The two biggest names to emerge within TNA over the last 2 years are Austin Aries and Bobby Roode. Without a shadow of a doubt these two men have become the best example of homegrown talent succeeding within a company that some argue only pushes ex-WWE stars.
Bobby Roode is the longest reigning heavyweight champion in TNA history. A sign that the people in control have complete faith in a man formerly given a bit part as the muscle in Team Canada. Sure Roode hasn’t held the belt since Destination X last year, when he lost it to the other centrepiece of this article, Austin Aries. However, Roode has consistently been in the title picture, letting loose on the mic and using a style akin to that of Triple H to gather many impressive victories on a Thursday night and at PPVs. Bobby is a man who has everything fans, writers and bookers look for in a wrestler: good looks, an impressive physique, great wrestling ability and good yapping skills. Before 2011 Roode was known as one half of Beer Money who reshaped TNA’s tag team division, dominating the competition and earning unrivalled fan support. It is testament to the man that in a very short space of time Roode shook loose the chains of a very popular tandem and established himself as the man to beat within the stacked Heavyweight division.
Austin Aries is a guy who exemplifies an attitude of never giving up and never accepting one’s lot. He left TNA for a few years after becoming disillusioned with his metamorphosis from an ass kicker into a bit of joke character under the moniker of Austin Starr, sporting elaborate ear rings and a wardrobe that would look at home in Liberace’s bedroom. But in 2011, Aries returned to the company, reinvigorated and seemingly hell bent on proving a point. He stole the show at that year’s X Division showcase, Destination X, and used the PPV as a springboard to launch himself as the “Greatest Man that Ever Lived”, capturing the X Division title and wowing fans with a mixture of submission based wrestling, as well as high flying acrobatics. The attitude and momentum of Aries did not go unmissed, with the powers that be deciding that a year later at Destination X 2012 Austin would beat the power house Bobby Roode to capture his first TNA World Heavyweight title.
Despite both men slipping slightly out of the heavyweight title picture in 2013, the fans still connect with both men at a level that seems to be rare within TNA. Only Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles and James Storm seem to command the same level of fan support out of the younger wrestlers. This ability of both Aries and Roode to achieve such fan reaction, even when playing heels, has led to management joining the two men together as a semi-comedic tag team who bicker and compete with one another outside the ring, but who still get the job done within it.
I envision an Aries/Roode team capturing the Tag Title belts and going on to steam roller over the opposition until late 2013 when a break up would be necessary to see the men take a deserved starring role at TNA’s flagship PPV, Bound For Glory. A four way match between AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Bobby Roode and Austin Aries would have fans salivating I’m sure.