Tuesday, July 4, 2017

TNA! TN-Wait....WHAT!? GFW?!

Well, hmmm....what to say....this has been the most baffling week to me. Let's look at a couple of headlines, shall we? These come straight from "LordsofPain.net"....


And then this....


According to an article from a local newspaper in Tennessee, the rebranding is due to a desire to distance themselves from the recent legal dramas and financial woes of the past. On a more personal note, though, I think it's time to put distance between the company and the stigma attached to the TNA brand, both in terms of within the wrestling bubble AND without.

NOTE: If you are looking to celebrate Bound for Glory OR Slammiversary, don't walk into your local bakery and ask them to put TNA on a cake and expect to NOT HAVE TO EXPLAIN YOURSELF. I am just sayin'.

This move was something I was talking about as early as 2015, but this seems so...so...I hate to use the word, but sloppy. Back in 2015, I made a plan to shake things up by making the change something controversial....something completely out of the ordinary....something people would want to talk about.

I have been orchestrating an IMPACT WRESTLING takeover by The Bullet Club, which I think would have been great had AJ Styles been in on the whole thing, but him being in WWE kinda puts a torpedo to the whole thing. But the walkout storyline was something I had in mind for the transformation, but what if something else was afoot?

Let's look at this another way....If GFW was the smaller entity (which it was) and IMPACT WRESTLING was the entity with TV time (which it is), why NOT brand GFW as the winner...but...wait...there needed to be a good STORYLINE reason for the changes, which is something HISTORICALLY TNA has NEVER been good at explaining. This is why I call the changes SLOPPY. People want more than 'this is happening', they want WHY and they NEED those answers to make sense. You can build it slowly over the course of a year, or you can do it over the course of a couple of months, but it needs to make sense, otherwise you run the risk of throwing out the good along with the worthless.

I WANT THIS TO WORK! IT NEEDS TO WORK! I want GFW to be the benchmark by which the new era is defined, but it HAS to be done in such a way that people are going to care. I want WWE TV to be hijacked with GFW chants just like the "Joe's GONNA KILL YOU" chants during the era of Umaga. Or the TNA chants during the whole Trump vs. Rosie 'o Donnell sketch on RAW. This change HAS to be a catalyst for a dramatic upswing into some familiar territory. RAW is so sterile, so politically correct, so neutrally charged, that the GFW model HAS to be something to offset that...to unbalance that....to take it off its feet.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

When the Numbers DON'T Lie.....

Just when you think things can't get any more interesting.....

LAX is upset. They're talking in a vignette about burning things down and taking no prisoners. Bruce and Cornette are watching the feed and Jim says he has an idea about how to fix some of that and pulls out his phone. Bruce tells him to wait a minute, we already have some war seasoned members of the roster who could send a message.

With the inclusion of Ivelisse into the gold hunt now, Sienna is very upset as well and her cousin has come to the ring with her to make her case. She's decided that she is on a mission...to put this newbie back in line and put everyone else on notice....this is HER title and she's not going to give it up. About that time, out comes Rosemary with Kongo Kong, who has just decided to throw in with her the week prior in a backstage segment. Rosemary says that she has always been a contender and that her little vacation from the title hasn't stopped that from being true, which brings out Ivelisse and Monty Brown.

This segment has elevated to such a point that Bruce Prichard HAS to come out and put some order to the chaos. He sees quite a few pairings in the past few months and now knows he has a match to build.

LAX (Diamante and Homicide) vs.
Braxton Sutter and Allie vs.
Rosemary and Kongo Kong vs.
Ivelisse and Monty Brown vs.
Angelina Love Richards and Davey vs.
Alisha Edwards and Eddie vs.

This will be the first ever Inter-gender Tag Team Gauntlet match with the winning team moving on to the final where Sienna and KM will be waiting and both the very first BFG Series points AND Knockouts title are on the line. IF the winner of the match HASN'T already received an invitation into the series, it not only enters HIM, but gives him the points advantage out of the gate. The Knockout partner wins the title.

This match is set for the main event, but to recap the BFG Series competition so far:

Monty Brown
Rey Mysterio
Matt Morgan
Matt Sydel

The Fatal Four Way sees EC3 take a surprise win in the Number 1 Contenders match AND entry into the BFG Series

And in the main event, Braxton Sutter and Allie pull out the win for the title and BFG entry.

Jim Cornette comes down to the ring to address Braxton and Allie, congratulating them and handing Braxton his invitation to the BFG Series. This brings out LAX, who are none to happy and are here to collect on the deck stacking they feel has been done against them. Cornette says that he has no issue with them and that they had just as much chance as anyone of taking home the W this week. LAX moves down the ramp and are stopped by Morgan and Mysterio who get in the way, but are beaten down by the numbers game when the VOW come out and clean house for the save.

"You ain't the only ones who can set traps here, amigos!" Cornette screams into the mic.


Chapter 5. Rounding out the Edges...

Bruce, Dutch, and Jim are all talking about how this whole thing is going to work with Braxton winning the BFG first points when the contest hasn't officially started yet. Cornette says to hold on, that all it means is that he gets a bye from the first week's actual events. This week will fill out the final spaces in the Tourney with a 4 Corners Elimination Tag Match where the winning team picks a member to fill the spot OR they face off for it. To end off the night and the Series, incidently, we put together a Last Chance Triple Threat match for the final spot.

The BFG Series contains 8 spots, of which 6 have been filled

Matt Morgan
Rey Mysterio
Braxton Sutter
Matt Sydel
EC 3
Monty Brown

The Triple Threat main event will feature Alberto El Patron, James Storm, and Magnus.

The 4 Corners Elimination Tag Match will feature The VOW, Reno Scum, LAX, and a Mystery Team

Magnus takes the BFG Series spot.

The Tag Match main event sees the return of the Motor City Machine Guns, who along with the other teams, put on a clinic. In the end, the VOW come out on top, putting Wilcox into the BFG Series.

In other parts of the card, Ivelisse wins the Number 1 Contender slot for the Knockouts Title and Laurel Van Ness has been fired by management.

To end the night, a phone call is placed by a woman outside the Impact Zone.
"Hello...is Kenny there?"
"Who's this?"
"It's Amber."
"Amber, where you been, babe?"
"Never mind that, just let Kenny know we're in."
"He's been trying to put someone there for a while, but all the prospects were weeded out too early...yeah, I'll tell him."


Chapter 6. The Calm Before.....

Alberto El Patron and Bobby Lashley had their match at Slammiversary to unify the World Titles into one belt, the Impact Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship, but not without some outside help. Cody Rhodes came back to Impact and, at the event, he cost El Patron the title.

The broadcast begins with Bruce Prichard in the ring.

"Due to events that took place at Slammiversary, there will be a rematch tonight in the main event with Bobby Lashley and Alberto El Patron battling for the Impact Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship. To protect the legitimacy of this match, I've called for the main event to take place in a Lumberjack match where the Jacks will be chosen by management, consisting of the members of the Bound for Glory Series at ringside to prevent any outside interference from without and any sort of hijinks from within."

Brandi Rhodes goes one on one with Sienna and pins her with the outside interference from Amber 'O Neil. This leads to Amber raising Brandi's hand in the middle of the ring.

LAX takes on The Motor City Machine Guns and they win with all kinds of hidden outside hijinks, in the end, they're run off by Morgan and Mysterio.

Matt Sydel faces off against Jigsaw. Jigsaw pulls off a win out of nowhere with his finisher.

In the main event, The Vow allows Cody Rhodes to sneak through the crowd and disrupt the match, leading to the lights to go out in ring. When the lights come up again, Kenny Omega and members of Bullet Club have put out both Patron AND Lashley and Rhodes has the belt in his hands.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Talent Pool...Who's Wading and Who NEEDS to get out....

I've decided to do something in between the release of these posts to try and streamline everything in such a way that makes my thinking here a little more clear: I WANT to get back to the daily of writing here and to that end, the booking hardcore thing IS going to happen, but I want to bring this audience into my head, so to speak.

Right now, the Global Force Wrestling roster contains some gems. Serious gems that, if tapped, could provide some explosive overhauls to the Impact roster since the merger is still underway. Let's look at the current Impact Wrestling roster as it sits today:

14 Knockouts of which only 6 are being used as in ring performers
49 Mens wrestlers of which 9 are either not in ring performers or not on camera enough to be considered necessary

I am not impressed, people. Just for fun, let me put some of the current names GFW has under their roster that could bring the mix up a WHOLE BUNCH.

Amber 'O Neal
Santana Garrett
Lei'D Tapa

Shelton Benjamin
Chael Sonnen
Chase Stevens
Colt Cabana
Davey Boy Smith Jr.

Guys, this short list....this very short list is just a few of the over 30 member list who could take this thing into a more robust land again, where the opportunity is there for the taking. That said, I will take on the idea that some of the current roster needs to either be utilized or cut loose. My list on the chopping block unless actions are taken:

Laurel Van Ness
Brandi Rhodes
Ava Storie
Rockstar Spud
Braxton Sutter

That's the surface here, folks. I DON'T like this whole thing with Laurel Van Ness/ Allie/ Braxton Sutter and it NEEDS to die. NOW. Put this thing back together or let them all go.

The rest are either not being used for anything useful or aren't being used at all, which doesn't help anything. I'm very frustrated by the strife in the announcers booth right now and I believe that the Borash and Matthews thing needs to go away and I'm prepared to lose Madison Rayne too if the whole dynamic refuses to shift. It'd hurt the division she's a part of, but I'm willing to fire Matthews AND Rayne and relegate Borash back to ring announcer replacing them with GFW's more robust Colt Cabana and Chael Sonnen team. If Pope isn't cleared as a performer, I LOVE him as an announcer.

I want to see hope again on this roster and right now, I don't see it with the booking running right now, which is a shame. A true shame. This whole booking thing is going to be an attempt to put things right and at least get the ball rolling again. The Knockouts Division has been about Rosemary and Sienna for too long and needs to expand. The X Division has held roughly 5 people for too long and needs to expand in one direction or another. The sideshow acts need to leave. There is far too much talent here being either under-represented or misused. With a roster this size, the cost of putting people on the sidelines here is too great to stand. Reno Scum, Decay, LAX, and Veterans of War have a good place here, but the Hotshots in GFW could bolster those odds.

Putting Shelton Benjamin into the Grand Champion hunt or at least giving Moose someone to fight with seems like a good option and having Kingston in the picture with Eli Drake and Chris Adonis while bringing in Davey Boy Smith Jr. would be something worth seeing.

The World Title has been about Lashley and El Patron for as long as Patron has been here and, while it's a decent feud, there needs to be more names in here fighting for the top spot. James Storm needs to step in or out now. EC3 has been great to see along with Magnus, but my putting Monty Brown back into the mix was a little left field dig and since he's been a personal trainer for the past few years, I figured it'd be something interesting for the column. As far as Ivelisse is concerned, I have no idea what her contract status is with Lucha Underground, but she is SO much better there than she was ever allowed to be in Impact.

The governors need to be taken off right now and we need to march with purpose into the future instead of wandering. That's just my opinion....take it for what it's worth.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Let's Play a Game....

I've decided to do something a bit different here and put on my booking cap and try to give Impact Wrestling a challenge. I'm going to put together something I'd like to see and give Impact and the team of writers and bookers the task to do things better than what I have here. This scenario will see things play out in 3 week chunks as many of Impact's tapings run for a 3 week timespan. So without any further ado...here we go.

Chapter 1. Where we begin...

Impact begins with a special announcement that one of the current executives has a list of 6 names who are being groomed for a shot at the titles in their respective divisions. A Grand Champion, a World Champion, a Knockouts Champion, an X Division Champion, and a Tag Team. Now, over the course of the episode, the current title holders all get frustrated with the idea that "management" would be making these kinds of decisions instead of the champions taking challenges from potential challengers. Any current challenges on the table tonight will be honored. Everything ELSE is subject to change. This causes all 6 current champions to put themselves into the ring at the end of the show, where they all demand to know what the deal is. This brings out Bruce Prichard, who issues a statement from a source higher up that there IS some kind of new wave coming down the line and that in two weeks, that very executive will be here to address the rumors and innuendo. In the meantime, however, he has been told that NO title defenses will be honored by ANY champions...meaning that no challenges can be given by anyone and none can be accepted.


Chapter 2. All the Hype Money Can Buy....

The show starts with a figure dropping off a manila envelope onto the desk of Bruce Prichard. Inside are 5 invitations to be handed out over the course of the next 2 weeks' shows. Along with this are 5 instructions concerning HOW these invitations are to handed out.

1. Invitation ONE will be given to the Winner of an X Division Battle Royal
2. Invitation TWO will be given to a visitor that arrives in a Limo midway through the first show
3. Invitation THREE will be delivered to the winner of next week's Fatal Four Way Number One Contender match of the Unified World Title

4. Invitation FOUR will be given to the mystery partner of a match between Matt Morgan and LAX
5. Invitation FIVE will be announced at the end of the second show

The winner of the X Division match is Matt Sydel, who takes the envelope and is taken from the arena at the instruction of management.

The visitor comes to the show and is escorted by guards into the office with head covered and blurred. "You've got to be kidding me...I had no idea you were in town!" says Bruce Prichard as the door closes.

LAX gets into the ring and waits. Konnan grabs his mic and starts in..."So HERE is what I've been told: Matt Morgan gets himself another shot at a pair of belts he held with an old friend of mine! Mi Familia! I seem to remember that not going so well in the end!"

Bruce Prichard comes to the ramp, Matt Morgan in tow. "Boys, you seem to have this crazy idea that you being out here right now is going to do anything at all to help your case. So you've heard about the big guy, huh? Last I knew, he wasn't taking your calls anymore K-Dog! Nah, I found Mr. Morgan a tag teammate you know. In fact, I'll bet the two of you have seen a whole lot of each other over the years."

Just then, the lights go out and a short countdown begins, being aided by a voiceover....

"A former World Heavyweight Champion, Tag Team champion, with accolades reaching around the world, he hails from San Diego, California, weighing in at 227 pounds, Rey Mysterio!"

Suddenly the lights go up and Mysterio is behind LAX and he attacks from behind as Morgan runs in from the front and the two clear the ring. LAX win the first match, but not without outside interference.


Chapter 3. Bound...

Bruce Prichard begins in the ring stating that there are, indeed 6 names on this list and, for the record, Rey Mysterio WAS NOT the visitor who showed up mid-show last week. In fact, he was in talks for quite some time with this person before they decided to give Impact their stamp of approval again. The thing is, though, it wasn't just one person who showed up in that limo last week. I'd like to re-introduce one of the most dominant Impact players in the history of this company and his partner in the hunt, the "Alpha Male" Monty Brown and the "Huntress" Ivelisse.

Monty Brown has been entered into the Fatal Four Way match, along with Alberto el Patron, James Storm, and EC3.

Morgan and Mysterio beat LAX with a 619/ Carbon Footprint combo.

The Knockouts chase was broken up by Ivelisse, entering her into a Number 1 contender match for next week.

The final surprise of the night sees the executive walking through the corridors on his way to the ramp. In the final segment of the night, Jim Cornette, in accordance with the GFW merger, has now become a part once again of the Impact Zone.

"A few years ago, I left this company,hoping it would turn into a smoldering hole in the ground. Critics said it had no business being on the block and I left believing things would ride all the way to the ground. Once the powers that be in GFW started coming here, however, I started seeing things a little bit differently. But that's not why I'm here....

You see, I have in my hand the final invitation to give out and I'd like to give this final invitation to someone who has been on MY radar since he came to GFW and now that the two houses are coming together, someone I'm inviting to an exclusive competition leading to a brand new match never before seen and this thing is something so special, I'm not even going to tell about it just yet. But I'm bringing back the Bound for Glory Series this year and giving out 2 more spots in the next two weeks for 2 final competitors. Those spots will fill out the 8 man series and the winner will get a title shot at Bound for Glory."


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Jabs from the Barricade....

So I gave some positives and negatives in the last column and I'd like to do some leg work on behalf of Impact Wrestling as it sits right now. I've seen some of the talent on the roster and I KNOW we can do better. That said, I've put together a list of people the Impact Zone NEEDS to spotlight in order to put the product back to levels around 2004-2006, where the product was as hot as it could possibly without blowing up fully. SOOOOOO.....without any further delay, let's launch in.

Ivelisse Valez
Taeler Hendrix
Shelly Martinez

Matt Morgan
Jay Bradley
Rey Mysterio

Now, having discusses Valez in the previous column, I won't elaborate further. On the other hand, I was SCREAMING at my TV when I saw Salinas and Hendrix shown the door. COMPLETE waste of talent. I sincerely believe that each of those ladies shone brighter AFTER leaving TNA and it made me believe fully that the powers in charge had NO IDEA what they had in Hendrix when she was on the roster. However, to understand the competition at the top of the Knockouts Division at the time, there was Tara, Mickie James, Gail Kim, Velvet Sky, Taryn Tarrell, Madison Rayne and these are all top level talents, so for Taeler OR Shelly to make room would have been tough, but now? Right now is RIPE for fresh talent to bolster the ranks and fill the top spots rather than have Rosemary and Sienna trade the title forever.

Additionally, the Matt Morgan who won the Tag Team Titles and held them on his own with different partners at each defense was a GENIUS piece of writing. Morgan, to me, is one of those talents that could have and SHOULD have been pushed to the moon because he has the look, the intensity, and the tight moveset and timing to be able to handle the rigors of the top tier.

Now we've arrived at a sore spot....Jay Bradley. He made it to the show, lasted all of a cup of coffee and had no CLUE the kind of working talent they had under their belts. I would liken Bradley to  cross between JBL and Test. The more lean physique of Test with the mouth of JBL that could generate some serious heat. Jay, I'm still a fan, brother...

As for Rey Mysterio, having him in ANY capacity is cash in the bank and, honestly, about 3 years too late. On the other hand, Rey is still a draw and people will still tune in in droves to see him on television. I think that he's enough of a brand on his own that people in the WWE bubble who want to see Rey fighting for the X Division Championship would be intrigued and would tune in regardless of who he was facing.

So there's the beginning of my picks...believe me, there are others, but for right now, let's just be thankful for the stars they've been able to keep in the wings.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Notes and Nuances from the Penalty Box....

I have a few notes to throw out to you guys. I've been getting my fill of ALL kinds of wrestling in the past few weeks; from podcasts from E&C and Bruce Prichard to a healthy dose of Lucha Underground to Impact and I've had some time to marinate in the good stuff and cough out the bad and I've come to a few conclusions I'd like to share.

1. I LOVE the look of the Lucha Underground product on camera and the way the product is shot. I have no clue why no one has caught on to this from the top two brands in the world today, but the sooner Impact can drop in on that vibe and take it up a few notches, the better. I LOVE the energy of a dimly lit warehouse and all the backstage work being done in a more over the top mafia style way and the characters to boot. Which leads me to....

2. LAX....Konnan, this one's for you. I LOVE the way the LAX vignettes are being shot as well, with the mob gathered, making plans to sabotage character or characters alike. Seriously, this IS an example of Impact seeing and capitalizing on the look of Lucha's backstage work.

3. If Impact has 5 stars in the roster right now, their names are Eli Drake, Sienna, EC3, Low Ki, and Chris Adonis. With the perfect standouts in every division being represented and an added bonus of giving Low Ki a voice to speak with, and a dangerous sounding one at that, I couldn't be happier for the company moving forward. HOWEVER, this leads me into a couple of things I'd like to see for the future of the company moving forward.....

1. I have jumped on Impact's back about this in the past, but in the recent week or so, I could not believe more that Impact left gold on the table when they didn't sign Ivelisse Valez when they had the chance. Her work as a heel in Lucha has been FIRE personified. Seriously. And on that note, there are a few other soon to be free agents that Impact MUST make plays for if they have any prayers of making the next tier up on the road to success.

2. Impact lost virtually their entire Knockouts Division in about 2 and a half years. Velvet Sky, Jade, Taryn Tarrell, Gail Kim, even Angelina Love in any meaningful role and, though Rosemary and Sienna are on a tear right now, two Knockouts does not a division make. Impact HAS to rebuild that division into something of prominence or they risk becoming irrelevant in the eyes of the people they are trying to attract.

3. Stability at the announce table is paramount here and as much as it CAN be a selling point, here and now are not the time and place to have strife at the table. There must be a cohesiveness at this point in their journey, regardless of what kind of itch Josh Matthews might or might not have to jump back into the ring as he did on Tough Enough.

To summarize, I've been grooving on a lot of things that have been done in Impact, but until some of the wrinkles have been ironed out and have been put to rest, Impact is going to stay in second place in every category and in every measurable way.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Somewhere New....

So this is the new normal. Hmmm....interesting. Yes, the Hardys are gone and yes, others have followed suit, but I'll be the first to admit, things haven't dropped like a stone and, with the added influx of GFW talent, it's actually been pretty positive, all things considered.

I LIKE the consolidation of the titles picture. Too many titles clutters a brand. Simple as that. Impact Wrestling has become the new normal....not TNA, not TNA presents Impact Wrestling...just Impact Wrestling. Well, okay. See, here's the thing, I'm glad they've done this...they've finally come out and said it...."TNA is dead". I am FINE with this. I've been saying it for YEARS now. They need to rebrand and, while I THOUGHT they would simply take on the GFW name, Impact is more "mainstream" for want of a better name for it.

Cards on the table, folks...I kinda feel like this is a brand new brand. Sure, there are a few folks from the old guard, but this cast of characters is something different with a different leadership structure, a different viewing dynamic and the whole thing is shifting and morphing into something new; which is no bad thing. I miss some folks from the old guard, no doubt about it, but even without Joe, Styles, and Roode, this thing is taking on a new path into a new place and a new vision and I say bravo to those who have been called upon to take up the mantle. Dutch Mantell, Bruce Prichard (whose podcast is rivaled by none on the podcast circuit), and the like have done a good job taking on the task of bringing some relevance to the brand. 15 years is still infancy and to that point, I think this HAS to be criticized under the right set of circumstances and CANNOT be judged on the same level as WWE or any of its affiliate shows. Impact Wrestling is NOT NXT, so I don't judge it the same way or use all of the same metrics to measure them.

Impact is learning their lessons as they go, which is something that HAS to be granted to them as their little spat with the Hardys has been tough to get on with. As much as the "Broken" gimmick was created in partnership between Matt Hardy and those in creative with TNA at the time, it WAS under the TNA umbrella and as frustrating as it may be to those who want to see the character in WWE, myself included, it HAS to be understood that just as WWE has the right to put their stamp on a performer's look or palette, TNA HAS to be given their dues on that front. They've put out documents to their narrative and these are pretty telling when you view them through the business lens and MUST be treated with the view that they are being as transparent as they can be about the story of the creation and development of the "Broken" persona and story.

As for things coming? Well, there ARE characters in development OR debuting in the coming weeks and months that will help keep the product evolving and changing and WILL make the brand something to keep a watchful eye on as the year goes on. As for this page? I've decided to make another attempt to go the distance. Day by day, my plan is to try and shake the dust off this mind and go back to digging for you guys. I know it's been a while, but now just might be the time to jump back into the water and train once again.....