Sam Shaw, Alex Silva, Taeler Hendrix, Joey Ryan. These are the only Gut Check Challengers with a contract. In storylines, Ryan is looking to gain one, but in reality, his contract has already begun. That said, there is cause for a few questions to be asked.
When will we see the debuts of the other three?
What kind of personas will they be in the guise of when they debut?
What role will they play in the benefit of their respective divisions?
I think it best to explore the answers here and now. To begin, I'd like to answer the first question as quickly as possible. A poll was taken over the course of a month or two to determine who would debut first on Impact. In an overwhelming landslide victory, Hendrix was chosen by fans. As for the when? That has yet to be either announced or determined by TNA officials. My prediction? Bound for Glory is going to be filled with surprises and Taeler Hendrix could be given a MONSTER push right out of the gate if she were to either aid in Tara picking up the victory and then turning on her mid celebration or making that statement to whoever DOES take the victory.
As for the personas.....
Alex Silva.....I'd love to see him in a dark magician kind of character, playing hand in hand off of guys like Abyss or Christopher Daniels. Don't look at me like that. I just get this feeling that TNA could do some really cool things with a mysterious gimmick like that, not to mention that IF Abyss has nothing to do with Aces and Eights, he'll need a way to stay relevant once the story has run its course. That's even if they still want to feature him as a member of the roster at all. Having a dark apprentice would bring something interesting to the table.
Sam Shaw......I'm not sure why, but the first thought I had was that he looked like "Surfer" Cena. I say go with that. He's not All-American White Bread, but TNA doesn't really need that at all. Graying the lines with his character would suit the product just fine. He does the right thing most of the time, but when he loses control, he REALLY loses control. Just my view on his character. All I can say to him is study tapes and take notes of all the great talkers over the course of the last 50 years. Listen to Sting, Anderson, Angle, Aries, Roode.....they're all really good at carrying the mic, and the match, for the record.
Taeler Hendrix.....ahhhh Taeler. She happens to be my favorite contract winner. She's a gifted young woman with a long career ahead of her, filled with title reigns and influence on younger talents when she's ready to lead them. I see no reason not to keep her in her current look. It seems to fit her well, but I would debut her ultra-heel right out of the gate. If Tara is bad, I'd like her to be worse. If Gail Kim is bad, I'd like to see her take some shortcuts that would make her raise an eyebrow. She could be the Bobby Roode of the Knockouts Division. She could be the Triple H circa. 2003 of her division. That's what I see in her.
Joey Ryan......How can I add anything to what is already a dynamite character. I love it. Putting him squarely into a feud with Zema Ion and ripping the belt away would make the feud intense and put some juice back into the division. I've said that Ion needs something to give his character reason for being a jerk and sometimes someone just as bad, but with more cunning can bring out something savage.
Why do I call for savagery and bloodlust? It's INTERESTING. It gets people's attention. It's VERY different from WWE. Where they just want a match, I want to see a fight. Where they want to pander to children, I would want to give upper-teens and adults something to watch. Where WWE is filled with generic superstars with white bread gimmicks, I want to see a vast array of different characters so polar that they can never be confused with one another. Where they are writing stories about anger management, I'd like to see characters who probably should be leading classes like that once they've reached their breaking point. What can I say? I'm using an old Bischoff adage.
Making a list of ways TNA can be different from WWE and capitalizing on it.