Despite a valiant effort by "The Charismatic Enigma" Jeff Hardy, our IMPACT WRESTLING champion is still Brooke Hogan's estranged husband, Bully Ray.
Hardy threw everything and anything he could at the President of Aces & 8s, but at the end of the day he was unable to overcome the onslaught of one of the toughest, meanest brutes this sport has ever seen.
The question now, though, is what now? Who's the next viable contender for the IMPACT WRESTLING championship?
With a talented roster, we have a multitude of possibilities. Let's run down a few.
He's come so close to winning the big one this year, but unfortunately has fallen frustratingly short. Will that damn luck finally be in his favor?
- Among the field of potential contenders, Storm is probably the toughest one pound for pound.
- As of right now he seems pre-occupied with getting to the bottom of AJ Styles' recent erratic behavior and mood swings.
AJ Styles is a different man of late, and he appears to have lost his razor. The Aces & 8s seem to think that he's ready to be patched in, and Daniels & Kazarian think they can exert their... well, bad influence on him. But has he gone to the dark side, or is he simply a man lost?
- AJ Styles is IMPACT WRESTLING. The man has won every title there is to win in the promotion, and was the first ever Grand Slam champion. Most importantly, he's won the big one four times.
- Due to the stipulation in a match he lost last Fall, Styles will not be able to challenge for the title until Bound for Glory in October.
IMPACT'S top British prospect recently made his return to help combat the Aces & 8s onslaught. Since then he's been more impressive with each outing, including a fine showing in a recent four-way match to determine the #1 contender (which Jeff Hardy won).
– Young, strong, and quick. If you were to list the attributes needed to be a champion and created a Frankenstein's monster, it would come out looking like Magnus.
– Hot-headed and temperamental. He may be fighting on the side of angels these days, but bad habits can be hard to break.
The man so bad he once held the tag team championship all by himself. Joe has made a name for himself throughout the world, fighting and beating some of the biggest names in the history of the sport.Pro
– If you're looking for someone to match the brute strength and aggression of Bully Ray, there's no better opponent than Joe.
– He's been there before, so he might not be as hungry as some of the other names on this list. He also may be too invested in his grudge against the Aces & 8s and still bent on avenging his loss to Devon.
The IT Factor had a Hell of a year in 2012 with an impressive world title reign, and he recently had a decent run with Austin Aries as a tag team champion.
– He's already a veteran in the sport, yet one gets the feeling he's still improving and somehow still hasn't peaked.
– His confusing chemistry with Austin Aries may inspire him to forego an opportunity at singles glory to focus on regaining the tag team championship.
Legend, Hall of Famer, icon. What more needs to be said?
– Despite being long in the tooth, Sting has shown repeatedly that he can still hang with the best of them.
– Being one of the biggest and most recognizable names in a company of young upstarts, Sting has a big target on his back.
Kurt Angle first excelled as an Olympian and then later as a pro wrestler.
– Has all the pedigree and talent necessary to provide a more than formidable challenge to Ray.
– He's still engaged in a long, tumultuous feud with Wes Brisco and the Aces & 8s.
Television's newest reality star is all about fun and games, which makes it easy to forget he's also one of the most skilled hands in the company.
– He's passionate and woefully underrated, usually by his opponents. Underestimate him at your own peril.
– Despite coming back with a vengeance after being put out of action by the Aces & 8s, the question remains if he can take himself seriously enough to make a run at the title.
JOSEPH PARK, Esq.
The brother of Abyss, Joseph Park seems to have abandoned his pursuit of his long lost brother to pursue something else: his dream of becoming a professional wrestler.
– He's steadily improving and brings a tremendous amount of heart.
– He is, as he says, still a "greenhornet." I guess that means he's new at this. Rushing him into such a big opportunity so early would be like putting a yearling in the Kentucky Derby.