The word “compelling” is used often on this site, mostly to describe a must-see character that has ability or potential to easily pique the interests of fans. Some characters are able to evoke fans’ interest without much effort, their motives and actions made to be irresistibly clear and tantalizing to the viewing audience. Other characters grab our attention for their depth, their many layers peeled before our eyes revealing a far more complex individual who relates to us more than we first imagined.
While some characters are far more interesting and intriguing than others, every now and then there’s always one character that stumbles into a situation that ultimately makes them compelling by default; that character, static and flaccid by design, immediately becomes dynamic and fascinating because the circumstances force them to become so.
Such a case can be made for IMPACT Wrestling‘s current general manager, Hulk Hogan. Wrapped in the throes of the Aces & 8′s presence in TNA, Hulk Hogan is once again the linchpin of the company’s major storyline.
The Immortal One’s official stint as the man in charge (as opposed to the Immortal coup d’etat from 2010-2011) has been atrociously laughable from the start, even by general manager standards. Not much has changed from this previously nuanced opinion here on L.E.W.D., but it must be reiterated that the longer Hogan stays in his position of authority, the more likely it is that there is something larger looming on the horizon.
As TNA supporters consistently praise the reality based format of IMPACT Wrestling, logic and reason dictate that Hogan’s ineptitude and questionable decision making skills will ultimately lead to his downfall. Unless an intervention occurs that involves TNA President Dixie Carter (or an unlikely savior in the form of A.J. Styles), the company will be destroyed from the inside out, with Hulk Hogan fearlessly manning the sinking ship straight to hell; this, of course, is speaking strictly in terms of the Aces and 8′s storyline.
The subtle maturation of Hogan’s general manager character is provocative for one of two reasons: everything that makes the character tick and react is either intentional or unintentional. While this is a very juvenile, black-and-white way to describe the character, the truth is that either the writers intended for Hogan to gradually reveal his incompetence or that same incompetence is an unexpected by-product of the Aces and 8′s storyline. Either way there are distinct possibilities that can open up for IMPACT Wrestling moving forward.
Before looking a few of those distinct possibilities, recall Hogan’s actions from the past few episodes of IMPACT Wrestling. Ever since Bully Ray won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship and declared his allegiance to the Aces and 8s at the Lockdown pay per view, Hogan has blamed Sting for coercing him to place unquestioned trust into Bully Ray. Hogan ignored his gut feelings about Bully Ray at the insistence of Sting and his daughter Brooke Hogan, both of whom pleaded with Hogan on several occasions to give the self-professed “Not-a-Nice-Guy” to prove his worth as a decent human being.
When things fell apart Hogan immediately focused his frustrations and anger towards Sting, refusing to even hold a decent conversation with him until their confrontation during Thursday night’s “Open Fight Night.”
During the confrontation Sting called Hogan out for avoiding him and failing to take responsibility for the poor decisions he made as the general manager regarding Bully Ray. Sting pointed out that regardless of who told Hogan what, the final decision on everything was up to him. This fact has been repeatedly pointed out on TNA television, from the many references to Hulk’s unrivaled ability to “always do what’s right for business” and his decision making process during Championship Thursdays, to the process in which he chose Bully Ray as the #1 Contender for Jeff Hardy’s TNA World Heavyweight Championship despite Ray’s complete absence in the matches to determine that same #1 Contender.
Undaunted by Sting’s comments, Hogan proceeded to assert his authority by kicking Sting out of his ring. Tensions were high, causing Sting to challenge Hogan’s authority by staying in the ring and getting in the Immortal One’s face. This prompted security to not only escort Sting from the ring, but also from the arena as well. As a visibly (and justifiably) frustrated Sting left the building, TNA wrestler Matt Morgan taunted him by applauding and simply saying, “Yet again, another Hogan mistake.”
The existence of the Aces and 8s club came about, according to Bully Ray, because of Hulk Hogan’s practices and policies as general manager. With the exception of Taz, D’Lo Brown, Mike “Knux” Knox and DOC, the Aces and 8s members were all jilted and directly affected in some form or fashion by Hogan’s decision making process.
Once the Aces and 8s were able to gain unfettered access to the Impact Zone after winning their match at Bound for Glory 2012, a match that Hulk Hogan scheduled on a huge gamble. Prior to that match Hogan did little and next to nothing to ensure that the group was denied access to the company’s events or televised shows.
Even when members of the production team attacked wrestlers, even when handfuls of faceless “prospects” ran around the tapings and the Impact Zone, there were no security checks in place and the contracted wrestlers and TNA employees were not questioned or scrutinized about their knowledge or possible connections with the club. Simply put, the general manager was not doing his job to the best of his ability.
Wrestlers outside of the Aces and 8s, such as Matt Morgan and Austin Aries, openly complained about Hogan’s inability to run the company effectively by citing their own observations of his managerial skills.
It would also appear that these traits are not limited to Hulk Hogan, as his daughter Brooke has also slowly slipped away from her duties as the TNA Knockouts Executive and only returning to those duties recently.
These things do not include the rationale behind Hogan’s appointment as IMPACT Wrestling‘s General Manager, especially considering the hostile takeover Hogan masterminded with Eric Bischoff two to three years ago:
The point of it all is this: if Hogan is truly out of his league when it comes to being IMPACT Wrestling’s General Manager, why has he yet to come under any performance review or scrutiny from the president of the company or its board of directors? At the moment these questions have no answers, but in an ironic twist of fate they create the circumstances under which Hogan’s character becomes an important figure to watch and invest in as the Aces and 8′s storyline continues to develop and evolve.
Hogan’s character is compelling because there is no logical or rational reason that explains why he’s still employed by TNA; at some point he has to answer to the accusations levied against him by the wrestlers and the Aces and 8s.
This brings us back to the two points made earlier: either Hogan’s character is intentionally inept for a much more intricate storyline or the character is simply what’s leftover from the Aces and 8′s rise to dominance in TNA.
Let’s assume that Hogan’s character is intentionally lacking, which would lead to some sort of competency hearing by a panel of directors or a closed door meeting with the president of the company. Hogan’s methods could be found insufficient, reckless and damaging to the company, which would lead to his “release.” This release would be the Aces and 8′s checkmate in their year long game of chess with TNA, forcing Dixie Carter to create a new strategy to rid the company of the club. That strategy could involve utilizing A.J. Styles, which would place the focus on the company’s most recognizable star and shift attention away from Hogan for an unspecified amount of time.
With Hogan ousted , Carter could appoint a new character (or returning one, such as Jeff Jarrett) as General Manager, and thus begins a new year long storyline.
On the other hand let’s assume that Hogan’s character wasn’t purposefully designed to be inept. Questions surrounding his worth as a general manager will go unanswered and Styles could still be courted as IMPACT Wrestling’s savior. No one will bat an eyelash or think twice about Hogan’s effectiveness as the man in charge, and everything will continue down the path already plotted by the creative team. The only fans that will suffer are the ones who will relentlessly point out Hogan’s horrendous job as general manager.
The difference between these two scenarios is the focus of the product; is it better to have Hogan depart from an on-screen role as to focus more attention on the younger stars of the company or to continue having him play a central and integral role in all of the major storylines? Is Hogan better positioned to bring attention to the company in an on-screen role or as an off-screen consultant and ambassador? Has TNA grown as a company to the point where they no longer need Hogan’s name or face on the marquee in order to draw fans and revenue?
Idealistically he’d be better suited at this point in time to allowing the company’s stars to shine on their own. His presence doesn’t detract from the shows at all, but how much more time could have been given to the X-Division, Tag Team Division, Knockouts or Knockouts Tag Team Division if Hogan did not dominate screen time or major storylines? Would Hogan’s diminished role allow for financial resources to be diverted from his contract and spent on hiring and debuting new stars to the company?
The answers to these questions remain to be seen, but all point back to the compelling character that is Hulk Hogan, General Manager. Whether you think his character is screwing up each and every way he turns, or you don’t really care about him at all, he’s still the linchpin to the Aces and 8′s storyline and he’s still the central figure in pro wrestling and sports entertainment today.
If that’s not compelling, then everything else is just misspent time and energy.
A very profound thought struck me the other day concerning the current direction of AJ Styles and his character on IMPACT Wrestling. In order to accurately express that thought here in L.E.W.D. Booking 101, I have to go back to a conversation that took place several years ago.
I have a very close friend named James* who can best be described as a casual fan of pro wrestling. Although James doesn’t indulge in pro wrestling and sports entertainment as frequently as I do, he follows the product enough to have great and analytical conversations about wrestlers and promotions at any given time. While James was (and still is) fond of WWE, he always favored WCW’s product more, especially during the mythic Attitude Era. It was during this time that he reveled in the many antics of his favorite wrestler, the man they call Sting. Even to this day he gets particularly giddy and filled with girlish glee when discussing Sting; his favorite iteration of the superstar is the “Crow” Sting, a character based off of the movie made famous by action star Brandon Lee.
Seriously; to this day, James can recite the creepy little kid monologue verbatim from the Sting’s theme at that time.
Many years after WWE’s purchase of WCW and several versions of Sting later, I asked James to explain to me his fascination with this dark and brooding Sting character. More specifically I asked him to explain why so many other fans were absolutely in love with this Sting, let alone Sting in the first place. To loosely paraphrase what he said (mostly because he won’t email me what he said):
The thing about it is this: when Hulk Hogan turned heel—and you gotta remember that Hulk Hogan was the epitome of all that was right in the world, “Eat your vitamins and say your prayers” and all that s**t—it completely messed everybody up! The person that took it the hardest was Sting, because here was somebody who did the right thing his entire career, and the only other thing “right” in the universe was Hogan.
With Hogan joining the nWo, and half of WCW doing the same damn thing, Sting was absolutely mind-f***ed. So Sting disappears and when he comes back, he’s literally dead to everything on the inside, and then he just proceeds to brood all over the damn place. And that’s what made it cool, because even though it was a blatant rip off of The Crow, it made perfect sense because a lot of younger fans were feeling the same way because of Hogan’s heel turn.
And besides, that s**t was real cool too.
James’ words resonated in my mind the other day when I started thinking about TNA’s latest M.I.A. wrestler, AJ Styles. One thing led to another, and before you know it I had this epiphany: AJ Styles will be TNA’s “Crow” Sting!
At this point you should brace yourselves, because the next comment coming from yours truly will surely shock and surprise you: out of all the things TNA has conveniently borrowed from other promotions, this character development for Styles is perhaps the best idea they’ve
stolen come up with and will probably create the most compelling and interesting wrestler the company has ever had.
Don’t expect Styles to be phenomenal in the rafters of arenas around the country anytime soon. It is also highly unlikely that the company will attempt to turn Styles into a mini-Sting like they attempted to transform him into Lil’ Naitch Ver. 2.5 when Ric Flair joined the company. What is quite probable is the creation of a neat, tweener Styles character that will operate in the same spirit as “Crow” Sting so many years ago. If my epiphany has any merit, Styles’ new character will be somewhat similar to the heel character that John Cena could have been two years ago.
This epiphany came about when I started to connect the dots between two posts about Styles on the most trusted TNA fan site on the internet. The first post came on February 8 and was nestled quietly in a recap of a Dixie Carter interview during her appearance during a Bellator fight. Apparently the TNA President had an encounter with Styles at the event, an encounter were Carter described Styles as being “cold, distant, and unapproachable.” After careful consideration of this development, I couldn’t find myself to be “mad” or disgusted with Styles’ actions at all.
While Carter’s summation of Styles’ behavior seemed “unusual” (as described by the good folks at TNAsylum.com), one could not feel any iota of sympathy for her given Styles’ craptastic 2012 in TNA.
Without dredging up too many memories of the swerves and storylines that besmirched his year and his good name, we must remember how well Dixie defended Styles during the Claire Lynch debacle. We must remember how she set her husband straight after leveling Styles with the King Mo One Hitter-Quitter. We have to recall how Dixie used her executive powers and prowess to get to the bottom of Claire Lynch’s accusations against Styles in order to exonerate her company’s most decorated and beloved star.
Seeing as all of that stuff didn’t happen it would appear that Styles is somewhat justified in having such lukewarm feelings towards Dixie Carter. Styles, after all, is easily the most recognizable TNA Original still with the company. He gave his all for Jeff Jarrett and Dixie, yet neither offered their on-air unconditional support for him during his series of unfortunate events. In fact if one wasn’t careful, one could easily get the impression that Dixie and her cronies cared very little for Styles during this period of his career; talk about a slap in the face.
The second post that caught my attention was a report on February 20 about a TNA producer’s tweet concerning Styles’ behavior. The producer didn’t explicitly say how Styles behaved, but did comment that in five years he had never “had him act like he did today.” The producer then went on to say that he was “disappointed.” Is it just me or does it sound incredibly pompous of the producer to comment on how he would or would not have had Styles to behave? It’s one thing to say that in five years you’ve never seen a person act in a particular way, but its also very telling to see someone comment that they never had someone act a certain way.
I sure the assumption is that once a vanilla babyface, always a vanilla babyface. For the better part of his career in TNA Styles has played the one dimensional role of stellar athlete and upright model citizen/human being. Styles plays this character well because it’s pretty much him in real life. Everyone has their breaking point, however, and even the most model and upright human being has a breaking point. He arguably reached that breaking point after his demeaning loss to Christopher Daniels at Final Resolution 2012; even after Styles announced to the world on the December 13, 2012 episode of IMPACT Wrestling that he was no longer a “company man,” this plucky TNA producer still found it disappointing that Styles behaved in an unmentionable fashion?
If you’ve been subjected to a person behaving in a particular way, it’s only a matter of time before you begin to expect that behavior to be consistent and synonymous with the person. If the person turns out to be a louse, it’s easy to dismiss them and wish them well in their future endeavors. On the other hand if the person has proven to exhibit exemplary qualities, we have the tendency to abuse and/or neglect that person because no matter what happens we’ll expect them to continue to be “good” people.
The only person to come to Styles’ aid during his trials with Daniels and Kazarian was Kurt Angle. Other than that, Styles was expected to man up and handle his situation on his lonesome, even though the harassment he endured from his coworkers was ridiculously ignored by management. After putting up with that Styles was also locked out of challenging for the TNA World Heavyweight Title for one year, a crushing and heart-wrenching defeat that almost makes his presence in the company worthless for at least 365 days. The fans moved on to Austin Aries, Robert Roode and Jeff Hardy; the only person that cared about AJ Styles, it seemed, was AJ Styles. And even he neglected his own needs, wants and desires for the sake of the company and making Dixie Carter look like one million dollars.
From that perspective, how dare anyone expect Styles to behave a certain way or even tacitly imply and/or demand he behave a certain way any reason. Being himself hadn’t gotten him very far since he lost the TNA World Heavyweight Title to Rob Van Dam in April 2010, so what good will the goody-two shoes bit do for him at this point?
After all that, what does any of it have to do with “Crow” Sting? Simply put, the very man that Styles was should be long gone by now. Having grown bitter and disillusioned with all that he knew to be right in the world, Styles’ character should evolve into a self-serving man justified by the inconsiderate actions of the institution that was once his life and livelihood. He doesn’t have to be overly obnoxious in his disdain for the company (Aces & Eights), and he doesn’t have to be an Attitude Era-esque edgy and cool tweener either (Ken Anderson).
All Styles has to do is be himself minus the concern and care for being Dixie’s golden boy and the fans’ favorite athlete. Styles has to become the wrestler that competes for the company’s top prize while maintaining an eff you attitude towards anyone or anything that represents the institution that snubbed him. Styles shouldn’t perform for the fans, nor should he be the face of a company in need of a savior. Styles does what Styles wants for Styles’ benefit. This was essentially the same rubric for the evolution of Sting’s character in WCW after Hulk Hogan’s heel turn and the creation of the nWo, except there were actual buzzards and crows involved.
Sting’s descent into this depressing and unforgiving darkness revitalized the character and WCW. In the same way that this dark and emo Sting resonated in the hearts of many fans, so too can this new AJ Styles character. How many of TNA’s fans have been abused and taken for granted by their employers? How many fans have felt betrayed by TNA’s sports entertainment-like approach in their product as of late?
If we can be narcissistic for one second, how cool would Styles look with new, darker gear?
This drastic character makeover for Styles couldn’t come at a better time in the company’s history. With the very flat Aces & Eights storyline going nowhere fast (perhaps, in hindsight, purposefully so…) and their almost hostile takeover of the company, TNA needs a familiar face to help drag them out of the social group’s fun house of inequity. With their show being taken on the road after the upcoming Lockdown pay per view, TNA needs a homegrown top star to build their franchise around, a top star that can make the same media rounds as John Cena while drawing interest towards the product instead of away from it. With a concentrated effort to focus on building four pay per views out of the year, TNA needs a star that will increase buyrates at the mere mention of his name.
Personally speaking I would pay money to see a moody, grizzle-faced AJ Styles tan Jeff Hardy’s high-flying fanny six ways from Sunday for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
Even thought I still believe my epiphany to be one unique to my own experience, I’m also sure that most fans have already speculated on Styles’ character development. Whether you’ve considered this level of maturation for Styles or not, the reality is that change is coming for one of the company’s most prized wrestlers. Do not be surprised to see Styles return to the scene as angry and bitter as Sting did in WCW many years ago; do not be surprised if he returns only to rage against the machine with his own agenda instead of defending TNA from the rising tide of the Aces & Eights domination.
Do be surprised if Styles turns out to be the leader of the Aces & Eights, because I for one am expecting this new wrestler to rely on his own abilities and to not trust anyone, anywhere at anytime.
But above all else, expect to be thoroughly surprised and pleased at wherever Styles and the creative heads take his character. As long as the man isn’t inexplicably kidnapped or forced to wear a leather vest, the end will justify the means.
*Note: The moniker “James” was used in this piece because Adam didn’t want me to use his real name.
While everyone is up in arms over The Rock’s controversial victory at the Royal Rumble, I am left pondering, as any great writer should, what’s the bigger picture? Why was the decision made to end such an amazing title run that had been continuously hyped? Why have Punk get the victory, and then have the match restarted, instead of just having The Rock beat him cleanly? Why are we building to “Once In a Calendar Year – The Rock vs. John Cena 2″?
While it is far too early, and there is still an entire ppv to get through before the true build to WrestleMania will begin…speculation is always fun, and I spent the majority of my day pondering why exactly the events of last night unfolded the way they did…. stick with me here.
CM Punk’s title reign was the most hyped of any in the modern era, and considerably longer as well. Outlasting reigns of such Legends as Bret Hart, Steve Austin, Triple H, John Cena, Randy Orton, Hulk Hogan (trust me, the list goes on…) and he didn’t just do it – WWE made sure you knew he did it. Over and over, like never before in the history of the company we were made constantly aware exactly how many months, weeks, days, hell hours had passed since CM Punk was crowned WWE Champion. Isn’t that quite the accomplishment itself?
What DOES Punk get from his historic run? Sure, he doesn’t get to be the final match at WrestleMania against either John Cena or The Rock (both of whom we have seen him wrestle, out promo, and beat) and be left feeling underwhelmed and like we were getting just another PPV. Headlining WrestleMania isn’t the shining moment of Punk’s reign, it’s not why you want to be champion. You want to be champion for respect, honor, prestige, to have a place in history. Punk undoubtedly has all of that with this reign. In addition, he has the respect of the veterans of the business (minus “Superstar” Billy Graham)
Can’t you see the promo unfolding in front of your eyes?
“I am the greatest WWE CHAMPION in modern history! Not only did I beat everyone in my path, I did things no other champion in this company has ever been able to. I beat Ryback, I beat Dolph Ziggler, I beat Chris Jericho, I beat Alberto Del Rio, Kane, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, I went into Elimination Chamber and walked out the champion, hell…I beat The Great One…I beat…The Rock! I have beaten everyone…”
*Lights go out*
Who IS The Undertaker going to wrestle this year? He’s guaranteed to have a match this year, and when you look at how the cards are stacked, there is a very short list of possible opponents. Cena and Rock, Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio, some combination of Orton, Ryback, Sheamus, and Big Show…none of which have the clout enough to take on ‘Taker right now. So where does that leave CM Punk? Sans opponent.
So how does this go back to the bigger picture? The Undertaker comes back and calls Punk out for having the accolades of a champion, but the mouth of a scoundrel. Undertaker has always been big on respect and I feel like he would have a huge issue with Punk in the real-life wrestler world (where wrestlers exist in a comic-book and have real backstage wrestler drama) (not to be confused with the actual real world, where Mark Calloway respects Phil Brooks).
CM Punk has the same problem with Undertaker that he had with The Rock – the schedule, the implied “veteran”/”legend” status, the way people swoon for them when they do nothing for the people, etc… the promos would be magical.
This also ties back into the Royal Rumble, because you couldn’t have the title on Punk when he faces Undertaker. There’s no way Undertaker is going to take on a championship run again, and you lose the believability of Punk being able to beat Undertaker if you keep the strap on him. Either “the Streak” ends of the Undertaker would be WWE Champion.
Also, having John Cena beat The Rock and get vindication for losing last year isn’t compelling enough. Cena has to have a driving factor underneath it all. Rock isn’t better served in any other role, and since he’ll be skating off into the Hollywood sunset immediately after ‘Mania…it only makes sense for him give Cena the rub and the title, restarting the Cena-era…for the immediate future.
It all makes sense, and could lead to a lot of great, story-filled matches at WrestleMania, and at the end of the day – that’s all we can ask for. Compelling, entertaining, riveting stories. The Rock vs John Cena for the WWE Championship and CM Punk vs. The Undertaker provide the absolute best storytelling background, possibility of money and excitement, and interest in the WWE audience. It all makes sense. Just let the story unfold…
When most people choose to eat popcorn, they eat it as a snack. I’m not sure many people sit down at the dinner table and prepare a steaming plate of popcorn as their choice meal for the evening. Also, many people don’t sit down at a restaurant and ask, “I didn’t see the price for the Popcorn Meal on the menu. I was hoping you could locate that for me!” If you meet a person that does either of these things, back away slowly, and run in the opposite direction as swiftly as possible.
This is the same mentality I take with TNA Addicts because they devour Popcorn Wrestling every week on TNA iMPACT. Total Non-Stop Anticipation is responsible for more ADHD outburst than a fireworks and laser/lights show in a room with tear away walls…wait…that IS the iMPACT Zone…
The Popcorn Wrestling that I’m referring to is the idea that a company can have a product that has a number of pop-up moments that are exhaled by the ADHD (IWC) wrestling fan base. Ultimately these Popcorn moments do not lead to anything.
After last night’s (1-17-13) episode of TNA iMPACT, I realized something very important. I am not conditioned to watch TNA due to my heightened level of analysis! TNA Addicts watch iMPACT in an episodic manner. They can celebrate every episode because that’s all they are looking for, a weekly fix.
I, along with many other members of the L.E.W.D. Crew, analyse the product for the value that it brings and the value that it provides for both the past and future product. Unfortunately, TNA does not present a product that is promising for either the past, present, or future.
SO…Last night, the wedding of Bully/Buh-Buh/Mark (he was referred to as all three last night) Ray and Brooke Hogan was to take place. The wedding went as a wedding is supposed to until it was time for the presiding official to declare them husband and wife. Tazz then proceeded to interrupt them with two points: 1. Nonsensical babbling about whether or not Bully Ray wanted to do this. 2. “Is it just me, or is it hot in here?” Then he removes his tux jacket to reveal that he was wearing an Aces & Eights vest…
This is where the separation between me and the TNA Addicts comes in. Beyond the fact that it provided a “Moment” that will be talked about in the collective basements of the 40 Addicts convulsing from their overdose of Anticipation, what good came from last night? (I’ll wait……………………………………………………….)
Let’s look at this in the three categories of time.
The biggest issue I have with this is that TNA and their Addicts have boasted about how their product is “Cutting Edge,” “Not the WWE” and “Pro Wrestling”…Now maybe I am just…NO!! For almost a month now, the show has been closed out with the “Worst GM in Wrestling” “The Infamous” Hulk Hogan, his ravaged daughter/”Knockout’s GM” Brooke, a suspended talent/”Best heel in the business” Bully/Buh-Buh/Mark Ray (Whom is now a face…), and a band of biker men that don’t have contracts or personalities but can cause chaos for the sake of chaos given that we still don’t know their motives. Pro Wrestling right?
The most recent episodes have featured the TNA Champion Jeff Hardy (carrying 2 belts) in the opening segments and maybe having a match preceding the dramatic close not involving said championship, thus making the main event the aforementioned debauchery!
Maybe I’m wrong…NO!!! That is Sports Entertainment be definition!
A moment…That’s all it was. (Thanks Da Infamous DiZ)
Tazz took off a jacket, became a public member of Aces & Eights, and this provided a brief moment of WTF. But as my good friend Mr. Quinn Gammon stated, there are 2 types of WTF’s. One is the expression of Shock and Awe, and the other is the expression of confusion and distaste. The problem with this “Moment” is that the percentages for the WTF had to be 40%/60%. This would mean that more than half of your live studio audience was confused as to what was going on, and why is the announcer guy joining the other team.
Mr. Ashley Morris brought up a great point as well in a conversation that Tazz is the “Human Suplex Machine” only to those who knew of him in his ECW days. He had a very short (unmemorable) stint as a wrestler in the WWE, so to the vast majority/casual fan, Tazz is no more than the announcer guy, and given that you can’t hear the announcers during a live recording, most of the Addicts in the arena, whom are regulars, will not be familiar to Tazz’s contribution to the product, therefore causing confusion as to why it is important for him to go to the “other side”.
Not much of one with this story…
What happens now? What value does the A’s & 8′s get with the addition of Tazz? They already have sponsored segments on the show anyways. They already have infinite access to the arena. If they can just learn how to wrestle in matches, they may actually make an impa…NO!!! They simply do not matter! We still do not know why they exist. Every other Hostile Takeover that has happened has had an immediately stated motive as to why they do what they do…except this one! That is not innovative or groundbreaking, that’s just STUPID!!!
Popcorn Wrestling is just something that I can not get into simply because I look at wrestling to be thorough entertainment. There is a big difference between whimsical and nonsensical. I will watch (and sometimes enjoy) the whimsical over the nonsensical any day. Don’t get me wrong, I love some good old-fashioned wrasslin’, but I like to deal with organization that don’t have an ongoing identity crisis!
What do you think?
Rt. Rev. Showtime
I certainly hope everyone’s 2013 is off to a great start. This is my favorite time of the year because the “Road to WrestleMania” is arguably the most intense, exciting time of the wrestling year.
That being said, here at the L.E.W.D. Headquarters I am the one who is always pontificating on weird scenarios I think I see playing out, and possible matches as we head towards the “grandest stage of them all”.
Given that tonight is the first Monday Night Raw of the New Year and officially marks the beginning of the “Road”, I thought I would share something I found very interesting and get our loyal readers feedback.
Recently, Showrenity posted some comments from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson regarding his upcoming WrestleMania match:
“The storyline will be that starting this coming Monday [for RAW], I’m gonna go back, and it’s going to be a big return. That will lead to, hopefully, what will be the biggest WrestleMania of all time at Giants Stadium. I will headline that show, with someone who I can’t say right now. We’ve got an amazing four months lined up and planned out that will culminate in the biggest WrestleMania of all time. It’s going to be a hell of a thing.”
“…biggest WrestleMania of all time.” Those are mighty big words…even for The Rock.
Now, riddle me this LEWDers… does The Rock vs. CM Punk sound like “the biggest WrestleMania of all time”? What about The Rock vs. John Cena – ‘Once In A Lifetime, Again?’ Nay, I say.
What if…WHAT IF… Cena causes Punk to lose to The Rock at the Royal Rumble out of mere spite for having not been able to beat the “People’s Champ” at WM28, hoping to once again rub shoulders with the “Brahma Bull” in New York, this year? Well, that’s all fine and dandy except that little stipulation that the winner of the Royal Rumble gets to main event at WrestleMania against a champion of their choosing (of course, not forgetting that Dolph Ziggler having his guaranteed World Heavyweight Championship match would pretty much lead the winner of the Rumble to the WWE Championship.)
Then the thought struck me – what other marquee name and match is missing from the WrestleMania line up? Ryback isn’t quite ready. Orton will need an opponent… HHH and Lesnar are set to do battle…..hmmm….(this is when I got that eerie feeling I get sometimes)
Could the Undertaker be a mystery entrant into the Royal Rumble, win it, and go on to have a true blockbuster of a match with The Rock at WrestleMania 29? Aaaaand……..discuss!
I thought about writing a year end review or a “What I’d Like to See in 2013” and said “Fuck it”; I’ll just type in a vacuum in which only my thoughts matter. Today I want to talk about how much I think the talent in WWE is great, but just horribly booked. There is no logic in most major storylines, if there is a storyline.
If you ever watch a boxing or an MMA PPV, the lead into or the build to the fight is often more entertaining than the actual fight. Think about some of the best wrasslin matches you ever saw and tell me it wasn’t the storytelling of said match that made it great!
I’m currently watching the Brock Lesnar DVD and he had great matches with the Undertaker… but it was the story, that Brock touched his wife’s pregnant stomach before Unforgiven, leading to a no contest brawl. Then before No Mercy in Hell in a Cell, he broke Undertaker’s hand, then beat the shit out of him. That easily shits all over ANY story WWE has told in the past couple of years.
Leading up to WrassleMania 27, CM Punk cost Randy Orton the WWE Championship on several occasions with help from the New Nexus, because Orton cost him the World Heavyweight Championship with help from Legacy. He defaced Orton’s bus, threatened his wife and injured his knee with a pipe. Orton took out the entire Nexus with punts… then the entire thing went to SHIT IMO when CM Punk did not win any of the great PPV matches they had.
See the huge disparity between the stories? WWE books heels weak as fuck now, making all the heat worthless. Babyfaces are supposed to overcome adversity at the end, if at all… but now faces win all the fucking time. It’s to the point where you’re shocked when heels win anything.
I’ve written about my frustration with how Alberto Del Rio is booked. IMO he is in a class with only CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan (and maybe Dolph Ziggler) in terms of pure technical wrasslin ability. He is made to look weak by constantly losing to top faces like Cena, Sheamus and Orton, and when he lost the WWE ship to Punk. Recently, out of nowhere, he was booked in a PPV tag match as a face then like a week later the nigga ran over Santa Claus, then the SAME week wrassled Big Show for the WHC as a face seeking revenge for his friend and personal ring announcer… huh!?!
WWE does not give any fucks about a little thing called “logic”. Yet another reason I believe ratings and PPV buy rates are low is because most matches are storyless, predictable jobber squash matches. Too much time is given to logic black holes like a bitch wearing a “Cougar” chain who helped not one but two men win world titles while in power… accusing someone else of having an affair. Soap opera trash.
PG rating or not, wrasslin is a violent sport. All the fuck you need to do is present a LOGICAL reason why two motherfuckers want to beat the shit out of each other. Then, don’t fuck it up by having the so-called good guy win every fucking time. Shit is REAL simple.
Hypothetical scenario: Mark Henry comes back, and in a backstage interview, he says that before he got hurt, he was beating the brakes off Superstars left and right, and now he’s back to add new names to his Hall of Pain. *camera cuts to Sheamus* Sheamus talks about how much he loves a good fight, and he’d love to pick up where they left off… because he hasn’t forgotten being thrown through the barricade at the Money in the Bank PPV. Later on its announced that they will face off in a Street Fight in the main event. Henry wins, with help from Big Show. They have a rematch at the next PPV in a cage match. Sheamus escapes the cage to win. They fight a rubber match, Big Show causes a DQ loss for Henry, who cracks him in the back with a chair, grabs a mic and says “I haven’t forgotten you taking that WHC from me at TLC… I want what’s mine!” *drops mic*
Didn’t that story sound… logical? Don’t you care what happens next?
OK, first of all… don’t get me wrong… I like “The Shield”. I like the “nWo”. I know there have been countless diatribes about how “The Shield” is the new “nWo”, and how horrible and atrocious it is. Just a few quick thoughts on the whole angle…
I think what we so often forget is that not everything needs to be reinvented or brand new. “Ice Ice Baby” and “Under Pressure” are both awesome songs. Krystal’s and White Castle – delicious. American Idol and The X Factor – entertaining. Every ride at the State Fair picks you up, spins you around, and has flashing lights…and we line up for every one of them.
You’re right, Nic. All of those things are very similar, if not identical, and we love them – but what does that have to do with pro wrestling?
A-ha! See, the nWo revolutionized everything we knew about professional wrestling at the time and to this day I challenge you to go to any live wrestling event and NOT find a dozen black and white t-shirts, and kids proclaiming everything is “Too Sweet!”. In 2002, Vince McMahon announced the end of “nWo era” in professional wrestling.
Can you believe it’s been nearly 11 years since there has been any makeup of the nWo in a professional wrestling company? 15 years since the original nWo splintered, in WCW? Yet they are still everyday conversation in the pro-wrestling world.
Which brings me to my next point – all of the biggest factions we’ve ever loved in wrestling are all ultimately the same idea, with a different a paint job. The Four Horsemen were flashier, DX was edgier, the Nation of Domination were more supremacists, The Corporation were more corporate, The Ministry was darker…yet, they all had the exact same makeup, goal, and gang warfare approach. A group of men set apart (by social class, wealth, race, lack of respect for authority, or sense of injustice…), and all decided they were going to take matters into their own hands to achieve their sought after result.
None of these groups fell flat, and all were parts of significant moments in the history of pro-wrestling. So what’s the big stink of alluding to the nWo, arguably the most influential and course shifting faction in pro-wrestling history? I see none. Now, should The Shield be running out in black and white shirts, doing black and white promos, calling themselves “The Outsiders”? No. However, any group with any sort of “invasion” aspect to its approach is going to draw comparisons to the nWo. Why not embrace that, and capitalize on it?
A few “Fantasy Booking” tips, inspired by the nWo that The Shield could benefit from:
HOW IT WAS DONE
- The Shield’s “interview” on Monday Night Raw came across incredibly awkward, flat, scripted, polished and everything that these guys are not.
HOW IT COULD HAVE BEEN (aka Armchair Quarterbacking, Fantasy Booking, HuffPuffery)
- On the second week of Monday Night Raw after The Shield had made themselves known. Not a ton of exhausting references made to them throughout the show and no discussion of who they are, by name or otherwise. Some subtle allusions to what has happened already, and during one of the third hour segments they appear from the crowd and blindside the announcers mid-commentary. Roughing them a little (grabbing tie’s, collars, shoving them out of the way, etc…)
- Acost the announcing table, and headsets. Off the cuff, unscripted, unpolished promo like a group of rogue “wrestlers” would give. Allude to who they were, and what their intent was. Mess the ringside area up a little bit on their way out, the last 15-20 seconds of the segment have no commentary, and the show cuts to commercial. When the show comes back, the announcers are back and in slight disarray and pissed about what happened.
- Not unlike this:
HOW IT WAS DONE
- We saw The Shield looming over the crowd, and ultimately interfering in key moments of the program where they felt “injustice” was present. While one or two of these group beatdowns makes sense – these could be handled differently as well.
HOW IT COULD HAVE BEEN (aka Armchair Quarterbacking, Fantasy Booking, HuffPuffery)
- At the end of the lie detector test, this past week on Raw, right when Miz has Punk cornered and the tension is building…we cut to a shot of The Shield storming into a “production truck” and bullying the director into cutting the feed. When he declines the request, they ultimately get aggressive and begin hitting all of the buttons, breaking screens, whatever it takes to “stop the injustice” from occurring.
The Shield needs a “moment”. An iconic image that signals their era has begun… who will ever forget Hogan storming to the ring during the “Hostile Takeover” match and ultimately dropping the leg on Savage, the ring filling with trash, and the cutting the promo signifying the dawning of the “New World Order of professional wrestling”?
One of the most controversial, and one of my favorite moments, was the debut of the Age Of The Fall in ROH. Words don’t do it justice, but after one of the most brutal matches in history referred to only as “Ladder War” between the Briscoe Bro’s. and Kevin Steen & El Generico, the Age Of The Fall would make their debut, hanging a sacrificial Jay Briscoe upside down above the ring, while Jacobs cuts a promo with blood dripping down all over his white suit…(ahem…what’s up Tyler Black?!)
I can’t help but feel like The Shield should have been distanced from “NXT” in their debut. The fact that they are being associated with CM Punk, the fashion in which they debuted, and their obvious connections to the developmental organization, just made the whole thing uncomfortable “Nexus-y”. I’ve intentionally avoided talking about them in this discussion, because I feel like Nexus was an unsuccessful attempt at what The Shield could accomplish, but linking the two together will almost instantly doom the angel from the beginning.
To avoid going into any more depth and detail on the intricacies of this angle, I will wrap this up. I look forward to seeing what comes of the new TLC Main Event (Ryback & Team Hell No vs. The Shield – TLC), and welcome any and all discussion, retorts, and feedback on my opinions here.
For those of you just now joining our conversation, here’s Pt. 1 of our discussion on Claire Lynch.
I’ll admit that the title of this two-part post is a bit misleading, particularly because I’ve attempted to show how the story line doesn’t have anything to do with Claire Lynch really.
The real issue is that fans have associated the story line with Claire Lynch, thus believing that her hasty exit from IMPACT Wrestling LIVE! and TNA meant the end of the story. From that perspective, yes Claire Lynch is good and gone from our television screens.
What remains is a bitter rivalry between AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, one that reaches way back into the early days of TNA Wrestling. Kazarian simply adds a new face to a symbolically ancient feud between two off-screen buddies.
Why is any of this significant? Without going into deep detail of the personal relationship between the two men, Daniels and Styles work well together in the ring because of their relationship outside of the ring. It’s no different than the bromance between BFFs Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
Collectively speaking Styles and Daniels are one of TNA’s greatest assets when it comes their product and talent roster. Both men are capable of having excellent matches, but they’re even more capable of having five-star matches with one another. This isn’t saying that all of their matches have been MOTY candidates, but 9 times out of 10 you can count on them to put on one hell of a show at any given moment.
This also happens to be one of TNA’s greatest weaknesses. The company relies heavily on these two, and when creative seemingly can’t come up with anything to do with either one of them individually, they just slap them together and let nature take its course. This creates a major problem: what exactly do you do with Daniels and Styles when the honeymoon is over? This problem is complicated further when you’ve slapped the tag team titles on Daniels and “The Other Guy.”
In three days Kazaniels, also known as the World Tag Team Champions of the World, will be celebrating the two month anniversary of their second reign as tag team champions. From June 28th (when they won the titles) up until today, they’ve only defended the titles once: on the August 9th episode of IMPACT Wrestling LIVE! against the team of Garett Bischoff and Devon.
It’s ludicrous to believe that Kazaniels should be defending the titles every week, but consider the fact that TNA proudly promotes the “wrestling” side of its product more so than the “sports entertainment” aspects and fans can begin to make some important connections between points A and B of this story line.
The World Tag Team Champions of the World are/were wrapped up in the Claire Lynch portion of the AJ Styles “golden boy” story. To place them in a significant feud with another tag team would complicate their involvement with Styles. Therefore any title matches not involving AJ Styles would only be necessary for the sake of saying that the belts have been defended.
Here’s a real rib-tickler: who would Kazaniels defend the titles against? There are very few, if any, established tag teams left in TNA right now. So even if the WTTCOTW’s were not involved with Styles, who would they defend the titles against? Hernandez y Guerrero? Kid Kash and Gunner? Magnus and Joe?
Idealistically Claire Lynch’s departure would free up the tag team champs, enabling them to get involved in a feud that value to the titles and prestige back to the division. Hell, even the Aces and 8s could provide invigoration and new blood for the failing division.
That’s not going to happen though. The tag champs are still involved in a story line with AJ Styles and adding two more individuals to the story line would unnecessarily complicate the already convoluted story line. But the story line has ended, right? That frees up AJ, Daniels and Kazarian for new story lines. Wrong again; it’s anybody’s guess as to who will win the BFG Series now that the Aces and 8s story line has taken center stage.
Here are some facts we know: the top four men in the BFG Series are (from the top down) James Storm, Samoa Joe, Rob Van Dam, and AJ Styles. The next four competitors with an immediate chance to rise above the red line of death are (from the top down) Kurt Angle, Bully Ray, Mr. Anderson, and Jeff Hardy.
The round robin portion of the BFG Series will end in two weeks on September 6th, and the four competitors above the red line of death will compete in a single elimination tournament at the No Surrender Pay Per View on September 9th. The winner of that tournament will move on to become the number one contender to face the TNA World Heavyweight Champion at the Bound for Glory Pay Per View, which takes place on October 14th.
Austin Aries, the current TNA World Heavyweight Champion, was attacked by the Aces and 8s gang on last Thursday’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling LIVE! Former champion Robert Roode has lost the right to challenge Austin Aries for that title after losing to him at the Hardcore Justice Pay Per View on August 12.
Here is a bit of speculation: Austin Aries may have suffered an injury that will keep him from competing, forcing him to vacate the title. If he’s forced to vacate the title a series of matches may take place to crown a “new” champion in a main event match at No Surrender in two weeks. Robert Roode could easily end up in the tournament and regain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, moving on to the Bound for Glory Pay Per View to face James Storm, the winner of the BFG Series and the superstar who has a major grudge to settle with Roode anyway.
Or…Robert Roode returns and demands that as the former champion and previous number one contender, he deserves the right to be crowned the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion. Interim General Manager Sting, or General Manager Hogan, places him in matches to determine the new number one contender culminating in a championship match at No Surrender. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Austin Aries, still hell bent on regaining his title, will return more focused on seeking revenge against the Aces and 8s, taking him out of the title hunt for awhile. Everyone else rallies once again against the scourge that is the Aces and 8s, including AJ Styles. But AJ has been thoroughly humiliated by Kazaniels two times, when they accused him of having an affair with Dixie Carter and when they accused him of siring Claire Lynch’s unborn and fictional child.
Logically speaking Styles cannot simply walk away from this situation. One week ago the man wrestled Daniels just to gain the right to have a paternity test to prove he wasn’t the father of the baby because he couldn’t remember whether or not he actually slept with Claire Lynch. He avoided talking to Claire, was accused of running away from his responsibilities when he went to Australia to do a promotional tour for TNA. The message from Claire’s attorney was cute and sweet, but it doesn’t explain AJ’s silence or confusion on the matter. It also doesn’t solve the initial problem: Kazaniels dislike of Styles’ golden boy image.
And there’s the question: what do you do now with Styles and Kazaniels?
The answer is simple; you keep the story going between the three of them and conclude the drama at the Bound for Glory Pay Per View OR with another Wild Card Tournament beginning in December for the World Tag Team Championships. Whatever the case may be, the feud between Kazaniels and Styles is not over and done with. With no competition, Kazaniels can still work to prove that AJ Styles isn’t as clean cut as he makes himself to be.
Styles, on the other hand, needs at least one more episode of IMPACT Wrestling LIVE! or a Pay Per View match to put Kazaniels out of their misery to move on to bigger something else. A really good way to stick it to the team would be to take the tag titles away from them again…much like he and Kurt Angle did at Slammiversary 2012; but that’s just wishful thinking. Or is it?
My last thought is this: TNA can drag out a story line for at least one year, and the true beginning of the drama between Styles, Daniels and Kazarian had nothing to do with Claire Lynch. With Lynch gone, the absurdity of the drama can be replaced with a more compelling and intriguing finish to the 500th iteration of Styles versus Daniels. At this point we can only hope that things won’t get as worse as they already have.
Thank. You. Wrestling. gods.
Thursday night’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling Live! had very few redeeming qualities, but the one silver lining bordering that dark cloud was the presumed end to the disastrous story line involving the Claire Lynch character.
For those who didn’t see the show, the story line ended like this: AJ Styles gets a paternity test, Daniels and Kazarian come out and slander his name, Claire Lynch’s legal representation shows up and reads a notarized statement from Lynch that reveals that she was blackmailed by Daniels and Kazarian and forced to drug AJ and take compromising pictures with him and that she was never actually present, AJ’s name is vindicated, he attacks both Daniels and Kazarian, and the story ends.
For the few sick sadists who want a more thorough explanation, the following video is for you:
We shouldn’t pop bottles and revel in newspaper riddled ticker tape parades of mediocrity so soon, however; unfortunately for you and I, this story line is faaaaar from over. Note the heavy emphasis on the word far back there.
The problem with celebrating the “abortion” of this story line (shout out to Da Infamous DiZ for that zinger of ironic proportions) prematurely is that we can get wrapped up in the euphoria that comes with the random abrupt ending. However, just because AJ Styles’ name has been cleared doesn’t mean we’ll hear the last of this epic and unnecessary waste of precious wrasslin’ time.
Consider these few thoughts before we jump into the topic:
- The Claire Lynch story line officially started on July 10, 2011
- Since the story line is at least 1 year old, does the disappearance of Claire Lynch mean that it’s over?
- Daniels and Kazarian have literally not defended the Tag Team Titles since winning them for the second time.
- Uhm…what the hell is up with AJ Styles’ character now?
Go back and watch the video starting at 00:37. At that point Kazarian addresses AJ Styles from the ramp:
“Whoa whoa whoa, AJ shut up for Godsakes! [dramatic pause] After all this time … you expect us to believe that? [dramatic pause] Even now, in the final hours, you’re still more concerned with protecting the AJ Styles brand than you are your own flesh and blood; AJ, you still care more about yourself than that damn demon seed you put in Claire’s womb.”
That line of dialogue from Kazarian wasn’t included in the segment for s**ts and giggles; Kazarian was reminding fans of the moment the feud started, which inevitably explains why the Claire Lynch blackmailing scandal happened in the first place.
The beef between “Kazaniels” (shout out to Mr. Gammon for that moniker) goes back to July 10, 2011, the date of TNA’s 2011 Destination X pay per view. Styles defeated on-again-off-again friend/foe Christopher Daniels in a match, prompting the latter to badger the former for a rematch.
The two faced each other again on the September 1 episode of Impact Wrestling and Daniels, after picking up the victory, refused to shake hands with Styles. For the next few weeks Daniels refused to give Styles a rematch, gloating over the victory and turning heel in the process. The two finally faced off one more time at the October 16 Bound for Glory in an “I Quit” Match that Styles won.
Styles then went on to wrestle in a tournament for the TNA World Tag Team Championships with Frankie Kazarian, who also turned heel on Styles and abandoned the Phenomenal One during the final match of the series. Kazarian then begrudgingly aligned himself with Daniels, who continued to taunt Styles. Here’s the most important question: why did Daniels hate AJ so much?
Wait…I think it was because AJ was the golden boy of the company and got the spotlight when stars like Daniels and Kazarian played the background. This is what we would refer to as foreshadowing. Literally everything that Kazaniels did after this point was designed to besmirch and sully Styles’ reputation, ultimately proving that he wasn’t the “golden boy” he appeared to be.
More matches between the three and some others take place until it is revealed that the only reason Kazarian joined Daniels was to keep him from spilling the beans about a “secret” that would ruin Styles’ career. That secret involved photos, video footage, and a taped phone message implying that Styles was having an affair with TNA President Dixie Carter. Kazaniels vehemently believed that Styles’ prominence in the company was only because he was sleeping around with the president. Carter’s husband, Serg Salinas, even makes a guest appearance on the show and levels AJ with one mighty right cross to the chin.
Raise your hand if you remember that part of the story line.
From that point Claire Lynch is eventually brought into the story line and it is revealed that the supposed intimate moments between Dixie and AJ were actually instances where AJ and Dixie were attempting to help Claire battle through her substance abuse problems. It’s also at this moment when a few fans noticed that Claire was pregnant; this too was a bit of foreshadowing.
Fast forward some more and Kazaniels begin insisting that AJ Styles is the father of Claire’s baby. There’s some back and forth, blah blah blah, Dixie disappears from the picture and we finally get the resolution to it all this past Thursday night. Or so we think…
TNA is known for its provocative, year-long storytelling; the original Immortal story line actually began way back in January 2010 when Hogan joined TNA and didn’t get revealed until one full year later. The Claire Lynch drama evolved from the Dixie Carter drama, which evolved from…you guessed it…Kazaniels being upset at AJ’s high status and regard in the company. The story line was never about Claire or Dixie, but rather about bringing AJ down a peg or two.
This is one reason why the story could continue without Claire, as she and her situation were only pawns in the grand scheme of things much like Dixie was. Don’t think so? Check out this interview with AJ Styles and pay attention to what he says about the story line, particularly how it would have “unexpected things we never would’ve thought AJ had done.” As it turns out, AJ never did any of the things Kazaniels accused him of, so…how is it this story line interesting for fans again?
It’s interesting because there’s more to it than we believe. If the story line was never really about Claire then it can surely continue without her…
Click here for Pt. 2 of this series.
IMPACT Wrestling’s BFG Series is perhaps the most important and prominently featured story in TNA today. Still in its infancy, the series places several of TNA’s wrestlers in matches where points can be earned over a period of time. At the end of the series, the wrestler with the most points gains the right to face the TNA World Heavyweight Champion at Bound for Glory, the company’s biggest Pay Per View of the year.
Seems simple enough, right?
The beauty of the series has very little to do with the complicated point system or the random occurrence of BFG series matches between house shows and Thursday night broadcasts. The real meat and potatoes of the series lie within the men chosen to participate in it. The Road to BFG, as it were, is made all the more interesting by the quirky cast of characters plodding along the way.
The destination is nowhere near as important as the path to it. Think of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as the perfect example of what the BFG Series was intended to be…in a way.
I say “in a way” because TNA’s zeal for stressing the importance of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship has diluted the significance of the men vying for it. Indeed the championship should be the top prize and most sought after title, but it’s the wrestler who brings a unique flair and some pizazz to the title reign.
If the champion has no character, he’s simply a place holder; seeing as the finishes to the matches are predetermined, what good is a dull and flaccid alpha dog that is literally nothing more than a paper champion?
Out of all the potential characters involved in the BFG Series, the one that stands out to the most is Samoa Joe. Joe’s journey to the top of this year’s BFG Series ladder is a remarkable one that in any other circumstance would have been the featured story in the midst of everything.
By the way things have transpired so far, one would be hard pressed to believe that.
Consider the facts: Samoa Joe was at the very bottom of the BFG Series last year. To be very clear about that unique circumstance, Joe was the ONLY wrestler with negative points; talk about being made an example…
In between his disappointing performance last year and today, Joe managed to become a tag team champion. This reign seemingly lit a fire underneath him, one that fueled his rise to the top of the BFG Series leader board where he’s traded places with James Storm for the number one spot on numerous occasions.
It was only one week ago that anyone in the company, including Samoa Joe, made any mention about his meteoric rise to the top of the series. Once that tidbit was spoken into existence, it dissipated into the air like along with the hope that his character would be more than just wallpaper.
Make no mistake about it: it is a huge deal for a star to make such a leap in just one year. Speaking particularly about Joe’s character, it’s amazing and ironic how far from glory Joe’s character has fallen.
At one point in TNa’s ten year history Samoa Joe was a ruthless, emotionless wrestling machine. This was the man who battered his opponents until they bled profusely, using the life-giving substance as a badge of honor in the crimson soaked towels he wore around his neck. This was the former TNA World Heavyweight Champion that endured epic matches against Kurt Angle, arguably TNA’s version of Shawn Michaels.
This was the man who, as the Samoan Submission Machine, wreaked havoc upon the TNA wrestlers with reckless abandon; those who sought mercy as Joe’s opponents were met with indifference to their wailing and a relentless barrage of force, power, and brutality.
Then came the character tweaks; he was mentored by Tazz, kidnapped wrestlers and tortured them with a fake machete. He had a one man “nation” of violence and was even kidnapped…twice.
He was a part of the Main Event Mafia; he had a silly ass feud with The Pope D’Angelo Dinero and some sort of grievance against Crimson.
He entered a period of desolation, an inexplicable MVP-like streak of losses, and various forgettable singles feuds that led him to the 2011 BFG Series. The Joe that strutted into that series was billed as a more “ruthless and focused” beast that submit people for fun after falling into a trance or out-of-body state. These actions actually led to him being disqualified for refusing to release his submission hold after winning the match.
Now does it make sense why Joe’s presence at the top of the 2012 BFG Series should be a bigger deal? But alas, it ain’t.
Fans often complain about the product of a given company, but it’s always the little things that make a huge difference. How much more important would the series be if there were little video packages here and there describing how certain wrestlers have either risen or fallen between last year and this year?
Think back to Crimson, the hands on favorite last year, who was not only usurped by Robert Roode in the series but also forced out of it due to…you guessed it…Samoa Joe. How much more meaningful would the title be if the wrestlers clawing and scratching their way up the ranks were trying to prove something other than being able to claw and scratch their way up the ranks?
For this particular analyst, Joe’s story is far more significant than anyone else in that regard. For IMPACT Wrestling to focus primarily on the “wrestling,” it’s befuddling that a wrestler and character like Samoa Joe take a back seat to convoluted storytelling, the Aces and 8s, and a series that’s more noteworthy for being a series than it is for being a proving ground.
This is the point where we look at “creative.”
Pro wrestling creative writers are often blamed for a lot of things pertaining to the product, and are crucified regularly for either having nothing for a wrestler or saddling a wrestler with a terrible character. So here we are looking directly at creative, praising them for the BFG Series while failing to critique their work on the characters within.
That is assuming that the writers for IMPACT Wrestling have anything to do with character development, which fans have been lead to believe rested more so in the hands of the TNA wrestlers and not a the team of writers.
Accusations aside there is a missed opportunity by keeping Samoa Joe and the other BFG Series wrestlers enclosed in a nifty and convenient little box. The series is important, the title is important, but the characters are the ones who make everything all the more interesting. Without them, their move sets and abilities, their charisma and intensity, all fans would have would be an unnecessarily and lengthy series that could have easily been replicated with a single elimination tournament.
That’s just my two cents on the situation though.
OK…Brace Yourself. Innocent ears be warned…Mr. Quinn Gammon is allowed to verbally express his thoughts and feelings on TNA current events.
Disclaimer…if you are a TNA fan, this might hurt a little…
This is the final installment of this series. Be on the lookout for more from both Mr. Quinn Gammon and I.
We hope you have enjoyed this journey, and we hope it will bring you back for more. Just like WWE 3-hour RAW, we are just getting started, so it will take time to improve so be patient.
We take a look at the WWE Diva’s Division, and what are some issues and interferences with what has kept them from prominence.
And this is the final statement on the WWE overall atmosphere.
The TNA X-Division is the new topic of discussion. What’s right, and what’s wrong with it all?
The challenge of keeping opinions to ourselves becomes more difficult as we move on to Hard(core) Justice and Austin Aries as TNA Champion.
OK….We take a turn
for the worst to TNA. The Bound For Glory Series is the topic, and Mr. Quinn Gammon is ready to crunch some numbers.
I decided to take a page from Da Infamous DiZ’s book, and do an audio post. I hope you like it. It might be amateur at best, but I just wanted to make some points. (Believe me, this is harder than it seems!)
Let me know what you think.
I originally wrote this letter to TNA on August, 20th, 2009, and after a STELLAR (sarcasm) Sacrifice (aptly performed on Mother’s Day), I realized that things haven’t really changed that much… The stables have dissolved, but the problems still are lurking.
Here it is in it’s entirety. The letter was titled: A Proud TNA Fan!
Dear Dixie Carter and the TNA Staff,
My name is Zachary Banks, and I have been a fan of professional wrestling for over 20 years. I am only 25, so 20 years is what I can remember. I want to ask that you give me the chance to express myself about my thoughts on the product.
First, I want to apologize for lying about my pleasure in the product. I did that in hopes that you would actually read my letter. Please hear me out.
I remember the days of the big three companies that were running the pro-wrestling circuit. WWE, WCW, & ECW molded the industry to a point that TNA could even have the chance to be an organization. TNA has shown a lot of respect to that idea…maybe even too much respect. Having former WWE talent (whether they were mid-card or main event in the WWE) can aid the promotion of TNA, but to group them together and make them stronger than the original TNA talent is very nearsighted. You have a WWE shadow over the company that has swallowed all attention away from the talent that you once were known for harvesting. Even recently, regardless of if he wanted to move or not, taking Don West off of iMPACT to move him to merchandising only to be replaced by Taz further proves the fact that TNA is becoming a WWE retirement home.
Today the three are WWE, TNA, and ROH. DragonGate U.S.A. is growing in popularity, but it is hard to view them as one of the main stream organizations (not to mention, that ROH is still trying to get off of YouTube, so that gives you a scale of what is going).
Another of the problems is that TNA championships are not worth much these days and MEM is to thank for that as well. With MEM holding all the titles at once, it sets the precedent that the only way to be championship caliber in TNA is to have been a remote success in WWE, still setting WWE at the top of your show. One of the things that killed WCW was using the WWE name to ‘boost’ their ratings, and in turn, their usage boosted WWE ratings (ex. Oklahoma gimmick and premature announcement of Mick Foley winning the WWE Title before it happened just to name a couple).
TNA is slowly becoming an unofficial development brand for WWE. Look at Christian for example. He was in TNA and held the title in what I would like to consider the ladder days of TNA meaningful champions. He rose to the top very quickly and proved that he was a competitor that deserved the respect of the fans. But then TNA started making one of a series of mistakes. TNA belittled one of their biggest stars, and one of their originals in AJ Styles by having him dumbed down to being a flunky with Tyson Tomko. A move that obviously set back AJ’s career four to five years. Now he is jobbing to a guy that is what TNA wanted Tomko to be in the ‘Blueprint’ Matt Morgan. Using AJ Styles to put over Matt Morgan is like having a 5 year-old trying to teach a 3 year-old how to defeat a world-class chess player. If you want to put over a new wrestler, use the older talent to put him over, not the talent that has yet to reach their potential.
Goldberg, Sting, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, John Cena, The Rock, Stone Cold, RVD, Sabu, Terry Funk, Low-Ki, etc. are a few names of guys that were put on the top of their respective companies. Who has TNA used…I’ll wait… The storylines are more important than not only the belts, but the talent as well. It’s not about Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles or Matt Morgan, it’s about MEM vs. TNA. This is a signature of Vince Russo. The creation of random factions to raise conflict which in turn become more important than the wrestlers involved, and the titles that are at stake. People have stopped watching to find out who will be the next TNA champ, they are now watching to see when is TNA going to defeat MEM. In the attempts to bring back an nWo vs. WCW feel, TNA has erased any legacy that TNA could have built as its own company. The difference between the two scenarios is that WCW was well established and was on the heels of the WWE when nWo was produced. Also, when WCW kept adding WWE talent to the nWo, they put up well known and established WCW talent to combat this. Not to mention that the nWo was listed as a plague of the company and they spent a lot of their time trying to distant themselves from WCW and the way they worked and nWo became more of a brand and not a faction thus the WCW/nWo PPV era began.
I don’t mean to insult your wrestling knowledge with the history lesson, but I do mean to awaken thoughts through history by using history for its purpose to learn from it. I am not a person that is trying to bash your product, but I am a wrestling fan that hopes for an alternative to the WWE entertainment antics. There are people like Paul Hayman & Gene Sapolsky that are just a ton of talent and have the drive to bring a company like TNA out of the shadows of the WWE and into the forefront of the pro-wrestling world.
Anyone else see the parallels?
TNA had a couple of things trending Worldwide on Twitter…yet at the same time, Zack Ryder was trending Worldwide, without being on Television… TNA needs to step it up.
We here at L.E.W.D. discussed earlier today the intent of crafting pieces that celebrated 4/20. While I myself do not partake in said “sticky-icky,” and while I’m not entirely sure that my fellow L.E.W.D. brethren avoid the cannabis as well, who are we to deprive you, our loyal reader, of some lighthearted celebratory hijinks involving our wit and the long list of pro wrestling’s most popular potheads?
Seeing as it’s currently nine minutes until Smackdown and said article(s) haven’t seen the light of day on this site, I guess that would make us a bunch of jerks…so be it.
But while we’re on the subject of Smackdown, and I have a few minutes to murder before moving on to my next duty of the day, please allow me the time to release a poignant, well-constructed, and hallucinogenic free rant against one of the WWE’s newest superstars…
…Damien effing Sandow…
Let the ellipses show that yours truly has not the first positive or supportive thing to say about Damien effing Sandow. I dislike Damien effing Sandow and highly doubt that he’ll add anything to Smackdown or the WWE.
*Disclaimer: The following is a tirade against the character Damien effing Sandow and not the man portraying that character, Aaron Stevens. Mr. Morris is sure that Mr. Aaron Stevens is a fine, law-abiding citizen, a doting husband, father, and son, and an organ donor. But the reality is that he’s boring as goose-s**t and so too will Damien effing Sandow be.
Those of you that visit this site routinely know that I will often watch and comment on two of the WWE’s lesser known and viewed shows: NXT and Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW).
For our two readers that just realized there were WWE shows outside of RAW and Smackdown, FCW is a developmental territory for the WWE. Simply put, it’s where new hires receive their standard WWE training before being brought up to the main roster (i.e. RAW or Smackdown). FCW is also the nether-realm main roster stars get sent back to if they can’t cut the mustard on the main roster.
This is where Damien effing Sandow comes from, and this is where he should stay in my humble-yet-vociferous opinion.
My opinion of effing Sandow is based on what I’ve seen of him through the YouTubed episodes of FCW that I watch routinely. From what I’ve seen and heard, there’s nothing about this character that is invigorating, energizing, entertaining, depressing, or noteworthy of any response outside of what happens whenever the Divas appear on television.
There is very little from this character that warrants or elicits any type of emotional response on either end of the spectrum. He’s about as bland as plain ice cream (not Vanilla…plain), and eight times less likely to be screamed for that America’s least favorite flavor of the tastiest frozen treat known to anyone except me.
Stop; I know what you’re thinking or probably saying: “But Mr. Morris, CLEARLY effing Sandow is good at what he’s doing because he’s made you hate him…which is on the end of the supposed spectrum you mentioned before badmouthing ice cream. You, sir, are a liar and a hypocrite.”
If you actually thought or said this, then much like John Cena, you’re only half-right. “Hating” Damien effing Sandow is indeed on one end of the spectrum, but that’s an entirely different spectrum than the one I mentioned above. I don’t “hate” Damien effing Sandow because of his heel character; I “hate” Damien effing Sandow because he made it to the main roster!!!
A lot of my friends/followers and some fans on the world wide internets actually like the character. He’s appeared on our TVs twice, spouting off this or that about how he’s going to essentially bring class back to the WWE. Think of him as an unmasked Matt Classic from Wrestling Society X, but less entertaining and way more yawn-inducing:
In reality, Damien effing Sandow is more of an unholy hybrid of Lanny Poffo’s “The Genius” character and Bob Backlund. Even still those two were at least mildly entertaining…unlike effing Sandow…
Here…watch one of his matches. He’s wrestling Richie Steamboat, son of WWE Legend Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Effing Sandow doesn’t even have an elbow strike that looks intimidating…and he’s wrestling against a Steamboat!
Sad thing is, this isn’t effing Sandow’s first run in the WWE! He wrestled as Idol Stevens alongside KC James as Michelle McCool’s “Teacher’s Pets.” This worked well for Stevens, so well that they sent him back to developmental and he was released from the WWE in 2007.
Everyone deserves a second chance, however, and Stevens was given one when the WWE hired him back three years later in 2010. Effing Sandow was born and now we get to be bored to tears again. Lucky us.
But this post is Booking 101, and I’d be a super jackass if I didn’t suggest something that would make effing Sandow less hated from my own perspective. In his defense I will say that wrestling in front of 7,000+ people on Smackdown is very different than wrestling in front of 100 people in the FCW arena. Perhaps effing Sandow will rise to the occasion and cause me to rethink my whole stance here.
I sincerely doubt it. To be very sincere with you, I think he’s the second coming of Eric Escobar.
What would I do if I had to book effing Sandow? I’d leave him in FCW and bring up Richie Steamboat, Seth Rollins, or Xavier Woods until I figured out what to do with him besides release him again. That’s all I got.
But alas, this rant isn’t all about me. I’m intrigued by what YOU would do with him. Let me know, and try not to be offended if I laugh in your face.
It was only a matter of time before someone here at L.E.W.D. Headquarters got into fantasy booking…
John Cena has been at the center of controversy for quite some time now. A staple of WWE programming for almost 10 years, Cena has done everything and beaten everyone at least once. He rarely loses matches clean, he’s yet to submit or quit, and the only thing that can stop him outside of kryptonite is…well…kryptonite.
As a result, numerous fans in the coveted 18-34 male demographic have viciously booed him at every single waking moment possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if at least ten people somewhere in the continental United States wake up and grimace at a life sized cardboard cut-out of Cena before they brush their teeth.
After years of putting off a “heel turn” for Cena, the WWE decided to throw us angry fans a bone and have returning superstar Kane personally escort Cena through the 9 circles of Hell. And as we all stand guard like Cerberus, watching gleefully as Kane forces Cena to gaze upon the faces in the frozen lake of the future endeavored, I found one person that was actually pissed off at the whole scenario.
So the question hit me like a ton of bricks: if I had the power to book John Cena for the new generation, how would I do it? That’s the question I’m going to answer here!
Luckily for you, my many hours of playing General Manager mode and Story Editor on the Smackdown vs. RAW and WWE ’12 video games have trained me well in the art of fantasy booking! Hooray video games
Disclaimer: I must note, however, that the following creative direction DOES NOT make me a pro at telling any pro wrestling/sports entertainment creative writer, company owner, catering specialist or pyro technician how to do their job. The following is merely a hypothetical situation created by a fan who enjoys pro wrestling a little too much.
Fans today are pissed off because John Cena is 1) an unbeatable baby face that 2) is always at the top of the ladder and is 3) rarely defeated unless someone cheats. The WWE has used this tried and true formula for Cena for most of his career, and it’s just as bland now as it was when they gave him his first colorful t-shirt.
Today’s most vocal fan base has grown weary of this John Cena and have urged the company to turn him heel, something he hasn’t been since prior to WrestleMania going Hollywood (WrestleMania 21 in 2005). Even I threw my two cents into the pot and said that the company should at least consider making his character edgier.
But if I had my hand on Vince McMahon’s wallet and my mind working at the head of his creative team, I wouldn’t turn Cena at all or make him edgy. In fact, I’d keep him just like he already is…a boring motivational speaker with a limited move-set.
The problem from that perspective lies not in Cena, but in the fact that he’s beaten everything. From Umaga to Otunga, Batista to Shawn Michaels, Cena has bested them all and managed to stay at the top of the mountain. Why mess with success?
The beauty of that problem is the fact that the solution lies with in it as well. If Cena has beaten everything, then throw something at him that not only tests his limitations but also eventually defeats him and takes him off of television for at least two months.
This would come in the form of a new superstar, a debuting wrestler that is shown through vignettes to be brutal, fierce, intense, and about as destructive as the actual act of destruction itself.
They’d show footage of this superstar from the previous organizations (or at least grainy WWE house show footage) he’s been in, particularly more of his devastating maneuvers and techniques than anything. They’d have wrestlers (jobbers with made up credentials) or Hall of Famers talk about how brutal he is and how he’s a force to be reckoned with.
The the last guy, perhaps a WWE trainer or road agent (Arn Anderson or Dean Malenko would be perfect) would chime in lastly saying something along the lines of, “He’s only got one goal in the WWE, and that is to be the best. But of course, if you’re gonna be the best, you’ve got to beat the best…” Then they’d show a montage of stars, like Orton, Sheamus, Cena…
So that trainer/road agent would be asked by someone off camera, “Do you think he’s good enough to beat the superstars of the WWE?”
The trainer/agent would chuckle and say, “It’s not him I’m worried about…”
Then they’d show a graphic of Cena raising the WWE Title at one of the WrestleMania events, and superimpose the face of the debuting star over that image. The music bed ends with a chorus of fans repeatedly chanting “[insert star's name here]‘s gonna kill you!”
Do this for a month or so, however long its necessary to hype his debut in the company. Meanwhile Cena can steamroll over whomever because it really doesn’t matter who he’s facing at the moment. But in that time frame, Cena must win/be in possession of the WWE Championship. For the sake of what I’m suggesting, let’s have Cena winning the title at a pay per view the night before our star debuts.
Cena starts off the show with his championship, running from behind the curtain out to his usual divided fanfare. All smiles, Cena primps and preens to his supporters as the announcers wash lovingly over his hard fought victory at the pay per view. He slides into the ring, does his little thing, grabs a mic and does his usual schtick.
He starts to ramble about being in a championship drought, how he fought and clawed his way back to the top, and goes into how he’s the best and “The Champ is here!!!” blah blah blah. Then he issues a challenge to anyone who wants to face him…
He’s cut off by the music and Titantron video of our debuting star, who walks out oozing intensity and seriousness from behind the curtain. Cena nods respectfully at the man making standing on the ramp, who the announcers talk about and make mention that his first match will happen later on in the show.
Here’s where I have to stop to give you an idea of who I envision in this role, because what happens next in the ring won’t make proper sense without you knowing who I have in mind.
I would ideally hire one of two men to initiate the Fall of John Cena; the first man is Shingo Takagi…
The second man is…Samoa Joe…
Shingo or Joe would walk to the ring as Cena stared back at them, adjusting the title over his shoulder as if to subtly assert his alpha male status inside the ring. Our debuting star steps up to the ring apron without taking his eyes off of Cena, the crowd firmly behind him chanting “[insert star's name here]‘s gonna kill you! [insert star's name here]‘s gonna kill you!” The announcer’s make note of the crowd’s response, but also note how Cena maintains a cool demeanor despite the reaction of the fans.
Our star then makes the obligatory “support me” gesture to the fans (raises arms, neck slice, hand gesture, whatever), the music dies, the fans are still chanting when our star receives his microphone. Cena nods again, and even applauds our debuting star and licks his lips to fire the warning shot.
“As the new WWE Champion,” Cena says while adjusting the title over his shoulder, “let me be the first superstar to welcome you to the WWE.” Our debuting star simply stares at Cena.
“Now I also want to congratulate you…to congratulate you for having the stones to answer my challenge without even having your first match here in the WWE. That takes guts, son…” Shingo/Joe just stares at Cena.
Cena continues, “But I gotta tell you, testicles the size of grapefruits, Texas, and the entire eastern seaboard are not enough to make me back down from a…”
Cena gets picked up off the mat and tossed out of the ring. The crowd is going nuts, the announcers are going bonkers, Cena is trying to shake the cobwebs loose from his head.
Shingo/Joe grabs the mic, walks over to the ropes and spits venom at Cena. “Quit talking, just fight you big bitch!”
Cena looks up at amazement at the man in the ring that just knocked him on his ass, and as he stands up to run back into the ring, the standard security force runs in to keep the two men from tearing one another apart. John Laurinaitis makes good use of himself and comes out to make sure Cena doesn’t damage the WWE’s latest commodity, and reminds the Champ that he should save his energy for the rematch he has later that night.
The men are broken apart, and we see Cena mouth the words “This isn’t over,” to Shingo/Joe, who’s in the ring smiling and making just-bring-it like gestures taunting Cena while his music plays amid fan’s cheering.
The rest of the night goes as you would expect it to; Cena interferes in Shingo/Joe’s match to get revenge, Shingo/Joe shows up in the main event and stares at Cena from the ramp as The Champ wins via submission.
But how is our star being groomed to take out John Cena? Shouldn’t Cena be able to waltz through this competitor just like any other star? What makes Shingo/Joe so special that Mr. Ashley Morris has handpicked either one to be the instrument that leads to Cena’s fall?
Guess you’ll have to wait for the next installment to find that out. But until then, enjoy these two videos: