett successfully defended the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Rhino; Monty Brown lost to Christian Cage in Christian’s first pay per view match in TNA; and Sting’s trench coat, bat, and boots made an appearance after Jarrett defeated Rhino. On the first week of Impact after Turning Point, Jeff Jarrett came out to demand to know what was going on and had a stare down with Samoa Joe, then Jeff Jarrett went around to see who was on his side, and then he gave the Sermon on the Mountain at the end of the show only to be interrupted by the scorpion logo at the end of the segment. Monty joined Jeff Jarrett during the Sermon. Christian stood on the Stage of Facial Impact with Rhino and Team 3D as a precursor for the logo to appear. On Christmas Eve, Christian came out and got some presents from Santa Bentley and Helper Brooks, and after donning a Jeff Jarrett starter kit, he was attacked by Monty and Jeff. Also on that episode, Christian defeated Chris Harris while Monty and Jeff tried to get involved in the match and were part of a brawl. On New Year’s Eve, Monty and Jeff defeated Shark Boy and Kenny King while Christian and Sting were not on that show.

At the stroke of 2006, Christian welcomed us to the New Year with Mike Tenay and we found out that Sting had officially signed and that this match would be happening at the pay per view and Monty and Jeff had to get involved in the segment. Last week on Impact, we had Jeff Jarrett continue to address the Jackie Gayda situation as well as the Sting Tribute segment with Jeff Jarrett as the master of ceremonies and Monty Brown as ‘New Sting’ complete with golf attire and stroller. Christian decided to return the favor from the first show of 2006 and he got involved in the post-Tribute brawl. This week on Impact, Christian teamed with Rhino and defeated America’s Most Wanted in a non-title match. At the end of the match, Monty and Jeff came out and attacked Christian, giving him a POUNCE and a guitar shot. Before the segment ended, Sting could be heard and he warned Monty and Jeff about Final Resolution.

There is a good likelihood that this match will follow the ‘unofficial Jeff Jarrett match script’. The elements are that the two teams will fight outside the ring on each Ramp of Impact providing the people in the Impact Zone with a good view of the empty ring. After the fighting outside the ring, the action will return to the ring and they will wrestle for a few minutes. At some point, there will be some sort of outside interference that will affect the match and give Jarrett an advantage. Then we will see a series of foreign objects used that will lead to a series of false finishes. Then something will happen where Jarrett is able to use a weapon to get the victory.

While all of those elements might not happen in the match, I would not be surprised to see a lot of fighting outside the ring that will lead to Jarrett and Brown getting the advantage. After about four or five minutes of brawling we will see Christian and Sting take control of the match. Due to his time away from the ring, Sting’s participation in the match will give Jarrett and Brown a chance to regain control of the match. Monty and Jarrett will try to finish off Sting, but he will be able to fight off Monty and Jeff. Christian will make the hot tag to regain control of the match. I would not be surprised to see some interference in the match from America’s Most Wanted, but it will be neutralized by Team 3D. After all of the interference in this match, it will not be enough for Jarrett and Monty to get the victory. While Sting will take care of Monty, Christian will get the victory over Jarrett with the Unprettier.

Prediction: Sting and Christian

Samoa Joe versus Christopher Daniels for the X Division Title

This will be the first time that Samoa Joe has defended the X Division title, and it will be the first time that Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels meet in a one-on-one match. There is more to this match than the two men in the ring since Samoa Joe injured Christopher Daniels at Genesis and caused Daniels to be kept off the Turning Point card. Samoa Joe has made this personal because of the attack and while A.J. Styles tried to stop him at Turning Point, Joe remains undefeated in singles matches during his time in TNA. Will the streak end for Joe or will he add another victim to his list?

Since Samoa Joe entered TNA in June, he has been running roughshod over the X Division. While I would not have considered him to be my MVP for TNA for the entire year, he was the most dominant wrestler in the company during his current tenure. Joe finally won the X Division title at Turning Point after defeating A.J. Styles in a match that was about more than a title. Until last week, Joe was not heard from, but he made this match personal when he talked about Daniels and his son. He is able to back up his words and actions based on his work in the ring. If he can get past Christopher Daniels on Sunday, will he move on to the World Heavyweight Title or will he run through the X Division again.

Christopher Daniels is coming off a concussion at the hands of Samoa Joe at Genesis after they were the final two men left in the Elimination X match. While he did not wrestle at Turning Point, he did return and help A.J. Styles after Samoa Joe tried to injure A.J. after their match. Christopher Daniels is the number two wrestler in the X Division and holds the distinction of the longest X Division title run in TNA’s history. Since his return at Turning Point, Daniels has been working together with A.J. Styles, including a tag title match against America’s Most Wanted on the midnight special episode of Impact. Daniels has shown that he can work any style of match against any opponent. This will be his toughest test in TNA.

At Turning Point, Samoa Joe defeated A.J. Styles to become the new X Division Champion while Christopher Daniels made his return after the attack at Genesis and he made the save for A.J. On the first episode of Impact after Turning Point, Samoa Joe had a stare down with Jeff Jarrett before he defeated Jay Lethal. Christopher Daniels was not on the show. On Christmas Eve, Christopher Daniels was interviewed by Shane Douglas and then he defeated Eric Young. On New Year’s Eve, we saw a Samoa Joe video package before he defeated Roderick Strong. Christopher Daniels came out after A.J. Styles lost to James Storm to explain what happened when the referee was distracted. Then we heard that Daniels would be teaming with A.J. Styles to face America’s Most Wanted as 2006 began. On the midnight show, Christopher Daniels and A.J. Styles lost to America’s Most Wanted when Shannon Moore interfered. Last week on Impact, Christopher Daniels teamed with A.J. Styles and Chris Sabin, but they lost to Austin Aries, Alex Shelley, and Roderick Strong; and Samoa Joe was interviewed by Shane Douglas and he actually spoke. This week on Impact, Samoa Joe defeated Cassidy Riley and Christopher Daniels got involved in the post match activities after watching the match from the announce position when Joe tried to give Riley a muscle buster on a steel chair.

Unless something crazy happens during the show, this should be the match of the night. This match will start off with Daniels trying to get some early revenge on Joe for the attack from Genesis. After Daniels gets in his early offense on Joe, Joe will recover and things will go back and forth until Daniels tries something and Joe shrugs it off and shows why he is the most dominant wrestler in TNA at this time. Despite his attempts to put away Daniels during the first half of the match, Joe will not be able to get the victory. At this point Joe will try to finish Daniels and end his career in TNA. Daniels will refuse to go down to the X Division champion and will continue to fight back. Despite his best efforts, Daniels will fall short and Joe will hit the muscle buster and choke on Joe. This match should go somewhere between twenty and thirty minutes.

Prediction: Samoa Joe

America’s Most Wanted versus Team 3D for the NWA World Tag Team Titles

This match will mark the third time that these two teams have met on a pay per view, but the first time that the NWA World Tag Team Titles will be on the line. The first time they met on a pay per view, it was a part of a six man tag match with Team 3D joining forces with Rhino to defeat America’s Most Wanted and Jeff Jarrett. At Turning Point, America’s Most Wanted tried to beat Team 3D at their own game with a tables match, but they fell short when Team 3D got the victory. Will the third time be a charm for America’s Most Wanted or will Team 3D start their nineteenth World Tag Team Title run on Sunday night?

Sunday night will be Team 3D’s first shot at the NWA World Tag Team Titles, and based on the results of their last few encounters with America’s Most Wanted, it could be their first title reign. Since they were made the subject of the ‘burial’ by Jeff Jarrett, America’s Most Wanted, Abyss, and Team Canada; Team 3D has been on a roll. Brother Ray and Brother Devon have worked off any rust that they might have had during their time away from the wrestling ring and appear to have the intensity that made them the most dominant tag team in ECW history. Will the tables come out and signal time for the belts to change hands on Sunday?

America’s Most Wanted have been the tag team champions since October when they won the titles back from The Naturals. They have already successfully defended the titles against A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels on the midnight special. However, in their last match, they were defeated by Rhino and Christian. Was that match a hiccup in the road or is that a signal that the belts might be moving off America’s Most Wanted’s waists? But whenever their backs are against the wall, they appear to find a way to win the match and keep the titles. While Team 3D might be the most dominant tag team in the last ten years, America’s Most Wanted has been the most dominant tag team during the TNA era.

At Turning Point, Team 3D defeated America’s Most Wanted in a Tables Match. On the Impact after the pay per view, Team 3D defeated David Young and Elix Skipper. Also on the show, America’s Most Wanted was part of the backstage fun with Jeff Jarrett and the Sermon on the Mountain. At the end of the show, Team 3D came out with Rhino and Christian along with the scorpion logos on the JarrettTrons. On Christmas Eve, Chris Harris lost to Christian, but Harris and Storm attacked Christian with some help from Monty Brown and Jeff Jarrett while Team 3D was not on the show. On New Year’s Eve, James Storm defeated A.J. Styles thanks to interference from Chris Harris; and we found out that America’s Most Wanted would be defending the tag titles on the midnight special. On the midnight special, America’s Most Wanted and Team 3D were involved in the brawl after Christian and Mike Tenay’s big announcements. America’s Most Wanted defeated A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels to retain the NWA Tag Team Titles with an assist from Shannon Moore. Last week on Impact, Team 3D defeated Buck Quartermain and Lex Lovett and announced that they were looking forward to winning the tag titles at Final Resolution. America’s Most Wanted was involved in the locker room segment when Jeff Jarrett and Scott D’Amore were talking about Jackie Gayda. America’s Most Wanted was involved in the Sting Tribute with Chris Harris playing the part of ‘Crow Sting’ and James Storm came out in a chicken suit. Team 3D got involved in the brawl at the end of the segment. This week on Impact, America’s Most Wanted lost to Christian and Rhino in a non-title match with some help from Team 3D.

While most people think that there will be a title change, I don’t think it will happen this month. Since Team 3D has had the advantage over America’s Most Wanted in their matches since Team 3D’s ‘burial’, it seems appropriate that the champs get one victory before the likely title change. Just like Jeff Jarrett matches, it appears that America’s Most Wanted matches have the ‘fight outside the ring for a while’ characteristic to them. Because Team 3D has their background in ECW and are known for their violent matches, instead of America’s Most Wanted getting the early advantage, it will be the challengers who will return to the ring in control of the match. America’s Most Wanted will gain an advantage when Gail Kim decides to get involved in the match and distract Team 3D.

The middle of the match will see both teams alternate near falls and double team moves. Team 3D will get an opportunity to get most of the fans in the Impact Zone to play ‘sing along with Team 3D’ when Brother Ray calls for the tables. However, they will be foiled in their attempts to use the table when Harris and Storm use nefarious means to eliminate Brother Ray from the match. At that point America’s Most Wanted will hit the Death Sentence on Devon to get the victory. Even though America’s Most Wanted will keep the titles, their days will be numbered.

Prediction: America’s Most Wanted

A.J. Styles versus Hiroshi Tanahashi in an International X Showcase

This match is another attempt by TNA to provide its fans with the best possible talent from all over the world. In October, TNA brought in Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger to face Samoa Joe. This month, it is another New Japan star, Hiroshi Tanahashi. While this is not a title match, because of what A.J. has done for TNA, it will still be a top match on this pay per view.

A.J. Styles is one of the faces of TNA and the X Division. He has shown that he can wrestle against all types of opponents and has been a two-time Triple Crown winner in TNA. Because of A.J.’s position in TNA, there are people from all over the world who want to face and have the chance to beat A.J. Despite the fact that he is no longer the X Division champion, he has tried to uphold the ‘code’ of the X Division and it should continue on Sunday night. For the third year in a row, A.J. was named ‘Mr. TNA’ by the fans, but his celebration was ruining by Shannon Moore. While Shannon may be on the horizon for A.J., he will have to put that on the back burner because A.J. will need to focus on his opponent on Sunday.

Hiroshi Tanahashi is seen as the "next generation" of headliner in New Japan Pro Wrestling. He debuted in 1999, but first grabbed attention by scoring an upset over Scott Hall in 2001. That started his climb up the ladder in New Japan and in 2003 he proposed that New Japan create the U-30 Openweight Title, a belt that could only be contested for by wrestlers under the age of 30. Tanahashi won the tournament to become the first champion, and this year won a tournament to claim the title again. On January 4, 2005 he and fellow rising young star Shinsuke Nakamura headlined the annual New Japan Tokyo Dome show, the biggest event of the year from the company. Nakamura won that match (and the U-30 Title), but the real story at the time was two young stars headlining the event over established stars Masahiro Chono, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Riki Choshu. At 29 years of age, he's seen by many as being the future of New Japan Pro Wrestling. His style is very fast-paced, with his favorite moves being his Lightning Speed Cradle (a fast small package) and the Sling Blade, where he charges an opponent, swinging around them into a sleeper hold and driving the back of the opponent’s head into the mat. (Thanks again to Buck Woodward)

At Turning Point, A.J. Styles lost the X Division title to Samoa Joe. A.J. was not on the first two episodes of Impact after the pay per view, but he was there for New Year’s Eve, when he lost to James Storm due to interference from Chris Harris. On the midnight special, A.J. Styles teamed with Christopher Daniels, but they lost to America’s Most Wanted after Shannon Moore interfered in the match. Last week on Impact, A.J. gave his thoughts about Sting, but did not wrestle on the show. This week on Impact, A.J. Styles was given his award for being named ‘Mr. TNA’ for 2005. However, the celebration was marred when Shannon Moore came out and stole the ‘Mr. TNA’ plaque. A.J. also made an appearance during Samoa Joe’s match against Cassidy Riley as he continued to chase Moore. They also appeared in the segment with Scott D’Amore and Jackie Gayda, and A.J. finally caught up to Moore and got his award back.

This is the match that will be the wildcard for the show, but most people will probably not be disappointed with the match. I would not be surprised to see Tanahashi get an early advantage over Styles to see how the parts of the crowd that has started to turn on A.J. reacts to Tanahashi’s offense. After some back and forth between the two men, A.J. will get the upper hand and when Tanahashi tries to go outside the ring to regroup, A.J. will hit one of his regular X Division moves. A.J. will try to put Tanahashi away, but Styles will be thwarted and get frustrated. That will allow Tanahashi to get an advantage in the middle of the match. A.J. will capitalize on a mistake by Tanahashi to get the victory.

Prediction: A.J. Styles

Rhino versus Abyss

This battle of big men should be considered a contender’s match for the NWA World Title based on what these two men did in TNA in the year 2005. While Rhino has had a taste of the World Title, even though it was only for a few hours, Abyss has the potential to be a World Champion. This could be one of the matches that people see on the card as another good match, but potentially steal the show. Both men have something to prove that they should remain in the NWA World Title picture and not be forgotten in the long term plans of the company.

Rhino is the last man who held the NWA World Heavyweight Title before Jeff Jarrett won it back at the end of October. Despite starting up as an ally of Jeff Jarrett’s, Rhino has been a fan favorite in the Impact Zone. Rhino has shown during his time in TNA that it was not a mistake to give him the NWA World Heavyweight Title. The only mistake was to take it off his waist two days later. Rhino is trying his best to show TNA that they made a mistake by not having him hold the title more than a week. Despite not being able to get the title back at Turning Point, it took Jeff Jarrett using everything but the kitchen sink to beat him. It is now time for Rhino to get back into the world title picture by going through a wrestler bigger than him.

Abyss was my MVP for 2005, and based on his improvement during the year, he will remain a top contender in 2006. Even though Rhino is still a top wrestler, Abyss might consider this to be an easier match up because there will be no barbed wire during the match. Despite losing his last pay per view match, Abyss showed the TNA fans that he is willing to take any bump to give the fans the best possible wrestling match. As I have mentioned before, the addition of James Mitchell at Abyss’s side might have been the best thing that happened to Abyss. Abyss has had so many title matches over the last year, but appears to have never received a one-on-one match against the champion. Abyss has had very good matches against Jeff Hardy, A.J. Styles, and Sabu in the last year; and he should have a good match against Rhino.

At Turning Point, Rhino lost to Jeff Jarrett in his attempt to regain the NWA World Heavyweight Title; while Abyss lost the Barbed Wire Massacre match to Sabu. On the first week of Impact after the pay per view, Rhino defeated Joe Doering, cut a promo after his match, and then he got involved in the brawl after the Sermon on the Mountain. Abyss was a part of the group in the ring for Jarrett’s Sermon on the Mountain and was also involved in the brawl. On Christmas Eve, Abyss defeated Chris Sabin while Abyss was not on the show. On New Year’s Eve, we saw a video package for Rhino before he defeated A1. After the match, Abyss came into the ring and he attacked Rhino. On the midnight special, Rhino came out to help Team 3D and Christian fight off Jeff Jarrett, Monty Brown, and America’s Most Wanted. Last week on Impact, Abyss came out to attack Christian and Team 3D. Rhino came out and he GORED Abyss. This week on Impact, Abyss defeated Jay Lethal; and Rhino teamed with Christian to defeat America’s Most Wanted in a non-title match. After the match, Abyss came out and he gave Rhino a Black Hole Slam.

I see this match as the sleeper of the night and both men will want to show what they can do despite not having the fanfare of the other matches. Both men will try to use their power moves to get an early advantage; but thanks to James Mitchell’s presence, Abyss will gain control early in the match. Despite having James Mitchell at ringside with him, Abyss will make a mistake that will allow Rhino to pounce on the chance to take control in the match. Rhino will weaken Abyss to the point where he tries for the GORE, but James Mitchell will trip Rhino and that will allow Abyss to regain control of the match. Abyss will try to give Rhino the Black Hole Slam. Rhino will be able to fend off Abyss for a few minutes, but he will fall short and Abyss will get the victory with the Black Hole Slam.

Prediction: Abyss

Raven versus Larry Zbyszko’s hand picked opponent. (If Raven wins, he gets a World title match. If Raven loses, he gets released)

Much like the 3 Live Kru story in 2005, this appears to be an angle that has moved slowly and needs some sort of closure. Throughout 2005, Larry Zbyszko and whoever else has been in the role of Director of Authority has had problems with Raven. When there was a spot available at Slammiversary for the King of the Mountain match, Raven jumped in there to win the NWA World Heavyweight Title. After losing the title to Jeff Jarrett in Canada, Raven has been trying to do everything possible to get another title match. However, Larry will have none of that and has tried to get Raven to accept his release. After putting P.J. Polaco and Chris K in the ring against him, Larry has made an final offer to Raven. If Raven can get past this opponent, he will finally get his title match. However, if Larry’s hand picked opponent can win, Raven will be released from TNA.

While Raven has not had too many matches since he lost the NWA World Heavyweight Title, he has still be in the public’s eye with his interaction with Larry Zbyszko. Raven has used his frustration to get the title back after being screwed by Jeff Jarrett, Scott D’Amore, and America’s Most Wanted. Raven has been able to fight off the challenges of the hand picked opponents from Larry Zbyszko so far, while he did fall short in a one-on-three House of Fun match against the Diamonds in the Rough. This is Raven’s final opponent between him and either the title or the door. The question is whether the title match will be at Against All Odds or on an episode of Impact.

While the opponent has not been announced, there are a few names that have been suggested. With the two previous opponents being people who were from Raven’s past, it would seem like it would be someone from his past as well. Some people would expect for it to be someone from his ‘Flock’. If that is the case, maybe it will be Billy Kidman (or whatever name he would have to use because of trademark issues). While it would be interesting to see a Terry Funk come in as his opponent, I don’t think it will be someone they want to keep a secret until the pay per view. Another name that I have heard suggested by some fans is Sandman. This might be another name that would probably benefit from some publicity before the day of the show. The final name that has been suggested that was not something that I thought about until I heard some people talk about it online. That person is Sabu. Since Sabu has nothing announced at this time for the pay per view, why not have him be a surprise opponent. It might be considered to be a let down since it would be expected to be someone from outside the company, but it would be a good way to get Sabu on the pay per view.

At Turning Point, Raven defeated Chris K in the latest attempt by Larry Zbyszko to get someone from Raven’s past to take care of him. On the Impact after Turning Point, Larry Zbyszko announced that this match would be happening with the stipulation that Raven would get the title match if he wins, but would be released if he lost. On the Christmas Eve episode of Impact, we saw a video package to remind us about this feud.

Of the people that I have suggested, I think everyone except Sabu would be a viable option. This match should be between six and eight minutes and will see Raven do everything possible to embarrass both Larry Zbyszko and his opponent, and if Raven is going to face Larry it will be even more violent. Raven should take this match outside the ring to inflict the most damage on his opponent. After returning into the ring, Raven will methodically deal with his opponent until he finally hits the Evenflow DDT for the three count. I would expect to see Raven take the mic after the match to tell Larry off and talk about his upcoming title match.

Prediction: Raven

The Following matches have not been announced for the pay per view before I submitted this Preview, but I would not be surprised to see them announced

Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, and Alex Shelley versus Chris Sabin, Sonjay Dutt, and Matt Bentley

This match grew out of the last two episodes of Impact. It appears that the divide between A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe and the rest of the X Division might be closing with the emergence of a group that is looking for respect in the X Division. While Alex Shelley has been with TNA longer than Sonjay Dutt, it is a situation where the old guard of the X Division is fighting off the upstarts of the X Division. This match will feature six solid workers who can mix mat wrestling along with the high flying action that the X Division is known for, and could be a surprise contender for match of the night if they are given enough time to show what they can do. If given the chance, the team of Aries, Strong, and Shelley can become the top heel stable in the company.

Austin Aries appears to be the new spokesman for the group and is the one who utilizes the high flying moves that people associate with the X Division. While Aries is a former Ring of Honor champion, and the man to end Samoa Joe’s long run as their champion; Aries has not had the opportunity to flourish in TNA the way that people who have followed his work know that he can. In addition to his work in the state of Florida for TNA, Aries has worked for Full Impact Pro and is a member of the top heel stable. Since Aries’s debut with TNA in the ‘internet dream match’ against Christopher Daniels, he has been a favorite of the Orlando crowd because of his work. Now is the time for Aries to expand beyond what he can do in the ring and show that he should be elevated in the X Division ranks.

Roderick Strong was my pick for MVP of 2005 in the state of Florida based on what he accomplished in other companies. While Roderick was involved in the first match on Impact, he has not had the opportunity to really show what he can do in the ring until last week when this team was officially formed. Roderick had teamed with Alex Shelley in a few matches and had strong performances and could have been outside contenders for the tag titles. While Aries is the high flyer of the group and Alex Shelley is the mat technician of the group, Roderick is the no nonsense guy who works a stiff style, but can also throw in a few high flying moves. The other thing to worry about from Roderick is the backbreaker.

Alex Shelley is one of the unsung stars of the X Division. Since he has started his ‘ShelleyCam’ gimmick, Alex Shelley has started to set himself apart from the rest of the X Division not named A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, or Christopher Daniels. Alex has shown a lot of charisma during his matches and it is often more interesting to see what he is doing on the apron or his interaction with his tag team partners. With the current gimmick of taking video of his matches and others, I would love to see him do a segment either on Impact, Xplosion, or the internet where he reviews matches or movies. This will be the first step for Alex Shelley in 2006 to show what he can do and rise up the X Division ladder.

Chris Sabin has been the most underrated man in TNA when you consider how many great matches he has been involved in, but he does not get the recognition except from the diehard fans who know what they are getting from him. He has had the best match against Samoa Joe in TNA other than Christopher Daniels or A.J. Styles. Chris Sabin is one of the guys who is the future of the X Division and if he can get a victory over one of the ‘big three’ in the division, he will be able to get to the next level. Chris has also shown that he can face a bigger opponent, including the likes of Abyss. This should be the start of a great year for Chris Sabin and maybe an X Division title run could happen this year.

Sonjay Dutt is another of the X Division wrestlers who should be getting a shot to show what they can do in the X Division, but needs to do something to separate himself from the rest of the X Division wrestlers. Dutt might be the best flyer in the X Division, but he has shown that he can do more than the high risk moves in the ring. Sonjay has been given a few chances to team with the top X Division guys and he has looked good in those matches. A strong performance in this match could lead to a future X Division title match for Sonjay.

Matt Bentley is one of the members of the X Division who is on the second level because of what they have done during their time in TNA. Matt has one thing that separates himself from the other wrestlers in the X Division and that is Traci Brooks at his side. Matt has been able to show that he is able to hang with the other X Division wrestlers in the ring. Matt is another of the X Division wrestlers who does not use too many high flying moves, but when they are necessary you will see it from him. Just like the other five men in this match, a strong performance by Matt should result in a potential X Division title match during the year.

At Turning Point, Alex Shelley and Roderick Strong teamed up and lost to Matt Bentley and Austin Aries. Chris Sabin and Sonjay Dutt teamed with Dale Torborg and defeated the Diamonds in the Rough in the ‘Basebrawl’ match with some help from A.J. Pierzynski and Johnny Damon. On the first week of Impact after the pay per view, Alex Shelley defeated Matt Bentley. On the first Xplosion after the pay per view, Sonjay Dutt and Austin Aries defeated Elix Skipper and David Young. On Christmas Eve, Santa Bentley with his helper Traci gave some gifts to Christian. Also on Christmas Eve, Abyss defeated Chris Sabin. On that week’s Xplosion, Chris Sabin teamed with Lance Hoyt to defeat Jon Bolen and Roderick Strong. On New Year’s Eve, Roderick Strong lost to Samoa Joe. Last week on Impact, Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, and Roderick Strong confronted Larry Zbyszko to find out why they are not getting a chance in TNA. Then they went out and defeated Christopher Daniels, A.J. Styles, and Chris Sabin. This week on Impact, Team Canada defeated Chris Sabin, Matt Bentley, and Sonjay Dutt after Alex Shelley interfered when he came to ringside. On an upcoming episode of Xplosion, Matt Bentley teams with Ron Killings and Lance Hoyt to defeat the Diamonds in the Rough.

If this match does happen, I would hope that they would get close to twenty minutes to showcase the talents of the six men in the match, but I would expect it to get closer to ten minutes. I would not be surprised to see Aries, Shelley, and Strong attack Bentley, Dutt, and Sabin before the bell rings and try to get an early advantage by weakening one or more of their opponents. Strong, Aries, and Shelley will hit a triple team move on Dutt, but it will not be enough to put him away. Dutt will be able to make the hot tag to Sabin who will clean house and then take on Shelley with Sabin gaining the advantage. That will allow Bentley to get involved in the match and help keep the advantage for his team. Dutt will tag back in and they will work over Strong until Shelley and Aries come in, causing all six men to get involved in the match. Dutt and Sabin will hit moves outside the ring on Shelley, Strong, and Aries. All six men will return to the ring, but eventually it will break down to a three-on-one situation with Sonjay Dutt getting pinned after a 450 splash from Aries.

Prediction: Roderick Strong, Austin Aries, and Alex Shelley

Ron Killings versus Bobby Roode

After having three short matches last week on Impact, it is time for this feud to move on to a pay per view where we can see what these two men can do in the ring when given time. When the 4 Live Kru was still a viable entity, Ron Killings was the member of the team that you could depend on for solid in ring work. Bobby Roode could be considered the enforcer of Team Canada so if the Kru was still around, it would be a match up of the two men in a similar position in their groups. However, with the Kru dissolved into three groups, it is time for Killings to show what he can do on his own.

Ron Killings has been placed in a tough position since Turning Point. While Konnan has joined forces with Homicide and Apolo, and Kip and BG James have formed the James Gang; Ron is a man without a country. It might be time for people to remember that Ron Killings is a two-time NWA World Champion and give him a chance to become a three time champion. Since he has been a part of the 3 (and then 4) Live Kru, the casual or new TNA fans might not know what he can do in the ring. With the prospect of facing a man with a supporting cast behind him, it might be time for Ron to get someone on his side. Killings will be able to utilize the psychological advantage of two quick victories over Roode last week on Impact. Even though Roode got one victory over Ron, it took him time to get the victory while Killings needed about 30 seconds for his two wins.

Bobby Roode has been yo-yoed between tag team and singles matches over the last year. It appears that Bobby has been trying to establish an identity both within Team Canada and on his own, but every time that he appears to be ready to move beyond his role in Team Canada, he is brought back to the pack. Bobby had a brief singles run against Jeff Hardy and it looks like he might have a good run with Ron Killings, especially with the history between the Kru and Team Canada. A strong performance in a feud against someone like Ron Killings will do a lot to get Bobby noticed outside of Team Canada.

At Turning Point, Team Canada defeated the 4 Live Kru and led to the break-up of the Kru. On the first episode of Impact after the pay per view, Ron Killings was interviewed with Konnan. Also on that episode, Bobby Roode was in two segments with the rest of Team Canada and Jeff Jarrett, including the Sermon on the Mountain. On Christmas Eve, Ron Killings defeated Kenny King. Last week on Impact, Ron Killings and Bobby Roode had a total of three matches during the show with Killings getting two quick victories before Roode got revenge in the third match between the men. Bobby was also in the locker room during the segment when Jarrett talked about their tribute to Sting. On this week’s Xplosion (that should have aired on January 6th), Bobby Roode teams with Petey Williams and A1 to defeat Shark Boy and the Naturals. On an upcoming episode of Xplosion, Bobby Roode teams with A1, but they lose to The Naturals when Bobby accidentally hits A1 with the Northern Lariat.

This match should be given more time than the three falls that happened last week on Impact in order to showcase both men. With Scott D’Amore at ringside, I would expect to see Bobby get the early advantage in the match due to his strength advantage and D’Amore’s presence at ringside. After a few minutes of Roode pounding on Killings, Bobby will miss a power move and that will allow Killings to get the advantage. Ron will use his speed advantage to control the middle of the match. At some point, Bobby will go outside the ring and Killings will get too aggressive. Roode will take over the match and then he will try to finish off Killings, but he will fail a few times. After a few attempts to put Killings away, Roode will finally be able to hit the Northern Lariat on Killings and get the victory.

Prediction: Bobby Roode

On the Pre Show: The Naturals versus The Latin American Exchange (Apolo and Homicide [with Konnan])

While it took a long time to build to the creation of the 4 Live Kru, it only took one match for them to dissolve. Over the last month, we have seen the disintegration of the team that appeared to have gone through every possible roadblock only to appear stronger than ever. At Turning Point, we saw Konnan turn on Kip James and then BG James with a chair shot in their match against Team Canada. While Bob Armstrong tried to get the team back together, Konnan had other plans and brought in Homicide and got Apolo to form a new team that is going to deal with Kip and BG. With the way that the tag team division has settled, this could be a match to establish contenders for the titles in the next few months.

The Naturals appear to be the forgotten tag team since the debut of Team 3D and have been relegated to an occasional Impact match, but the majority of their matches have been on Xplosion and the pay per view pre shows. The Naturals are former Tag Team Champions, but they have been treated like a team that has never won a match. They had a strong run in the start of 2005 thanks to the guidance of Chris Candido; and they won the tag titles shortly before Chris’s death. They held the title until America’s Most Wanted won them back. While the tag team division was so strong during the year, it appears that just like the X Division, there is a gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. This match could be the first step to get the Naturals back into the tag title picture. They have already had one experience with their opponents on Sunday, but it was so brief that they had no chance to see what Homicide and Apolo can do together.

The Latin American Exchange have only had one match in the time that they have been together in TNA, and that match was only for a few seconds before Konnan interjected himself into the match against The Naturals causing a disqualification. Now that Konnan has left the 4 Live Kru, he has a chance to change his character and build with new people around him. Since Sonny Siaki gone from TNA, it allows Apolo to be involved in an angle and try to change his character and give it a harder edge. Homicide made his debut a few weeks ago in a backstage segment with Konnan, but he finally made his first appearance in the Impact Zone and got a strong reaction from the crowd. It might be due to his work in Ring of Honor as well as Full Impact Pro. Homicide might be limited in what he can do in the ring, but he has a lot of intangibles that will help the team. After this match, I would not be surprised to see them set their sights on the other members of the 4 Live Kru over the next few months as well as trying to get into the NWA Tag Title picture.

At Turning Point, the 4 Live Kru lost to Team Canada after Konnan hit Kip James with a chair. After the match, he hit BG James with the chair too. The Naturals teamed with Lance Hoyt to defeat Joe Doering, John Bolen, and Buck Quartermain. On the Impact after Turning Point, Konnan was interviewed with Ron Killings by Shane Douglas. On the Christmas Eve episode of Impact, Kip and BG were interviewed with Bob Armstrong and Bob said that he would try to fix things. On New Year’s Eve episode of Impact, Bob Armstrong talked to Konnan, but was later attacked by Konnan, Homicide, and Apolo. Last week on Impact, Homicide and Apolo lost to The Naturals by disqualification when Konnan attacked the ref. This week on Xplosion, The Naturals defeated Bobby Roode and A1.

I would expect this match to last a little longer than their match on Impact, but I would expect to see a disqualification finish again. I don’t know what to expect from Homicide in this match because of his shoulder. I would not expect to see too many wrestling moves in this brawl to protect Homicide’s shoulder. Once there is order in this match, I would expect to see the Naturals get an advantage only to have Konnan interfere. At some point after the interference by Konnan, I would expect to see Kip and BG James come to the ring to attack Homicide, Apolo, and Konnan. Since it is the pre-show, it will be a chance for the TNA referees to have a disqualification finish to the match. Then there will be a post-match brawl between the James’s and the Latin American Exchange that will set up a match for them at Against All Odds.

Prediction: Homicide and Apolo (by disqualification)

Team Canada (Petey Williams, Eric Young, and A1 [with Scott D’Amore]) versus Lance Hoyt, Kenny King, and Jay Lethal

With Bobby Roode already in a match on the pay per view, the other members of Team Canada needed a match to be in and as a result they will be on the pre-show for the pay per view. This version of Team Canada worked together at this week’s Impact. Will they be able to extend their winning streak to two matches or will they suffer a defeat at the hands of Lance Hoyt, Kenny King, and Jay Lethal? Even though this match is on the pre-show, it can do a lot to establish the direction of these six men over the next few months.

Team Canada has been through a number of roster changes over the last year and a half, but they appear to have settled on the current roster of Petey Williams, Eric Young, Bobby Roode, and Alistair Ralph. Along with Scott D’Amore, they have been one of the top heel groups in TNA. Just like Bobby Roode, Petey Williams has been shuffled in and out of singles runs that appear to have been taken away as quickly as they have been given to him. Petey is definitely one of the top X Division wrestlers and possesses one of the more impressive finishers in the sport with the Canadian Destroyer. Over the last few months, Eric Young has shown the intangibles that made him a favorite in the Impact Zone. It is interesting to see the things that Eric does during his matches as well as his performances in the ‘Team 3D burial’ and ‘Sting tribute’ that enhance his in ring work that shows that Eric is one of the best bumpers in the company. Alistair Ralph has been involved primarily in tag matches, but he has shown that he is a positive addition to Team Canada. Of this team, he is obviously the strongest man of the group and that advantage should be the intangible that will help Team Canada the most.

Lance Hoyt is in a similar position as The Naturals. Despite having some good matches and being popular with the fans in Orlando, it appears that he is stuck on Xplosion and the pre-shows for the pay per views. Lance has shown that he can work heavyweight matches, but has shown the potential to throw in a few X Division style moves. During 2005, Lance was involved in pay per view matches with Abyss and Monty Brown, but he was unable to get the victory. With all of the recent additions to the TNA roster, it appears that they have been placed ahead of Lance on the depth chart; and Sunday will be a good time for Lance to show that he belongs.

Kenny King is a former Tough Enough contestant and he has had worked for some Florida independent companies in addition to TNA. Kenny has been in the ring with Monty Brown, Abyss, and Jeff Jarrett and has yet to get a victory. At this point, he is out there to provide a good match for his opponent, but he is showing that he might be able to get a victory to help him get a foothold in the X Division.

Jay Lethal debuted with TNA after Turning Point and he has had two matches with the company. In his first match, Jay had a good match with Samoa Joe on Impact. Then he moved on to face Abyss and met the same fate. While he has only been in TNA for a few weeks, Jay has a strong reputation for his work in other companies, especially Ring of Honor. Jay is a protégée of Samoa Joe, but he turned on Joe last month when they wrestled in Ring of Honor. If Jay is going to be a regular member of the TNA roster, he will be a positive influence on the X Division.

At Turning Point, Team Canada defeated the 4 Live Kru when Konnan attacked Kip and BG James; and Lance Hoyt teamed with The Naturals to defeat John Bolen, Joe Doering, and Buck Quartermain. On the first episode of Impact, Jay Lethal lost to Samoa Joe; and the members of Team Canada were seen backstage with Jeff Jarrett and were in the ring for the Sermon on the Mountain. On Christmas Eve, Eric Young lost to Christopher Daniels; and Kenny King lost to Ron Killings. On that week’s episode of Xplosion, Lance Hoyt teamed with Chris Sabin and defeated Jon Bolen and Roderick Strong. On New Year’s Eve, Kenny teamed with Shark Boy and they lost to Monty Brown and Jeff Jarrett; and A1 lost to Rhino. Last week on Impact, Team Canada were in the locker room with Jeff Jarrett when they talked about the Sting Tribute and Eric Young was part of the Sting Tribute. This week on Xplosion, A1 and Bobby Roode lost to The Naturals. This week on Impact, Jay Lethal lost to Abyss; and Team Canada defeated Chris Sabin, Matt Bentley, and Sonjay Dutt. On Xplosion this week or next week, Lance Hoyt will team with Ron Killings and Matt Bentley to defeat the Diamonds in the Rough.

I would assume that this will be the first of the two pre-show matches so they will probably give this match about five to seven minutes to get everything in. Like all of the recent Team Canada tag matches, I would not be surprised to see Eric Young and Lance Hoyt start off only to see Eric storm around the ring only to tag out before locking up with Lance. I would expect to see Jay Lethal featured in this match to get people to see what he can do in the ring. Lethal and Williams should do a lot to get the crowd going for the show. At some point Eric will get into the match and bump like a madman. Lance Hoyt will get a chance to match up with A1 to see which team can get the advantage in the middle of the match. After it appears that Jay Lethal will get the victory, all six men will get into the ring and somehow Petey and Kenny will be the two men left in the ring and Kenny will be the recipient of the Canadian Destroyer.

Prediction: Team Canada

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