By James Guttman
As fans of TNA Wrestling, we spent most of the last year hoping someone could finally step up and save us from the reign of Aces and Eights. When Bully Ray won the World Heavyweight Championship, we were left desperate and hopeless. We wished someone - anyone - could dethrone the Bully and restore glory to the coveted World Title.
When Chris Sabin did just that at Destination X, we all cheered. But none of us had ever really given any thought to the gravity of the situation in which we placed him in. The realization of our dreams may just be the realization of Chris's nightmare.
Just look at Thursday's Impact. Sabin, being the fighting champion we all knew he would be, has signed to face new X-Division Champion Manik. Stepping outside his comfort zone and battling whoever wants a match at the moment may have been what brought Sabin to the dance, but it could be what takes him out of ballroom for good. Given all the new World Champion has on his plate, is this the right time to face the masked man? Sure, Chris is riding a wave of momentum over the past few weeks. But then again, so is Manik.
Keep in mind this is happening on the same Impact as a new set of Bound For Glory Series matches. You know, the same matches that help score points so the winner could go on to face…you guessed it, the World Heavyweight Champion. So now, not only does Sabin have to contend with Manik, but he has a parade of eager eyes glaring at him from behind TV monitors throughout the building. The fans may choose who faces who on Impact this Thursday, but all the men in the BFG series know who they want to choose. That man is the World Champion. So once you add Manik to names like Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, Samoa Joe, Magnus, AJ Styles, and others - it starts to become a lot to take in.
But hey, at least Chris Sabin knows who those guys actually are. Have you seen this "August1Warning"? How could you not? But just in case you've been under a rock, there's someone coming to TNA and he's got something he wants to deal with. What that is, we don't know. Who he is, we don't know. When that is - that we know. August 1st. This Thursday. We've been warned. I'm sure the new World Champion is just thrilled over the idea of another uncertainty ready to rock his new reign.
Then, of course, there's Bully Ray. The former Champion is the most recognizable thorn in Sabin's side. When Bully was denied the return of "his" title last Thursday, even with his attorney by his side, things changed. The street fighter realized that he shouldn’t try technicalities and legalese to regain his glory. He should use his fists and fury. By the time Hulk Hogan made Ray's return match with Sabin in a cage at the August 15th Hardcore Justice Impact, the Aces and Eights President was practically jumping out of his skin. Never before have we seen Bully Ray chasing the World Title as a member of A&E. Up until now, his only rise to the gold was by pretending to be a fan favorite. We've never seen this side Bully - the violent outlaw with a title to protect. Anyone who is not worried for Chris Sabin in that cage at Hardcore Justice is seriously underestimating the danger he faces.
The only saving grace Chris Sabin has right now is the Main Event Mafia. As the M.E.M. continue their battle with Bully Ray's bikers on Impact, Sabin knows he has at least a few guys who aren't targeting him…yet. Considering that two of them are in the Bound For Glory Series, it might not be long until that saving grace becomes another blinding headache for the Champion.
So, hoot and holler. Cheer and scream. It's time to celebrate. We have a World Heavyweight Champion that we can all be proud of in Chris Sabin. As fans watching from afar, we should be happy that he's the man with the title.
Hopefully he is too.