Who would have thought that a proudly Southern wrestler calling himself “The Cowboy” would achieve the status of World Heavyweight Champion in the second largest wrestling company in North America in 2011? The same man who had often been overlooked in favour of more “glamorous” performers who had jumped ship from the WWE, and a man who had been predominantly known as one half of two popular tag teams in the form of first America’s Most Wanted (alongside “Wildcat” Chris Harris) and more recently Beer Money Inc (alongside current TNA World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Roode); capturing the Tag Team Championship an impressive 11 times in total. Yet that is exactly what happened on Impact Wrestling on October 18th when James Storm shocked Kurt Angle to gain the top prize in TNA.
Storm’s rise to prominence within the company has been a long time coming considering the fact that alongside Jeff Jarrett and AJ Styles, he is one of the three “originals” who appeared on NWA:TNA’s first weekly PPV in 2002 and is still under contract now. Both of the latter wrestlers have enjoyed multiple reigns as World Champion in their 9 year tenure. However Storm has improved vastly over the last two years, both with his in-ring work and on the mic, delivering believable and passionate promos that have drawn in the audience and sold the story, perhaps influencing the powers that be into finally rewarding the Tennesse native with a first- albeit brief- taste of World Heavyweight gold.
Following Bobby Roode’s heel turn to capture his first World Heavyweight Championship from his former stable mate, Storm now finds himself in a feud with Kurt Angle, based on Angle’s belief that “The Cowboy” stole the title from him in October with a Last Call superkick out of nowhere. This rivalry with arguably the greatest pure wrestler to ever step foot inside the squared circle can only enhance James’ star status with fans and peers alike, hopefully permanently elevating him to the main event where he can challenge again for TNA’s top prize and cement his place as one of the company’s true superstars. Even though Storm hails from the Deep South and speaks in a Tennesse drawl, he has managed a fete that many other wrestlers fail to achieve which is connecting with the all important demographic of 18- 35 year old men no matter where they themselves call home. It is the blue collar attitude and gutsy persona that have seen Storm rise from midcard to upper card in 2011 with a swiftness that hasn’t been seen in a long, long time.
James Storm I salute you!