Thursday, June 30, 2011

More to Say?

In the wake of what made headlines for WWE, I feel I have to wonder if this is anything more than an attempt to garner fans. Is Punk leaving? Perhaps, but I think it bodes well for WWE to allow him to continue shooting his promos from the hip.  Will he go back to Ring of Honor? Jim Cornette would welcome him back into the fold. That much is for sure. Now for TNA.....

CM Punk in TNA means something new. AJ Styles, Daniels, Joe, and more of the homegrown talents in TNA can claim to have worked with the Straight Edge Superstar. Hogan and Bischoff are licking their lips...count on that. He's a complete package. He can talk, he can wrestle, he can create controversy....and, according to Eric, "controversy creates cash". Fact is, the kind of promo he cut on live television would fit in a LOT better in TNA than anything WWE has put on for a great many years. 

Now, having said all that, since TNA is a very different company than it was when Punk was last here, I do think there will be a time of adjustment to a new way of doing things, so I would suggest a few warm up feuds to either bury or elevate each star.

Orlando Jordan- Never been a fan and a feud would finally put a nail in the coffin...finally. I'll never understand why Hogan brought this guy in. He's a stowaway and those go overboard with the rest of the dead weight.

Samoa Joe- I preach the goods he has PROVED to have delivered in the era past, but Punk's intensity and previous encounters would put them both near the top of the card.

Mr. Anderson- I realize he's champ, but he's the best talker TNA has right now and with the fully blossomed Punk to bounce his skills off would give a HUGE edge to TNA's mic working portfolio.

Matt Morgan- It seems about time for Morgan to step back into the limelight and what better way to prove a threat than to work with a fully established star of today. This is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered to give his moveset and mic prowess some much needed screen time.

Seems like TNA's creative staff has their work cut out for them. I would advise them to put together a storyline right now and pitch it as Punk is nearing the end of his tenure. If the story is appealing, compelling, and has some more meaningful and lasting effects, you can bet we'll see the Mystery Opponent in a specialty match being revealed as Straight Edge.

If Everyone Had the Luxury.....

CM Punk did something I never thought possible....he shocked me. I mean it...I was fully and completely dumbfounded. History from watching WWE as long as I have has taught me that they hate people leaving of their own free will. The former divas who have left with few exceptions have been embarrassed horribly on their way out. Lillian was given wrong lines to read on RAW, Lita was trapped in a real life storyline that made things uncomfortable at best, and others have faced similar treatment.

CM Punk, however, is a different animal. He won't be caged; won't be snubbed; won't be underestimated...and in his promo; won't be misunderstood. I, personally LOVED it. It was raw (no pun intended) and laced with some pretty strong words and fact is, some are gonna hate on the guy. Can anyone imagine what WWE would be like if they expected such fluency of tongue from their entire roster? I can see the Future Endeavors Club being so large, it would burst the walls. If everyone on the roster were given the opportunity to get that much off their chest....

Big guy on the stage....yeah you; cross the line and we'll show you off like a looks like you've got some stuff to teach this generation as well. Some old ROH rivalries could be revived on the big screen.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Be Kind, Please Rewind.....

Let's talk history....

Rewind the clock back about 16 years ago. WWF was in a position very much like they are now....very few veterans to carry the workload and build new stars; the more seasoned guys leaving to either make their fortunes elsewhere or through spring cleanings. Everyone was waiting for the next big thing. 
In WCW, the revolving door of management was spinning like a top and the top stars had run the course set for them. It was time to bring some stability to the industry. When the fog of uncertainty lifted, a decision was made to bring in Eric Bischoff to try and bring a bit of order to the moody product. 
WWF's product was getting bland...the product was not being treated like a television show where each season held something new and exciting. It was more like a carnival with bright lights and a lot of shiny objects, but very little substance to speak of. Save for Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Bret Hart, and a few others, there weren't many big draws.
Allowing a year to pass, Bischoff had turned WCW into a powerhouse, having gone from the Disney MGM/Grand Studios to the Mall of America for the inaugural episode of Monday Nitro. By putting Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Sting, Flair, and a host of well established performers onto their stage and putting out feelers to current WWF talents, the product was on the rise. Even though the apex was still a couple of years off, there was still plenty of room to grow.
WWF's product was suffering the loss of their biggest performers and experiments were being done with a couple of ring veterans who had yet to be given the chance to shine. 

Fast forward to now....

TNA is using similar storywriting schemes as WCW, with more real characters and reality based stories. WWE is going PG like they had been up until the Attitude Era. TNA's divisions are pretty much clear cut with a few characters jumping into new divisions. WWE has no set division save for the Divas division, which is dismal at best.
TNA is beginning their expansion, taking their show on the road more often, which is good for the fans and the wrestlers alike. Even with the road travel, there is less travel per performer per year than in WWE, whose performers are put in ring 290+ days a year. IF TNA decides to go with less PPVs as I believe they should; perhaps 6 per year, this could save the company money and earn more per PPV date. More time to build the PPV and hype storylines, more money to spend on the spectacle and the potential of more money in the pockets of the fans to purchase said PPV. Everybody wins.
Sorry about the sidetrack.....history often repeats itself when fans ask for more. TNA's fans are asking for more while WWE's stock falls. Stock falling means a lack of demand. WWE's shareholders are asking for less. Less talking, less gimmicks, less babying, less of the glass ceiling. I see history repeating itself; this time, with Vince handing the reins of a dying company to his daughter and son-in-law to try and save.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Intentions and Realities....

I've been following Zach Ryder. I'm impressed. I have no doubt he can do some amazing things if given the time and the exposure to do so. He's ring solid, overflowing with charisma and can work a mic like a veteran. Combine all of this with the fact that he's more over than almost anyone on the WWE roster right now and I think we can all expect to see one of two things happen.

1. WWE will change his persona and then try to push the altered personality. WWE has proven over and over that they have great difficulty pushing something that isn't their own creation. Zach is his own persona and his web show has proven his ability to put content into his character.

2. WWE will release Ryder and enforce his no compete clause with reckless abandon. This option is ill advised as he's quite possibly the most interesting character to not appear on WWE TV for some time. His presence on YouTube will have to be enough to satiate his newfound fanbase.

Vince, I know how much you need some star power on your programs. BUT if you have difficulties putting Zach on TV, you can always send him to TNA; we'll use him. No problem.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Fresh and The Familiar.....

Destination X is right around the corner and, as I predicted, former stars have come out of the woodwork to see some time. I can list Austin Aries (one-time Austin Starr), Miss Jackie, ODB, Jerry Lynn, Kid Kash, and I fully expect a few more to put this organization back together after the loss of Mick Foley. His storyline got this ball rolling and I have no doubts it will continue to do so even after the lights of Destination X go out.

TNA is bringing back the 6 sided ring and, even though it's a gimmick this time around, most of the fans who have seen this piece of TNA history in action, myself included, will be happy to see it being used once again. I can only hope it becomes a yearly thing, something like the Elimination Chamber was for WWE.

Now that Anderson is the new World Champion, it seems only fitting to advise the rest of the world to watch this guy carry the strap. He is about to break loose and really take control of his persona and put himself out there in a way that makes this company proud.

Crimson, Joe, and Matt Morgan are on the rise and not a moment too soon, as TNA needs their stars at their top notch best and will continue to in the coming months. With a tough PPV schedule; perhaps the toughest of the year, it will test and train them in this craft. I look for great things to come from Crimson, Joe, Morgan, and even Pope in the coming weeks. Now that we're all on the Victory Road, readying ourselves for Bound For Glory, I suggest to all TNA fans to buckle up....and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Props for Foley....

Without wasting too much time, I would like to post a message from Mick Foley concerning his departure from TNA in the past month. On a personal note, Mick is one of the biggest class acts this business has ever known. Few people respect his words more than I. So, without further ado.....

- Mick Foley wrote the following on his blog regarding his departure from TNA:

"A few days ago, I woke up to the harsh realization that leaving Impact Wrestling meant I couldn't take my kids to Universal Studios any time I pleased anymore. No Mummy or Simpsons without waiting, no post pre-tape rides on the Hulk-coaster. A few days from now, I will come face to face with an even harsher reality; for the first time in several years, there will be no paycheck awaiting me in the Foley mailbox. So with those two realities coinciding, I think it's only fair that I've been asking myself whether working for TNA (Impact Wrestling) was really all that bad.

The answer I keep coming to is "no" - it really wasn't all that bad. In fact, it was pretty good. Sometimes it was really good. I was treated treated with respect, paid well, and pretty much liked everyone I worked with... including Russo, Hogan and Bischoff, in case you were wondering.

I think it's always a good idea to try see problems from other people's points of view. I mentioned on Twitter a few days ago that I pushed hard for changes I thought would be beneficial to Impact, and as a result, was thought to be "difficult to work with." You know, after a few days of serious thinking, I can really see how that "difficult" label could indeed apply to me. I was incredibly critical of the company on Jeff Katz's "Geek Week" last November, did an interview with the opposition to support my book, forgot to mention the company I worked for on several interviews, took part in a handful of interviews that I was asked politely not to by the company that employed me, and lastly, sent out a fairly immature and hurtful tweet comparing my Empty Arena match with the Rock in 1999 to Impact house shows - in terms of attendance. If not for Congessman Weiner's boner shot, my "empty arena" crack may have been the most ill-thought and costly tweet of the month.

I also mentioned my "request" to be released from my contract. Actually, it began as an a legitimate offer to Terry Taylor to help trim the Impact roster of some expensive fat. I had some genuine differences creatively with Impact, and honestly didn't think the company should have to continue to pay good money to someone who had lost faith ion the product. At the time, it seemed like a pretty fair offer. But at the point we agreed to forge ahead with me as the Network rep, I should have just shut up and done the best I could in the role, at least until the Destination X show was over - at which point my departure could have become an interesting part of the show. I regret that an initial offer made in the company's best interest became a request and maybe even a demand in my own self-interest - or at least what i thought was my own self-interest.. until I realized I didn't get to go to Universal or to the mailbox anymore.

Somehow, during the exit process, I forgot the central theme of the Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or fear) - that people could disagree without being disagreeable. I think I did become disagreeable there for a few days, and ultimately, the manner in which I departed was not good for anybody involved - me, TNA, the wrestlers, or the fans. I am especially sorry that some of the things I did or said hurt Dixie Carter personally. While some of the criticisms leveled at TNA/Impact by me or others are valid, I think it's been very helpful for me to step back and visualize the landscape of the wrestling business without the faith and vision of that one specific person. Because, make no mistake about it, without Dixie's leap of faith several years ago, Impact does not exist. 100's of incredibly talented wrestlers wrestlers would not have had the chance to show what they could do on a national stage. Dozens of others, myself included, would not have been able to enjoy second chances, last chances, or have the luxury or making choices, had Dixie chosen not to invest her time, passion and money into the complicated, frustrating world of pro-wrestling/sports entertainment. For me, personally, the opportunity at TNA/Impact afforded me the chance to enjoy almost three great years with my family, while being able to explore other passions, like my work with RAINN - even while my passion for wrestling was fading.

Far too often, I was guilty of looking at the Impact glass half-empty - wishing the show and the company could be what I thought it should be, instead of seeing it half-full and appreciating TNA/Impact for what it was - a very good place to work, full of good people, who treated me and my family very well."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Who's Up For Slammiversary?

So with Slammiversary coming up tomorrow, I had a thought to toss in some thoughts over a few of the matches to watch for.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Kurt Angle....Really, what can I say about this other than "There Will Be Blood." This feud has been nothing short of heated and personal, but then that's what TNA is good at; making the feuds more believable. I look for this one to rock the house.

Bully Ray vs. AJ Styles....This one has me a bit puzzled as it seems to me AJ shoul be setting his sights higher than Ray. I always look for him in the top tier as he deserves to be there, but I digress. I look for great psychology from a classy professional in Ray, but I will call for a high impact finish from AJ to close it out and put a cap on this chapter in AJ's career.

Crimson vs. Joe....THIS is the feud I want to see move both guys to the next level. I want to see Joe succeed like he did early on in his TNA run and I think this feud and match will elevate him to that point. While it wouldn't surprise me to see a clean win, it would surprise me to see anything short of a 5 star match and may even turn out to be match of the night.

Angelina Love vs. Mickie James....I love both of these gals as they work the ring like crazy to get every match right and get timing down to a science. Angelina and Mickie are two big reasons why TNA succeeds at showcasing women's wrestling...lovely tacticians who can compete at a world class for every match.

Sting vs. Anderson....Ken Anderson is quite possibly the best microphone worker in the business right now and can respectably carry a match where others may fall a bit short. While Sting has a tight rein on the TNA World Title, I very much believe Mr. Anderson is as capable an opponent as can be asked for.

I, personally, believe Jeff Hardy will put himself into this PPV at some point, but I never rush progress and his return will definitely herald a new age for the Charismatic Enigma; one that will undoubtedly bring him back into the fold to continue helping TNA remain the best in professional wrestling today.

Friday, June 10, 2011

And to The Victor Go the Spoils......

1. Rey Mysterio, Evan Bourne, and Kofi Kingston vs. Daniels, Kazarian, and Amazing Red
I feel compelled to begin this whole set of results by saying that this entire endeavor hinges on both companies coming to agreement as to who should triumph. Since I am the one doing the booking, I decide in this case. I say for this bout, all moves are legal. NO MOVE BANS. That being said, since there are no move bans in TNA, workers there will be more used to operating on their own terms, so by virtue of creative freedom.....Daniels, Kazarian, and Amazing Red.

2.  Melina and Lay-Cool vs. The Beautiful People ( Love, Rayne, Sky)
This one is easy. Without too much thought, I give this to The Beautiful People. So much for shopping for female wrestlers on Hawaiian Tropic swimsuit competitions.

3. Kurt Angle vs. Jack Swagger
I have a bit of a confession to make. I can't even watch Jack Swagger. I see him on TV and I turn the channel. I see very little to draw me into his character. Kurt wins cleanly.

Now, I'm sure you all must be thinking I'm going to go all TNA with this, but I do have a couple of surprises.

4. Matt Morgan vs. Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles vs. Ezekiel Jackson vs. CM Punk vs. Sheamus in an Elimination Chamber for the World Heavyweight Title
While my personal favorites for this match are Joe and Morgan, I'm going to toss in the X Factor and take a page out of Armageddon 2004. Nexus being the monkey wrench, I give it to CM Punk. Out of all the combatants, this makes the most sense to me.

5. Undertaker vs. Sting for the TNA World Title
I think Mick Foley said it best that simply the intrigue would sell the card for this one. Never facing one another in their lasting personas, this one is a tough call and I would rather not make the call, but since I must and since the Streak isn't on the line, I say it goes to a double count out.

6. Kane vs. Abyss in Monster's Ball
Before I make the results for this one, let me say that I would have killed to see a conclusion to the fake Kane angle WWE did a few years back with the masked Kane being the victor, but since that angle was dropped, it is left to me to put some kind of finish to it. Masked Kane, in a surprise impromptu match, brutalizes Candy Kane, rendering him unable to compete. He then takes his place vs. Abyss. Abyss loses in a big way. That's how I see it.

7. John Cena and Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy and Mr. Anderson with RVD as Guest Referee
On neutral territory, I see Hardy and Anderson as the victors simply for the history. Anderson gives Orton a Mic Check to even the score getting him fired from WWE in the first place. Cena losing would put a good spin on his character as well. A WIN- WIN scenario.

8. Jeff Jarrett vs. Vince McMahon
I can't begin to say how much history would have to be explained. In the end, I think it would go to a no contest as the locker rooms would empty and a HUGE brawl would close out the show, but what a battle it would be. This has to set up a battle of the factions PPV in another column.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Night of Retribution.....

I've been cruising the net, looking at all the fan cards for a TNA vs. WWE PPV and I gotta say, I love seeing those. I have to say, though, some of these really are far and beyond the rest. I put these matches to you that have common thread and I put my own stipulations to it. How about this.....

1. Rey Mysterio, Evan Bourne, and Kofi Kingston vs. Daniels, Amazing Red, and Kazarian

2. Melina and Lay-Cool vs. The Beautiful People (Love, Sky, and Rayne) for the Knockouts Tag Titles

3. Kurt Angle vs. Jack Swagger in a Submission Match

4. Matt Morgan vs. Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles vs. Ezekiel Jackson vs. CM Punk vs. Sheamus in an Elimination Chamber for the World Heavyweight Title

5. Undertaker vs. Sting for the TNA World Title

6. Kane vs. Abyss in a Monster's Ball Match

7. John Cena and Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy and Mr. Anderson w/ RVD as Guest Referee

8. Jeff Jarrett vs. Vince McMahon in a Street Fight

Most of the stories write themselves...seriously. And fact is, the card stipulations are my own, but that doesn't take into account faction wars that will inevitably take place. The Corre, Immortal, Fortune, and the Nexus are all in the bag to shake things up for their respective brands. I say there are some histories that need settled and this should be the way to do picked the card. Should this card play out, I would pay top dollar, anyone else? Next column covers the winners and losers....stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spring Cleaning and the TNA Draft....

So, with Wrestlemania over and done and TNA looking over the current crop of possible cast offs, I think it's time to put together the first official TNA Draft. These are my picks of those that WWE has either tried and failed to get over or never tried in the first place.

Round 1.  The Usos- WWE doesn't do tag teams seems logical to build TNA's even bigger.
- Tiffany- I realize that she hasn't been around WWE for a bit, but it seems like TNA could use at least one more wrestler to go for the Knockouts title.

- Daniel Bryan- His demeanor is good backstage, from what I'm told, but with ABSOLUTELY no clue how to use him, I can promise you, his future would be brighter in TNA.

- Melina- Over the net, she's talked about making a pretty drastic change to her look, but in my opinion, a TNA jersey would look the best coupled with a Knockouts Championship.

- John Morrison- He's on injured reserve, awaiting a comeback, but WWE is very impatient with injuries; particularly with players who aren't high draws on the card and since he probably won't break through the glass ceiling, it seems a safe choice.

I doubt very much there is any need for a second round, but I am curious who you would choose from the undercard. Since WWE has a priority to keep their top tier talent under lock and key, the undercard is virtually up for grabs. So here's to TNA's field day.

Foley's Missing....

Mick Foley's on air firing seems to mark the end of his TNA tenure. My thoughts on this are mixed and varied. While I hope his secondary endeavors do well. I can't help feeling like those secondary items on his concern list somehow got in the way of helping TNA make progress. His disputes over the lack of TNA coverage at the Jon Stewart rally seemed a bit petty to me, but who am I to question? Am I glad he's gone? Not at all.

In the short run, he did some amazing work on the mic giving promos, doing some match making and the like, but in the long run, I doubt very much that his tenure in TNA did much good. While similar things may be said of Hogan, Sting, and Jeff Hardy; it goes to show me that the climate of wrestling has changed. It used to be that a name alone would draw fans, but THAT is no longer the case. Compelling drama, reasonable story twists and turns, and triumphs over adversity are what draws fans now. Some might say "duh", but I would offer WWE some advice on that front. A little bit of twist with the watered down product they are carrying right now.

It seems that even TNA is doing some spring/ early summer cleaning. I don't agree with the decision, but I do understand the reason. My only suggestion is to ramp up once more and put together another show to expose the younger talents who haven't gotten over yet. Give them some high class matches against the vets. I'm not talking about Xplosion as it only reaches a small amount of the TNA Nation, but give it some actual time on Spike. I, personally, never hear about what happens on that show unless I read about it. Think about it, TNA; just think about it.

In the meantime, Mick, I hope you find whatever it is you're looking for. In a business as complicated as this, I'm sure the climate of change will shine in your favor.

Friday, June 3, 2011

In Depth Profile: John Cena

This column is NOT designed to rip and tear at John Cena, though there are plenty of other columns who do and have in the past. Mine is to put some perspective behind some of the negativity and, perhaps, toss in a little something extra to chew on later.

I don't dislike John Cena; in fact, I understand he's a high class guy with loads of off camera charisma with fans. An important tool in a champion's playbook is that, along with knowing which outlets into which to channel that charisma and that, too, John has in spades. My complaints are NOT with John, or with how he chooses to showcase what talents there are. My problem is how his handlers choose to utilize him.

Allow me to use a classic example....Cena vs. Edge in a TLC match. Both go through about 20+ minutes of in ring hell and then, the night after, no less, he walks out on RAW with barely a limp. There is such a thing as selling an injury, even if you're not injured. All I'm saying is that if you've gone through a life altering event like that, you get something to show for it. NO ONE goes into a 20 minute match of ANY KIND and comes away unscathed. Soreness and banged up muscles take some time to mend and a match like that takes even longer.

I watched some old tape of John back in ROH and Ohio Valley Wrestling and, truth be told, the man can work a great match, but you'd never know it judging by the limited moveset he's been given to play with. If you can imagine a game where the players aren't allowed to use ANY word with the letter 'E' in it. Since almost everything has that letter in it, you're cut down to only a small amount of words to toy around with. Cena's moveset is so limited, one can easy determine which move is coming next. The fact that no one has caught on, to me, is short-sighted. It makes his opponents look stupid and weak. 

When his matches are booked, he takes on heavy beating and then pulls off one of his 2 finishers and suddenly the match is over, even though he's taken the whooping of a lifetime. WWE has been INCREDIBLY bad about booking this turn of events. Fact is, there are truly only 2 ways to salvage Cena's credibility. 

1. Give him a losing streak.
2. Turn him ULTRA heel.

WWE has no interest in either one of these options as his persona negates either one. He never backs down and never gives up and, in almost every booking, he never for certain title matches, which inevitably end with him winning it back anyway. Additionally, that kind of persona CAN'T be a bad guy. Stranger things have happened, ask Hulk Hogan, but unless one of those things happens, all we will ever see is Super Cena.

For the record, my favorite match Cena was ever in was with RVD at the first One Night Stand back in '05. WWE couldn't fool the true wrestling fans in the arena that night. Fans held up signs that read "IF CENA WINS, WE RIOT". Vince and company had no choice but to bow to the wishes of the fans and shortly thereafter, RVD stood holding TWO belts in victory. If John Cena were ever to leave WWE, TNA would be out of their minds not to sell just about everything to get him. because, as WWE knows already, despite what anyone complains about....CENA SELLS.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A View from the Sidelines....

In the event anyone is wondering in the up and coming week, Alex Shelley is working with James Storm because his Motor City Machine Gun teammate has been sidelined and will be until 2012 after working a match against Anarquia. In said match, he tore his ACL AND MCL in his knee. For the record, an ACL injury is also what has sidelined Matt Hardy, Lita, HHH, Steve Austin, and a great many more top tier performers over the years. An athlete is up against a tough road to recovery with an injury like that, so many prayers that he can rehab through the pain and be back to top notch shape upon his return.

I'm under the impression that Destination X is gonna be an amazing example of what TNA is standing for these days. I gotta say I love the throwbacks so far coming down the pike. 6 Sides are back for this one, as are AT LEAST 3 or 4 former champs. AJ, Joe, Daniels, Kaz, Red; I have to wonder how much incredible they can fit into one card. I submit a couple of examples of the best in the X Division who may just make the return to TNA in the coming weeks. - Elix Skipper may have a place in TNA still......

If anyone still has doubts......

The defense rests......