Alright....I've been thinking, guys. If I could pick the 7 performers TNA should build their company around....who would best represent? Before I launch in, I'd like to offer a few rules.
-They must be young enough to compete AT LEAST 5 more years.
-They must be versatile enough to compete ANYWHERE on the card.
-They must have enough charisma either in the ring or on the microphone to warrant such a push.
-They must be either TNA originals or have competed in TNA for 3 years or more.
Outside of those guidelines....pretty much anything goes. With those restrictions; Anderson, Pope D'Angelo Dinero, and anyone else who came over in the Hogan regime or shortly before would be disqualified from this column. Kurt Angle would also be disqualified since once his contract is up, he may not re-sign. Would I alter the question to give some star power? Nope. So here we go...
AJ Styles.....There should NEVER be a surprise to see his name attached to TNA. He has been the single most consistent member of the roster since day one and has done it all. He has done everything from winning every title, to crafting a new one. There is NO ONE more qualified to fit that bill.
Bobby Roode.....This should come as little surprise as he has been one of the most entertaining performers in the past year, for sure, but one of the most durable performers since the beginning of the company's history. He weathered through tag teams, factions, failed singles competition, and finally reached the pinnacle.
Matt Morgan....This guy BARELY squeaked through, having been around for 4 years. He's the quickest big guy in ANY televised company right now. He can work a microphone with compelling ease. It's only a matter of time until HIS time comes. He can perform at a consistently high level and is among the best TNA fan favorites they have.
Jeff Hardy.....because of his tenure before his most recent return, he DOES qualify. HOWEVER, whether he remains on this list will be determined entirely by how he performs in the coming year. IF he can keep his nose (and veins) clean, he should be displayed prominently as one of the greatest success stories since Eddie Guerrero. Since his status is questionable, I will count Hardy as a reserve on this list, making another spot available.
Note: This list is designed not only to appeal to the wrestling fan, but to the general public as well. A casual fan MUST be satiated by the sight and spectacle as well as the skill. That being said,
Velvet Sky.....She's not the most talented Knockout as of yet, but she is improving and she's arguably the single most popular Knockout on the roster. Segments with her in them bolster ratings. Period.
Samoa Joe.....I've been very vocal about his character. I have been a fan of his since he first came into TNA and my position has not changed. He is a dangerous figure to be reckoned with who has fallen victim to storyline tailors and politics. Nevertheless, he has earned my respect as a class act performer and he deserves some credit.
Sting.....You can say what you want about the Icon, but he is the single most widely known wrestler who has NEVER worked for the WWE machine. That fact alone earns him a spot, but compoundly, his presence on the microphone as well as behind the scenes is invaluable to TNA at this stage in the game.
With one spot left to fill, my final pick is James Storm. His storyline this year has made me a believer that he can be trusted to carry the ball. His short World Title reign means very little to my opinion. He is a great worker who can deliver some compelling lines through the mic as well as taunt with the best of them. He can sell T-Shirts with his catchphrases and still make the phrase relevant. Not many people in this business can pull that off.
Being edged out, even if only by a little, Kazarian. Why? I'm going to call it an X Factor. Maybe next year we'll finally be treated to Kaz's very best. I believe, while we may have seen some of his quiet resolve, once the seal breaks, we may see the finest that Kazarian has to offer. The Fortune feud is still gaining steam and would be given great poise and an added element of urgency to the mix once Frank has had enough. Would the feud turn him heel? Maybe. But an ultra face or an anti-hero Kazarian would work every bit as well.
I say put them together on a collector cup, send them to the frontline to sign autographs, and put the spotlight on them. The lights over in TNA are every bit as bright. Just watch...