Tag Archives: AJ Styles

“I’ll Give You What For!” – The Balls (or Ovaries) to Be Different

IGYWFThe current pro wrestling tension between TNA and WWE fans revolves around an ill-conceived concept of “originality.”  For whatever reason it has become very important for fans to claim ownership of a concept, storyline, character or idea on behalf of their favorite company.  Fans calculate these “original” ideas, creating a laundry list with hopes of triumphantly stating that one company is more “original” than the other.

The whole process of doing this is cumbersome and overrated.  There is very little “originality” coming from the three U.S. promotions that have television deals and to argue about it is to engage in a fool’s errand.  Truthfully speaking it’s just like arguing over the pros and cons of hanging toilet paper from the over or under position.

People by and large are resistant to change, and the more time goes on the more people desire for things to stay in one static state of dependability where they can remain comfortable as absurdly possible.  Pro wrestling and her fans are not excused from this plight, and in fact may be more susceptible to acquiescing to familiarity more often than not.

But in order for this capitalist consumer based society to continue trudging along the way, we the people have to “believe” that change is happening all around us.  We’re fed fairy tales about how things are getting better when, in reality, it’s pretty much the same mess with a fresh coat of paint.  The very same is true of pro wrestling; a company appears to be on the verge of making a cutting-edge change, but in reality fans are seeing the product moonwalk itself into stagnancy and mediocrity.  Things are only made worse by the fact that we’re all essentially arguing over which promotion is more mediocre than the other.

Real change, serious dynamic moves towards a better and brighter future, is one gigantic pain in the ass.  To enact change is to embark upon a journey that speaks against our desire to be comfortable, a long and tedious expedition that requires the discipline and intent to continue along the path until it ends and the desired results are attained.  That’s what true success is all about, creating a goal and working to bring that goal to fruition.  It the desired results from an intended goal are not realized, then an effort was not successful; end of story.

For any promotion to produce “original” content, their goals from the very beginning must contain an element of change that will not sit well with fans.  Change will alienate people; change will make diehard fans question the product or even turn away from it.  However, if the desired results are necessary, then—be it subtle or overt—change must happen and fans must be conditioned to accept the journey that comes along with adapting to that change.

Real change, however, decreases revenue and profit in the short term.  Real change, however, forces fans to think differently about the way they view the product and choose to support it.  Real change effects everyone, from the top down and bottom up.  Real change hurts, and with fans being as penny pinching as Ebenezer Scrooge, very few people have the testicular or ovarian fortitude to test the waters for fear of failure and alienating consumers who pad their pockets with cold hard cash.

As fans who invest in the product one way or another, let’s be real with each other and discuss what real change means for our favorite companies and how it affects us.  We have to be honest with ourselves: we don’t want real change.  If we did, we would’ve given up on both TNA and WWE years ago in favor of much more fulfilling and authentic pro wrestling.  But alas, our insatiable hunger for sports entertainment is as vicious as our desire for a fast food; we like crap, and we’re content with having more streamlined crap than anything of substance.  And that’s absolutely fine, but we’ve got to admit that’s where we are and that the real debate is on whether we prefer TNA’s crap over WWE’s crap.

To be fair TNA’s crap seems less refined than the mess peddled by WWE only because of the relative infancy in the business.  By comparison, TNA appears to produce a more “original” product than WWE because WWE has produced “original” content for fifty plus years.  That “original” programming has grown stale and is (truthfully speaking) held to a different standard than TNA because of its seniority.  To speak of TNA’s lovable “growing pains” is the nice way of speaking about the WWE’s lackluster and uninspired product.  Dress those comments as we may, it’s all still one big steaming pile of crap.

If both companies are producing crap and we’re content with arguing over who’s crap is more “original” than the other, how can either company truly be different?  How can either company justify bringing real change to the product if we’re too busy discussing or nuancing the ways they can refine their crap?  Simply put, it won’t happen because we’ve been conditioned to accept mediocrity as a norm.  To really push the boundaries of our imaginations, to really invest in a logical and consistent storyline that creates long term fidelity instead of short term satisfaction, is to say something profound to each promotion in a way that will justify changing the product for the betterment of the business overall.

Here’s a thought I’ve promoted over various social media outlets many times before, and I’m thoroughly convinced neither TNA nor WWE have the balls (or ovaries) to be different in this regard: why not create a major storyline with female wrestlers as the leads and showcase them in a main event spot during a pay per view?

Don’t let the hype and speculation fool you; as much as the SI.com article about TNA and Dixie Carter would have you believe that she’s entering a world dominated by men (which she is), Dixie Carter is also among female contemporaries with just as much power and swag (if not more) as she has.  Dixie Carter is in competition with Stephanie McMahon-Levesque and Bonnie Hammer (president of USA Networks).  With McMahon-Levesque being made the “face” of her father’s promotion and touting that forty percent of the WWE’s audience is compromised of women, with Bonnie Hammer continuing to dominate cable network television, and with Dixie Carter stepping out into the fracas, now would be an optimal time for either organization to prove their mettle using such a storyline.

And it’s honestly not that hard a thing to do or accomplish.  Today’s society sees a movement to establish both equality and equity between genders; if the writers can craft a simple and compelling storyline, it shouldn’t matter who plays the part.  The only thing that will inevitably change is the way the protagonist in the story responds to the changing elements around them.  Replace AJ Styles and Magnus with Gail Kim and Brooke Tessmacher respectively; replace Randy Orton and John Cena with AJ Lee and Natalya.  Can we honestly say with a straight face that the storylines involving these women would diminish in quality because of their presence?

Of course there are several reasons as to why such a move would fail horribly; women’s wrestling is a niche market, a large swath of fans really don’t want to see a main event women’s angle, blah blah blah.  But with so many fans complaining of the industry’s lack of originality, wouldn’t it make more sense to push the envelope in this way?  Aren’t fans always complaining about the piss poor way women’s wrestling is treated here?  Wouldn’t you, loyal and true pro wrestling fan,  want to have the opportunity to brag about how your favorite wrestling promotion was the first to pioneer the industry with a successful major storyline involving women?

Nah … we want the same old crap.  We’d rather celebrate the insipid trailblazing of a women’s division that lacks direction and … well … women.  We’d rather sit idly by as the Total Divas are paraded incessantly before our eyes in an endless series of nonsensical matches and segments that are barely related to anything.  We’d rather be the first to complain and whine about how bad one promotion treats its female athletes, ignore how badly the other promotion is treating their women’s division, and utilize any time in between to take pee breaks.  Then we’ll simply turn around and blame the promotions for not doing things the way we’d like to see them, even though we already know deep within our hearts that we honestly don’t want to see either promotion veer too far away from what we know and love about them already.

This is why I say very few people have the balls (or ovaries) to do something different or to be different in pro wrestling.  We’re all slaves to familiarity, and a promotion won’t risk alienating investors and advertisers to placate our selfishness.  We’ll pay very good money to John Cena’s name in a main event marquee, but we won’t drop as nearly as much coin when Daniel Bryan is placed in the same situation.  Argue against that if you choose to, but it is a stone cold fact; he who sells the most merchandise will be justifiably placed in the forefront, and the needle won’t move for anyone else until we create the demand for such a star.  “They” don’t have the balls (or ovaries) to mess with that formula because we don’t have the balls (or ovaries) to be more than barking seals for what’s familiar and comfortable.

Yes it’s a ballsy move to create a network to showcase your vast library of pro wrestling history or continue to funnel money into a film studio that produces a steady stream of B-movies much to the delight of no one.  Yes it’s a ballsy move to go head-to-head with a promotion that has a stranglehold on the business and to continue to buck a system that grows more stifling and hostile with each passing year.  Creating the same type of product, mimicking the product of your competition, and refusing to put serious coin and consideration behind anti-typical wrestling superstar isn’t ballsy; it’s safe, it guarantees profit (be it large or small), and it conditions us all to go along with flow, believing we’re ultimately powerless to truly dictate what it is we like and want.

At the end of the day, the three major promotions aren’t all that different from one another when it comes to being “original.”  There are very few individuals at this point in the game who have the unmitigated gall to push boundaries or at least try to be different and original in presenting their pro wrestling product (thank God for CHIKARA, Japanese wrestling, DragonGateUSA, EVOLVE, SHIMMER, Shine and WSU).  But until we, the fans who pay money to see the action and drama displayed in between the ropes, expand our horizons and ask for something truly and deeply different instead of something superficially aesthetic, then all we’re going to get is what we’ve been getting … the same old mess.  If we get the same old mess, all we’re going to have is the same old pointless complaints and hollow accolades.

So the real question is, how many of us have the balls (or ovaries) to be different?

The TNA World Heavyweight Title Situation (WARNING: Includes Spoilers)

The following post consists of a recent lecture given at L.E.W.D. Headquarters by Mr. Ashley Morris.  This lecture was intended for the purposes of boosting morale and attempting to end arguments of perpetual mediocrity surrounding a current and most sensitive topic among wrestling fans.

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AJ Styles is not the TNA World Heavyweight Champion.

In fact he has not been the TNA World Heavyweight Champion or TNA’s World Heavyweight Champion since he “left” the promotion with the title on the October 25 edition of IMPACT Wrestling.

To further solidify Styles’ particular position with regards to his former employer, TNA Wrestling, LLC, the promotion’s president Dixie Carter stripped Styles of the title and also stated publicly that he had stolen her company’s intellectual property (i.e. the TNA World Heavyweight Championship belt).  She went more in depth with her feelings about her situation with AJ Styles via the questionably revolutionary #IMPACT365 video series.

Without a TNA World Heavyweight Champion (or title belt), Dixie was inspired to create a tournament to crown a new champion, a tournament in which homegrown TNA wrestler Magnus will eventually win.  Upon the date of Magnus’ coronation as the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion, AJ Styles will return to IMPACT Wrestling and issue a challenge to Magnus and make the arguable claim that he is the “true” TNA World Heavyweight Champion…a world traveled champion that defended an unsanctioned title in unsanctioned matches.

Magnus will force Dixie Carter to schedule a match between the two men, a match in which Magnus will prove (*snicker*) that he’s far more than the “paper champion” AJ Styles will purport him to be.  Magnus will defeat AJ Styles with some major outside interference from nine different wrestlers, and will be crowned TNA World Heavyweight Champion.

Here’s the million dollar question: will Magnus be the unified TNA World Heavyweight Champion, or will he be the undisputed TNA World Heavyweight Champion?

Like it or not, this man WILL BE your undisputed TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
Like it or not, this man WILL BE your undisputed TNA World Heavyweight Champion.

If fans think logically about this match, they can easily see that Magnus will become the undisputed TNA World Heavyweight Champion when he defeats AJ Styles.  Both men claim to be the rightful TNA World Heavyweight Champion, and technically speaking, Magnus is the only one making the truthful and correct claim.  AJ Styles “disputes” Magnus’ claim, and will effectively challenge him to prove the validity of his perspective via athletic competition.

AJ Styles, on the other hand, claims to be the true TNA World Heavyweight Championship because he was not defeated for said title.  His claim, however, can be “disputed” because he was stripped of his title as TNA World Heavyweight Champion by the promotion’s president, making the belt he possesses unsanctioned per the decree of the promotion’s president.  In an effort to further support the validity of his own claim, Magnus will place his title and championship on the line, thus forcing Styles to prove the validity of his claims and accusations.

Simply put, the match that will take place between Magnus and Styles is an epic battle that will crown an undisputed TNA World Heavyweight Champion, a champion where an argument cannot be made against his legitimacy to the throne.

There are no two titles that are to be “unified” when Magnus and Styles face each other…unless one is willing to admit that AJ Styles is not the true TNA World Heavyweight Champion and is merely placing his own personal unsanctioned title—the AJS World Heavyweight Title, as Dixie Carter stated via the #IMPACT365 video—on the line.

If this is the case, then Magnus is slated to become not only the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, but also the AJS World Heavyweight Champion.  If Magnus is both the TNA and AJS World Heavyweight Champion, TNA can rightfully be accused of unintentionally creating another title (and division) that was the unholy by-product of an angle that started with the Claire Lynch storyline; no self-respecting fan wants that to happen or admit that something like that actually happened, right?

Therefore, the bout that will take place between Magnus and AJ Styles will result in the crowning of the UNDISPUTED TNA World Heavyweight Champion.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, please read the following spoiler taken from the latest set of IMPACT Wrestling taping results:

“Dixie brought out referee Brian Stiffler. Everyone was holding Sting back. Magnus made the pin. EC3 Magnus Spud and Dixie celebrated. Dixie grabbed a mic and presented to the fans ‘your undisputed TNA World Heavyweight Champion’ and they all left.” (Credit: Wrestling World News)

Just A Thought: The WWE and TNA Heavyweight Title Situations

It has been said that a picture is worth one thousand words.  Seeing as I really can’t wrap my thinking around my frustration with the heavyweight title scene in either TNA or WWE at this moment, I figured it’d be better to at least set the stage using pictures instead of words.

Shout out to Mr. Christopher Lamb for inspiring the follow simple, easy-to-understand graphics.  Disclaimer: HOWEVER you feel about either wrestling promotion—good, bad, or indifferent—please do not enter into ANY conversation regarding their storylines regarding their own heavyweight championships without EXPLICITLY highlighting the following points:

Unification_01Unification_02

IMPACT Wrestling Review 11-21-13, a.k.a. “Now It All Makes Sense”

i sowwyIs there a slight chance that certain fans and analysts tend to be a tad overly critical of Dixie Carter and her wrestling promotion Total Non-stop Action Wrestling, LLC?

Supporters of Dixie and TNA’s product have produced tons of articles and message board posts that analyze and pick apart the criticisms levied against the promotion, often coming to the conclusion that most claims designed to demean and demoralize the product are unsubstantiated and asinine at best.  More often than not the conclusion is that fans who “hate” TNA are just “marks” for World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.; these fans “hate” the quality and consistently solid wrestling and drama produced by TNA and dismiss it for the “crap” mass produced by the “stale and awful” sports entertainment promotion owned by Vince McMahon.

Is there any validity to these criticisms, however?  What is it about the promotion that makes it an easy target for punchlines, one-liners, rumors, speculation, and just all around bullying?  On one hand it could be said that it’s proudly professed position in the pro wrestling hierarchy (the 2nd largest pro wrestling promotion in the world) subjects it to fans’ barbs more so than any other promotion.  Then again the same could also be said of the number one promotion in the world…

Perhaps there is a distinct difference between “hatred” for the product and a genuinely logical argument questioning its practices and programming.  More so now than ever before in the history of things in this country there is a concentrated effort to placate the feelings of one another by avoiding overly harsh criticism unless it’s directed towards someone or something one cares very little about.  It’s like believing one’s child is a complete angel with few behavioral problems here and there, while everyone else remains lax with rearing their demon-spawned offspring.

The bottom line of it all, irregardless of which side of the TNA love/hate fence you sit on, is that people like what they like.  Everyone is entitled to have an opinion based off of their experiences and perception of life; the vicious back and forth between TNA supporters and detractors will continue until the end of time.  And while criticism launched against TNA may be unjustified and unnecessary more often than not, one would be hard-pressed to deny that the promotion has done some boneheaded s**t in the past eleven years with the same consistently solid locomotion that’s propelled them from obscurity to global recognition in such a short span of time…

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Lest we forget…

Again, it’s all about experience and perspective.  TNA and its president, Dixie Carter, are not all bad (though some would disagree; Hi Mr. Gammon!) and they do serve a particular purpose in the cosmos.  Whether one consistently congratulates or reprimands the product depends on their perspective on TNA’s place in the cosmos and their experience in understanding the context of that perspective.

Unfortunately for us pro wrestling/sports entertainment fans, TNA’s position in the cosmos is—and may always be—resting quietly in the massive eclipse produced by Vince McMahon’s WWE Death Star hovering ever so confidently in the spotlight.  In and of itself TNA succeeds at a particular thing: producing good to great pro wrestling (as professed in its mission statement in the corporate section of their website).  That good to great pro wrestling, however, will always be compared to that of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.  Such is the way of individuals living in a culture where there are “options” for almost everything.

This long philosophical diatribe was necessary for this particular review of IMPACT Wrestling because it sets the foundation for my upcoming commentary, some views that are sure to spark a debate somewhere that could take any given conversation about the show or the promotion to a level much more sophisticated than the standard “This show sucks/this show was great/TNA does all things better than dot-dot-dot” debate that’s more regular than baby bowel movements.

Personally speaking I found the Sports Illustrated.com feature article on Dixie Carter and TNA Wrestling, LLC more entertaining and enlightening than I did last night’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling.  Congratulations are in order for Carter and her promotion being featured in Sports Illustrated.  In all sincerity if you haven’t read the piece, I would strongly suggest you do so after reading the piece you’re currently looking at.

What is there to say, however, when an article in Sports Entertainment provides more entertainment than the actual product it speaks of?  I wouldn’t go as far as others to say the show was “bad” (Hi Mr. Lamb!); what I will say that there was very little in the show that pulled me in and made me want to invest more attention and energy into what was happening.  Even the fact that it was the Turning Point themed episode of IMPACT Wrestling and the company’s return to a home base in Orlando made very little difference in my reception of the overall entertainment value of the show.

The Dixie Carter feature on Sports Illustrated.com, on the other hand, did make me want to invest more attention and energy into the promotion.  The feature article gave me new insight and information on Mrs. Carter-Salinas, and even explained in tons of ways why she has made some of the more seemingly ridiculous business decisions she’s made in her tenure as TNA President.  The feature article put into perspective for me why she, and by proxy her company, is truly an underdog in a profession dominated by old men; it also put into perspective why she isn’t an underdog when you consider the fact that she’s also competing for recognition alongside the equally wealthy and powerful Stephanie McMahon-Levesque and Bonnie Hammer.

It’s incredibly bittersweet that an article about TNA makes me far more excited about investing in the company than the actual product itself.  It’s akin to celebrating the fact that TNA, a North American promotion, does better business internationally than it does domestically; the logic is backwards and in some weird, sick and twisted way we fans are expected to understand it and accept it as well.  C’est la vie.

Notwithstanding, there were a few things that piqued my interest when I watched the program:

  • I’m Confused: Free-Per-Views, One Lackluster Homecoming, and an Unscheduled Shark Boy Appearance #IMPACT365
  • What’s Great About the TNA World Heavyweight Title Tournament
  • The Degradation of Joseph Park, Esq.
  • The Demise of the Aces & Eights

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Last night’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling was broadcast under the Turning Point theme, the idea being that this particular episode of IMPACT Wrestling would showcase pay-per-view quality matches that one could only witness if one had to actually pay to see it.  It’d be a glaring understatement to admit that this concept still confuses the hell out of me, and I’ll gladly accept being called a moron for not getting it as easily as my Ph.D. earning, TNA-loving friends.

What exactly makes these types of episodes different from a regular run-of-the-mill episode of IMPACT Wrestling?  Fewer backstage segments?  More backstage interviews with Jeremy Borash hyping an upcoming match?  Longer matches and less filler in between?  Aren’t those the same things accomplished regularly on TNA programming?

A part of all of this just feels like fans are supposed to get excited because we get to see a “pay-per-view” for “free.”  But if said “pay-per-view” comes on “free” TV, particularly in the middle of the week during the same time as a regularly scheduled episode of IMPACT Wrestling with very little differentiating it from any other Thursday night episode of the same program,…why are we amped about this again?

Let’s not forget this was TNA’s triumphant return to Orlando, Florida, a homecoming of sorts for the promotion.  A lot of fans remained torn over the decision to take IMPACT Wrestling off the road, but there was also a strong consensus that this was necessary for the promotion to maximize its revenue and continue business given the perceived/speculated failure of touring their prime time flagship programming.  All things considered the return to Orlando and a newly designed Impact Zone should’ve been celebrated if it were truly that important and significant of a move for the company.  Last night’s show was anything but that; the presentation of a company returning to its home base came off as business as usual.  Nothing special, nothing ordinary; it is what it is.  One would think the promotion would’ve wanted to capitalize off of this move especially since a it was presented as a magnificently great thing leading up to last night.

Just for one moment, think back to the WWE’s return to the USA Network in October 2005, which was arguably a big and dramatic deal for the promotion, the USA Network and fans alike.  The publicity for the return was ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS; I believe they’re planning on putting the episode on the upcoming RAW 20th Anniversary DVD box set that’s coming out in a few weeks, but hell…they already gave it a DVD of its own:

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The return to Orlando probably wasn’t seen as much of a big deal compared to pushing the Turning Point free-per-view last night, so to expect it to have been that plus more is probably reasonable but out of context of what the focus of the show was last night.  Clearly it wasn’t being back in one’s safety zone.

Another thing: why did everyone pretend like they had no clue who EC3’s “legendary” opponent would be even though there existed an Impact 365 video where Shark Boy quit his job and made it known that he was coming to Turning Point?  Maybe that was just some expertly crafted trolling similar to when Dixie Carter announced via Impact 365 videos that a former TNA Champion would be returning to the company and that it was actually Adam “Pacman” Jones.  Everybody thought it was hilarious and guffawed vociferously because they knew it was a joke…up until Pacman actually showed up on IMPACT Wrestling

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The way the TNA World Heavyweight Title Tournament is unfolding is quite impressive.  Although it could be argued that the gimmick stipulations added to the matches by the Wheel of Dixie are honestly unnecessary, they do not detract from the action and the story being told so much that the whole deal becomes easily convoluted.  Fans can get the feeling that the men in the tournament are serious about becoming the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion, each with their own reasons for doing so.  The other thing I like about the story being told on the whole is that other smaller stories are interwoven with the main goal of being the top dog in Dixie’s company.

"Darlin' it ain't no way you're gettin' on the Dixie Train with THAT!" | Photo © TNA Wrestling, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
“Darlin’ there ain’t no way you’re gettin’ on the Dixie Train with THAT!” | Photo © 2013 TNA Wrestling, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The on-screen Dixie Carter character is slowly making progress as well; sometimes she (the character and not Mrs. Carter-Salinas herself) comes off a little too sugary sweet and contrived, almost like the character is being forced.  The best protagonists and antagonists in pro wrestling are merely over exaggerations of the women and men who portray them in the ring and on the microphone.  For the character to work, Dixie has to “be herself,” but not to the point where she’s lampooning herself.  A trip to the Vickie Guerrero School of Excuse Me would do wonders for the character.

Besides all of that it was a pleasure to see the violence between James Storm and Robert Roode return to the same levels that made their feud enjoyable some time ago.  It was also refreshing to see Dixie confront Samoa Joe about comments he made last week regarding winning the tournament and having his first defense as champ to AJ Styles.  This minor development gives me hope that my prediction may actually come to fruition, and I’m personally interested in seeing whether I’m right or wrong.

It’s those types of things that pull fans into a product; to return to some points made earlier in the piece, the feeling of euphoria when one is proven right or wrong about a speculated guess is what keeps this particular analyst invested in TNA’s product each week.  It’s actually fun to be wrong on something, as the new direction is (at times) more intriguing than anything we could ever thing of.  Conversely, it’s always great to be “right” so you can gloat about it.  Nevertheless I still expect Magnus to walk away as the new champion, leading to an eventual confrontation with former TNA World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles.  How Magnus gets to that point is sure to be one hell of a ride.

A match between Joseph Park and his brother Abyss was scheduled to take place last night.  From our lofty and spacious offices here at L.E.W.D. Headquarters, we saw a few fans here and there speculate on how the promotion planned on making this happen.  We all honestly had no clue but waited with bated breath to see how they planned on making this feasible.

Abyss never made it to the ring last night.  Instead of facing his brother, Joseph Park was confronted and verbally dissected by the duo of Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels, collectively known as Bad Influence.  Truthfully speaking it was a little unnerving to listen to Daniels and Kazarian bully the very likeable Joseph Park character (Be A Star, TNA).  From calling him a fat tub of mayonnaise to referring to his great grandfather as “Jurassic Park,” I couldn’t help but feel really sorry for the guy…between laughs, that is (the Jurassic Park thing was funny though…).

Daniels and Kazarian then (correctly) professed their hypothesis that the sight of blood makes Joe Park turn into Abyss; afterwards they proceeded to dump a ton of “blood” on Park, to which the latter responded by meekly leaving the ring as Bad Influence continued to demean him.  Holy s**t I felt reaaaaaaalllly bad for this guy…

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“Darlin’ there ain’t no way you’re gettin’ on the Dixie Train LIKE THAT!” | Photo © 2013 TNA Wrestling, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lord knows where they plan on going with the Joseph Park character and the accompanying Abyss storyline, but this whole segment tugged on my emotional baggage in a way that IMPACT hadn’t done in quite some time.  There have been a slew  of sympathetic characters ever since the humble carny beginnings of pro wrestling; from Eugene to Zack Gowan, Mickey Whipwreck to Tommy Dreamer, and Cody Deaner to NXT’s Bailey…this is something we should be use to.   The lovable scamp of a character that gets tortured and manhandled by everyone else for no good reason…Hi Hornswoggle!

But the Carrie-esque mood involving Bad Influence and Joe Park took that whole sympathetic character to another level for me.  I may be the only one that feels like that, but it was just something about the way that Daniels and Kazarian (Daniels in particular) addressed Park that hurt my feelings…and I was just a fan watching the show!

The Joe Park character is one that, despite his lumbering awkwardness and impressively rotund physique, is quite loveable and innocent in a non-Spongebob-man-child way.  For all intents and purposes he’s a big dude that got an urge to wrestle after attempting to locate his “brother.”  Joe Park ain’t never bothered nobody without reason, and these two friendless, Varsity-team rejects are projecting their frustrations onto him.  Hey Bad Influence, blame your mediocrity on Los Stereotypicos and not Joe Park.  Speaking of which, where the hell are Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez?

Finally, after eighteen months (according to Mike Tenay) of terrorizing TNA and IMPACT Wrestling, the ungodly reign of the Aces and Eights came to a whimpering end when Ken Anderson defeated Bully Ray in the show’s main event.  The conclusion of this yearlong story was underwhelming, and I place the blame of that feeling on my own shoulders.  I should’ve never expected the conclusion of this thing to be obnoxiously big and over the top in the first place.

The entire Aces and Eights bit lost steam long ago, and with the massive budget cuts made by the promotion essentially neutering any efficacy achieved by the group, its demise was a death rattle that most fans were well prepared for prior to the first day of the month of November.  Leave it to me and only me to be the one to expect this domineering faction to at least exit stage left with more fanfare than it did.

It was somewhat poetic that the hammer used to catapult the group into prominence was also the same thing that drove the final nail in their coffin; it’s always been said that if one lives by the sword, one will die by the sword.  I guess the same applies to rubber hammers.

No more Aces and Eights...????
No more Aces and Eights…????

One can only guess where things go from this point as far as the former members of Aces and Eights are concerned.  Bully Ray, arguably one of the top breakout stars in the past few years, may or may not find prominence in the upper echelon of TNA stars now that the wind behind his bread-and-butter storyline (Bruce Pritchard) is no longer employed by TNA.  Ken Anderson and the Ken Anderson character seems lost and coasting in neutral within TNA, and Garett Bischoff and Knux are just…there. At least Brooke Tessmacher can return to the Knockouts Division full force; these other guys…there’s a lot left to the imagination as far as their roles are concerned.

As a fan we have to ask ourselves what do we expect to happen to these characters from now on; the silver lining is that if we leave that question and any preconceived expectations at the door, we may be pleasantly surprised by what the writers and promotion comes up with.  However if we were to view this situation in the same way we would for anyone in WWE, such as The Miz or Kofi Kingston (Hi Corbin!), we can’t really hold our breath for things to be “better” for these guys.  TNA doesn’t necessarily have the best track record either with putting their all behind building “superstars” as much as they do in showcasing “wrestlers.”  We’ll all just have to wait and see how this one turns out.

By the way, before we pull out the streamers and throw the ticker tape parade, Ken Anderson will “bury” the Aces & Eights next week on IMPACT Wrestling.  It’s never OVER until it’s over, folks.

Alas, those are just my thoughts; what do YOU think?

L.E.W.D. Booking 101 – “TNA World Heavyweight Champion vs. AJ Styles”

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Photo: © 2013 TNA Wrestling, LLC. All rights reserved.

Former TNA World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles will defend his title in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday, November 3.  His opponent will be El Mesias, also known as Judas Mesias from his days in TNA.

The word “former” is used to describe Styles because earlier today it was announced via TNA’s new 24/7 initiative that the promotion’s president, Dixie Carter, has stripped Styles of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.  As early as last week, however, it was also leaked (via spoilers) that Carter would utilize tonight’s Halloween episode of Impact Wrestling to announce a tournament to decide a new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.

As much as this storyline reeks of something done before, most fans welcome this news as a sign of exciting things to come within the promotion.  TNA has been beleaguered in recent weeks with more negative news than paternity tests on The Maury Show, so any bit of positivity for the company should be received with open arms and smiling faces … even at the expense of fuzzy logic.

AJ Styles defeated Bully Ray at TNA’s 2013 Bound for Glory pay per view to become the promotion’s new World Heavyweight Champion.  Styles successfully defended his title against the former champion on the October 24 episode of Impact Wrestling where, despite constant please and bribes from Dixie Carter, walked out of the company while still in possession of the championship belt.  It was during an in-ring interaction with Carter that Styles made it clearly known that he did not have a contract with TNA nor did he intend to sign a new one.

At that moment AJ Styles technically abdicated his position as TNA World Heavyweight Champion, thus vacating the title and giving Dixie Carter the go ahead to vacate said title … which she did today.

When Styles faces El Mesias this Sunday for Mexico’s AAA promotion, what exactly will he be defending?

The TNA World Heavyweight Championship is TNA’s most coveted title, an award given to the promotion’s top heavyweight wrestler.  Being TNA’s World Heavyweight Champion implies that you’ve faced and defeated competitors from all around the world on behalf of Total Non-stop Action Wrestling, LLC.  TNA recognizes you as their champion and allows you to defend their title in their name against competitors they deem worthy of having a shot at it.

If TNA no longer recognizes an individual as their world heavyweight champion, for whatever reason, that individual can no longer claim the right or authority to be the TNA World Heavyweight Champion; plain and simple.

The title currently held by AJ Styles means very little inside of TNA and even less outside of the promotion.  It is a symbol of his last reign as TNA World Heavyweight Champion, but that’s about it.  Even more damning is the fact that AAA can’t recognize him as TNA World Heavyweight Champion within the Mexican promotion especially after it was announced by TNA President Dixie Carter that he was stripped of said title.

As far as the storyline goes from this point, AJ Styles will tour the world defending a title and championship devoid of all but sentimental meaning.  The title he possesses is no longer sanctioned by the promotion he no longer works for; AJ Styles will literally tour the globe to defend his own personal Global Championship.

Where could TNA possibly go with this storyline?

magnusDixie Carter will publicly announce the beginning of the tournament to crown a new TNA World Heavyweight Champion on tonight’s episode of Impact Wrestling.  This tournament could easily last a month, with Magnus eventually being crowned the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.

AJ Styles returns after having several awesome matches and “title defenses” around the world, making a claim in TNA that he is still the TNA World Heavyweight Champ because he wasn’t defeated for the title.  His claim would be (and should be) immediately dismissed by the real TNA World Heavyweight Champion, who would possess the promotion’s only sanctioned World Heavyweight Championship.

Styles would claim that after defending his “title” against legendary stars around the globe, Magnus could never rightfully claim to be “the man” in TNA because, as the saying goes, he’s yet to defeat “the man.”  Styles would go on to insult Magnus by calling him a paper champion, a puppet of Dixie Carter that will get used and abused for years just as he did.  Styles would claim that Magnus’ only way of legitimizing himself and his legacy in TNA would be to prove that he can best the company’s de-facto face and a true world champion.

Magnus would have nothing to gain by wrestling Styles, so he refuses to wrestle him for some time.  To Magnus, bragging rights for defeating a former champ that left the company means nothing to a champ that climbed his way up the ranks and defeated TNA’s biggest names to gain recognition as their World Heavyweight Champion.  Magnus would refuse to face Styles because facing Styles, at this point in his career, would be beneath him.

Styles and Magnus would go back and forth in a war of words for a period of time before a third party steps in and forces them to face each other for the rights and privileges to be called TNA’s World Heavyweight Champion.  Magnus wins in a hard fought battle and becomes the “face” of TNA moving forward with renewed vigor.

That’s one way things could go; but alas, what do YOU think?

 

TNA Rumored to Be Up For Sale

If the rumors are true, no doubt Bob Carter'll get a decent return on his investment one way or another.
If the rumors are true, no doubt Bob Carter’ll get a decent return on his investment one way or another.

A particularly nasty rumor has recently surfaced regarding the future of Total Non-stop Action Wrestling, LLC.

Conveniently happening during Sunday night’s 2013 WWE Hell in a Cell pay per view, news leaked on renowned wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer report of the Carter family’s intent to sell TNA.  The news literally spread like wildfire, and by the conclusion of Hell in a Cell, several pundits, analysts, defenders and detractors were viciously sparring over whether or not the news was a fact or rumor.  Some individuals even went immediately to discredit Dave Meltzer and all sites reporting the rumor as “news.”

While a rumor of this ilk is not something new for TNA, it does seem odd for Dave Meltzer’s name to be unceremoniously attached to it.  Even more concerning is that in the midst of the speculation there is no substantial proof either way regarding the validity of the rumor.  There’s no concrete evidence that the Carter’s are looking to sell TNA, and there’s no concrete evidence stating that they aren’t interested in selling it either.

There is, however, evidence that would suggest that the company is far from being placed on the auction block.

Details were announced yesterday to nowhere near as much fanfare about TNA’s upcoming UK tour.  For the first time in its eleven year history TNA will tape two pay per views (One Night Specials) from the UK.  Also significant about this year’s tour is that the promotion will be filming for television during all four shows.  The UK market has always been presented as something to be nurtured and heavily supported by TNA, so news of this magnitude is a big deal for the promotion and her fans “across the pond” and here in the states.

The UK fans always come across as being completely engaged in and enthralled by the action presented by TNA, far more so than any American audiences they’ve appeared before.  One could easily look at this news and logically conclude that a company on the fringes of being sold would also not be in a place to push forward with such a momentous production in the UK tour.

But the UK tour alone is not enough to discredit the rumor of the Carter family’s intent to sell TNA.  The UK tour, if anything, only proves that the company is moving forward with plans of touring the United Kingdom, something that probably was already set in motion after the conclusion of the last UK tour.

Just because a business is up for sale doesn’t imply that the business halts production until the actual sale has occurred.

For example: if a man was to sell his only means of transportation, would he stop using that vehicle until someone purchased it?  How would he get to work or to the grocery store?  Why would he let the vehicle sit unused for an indefinite amount of time before someone comes along to purchase it?  Would he also neglect to maintain it until the perfect buyer comes along?  If so, will he be handing over a lemon to an unsuspecting buyer?

Corporations and businesses purchase other corporations and businesses all the time, often times going unnoticed by consumers by and large.  When structures and entities as such are purchased, the business continues until a re-branding or restructuring is complete.  There is a huge difference between a company going “out-of-business” and a company being “sold.”

Wachovia Bank didn’t go out of business; it was purchased by Wells Fargo.  Patrons continued to have their banking needs taken care of all while Wachovia branches across the nation were redesigned and re-branded as Wells Fargo locations.

Black Entertainment Television (also known as BET) didn’t go out of business when it was purchased by Viacom (the parent company of Spike TV, by the way) in 2001.  The network remained on air and programming made noticeable changes during its transition from a Black owned station to African-American themed MTV.

The rumor surrounds the Carter family’s intent to sell the company.  If they were going to shut down the promotion it would’ve already happened by now.  End of story.

However, if the family has yet to see a substantial return on the money they’ve invested in the company over the past eleven years and seeks to regain something from their investment, a much more fiscally agreeable decision would be to sell the company to an interested buyer.  This way the venture wouldn’t and couldn’t be seen as a complete failure, but rather as something that no longer fit in with the Carter family’s investment portfolio.

Take the sale of WCW to WWE in 2001 as another example.  Fans have it in their minds that the odds and ends of the sale took place the night Vince McMahon simultaneously broadcast himself and RAW on TNT and the USA Network.  The actual move to sell WCW began months earlier if not a year in advance when speculation surfaced that WCW was up for sale.

The promotion continued to produce shows while varies entities put in bids to buy the company, most of which ended up being rejected.  It is noted that when Jamie Kellner became the CEO and chairman of Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc., negotiations began with Vince McMahon and the WWE on the purchase of WCW; this was after a deal with Fusient Media Ventures and Eric Bischoff went south.

All this is to say that at least for one whole year negotiations between several entities happened before the actual sale of WCW was finalized.    In that year, WCW did not cease to broadcast shows or produce a product; they merely went ahead with business as usual until the official announcement was made via Monday Night RAW and the last episode of WCW Monday Nitro.  Within that year, contracts were disputed, assets were appraised, debt was discussed, libraries and publishing rights were purchased, and so forth and so on.

It is too absurd or difficult to believe a similar process is occurring between TNA and some interested entities?

Perhaps it is but for various reasons…

There are fans that genuinely prefer TNA’s brand of pro wrestling which, in and of itself, provides a particularly unique form of amusement in the sports entertainment industry.  TNA is important to these fans because it is the type of quality pro wrestling desired in an industry flooded with what they deem to be crap.  TNA is analogous to eating a daily well-balanced diet as opposed to another promotion’s unhealthy fast food dietary habits.

These fans may also view TNA as the proverbial underdog in an industry lorded over by an evil and soulless, money driven corporation (which, of course, is one highly subjective opinion).  In one sense the fans live vicariously through the promotion’s successes and failures, willing TNA to continue to conquer hurdles in its quest to remain a fixture in the industry.  If TNA can make it and continues to succeed, they can draw inspiration and strength from the small company standing up to the machine.

Other fans view TNA necessary for competition, stating that having “alternatives” in the business is good for the business as a whole.  To these fans it isn’t all that necessary that TNA performs at a level comparable to the WWE, but rather that they exist and are supported to the point where it forces the WWE to get better due to the increased notoriety of TNA’s product.

It’s quite possible that the aforementioned fans view any news of TNA operating outside of its current form and structure as a failure, which isn’t true at all.  If anything TNA operating within its current form and structure is more of a failure than the sale of the company could be at this point.

One’s head would have to be buried completely in the sand to miss all of the restructuring TNA has done in the past few months.  No matter how we spin the news, the reality is that several decisions made within the promotion have left them with very few options to keep the product up and running.

They’ve had to scale back their touring schedule, take the show back off the road (something I believe wasn’t designed to be a long term plan from the very beginning), and release several wrestlers and company officials from their contracts.  Those are all measures companies take to cut costs, and companies cut costs when they’re not bringing in enough revenue to handle operating the company.

Despite our misguided belief as fans that money isn’t a significant factor, it is significant enough for TNA’s parent company to at least consider the option of selling the promotion if the promotion is not performing at an optimal level.

Fans can bicker back and forth for an eternity over the quality of the product and the millions of fans worldwide, but the bottom line is that it is quite possible those numbers aren’t translating into steady revenue streams.  The promotion wouldn’t have needed to fire anyone en masse or take their only flagship program off the road if they were truly bringing in more money than they were spending.

Selling the company ensures that a group or entity devoted to the product and pro wrestling can take the helm and revive this beleaguered promotion.  Potential investors could be unearthed and take the promotion to even greater heights if allowed to invest in TNA in ways the Carter family and Panda Energy, Inc. no longer can.  The sale of the company can be viewed as a great thing depending on how the situation is viewed.

Then again, this is still all speculation on behalf of one Dave Meltzer and tons of overzealously analytical fans.

No one outside of the company and its investors can say definitively whether or not Total Non-stop Action Wrestling, LLC is up for sale.  In the event that it is, we can only hope that the promotion doesn’t falls into the hands of an individual or corporation that wants to kill it off.

In the event that TNA isn’t for sale, we can only wait to see if they truly can rise above their challenges and conquer the fans’ hearts and dollars in ways they’ve yet to do.