Friday, September 30, 2011

The Greatest Ever....Part 3. Departures....

If drawing power or championships don't make the greatest ever, maybe it's the way a performer leaves his mark on the business. I just watched Impact back from this week. Hulk Hogan got choked up as he was announcing his retirement. I gotta say, I was actually pretty impressed with the sentiment. Fact is, I'm actually looking forward to the match now, where I might not have been before. And even though I can predict a rather marginal showing, I'm willing to believe he's looking to go above and beyond for this one last shot. There are few in this business who have worked with Hogan longer than Sting and as closely.

The photograph of the greatest ever continues to morph as each legend steps out of the ring and into the history books. Gorilla Monsoon, Owen Hart, Junkyard Dog, Randy Savage, Curt Hennig, Eddie Guerrero, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels.....all great names with a very long list of accolades both professionally and personally. The things they all had in common? Passion, pride, and a longing for the pop of the crowd...a genuine love for the fans.

So....how do you rate the greatest ever? I admit, I have no idea. The way a legend leaves the ring is very telling about how much love there is for the business. When Shawn Michaels left the ring for the last time, it was at the right time. He was still able to go, but he was set; having had two amazing runs and over 20 years invested. HBK is now among the elite.

Ric Flair is still listed in the top few ever, but his story hasn't been so charmed as of the more recent past. A life of excess has left him needing to perform even after the lights and glitz of the Hall of Fame had faded. Tear filled good byes from WWE's top tier were well received, but has the retirement fakeout been a black mark on his record? In my opinion, no. His contributions to TNA have been invaluable, giving a few of their top talents a rub that elevated them to a higher level.

Championships, drawing power, legacy......might there even be something else to contribute to the title of the greatest ever? There may just be something more.....

New Concepts...Part 2: Clean Finishes

On Impact, RAW, and Smackdown, a great many fans are getting sick of the way their upper card matches  are ending. With so much interference, it really becomes tiresome getting stoked from week to week. And why not? There's no need to even watch the last match on the card if you've got an idea how it's going to end anyway. Once in a while, we like to see everyone else banned from ringside. Once in a while, we'd like to have impartial referees and two competitors who simply want to win on their own.

You know what made the best matches of the year in virtually every year for the past decade? No outside interference. Seriously...look it up....PWI's Match of the Year dating back 10 years. Without exceptions, each winner AND 1st Runner Up had no interference. It seems only fitting to note the fact that in the past 10 years, Kurt Angle has had either first place or first runner up honors for eight of the last ten years.

A run-in might further a feud or create one, but if you ask me, it can also put more distance between the place where the story is and the place it needs to finally arrive. If used sparingly, interference is a potent tool in a writer's arsenal. If overdone, it hamstrings the rest. Cynicism begins to set in and then you've not only lost a good story, you've lost the fans you were trying to bring with you.

Let's use Bound for Glory as an example. Interference has been used to begin the faction, to further the power struggle, and to put the faction to rest. I expect a run-in during Sting and Hogan's match. I also expect some redemption from one Jeff Hardy to finally sound the death bell to bring everything back full circle. What can I say? Sometimes it works.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What It's All About....

I write almost daily about the problems and solutions for this entertainment outlet we love so much and each week it occurs to me.....it's all about being entertained. You know what I want? It's not complicated....I want to be treated like I matter to the companies putting on a show. I want to be treated like the adult I am and cheer for a wrestling promotion that doesn't treat fans like children with stupid invulnerable champions and sideshow attractions that only pop up once per year. I want to be treated to at least one great match every week, a match I can take to the water cooler every day.

I want to see women getting the same kind of shot at stardom that their male counterparts do without forgetting that they can be beautiful AND have talent at the same time. I want to see that promotion put good performers on display at the forefront and not as an afterthought. I want to see veterans helping build the younger talents and prepare them for the top tier, where there is no glass ceiling to break through or politics to play in order to catch a break. I want to see a promotion where the storylines don't always feel like storylines. Where sometimes, just sometimes, it feels like it's real.

I was a loyalist to the machine once. I used to cheer at the crotch chops and middle fingers gesturing and the pop of the crowd as a larger than life champion of the people would come to the ring and throw his hand up with belt in tow. I used to defend the highlight of the night and watch restlessly as a luchador dialed in his area code to secure victory. All that is behind me now, because somewhere along the lines, the fans were put out. The place I used go to see my favorite performers has been replaced with something significantly less than. I've crossed the line.....and now I know, I can't go back. It's about passion and giving fans something special without worrying about shareholders. It's about fans. THAT'S what it's all about.

The Greatest Ever.....Part 2: Drawing Power

For a promotion, having a proven draw is like having an ace in the hole. It could be a large number of factors as to why a talent is a draw for fans, but let's look at some of the biggest.

Mic skill---If they can cut a promo, they will sell. Few things can cover up subpar in ring work better than the ability to talk and sway a crowd. Talents like Hulk Hogan and John Cena have made a living off of selling to a capacity crowd with a limited in ring moveset.

Technical Prowess---The ability to pull off moves in succession and make them look smooth both in transition as well as in execution...it takes a special performer to be able to use that to offset what might be missing in the area of microphone skill. Bret Hart, Dean Malenko, and Chris Benoit were professionals in that area and became notorious in their proficiency.

High flying---Maybe the performer can't talk with any compelling talent or put together a chain wrestling clinic, but they have a laundry list of "holy crap" moments. Jeff Hardy is the first person to come to mind for that. His matches may not be top 10 matches, but some of the moments are. Why? Not many other performers would jump from atop a 12 foot ladder through a table and an opponent.

Ring Psychology---The ability to sell a match in ring. If a performer can make the story in ring look believable and cover any flaws by improvising the circumstances, you have yourself something special. Randy Savage (R.I.P.) and Jake Roberts had this in spades.

Adaptability---The ability to work with ANYONE and have a good match because they can adapt to the differing styles, sizes, and talents of other performers. Shawn Michaels, AJ Styles, and Kurt Angle have made this their realm.

While some performers can hold their own in a match, others must be carried. While others can make the story believable, their opponents can create a match people will remember for a lifetime based off of a 15 second spot. Most performers on the top have more than one talent, hence their position. Guys like Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, Ric Flair, The Rock, Steve Austin, and Chris Jericho are in the top of the craft because they have more than 2 of these qualities and that is something that transcends the company they work for and puts them among the elite....the greatest talents ever.

The Best is Yet to Come.....Tag Team Edition

TNA is on the heels of the very last tapings before Bound for Glory and the confidences are high, as they should be. The card is all but finalized and the ink is still drying from the Hogan/ Sting signing. Jeff Hardy, Jeff Jarrett, James Storm, and Gunner seem to have a bit of rivalry and, I believe this will all culminate at the event itself and possibly lasting until Final Resolution. With Hogan putting the Bound for Glory in his rearview, I have little doubt Dixie will return to the Impact Zone with Sting handing the company back into her capable hands, being far wiser this time around.

In the wake of Immortal dying off, I'm placing bets that things won't really be dying off as Crimson, Morgan, and Joe may very well determine the new number 1 contender for the World Heavyweight Title in the coming weeks. I'm also going to put money on Pope and Devon holding some gold in the weeks following Bound for Glory as their chemistry is fast getting interesting.

I do have one thing to pitch....with James Storm, so to speak, out a partner, why not do something different and turn him away from Roode? Before anyone thinks I'm talking about a heel turn, let me explain. Roode needs his focus to be completely on retaining the title or chasing it and to that end, Beer Money can't have divided focus. James Storm begins calling himself the world's premier tag team specialist, enlisting the fans to choose his partner each month. For 2 or 3 months allow the fans to pick someone new each time. He works with each performer and then they go their separate ways. Then, TNA management decides they're going to pick his partner and give them a title shot since Storm has done so well.

Fast forward to Genesis. Two partners have come and gone and it comes time for the main event. James Storm is in his dressing room saying that it doesn't matter who it is, he's bringing home more gold. The door opens and his face is in disbelief, but the partner isn't revealed in the segment. Instead, the action goes back to the ring as their opponents enter the ring. When it comes time to play entrance music, a familiar tune rings out and "Wildcat" Chris Harris comes out with James Storm to America's Most Wanted's entrance theme.

Now, whether they win or lose, it really doesn't matter. What matters is that AMW would be back and giving old school fans a nostalgia trip as an added bonus. Toss in Gail Kim to the mix and you'd have a throwback all the way to 2004.

One of These Things Just Doesn't Belong.....

Normally, I'd be doing a bunch of talking about TNA and how much better they are, but I think Sesame Street and a couple of pictures do the job better than I ever could.

"One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong....."




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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Uncontested....

I have scoured the internet, searching for another source of TNA opinion columns, news, and analysis and have come to the conclusion that this site has the largest following of any other TNA fueled site. This is entirely because of you guys reading these columns. Thanks again for that. It makes the task of covering each topic worth the time and effort.

While WWE has a place here, it's place is to serve as a measuring bar as they consider themselves the standard. On this site, however, they are merely the opponent in a much bigger game....one that most of their marks don't realize is being played. Right now, TNA is growing, folks. Having left the shelter of the Impact Zone studio in Florida more often, they are on the verge of another awakening, drawing even more fans to the product. The television ratings may not be showing this, but the attendance numbers for the tapings very much are. Right now, they're even able to keep up with and exceed RAW's attendance numbers and RAW is live each week. That says something.

The long and short of it is this....people want to be a part of what's coming next in this company. From legends in the business like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff, Sting, and Scott Steiner all the way down the line. Everyone coming in wants to see this company hit unbelievable heights.

The new tag for the company is working, I think. Since Vince and his WWE  entity have removed every trace of the word "wrestling" from their product, including their acronym. No longer does WWE stand for World Wrestling Entertainment...it has been stripped down to just WWE. Impact Wrestling...where wrestling matters. It even sounds kinda like a dig against WWE. I like that.

Wrestler Profile.....Ken Anderson

In this profile, I'm not even going to do analysis on character, talent, or charisma; all of which he has. Instead, I'm going to throw up an interview he had with Al Castle, senior writer with Inside Wrestling Magazine, in which he covered some pretty good stuff surrounding his stint with WWE and his current time with TNA.

His WWE Departure:

“The thing is that the chairman of that company likes guys who stand up for themselves. He likes guys who aren’t just pushovers, who aren’t just ‘glad-handing, nonsensical yes-men,’ to quote another wrestler (CM Punk). And yet, it depends on what day it is and what side of the bed he woke up on. So it’s really a gamble. If you’re a pushover and you’re a wimp and you say, ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes,’ you’re going to be trampled over, regardless. You’re going to get steamrolled regardless of how talented you are. But if you don’t, if you play it the other way, you have a chance of being successful. Like you said, I made some mistakes. I stuck my foot in mouth when I shouldn’t have. I spoke up when I shouldn’t have. None of it was with bad intentions. What’s more, this is the wrestling business and some guys get injured. The interesting thing for me is that you look at that roster and there are guys that get injured time and time again. The Undertaker is good for an injury every year or so. Steve Austin’s been injured. Rey Mysterio gets injured. But when you haven’t made the right political decisions, and you’ve been injured a time or two, that could be possible ammo for some of those people who aren’t your allies to say, ‘Boy, he’s injured all the time. Is he not reliable?’ And when you’re not around to defend yourself, that could be your downfall.”

His "Asshole" Character In TNA

"It wasn’t so much a change as it was this was stuff that I had pitched years ago to Vince McMahon and he said absolutely not. The very first meeting I had with him, I pitched the ‘asshole’ idea. I would bring up how Steve Austin was always telling people, ‘There are about 10,000 people here calling you an asshole,’ and that was a bad thing. But what if we turned it around? What if we played into the notion that nice guys finish last, and so I’m an asshole. I think it was Colin Powell who said, ‘It’s sometimes better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.’ It was one of those things that I knew in my head at the time would work. But now that I asked Vince and he told me no, I can’t say it for sure. Even if I did say and it worked, I’d still get into trouble. Whereas if I just went out there and said it and it worked, I could have apologized later and said I just felt it at the moment.”

Whether Wrestling should be PG:

"I don’t know how it’s possible to have a show about guys that want to fight each other, with half-naked women running around and all of the other stuff that we have, and have it be PG. I just don’t understand how that works. It doesn’t make sense to me. Me favorite years in the wrestling business were the Attitude Era. Maybe it’s as simple as they’ve decided, ‘We need it to get away from this for a while, as far away as possible, so that when we bring it back it will be a what’s-old-is-new kind of thing.’… Our target audience is 18-34. And you’re giving them PG content … If you’re 18 years old, you don’t want to see PG stuff. You don’t want to see somebody called a ‘darn butthole.’ It insults their intelligence.”

Frequent Face & Hell Turns In TNA:

“Here’s where sometimes people don’t understand the full story. There are reasons why somebody will suddenly change from heel to babyface, from a logistics concern. Maybe somebody is hurt and maybe somebody needs to fill a spot that was originally intended for somebody else. And we can’t think of somebody else to fill that role, so we need you to fill that role. Part of me thinks that wrestling needs to evolve again. There’s this thought that, in wrestling, it needs to be black or white. You’re either a good guy or a bad guy. I don’t know anybody in my life that is wholly evil or wholly good. With Breaking Bad, or Sons Of Anarchy, or Weeds—you look at these shows and there’s a guy who is a chemistry teacher who sells meth. Is this a good guy? By society’s standards, no. But we look at the TV show and we can sympathize with him. So I don’t know what the answer is. But I do believe that sometimes in the wrestling business, it’s almost forced. And it can be insulting to the wrestling audience, whereas on a TV show like Sons Of Anarchy, you decide. But in wrestling, it’s ‘Hey, I’m the bad guy. Boo me,’ or ‘I’m the good guy. Cheer for me.’”

The Greatest Ever...Part 1. Title Reigns....

There are so many ways to classify a title like "The Best Ever" and one such way is to measure how many times such a performer was better than the other man on a given night to capture title gold. Would anyone care to venture a guess as to who has held the most official gold (amongst the major promotions)?

I doubt anyone would guess that Adam Copeland (Edge) holds the current record for the most official gold. With 31 title reigns to his credit, including 7 WWE World Heavyweight Championships, 4 WWE Heavyweight Championships, 12 World Tag Team Titles, and 2 WWE Tag Titles. Even Ric Flair, whose total reign number is 30, doesn't quite reach.

 Only one man has the potential to reach that mark in his career and this will surprise some and bring argument to others......Chris Jericho. The 30-time title holder still has juice left and, if left unchecked, will capture and exceed Edge's mark if and when he decides to return to the squared circle.

I get the sneaking suspicion there are doubts and some have already logged into their own sites to look up the number, but Dusty Rhodes, who held more technical gold, BUT only a small portion of those titles were nationally recognized.

A little bit of trivia never hurt anyone.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Prediction.....

Back in May, I predicted that 6 new talents would come into TNA's ranks. I guessed 3 in either the Tag or X Division, another Knockout, a possible World Title candidate, and a wild card. Let's have a look at how my prediction has panned out since that time.....

3 regular X Division first timers.....Zema Ion, Jesse Sorensen, and Mark Haskins
1 Knockout.....Christina Von Eerie
1 Wild Card.....Anthony Nese

While I didn't exactly predict the returns of ODB, Jackie, Austin Aries, and Kid Kash, I am pleased with the development. SO.....unless my math is wrong, I'm seeing 5 out of 6 wrestlers with one big name to yet make a debut. Ahhh, but wait.....my list needs some explanation.

Enter Christina Von Eerie. She's the newest member of the now stable Ink Inc. To add to the accolades of TNA's Knockout Division, she is the 11th Knockout to rank in PWI's "50 Best Women Wrestlers of 2011". In fact, NONE of TNA's Knockouts on the list rank higher than 35. Christina Von Eerie ranks #29.

We're now entering the place where TNA notoriously likes to debut new acquisitions. Between Bound for Glory and Final Resolution, TNA has either debuted or re-debuted Jeff Hardy, Booker T, Kurt Angle, Christian Cage, Jacqueline, Awesome Kong, and Lacey Von Erich among others during the same time span. History doesn't lie and TNA loves to ramp things up going into the new year.

I love this strategy as TNA seems to be always ready to bring in new talent and take the time to try and get them over with the fans. If ever there was a time to take up TNA's mantle, this would be it, while WWE is still deciding who they're wanting to cater to...Attitude Era fan or their kids. If WWE wants to bring in The Muppets, Animal biting Randy Orton's arm off and beating him to death with it is the only thing that will save the show and cater to both.

Dissecting Bound for Glory....Part 4: The Non-title picture.....

From the confirmed notes I've seen, we've got 4 title matches, one of which I neglected to mention which was Mexican America vs. Ink Inc. First of, I think it's nice to see Ink Inc. getting a shot at the title, but even more than that, I think it gives faith in the performers when you pick them to compete in the promotion's biggest event.

 Picking one Mexican America seems to be the safe money with the numbers game, but without being so quick to pass that judgment call, I'd like to point out that the Knockouts are about to have their hands full with another development I'll talk about down the road. At any rate, I'm going to have to go with Ink Inc. pulling out a win against the defending champs.

NOW, the non title matches minus Hogan vs. Sting are as follows.....
Joe vs. Morgan vs. Crimson
Bully Ray vs. Anderson
RVD vs Jerry Lynn in Full Metal Mayhem
Styles vs. Daniels

With Joe, Crimson, and Morgan, it's difficult to know what to expect as far as the kinds of risks they are willing to take for the victory, but one thing is for absolutely certain....this one is going to to be brutal and filled with some major power. With Samoa Joe being the strongest going in, I'm putting my money on him, but I am seeing a rematch of some kind in the weeks to follow BFG's bout, no matter who ends up pulling out the W.

Bully Ray vs. Anderson is not a match I am desperate to see, but since it's on the card, I'm picking Anderson and mostly because I want to see Ray whooped to cool him.

Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn always deliver.....period I am very confident that this one will be for the books with tons of high risk maneuvers and aerials to keep fans cheering as well as some very good technical wrestling as Jerry Lynn has the ability to make it a very sound clinic indeed. Since RVD has done so well in the past, I'm going to go with Jerry Lynn simply for a show of contrast.

Styles and Daniels are TNA's best....simple as that. They worked the company here and, while Styles felt the weight of the big belt's duties, I get the suspicion, he's being set up to elevate Daniels. Having said that, I'm going to pick AJ with the win, setting up a rubber match next month.

The beauty of this PPV is that so much is going to ride on how clean each performer wins the matches that night. If one wins without a hitch, it'll be great, but too much interference and you'll have some very unpleasant people to answer to.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dissecting Bound for Glory....Part 3: Divisions Best Foot Forward...

As the title suggests, my goal is to analyze the clear cut divisions set to perform October 16th. I say let's get to it.

The Knockouts Division has put their four best singles performers on display. Winter, Velvet Sky, Mickie James, and Madison Rayne are, without doubt, getting a good push from the upper brass and, with the skills of both Winter and Mickie, can deliver a great match. I would predict some shenanigans taking place as Winter kinda brings that to the table and Fatal Four Way matches tend to lend themselves to that kind of thing. My prediction for this one is Velvet Sky and that because of the amount of improvements she's made to her in ring style. I think TNA wants to put the belt on a new champion this time around instead of leaving the belt in a state of drifting limbo between Winter and Mickie James.

The X Division has me kinda excited even though we've seen this match before on last month's PPV. Aries and Kendrick have such a good chemistry in ring and, I believe, that chemistry will work itself out this time around as well. I don't, however, think TNA has as much faith in Kendrick as they do in Aries for the moment so I'm going to have to pick Austin Aries as the victor here.

If TNA upper management is looking to recapture the old school fan, they have a very important decision to make. Kurt Angle, as I have said in columns past, is the best man TNA has right now to elevate a new champion and Bobby Roode would create a Bound for Glory moment unlike any before this point in TNA's history. Having put in his time and looking like a real legitimate threat, it would be a true shame for them not to push him to the moon this night. Angle, in storyline, has agreed to ban Immortal from ringside and a clean finish here would be my choice. I give the win to Bobby Roode.

That leaves another four matches, maybe five to cover in the next column. Looking forward to putting it together. Make your plans to get a hand on tickets one way or another, it'll be worth the time invested.

Dissecting Bound for Glory....Part 2: Area 51

No this portion isn't about little green men, but it IS about what TNA has done with its product as of most recent: taking their show on the road. What Hogan/ Bischoff and company helped speed along has been so potent in the building of this product. Taking Impact and PPV on the road is critical to the garnering of a fanbase. Without the ability for people to get out and have the chance to see the product in person, it makes the TNA product look cheaper. This isn't to say that they aren't trying to save funds, but to say that creating a larger stage feel makes the experience a more enjoyable one.

Moving around also brings in more fans that may not otherwise get exposure to TNA any other way. I've mentioned numbers and right now, TNA is gaining some major traction, rendering an average of 3,000 fans at every taping outing. For those taking notes, WWE isn't running much higher with closer to 2,500 for Smackdown and 4,000 for RAW. Fact is, WWE is having to give away tickets just to fill seats so that the arenas don't look so empty. It seems like 'the little company that could' isn't so small anymore. I've been saying it and, almost as if someone is reading this blog and listening....nah....that couldn't be.

One more avenue is being explored right now. By going online to http://www.impactwrestling.com, you can find out more about TNA going into movie theaters and showing Bound for Glory. It can be readily inferred that if this venture is successful, more PPVs could make their way to a theater near you. This is an avenue I never would have considered and it saves fans HUNDREDS of dollars in regular PPV funds. Allow me to demonstrate....

The average PPV costs 35 dollars plus whatever taxes apply, but for simplicity's sake we'll leave it at 35.
Multiply that by 12 months and you arrive at 420 bucks! That's some pretty steep cost to us, the fans. Now, take the those same 12 months and multiply it by 10 dollars instead for a theater ticket and you come to a much more comfortable 120 dollars.

Now, if you were to take those 10 dollars in funds and multiply it by 50, you're coming to a 500 dollar figure, which would be the equivalent of about 14 households viewing each PPV otherwise. With a great deal of theaters seating more than that, you can bet TNA will come out WAY ahead as their troubles (and WWE's, incidently) have come in terms of PPV buyrates. Since those number have been low, the smart way to make money is to do whatever you can to get make your product easy to get hands on....aka leaving home base in Florida to hold PPV, movie theaters, PPV channels, online streaming, and other methods to make life easier on who they want to win over.....the fans. Even if the theaters only garner half of the funds expended to make it available, online and PPV channel orders can shore up the rest, making a potential VERY successful outing for TNA as aliens on foreign soil, so to speak.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dissecting Bound for Glory...Part 1: Countering the Debate

Examining the card for Bound for Glory, all most critics want to see and complain about is the last match on the card....Sting vs. Hogan. My job in this column is to try and do something that may be impossible for the most harsh of said critics....convince you that the last match isn't the only match on the card and that the last match will, in fact, improve the product overall.

In undertaking this task, which is, admittedly, a long shot, I employ the rest of the card and the end of the story to plead the case for TNA. Most people would use the rest of the card as a jumping point, but I prefer to start at the end. This Immortal storyline has been a little bit of everything. One part, maybe two parts train wreck, one part booking politics, one part ego stroke, three parts story development, and one part fun to watch fall apart. I've been a loyal fan since 2003 and an exclusive TNA fan since 2008 and NO ONE was more upset to see the drastic changes made by the regime than me. NO ONE. I ranted on fan pages; tore up and down the track that the 6 Sided Ring Era was over.

Somewhere along the lines after Bound for Glory of last year, I began to see something happen....after all the headaches and story disaster and politics and drama, a glimmer of hope. It took a couple of new champions and some moving away from Immortal being the dominant force in TNA that made this thing bearable again. The re-invention of Sting with his Joker gimmick, which I now find very entertaining and the introduction of the Bound for Glory Series in which nearly every TNA original included was complemented by a veteran. I like the concept...it builds character for the originals and helps mold them into potential threats to the championships they lay in siege over.

Ever since hearing that there may be chance of TNA bringing back the 6 Sided Ring, I've been looking forward to the end of the current story to bring the company back full circle. Bringing back Jerry Lynn as a trailblazer of the X Division and Rob Van Dam, with whom some of ECW's greatest matches were had and letting them put on a high flying clinic alongside Daniels and AJ Styles is a nod to this flashback.

TNA is putting their best foot forward as their best performers from every division they have strength in and I daresay the last match is only a bookend match and should not be the focal point as Angle vs. Roode is what TNA is really wanting to push. To everyone who gave up early, you are no big loss, but to you who stuck it out, you are the ones who will really reap the benefits of TNA's return to roots.

Undertaker vs. Sting...

Before I launch into this one, I'd better do some explanation. When rumors began flying about Sting coming to WWE, a piece of footage I've put on here immediately popped into my head. Sting's distrust of Vince is understandable and, in more than one way, reasonable. With, arguably, the greatest creation WWF has ever put out on the verge of tackling a 20 win milestone, why would WWE's creative team ever allow Sting a victory here? His legacy? His reputation? They fed Shawn Michaels, HHH, and Kane to the streak....twice apiece.

Let's examine this a bit further. Both Sting and Undertaker are getting very close to retiring. The best Sting could possibly hope for is a double count out draw. Seriously...and would anyone buy that? I wouldn't. Shawn Michaels can run circles around most workers in the business half his age and to say Sting could do better is laughable at best, no offense meant.

Why turn down a match like that on the biggest stage on Earth with quite possibly the biggest payout on Earth? If it were me, I would use one word....dignity. I can see the rolling of eyes and I don't blame you for that reaction. What would Sting have to gain? Nothing. He'd become another victim and that would be that. With limited time on Taker's bump card and Sting already in his 50s, a loss in his first and probably only WWE match would tarnish what took a career to build and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. A Hall of Fame ring is a shallow victory when you're buried in your debut.

Details.....

So, as it appears, I was a bit off on the card for Bound for Glory. Here's what the card SHOULD look like...

Crimson vs. Joe vs. Morgan
Ink Inc. vs. Mexican America for the Tag Titles
Winter vs. Velvet Sky vs. Mickie James vs. Madison Rayne for the Knockout Title
Angle vs. Roode for the World Title
Daniels vs. Styles
RVD vs. Jerry Lynn
Kendrick vs. Aries for the X Title
Sting vs. Hogan for control of TNA

Those are the matches for sure. As for matches that could materialize on the card in some form or shortly thereafter...
Jeff Jarrett and Gunner vs. Jeff Hardy and James Storm
Abyss and Anderson vs. Bully Ray and Scott Steiner
Kid Kash vs. Jesse Sorensen

Seven matches that have great potential to create a huge feel and TNA has got to be feeling good about their chances of doing well this year. According the Knoxville Coliseum, TNA sold out the last taping before Bound for Glory with 5,000 fans in attendance in Knoxville, Tennessee. For the sake of perspective, Smackdown's taping in Toledo, Ohio only drew 3,889 fans.

For the record, TNA officials are looking to release Bound for Glory on closed circuit in movie theaters; I'll keep you all posted when more details become available. In other words....this could kick some major butt AND give people another avenue to have access to it. I say WIN/WIN. I'd pay 8 bucks and go watch this on a tremendous screen with a soda and nachos in tow.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

One for the road.....

If you'd rather not get too far ahead of the pack, I would suggest not reading what's ahead. The semi-finalized card for Bound for Glory is up next.

As of last night's tapings, here's what the Bound for Glory card looks like.....

AJ Styles vs. Daniels
RVD vs. Jerry Lynn
Ink Inc. vs. Mexican America for the Tag Titles
Velvet Sky vs. Winter vs. Angelina Love vs. Mickie James for the Knockouts Title
Hogan vs. Sting for Control of TNA
Bobby Roode vs. Kurt Angle for the TNA Heavyweight Title
Abyss and Anderson vs. Bully Ray and Steiner(?)
There may be a Knockouts Title match included somewhere, but as of yet, it hasn't been announced.
Kendrick vs. Austin Aries for the X Title

That's a fine looking card, if I do say so myself. Plenty of matches, which may turn out a problem, but if they can keep the action in the ring, everything should go alright. That IS the key. They need every minute of ring time they can get their hands on in order to make every match look like it deserves to be on the card. If they can do that, you can just chalk up a HUGE win to the TNA crew. I'll toss in some predictions later, but for now, I'll just leave the microphone in the ring, so to speak and let you think about what's coming....

New Concepts #1: Class

I made a mention of a new title for TNA a while back, a little something I called the Xplosion Title, which has yet to be seen on television, but was introduced by a now reassigned Desmond Wolfe. The purpose of this title was similar to the Money in the Bank briefcase in that it guaranteed a title shot. The concept, however, is to give the current champion a sporting chance to defend the title, whereas the briefcase holders all tend to cash in when the champion is beaten beyond repair. Seems a bit unsporting. Fact is, only one briefcase holder gave his challenge well in advance.....Rob Van Dam. He gave almost a full month's notice on his cash-in.

Class. That's what this title is all about. The sportsman's challenge gives his opponent a chance to defend without first beating him down. RVD allowed the champion his month's worth of time to take him on at his best.  The Xplosion title, if done in the way I propose, would give a 6 month time span to cash in the shot at whichever belt he/she chooses. Should he/she lose, there is no rematch clause....it's over and the belt becomes vacant. The beauty of this is that the title can be defended more than once in a year and under different circumstances each time. Additionally, it gives the creative team an out should a character not work as well as they might have wished.

This title might have given TNA creative an out that might have come in handy once Matt Morgan was outed from the Bound for Glory Series. Word is that he was the odds on favorite. Until his injury sidelined him, he was the first choice to win the whole thing. With this belt, he would have had the opportunity to challenge once he was well again. That being said it also makes creative have to decide how long the champion of the other belt's reign should be, but that's another story and one best left for another time.

Class. That's what's been missing the entire time of the briefcase. Almost every character to hold the case has been a heel or has used the case as a way to turn heel. With the Xplosion Title, that's not an option....you can't cash it in on the fly. It makes the creative team have to do something else. There is no room for laziness in this business.

The List....

"Let's put together a list of all the ways we can possibly be different than WWE...."-Eric Bischoff from The Rise and Fall of WCW

I think that every once in a while, a company needs to do some self evaluation, to make sure all pieces of the machine work properly. I say we do that right here and right now. After all, we are in a competition against the giant corporation. Why not put together the ways we can be different?

1. WWE is PG.....so let's push the envelope and not cater to children. No problem so far.
2. The good guy (Cena) almost always wins.....We don't have Cena and for the past year and a half or better, the bad guys have been in control....no problem there either.
3. A good deal of the focus has been on one feud....with two big feuds and one semi big feud, I think we have that covered. On to the next thing...
4. WWE has no respectable Tag or Women's Division....that was easy.
5. WWE's top title spins and has the word CHAMP stamped and embellished with diamonds.....could this get any easier?

Where can we improve?
1. Flip flopping characters (Anderson) from heel to face week in and week out is making me seasick.
2. Cut out the VP of the Knockouts Division
3. Stick to the rules in the Bound for Glory Series.
4. Put TNA guys in the spotlight to be showcased and sprinkle the veterans into the mix, don't lay them on thick.
5. Steady. There is no need to rush a feud that's building, the ring will still be there next week.
6. Fan interaction.... Does anyone remember the big Fan's Revenge match between Jarrett and Samoa Joe in 2006?

This company has made some impressive strides to becoming a top power in the business today, but there is still work to be done and as long as that attitude is internalized and remembered, there will always be a TNA. While WWE has been content with the status quo, my impression based on the numbers is that name recognition won't get them by anymore. The fans want something innovative and fresh coming from both the ring and the backstage. The way promos are done outside the ring feels different, let's keep that up.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Fired".....

WWE has come to term with the release of R-Truth and the Miz. Yeah, right....once either of them cross the line, I'll believe it. Nash didn't convince me and these guys don't come close. Right now, there is all kinds of talk about a reformation of the nWo using these performers. Do I think it's possible? Yes. Right now, WWE is doing everything they can do in their environment to sway the nostalgia vote, but right now....it's not working. I think a reformation of the nWo on the heels of letting go of D-X is a powder keg and the camera is the matches.

In the most recent news, it's said that Vince was irate when Alberto Del Rio mentioned him by name at last night's tapings. Word is that since he's looking to appear once more in front of the cameras for one of the shows, if not both, he didn't want to have ANY mention if his name. My response? YOU OWN THE FREAKING COMPANY! OF COURSE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO SAY YOUR NAME FROM TIME TO TIME! GET OVER IT!

I think it's coming to a head here. Vince has lost some of his objectivity in these recent years. People he hired or people through him hired performers and he cuts them at a moments' notice. Ken Anderson, Jim Cornette, and a few other names have gotten on Vince's bad side or the bad side of his chosen few. They have pills for that sort of thing....they're called Midol. Be sure not to leave home without it.

Fact is, I'm glad I don't work for Vince, because what I just said might get me fired or a membership to an exclusive club that few workers ever recover from.....(if you don't know, ask an Attitude Era fan sometime what Vince's club is called)

No News is Good News....

The doors of the white tower in TNA are closed and sealed as very little news is seeping through the cracks. No word about the involvement in Bound for Glory for Hardy, Jarrett, and quite a few other wrestlers on the roster. I like getting insider info, but in this case, I love being out of the loop. It's making the last few weeks of the ride a whole lot more enjoyable. Take some notes, WWE.

Pope/Devon, Ink Inc., Beer Money, Mexican America, The British Invasion....the Tag Team Division is full and loaded.

Winter, Velvet Sky, Angelina Love, Mickie James, Tessmacher, Tara, ODB, Sarita, Rosita, Jackie....the Knockouts Division is complete, lovely, and deadly as ever.

Crimson, Morgan, Roode, Joe, Angle.....the top tier looks pretty fierce.

Sorensen, Kendrick, Aries, Kazarian, Daniels, Evans.....the rebuilt X Division looks about as strong as it's ever been.

While the list of potentials to give the TV Title some credibility is short, I'm betting that will change in the weeks and months to come. TNA would do well to have yet another well established title to put on a deserving someone.

Right now, the card is shaping up into a pretty strong potential showing with at least three or four where the combatants could put together a real clinic in the ways of mat chain wrestling.

Roode vs. Angle will be top notch, make no mistake about it. I will go so far to say this could be a real match of the year candidate, provided there isn't interference to tarnish the title further.

Crimson vs. Joe will be brutal. Count on that. With two stiff workers in the ring together, somebody may even be bleeding before the match is over.

RVD vs. Jerry Lynn is ALWAYS good, no matter who wins. I'll put this on the top tier as well. Lots of spots, lots of shots, lots of knots once the smoke has cleared.

Need I go on? I believe this card will far surpass last years and take it's place in the archive with the greatest PPVs TNA has ever assembled. You can take that to the bank.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Band-Aids and Bullet Wounds.....

By show of hands, who believes The Rock will be a buyrate boost for Wrestlemania? I had a feeling. Quite a few. Well, far be it from me to serve as the voice of reason, but I have my doubts on this. Why? I'm glad you asked.

My problem with the Great One isn't even him personally, it's how long he'll be around. Shawn Michaels gave us a second run in WWE for a solid 9 years after a 4 year hiatus. In a word, that's amazing. Granted, he's not shooting movies and promoting and all of that drab, but even if he were, my gut tells me he'd stick around more of the time than 'ol Rocky has. Here's the long and short of it for me. The Rock hosted the blasted event last year and they still did comparatively speaking lesser numbers than the year before and the year before that. The children fans don't know him, how could they? He's only been on television maybe twice since his stint at Wrestlemania 20.

The facts are in the numbers, folks and Rocky, simply put, doesn't work all that well in a PG environment and, particularly not against the new leading draw for WWE, John Cena. Sure, his promos have worked for me and my crew, but for those 8 and 10 year old boys who want to emulate his thugness, not so much. Rock merchandise isn't flying off the shelf as fast as it used to and it's all because he stayed away too long....at least in my humble opinion.

Had Mr. Johnson made a pact like Taker, we may have been blessed with his shenanigans with some of the young guys and built them into the new breed of high power players, but without the presence of some of those high tier veterans, we've been given a rather bland, bodiless product with no one but upper card talents who have a personality. My analysis of the entire situation is that The Rock is a band-aid on a bullet wound. Nothing more. I'll put my money on saying once his ride is over, the status quo will return to its newfound low.

Lest I forget to mention....TNA upper brass has added a stipulation to the Sting vs. Hogan match up where the winner gains control of TNA. As previously mentioned, the match had been called off with plans of a possible tag or third man added into the mix, but as of now, nothing is completely certain.

Legacies......

Much talk from the pro-WWE camp about the destroying of a legacy. While most of this talk is aimed at guys like Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and Sting, it seems to me a bit unfair. Sure, these guys, minus Sting, left WWE on decent enough terms as Hall of Famers, but does it have to mean that once they've crossed the threshold that it's over for them? I'm just curious. I don't know the answer, nor would I claim to, but it seems that no one was saying that sort of thing when Hacksaw Jim Duggan was coming down to the WWE ring to compete in a squash match or even Sgt. Slaughter when he was still gainfully employed with WWE. My point is that Hogan and Flair made a jump to the enemy. Regardless of how you may feel about the TNA product, they left the big time and were basically told they couldn't do it anymore.

Doesn't sound very fair to me. I have to believe that money is an issue because Hogan and Flair, at least, have their bills and lifestyle to pay for. Both have a well documented excessive lifestyle, but there's also something else......I still see some passion left in the tank. The last Rocky movie is what comes to mind for me when I get to talking about this. He's making his pleas to the board about getting a license to fight again and it comes down to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Do I believe Hogan and Flair have put their best on display in TNA? Yes and no. I think they've tried to do what they know, but for whatever reason, the people still seem to believe that the reputation is gone. It's a hard thing to see....legends being given up on. The magic is waning, yes, but isn't gone just yet.

Wrestling is one career avenue where legends never really retire....not really. They may not get in the ring and take bumps anymore, but there's never been a rule that says they can't be involved. Has TNA put the spotlight on them? Believe it. If they were still in WWE, do you think they wouldn't do the same? Not 3 years ago, Ric Flair was spotlighted at Wrestlemania. Hogan was at SummerSlam the year before.

"Let them stick to the backroom" or "Just keep them out of the ring" or "Just don't give them  a microphone" seems to pollute the atmosphere. My opinion of these men is that they are legends and that, for me, will never change. They've managed to stay clean, put over talent, and promote the little guy, so to speak. If that tarnishes their legacy, I say it wasn't worth much to begin with.

Invasion of privacy....

More invasion storylines have come down the pike than John Cena title shots in recent years. Nexus, EV 2.0, Immortal, The Corre, WCW/ECW invasion, the nWo and it all makes me wonder how to do it up right. Nexus had some real shock factor, but WCW had bigger names. EV 2.0 had some decent nostalgia, but Immortal had greater staying power.  Here is my strategy for an invasion angle.

1. Start small. Hall and Nash were only 2 men and they ended up a true faction with more members than spotlight space. Start with the leader. He/ she doesn't have to say a single word to start things off, just let the actions speak for themselves.

2. Start slow. The key to a proper invasion depends on people not knowing what the true intentions are until it's too late to stop them.

3. Choose a mouthpiece. This is where words come into play. The spokesman needs to have charisma, a stone cold attitude (no pun intended), and the ability to state the intentions of said organization. It helps if the mouthpiece is a recognizable member or former member of the roster.

4. Build a following. If everything plays out like clockwork and the story still makes sense, you can be sure a following will be had and money will be made. If a member gets injured along the way; the spokesman has a fever of 102 and loses their voice; or they are twarted ahead of time, all is lost.

Let's try an example.....

Samoa Joe was kidnapped a couple of years ago as a part of a storyline. Two weeks go by and each week, the commentators bring up that Joe was abducted. On the third week, let's say a video tape is revealed with men in stocking masks are beating on a man tied up in a chair with a sack put over his head. The spokesman tells Dixie or whoever is in charge to break out a few contracts...top dollar, says it's about time he came home again.

The following week, the spokesman has his name on the documents and tells the authority camera figure that if his name or the names of anyone on the list are leaked, Joe will never be returned. He then demands a match at a high class event, maybe Lockdown so that they can reacquaint themselves with the home crowd.

The authority decides to put together a Frontline team to remove Joe from harm's way once the main event is about to get underway. A theme plays as the abductors are wearing black with black masks to cover their faces until they are safely in the cage. The leader is revealed to be a returning Petey Williams, while Vladimir Kozlov and Daniels pull back their masks and show themselves. The man with a sack on his head turns out to be a nobody. And then it's revealed that the mastermind, who has been in ring with the masked men is Samoa Joe.  And there you go....instant following. That wasn't so difficult. Was it?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Further Proof?

WWE.com has announced that on October 31st Jim Henson's Muppets will be the guest stars on that weeks' edition of RAW.  Back in the days of the guest host era, I made a joke that Dora the Explorer would be the guest host of RAW eventually. Never in my wildest and most bizarre of dreams could I have predicted this.

Is this the same RAW that used to showcase D-Generation X or Austin 3:16? Maybe it's the same show that introduced us to the first and only Women's Title cage match in WWE history....no? No, this RAW is the RAW that gave us guest hosts who have no clue what show they're on and have no clue what PPVs are coming up (Summerfest, anyone?), characters who can say the same thing week after week after week and still not get any crowd reaction. This RAW put Hornswoggle into D-X. This RAW is worse than WCW at its lowest point. I'd be shaking my head in disgust, but I've been past that for the past 3 years.

I watched an interview with Shawn Michaels just today. In the interview, he mentioned going to Vince with the Kliq (Hall, Nash, Waltman, and Triple H) to tell Vince that his product was going down the tubes back in the early 90's. Back then, he said, it was considered rude or arrogant to do things like that and now the guys who do that get viewed as cool. Sound familiar? CM Punk would probably say so.

I may have been done with WWE program watching back in 2008, but I have caught the newsreel and some highlights as I like to, at least, stay informed about what's going on. Maybe it's also to further convince me that I made the right choice to cross the line. In a business were everything is changing once more, it's nice to know that some things never change....there's always somewhere else to turn for the brand of wrestling you want. At least in TNA, wrestling matters.

I Knew It.....

Last night was awesome. I didn't even think about WWE until I walked into the store and a buddy of mine told me that Triple H beat CM Punk. I knew he was going to bury him. From the moment he walked out as the COO, I knew WWE would pay dearly at the expense of Punk. I wish I didn't see it coming. I wish it didn't look so glaring that CM Punk is now a mid card lifer with WWE. Chris Jericho fought back from being buried by Triple H, but it took a very long time to do so.

To ice off the night, John Cena beat Del Rio.....yep, it's official. WWE is dead. You can feel free to kick them all you want and they won't even care. Cena buried Del Rio by becoming champion once more. It's as simple as that. WWE kills their newcomers to the main event scene without allowing them to appear as though they belong there. The ridiculous trend of kicking out of finishers has gotten old and the interference has worn thin. This coming from a guy who supports TNA as Immortal interferes in Sting's match with Flair.

A few little tweaks now and TNA will become the powerhouse I know they can be. Let Immortal die and keep the stories fresh and innovative. For the record, I'm betting on a Jeff Hardy vs. Jeff Jarrett rivalry around the bend. Just you wait.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Vince McHogan Theory.....

During the tenure of Hulk Hogan and his regime with TNA, there was a fairly impressive theory going around as it related to WWE. It was suggested that Hogan might be working in concert with Vince McMahon to bring down his competition from the inside. If you'll allow me, I will elaborate.....

- Hulk Hogan makes his announcement that he's joining with TNA at Madison Square Garden, right on Vince's front lawn as if were.

- Up until this point, the writing staff is doing a tremendous job of putting together a compelling product surrounding and involving Samoa Joe, Daniels, and AJ Styles with Kurt Angle sitting at the ready, but Final Resolution would be the last time Daniels or Joe would be in the main event for the entire tenure of Hulk Hogan and the regime, despite fan backlash.

- Hogan's debut show was laden with former WWF/E talent to such a degree that it made any and all ring action feel null and void. Any stables running during that time period were disbanded and never reorganized.

- Abyss is launched into the limelight. Up until this point, Abyss was a bit like Kane....an attraction to see on for the hardcore rules fan. His program with Dr. Stevie and Daffney had come to closure (which, in my opinion, was about as interesting as anything Abyss had done in recent years) and he was given a nitrous boost without warning.

- Depushes were sent out to Desmond Wolfe, Doug Williams, AJ Styles, Daniels, Joe, and a host of homegrown talents and the X Division was very nearly irreparably crippled.

- Orlando Jordan's debut entrance....look it up if you never saw it, but I'm not putting it here for reasons that will become obvious if you decide to check on it on youtube.

- The exile of the 6 Sided Ring was a travesty and should never have taken place. Its return will mark a return to the TNA who has an identity of its own, something to separate itself from any other US promotion in the top tier. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seemed as though the product itself had a bad case of an identity crisis.

Fast forward a year. Despite all the nonsense and erratic writing choices and heel/face turns and false swerves and such, TNA has survived. So, with Hogan set to make his retirement speech and end his TNA tenure, it would seem that IF Vince had any involvement in TNA's downfall attempt, he was unsuccessful as TNA fans are here to stay and now that the regime is about to be washed away, we can return to our fan led product, already in progress.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

TNA Wishlist.....

I've written commentary, prediction, theory, and results for 5 months now, but I have yet to put out a list of my favorite TNA DVD's. If you'll kindly bear with me, I would like to give you my top 5.

1.
This DVD contains the last in ring presence of Randy Savage as well as some truly great gimmick matches with Raven and Abyss. I loved that this DVD went in chronological order from his debut all the way until the end of the set. A well thought out disc.

2.

This was one of my favorite PPVs TNA has ever put out. Petey Williams vs. AJ Styles, the debut of Christian, and an Elimination X match. This one even had some hardcore action between Abyss and Sabu. I love the characters from this time period and the roster was second to none. Period.

3.

Try and find a better deal from WWE....I dare you. Now, I realize this is cheating, but no one ever said life is fair. 3 DVDs for a kickin' price and all very strong PPVs to boot. This was also a VERY strong year for TNA, which puts this package in a class all its own.

4.

I love it when TNA does things like this and puts together former WWE talent in their own DVD titles because you get to see footage from outside sources that Vince doesn't own. It also gives some outside perspective on the talents that you may otherwise not get and it's on 'neutral' territory so they can feel free to say what they want, for the most part.

5.

If there is a history lesson to be had about an organization, I think it best to get some hindsight perspective and all the better if the organization is still alive and kicking. When I first watched TNA, they put out a penny PPV, where it gave some history of some of the feuds going on at the time, finding out that it only cost a single penny helped spark my interest and this does some justice to the product as they shine some light on the best feuds from that time period...I can only hope more is in store.

I've done all the work here.If you find you'd like to explore the list in more detail, every cover pic is actually a link to a place to get a better look at the product. Have a look, don't merely take my word for it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dawn.....

Right now, there are a great many columnists in the ranks who continue to throw praises headlong into the exceedingly young masses about the glories of WWE, who in recent months have managed to sabotage every major storyline they've had the opportunity of using to their advantage. They rage over how great it is that The Rock, arguably the greatest all around performer WWF/E ever produced is looking to make a comeback of sorts at Survivor Series. I've said it before, it's a band-aid on bullet wound.

WWE's top brass has put together 2 separate writing teams. One team is responsible for the tweaking and enforcing of short term angles while the other is responsible for the more long term workings. If I may offer one bit of commentary.....it won't work. Let me tell you why....

1. Even if the short term writing squad does their job flawlessly, which if you've watched any bit of their product as of recent, you know they can't be so good. WWE does not do well in the long term. Their core audience is filled to the brim with people who can't sit still long enough to wait for the story to move forward and get to the end.

2. The amount of hours required to keep every member of these writing squads in the loop about what is coming down the pike will be enormous. Coordinating so many people about the details of what few stories are being told on a given show in a given week is pointless. You run the risk of burning out your writers when they have to remain at ankle deep for their ideas.

It really does surprise me to see so many people supporting the Titanic. I write support for TNA and their people because, in spite of their failings, there is more potential and heart in that product than what WWE has put out in the past 5 years, save for the veterans who always deliver, but remain underutilized to the detriment of the business as a whole.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Growing Pains.....

Now.....we're facing a bit of a dilemma. Hogan vs. Sting is off. In the most recent reports, officials base the decision on a bad in ring showing with Sting and Flair. Flair, as the reports go, looked sloppy and Sting forgot a few spots. Okay....so the legends didn't deliver the best. I think we can work around that. My guess is that Hogan didn't want a bad match to come about because of the last outing from people who can move better than he can at the moment. It's appearing that TNA is about to save some money by accident more than by design. With the contracts of all three top charging members of Immortal set to expire this fall and Sting's shortly thereafter, we are still left without one small little detail.....a replacement match that (a.) fits the storyline and (b.) doesn't burn everything touching it.

Talk has been coming out about a possible 2 on 2 tag match between Hogan and Sting with their respective partners yet to be named OR a three way dance with the third man to be named. Is this a good idea? Maybe. Are either of the combatants in any shape to go to battle at all? Who knows? If it were me, I would do something a bit unorthodox.....make Immortal disband and allow the angle to die at Bound for Glory with no tricks or run ins or interference. Clean victories to be had for all. A backstage attack on both Hogan and Sting by Samoa Joe would give him some street credibility as the man who single-handedly killed the main event and may even give him enough to push him into it. His monster status would go through the roof.

One thing is bothering me right now, though and it isn't even that. Jeff Hardy isn't being given any TV time for the next 2 weeks for sure and it's not looking good for the week following either. What that means, I'm not sure, but it does look like the wind is being let out of the sails. His fan response from the good people of Huntsville was good. The story they have been working on is great; making him look like the underdog without an opponent.

The card looks something like this right now....

Samoa Joe vs. Crimson
Angle vs. Roode
Sting and TBA vs. Hulk Hogan and TBA in a tag team bout
Brian Kendrick vs. Austin Aries for the X Title
Madison Rayne vs. Mickie James vs. Velvet Sky vs. Winter for the Knockouts Title

I'll bet my shoes that every title will be up for grabs, save for perhaps the Television Title.  I am curious as to what part Jeff Jarrett, Jeff Hardy, and the Tag Team Division will play in the grand scheme. If TNA wants to play this card close to the vest, I'm okay with that, provided the pieces fit together in the end.

The End of the Beginning.....

Hulk Hogan has a special announcement. This spoiler is very much central to the fabric of TNA, so if you'd rather be surprised, put off reading this column for a couple of weeks. Otherwise, I will treat this column like a very real speculation column, where I admit that I have no idea where this is going.....

Hogan is talking about his retirement. Is this storyline? I don't know. Bischoff and Hogan's respective contracts are set to expire in the coming weeks, but I don't have any idea if his intentions are to leave TNA or to simply remain off camera. Let's explore each option, shall we?

If he stays and just works backstage, it can be assumed he'll be taking on a more hands on role with the creative team. This could roll either good or bad as his role with Bischoff is already at least even with Russo's. Additionally, he could serve as a promo coach as a few guys in the locker room could use the training.

If his retirement is not a work....if it's not a false alarm, we are witnessing a potential rebirth. Before anyone criticizes Hogan and Bischoff for 'burying' TNA, I would like to remind the masses that it was the new regime who pushed taking TNA on the road more often and building the fanbase outside the Impact Zone. It was Hogan and Bischoff who redesigned the entrance ramp, making it look like a far more professional spectacle for performers to enter through. It was the new regime who helped rebuild the X Division and put a more prominent spotlight on that group of talents. While I realize it took a while to make that spotlight shine, they called for the scouting of talents to fill the division and they made the cuts.

If his retirement is real and the regime's reign is really over, you had better count on some tough times ahead. Why? When the regime came in, there was an adjustment period of about a year just to get the talents and such on board with the changes. Now, with the suggestion that they may not be around much longer, they are going to have to make new adjustments in order to fit into whatever new mold TNA upper brass has in mind to fill. I've been hearing that we, as fans would be treated to a new throwback TNA, complete with the 6 Sided Ring, a no limits X Division, and continued vigor thrust behind the homegrown talents.

I thank the regime for the advancements whether they leave or stay. I would like to place my support behind Dixie Carter, for being willing to experiment and try new things in order to bring TNA into more households and into more cities. As a fan, this is a company I feel will do things that the machine, WWE, will not.....create opportunities for more champions to grace the stage and fill the ranks of new hopefuls ready to make an Impact there.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's Showtime.....

In my opinion, No Surrender did just what it set out to do....show people that TNA is serious about putting their top talents, their homegrown talents in the limelight. Robert Roode is a top guy who's been around from the beginning and this is a great time to showcase him. Putting Austin Aries as the spokesman for the X Division was a good idea too. Sting vs. Hogan is all but set in stone, Angle has an opponent, and Immortal is about the be ripped apart at the seams....let's not lose focus.

Now would be a good time to put together the stakes. Traces of the Frontline, so to speak, need to come out of the woodwork in order to sell the 'sense of urgency' Bound for Glory has in store. Immortal now runs the risk of the regime losing control of TNA and their replacement being the exact person they tried to eliminate once before.....Dixie Carter. Here's how I'd do it....

1. Hogan and Bischoff discuss how to bring Sting down, involving the rest of Immortal, who, as of No Surrender, are weakened at best. Gunner and Bully Ray are about to come to blows over Ray wanting Gunner to give up his title shot.

2. Abyss has been the silent monster, having not been in any kind of camera feud in the better part of 3 months. Hogan and Bischoff's treatment of Abyss has had some unexpected side effects, as it turns out. He has called in a favor from a former associate, who shall remain nameless for the moment. The deal with the devil needs to be broken.

3. Sting makes a call and has his contact show up in force at Bound for Glory because he doesn't want anyone sabotaging his match with Hogan. "It's time to bring back the Frontline."

4. Matt Morgan, AJ Styles, RVD, and Crimson are all recruited by Sting to be at ringside for the Hogan/ Sting match. He reveals that the head of the Network will need an escort.

5. Angle vs. Roode.....Immortal, minus Hogan storm the ring, to be dispatched by Anderson, but Jarrett serves as the insurance policy for Angle tossing Anderson to the outside where he's beaten down by the rest of Immortal. During this time, the ref has been out cold. Jarrett hits Roode with the guitar shot and Angle delivers an Olympic Slam and covers, but the ref is out. Mexican America runs out and then stops at the ramp, refusing to render aid to Jarrett as Jeff Hardy cuts through the crowd and gives Jarrett the Twist of Fate and tosses Jarrett out of the ring as Roode applies the Sharpshooter to Angle, forcing a tap out. Roode takes the Heavyweight Title. Clean win for a TNA original. It'd be about time.

6. Hogan vs. Sting......Slow going match as one would expect with plenty of restholds. My guess is A debut here as the Frontline comes down the ramp, ushering Dixie Carter to the ring. Hogan loses focus just as Sting applies the Scorpion Death Drop to capture the victory. Dixie smiles a knowing smile as Hogan sneers in disbelief to end the PPV.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When the Curtain Falls.....

I've touched on this once before, but I'd like to do one last look at the last in ring feuds of Sting and Hulk Hogan. I hear critics ALL THE TIME....."Hogan shouldn't ever be in the ring again..." or "Sting and the other old guys are just trying to hold on to the past..." or even "The old guys are holding down the young talents by not putting them on top..." I really have one thing to say to all of that drab.....

We hear you! For crying out loud, do you have any idea what kind of history we are all getting to be a part of?! This is it! There is no more! Once the curtain falls for the last time, Hogan will be done in the ring. It's possible Sting will be done. Flair has had one last run with Sting and that will be the last time you ever see it.....ever. Let that sink in. You get to see, in your generation, the last of the great megastars of the 80's face off in the main event one last time. Relish that. The story is good, the circumstances are allowing one final confrontation, and once this hurdle is out of the way for you critics, you can return to your pessimistic views, which are already in progress.

Do I think this is going to be a match of the year candidate? Not by technical standards, but will this final match between icons live beyond the PPV? Believe it. It's not a dream match because we've seen it before, but Sting vs Hogan and Sting vs. Flair are a couple of the greatest rivalries in modern wrestling history and should be treated as such. This is the official end of an era. Let's accept that and move on.

I am under the impression that once Sting has removed Hogan from the equation, speaking strictly storyline, the regime will be forced to disband and the 'white horse' of Dixie Carter and her entourage can sweep back through and take things back to the way they were, though this time, with more exposure and a better understanding of how the business and the climate of the fanbase are to be moved.

100....Part 2: If TNA Ruled The World

SO.....I've managed to cover what would happen if Vince were to buy out TNA. Now I'd like to cover the less likely.....if TNA somehow managed to overtake WWE. Now I realize that the likelihood of this phenomenon happening is somewhere just below the likelihood of Bill Gates stepping in and covering the national debt, but it's something I promised I'd bring up, so without any further commentary.....here it goes...

Who gets the boost?
1. CM Punk.....Ever since his 'pipe bomb' rants on RAW, I've looked at him as a main event power. He can talk AND work a great match, not to mention he's willing to put his body on the line and try new things. This is important and I believe TNA can recognize it. I think you can be safe in saying TNA would re-elevate him or at least allow him to determine where on the card he wants to find himself.

2. Tyler Reks.....TNA is in the business of taking eccentric personalities and characters and making something interesting out of them and Reks is about as different as WWE has been willing to get these days. I would expect a dark character with an edge (no pun intended) and a grand rivalry with the likes of Abyss and, if the cards fit, Sting.

3. Christian.....He's been at the top of the mountain with TNA before and he's recognizable. Simple as that, not to mention that he's got the ability and prowess in ring and on mic to create a new star at will, which is something TNA truly needs right now. With the critics talking about the age of the roster, the building of new stars...new champions, Christian is definitely on par with the best.

Now for who gets the boot.....
1. Virtually the entire Divas division.....I made the case for Mexican America that even though it's a stable they would be valuable, I make the case here that the Divas division would not have the same effect. Most of the Divas don't have the experience, the talent, or the right to hold a gold belt, let alone step into the ring to compete for one. The ones who would stay? Kelly, Beth Phoenix, and Natalya....I think the reasons speak for themselves.

2. Mark Henry......I simply don't see what WWE sees. WWE sees a good monster. I see one last stand in the business before the train goes off the rails. Mark Henry is lucky, very lucky that Vince and company has been gracious enough to keep his job despite being injured a great deal of his career. TNA could not afford to give this guy the kind of push WWE is giving.

3. The Undertaker.....I realize I'm gonna catch hell for this, but let me explain. It's been well documented his bad form with fans as well as his views of being above the law of the land. TNA caters to the fans and encourages their performers to do the same. I don't believe Taker has the kind of attitude outside the ring as the rest of the TNA roster, who value the fans more than the name. There's not room for mavericks or loners in TNA; only those who understand that the fans are what keeps the business moving.

Where is John Cena? I knew there would be that question....I purposely left him off the list. My reasoning is simple. Cena has become stale. Yes, new territory may breathe new life into his character, but my bet is that TNA would like the older fans to love him instead of resent him for the way he's been booked. SO....they would cool him for a bit, maybe take him off TV for a time...let the people wonder if and when he'll show up. If Dixie Carter ever bought out WWE, Cena is the wild card that would compel people to watch if only to see when he'll come in. Like WWE did with Goldberg, TNA would hold off bringing in the biggest piece of competitive real estate until the timing was just right. Granted, with Goldberg, the situation was different, but the outcome would be the same...just the ending would change.

Monday, September 12, 2011

100.....Part 1....The Big "What If?"

In the process of considering what to put into this column, I asked friends and spent a great deal of time combing the newsreel looking for something noteworthy and came up empty until I gave one piece of old Sting footage another viewing.


It occurred to me, if TNA or WWE were to fall victim to the other, what would the result be? Who would rise to the top of the card? Who would get 'buried'? I thought I would put together my best guess on both sides of the coin. We'll have a look at if WWE were to get bought out AND if TNA were to sell out to Vince. SO....without further ado, I present to you a top 3 on either side of the coin so as not to run too long. IF history were to repeat itself and WWE purchases it's competition...these performers would get the boost...

1. Matt Morgan.....Sure, they got it wrong not once, but twice. Sure, they rendered him into a stuttering idiot stooge and released him shortly thereafter. I'll even say sure, they weren't patient enough, BUT TNA has built Matt Morgan into a well rounded and gifted performer, both in the ring AND on the microphone. I think Vince may be ready for a third attempt.

2. Mexican America....I realize this is a faction, but WWE has been in the business of catering to our Mexican neighbors with representative talent. This makes the entire stable a valuable commodity. Even though Alberto Del Rio, Sin Cara, and Rey Mysterio are making large waves, I believe that any one of these added to the Mexican America faction could boost that fanbase through the roof.

3. Velvet Sky......She fits the Diva profile and is, arguably, the single-most popular Knockout on the entire roster. She's a most improved performer candidate; now able to hold her own in ring against just about anyone. WWE would push her to the moon.

As for who gets the boot?

1. Abyss.....There is only room for one monster and Kane is theirs. Abyss would fall victim quite possibly before ANYONE else. Of course, they would pretend to build him, giving him even a few wins from the get go, but once he's been entrenched for a few months, the hammer would drop and they would feed him to Kane, and not just once either. In a series of matches, Kane would always emerge the victor.

2. Beer Money.....I have no doubt that in the current climate, Beer Money would not survive. Unless WWE changed the name if this tag team, they would fall victim to the babyface talents who run against the tenants and lifestyle Beer Money adheres to. Ultimately, Beer Money would fade.

3. ODB.....She doesn't fit the profile. I know...I know....WWE signed Kong. My point....so what? They signed an apparition, one woman who was against the grain. There is only room enough for one woman outside the established Diva profile.

This is all opinion and far be it from me to push my view, but history and habit, quite often, go hand in hand. I hope TNA never sells out to WWE, but I also hope WWE sticks around to enjoy the fruits of some good old- fashioned competition.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

There Can Be....2....

Kurt Angle may have tipped the hand of the senior management of TNA and may have solidified himself as the new passenger in the Impact car as he may no longer be in the driver's seat. I have no idea what he was thinking at the premier of "Warrior", when he revealed that Sting and Mr. Anderson would be the main event of No Surrender or, frankly, if it was all just a set up, but if he spoiled it, you can bet TNA will make him pay for ruining the surprise. Do I believe Kurt Angle is the best veteran in TNA to put a rising talent into the limelight? ABSOLUTELY. Do I believe he'll make that talent look like a million bucks? You'd better believe it. He'll sell it like a professional. Do I believe that TNA will suspend him despite his position? In a word....yes. TNA management has some decisions to make now that more information is being made public concerning his arrest.

It wouldn't surprise me if TNA put this on display, but I doubt they'll play it the same way they have with Jeff Hardy as his story was very public and Kurt's is somewhat less. If I am to rewrite the final match of the series, I put Gunner vs. James Storm with Gunner going over and becoming the number one contender to the title match. Storm will be able to take some time off and rebuild AMW with Chris Harris and Gunner can do whatever it is management says to do, whether it be take the fall or take the belt. Either way, I'm sure the way the belt is won will make the match worth all the effort everyone invested.

Whatever the situation, you can bet Joe, Morgan, Crimson, and possibly even Daniels will be hovering near, if not capturing the World Title before year's end. Don't count out at least one more debut as well before or at Bound for Glory.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Absolute Power.....3....

The slide of Immortal is finally winding down, having had a revolving door of members, twists, and turns for arguably the most fickle and moody stable wrestling has ever known. I've truly lost count as to how many remain on the Immortal moniker....maybe 4? I'm betting on one final twist before Bound for Glory, with Dixie Carter waiting in the rafters, so to speak, biding her time to take back the company and push the rewind button to the era dating before the Hogan/ Bischoff era.

I would reform the Frontline one last time and clean house. Styles, Daniels, Kazarian, and Beer Money leading the way, the Frontline would retake the company in the final month with one final bout between Sting and Hogan to put the regime away for the last time. I would like to point out a couple of things before I get carried away....think about this.....this is the last time you'll ever see Sting vs. Flair or Sting vs. Hogan, fact is, this is the last time Hogan may ever step into a ring in his garb. Wrap your mind around that. Can you believe it?

In my eyes, this is how I would choose to go out. Not in a company that's on the decline, but in a company ready to march into a renewal of the popularity of the 90's. This is how to bow out...with one last attempt to put a growing company on the map. This is full circle. Flair, Sting, and Hogan jumped into a company on the rise and helped put them into a part of history. Now, this is where it ends and begins anew....in another company on the rise.....

Day of Reckoning......4......

This Sunday is No Surrender and you can be sure Jeff Hardy is going to be there. In what capacity? Only those in power know right now. You can, however, bet that someone's going to get hurt. The card is shaping up to look pretty strong and with a floating babyface like the returning Jeff Hardy, it's tough to tell where he'll stick his nose. Since I am a betting man, though, I'm going to guess that it'll be as close to Immortal's best interests as possible.

SO....that means you can count out the Joe/ Morgan situation unless he's looking to recruit an ally. Don't bet on the Knockouts bout as they don't directly coincide with Immortal. The best bet is either in the main event or in a segment near to the end of the card. The only place I can think of is Jeff Jarrett, who also is free floating on the card, may make a play to sabotage the main event by giving the match to Angle in which case Hardy would begin a feud with the founder.

Jeff Hardy vs. Jeff Jarrett on the Bound for Glory card could be an interesting match, provided that his focus doesn't wane, the writers are on board with some interesting developments, and Jarrett can sell the offense better than he did in the one and only ladder match that he shared with Hardy in his first run in TNA. That was the WORST ladder match I have ever seen in my life. Jarrett sold NOTHING and came out the predictable victor. If you really care to watch it I'll provide the footage also, but don't say I didn't warn you.....

If it weren't bad enough....there is a part 2....


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Only One....1..

After nearly 2 years of push backs and recesses and reschedules, Jeff Hardy finally made it through the last of the court hours. Hardy's attorneys, on his behalf, plead guilty to the felony drug charges against Jeff. I think it's about time this thing was over. Pushing the trial back was only putting off the inevitable and there was likely to be more damage control than was absolutely necessary. Now before the hate mail starts piling up to Jeff's door, let's be clear that his last 2 years have gone without instance and no new charges have been accumulated. His reform seems to be underway and he has 30 months of probation to make sure he's stays a good boy for the foreseeable future. The 100,000 dollar setback and 10 days in jail should serve a reminder that this sort of thing has some consequences. Granted, if you or I had gotten into the same jam, much worse would have been dealt out, but under the circumstances, I think this is about as good as anything. Let's hope TNA's damage control team has nothing to do for a long time.

With things in TNA being as they are, no new news is emerging. The card is now finalized for No Surrender and the results have been tightly reined in, to prevent outside sources from getting a hand on the results before the curtain has gone up. The card goes something like this....

Anderson vs. Angle vs. Sting for the Heavyweight Title
Mexican America vs. Pope/ Devon for the Tag Titles
Winter vs. Mickie James for the Knockouts Title
Austin Aries vs. Brian Kendrick for the X Title
Jesse Sorensen vs. Kid Kash for #1 Contender to X Title
Morgan vs. Joe
BFG Series Semi-finals
Roode vs. Gunner
Ray vs. Storm

Seven matches....a strong card, to be sure. TNA has a lot riding on the results of this PPV. The results of this PPV could very well determine their fanbase's interest in how the World Title picture is going to progress. TNA knows that, in concert with the champion, there can be only one contender.

Lest I forget to mention with a state of....perhaps brash gloating that PWI (Pro Wrestling Illustrated) announced their candidates for the "Top 50 Female Wrestlers of 2011". It brings me great pleasure to reveal that the Knockouts occupied 9 of those spots and 7 were listed in the top 20. An interesting side note, only 5 of WWE's Divas came in the top 20 and only had 8 total on the list. Seems to me WWE has some work to do.

Countdown.....5....

This is the countdown as I'm about to break another threshold. 100 columns in 4 months. I won't lie, I didn't expect to be here this long, let alone hitting 100. Another thanks for the comments and reading the posts. I do have more in store. In fact, when I saw the Impact tapings in Huntsville, I was a bit surprised at the look of the crowd; it looked like it was about the size of a typical RAW venue crowd. Looks like this company is just about ready to explode. Toss in a few TNA throwbacks and you've got yourself a rebuilt powerhouse.

The writing is getting better and has been ever since the most dismal year in TNA's history....2010. From Bound for Glory, however, there seemed to be a kind of turn for the better that hadn't been seen up to that point. I told people to give it a year when I was writing for a certain Facebook fan page back then, and look at things now. In my opinion, things are looking better.

With a traveling show and meet and greet package to boot coupled with the best players in the world, I'm giving TNA one more year before things go into overdrive. Don't think we're looking at the same kind of travel schedule as WWE; I doubt TNA will adopt that kind of thing as they want to keep their stars as healthy as they can while never having to implement a move ban to restrict the talent.

I do have something to say about one top tier performer in TNA. If Kurt Angle is not VERY careful in the next year, he may have a lot of time to think about his decisions from his couch at home. The most recent DUI arrest marks 3 in the time he's been in TNA. I am in full confidence that TNA won't take that kind of publicity for long. Having fired Matt Hardy and putting leagues of separation from Chyna for her choice to pursue adult films, TNA is right now in the business of cleaning house. Since Jeff Hardy, however, and Angle are crowd favorites, they will do everything they can do to put some spin until it becomes transparent that it isn't helping and they need to let go. Make no mistake about it, TNA isn't going anywhere and the loss of Kurt Angle won't sink the ship.

Fall From Grace.....

WWE.com has released the following statement...
"WWE has come to terms with the release of Kevin Nash. We wish him the best in all his future endeavors"

So Kevin Nash is the newest member of the "Future Endeavors Club". Hmmm.....not buying it just yet. On RAW just this week, Punk wished Nash the "best in his future endeavors". On the other hand, the reasoning behind the Triple H/ Nash switcheroo for the upcoming PPV has me a bit puzzled. Just last week, WWE was concerned over Nash's last medical checkup pending the call to push the match. Later, the concern didn't dissipate. While speculating is futile at the moment and lends itself to some nonproductive conclusions, whatever these results stated was important enough to pull him from a high profile match, frustrating officials close to the situation.

In newer developments, Nash has been dieting. What does this have to do with anything? He's been viewed to play a role in an upcoming movie. It's been said that the powers that be on the film didn'twant to take the chance of conflicting with Nash's previous commitments. SO....Nash goes AWOL for a time and returns to force HHH into a shouting match with Laurentitis over who signed him to what kind of deal. I do have a scenario...what if he did get fired for real?

Does he retire? Maybe. Does he go indy? Possibly, but not likely. Does he try to reconnect with Dixie Carter for one final run in TNA? It's possible. The question is, will they take him back? My hopes are that TNA will deny and he'll do his body a favor and retire. His knees are shot, his back isn't much better and, unlike Sting, who shares the same age at 52, he doesn't have enough to put together one last passable match.

So, with Nash probably planning another viewing party for the match that should have been his, I'm wondering if this really is it. As one of wrestling history's greatest talkers, his last feud was a respectable one. If WWE runs the way I believe it will, he'll join up with Scott Hall one final time under the glare of WWE spotlights as inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame. It would certainly be fitting if Sean Waltman were to join as the reunion of the Kliq members comes together to say good bye and allow the curtain to fall. You can count on tears being shed as Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Sean Waltman, and Triple H share a final embrace as they honor each others achievements and contributions to the business that spawned the single most historic era in professional wrestling history.