In an article from a few weeks back, I mentioned the idea of Bully Ray becoming the leader of Aces and Eights, but it was “a chicken on the grill now charred black.” I felt that they held it off for so long that it wouldn’t provide the power it needed to lead the faction.
Boy was I wrong.
Bully Ray was revealed as President of Aces and Eights at Lockdown and unfortunately it wasn’t well executed. It was actually a bit awkward. First, Wes Brisco and Garrett Bischoff ran into the cage match between Bully Ray and Jeff Hardy and both men beat them down to hide the ruse. Then later, all of Aces and Eights spilled into the cage and Ray clocked Hardy with the hammer and pinned Hardy to become the TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
Then the magic happened.
Bully Ray began to use that golden tongue, its lustre getting brighter the older he gets. While it can get him in trouble at times (see here), it’s amazing how well he can get heat in this day and age. Suddenly it all came together. Two weeks following Lockdown, Bully Ray revealed the entire con. Every moment, which made you think “Why is TNA doing this?”, suddenly started to make sense. It was funny because you can almost call Bobby Roode an unofficial member of Aces and Eights since he has been used by Ray to feed his plot on more than one occasion. Bully made sense out of the whole thing, even Garrett Bischoff and Wes Brisco (even though you don’t want him to make sense out of those two green clowns). Every connection I spoke about in my previous column on Aces and Eights was addressed. Not only that, but Aces and Eights were finally being made to look like a strong cohesive unit. They had their President. They had their World Champion. One of the greatest tag teams of all time was leading a group of marauders and instead of holding the Tag Team championship, Bully and Devon were World and Television champions respectively. They even gave Ken Anderson a purpose beyond being annoying.
It feels nice to be so far wrong about this storyline. I’m not saying the turn was perfect or that they couldn’t have improved on things throughout the process. That said, Bully Ray is without question the number one heel in the company, quite possibly in pro wrestling (I’m sure WWE fans would argue CM Punk but stealing an urn doesn’t make you the biggest heel in pro wrestling. It makes you Kama Mustafa). TNA now has energy under its legs as it undertakes leaving the Impact Zone and limiting their pay per view schedule. Now television is going to be more important than ever to attract people to the TNA Wrestling product. In two weeks, Bully Ray will face Jeff Hardy in a Full Metal Mayhem match, and while the result will probably be predictable (no way they take the belt off Ray now), it’s the kind of event that gets you excited for Impact television.
There are some things we do know for the future. If you check the TNA “One Night Only” spoiler results, you’ll know that there will be a female member of Aces and Eights in the future. Who knows how long some of the members will last in the team, but it will be interesting to see if the feud between Kurt Angle and D’Lo Brown leads to D’Lo being an active pro wrestler again. I’m always down with the Brown so I can dig that. What we don’t know is who will emerge as Bully Ray’s opponent for Slammiversary. TNA is however already building up their own Sting (not Steve Borden) in AJ Styles, the man who turned his back on TNA to focus on himself. Aces and Eights is already trying to court AJ onto their team but that’s no different to when the New World Order was trying to do the same with Stinger. AJ’s feud with James Storm is just supposed to get us through the next few months, but I’m eyeing Bound For Glory as the first night AJ can actually challenge for the TNA World Championship and the night AJ Styles brings the gold back to TNA Wrestling from Bully Ray’s hands.
I might be right. I might be wrong. I was certainly wrong with Bully Ray and Aces and Eights.
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(Last Word on Sports would like to send their deepest condolences to the Flair family on the passing of Richard Fliehr.)