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   October 26, 2014



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SCOREBOARD
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COMMENT





Magnus and Samoa Joe headed for Lockdown showdown
By NOLAN HOWELL - SLAM Wrestling


Magnus is the TNA World champion. Photos courtesy TNA Impact Wrestling

TNA Lockdown perhaps holds one of the most high-stakes cards in company history. TNA is in an undeniable state of change and the card reflects that as the team of new investor MVP battles the team of TNA President Dixie Carter for the control of wrestling operations. Battles of established talent and rising stars are showcased as well, seen in bouts like Ethan Carter III against Kurt Angle and Samuel Shaw versus Mr. Anderson.

However, there may not be a match on the card that encapsulates both feelings like the steel cage match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. On one side, Magnus has become the future of TNA while walking hand-in-hand with Dixie Carter and her regime. On the other, Samoa Joe has toiled on every section of the card in his near decade with the company and just now returned to the top after having his hard work recognized by MVP.

The differences between the men could not be more noticeable and that only serves to make the tension between the two that much more interesting. Perhaps that is the reason TNA elected to have the combatants join wrestling media on a conference call to discuss the company's return to pay-per-view in nearly five months.

Given that it is the infamous Lockdown show where the steel cage is king, many would be dreading to work in such a harsh environment. However, TNA World Heavyweight Champion Magnus displayed a confidence and calm that reflected the qualities one needs to hold the strap. "It makes my job more difficult. I don't think either of us look at it from a standpoint of something we don't want to perform with. It forces us to think outside the box what we're going to have to do to send those people home happy," the champion stated. "As far as the responsibility, it's new territory for me and familiar territory for Joe. Despite what I say on TV, there's no doubt he belongs in that picture. As for me, it's chance to prove I belong again and I look forward to it."

Samoa Joe has the added pressure of a return to the main event picture in addition to the four sides of steel. That said, Joe seemed as unbending as the structure that will surround him come Sunday night. "There's always challenges in the realm of professional wrestling. Surmounting those odds and challenges are the hallmark of a great professional wrestler," said the challenger. "As far as us headlining a pay-per-view, it's a very different company that it was even a short year ago. There's a very great chemistry going around and this event will be the hallmark of the new team in TNA."


Regarding the new team, the chemistry in TNA that has developed recently has now paved over the rocky roads that the company's Impact television show and pay-per-views once rode. Regarding the new creative chemistry, Magnus seemed optimistic and relieved to have the company gelling. "I think that, as far as the new team is concerned, the only reason that we are talking about that is because it has started to blossom over the past six months or so. There was a period of uncertainty," Magnus said. "Now, there's a group of new talent that's doing awesome and I include myself in that. Even though I've been under contract for five years, I feel like a new talent trying to prove myself every week."

"It's a funny kind of combination of circumstances," said Joe, as he reflected on the creative flux of TNA over the past year. "A lot of times, I felt there were some in the company that didn't want me at the top of the card. Now, a lot of those people have fallen by the wayside and I stayed strong and consistent. I am ready to capitalize on the opportunity presented for me and jump on it with my very best."

While the state of business is good, the demanding life of a wrestler can take its toll regardless of status or increased income flowing in. In a rumour that made its rounds, Samoa Joe allegedly was heard giving a speech of inspiration during the annual TNA tour of the United Kingdom. However, though the sentiment was nice, the speech carried a more unfortunate weight. "I made more of a speech of gratitude than one of inspiration. I suffered a death in my close family and, unfortunately being overseas, I wasn't be able to be there with my family at the time. Because of that, the roster was fantastic on all sides, put on an amazing effort, and pulled off a brutal tour in a short amount of time," Joe said to set the record straight.

Though there is the pressure of reaching the mountaintop yet again for the grizzled veteran, the gold weighs equally heavy upon the shoulder of the younger champion. Given the ball to run with, Magnus has displayed a charisma and swagger both on the stick and in the ring that assures any who he see on where he should be in TNA. Where some falter, Magnus embraces the added stress and responsibility. ""For me, there's a lot more responsibility on every level when you have the championship. Things such as the conference call and media responsibilities, I try to say 'yes' to everything because I believe that's the responsibility of the championship. There are times when you sit back and wish, 'God, I wish I had an easy day,' but, you have to sit there and tell yourself that this is what you got in the job to do. To go up as high as you can and be a world champion," stated Magnus in a matter-of-fact tone.


Samoa Joe is once again a top contender.
Of course, pressure is equally applied to the shoulders of the challenger, though you would never expect that from the hardened demeanour of the Samoan. "I wanted this. I asked for it. There's no extra pressure on me at all. Whatever pressure I would have would be for fear that I don't deliver and I don't possess that fear at all," the confident veteran said. "As far as me being back in the main event, it's a tremendous honor and a great place to be right now. It's one I always strive for and never shied away from. I'm looking forward to capitalizing on it this week."

This match has more than a golden meaning for the two combatants. For Joe, just reaching this level once again is a reminder of what he is capable of. "Honestly, it's a reconfirmation that of what I've always believed in in that I am the best professional wrestler in professional wrestling. Nobody every looks forward to wrestling me. Nobody ever looks forward to stepping into the ring with me. I'm trouble on all ends and always have been and a championship is just a reaffirmation of that."

However, the challenger's confidence wasn't able to shake the champion, who wants to use that match to not only reclaim his belt, but use as another proving ground to show his rightful status in the elite level of TNA. "I need to actually say that I do look forward to getting in the ring with him. I have never not looked forward to getting in the ring with him. Will it be physically intense? Sure. Will it be a war? Absolutely. Will I get beat up? No doubt. But, I am not afraid of that," Magnus undauntedly declared. "The difference between Joe and I is that he has all that pent up frustration and anger and I have a confidence and a new-found understand on how to combat Joe and how to use his anger against him."


Back at Against All Odds in 2012, Magnus and Samoa Joe were TNA tag team champions together.
Sunday night marks the end of a long, arduous road the two competitors have trudged together. Former partners, allies, and now opponents will square off for the penultimate accomplishment in their company. Though it is often clichéd, Magnus firmly believes in the "good friends, better enemies" creed. "We've crossed paths more than once on both sides of the fence. There's an undeniable chemistry between us, whether you think it meshes or clashes well. It makes for good wrestling whether we are teammates or opponents. We are opponents and that's what brings out the best in Joe and I."

While the champion holds a game plan, a challenger of few words and many actions lends his sense of brevity to close out on what to look forward to come the end of Lockdown Sunday night.

"My expectation is that we will have a new force in the upper echelon of TNA," concluded Samoa Joe.

TNA Lockdown airs live on pay-per-view from Miami, Fla. on Sunday, March 9th.

MAGNUS LINKS

  • Magnus story archive
  • Official Magnus Nick Aldis website
  • Twitter: @MagnusOfficial

    SAMOA JOE LINKS
  • Samoa Joe bio and story archive
  • Twitter: @SamoaJoe

    Nolan Howell can be reached at nth993@gmail.com for any questions or comments. Click here to follow Nolan on Twitter.