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Posts tagged “Impact Wrestling

The 6-Sided Ring Debate, Pt. 1 – Fans vs. Wrestlers

Photo courtesy of wrestlingrumors.net

Photo courtesy of wrestlingrumors.net

TNA Entertainment, Inc. recently released a poll asking fans to decide whether or not their flagship program, IMPACT Wrestling, will use a 4 or 6-sided ring moving forward, beginning at the scheduled set of TV tapings. Fans are asked to visit the IMPACT Wrestling website to cast their vote, where we’re also told that “this is not a one-off event,” and that “the future of IMPACT Wrestling’s ring is in [our] hands.” For all intents and purposes and according to their website, TNA is allowing us fans to choose the ring “we” want to see their wrestlers perform in as the promotion moves forward. This is a hallmark moment for the promotion and for wrestling fans, as we’re once again expecting this promotion to deliver on a promise to “listen to its fans,” giving us some power to dictate how we want to see what happens in the ring.

TNA’s iconic 6-sided ring was used from the promotion’s inception in 2002 all the way up to 2010, where it was put out of commission at the beginning of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff’s TNA tenure. While the reasoning for axing it varied, the most popular rationale focused on the hexagonal ring making the promotion appear amateurish when compared to other promotions dominating the sports entertainment genre. With a growing and more pressing need to appeal to investors and advertisers, the company opted to bring in a traditional 4-sided ring, a move that received mixed responses from fans but was eventually accepted by and large. Appreciation and fondness for the 6-sided ring hasn’t dissipated completely, as fans have occasionally reminisced on the days of its use and have petitioned to have it make a return at least once a year (primarily during the Destination X pay per view event).

As it turns out, not everyone is keen on returning to action within the confines of the 6-sided ring. Two IMPACT Wrestling athletes, Ethan Carter III and Austin Aries, have taken to social media to express their thoughts on ring’s potential return:

6Side_016Side_036Side_046Side_05 6Side_06

The most interesting thing about their comments is how they disagree with giving fans the power to determine something that has an immediate effect on their safety and well-being. The implication from their comments is clear: people who can’t and don’t wrestle, particularly the fans, should not have the right or choice to dictate the conditions in which wrestlers wrestle. To quote Austin Aries directly, “What’s wrong with wrestling? Letting people who’ve never done it, and never put their bodies on the line, run the show.”

The current generation of pro wrestling fans is entrenched in an Era of Entitlement, where we all feel that our opinions are gospel and that what we say or believe “should be” what’s given to us by promotions. We write blogs and tape video segments that analyze and scrutinize a promotion’s willingness to “listen to the fans,” and any promotion that fails to do so is immediately demonized and characterized as a “failure” or “failing” because it refuses to kowtow to the demands of its fans.

A harsh reality that most fans don’t consider is that our demands at times can be irrational and borderline insane, especially if we’ve grown accustomed to consuming a particular type of pro wrestling product. Our demands don’t seem irrational if we’ve become desensitized to seeing wrestlers grapple in thumbtacks and shards of glass, or if we’re used to seeing athletes jump off of ladders or structures that are 20+ feet in the air. Such activity becomes normal for us, and the moment we stop receiving such action we begin to grouse about how promotions don’t care about what fans want to see (i.e. the bloodless PG Era), never minding at all the fact that the wrestlers no longer have to damage their bodies beyond what’s necessary in order to entertain us.

This is what makes this debate so pertinent; as promotions continue to fight for revenue and fan appeal, the lines that once kept us behind a particular veil of ignorance are being blurred slowly, giving us new and unparalleled access to the inner workings and politics of the business. When we begin to believe we know and understand how the business works, we offer our critiques as dictum or mandates that must be followed lest the business as we know it comes to an end. Promotions that fall victim to this logic assume that mildly entertaining these dictum or mandates will endear them to fans looking to have their “voices” heard.

Our dictum and mandates are varied and often come from a subjective, single-minded perspective devoid of any in-ring experience; we present what we believe to be the best for our entertainment without any acknowledgement of what wrestlers endure for that same entertainment. We disregard the fact that being a fan is about enjoying what’s presented to us, and in the event that things change, we’re still invested some way in what happens because we’re fans. If any promotion has to entice fans to stick around by giving us the “authority” to make pivotal decisions that affects a wrestler’s ability to do his or her job or that could potentially make what they do more dangerous than necessary, then the state of the business is in far more dire straits than meets the eye.

So yes; TNA’s 6-sided ring comes with a flood of beloved memories and exciting expectations that could invigorate the promotion’s fans and inject some much needed energy into the IMPACT Wrestling product. But if all of that comes at the expense of the wrestlers’ health and longevity in the business, and the decision to bring the ring back rests in the hands of fans and not the men and women who must perform inside the ring, then we should have the chutzpah to turn down anything that could potentially make wrestling more dangerous than it already is.

jamesstormbloodyWhether it be a 6-sided ring, bloodletting, thumbtacks and kendo sticks, chair shots to the back, death-defying falls from 16-foot ladders, such things should only be used sporadically at most to enhance a feud or storyline. Such things should also be decided upon by the men and women who have to wrestle under those conditions and their employers. It’s one thing to ask fans if we’d like to see, in this instance, a brief or extended return to the 6-sided ring; it’s another to ask us to do the job of making that decision when we’ll never really get the opportunity to consult the wrestlers for their perspectives on the matter.

As fans of pro wrestling, we constantly offer our respect to those who put their bodies through pure hell to make us laugh, cry, cheer and boo. These men and women work hard for our enjoyment, and if the comments made by Aries and Carter are truly sincere and honest off-the-cuff remarks, we know exactly how we should vote when we visit IMPACTWrestling.com. On the other hand, if we truly enjoy the 6-sided ring and expect it to have a beneficial impact on TNA’s product, then by all means we should prepare ourselves for the return of the hexagonal circle.

*Edit: Wrestler Sean “X-Pac” Waltman has also added his thoughts on the potential return of the 6-sided ring:

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Tweet Credits: Wrestlezone.com


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?

 


“I’ll Give You What For!” – TNA’s Hell Week

IGYWFWe talk a lot of sh*t around these parts about TNA, but even most of us here have to admit that they’ve had one pretty rough week … so much so that it almost feels wrong to even pontificate on what most fans perceive as “issues.”  Please allow me, on behalf of the soldiers here at L.E.W.D., an empathetic video that show’s we’re not completely heartless when it comes to talking about TNA.

Between the unfounded rumors of WWE being “confident” that current TNA Hall of Fame wrestler Sting, the massive number of wrestler releases, Dixie Carter having to pull the Hulkster’s card, and a re-signing of an important figure in the company, the only thing TNA has to brag about this week is the fact that they’re still operating; honestly speaking, that in and of itself doesn’t even seem like a given anymore.

It’s no secret that fans have spent the better part of TNA’s existence attempting to predict the exact date and time when the company will belly-flop into oblivion.  In an ironic twist of fate, this family-friendly Christian-filled pro wrestling company receives more apocalyptic predictions than the second coming of Jesus, the difference being that the demise of the former is more likely to happen sooner than the annihilation of life on Earth as we’ve come to enjoy it.  Even still the wildly speculated and exaggerated claims persist, and despite their best efforts TNA can not seem to shake the notion that the company is one late-light bill payment away from having their property turned into future sites for abandoned store front churches.

One reason for the persistent speculation is the reality that no one outside of the company can authoritatively say whether or not the company is actually turning a profit.  As a privately owned company, TNA is not legally obligated to reveal any financial information to the public whatsoever, which leaves to door open for that very same public to haphazardly speculate on how much money is flowing into the company compared  to what they put out.  Anyone could make the assumption that TNA is “making” money because they’re still touring and have a television show, but the rationale of such a thought process is flimsy at best when one doesn’t easily dismiss the counterarguments.

Regardless of what you may believe TNA changed its pay per view schedule to free up money to pay for the show going on the road.  There was nothing “revolutionary” about moving from 12 pay per views/year to 11 with a special focus on 4; there was no need to change the way one does pay per view (because both the UFC and WWE seem to be doing well with their pay per views, and ROH consistently fails with their stake in the growing iPPV market).  Even the added bonus of having 3 whole months to prepare for each major pay per view hasn’t really yielded anything worthwhile or different from what they’ve been offering on pay per view since last year.  TNA changed its pay per view schedule to have money to take IMPACT Wrestling on the road.  If the company was rolling in dough, why make this decision?

Secondly consider the recent talent released by the company.  Some pundits and supporters will argue that the company’s roster is too big given that they only have one major program shown here in the states.  I never supported this argument and disagree with it completely; it’s not that TNA’s roster is too big, but rather, their roster is small and they have yet to figure out a logical way to routinely rotate their stars in and out of television.  Then again if most of their wrestlers outside of the big-ticket contracts are being paid per appearance as is widely speculated, then it’s makes perfect sense for the company to drop dead weight … which either a) allows them to pick up new talent (“Rampage” Jackson) or b) save money to divert to something else (unplanned X-Division free show and talent).

In that same line of thinking do not forget that several superstars have complained about their pay from the company, including the current Knockouts Championship Number 1 Contender Gail Kim (who left the company, made her money in WWE, quit and returned to TNA).

Thirdly, such measures must be taken in order to keep big ticket stars placated.  Hogan isn’t cheap and neither (I would imagine) is Christy Hemme and a slew of others.  Their merchandise (DVDs in particular) isn’t sold by major distributors, they have very few advertising deals with big companies, and I’m assuming a good number of their stars have side jobs to supplement their income and not just because “it’s their dream to [insert seemingly harmless "hobby" here].”  The company is being bankrolled by Panda Energy, Int., and that’s probably the main reason why they’re afloat now; and that is seriously by the mercy of God’s unchanging hand, because without P.E.I. this company would’ve been DONE two months after it held its first show.

Even after all this, Taz resigns with the company, John “Big” Gaburick of WWE Tough Enough fame gets hired by TNA, and Dixie Carter reminds Hulk Hogan and fans that it’s not his job to be frustrated with a job that’s not his to begin with.  Add to the mix the rumor that WWE is heavily courting Sting and is confident that he’ll sign some sort of contract with them, and you’ve got one big ol’ mess of drama that’s far more entertaining than watching another AJ Styles/Frankie Kazarian match on IMPACT.

While we’re on the subject, let’s take a moment to acknowledge this rumor about Sting.  It may pain you dearly to know or hear this, but WWE has all the footage of Sting’s storied NWA/WCW career.  In order for you and I to get that 3-to-4 disc set, Sting will eventually have to sign that WWE contract.  There would be no better way to cap off his career than to have that DVD set plus a true once in a lifetime match against the Undertaker; and before we get emo, it doesn’t matter who wins that match, we all just want to see it happen.  If you’re comfortable with the moral victory Sting gains by sticking with TNA through thick and thin, don’t get upset when you have to spend the rest of your life decoding and splicing YouTube videos together of his greatest matches.

If WWE gets Sting, it won’t be long before Hogan jumps ship as well.  If Hogan jumps ship, then all hell is going to break loose and we all might as well take bets on how jacked up Invasion II will be; at least we know it can’t be worse than December to Dismember.

I’ll say it like this: TNA is always hailed for being this utopia, an Elysian Field of sorts where wrestlers can go to be happy doing what they do best … or moderately in some instances.  There is no such thing as perfection, only the relentless pursuit of it.  TNA is no more immune from having internal issues than your Great Aunt Tootie after eating two burritos and a pint of re-fried beans.  I’m not predicting the end of the world for them, but it says something about how some perceive the company when the heat (the basketball team and the weather phenomenon) can be blamed for the company’s lack of drawing power in the ratings or at a television taping.


L.E.W.D. Booking 101 – “Hulk Hogan, General Manager”

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.

Hogan_01The 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.”

Morgan_01Morgan’s words spoke more truth than meets the eye.

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.


“Now What Did We Learn…?” – Thoughts on TNA Lockdown 2013

Holy crap, say it ain't so!!!

Holy crap, say it ain’t so!!!

March 11, 2013…a day that shall live in infamy…at least until March 12, 2013.  Brace yourself, for the next bit of information will most assuredly knock your proverbial and literal socks off…

Someone from the L.E.W.D. has something mildly positive to say about TNA and IMPACT Wrestling

Believe it or not it TNA has gained a substantial amount of momentum from their latest pay per view escapade.  Even one of the plucky young analysts on this site has to admit that “The Little Company That Could” swung for the fences last night and knocked the 2013 edition of Lockdown clean out of the park.  In front of thousands of engaged and screaming fans San Antonio’s Alamodome, TNA delivered what can be viewed as the pay per view event that ushered in a new era for the company, an era that will ultimately (or at least hopefully) turn TNA into a household name as equally recognizable as Tussy or Anacin.

That isn’t just an opinion; that is a fact and a reality that even we here at L.E.W.D. have to face (begrudgingly so).

Candidly speaking, the wave of adulation and fan approval makes this Thursday’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling that much more important to watch.  It also places the company in the ever-so-stressful “do or die” situation, the point of no return where the entire company will have to fire on all cylinders at all times.  Having ended their leasing agreement with Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, TNA will no longer be able to rely on the comfort and safety of the Impact Zone to showcase their product.  It has been said that pressure brings the best out of us, and Thursday’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling will be must-see TV for that simple fact; it’s game time once again and there’s no hope for anyone in the company still stuck in the past.  However if last night’s pay per view is any indication then pro wrestling fans are in store for some interesting things between now and June.

Having now thoroughly patted the company on the back, there still remains one important question: do I want to buy this pay per view on DVD?

For the 2013 iteration of TNA’s Lockdown, the answer from this particular analyst is an emphaticpassionate, and heavily emphasized NO.

Everything that happened last night at Lockdown was no different from any other pay per view offering from the company; if you think that’s a lie or without merit, take a moment to read any review of the show and compare it to any other show TNA has done prior.  The matches were “solid,” the matches were “good;” it was “awesome” to see [insert wrestler's name here] do a spot off the top of the cage.  Kurt Angle had a great match.  That’s honestly TNA’s track record: “consistently” providing “solid” matches with “great” action and in-ring psychology.  What did they do different than anything they’ve done before in front of a “hot,” live crowd?

Oh that’s right…Bully Ray “turned” heel.  If that’s the only reason for justifiably purchasing the DVD, then by all means knock yourself out.  While you’re at it I’ve got a spectacular deal on some ocean front property in Oklahoma you may be interested in looking at.

There was absolutely nothing about the pay per view that was revolutionary, ground-breaking or worth spending between $16.18 and $44.95 on.  The matches, while “great,” were largely forgettable and the only…I reiterate, ONLY…thing that made the pay per view worth a damn was Bully Ray being revealed as the President of the Aces and 8′s and winning the World Heavyweight Title, in that order.

If that is a valid reason to celebrate the success of the pay per view then I will gladly do so on one condition: we all admit that pro wrestling fans are incompetent.

Cheering Fans = Success; Analysts Don’t.

"Yaaay!"

“Yaaay!”

Despite everything that happened last night TNA owes an incredible amount of gratitude for its diehard fans.  Regardless of our diatribes here and the salient and hate-filled rants of others, TNA fans will support their product no matter what.  That is an admirable trait and I would say that 100% of TNA’s success in the pro wrestling industry is due to its fans.    All that is to say no matter what disparaging remark is made about the company, their fans will maintain a concupiscent relationship with them.  Through good or bad, thick or thin, TNA fans will not be easily separated from their wedded bliss with the company.

Unfortunately this leads to the next lesson we learned last night…

(Some) Fans Don’t Pay Attention to Anything

oblivious The obvious star of Lockdown was Bully Ray, who provided fans with some much needed Aces and 8′s storyline progression.  Arguably TNA’s biggest star (at the moment and perhaps period), Bully has given the pro wrestling fan universe a reason to care about the promotion and to even create the buzz necessary to carry fans to Thursday night’s live IMPACT Wrestling show hailing from Chicago, Illinois; this was the momentum discussed earlier in the piece.

Three notable things to pay attention to as we sing the praises of Bully Ray and TNA’s Creative Team:

The actual match between Bully Ray and Jeff Hardy for the World Heavyweight Championship was average, forgettable, and had a dusty finish highlighting a very predictable storyline development.

Bully Ray didn’t “turn” heel last night because he was never a babyface to begin with.

Throwing trash in a ring for a predictable storyline development seemed staged and asinine, and should not be used to determine whether or not a star has “legit heat.”

It is rather amusing to here see some comment at length on how awesome the pay per view was, based on Bully Ray’s perceived heel turn, when Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Hans Moleman all saw this train wreck coming a mile away.  I was very grateful for the fans that acknowledged this fact on Twitter last night; at least they admitted that the whole thing was predictable.

Once again, however, we’re venturing into that hypocritical gray area; that awkward place where all things great for the goose is discouraged for the gander.  Fans whine and complain weekly that certain angles and storylines are too predictable; yet here we all were presented with the second most conspicuous outcome of a match since anything featuring John Cena and the WWE Championship, and everything is perfectly fine.  In fact Bully Ray’s alignment with the Aces and 8′s is far more memorable and important in the grand scheme of things than the actual match he won in order to become the company’s new standard bearer.

While we’re at it take that into consideration for a moment…the World Heavyweight Champion of one’s favorite company is a man named Bully Ray, and fans are celebrating that.

Even more despicable than that is the notion that Bully was a babyface at one point.  This was a fact brought up by the Rt. Rev. Showtime last night, that Bully Ray has always been a heel.  The man even admitted to it last night by saying that he used the hapless (and senile) General Manager Hulk Hogan and his equally hapless (and far more clueless) daughter Brooke Hogan-Ray.  In my opinion, that’s where Ray’s heel heat emanates from…a real, seething hatred for a man that worked the system just to get the championship.  It appeared as if the fans in San Antonio picked up on that, but the fans illegally watching at home while tittering away on the internet gave Bully Ray the ol’ thumbs up.

Another point to remember is that Hogan was  right the entire time, which then leads us to question just how Brooke Hogan will deal with being married to the man that is the president of a gang that is attempting to ruin TNA (*cough cough nWo*).  I still honestly feel this reeks of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, but am willing to allow TNA to pull the trigger on that storyline before commenting on it here and now.

After a lackluster and mediocre match it seemed (to me) a little too convenient for fans to casually toss their trash in the ring.  Fact is we live in an era where risque fan made signs are confiscated at the gate, where the fans at the Impact Zone were labeled “cast members,” and where it’s honestly more profitable to present a PG pro wrestling product (seriously…look at TNA’s stuff and say with a straight face that’s it’s not PG).  The likelihood of fans being allowed to toss their refuse into the ring without repercussions seems improbably; not impossible, but likely not to happen.

As such it seems even more ridiculous to believe that trash-thrown-by-fans-is-equals-genuine-hate.  Following the pay per view a fan asked a rhetorical question, commenting on the last time fans threw trash in a ring.  I answered that rhetorical question by citing Jeff Hardy’s TNA heel turn in 2010* which, ironically enough, also led to his first TNA World Heavyweight Championship reign.  This isn’t implying or saying that Hardy didn’t have real heel heat at that time; what it is saying is that trash thrown in the ring cannot be used as a barometer genuine heel heat if the idea is that such an occurrence is rare.  At this point in the game the major barometer for true heel heat should be the deafening boos coming from the fans; that was an occurrence last night that didn’t get nearly as much press among fans as the trash thrown into the ring.

The point of the matter is this: fans ignored all of those things in order to celebrate the perceived magnitude of the Bully Ray’s actions.  That’s all well and good but it does very little to support the company’s claim of providing a solid pro wrestling based alternative to sports entertainment.  If anything that logic simply endorses a different type of sports entertainment that “kinda, sorta” feels and looks different than that offered by other promotions.  This would explain why the famous “I Want Wrestling,” “We Are Wrestling,” and “Wrestling Matters” taglines aren’t used anymore; the day a storyline brings TNA more notoriety than an actual match is the day TNA steps into its own when it comes to sports entertainment.  That day has already come and gone in TNA, but it was damn sure signed, sealed and delivered to us last night.

Then again…cheering fans equals success…

Bully Ray is the Best Thing Smokin’ In TNA (for the moment), and Mike Knox is now “Knux”

Photo © 2013 TNA Wrestling, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo © 2013 TNA Wrestling, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Bully Ray is easily the biggest thing in TNA’s pocket right now.  I would even venture to say that his run as TNA’s World Heavyweight Champion is about as important to the company as their signing of Kurt Angle seven years ago.  In all due respect Mark LoMonaco has worked his ass off in the business and has truly earned the right to carry the title.  It says a lot about how far the man has come as a wrestler when anyone can readily say that his name alone has brought credibility and new life to a storyline that has been dead since last year.  My hats off to Mr. LoMonaco and his victory last night.

The other thing that makes Bully Ray’s win so important is the possibility of a fight between him and AJ Styles at the June Slammiversary XI pay per view.  I won’t drag out the particulars here, but check out my last piece to see my thoughts on Styles’ character development.  With three months between now and the pay per view we can only pray that TNA builds a solid story and feud between Bully and Styles, eventually propping up the “Crow” Sting character the company will need to really stay in the game on the road.  That goes to say that Bully Ray could possibly be the champion that leads to Styles receiving the push and attention he could’ve received years and years ago.  

Then again, that would make Bully Ray a “transitional champion,” which would totally negate everything I just said about his run with the title…

TNA_DOC

“Wait…it’s ‘Knucks’? I’ve been calling him ‘Crandall’!”

And for those of you that didn’t catch it last night, Mike Knox’s new name in TNA is “Knux.”  During the Lethal Lockdown match (which was missing a ceiling…unless they changed that, too…) the commentators went way out of the way in making sure we knew that the man’s name was “Knux” and not “Knox.”

As a matter of fact I could very well be spelling it incorrectly.  If this is the case then my sincerest apologies go to “Knucks” and the other members of the Aces and 8′s Motorcycle Club.  I surely do not want to incur the wrath of “Knucks” and anyone associated with “Knucks.”

“Knucks, Knucks, Knucks, Knucks, Knucks.”  Sounds like Fozzie Bear just told another terrible joke.

So ends my thoughts on yesterday’s Lockdown pay per view.  What did YOU learn from the show?

*Note: I incorrectly stated to the fan last night that Jeff Hardy’s heel turn and the ensuing trash volley happened at the 2011 Victory Road pay per view.  Both events actually occurred at the 2010 Bound for Glory pay per view.  My apologies to that fan and to other fans for that mistake.

 

 

 

 


L.E.W.D. Booking 101 – “AJ Styles: D.T.A.”

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.

A photo of James in my car...back when I had that car.

A photo of James in my car…back when I had that car.

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.

"Never forget..."

“Never forget…”

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?

Photo © TNA Wrestling, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Photo © TNA Wrestling, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo © TNA Wrestling, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo © TNA Wrestling, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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_03Sting’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.


IMPACT Wrestling Review 1-17-13, a.k.a. “One Wedding and a Funeral”

The numbers are in, and last night’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling pulled in 1.6 million viewers, giving the show a 1.15 ratings share.   This is up significantly from the 1.3 million viewers that gave the show a 1.09 ratings share last week.  What could have possibly brought in 300,000 more viewers to the show Thursday night?

Was it the return of world-renowned wrestler and the 2011 recipient of the Dean Malenko “Iceman” Award, Low-ki?

Nope.

Did Bruno Sammartino win a 30-minute, Triple Threat Iron Man match against the reanimated carcasses of Frank A. Gotch and President Abraham Lincoln?

Nope.

Well what in the blue hell gave TNA a surge in viewership?  Believe it or not it could be one of two different things (or both), depending on your perspective.

You could take into account that TNA’s “competition” also received a surge in ratings as of late, so the increase in viewers could be due to the lack of stiff competition pro wrestling faces with the end of the regular football season.  Or, on the other hand, you could openly admit that the soap opera inspired storyline wedding between Brooke Hogan and Bully Ray brought in 300,000 viewers to a two-hour pro wrestling show that only featured twenty-three (23) minutes of actual pro wrestling…

Sting

Sadly most people will easily agree that the Ray-Hogan Wedding brought in the viewers.

The past three IMPACT Wrestling reviews emanating from the L.E.W.D. site have consistently said the same thing: TNA has overtly delved into the world of sports entertainment.  The frustratingly amusing thing about it is…the fans don’t care and STILL love the product.  To each his own I guess.

The truth of the matter is that TNA’s ability to showcase good “wrestling” died the moment Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan exchanged their vows.  For the “We Are Wrestling” company, where “Wrestling Matters,” whose fans cheered in glee-filled delight when their “We Want Wrestling” prayers and Twitter hashtags were answered, “sports entertainment” took up fifty-four (54) minutes of seventy-seven televised minutes (1 hour, 17 minutes according to YouTube) of the show; and from all accounts, the show was “solid and good.”

It’s very confusing to understand how fans who hate sports entertainment with a passion can admit to enjoying what, by TNA’s standards, Thursday night’s average IMPACT Wrestling show.  The entire show…I repeat, the entire show…revolved around the Ray-Hogan Wedding and whether or not Hulk Hogan would walk his daughter down to the ring.  Once again we must remind ourselves that this storyline, a major storyline in TNA at this point, has yet to involve or contain any wrestling whatsoever.  We also can’t forget that Bully Ray, a suspended TNA superstar per order of General Manager Hulk Hogan, has still appeared on TNA television (a lá John Cena).

Come to think of it, when has Hulk Hogan managed anything in TNA, generally speaking, since this whole mess started with his daughter and Bully Ray?  And why hasn’t he done anything about the Aces and Eights?  I guess to find out the answer to these questions and more we’ll have to tune into next week’s episode of SOAP…err, I mean IMPACT Wrestling.

Oh, and Tazz is a part of the Aces and Eights.

Here’s what stood out to me:

  • Legend Status: Jeff Hardy > Ricky Steamboat
  • Butt Puppets and Three Whole Wrestling Matches
  • Jay Bradley: Welcome to the Show
  • Remember when Don West was an alcoholic?
  • A Synopsis of the Ray-Hogan Wedding and Taz

If you start the video around the 3:30 mark you’ll notice the fans start a “You Still Got It” chant aimed towards the legendary veteran Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.  In the world of pro wrestling such a chant is ofter reserved for wrestlers who are no longer active competitors and have returned to the ring usually for a one-off match with an up-and-coming wrestler and/or superstar.

Why in the hell did TNA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Hardy, very much still in active competition, receive this same chant on the show?

While I’m not the world’s most devoted Jeff Hardy fan, and while I do recognize his contribution to the sport, it seems weird that anyone would give him a “You Still Got It” chant, particularly since there’s yet to be a question of whether or not he lost “it” in the first place.  The moment was awkwardly flattering, the same awkwardly flattering moment when the school’s biggest nerd asks the school’s hottest girl to the prom; she tries her best not to laugh and in the end thanks the dork and kindly replies “…nooooooo.”

Someone could’ve started a “Jeff!” chant, or a “You were awesome!” chant; instead the plucky fans at the Impact Zone essentially told Jeff he’s in the same class of athletes as Vader and Steamboat.  It’s an honor to be in their league, but it’s also a slap in the face to be in their league and still in active competition as a World Heavyweight Champion.

Jeff Hardy defends the WHC against Chris Daniels next week on IMPACT Wrestling. | Copyright (c) 2013 TNA Entertainment, LLC.  All Rights Reserved

Jeff Hardy defends the WHC against Chris Daniels next week on IMPACT Wrestling. | Copyright (c) 2013 TNA Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved

In an opening segment the team of Bad Influence interrupted Jeff Hardy’s speech about his victory at the Genesis pay per view.  Kaz used the word “butt puppet” to demean the fans at the Impact Zone.  I thought that was funny.

What wasn’t so knee-slappingly gut busting was the fact that only three (3) matches took place on IMPACT Wrestling.  I won’t rehash the argument here from above, but it is something to think about if we’re going to be real when talking about the good and solid “wrestling” that only happens in TNA.

IMPACT Wrestling_Jay BradleyThe IMPACT of the Night for me was the hiring of Gut Check Challenge winner Jay Bradley.  Ironically enough it was his solid promo during the Gut Check decisions that caught my attention:

“You [pointing toward Tazz]…talked about guys getting to ‘hump the highways…’ let me tell you…I’ve humped so many highways, I probably owe a few child supports…”

Then Bradley goes on to say this:

“…now I’ve been trained by the best…to be one of the best…”

The promo was far from being the most scintillating mic work in pro wrestling but it was very effecting in selling fans on the potential of Jay Bradley.  In my opinion Bradley showed more promise and potential than any of the other Gut Check competitors and winners that have been featured on IMPACT Wrestling outside of Taeler Hendrix.

From what I’ve seen of his work his match with Brian Cage last week was not his best outing.  However that says nothing against his abilities, as Bradley definitely has the talent, size, presence and personality to bring some much needed life and fresh air into the relatively stale IMPACT Wrestling roster.

My only concern is that Bradley would fall in the same trap as other wrestlers on the roster, getting lost fairly quickly in the shuffle and relegated to the role of putting over Rob Van Dam or Chavo Guerrero.  If he manages to avoid those twin perils, he could easily end up like Crimson and disappear for an indefinite amount of time in OVW, despite having traveled, wrestled and trained all over the world.

Here’s to hoping the company does the right thing with Jay Bradley as he could immediately bring some life and zest into TNA’s product.

This guy...

This guy…

Does anyone reading this remember the time right before Don West’s commentary in TNA started getting really good and his character was an alcoholic?  I liked that Don West character.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with Thursday’s show, I figured it was a good time to reminisce on something random in TNA before we start the discussion about the wedding and Tazz’s heel turn…seeing as that heel turn was just as random as a drunken, on-air commentator.

I guess we can say Tazz let the jailbirds loose...

I guess we can say Tazz let the jailbirds loose…| Copyright (c) 2013 TNA Entertainment, LLC.  All Rights Reserved

Wrestling fans are not strangers to the “let’s get married inside the ring” storyline and angle.  This has been done to death and by now we’re all use to it happening.  Bully and Brooke’s ceremony was no different than any other wedding we’ve seen take place in the ring, including the standard attack and utter destruction dispensed by wedding crashers (in this case, the Wild Bill Hickok Social Consortium).  It’s a waste of time and energy to ramble on about the specifics of the actual wedding segment; it’s a wrestling storyline and it was what it was.

What didn’t make a lick of sense was Tazz’s  arguably shocking revelation.  At the most inconvenient time during the wedding (WAAY the hell after the whole “Does anyone object to this union” part of the ceremony), Tazz interrupts the justice, asks Bully if he’s sure he wants to get married to Brooke, then takes off his tuxedo jacket to reveal an Aces and Eights’ vest.  Immediately the motley crew of bikers swarms the set, lays waste to all the men, and Brooke’s boobs pops out.

…the f*ck sense does that make??!?!

The Rt. Rev. Showtime already elucidated on the logic behind Tazz’s heel turn so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel on that one.   As eloquent as his perorations are, I disagree with anything that attempts to justify the need to be even mildly excited about this latest development involving the Aces and Eights.

The fact is that fans and detractors of IMPACT Wrestling can at least agree that the Aces and Eights storyline is dead weight at this point.  Having Tazz join the group is a sorry ass way of getting fans to at least give a damn about the group once more.  As it stands right now we’ll have to wait until next week to hear and see the logic behind his association with the group, because as of this moment it is simply inexplicable no matter what direction or rose-tinted spectacle you view it from.

A lot of fans were shocked to see Tazz join the group, but the shock ends right there; it’s not shocking because we knew all along, but was “shocking” because we never saw it coming.  Tazz joining the Aces and Eights was unpredictable and in some circles, simply being “unpredictable” is a good thing even if there’s no good reason for being unpredictable.  Because of such the show gets a good review because something unpredictable happened at the end, a poor man’s cliffhanger if you will.

I don’t buy into that one bit because in at least two instances on the show Tazz openly revealed that something was up.  He stated to Mike Tenay and Todd Keneley that he didn’t make Bully Ray’s bachelor party because he had “prior engagement.”  Later on he excuses himself from the announce table to take care of “wedding stuff.”  Those things, however, meant nothing while watching the show; no one would’ve ever expected Tazz to be in cahoots with the gang by those statements alone.

Even with the moment being unexpected there’s still no good reason (that we know of right now) for Tazz to be affiliated with the group, and we can’t get giddy about the future prospects of the group or storyline because of this one unexpected filler.  To be honest, Devon’s involvement with the gang was a far better unexpected development than Tazz’s.   We were all led to believe that Devon was done with the company, and the next thing we know he’s unmasked and back in the company.   That bit of unexpectedness worked because a) we thought Devon was actually done with TNA and b) the storyline was still relatively fresh and new.

To unveil Tazz as a member of the group now, after months of languishing and still having not revealed their intentions in TNA, is just a cheap and easy way to get a rise out of the audience.  It would’ve been more rational and unexpected to have Mike Tenay revealed as a member of the group.

Here are some other things to consider:

  1. Two weeks ago Mike Knox had his mask removed by Kurt Angle after the club’s President made it known that the remaining masked men should keep their masks on at all costs, as “anonymity” gives the group a certain level of power.  One week ago, Knox was mere moments away from being kicked out of the group because he lost his anonymity.  This past Thursday, Tazz openly admits to the world he’s in the group…think about that for a minute…
  2. The interruption and destruction of the wedding would’ve been more captivating and compelling if Tenay and Keneley remained silent as the set and the guests were being destroyed.
  3. When was the last time Hulk Hogan did anything related to his duties as a General Manager?  When asked the question earlier in the night, “Hogan, are you here for the wedding?” Hogan’s immediate response (in the event he chose to make one) should’ve been, “No, I’m here to do my f*****g job, I’ve got a show to run!  Now get out of my face!”
  4. When the cameramen are hiding outside of the trailers, how are they able to get quality audio from the people talking inside of the trailer?
  5. What if the Aces and Eights storyline turns out to be a little more than an up-to-date, more convoluted and excruciatingly longer version of the yearlong Immortal storyline?
  6. Have the Knockouts ever had the show closing main event spot of a pay per view?  If they haven’t, considering how “good” the division is, why not?

But those are just my thoughts; what do YOU think?

 

 

 

 


IMPACT Wrestling Review 1-10-13, a.k.a. “Like Sand in the Hourglass…”

This week’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling was nowhere near as frustrating as it was last week, mostly because there weren’t many people on Twitter raving about the show.  Perhaps that’s a good thing seeing as the show seemed to slowly trudge forward in the same direction it took last week.

Well…there was ONE major occurrence that happened…that tidbit will come up later.

TNA’s flagship show also appears to be veering ever so cautiously into the evil “sports entertainment” zone that numerous wrestling fans despise.  Luckily for the fans, however, TNA has created quite the buzz by announcing its brand new pay per view schedule.  The cool part of it is that there were tons of fans talking and writing about, waaay more than they were talking or writing about the pay per view that’s actually coming up this Sunday.

In some circles this would be called a distraction, but in TNA it’s called evolution.

Case in point: the major, most important occurrence that happened during the show was Bully Ray’s proposal to Brooke Hogan…and we’re still very certain that TNA is the company where “Wrestling Matters” with this storyline serving as the show-closing segment?  This isn’t even mentioning the fact that TNA has conveniently borrowed the basics of the storyline from their competition…

As I stated last week there’s nothing wrong with TNA embracing sports entertainment as it continues to progress as a company.  However it’s becoming painfully obvious that at some point fans won’t be able to lean on the whole “this is real wrestling” argument.  And the implied awesomeness of having  7 taped mini-pay per views, while decidedly different, is not revolutionary or ground-breaking enough to justify the flagship show’s descent into the abyss of soap-opera like drama.

That’s honestly besides the point; fact of the matter is the episode was average, not all that bad and not necessarily all that good.  Fans can only hope that more effort will be put into go-home shows to build hype and intrigue for future pay per views, especially seeing as there will only be four major ones moving forward.  While most will celebrate the anticipation of this strategy, you can’t help but to wonder how much different things will be if TNA had no impetus to do better builds for their pay per views prior to this moment in time.

At any rate, here are the things that stood out to me in the show:

  • King and Ion: Better than York/Kash, but still no X-Division Match
  • Robbie T: The Most Entertaining Man in Sports Entertainment Today
  • Aces & Eights: Simply Useless
  • Storytelling: It’s the little things…
  • Bully/Brooke/Hulkster > Aries/Roode/Hardy (in that order)
"Yo wassup! You dissin' the X-Div, son?  You don't wanna piss me and my goons off, mane!"

“Yo wassup! You dissin’ the X-Div, son? You don’t wanna piss me and my goons off, mane!”

The second match in the first round of the X-Division “Tournament” took place on the show, which saw Kenny King face off against former X-Division Champion Zema Ion.  This solid match was arguably way more exciting and riveting than last week’s match with Kid Kash facing Christian York.  King easily stood out in the match as far as presence and psychology is concerned, while Zema Ion played the regrettable role of making TNA’s latest acquisition look like gold.

While the match was good it lacked the “umpf” that made the X-Division what it once was.  Truthfully speaking all of the divisions save the Heavyweight Division have substantially diminished in quality ever since the arrival of Hulk Hogan three years ago.  In regards to the X-Division, these cookie-cutter, by-the-book storytelling laced matches are not really all that worth investing in.  King and Ion worked a great match, but it looked and felt no different than a match between James Storm and Magnus.

Earlier this week Jeremy Borash conducted a sit down interview with Dixie Carter to discuss her plans for the company in 2013.  A portion of that conversation dealt with the present state and future of the X-Division.  Mrs. Carter speaks about the injuries that have plagued and frustrated the growth of the division, mentioning specifically Chris Sabin and Jesse Sorenson in the conversation.  Carter noted that the athletes that compete within the division are at a high risk of injuring themselves just by what they do.

It’s weird to me that there are more high-profile injuries now than there were before the radical shift in the philosophy of the division.  This isn’t to say that X-Division wrestlers didn’t get injured prior to the adoption of a more story-based in-ring wrestling product; it is saying that we’re more cognizant of these injuries today more than likely because the company is openly admitting that their wrestlers are hurt.

As fans we should never look for the wrestlers to do increasingly dangerous maneuvers for our enjoyment.  I imagine that the TNA athletes could perform today just as they did years ago without seriously injuring themselves and each other; it’s just too bad the management doesn’t feel that way, because if they did we definitely wouldn’t have to pull out our Best of the X-Division DVDs to relive the glory of the division.

"That hamsters talkin' about YOU, Bro! YOUUUUUU!!!"

“That hamsters talkin’ about YOU, Bro! YOUUUUUU!!!”

Who would’ve guessed a year ago that Robbie T would be on the receiving end of fan adulation and praise?  After winning last week’s “Bro Off” against Robbie E and Jesse, Big Rob managed to find himself tagging with Miss Tessmacher in an inter-gender match against Tara and her Hollywood boyfriend.  It was a squash match for sure but by far the most entertaining thing of the night.

Robbie T’s antics are hilarious for multiple reasons: 1) he’s big, 2) he’s awkward, and 3) it’s funny to see a big and awkward man be big and awkward.

The only downside to Big Rob’s sudden push is Robbie E’s floundering importance in the grand scheme of things.  Robbie is a solid worker who plays his role well in TNA; on the other hand I couldn’t even begin to tell you what TNA should do with him instead of having him job to Robbie T’s terrible dancing.  Maybe this is just a temporary state for both Robbies while Eric Young is out doing whatever it is he’s doing.  Until his return, however, it should be very entertaining to watch Big Rob goof it up.

acesandeightsQuestion of the day: where in the hell is the Aces & Eights storyline leading to?

The group loses matches routinely and only excel at putting wrestlers on the shelf for maybe a month or so.

The club’s members can’t seem to keep their masks on even though they depend on anonymity as their primary measure of power against TNA.

The club hasn’t even announced an agenda and appears to just be a little more than a group of homeless, shiftless, and useless bikers that hang around the Impact Zone.

At this point we can only hope that this story is going to lead to something worthwhile even though all signs point to no.  Some fans have complained that the storyline is boring and going absolutely nowhere at this point.  This was the same chatter that existed right before the Claire Lynch storyline died its horrible and long overdue death.  Once again we’re subject to watching something that has gotten so bad that it couldn’t possibly get any worse…

jason rivera

Then again there is the possibility that I might be incorrect.

At one point TNA was hailed for doing these little things that made their product different and decidedly better than that of WWE.  One specific instance was made by a fan who commented on the following segment during the BFG Series over 5 months ago:

The fan noted how James Storm had to “tell” someone to go back and find Kurt Angle.  In WWE, a cameraman would conveniently be set up backstage already in place.

Check out this video too:

Pay attention to the particular camera angle and how the segment proceeds as if Sting, Jeff Jarrett and Hulk Hogan are unaware that the camera is on them.  Truthfully speaking a segment would not be filmed this way in WWE.  It’s the little things that make a big difference, right?

Riddle me this: when the Aces and Eights deliberated on Mike Knox’s fate as a club, why did they allow a cameraman and an outsider (Ken Anderson) in on the meeting?  They don’t even let the prospects sit in on a judgment that’s made at the table.  Perhaps fans were expected to pretend as if the cameras weren’t there, or maybe the Aces and Eights were gracious enough to give the entire Impact Zone the heads up on an attack that would take place later in the show.

Speaking of which, why would Kurt Angle insist on fighting Ken Anderson even after the man explained his logic for cavorting with the Aces and Eights?  Anderson basically stated that he owed Angle, Samoa Joe and Sting nothing because they did nothing to help him when he was attacked by the gang.  Kurt’s response was “you’re either with us or we’re gonna fight.”  The logic here is astounding, as Ken Anderson appears to identify with the very people that attacked him instead of the men that could help him, and Angle completely ignores everything Anderson said even though it was all justifiable.

You can witness the exchange here and everything will make sense after you watch the video.

aries roode hardy

The major selling point of this Sunday’s Genesis pay per view is the Triple Threat Elimination Style Match between Austin Aries, Robert Roode and Jeff Hardy.  I’m still excited about this match even though it has taken a backseat to the Bully Ray/Brooke Hogan/Hulk Hogan storyline.  Once again much to our chagrin the World Heavyweight Championship is an afterthought in the programming.

This does not imply that some importance hasn’t been placed on the title, but the feeling among fans is that the World Heavyweight Championship should always be the focus of the product.  When IMPACT Wrestling opened and closed Thursday night, neither segment involved the WHC.  The show, by and large, was not based around the WHC.  The upcoming match itself has more to do with the bickering between Roode and Aries than it does Jeff Hardy and the WHC.

One more time it isn’t a big deal that TNA is doing this, but it does call to our attention how we verbalize our support or disdain for the product or a company.  We can like or hate something all we want, but the bottom line is that a healthy mix of drama, action, and interesting characters is what keeps us interested.  A straight up “I’m-the-number-one-contender” feud in today’s pro wrestling world would be simply boring.  As solid as Roode and Aries are as wrestlers, it takes the enigmatic personality of Jeff Hardy to draw attention to the match.  It also takes Aries’ over-the-top, slightly narcissistic personality to draw attention to the match.

Sadly enough it’s Bully Ray’s upcoming marriage to Brooke Hogan on the IMPACT Wrestling show after the Genesis pay per view that has our attention, mostly because of Bully Ray’s personality and charisma.  It’s ironic that he’s on the poster for the pay per view and isn’t even scheduled to have a match…but if they don’t care about it, why should we?

Anywhoo, those are my scattered thoughts.  What did YOU think about the episode?


Open Ended Discussion

Because it deserves it. Open ended discussion time. 

TNA’s latest offering of Impact immediately threw Twitter and the L.E.W.D. Crew into an uproar. Post your thoughts and comments in the Comment section below to discuss this. Abortion or pothole? You decide.


IMPACT Wrestling Review 1-3-13, a.k.a. “Thems Fightin’ Words…”

Words can’t even begin to describe the level of frustration that accompanied watching this week’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling.  The average fan will more than likely sit behind his/her computer, type vigorously about the experience and speak glowingly about the developments that took place on the show, all the while highlighting the consistent and strong build towards the January 13 Genesis pay per view.

That same average fan will also more than likely casually ignore all the mind-numbingly preposterous obstacles littered about the broadcast; after all, being a “true” fan means sitting back and enjoying the product for what it is.  Here’s an honest question: what happens when you watch the show as a fan and don’t enjoy it?  The simple answer is this: you complain and complain until someone agrees with you or you inspire the villagers to take up pitchforks and torches against your cause.

There is a such thing as constructive criticism, adding a slightly different perspective that while not necessarily “glowing” or “positive,” enables the recipient of said criticism to grow from the experience that will hopefully lead to a much more favorable outcome.  Believe it or not there is a difference between “bashing” something and giving it constructive criticism.

Blah blah blah, what made the show frustrating to watch was the blatantly obvious sports entertainment nature of the entire broadcast.  It’s not that the company is “wrong” for showcasing sports entertainment, but the fact that it was at the forefront of the entire program in light of the many “THIS IS professional wrestling!” diatribes found in various places on the internet was just damn disrespectful.  Funny part of it all is the frustration is caused by the fans and not the product; we’ll get to that in a minute.

In regards to the show it was primarily filler consisting of video packages and backstage segments.  The matches were forgettable; that doesn’t say they weren’t good, it just says they were forgettable…forgettable in the sense that it’s highly improbable that a month from now anyone will YouTube one of these matches to add to a Bleacher Report list.

Add to this cavalcade of consistently solid programming the fifty-ninth flaccid return of Sting, a return that was hyped for at least a month and was executed in the form of a bat, a post-main event match save, and the unmasking of Mike Knox, a superstar introduced by Mike Tenay as “a familiar face from the WWE.”  Guess what: Taz knows him too!

Even more gripping is the solid storyline drama unfolding between Hulk Hogan, Brooke Hogan and Bully Ray.  Remember folks: this space-stealing storyline that includes one of the hottest “heels/faces” in pro wrestling today, has yet to include any actual wrestling.  Even scarier is the idea that someday down the line this whole thing won’t end until Bully Ray faces Hulk Hogan, gets Brooke Hogan pregnant, or both.  No matter how you look at it, all of this fluff is the same cannon fodder fans use when spewing their hatred for WWE; yet it is guaranteed that the broadcast will get a solid grade-B and yet another consistent 1-point-oh-something ratings share.

Take all of that into consideration while celebrating the following tweet from former American Male, Scotty Riggs:

Scotty Riggs

It’s shocking that tweet was sent in all seriousness around the world…

In the spirit of constructive criticism, here are the things that stood out in the show:

  • Sting returns, avoids getting beat up, and Mr. Morris doesn’t lose a bet
  • Hulk Hogan: Pro Wrestling’s Worse GM Ever
  • What’s an X-Division?
  • Hardy-Aries-Roode at Genesis 2013
Sometimes they come back...again...and again...

Sometimes they come back…again…and again…and again…

As mentioned earlier “The Icon” Sting made yet another vignette-inspired return to TNA, this time under the guise of exacting revenge against the Aces & Eights.  For those of you not keeping tabs the biker gang was responsible for putting Sting on the shelf almost two months ago.  Upon his return Sting, who is at least 20 years older than most of the IMPACT Wrestling roster, was able to stave off all of the members of the group on his own.  Sting was also able to unmask Mike Knox, something that most of the other wrestlers on the roster couldn’t do either.

Most fans probably expected this to happen and so it won’t be a shock to hear that most fans were not let down with Sting’s return (*cough predictable cough*).

I personally and openly lobbied for Sting to make a grand return to IMPACT Wrestling, only to be taken out in a similarly grand fashion by the Aces & Eights.  This honestly was the only logical and unpredictable direction this storyline could’ve taken, and as such TNA chose not to take that direction; Russo swerrrrrrrrrvvvvve!

Think about it for a moment: after successfully gaining unadulterated access to the Impact Zone the biker gang has pretty much excelled in putting TNA wrestlers on the shelf.  They haven’t won matches, they haven’t revealed a master plan, they haven’t shaken the company and forced a ragtag crew of loosely aligned wrestlers to wage war against them.  All they’ve managed to do since arriving in TNA is put people on the shelf.

Logically speaking, particularly since he didn’t show up or make an “impact” until the end of the show, the Aces & Eights should have easily incapacitated Sting and sent him back to the hospital from whence he came.  It’s not like Sting took them off guard, kicked over all their bikes, kidnapped the skanks or even desecrated the club house.  Sting, armed with a bat, came meandering down the ramp and proceeded to own Mike “Rey-cist” Knox after scaring off the entire group…because he’s so damn intimidating, you know?

The main reason we should pay attention to this storyline is because it’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here.  The obvious route is for Sting to take a Cena-Nexus like campaign against the group, hoping that the backstage segments and matches will at least be mildly entertaining seeing as the Aces & Eights have already been established as a stable that can’t win matches.  Other than that, why else would it be intriguing to invest in this storyline?

"Hogan...did you know I liked Spam?!?!"

“Hogan…did you know I liked Spam?!?!”

With each passing episode of IMPACT Wrestling Hulk Hogan proves himself to be, quite possibly, the most inept authority figure in the history of pro wrestling authority figures.  And yes, that includes Mike Adamle.

If we’re lucky this character trait-slash-flaw is all a part of a much larger and more intricate storyline arc; then again, that’s if we’re lucky.

It would not be surprising if this trait-slash-flaw was an unintentional side effect of the intended direction of the story, a story which will more than likely find itself conveniently squeezed into the Aces & Eights storyline.  Since Hulk Hogan’s arrival to TNA three years ago (happy anniversary, by the way), the company has consistently offered year-long major storylines interspersed with minor ones along the way.

Bully Ray’s major issue with Hogan is that the geriatric GM never trusted him, despite living a life style that epitomizes the word “untrustworthy.”  Given that during the episode Bully admitted to breaking an On-the-Road-Code it would appear that Hogan was justified in not trusting the man from the get-go, once again making Hogan the face and Bully Ray the heel in the situation.

In one brilliant swoop, however, Hogan revealed himself to be just as vindictive, unrealistic, and stupid as any other GM we’ve grown to dislike in such a position of authority.  Hogan begged Bully to tell him what was going on betwixt him and his daughter when any other guy (*cough Austin Aries cough*) could’ve easily figured out and justifiably assumed that Ray was busy giving Brooke the ol’ Hell’s Kitchen canoodle.

When Bully admitted to not adhering to the On-the-Road-Code, Hogan suspended him indefinitely…which is apparently grounds for suspension in professional wrestling…

*Side note – Numerous fans have gone out of their way to note how WWE used the AJ Styles/Dixie Carter storyline as a rubric for the AJ Lee/John Cena storyline.  What’s ironic to me, and very apparent, is that Bully Ray was suspended for a supposed relationship with the Knockouts GM, Brooke Hogan, in the same way AJ Lee was suspended for her alleged involvement with John Cena.  I’m curious to see just how many people will besmirch TNA’s immaculate name for “copying” a storyline from WWE, but I guess technically it’s not “copying” because they did it first with AJ Styles and Dixie Carter.  In that case it would be recycling, which could be viewed as something just as lazy, if not worse, than simply “copying” a storyline from another company.  Either way it seems that both TNA and WWE are suffering from a lack of new ideas; the real case must be which company can rehash something better than the other company, which would then in turn give WWE a justifiable reason for emulating something done by TNA…only better…

This would make Hulk Hogan appear senile.

After establishing his diminishing cognitive functions, we can take a look back and see how the slap-and-tickle between Brooke and Bully has dominated most of his waking moments, causing him to seriously lose focus on his duties as a General Manager.  I do believe at one point somebody (*cough Austin Aries cough*) asserted this opinion during a broadcast.

This would make Hulk Hogan appear inept.

With two healthy strikes against him, Hogan also has to face the fact that he did absolutely little to prevent the Aces & Eights from infiltrating IMPACT Wrestling.  He lost a wager against them that gave them access to the Impact Zone (and apparently wrestling contracts with TNA) and prior to that he did absolutely nothing to protect his wrestlers from their random acts of violence.  Hell, he hasn’t even addressed the fact that they viciously assaulted and severely injured several of his employees on live television!  Once more Dixie Carter hasn’t even said squat about it; all of these malicious and premeditated attacks happened under Hulk Hogan and he still has a job!

This would make Hulk Hogan appear ineffective.

So IMPACT Wrestling is managed, generally speaking, by a senile, inept and ineffective authority figure.  With no offense to Bully Ray, Hulk Hogan is easily the most intriguing character in this entire storyline due to the befuddling fact that  Serg Salinas, Bruce Pritchard, Dixie Carter, Sting, or Erik Watts have yet to appear on television to at least publicly reprimand Hogan for being all but rest-home bound.  The bad part about it all is that, as stated earlier, Hulk Hogan is the must-watch character in this triad of sports entertainment “wrestling” story-telling.

xmatch2

I intentionally YouTubed the following match Wednesday night:

Compare that match with the X-Division Tournament Match between Kid Kash and Christian York that aired on the show.  To say that the X-Division is a shell of its former self would be the understatement of the year.

Change is inevitable and there are very few things on this planet that can remain effective if it does not evolve in some way, form, or fashion.  From that perspective it is unrealistic to expect or demand that the X-Division look, feel, and behave the same way it did many many moons ago.  What’s saddens me, and perhaps other fans, is that the division resembles almost nothing of what it once was and barely resembles what it’s actually supposed to look like today.

It’s depressing that a year ago this same type of “tournament” had at least 8-12 people vying for the chance to become X-Division Champion.  It’s depressing that the fast-paced and “spot fest-like” action that the division was known for and excelled at has been replaced with…*sigh* storytelling.  The primary focus of an X-Division match isn’t storytelling; it’s pure athleticism and move/maneuver creativity mixed with high-impact, high-flying action.

Take the DragonGate USA Fray matches: 5-6 men doing ridiculous stuff to one another back-to-back-to-back:

X-Division matches were, and should be, tailored to do similar things.  It’s perfectly fine to interject a solid story into the action (Kenny King attempting to dethrone Bob Van Dam), but for the most part the action between stars striving to gain a title shot is perfect for wrestlers who can execute with near-precision some of the most jaw-dropping things we’ve ever or never seen before.  One should anticipate this being the case with next week’s “tournament” match between Zema Ion and Kenny King.

But it’s damn sure not what we got between Kid Kash and Christian York.  What we saw between Kid Kash and Christian York was a solid, straight-forward wrestling match.  If we didn’t know the men were in a “tournament” to become the #1 contenders for the X-Division title, we would’ve a easily assumed that it was just an exhibition match designed to put over York.  If that’s the case, then the question becomes whether it’s necessary to have an X-Division title if the matches will decidedly look and feel like every other single match in the company.

In comparison the same argument can be used for the kajillion belts currently in WWE; what the hell is the difference between being the World Heavyweight Champion and the WWE Champion especially if the brand-split is non-existent?  Why is the X-Division belt important the wrestlers in that division wrestle look and wrestle just like everyone else, even the Knockouts?

Either way it was a good move to delay King and Ion until next week, giving fans something to look forward to instead of blowing a wad prematurely by having it followed by what we saw yesterday.

Dear Shane: Stop being fancy, it's a 3-Way Dance.

Dear Shane: Stop being fancy, it’s a 3-Way Dance.

The good news of the night was the announcement of an “elimination style triple threat match” for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.  Current champion Jeff Hardy will have his hands full as he attempts to retain his title against the vicious and wily antics of Austin Aries, and the cold and calculated machinations of Robert Roode.  The confluence of styles in this match is a solid way to ensure a consistent number of fans tuning in for the pay per view.

The storyline(s) surrounding this match doesn’t pique one’s interest as much as the wrestling does, which is not a bad thing and pretty much TNA’s modus operandi.  Even though all three wrestlers appeared on the show, they were not in action and instead participated an opening segment and a backstage segment that was more about Hulk Hogan being mad after suspending Bully Ray than anything else.

Other than that…not much to say outside of “This will probably be a great match to watch in two weeks.”

Those are just my thoughts on the show tonight; what do YOU think?


ITR on the Go: TNA is Bound For…Something Anyway | by Ray Bogusz

Yeah…we felt that way too. | Photo: Google dot com

This column also appears weekly on thebradyhicks.com

If you’re trying to grade a pay-per-view, there are two ways you need to look at the event.

The first way is to look at the event as a standalone, individual occurrence with no bearing on the past or future. Look at the matches and promos for what they are, and look to see if the crowd is hot or not. You ask if the matches would have made sense if they were someone’s first exposure to the company. Does the event, stripped of outside meaning and context, work well overall–or at least more often than not? Does the company in question display at least a rudimentary sense of backstage technological sensibility, thus allowing us viewers to focus on the match and the crowd instead of peripheral things? (For your information, despite the fact that I’m a total mark for what they theoretically stand for, Ring of Honor has yet to get full marks for that last one.)

Getting positive answers to those questions is a sign that–at the very least–the show in question wasn’t a complete disaster. By and large, TNA did that. As a standalone event that was completely independent from everything else, Bound For Glory wasn’t a bad little show. Sure, the crowd died for a little while and there were a few hiccups when it came to psychology, but I never found myself questioning the spending of my time on the show despite my panning of the Tenay-Taz booth for all three hours on Twitter. (A brief aside: Tenay and Taz are an undeniably and unforgivably horrible broadcast team. Taz in particular has no place in a booth.) By and large, it was three hours of reasonably solid matches…and something involving Al Snow and a retro porn star.

The second way you need to look at things is in a broader sense. Look at the past and toward the future and ask if what you watched made sense. Do the matches–and the event itself–feel as big as they were supposed to feel? Does the company appear to be headed in a positive or negative direction? Were the ideas presented fresh, or at least exciting re-makes? Are your companies important slots in good hands? Was this, in the broader and more complicated picture, a good event?

It’s there that I think my colleagues and I start to differ. It wasn’t a bad show, but it was a letdown with some questionable decisions which should make any objective observer question what exactly it is that TNA plans to do going forward. Yes, as standalone events the matches were solid. Ten years from now someone might even pop this into their DVD player to introduce someone to wrestling and actually succeed in making them like it. But for us big picture folks, this event just didn’t live up to the hype or deliver the kind of breakthrough moments we keep waiting for TNA to have.

If you were looking for a grade from me, I’d say it could probably range anywhere from a 75-80 out of 100 depending on how generous you want to be and what you plan on scoring. Like I said, despite my sardonic commentary throughout the night this wasn’t a bad little show. But this column isn’t about giving TNA a grade on a pay-per-view. This is about TNA not treating their supposed answer to WrestleMania like it is an answer to WrestleMania; this is about TNA making the same mistake with its primary title that it has made time after time after time.

Regardless of how one feels about hardcore matches (I don’t), you’ll be hard-pressed to make the argument that they don’t take a lot out of a crowd. Roode-Storm was no exception to this principle. While that’s not a problem in-and-of-itself, the rest of the show was allowed to plod along while not feeling like the company’s biggest event of the year. Sure, some of that is out of the company’s hands, but Roode-Storm was the third match on a card that opened with RVD challenging and defeating Zema Ion for the X-Division title, and Magnus challenging, but losing to, Samoa Joe for the television title. (Aside: Isn’t the point of a Television title that it is defended on Television?) Surely they could have spaced the better matches out to give people time to breathe. That’s not me being a nitpick, that’s Card Building 101.

It’s a shame that happened too, because while I have problems with the Aces & 8′s angle, the reveal of Devon as a figure within the group should have elicited more than the tepid gasp it got. Even the smartest of the Smarks should have at least given polite applause to TNA for keeping something fairly under wraps. That sort of leads into the problem of what TNA plans to do long term, because there are concerns that should arise with this new reveal.

So Devon is the leader of the group–or at least is a power figure within it. What’s the payoff? Is it Devon versus Bully Ray? Does Sting somehow factor in at the end? It wouldn’t be out of the question for that to happen. But the reaction is “so what” no matter what. Just as importantly, when is the final payoff for all this? Logically it’s next year’s BFG, but that’s a long way off for three guys whose combined average age is almost 45. In the mean time, what happens from here? Is Aces and 8′s going to run out of control from a creative standpoint?  I, for one, fear it will. This whole thing feels too nWo-ish for me. And how do you keep the angle going for a year?

And why did everybody play so nice in a no disqualification format? Yeah yeah, suspension of disbelief and all that jazz, but I’m not saying the Aces should have showed up with shotguns either. It’s No DQ and if you lose you’re “gone.” Break counts, use weapons–hell, if you watched the matches before yours you’d know they were available to you–don’t just stand around and hope something good happens for you. The Aces seemed to spend a lot of time doing that. Why show up to a match with no rules if you plan to spend

If there was ever a pay-per-view that shouldn’t leave people asking all these questions, it’s your promotion’s premiere event of the year. I’m not against a big reveal at your biggest show, but the questions I’m asking border on being basic procedural stuff. And while I shouldn’t be able to predict what’s going to happen step-for-step, I should at least be able to say “Ah, okay, I have (compelling angle 1 and 2) to look forward to now!”

But speaking of basic procedural stuff, we get to what really soured the show for me: The Main Event.

Much like the rest of the show, the match was great as a stand alone event with no implications to the future, nor any past fears to dig up. If it was just a one-off event that happened independently, it was actually a really great match. I’m saying this even though I still see absolutely no wrestling skills in Jeff Hardy’s possession, or even a reason to be interested in him for that matter. He’s wrestling’s answer to the Mexican Jumping Bean, and I commend Austin Aries for getting an otherwise really good match out of him…it…whatever.

Still, this makes the second time in three years that Hardy has won the TNA WHC at BFG. Meanwhile, I can’t imagine he’s staying clean and he definitely hasn’t remained uninjured, or under contract, or even interested in wrestling. Hardy isn’t only older, he has harder miles on his body and at the end of the day has never been someone whom could be trusted to have a company built around them. He’s definitely over with a lot of people, but that should tell you something when someone so over still gets shoved aside by an even bigger promotion with a more driving need for that sort of thing.

Seriously, four years (ish) ago, Vince McMahon sat down and said something to the extent of “Jeff, you’re really over and we almost don’t even have to try to make gobs of money off you. But we’re going to go with four other people: a guy who can’t even get over in his hometown, a former reality tv personality with almost no wrestling background, CM Punk, and something my son-in-law calls Sheamus. I don’t know. Anyway, good luck doing your painting or whatever.”

Meanwhile, Austin Aries got the call to be Ring of Honor Champion as it made its initial move to television and held the belt during what was arguably its most successful period to date. And while I can’t truthfully say that I know for sure why he left Ring of Honor, if I said “Ring of Honor is kind of cheap” none of you would really call me on it either.

The match was a microcosm of the entire night if you think about it. Fun to watch in isolation, painful when you begin realizing what it all means.

I sure hope TNA knows what they’re doing. It would be nice to have them prove me wrong for once.

Quick Hits

- During my live tweeting of the show I took some shots at the laughable TNA Hall of Fame video package with sting. This got me called out by wrestler Joey Image. The conversation went as follows…(edited only to remove superfluous Twitter things)

Me: “When I was a kid I dreamed of being in front of tens of thousands of people.” – Sting. Not all dreams come true.

Image: did WCW not draw tens of thousands?

Me: Numbers vary, but WCW was lucky to get 15k at a ppv. at best, that’s “ten of thousand.”

Image: He didn’t specify “at a PPV”. He just said “in front of”, and that dream came true.

I didn’t really have the space to respond on Twitter, so I’ll do it here.

Fine, Joey, I concede your point. In a mindbogglingly reductionist world you’ve managed to split a microscopic semantic hair with me and sort of eek out a philosophical victory. Never mind that even in the world of professional sports broadcasting the phrase “in front of the crowd” almost always refers specifically to the on-location attendance. Never mind that ten year old Sting couldn’t have even been aware of the concept of being viewed on a pay-per-view or closed circuit television format in someone’s home. (PPV wouldn’t even become a recognizable and sustainable technology until 1980, by which point Sting was around age 21 and CCTV never caught on as a method for home viewing.) And speaking of ten year old Sting, never mind that no ten year old has ever thought in such broad platitudes.

Actually, I don’t concede that point. You’re humorless.

- It will be really interesting to see how guys get time distributed on Raw tonight. I say this because of something we sort of touched on during ITR last week, but didn’t really get into a whole lot.

Based on last week’s numbers, Vince knows the following things: 1. Ratings were up once he came into the picture. 2. These were the ratings which were up during CM Punk’s time. 3. John Cena seemed to have no impact on ratings, but that could be a red herring because of when Cena’s airtime was.

Vince and crew will need to see if they can find tangible evidence of who does and does not impact ratings the most. That will dictate a lot of what is going to happen between HIAC and the Rumble, and by proxy Wrestlemania.

- I’m getting really, really tired of all these Steve Austin comeback rumors. Please…for the love of Jesus…stop.

Ray Bogusz is the co-host of the In The Room Show and a syndicated wrestling columnist. You can reach him via his Twitter @RayITR. To get his column on your website, email intheroompodcast@gmail.com.

 


My Two Cents: Thoughts on Scorpio Sky and “Harold”

It was towards the latter half of 2009 when I finally began to appreciate Jeff Hardy.  With his rock star appeal and devil-may-care lifestyle, Hardy was embroiled in a bitter feud with CM Punk over on the Smackdown side of sports entertainment.  This was probably the best main event feud going on in pro wrestling at the time

Punk and Hardy were polar opposites inside and outside the ring; Jeff’s high-flying, reckless wrestling style seemed to compliment Punk’s technical ring savvy.  Hardy’s “live-in-the-moment” carefree view of the world was very different from Punk’s “I’m-better-than-you” straight edge, disciplined lifestyle.  Punk was a natural heel to Hardy’s baby face; Hardy’s fans loved to live vicariously through his high-risk antics while viciously jeering Punk’s regimen of self-controlled pomposity.

In some ways that feud foreshadowed the depth of Punk’s abilities; he made you want to hate him and love Hardy.   Just as equally important was Hardy’s natural, infectious charisma despite being every bit as much of a screw up as Punk made him out to be.  Fans hated Punk for being right because secretly they wanted Hardy to rise to the top while overcoming the hurdles, self-imposed or otherwise, that stood in his way.

Everyone loves an underdog…

But I was one of the few that didn’t cheer for Jeff Hardy until his feud with CM Punk began to heat up.  I wasn’t infected with Hardy’s charm nor was I bedazzled with his hazardous wrestling style.  I didn’t even believe that Hardy stood a chance as a top singles competitor despite his having proved several times over he could by that time.  To me Jeff Hardy only thrilled fans by falling off of things; his style wasn’t crisp, it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t technical.  Watching a Jeff Hardy match was not the highlight of my wrestling experience three years ago.

But the more and more Punk rallied against him, the more I found myself cheering him.  I became engaged in his character, more entertained by his matches, caught up in the back and forth between him and CM Punk.  It was at that point, you could say, that I began to invest in the Jeff Hardy character.

But that investment was due in large part to CM Punk.  It has been said that in professional wrestling, where the finishes to matches are predetermined, that a wrestler is only as good as his opponent makes him.  Jeff Hardy never wrestled himself in that feud with Punk, and it’s debatable if anyone else in WWE at that time was capable of helping Hardy reach the level of success he did.

CM Punk gave fans that extra nudge needed to catapult Jeff Hardy into the maelstrom of a mega-main event push.  That moment happened exactly three years ago yesterday, on the August 28, 2009 episode of Smackdown, when Punk defeated Hardy to retain the World Heavyweight Championship in a steel cage match.  It was on that fateful night that Jeff Hardy was also “forced” to leave WWE.

I knew he would return some day and I looked forward to it as pretentiously as I could.  I read the Smackdown spoilers and knew that Hardy needed time off to heal some injuries.  I had even read that he had a handshake agreement to return to the company one day in the same exact main event spot he was leaving behind.  I knew Hardy was in a good spot in WWE, that he wouldn’t allow his two previous Wellness Policy violations lead to a third infraction.

I was ready, willing, and able to bide my time until Hardy returned to exact revenge on CM Punk, the man who made his singles run interesting to someone like me.

A little over three months later on January 4, 2010, Jeff Hardy appeared in Orlando, Florida…

No one talked about expired contracts or a free-agent status; a few fans here and there speculated about his status with WWE and TNA.  But no one anywhere was able to satiate the anger I felt when Hardy returned to TNA.  I felt betrayed; after beginning to buy into the character, it hurt tremendously to see him abandon the company I felt launched him into pro wrestling super stardom.  The anticipation I had for the renewal of a Hardy/Punk feud slowly withered away as I realized that Jeff Hardy would more than likely never appear in a WWE ring again.

Much to my chagrin very few fans felt the same way I did.  Most of Hardy’s fans cheered his defection, rejoicing at his unexpected presence on the biggest night in TNA’s history two years ago.  Even more fans celebrated with TNA that night for their major acquisition, reveling in the fact that a free spirit such as Hardy was able to spit in the face of the soul-less WWE empire.  I, however, was not amused; I did not cheer, I did not celebrate.  To answer Monty Brown’s oft asked question, I was not entertained.

Who cared?  What did my opinion matter?  No one would be moved or concerned with how my personal feelings on the matter.  What was important to most fans was that Jeff Hardy was free to be the wrestler fans yearned for him to be.  He was the rare charismatic and enigmatic bird, yearning to be liberated from the restrictive whips and chains of WWE.  He finally made it; he survived CM Punk, he no longer had to worry about strict and random drug testing, and he was able to stick it to WWE.

What the hell does all of this have to do with Scorpio Sky, a.k.a. IMPACT Wrestling’s Mason Andrews, b.k.a. RAW’s “Harold?”

The build-up for TNA’s 2012 Destination X brought with it the prospect of a reinvigorated and rejuvenated X-Division.  Several stars were contacted to fill the limp and barely there division in an attempt to crown a #1 contender for Austin Aries’ vacated X-Division Championship.  NWA Television Champion Scorpio Sky was one of those individuals.

Very few people actually knew that Sky was a major champion, and even less knew that he was actually in the National Wrestling Alliance.  He was more known for his work in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), and there were probably a handful of people (including myself and the Rt. Rev. Showtime) that recalled his work in the now defunct Wrestling Society X:

His performance in a qualifying match on Impact Wrestling LIVE! was not all that memorable, but speculation ran rampant after he changed his Twitter name to reflect what was then a one-shot deal with TNA.  When he appeared again at the Destination X Pay Per View and even made it to challenge Zema Ion, Sonjay Dutt, and Kenny King in the Ultimate X Match for the X-Division Championship, everyone “knew” that Mason Andrews was set to add life to the X-Division’s roster.

There were even websites that reported he and Kenny King signed exclusive contracts with TNA, only to quickly turn around and add that only King had signed a contract with the company.

There were interviews where Sky talked fondly about his TNA experience, expecting that talks with the suits in the company would lead to a positive future for the star.

Then he shows up in the WWE during backstage taped segments as “Harold.”  All of a sudden, a slew of fans are pissed.

No one cares to question the terms of the deal Sky had with TNA, and very few people have spoken favorably of the deal between WWE and Sky regarding his appearance in a taped segment on the show…

Very few fans have even bothered to mention that Sky has appeared on WWE television at least twice prior to becoming “Harold,” and there are only a scant few individuals who will even acknowledge the tremendous response from fans—casual and otherwise—by being in a “useless, stupid, and boring” comedy skit opposed to the mild and lukewarm response from diehard fans he received by being in a match for a secondary championship in the country’s second largest wrestling promotion.

What people have done and will continue to do is root for the underdog, proudly proclaiming that Sky gave up a golden opportunity in one company to shuck and jive in another.  Meanwhile no one will think or consider that shucking and jiving in that one company a) paid more, b) gave more exposure, and c) opened a door of opportunity in a company that is expanding in a very different direction that what most are willing to admit to.

WWE, specifically the current PG-laced WWE, is the “heel” company that is giving its competition the nudge it needs to be catapulted into some level of prominence.  Hordes of fans to this very day cannot speak positively of a company without referencing how bad WWE has become.  No matter what happens on RAW or Smackdown, every single wrestling match and skit is met with some complaint.  As such, Sky’s appearance as “Harold” sent asinine shock waves that were at best subjective emotional outbursts equivalent to a six year old flailing about in the middle of a grocery store.

That’s what I did when Hardy debuted with TNA on January 4, and I was summarily ignored.  It shouldn’t be any different for anyone who thinks Sky wasted a “golden opportunity” just to be “misused” by WWE.  That golden opportunity is starting to look more like a wooden nickel when you consider that company didn’t feel it necessary to extend a decent contract to Sky; in the event that they did, it’s sad that the comedy skit had enough potential to dissuade Sky from accepting the offer in the first place.

Brass tax is this: the business is a business.  Trades, defections, acquisitions and takeovers are practices that happen more than we would like to believe; that’s just a part of playing the game.  Fans can only speculate to the logic or rational behind a wrestler’s maneuvering through the system, but at the end of the day, the star has to do what’s best for their own situation no matter how upset the fans may get.

I can guarantee you Jeff Hardy lost very little sleep over my feelings when his head hit the pillow between January 4 and 5, 2010.  The same can be said about Scorpio Sky after he (and NOT Daniel Bryan…take that fact for what it is) and Kane closed out the comedy segment from Monday night.  We’re extremely fortunate if either Hardy or Sky considered what we fans thought when they made the decisions that would either make or break their careers or jeopardize their personal and financial situations.

Outside of that, our opinions are moot; our opinions can’t pay someone’s mortgage or health insurance.  Our dollars can, and I don’t think now is the time to get into a conversation about profit margins in either TNA or WWE.

One thing can be said, however: Hardy and Sky’s situation are very similar to one another.  Without CM Punk, the self-righteous prick of a heel, Hardy’s jump would not have been as significant or relevant to me at that time…

Without the WWE, the self-righteous prick of a company, Scorpio Sky might not have been as significant or relevant to you at this time…

You’re welcome.


L.E.W.D. Booking 101 – Is This The “End” of Claire Lynch??? (Pt. 1)

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.

“Oh I’m not done with you b****es yet … not by a long shot … .”

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.

AJ – “What we gone do now, Dixie?” Dixie – “Shut up and pretend it’s a dream…”

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?

“Hmm…since you put it THAT way…”

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.


L.E.W.D. Booking 101 – “The Redemption of Samoa Joe”

 

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.

Remember this Samoa Joe??? If not, good for you.

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.

Hi, I’m Samoa Joe, and I’m just as befuddled as you are…

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.


IMPACT Wrestling Review 8-16-12, a.k.a. “Dot dot dot, pause-blink, dot dot dot.”

Leave it to Gary the Intern to try to turn glaring negatives into positives…In other news, we’re now taking applications for interns…

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve reviewed a wrestling show and perhaps even longer since I critiqued an episode of TNA IMPACT! or Impact Wrestling LIVE!  This ought to be interesting…

Despite popular opinion, we here at L.E.W.D. Central try to be somewhat “unbiased” when flexing our analytical muscles on all things regarding sports entertainment and pro wrestling. That’s not saying we succeed at it more often than not, but at least we try; some folks don’t even do that…you know who I’m talking about…

However in the spirit of objectivity, I’ll attempt to do my best and remain fair with my critique of last night’s stellar exposition of that good ol’ fashioned wrasslin’ we love so much.  Again…heavy emphasis the word attempt here…

I can’t bring myself to talk poorly of this particular episode of IMPACT Wrestling LIVE!  On the other hand I can’t really say anything glaringly and over-enthusiastically  supportive of the episode.  IN FACT, I can’t even stay planted in the lukewarm, gray area of indifference and apathy either.  I do believe this is a first for me in my tumultuous relationship with the company; my feelings on the matter are indistinguishable.

Tonight’s episode on the whole was…unbelievable.  Yes, it was unbelievable.  That’s the perfect word to describe the previously indistinguishable feelings I have for the episode!

The episode was unbelievable in the sense that after several weeks of pleasuring fans with five-star shows and super-standard story lines, the creative and brilliant minds at TNA decided to reward it’s loyal viewers with one massive, mind-fluking (if you watched the show, you’ll catch the reference) menagerie of crap.  That’s right; the company under Bruce Pritchard’s glorious reign finally laid its first goose egg.

Unbelievable, right?!?!?  I KNOOOOOOOOWWWW!!!

The episode didn’t fall short because of the wrestling, as TNA will deliver eight times out of ten when it comes to match quality.  What stunk to holy hell was the quality of the story lines highlighted on the show.  With one slight exception in the very prominent “Aces and 8s” story line, everything else on the show, creatively speaking, fell about as flat as an open bottle of day-old soda.

Given that the show’s ratings haven’t been great since IMPACT Wrestling went live, started one hour earlier, and since Vince Russo left TNA, it will be interesting to see a) what this week’s rating turns out to be, b) how the company will salvage these stories, and c) if the focus of the product starts to slowly creep away from the World Heavyweight Title.  TNA has been riding a particularly high wave of momentum for almost three months now; it’d be a shame for us to find them with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel at this point in the game.  10 years in, this type of mess is bush league and beneath a company of its “caliber.”

Anywhoo, here are a few of the things that stood out to me:

  • Claire Lynch, Katie Vick, and YOU!
  • AJ’s Stipulation = *headdesk*
  • Taryn Terrell and Brooke Tessmacher: Didn’t See THAT ONE Coming
  • Aces and 8′s: PLEASE Thicken the Plot…PLEASE…

So wrong…so very very wrong…

Let’s cut the “holier-than-thou” stuff right here and right now; there are some story lines that have no business making it on the air, period.  The problem is that once one of those story lines squeaks past Standards and Practices, it eventually crosses the threshold of the point of no return, meaning that we’ve got to put up with the damn thing until its run its course.

I.E…Claire Lynch.

With each passing day more drama unfolds and it gets worse and worse and worse, and no matter how hard we pray or plead it just seems as if we’re being punished until this thing leaves on its own accord.  Remember that one kid that came to your house for a sleepover party but stayed like two extra days after all the other kids left?  This story line is that kid.

This whole Claire Lynch thing is inching towards Katie Vick territory, feeling and coming off as being as popular as a wet fart in church.  Most fans will easily agree that this thing should’ve been aborted long ago, perhaps right after the point where it was revealed that AJ didn’t Spinal Tap Dixie Carter.  But alas, the plucky “We want wrestling” minds in TNA decided to push forward and give us this…

Believe it or not it is possible for this story line to get worse.

These words (or a variation of them) actually crossed AJ Styles’ lips last night: “I’ll tell you what…you and me have a match tonight; if you win, I’ll admit that I’m the father of that child.  BUT, if I win, not only will I get the points, but I also get a paternity test.  How do you like THAT?!?!

You know…I don’t care about the logic of the story line or any obvious plot holes that might exist in it.  What really pushed me to the limit was the fact that this was a part of the big grand scheme.  Someone had to green light this idea and that’s what I find most insulting.  Claiming (or denying) to sire a child is one thing, as we’ve seen that type of drama between the ropes of a wrestling ring (i.e. Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, and Dominic).

What absolutely floored me was that AJ Styles uttered those words seriously because that’s the intended direction for his never-ending feud with Daniels and Kaz! Believe it or not, this whole mess has been dragging on for over 1 year!!!  Seriously; what started out as Daniels’ heel turn has now regressed to AJ Styles being the father of a drug addict’s baby…REALLY?!?!?!?!

Keep in mind that TNA Entertainment, L.L.C. is supposed to be the company where the focus is primarily on the “wrestling.”  Every time you pop on Twitter there are tons of fans praising IMPACT Wrestling LIVE! for the “wrestling” that the “wrestlers” “wrestle” between the hours of 8-10 PM, Eastern Standard Time.  With so many claiming “we want wrestling,” and for a company that proudly proclaims that “wrestling matters,” what in the sweet cream on an ice cream sandwich does the Claire Lynch baby mama drama have to do with anything?  For the life of me I can not think of TNA Entertainment, L.L.C. being a “wrestling” company when this mess reeks of “sports entertainment.”

And when was the last time those tag titles were defended?!?!?!

“Hey! Anybody seen the prestige that use to come with this thing?!?!?”

Since we’re on the subject of title defenses our attention is now focused squarely on the sorry state of the Knockouts Division.  As of late it’s difficult to remember the time when the Knockouts were known for their anti-Diva-ish performances in the company.  At one point even the most dense of fans could’ve easily made the case that TNA had the best women’s division on television in the United States; try defending this s**t now.

Madison Rayne won the belt from Ms. Tessmacher at Sunday’s Hardcore Justice Pay Per View, and even though the victory was tainted it was still a victory.  Fast forward four days to the live broadcast of TNA’s flagship show, and not only does Tessmacher defeat Rayne soundly (as she should’ve in the first place), but she also does so with Taryn Terrell serving as the guest referee.

For those of you that don’t remember (or don’t care), Taryn Terrell is WWE Superstar Drew McIntyre’s ex-wife.  She also use to be a WWE Diva.  And yes, her credentials must be stated in that particular order.

I’m never against new stars debuting for any company, as the fresh faces bring with them the hope of exciting match-ups and creative character development.  TNA had a golden opportunity to develop Ms. Terrell as an “IMPACT Wrestling Original,” someone with a clever name and gimmick that would really be remembered for her work as a TNA Professional Wrestler.  The plus was that very few people in the live audience knew who she was!

But no; she debuts to fanfare as if she were Debra Miceli returning to the ring and she does so as the prop in a clusterfluk of a match for a title that’s becoming as valuable as salt water taffy in Sub-Saharan Africa.  At least some folks are merciful enough to only make us sit through 43 seconds of this type of fluff.  It’s a sad day when the most memorable thing about the entire affair was when Brooke Hogan bust her ass on the the stage before the match even started or Taryn Terrell rose unsuccessfully from the ashes of mediocrity.

Once again…veering dangerously close to that “sports entertainment” area…

Here’s to hoping we don’t end up like this guy while waiting patiently for the exposition for this story line.

The BFG Series and the Aces and 8s are currently the two most prominent stories featured on IMPACT Wrestling LIVE!  I’ve got some thoughts about one star in the BFG Series, but that’s another blog post for another time.   As far as the Aces and 8s are concerned, I don’t have any major gripes with the progression of the story.

What I am anticipating is taking that story beyond a roving gang of miscreants attacking wrestlers at random.  I’d even argue that the men could remain masked for another month or so, but there has to be some sort of plot twist or complication that takes the effort in a different and unpredictable direction fans haven’t seen before.

Folks are already speculating about the identity of the mastermind of the group, but at this point they’re still a bunch of marauders interrupting matches; no other reason than to cause chaos for the sake of causing chaos.  While I’m very aware of the fact that there are individuals who simply want to see the world burn, I do not get that feeling about this group. They act and move with an agenda other than just causing chaos; that’s what Joey Ryan is for.

I’m looking to seeing more depth and development from this group soon.  If there is any truth to the rumors and speculation about the identity of the group’s members, then there has to exist some depth in order to compensate for the ambiguous identities of the “new” wrestlers that will debut without having the benefit of hiding behind masks.

But alas, those are just my thoughts.  What do YOU think…?!?!?!


My Two Cents: Velvet Sky and Chavo Guerrero, Jr.

Shout out to the wrestling gods for Twitter:

And to make things even more juicier interesting, here’s this:

ANNNNNNNND just so we can go to for the hat trick, Chavo Guerrero Jr.’s “epic” debut for IMPACT Wrestling included a beat down at the hands of Team 3 Strikes (Gunner and Kid Kash) and a save from Hernandez…

I can only blame myself…

People love to be “right,” and as I bask in a half-filled tub of lukewarm “I-told-you-so,” I do want to consider both of these incidents as events not related to the quality of tonight’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling; that’s another post all by itself.

Two things have happened since Velvet announced her departure from TNA: 1) the speculation of her status in the company has ended, and 2) the speculation of a Beautiful People reunion in the WWE has begun.  Think of it as an equal trade of water cooler gossip.  Oh, and for those of you that care, her profile is still available for viewing pleasure at IMPACTWrestling.com.

Fans shouldn’t expect a BP reunion in the WWE, nor should they actually ask for one.  After all both Angelina Love and Velvet Sky are “wrestlers,” and the WWE doesn’t specialize in “wrestling,” particularly “women’s wrestling.”  So who in their right mind would want to see both of these skillful and dangerous female athletes suffer under the oppressive yoke of Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s evil sports entertainment machine?  I mean it’d be a completely different story if the BPs were better known for their titillatingly sensual antics, such as straddling the ring ropes or allowing ring announcers to objectify them by making thinly veiled observations about their genitalia…thank goodness they’re wrestlers.

Velvet also managed to sneak a pot shot in about the current creative staff by thanking Vince Russo by name for giving the BPs a shot.  We all know that Russo is the black-hearted scapegoat of pro wrestling, but with each passing day there appears to be more and more people thanking him for giving them the opportunity to shine.   It is kind of odd for people to speak highly of the anti-Christ…

As for Chavo Guerrero Jr., I don’t think there are a enough words to even begin describing the unwillingness of at least one fan to witness where his first story line in the company is headed.  Maybe we can pick a few out of the 3000 the next few pictures will give us:


In a situation like this we’ve got to feel some level of sympathy for SuperMex.  Arguably his best stint in TNA was during the Latin American Xpress (LAX) faction with Homicide and Konnan as their mouthpiece.  In my opinion the combination of Homicide’s speed and viciousness, Hernandez’s unmistakable power and big man-agility, and Konnan’s blood-boiling heat magnet mic skills made the trio one of the most underrated and over-looked tag teams in TNA’s tag team division at the time.  Then TNA had to go and not pay Konnan’s medical bills and he had to go and get litigious and that was pretty much the end of that oil well right there.

After that Hernandez played second-fiddle to Homicide’s charisma slaughtering mic skills…literally.  The man has undeniable skill in the ring but he’s no Bob Uecker when it comes to the gift of gab and he might be a stone’s throw away from Adamle territory.  After navigating the tumultuous turmoil of those stormy seas they added the equally Hispanic and then recently future-endeavored Salinas (a.k.a. WWE’s Ariel, b.k.a. Kevin Thorn’s smoking hot vampiric valet) to the group…and that ended terribly as well.

Before I forget, Willie Urbina and the other Hispanic announcer at the time had something to do with them…moving right along…

So Homicide leaves the company and SuperMex is left all alone until someone gets the bright idea to not only give him a tag partner but to also make HIM the mouthpiece of the group.  Keep in mind that up until this point all Hernandez had to do was beat people up; by giving him the stick they might as well have put Stevie Wonder in a police line-up to point out the cats that kidnapped Samoa Joe.

To make matters worse in that particular situation, TNA saddled Hernandez with Matthew “Anarquia” Barela, who most fans viewed as a poor man’s Chavo Guerrero.  AND THEN the cherry on top was the subjective observation that Anarquia was about as close to being a skilled wrestler as Mike Tenay is to giving a damn about the product he’s commentating on.

A lot of fans blamed Anarquia for Sabin’s first ACL injury.  From the video it really doesn’t seem like his fault, until you see this

Botched spots and injuries aside, the lovely Sarita is thrown into the mix and randomly introduces her cousin Rosita to TNA fans and now we have the anti-American super group Mexican America who, at one point in time, held both the TNA Tag Team Championships and the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championships.  Then Anarquia got sent back to OVW because someone recognized the need for some “seasoning” if you will, and then Hernandez disappeared from TV, then Rosita and Sarita palled around until they disappeared too.

Hernandez randomly shows back up just in time for Slammiversary X, has a match that night plus one more match on the IMPACT Wrestling following the Pay Per View, disappears again, and now returns to save a debuting Chavo Guererro Jr. from two suspiciously prejudiced and stereotypical “good ol’ boys” with sleeve tattoos that would make The Undertaker and Randy Orton jealous.

So again…whyyyyy???  Specifically speaking about TNA’s product, is it absolutely vital to team the Hispanic and Latin American wrestlers up with one another even if none of them really wrestle the Lucha Libre style?  Or given Chavo Guerrero’s curriculum vitae in the business was it really necessary for Hernandez to be the superstar to benefit from his rub?  Hell, why not have Sam Shaw face Hernandez and have Doug Williams come to Chavo’s rescue seeing as Doug is well versed in wrestling with a Guerrero.

I don’t know, perhaps that’s why I’m sitting behind my laptop prattling incessantly about the decision instead of being paid beau coup bucks to sit behind a laptop and email the decision to Bruce Prichard…hey waitaminute…

In any case, Velvet Sky no longer works for TNA and Chavo Guerrero took one majestically massive sidestep into TNA.  At least the Bound for Glory Series is looking robust.


Brace Yourself! Chavo Guerrero Jr. is Ready to Make an IMPACT!

Wait…an elaborate video package for Chavo Guerrero, Jr.? Did my Apple IIe just get a virus for the first time in 26 years???

As mentioned in my previous post, Chavo Guerrero Jr. is set to debut on tomorrow night’s LIVE episode of IMPACT Wrestling.

… … …

I’m sorry, I just don’t see the excitement behind this.

Sometime ago I crafted a piece that talked about Matt Hardy’s departure from the WWE which paved the way for his debut in TNA.  In an ironic twist of irony, I lauded this move for Hardy by citing that this would be his golden opportunity to run with the brass ring that was not “given” to him in the WWE.  As many of his fans vehemently stated, this opportunity would be the chance Hardy would have to show that he could be a top dawg in professional wrestling.

He debuted with TNA in January 2011.  He was released seven months later in August.  So much for that.

One of the things we fans don’t consider is that people play particular”roles” in life based off of the skill sets they have.  That’s not a bad thing; that’s just recognizing one’s strengths and capitalizing off of them for the greater good of all.  Certain wrestlers are placed in certain roles because they can benefit the company in a specific area of concern.

Allow the following crudely drawn cartoon to elaborate on this perspective:

While I’m somewhat sure that most fans aren’t expecting the second coming of Magnum TA with Chavo’s arrival in TNA, I am intrigued at what his presence in the company will mean for the company’s product.

Chavo is one of the most technically sound and gifted wrestlers out there and comes from a legacy of gifted pro wrestlers (d’uh).  The down side to that particular gift is that his charismatic appeal leaves about as much of a mark on fan as an ant bite on an elephant’s ass.  Placing Chavo as the recipient of a major push would be…well…an exercise in the ineffective use of a talented wrestler (i.e. “MISUSE”).

However given Chavo’s technical prowess, knowledge and experience from working in the business, having him on the roster to build up future stars (particularly in the X-Division) is a must.  From that perspective, bringing Chavo into the fold is a great investment; only from that perspective though.  Funny thing is he was doing the exact same thing in the WWE, but at least now his boss won’t yell at him for not making Sin Cara at least look like a better performer.

I will add this: if they saddle him with Hernandez and try one more crack at an all/semi-Mexican stable, I’m sitting in the corner and pouting for the rest of the week.


Ramblings of a Wrestling Fan – TNA Is Better Than WWE

Hello, hello. Greetings fellow wrestling lovers. It’s been a while since my last post, but that’s mainly because I grew tired of complaining about things that will never change and decided to have a more open mind about the state of Sport’s Entertainment today. I mean, come on. Does Vincent Kennedy McMahon really give a damn what we think? He’s probably sleeping on a bed made out of all the money he makes each day which is, in all likelihood, more than any of us will ever make in this lifetime. So why should he care what we think? However, that does not mean I can’t resort to my trusty laptop and my fellow L.E.W.D chaps when I feel like whining about something or another.

I don’t know if any of you noticed it lately, but there seems to have been some dramatic shift in wrestling within the big two. I don’t mean some mass exchange of talent either. I’m talking about the quality of their programming. I never thought I’d say this, but I cannot stress enough how much better TNA Impact Wrestling programming is over WWE’s current programming of Raw and Smackdown. I cannot speak for Smackdown much because I rarely watch it. I might catch it once a month if that because I have a small life outside of wrestling. Either way, TNA “seems” to be on the right track in its own weird way while WWE is making me feel like I’m wasting hours of my life each week.

I’ll start with Monday Night Raw, the flagship of WWE programming. Honestly, who actually–as of right now–think three hours of Raw is a very good idea? If you’re looking forward to three hours of a snoozefest then either you’re being completely optimistic or you’re insane. Most L.E.W.D readers, with the exception of the few TNApologists we get, are often optimistic so we’ll go with that. And I hear your optimism. I have heard many arguments as to why three hours of Raw is a good idea.

For instance, some people are hoping the first hour of Raw is dedicated to FCW/NXT hopefuls that want to main event someday. That’s actually a good idea, but I don’t exactly see that happening. I feel like it will be the same “business as usual” attitude with Cena closing the show each week. No Way Out gave us jumbled up tag team match and the end result was a future title match featuring Young and O’Neil versus Kingston and Truth. I guess I could get behind the idea of this fresh new tag team, but WWE’s track record with tag teams as of late hasn’t led me to believe they are ready to get behind the tag team division full force. If that were the case, the Hart Dynasty would have never been “screwed”, The Usos may have had a strong push for the belts and Epico and Primo never would have lost the belts to begin with to two main event level superstars who were thrown together as a tag team. Why not use the tag teams you already have and let main event stars main event?

In the case of Jerishow, they had a purpose which was, and I am assuming here, to revamp the tag team division and it worked for a while, but like most everything in WWE these days, it fizzled out somewhere down the line. I will say though, that the hope–possibly false, but hope nontheless–lies in the fact that WWE currently has more tag teams these days. At No Way Out we saw the Usos, Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd, Epico/Primo and Young, O’Neil. There’s also Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks which I think they don’t often get the credit they deserve, but as you can see, there’s clearly some kind of tag team division forming. Does this mean we’ll get to see the tag titles defended on a regular basis rather than just as a random filler for pay per views? Well, during three hours of Raw there’s certainly plenty of time for decent tag team action.

Image

Cyndi: Better smile kiddo. By 2012, all of your accomplishments will be buried by no talent eye candy they call Divas. Just enjoy the moment…

From tag team action, we move right along to women’s wrestling which is actually what finally pushed me into sorting my thoughts. On last night’s Raw, we saw an appearance by none other than WWE Hall of Famer Wendi Richter along with Roddy Piper and Cyndi Lauper, her former manager. The crowd was absolutely dead for this segment. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen such a dead crowd since Nascar drivers attempted to guest host Raw. It was that bad. Some feel like Heath Slater saved that segment, but to be honest, I don’t think anything except Sweet Chin Music could have saved it. Shawn should have been teleported from his couch and sent in to superkick everyone in the ring, including the writers who thought this segment was a great idea.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of all those legends (including Lauper) who were in the ring, but the segment was just cringe worthy. Not only that, but it made me feel sorry for the ladies due to the fact that nobody seemed to care. The crowd popped BIG time for Vader, another person whom we haven’t seen on WWE programming in years and yet when Wendi Richter, another legend, makes her way to the ring there’s no pop. There’s nothing and it makes me think about how WWE has ruined everyone’s perception of women’s wrestling. In a nutshell–the Divas get no love, not even the ones who paved the way.

Layla and Beth Phoenix did a fantastic job during their match at No Way Out. I say fantastic by WWE’s standards because any smart “wrestling” fan knows that those women weren’t exactly tearing it up like Marti Belle or LuFisto. (Yeah I know who they are. I might not watch them often, but I do know them.) But for a WWE women’s wrestling match, it ranked up there with Michelle McCool and Layla’s match before McCool retired. I was entertained, people discovered Layla actually has moves, and they (Layla/Beth) got a great deal of time to tell a story which is what helps wrestling fans get into the match. When there’s no kind of story going on, it makes it hard–at least for me–to invest in that person. When I started watching wrestling, women were actually allowed storylines. They worked the mic–quite often–and even had decent length matches. Of course, they weren’t always five and ten minutes, but if there’s a good story going on, there is no need for a ten minute match each week. Segments are used to keep people interested and invested in that character so it all works out.

These days though, it is very hard. AJ Lee, who is currently the only interesting Diva in WWE programming right now, doesn’t get the mic very often. However, she IS involved in a major storyline and people are beginning to like her. Rose Mendez is a “manager” for Epico and Primo, but no one cares because she never speaks for them often. She doesn’t do the things women like Sherri Martel used to do. Only Vikki Guerrero is playing the part of the classic female manager. She doesn’t wrestle often, but you can bet her Dolph Ziggler is gaining a following. Not only that, but she gets a reaction. I just think it’s sad that the women are only seen as a bathroom break and that a legend like Wendi Richter got absolutely no love from the crowd. I would say, “Shame on you WWE fans”, but if WWE cared more about their women, so would the people who watch their programming.

From WWE’s hatred of women, we now turn to the main event scene. Punk and Bryan have been tearing up as of late. I’m sure it may not compare to their old Ring of Honor stuff, but by WWE standards it’s been great stuff. Even Sheamus has been kicking a whole lot of ass lately and yet that isn’t enough to make two hours of Raw and a three hour WWE pay per view exciting. In the case of No Way Out, I do not think it was a bad show. The match between Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler was very entertaining and had many wanting more. It was a great way to set the tone for the show and yet, as usual, WWE finds a way to ruin such momentum.

Cody and Christian’s match was sorta just there. It only got good near the end. It’s not Christian’s fault, but I don’t feel like Cody’s there yet. The crowd did not seem so hot for that match. The Santino match absolutely killed the pay per view. The crowd obviously, did not appreciate it for they shouted “boring” very loudly. I’m sure that gets edited out for the DVD copy, but that match had no business on the pay per view. Some folks complained about Ryback, but honestly, he didn’t kill the momentum–the Suits match did. The triple threat match was great and should have closed a sour show, but the Cena match closed it. While some people hated that, the crowd certainly popped for Cena so your opinions of Cena closing a show are irrelevant.

But despite No Way Out being watchable, TNA’s Slammiversary kicked No Way Out’s ass six ways from Sunday. Hear that TNA fans? I am openly admitting the fact that I enjoyed a TNA pay per view more than a WWE one and I’ll do you one better. TNA programming, as of late, is BETTER than WWE’s. Yes folks. We’re finally reaching the point of my ramblings. WWE programming seems to drag on and on from one show to the next in the span of two hours. By the time 11pm hits, I’m already half way asleep only having forced myself to stay awake long enough to see John Cena. If WWE is putting me to sleep in two hours, I have no doubt by 10pm, I will not be able to stand much more of it.

I am not, by any means, saying WWE sucks. That isn’t true. It doesn’t suck completely, but it’s mundane, mediocre and predictable. It’s the same old routine. You get your opening 10 to 20 minute promo, followed by a match that will have at least one commercial break, pointless backstage segments with random Zack Ryder, another match, a Diva sighting, a Punk or Bryan match to save the show and then Cena to close it out. Even the damn matches are routine. Its like each match is paced slow and methodically that I often find myself zoning in and out–even during the good ones–because there’s no quick action. No, I’m not saying each match needs that Rey Mysterio pace, but at least in TNA, we get a variety. The matches are not all the same. Not all of them are fast paced, but they don’t seem to drag either. You might get an Aries/Xion match to start things off followed by something a little less quick such as Abyss and someone else. Then you might get a Knockouts match which isn’t at all like a Divas match.

To be fair, I was concerned at one point, but after last week, it looks like things are shaping up again for the ladies of TNA. My point is that TNA has learned (or so it appears) that in a two hour live show, one must keep the audience’s attention and you can only do so much in two hours. Last week there was way more ring action than segments. WWE–that’s another problem. They tend to talk entirely too much during a broadcast and that’s going to keep me from watching, especially when its the same old people holding a mic each week.

I urge all of you to give TNA a chance. They’ve put on two great shows and a great pay per view, but don’t get the ratings to show for it. I actually QUIT watching TNA for months. I think I quit right around November of last year and only just recently got back into it. Even if you’ve never watched TNA, I guarantee you’ll recognize old WWE superstars. That is how I got into the show to begin with. I saw people that I recognized and decided to give it a shot. No, TNA isn’t perfect and God I despise Hogan.

However, I won’t quit watching while they’re trying. If everyone who’s always tooted their nose up at TNA gave it a shot, I think you all would be pleasantly surprised. In fact, you can watch full episodes of TNA on YouTube and looky here. I did you the favor of looking up last week’s show so you can enjoy it. Watch with an open mind and prepared to see wrestling and not that methodical, slow, boring, predictable stuff you see every Monday Night. When TNA actually does something right, they deserve to be watched. With WWE’s epic permanent move to three hours, it’s hard to see a bright future when they’re only advertising returning legends rather than the new generation while current shows are boring everyone to death. Dixie Carter, keep up the good work and with that, I’m finally shutting the heck up,

–T


Talking Point: Alex Shelley to WWE: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

How devilishly appropriate is it to craft such a piece on this day?

First and foremost, happy birthday to this week’s most conversation-starting pro wrestler Alex Shelley, who (according to Wikipedia) turns 29 today in the midst of rampant speculation and damage control.

Rumor has it that the TNA star’s contract is set to expire soon, and word on the IWC Street is that the soon-to-be former TNA X-Division stalwart is headed straight for the dark towers in Stamford, Connecticut.

As typical with rumors and speculation, all sorts of fluff is being tossed around casually with reckless abandon.  Leave it to us here at L.E.W.D. to at least attempt to put the speculation through some analytical filter for the sake of clarity on a murky situation.

Here’s today’s question: is it a good idea or a bad idea for Alex Shelley to make a jump to the WWE?

We’ve got to fill this pool with water before we dive headfirst into it lest we desire a real life similar to Eric Young’s current gimmick.

We’re viewing Shelley’s eventual departure from TNA through one myopic lens encapsulated in an equally small bubble.  Because the WWE and TNA are the two largest pro wrestling companies in the United States, we’ve already automatically assumed that a star leaving from one company will naturally find work in the other ninety days later.

This of course does not take into consideration two things: that star may not want to work for the other company and the other company may not have any interest in that particular star.  Sometimes it’s just bad business to hire another company’s refuse; not every terminated Coke employee finds a new home at Pepsi.

For example: everyone assumed Shelton Benjamin was bolting to TNA after being future endeavored.  He and Charlie Haas ended up in ROH…something that I personally called, by the way.

Having stated that, we can now place our opinions in proper perspective; for the sake of our arguments, we will assume that if Alex Shelley is truly done with TNA, he’ll either a) head for the WWE in three months or b) disappear completely off the face of the earth *cough Petey Williams cough*.

Dear WWE, if you give me a shot, I can expand your profit margin by THIS much!

TNA fans have already begun crying a river for Shelley’s departure, wisely noting that this is a particularly huge and crushing blow to the company.  Shelley is an excellent wrestler and performer, and paired with Chris Sabin, has led the charge in the re-invigoration of tag team wrestling in TNA and the business on the whole.

A jump to the WWE would surely lead to Shelley wasting his time in a company that “clearly” doesn’t value smaller stars or tag team wrestling.  Chances are if he makes the jump, Shelley will be featured a handful of times in the silliest gimmick since the Funkasaurus and will eventually be released because he isn’t big, jacked up on ‘roids, or John Cena.

Believe it or not that’s it for the “bad idea” of this whole situation.  Not much to hang our hats on there, is it?

Let’s summarize that in a few nifty sentences that you’ve probably already seen somewhere else on the net regarding Shelley’s TNA departure:

zOMG!!! Alex Shelly leavn TNA, the BEST WRESTLING COPMANY IN D WORLD!!! This ish trule sad day for Dixee and Hulkamania! Hope he doesn’t go to WWE bcuz WWE SUKZ! They’ll just misuse him neway! COME BACK ALEX WE LUV MCMGs!!! 4LIFE

Now let’s dig into the “good idea”…

For starters the term “misuse” is very subjective and, in this case, ambiguous.  How do we, the fans, truly determine whether or not a non-WWE star entering the company will be “misused?”  Do we quantify that “misuse” through numbers of matches or gimmicks that aren’t “silly or pointless?”

Or will Shelley be “misused” because he’ll be forced by the WWE to become a sports entertainer instead of a wrestler?

I’m Vince McMahon, dammit!!! If he’s not big and sweaty, he can GO TO HELL!!!

We can safely call a spade a spade, however, and admit that the WWE has taken numerous excretions on stars in its long, storied history, particularly stars that weren’t born and bred in the company from day one.

Why are we so eager to dismiss what the company can do with a star well before we even see the star debut in the company?  Here’s an even more important question: how much more could the WWE “misuse” Shelley than TNA already has?

Shelley has been with TNA on and off for eight years and is more known for teaming with Chris Sabin to form the Motor City Machine Guns than anything else he’s done in the company (1-time X-Division Champion, 1-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion with Chris Sabin).  That reduces Shelley’s stint with TNA from 8 years to 5 years, as the MCMGs formed during the summer of 2007.

In those 5 years, Sabin and Shelley had stellar matches with several tag team parings but only held the TNA Tag Team Championship belts once, from July 2010 to January 2011.

Even after their reign the duo had great matches and was hailed as the preeminent tag team in TNA until Beer Money came along and snatched that mantle from them.  They’d always come close to tag team gold but would never touch it again.

For those of you that care, Beer Money, Inc. (James Storm and Robert/Bobby Roode) have had four reigns as tag team champions in that same amount of time.

On April 28, 2011, Chris Sabin was sidelined with a knee injury that put him on the shelf for over one year.  Shelley flopped around here and there in the X-Division for a while, disappeared from television for four months and reemerged on television at the beginning of 2012 and was placed haphazardly back into the X-Division title hunt.  He lost.

Chris Sabin returned to TNA in April and since then the MCMGs were used no more than four times on television and Pay Per View. This leads us to today’s question: how is it anywhere remotely logical that a WWE move for Shelley would be any worse than the aforementioned?

TNA’s current tag team division consists of the following teams: Eric Young and ODB, Kazarian and Daniels (the tag team champs), Samoa Joe and Magnus (only because they haven’t officially split up yet) and probably Kurt Angle and AJ Styles.

Meanwhile, much to most fans’ chagrin, the number of tag teams in the WWE is growing by the day: Primo and Epico, Truth and Kingston (the tag team champs), The Impact Players Titus O’ Neil and Darren Young, The Usos, Hawkins and Reks, Khali and Ezekiel Jackson, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler…

It’s not so bad that the MCMG’s have broken up; it gives the West Virginia Duck Rifles a chance to “git ‘er done” in TNA!

So the WWE would “misuse” Shelley’s awesome tag team abilities by slapping him next to Justin Gabriel or Tyson Kidd and adding their ad hoc tag team to the seven teams already mentioned?

We can even play devil’s advocate; suppose the WWE slathered yellow paint all over his body, put a red baseball cap on him and called him Chicken Leg Leroy.  Couldn’t he stand to make more money in the WWE as a tool than he did in TNA as one of the company’s “prized” talents?

Even Gail Kim, the world’s best female wrestler (hashtag: sarcasm), left TNA because she needed to make some financial moves the company wasn’t willing to foot the bill for.  For all her screaming about how the WWE “misused” her, she sure didn’t complain about receiving two years of checks from the WWE for “misusing” her, and I’m certain she didn’t turn those checks back in either.

I think most fans will stand only the corner of high and mighty and proudly proclaim that they would never sell their souls for money, which is what apparently most people do just to make it to the WWE.  Even if Shelley was saddled with a terrible gimmick or forced to sit at home, at least the WWE would pay him handsomely to do so.  TNA probably only paid Shelley when they used him, which wasn’t all that often for a while.

Also consider this before pulling out your soapbox: a wrestler once commented that it’s every wrestler’s goal to make it to/in the WWE.  According to this wrestler, any athlete that says otherwise is either lying or stupid.  While it’s debatable on whether or not that ideology is true, it presents a very sound and wise argument.

Who in their right mind aspires to be second best?  Everyone, no matter what they choose to do in life, wants to be the best at it.  As other wrestlers have said if you’re not in the business to become a world champion one day, you’re in the wrong business.

With the WWE at the top of the pro wrestling/sports entertainment food chain, we can only name a handful of stars who’ve outright stated they don’t want to have anything to do with Vince McMahon’s machine.  The two I can think of off the top of my head are AJ Styles and Davey Richards.  This is assuming that the WWE has actually shown interest in both of these men recently, and that’s one tidbit of speculation I’ve yet to hear about, but I digress.

Would it be so damning to his career for Shelley to at least attempt a shot at making it into the WWE at this point in his young career?  The man is turning 29 today and if picked up by the ‘E would be in the company of a ton of new stars of similar stature and build…

Shelley is 29 years old, 5’10 and 215 lbs.; Daniel Bryan (former WHC) is 31 years old (his birthday was yesterday; happy belated!), 5’10 and 210 lbs.  The soon-to-return Sin Cara is 29 years old, 5’7 and 180 lbs.; Hunico is 34, 5’10 and 205 lbs.  Hell, Xavier Woods (TNA’s Consequences Creed) is 25, 5’9 and 207 lbs. and even he was finally brought up to an NXT taping and had good match with Dean Ambrose.

Seriously…all these little bitty dudes running around the WWE and fans actually believe Shelley won’t get some sort of quality run even if it’s just on NXT?  I won’t even add to the fire the speculation of an all cruiserweight show for the WWE Network.

All things considered, do YOU think a WWE Alex Shelley would be a good idea or a bad one?

God speed, Mr. Shelley. God speed.

 


Talking Points: Which Is the Lesser of Two Evils?

It has been a terribly slow few weeks for wrestling writing and analysis here at L.E.W.D.  Besides Scott Steiner’s Anti-TNA Twitter tirades there hasn’t been much that’s “notable” or controversial enough for us to leap from the couch and fritter away our time on the internet about.

With summer fast approaching, however, both TNA and the WWE have jacked up their methods to keep us from spending so much time outside enjoying one another’s company in the sunshine.

Both companies are planning to take their respective flagship shows to new heights over the summer.  At the end of the month, Impact Wrestling will air one hour earlier and live; at the end of June, Monday Night RAW will adopt a “permanent” three hour format in which fans will have “some sort of interactivity with.”  Whoopee!

When our underappreciated-and-intellectually-eclectic L.E.W.D. intern Gary passed this news across my cluttered desk, I immediately jumped up and called an impromptu meeting with Mr. Gammon and Asherology via SMS.  I also forced Gary get us three cups of coffee despite the obvious fact that I was the only person that was actually in the office at the time…that and the fact that I don’t like coffee at all.

The question I posed before them (the same I’m posing for you): which one is the better move?

Before getting into each of these blockbuster announcements for the summer, I must state for the record that I think both ideas are absolutely horrible.  An extra hour of crap or two hours of live crap does not sound appealing to me at all, but since fans have to deal with both the least we can do is perorate on which one we’d rather have peddled on our televisions.

Believe it or not some fans have already begun to weigh in on one-half of the question here.  Both Mr. Gammon and Asherology agree that the RAW deal is better.  Being the rabble rouser that I am, I tastefully disagreed and lobbied that the live Impact Wrestling seemed more promising.

On the WWE end of things, a permanent third hour of RAW would give the WWE an opportunity to maximize their television time exponentially, allowing the flagship show to have the necessary space to showcase longer matches as well as debut/develop new or underutilized talent.

Mr. Gammon was especially adamant in stating that this major risk (financially speaking) by the WWE is one that won’t sink (i.e. bankrupt) the company.  At this point in their long and storied history, the WWE has very little to lose by opting for a three hour format for the flagship brand; if it doesn’t work out, it gets scrapped and they move right along (see: brand split, guest host format, McMahon’s Million Dollar Giveaway, anonymous GM, SuperShow, Mike Adamle…).

At this point in the SMS war I made an observation that the RAW’s were probably moving to three-hour format because the NXT taping schedule is very similar to Impact Wrestling’s taping format, where episodes for one month are taped all at one time.  Also, these NXT tapings took place at Full Sail University, which means they weren’t taped before a RAW or Smackdown.  In other words, you’ve got to do more for crowds coming to a wrestling event an 8 PM for a live television broadcast beginning at 9 PM.

Mr. Gammon simply replied, “No.  Just no.”  So too did we move right along…

Amidst early comparisons to WCW, Mr. Gammon also noted that just because one company failed at a similar format doesn’t necessarily mean that the same would happen to the WWE.  When I brought to his attention that fans consistently dog out TNA based on that very logic, he quickly reminded me that TNA typically fails at everything they mimic from other companies.

Asherology chimed in that fans should be willing to give the format a chance before burying it.  Mr. Gammon echoed her sentiments, which solidified both their stances that the three-hour RAWs will indeed be better than Impact Wrestling’s live craptastic spectacle of mediocrity.

WCW comparisons aside (because WCW didn’t go out of business because of a three-hour format), I’m not too keen on the new format for the fact that the past few three-hour RAWS haven’t been all that entertaining to me.

While we hope that the WWE will give RAW longer matches and debut or develop new and underutilized talent, what reasoning would they have to do that other than for the fact of adding an hour to the show?  Given the WWE already has like 80 kajilliion shows already, do we really want or need one more hour of WWE ring antics?

Fans who watch the WWE’s product don’t necessarily want more wrestling, but rather want to be entertained.  Why add another hour of crap to a show instead of making the initial two hours watchable and enjoyable from the gate?

For example: a lot of people complain that there isn’t enough time in the day to get things done, and that if we only had more time we’d be able to accomplish more.  Science, however, has already proven that the Earth rotates in a particular way that has enabled us to scientifically say that there are twenty-four hours in a day for every single thing living under the sun, moon and stars.

Given that little tidbit, if we can’t manage twenty-four hours properly, how in the hell can we honestly believe we’d do better with twenty-five or more?

So yes, the WWE could give matches more time but that’s not what we really want to see; a long wrestling match does not equate to a good wrestling match.  There is a difference.

And yes, the WWE could spend time developing characters, but that’s not what we really want to see; how many people write and comment about NXT or FCW as is…?  What you were thinking just then is precisely my point.

Having said that, I’m personally not holding my breath for a third-hour of RAW to be the end all, be all to my Monday nights.  At the same time I will acquiesce to the idea that this move isn’t turning the company into WCW 2012.

TNA’s move to shoot Impact Wrestling live for the summer, on the other hand, seems more promising to me.

For the past ten years fans have lambasted TNA for not doing this, that or the other “right.”  No matter what TNA churns out some plucky young analyst *ahem* will find a way to negate whatever it is they’re doing or plan on doing.  Either that or another salty, grizzled and disenfranchised analyst will complain that they haven’t done anything productive at all; the Rt. Rev. Showtime has already gone in at length on the latter.

So here it is in 2012 and the company has finally gained enough revenue or convinced someone else to foot the bill (*cough Spike TV cough*) to enable them to go live over the summer.

Live shows don’t have the benefit of being able to be shot a second time.  Everything is immediate, right in the moment.  Imagine walking a tightrope without having a net to catch you when you fall; such is the beast that is live television.

The beauty of live television is that it can bring the best or worst out of a product.  TNA has spent the better part of its ten years in operation taping its flagship show.  This move towards a live product, particularly on a regular basis, will test the limits of the show and the company.

In the sink or swim atmosphere of live television, TNA will really has an opportunity to take their programming to the next level, a level that detractors have been screaming for the company to do for years.

A weekly live product will also test the mettle of TNA, more so than the failed “Monday Night Wars II” attempt from January 2010.  Running unopposed on Thursday nights at the beginning of prime time shows could give TNA enough steam and buzz to build off of, something that frankly was overdue for the company for about 10 years now.

On the other hand, the company has not managed “big changes” wisely in its brief yet storied history.  TNA has already deemed it fiscally irresponsible to take Impact Wrestling on the road regularly or even semi-regularly, and it’s anybody’s guess as to how they were able to afford “King Mo” Lawal’s contract before taking the show on the road…whatever.

It is quite possible that this new venture for TNA will fail just as hard as their other business ventures.  Why get enthusiastic about this one?

Another note to consider is that perhaps the company is putting the cart before the horse.  With pundits claiming that TNA has a laundry list of issues to worry about, the most important properly defining its product (“Cross the Line,” “We Are Wrestling,” “Wrestling Matters,” TNA Entertainment, LLC…), would it really be a wise decision to showcase live indefinableness?

Think about it like this: TNA Entertainment, LLC prides itself on its professional wrestling, and its fans are arguably professional wrestling fans.  But all of that professional wrestling hasn’t given the company a television rating over a 2.0 in ten years.  Jeff Hardy is the company’s biggest merchandise seller but is not put at the forefront of the company.

The increasingly “deep” storylines and characters consistently attracts the same adult audience that has been viewing the product before, during, and after the Hogan/Bischoff era began two years ago.  The progress the company has made is considered by some as purely cosmetic, and even the cleansing of Vince Russo from the company has only produced a small semblance of change in the company.

As Mr. Gammon would say, “this live show won’t do jack diddley for the company.”

So there’s the question: if you had to choose one, which do you think would benefit the fans in the long run?  Would you prefer to see a live TNA product or a three hour RAW?


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