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.