Monday, December 31, 2012

Rants From Ringside: What Happened to Moves That Actually Look Like They Hurt?

What happened to the idea of finishing moves, whether they be submission moves or major impacting slams, looking like they hurt? I once heard a wrestler, exactly who slips my mind right now, explain that a great professional wrestling move is supposed to feel like nothing and look like the most brutal thing you had ever seen. Unfortunately too many times, especially when I watch WWE, but a few of the TNA guys are guilty of it as well, I have noticed that the moves probably don’t hurt and look like it.

Now, you might be wondering why am I just now being bothered by this. I have been a pro wrestling fan all my life and I have known for most of it that many moves performed in the ring, if done correctly, do not hurt, so why am I just now being bothered by it looking fake? Well, my frustration finally came to a peak Dec. 17th when he charged the ring and performed his finishing move. Now, I don’t really know how to explain what the hell is going on in this move, or exactly how it is supposed to be painful for the person getting it done on, but basically what it looks like he is picking his victim up and then allowing them to body slam him. This amazingly leaves the opponent unconscious and Langston perfectly fine. So, Big E, in one move, is simultaneously performing a move that looks like it would hurt him more than his opponent and undermining how powerful a body slam can be by not being affected by the body slam he just took.

John Cena and Daniel Bryan are grouped together in my mind because both the STF and the Yes lock look similar and neither looks the slightest bit painful. But if we are going to talk about submission moves that don’t look painful, you have to mention Alberto Del Rio’s arm bar. Yes, that is a move that if done properly can break arms, but he doesn't even try to make it look tight. Staying with the theme of submission moves and the idea of real moves that are painful if well done, I do have to go over to TNA and mention Samoa Joe’s rear naked choke. Anyone who knows anything about mixed martial arts or even a basic level of anatomy will know that the way that Joe puts on the choke hold, would never knock someone out because he is not cutting off all blood flow.

Unlike the WWE, TNA has very few performers who are on a daily basis doing moves that look as unimpressive as the ones I have mentioned above. Now, I know that there are going to be people who are going to say, it is all about how it is sold. Well, that is why I have been very careful to choose only the very worst moves, moves that could be sold by Ric Flair himself and still look like absolute crap. If anyone has any other moves that are currently being used, that I missed, I would love to hear them. As always thanks for reading,

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Survival Tactix: Status.....

Pro Wresting Illustrated's blog stated that TNA is "vastly improved from where it was a year ago, but is not generating the kind of groundswell that's necessary among fans to contribute to a bona fide wrestling boon." Agree? Disagree?

I very much agree, but where PWI claims this year a "clean slate", I happen to believe TNA is already in process of building a great year for the company: experimenting with the PPV formula, starting out the year with a potential BANG in the way of a Triple Threat Match for the Heavyweight Title at Genesis, AND the potential for the Aces and Eights to move forward from the dead stop they had come to. All of these things are built upon what foundations have been laid this year.

Now I realize a few of you out there really want to see Aces and Eights just disappear, at least that's what I read when I posed the question of what was holding TNA back from getting the ratings they need to begin a road towards grabbing for the golden ring. I propose that you don't want to see them disappear as much as you want to see the natural digression once the story has run its course. Let me explain.....If the Aces and Eights were to suddenly vanish, TNA would have NOTHING upon which to base their Lockdown event around this year. Not only so, but we would have nearly 8 weeks of programming in which to try and build something from nothing. Not my idea of a progressive way of doing things.

What needs to happen is for the story to simply move past the faction and allow pieces to fall off and for the clan to collapse and business to return to usual. This is how a faction story is supposed to work: formation, storyline and agenda, endgame, dispersal. A simple formula with a simple set of variables and a NATURAL course of events. What we need is MOVEMENT, not dismissal of things already set in motion.

I think of 2012 as the year TNA finally began to realize their own identity. TNA is about wrestling, bearing more Match of the Year contenders than any other company on the landscape. TNA is about passing the torch, having created brand new champions this year as a testament to their resolve in doing just that. TNA is about exploring new ground, having experimented with renovated concepts and trying out new ideas. TNA is about recognition of every man and woman on their roster. Even when some aren't being featured on television, they have tried to promote them on their web shows and even allowed them to take on outside work to fill in gaps where the ability to feature them on television falls short. This is where wrestling matters.

This year has been more fruitful for the life of this humble daily column than I can ever convey and I owe it to you, those who visit this site and do me the honor of a daily hearing. Thank you more than you know. Passing along the word has helped this blog grow and, as always, my goal will remain the same in return, a running commentary on the journey this company is undertaking onward and upward.

Survival Tactix: Caught YOU!

Since I'm JUST that kind of guy, I figured you all would enjoy the irony of this little piece of footage. I find it funny just how small the world is, but I'll ALSO bet that this PPV, in particular, was one of the most entertaining ones she's ever been to.....including those she's been IN. Okay, okay.....I'm actually kinda sorry for that little jab. That was just in fun, but there IS something more serious I had in mind for this column.....

WWE has been in talks for quite some time with one of their highest drawing superstars, who has been off the grid for a time traveling. Chris Jericho has had simply one request of WWE, from sources close to the situation...a part time schedule so he can pursue his musical and other miscellaneous endeavors, which WWE, and more specifically Vince, was not willing to negotiate upon.

So then, THIS column is to explore what might happen if, in a calculated risk, Chris Jericho decided to take his chances in a short term deal with TNA. Let's assume that his appearances are limited with a maximum of 3 PPVs to use his talents on. If I am to properly guess, I would need to use a template...I believe Matt Morgan would be the most wise. If memory serves me correctly, he was used about 25-30 times over the course of the last contract year. By my best guess, Jericho would only be used half of that time, with limited engagement at VIP Weekends and the like, save for Bound for Glory, provided his schedule allows. This would allow TNA to boost the price, even if only slightly, for a chance to get Jericho's autograph alongside their own contracted legends.

As for where he would fit into the puzzle? THAT would be interesting. Remember Devon's conversation about "smart muscle"? How about the crack about being a bit of a "prima donna"? Sound familiar to anyone else? Eric Bischoff would be foolish not to seize that opportunity and work at bringing Jericho into the main story driving Impact right now. If Chris Jericho were to be revealed as one of the men behind the masks, TNA would run off the charts, provided they hyped up a huge match between the VP of the Aces and Eights against someone like Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, or even put number one contendership on the line and bring Bully Ray into the mix. Why? I am SO glad you asked.

Any one of these men have already faced Jericho in singles competition, first of all. Secondly, even if he lost in unceremonious fashion, he'd give someone like Bully Ray the final piece of his quest toward the World Title AND reveal himself to be one of the orchestrators of the faction designed to sabotage the forward movement of Hulk Hogan and Sting. I ask you.....who better to pull that off than Chris Jericho? He's wanted to be heel in his last run, this would put him over the top, but not as a loser-type, even if he lost his first match, you could chalk it up to ring rust or part of the grand design, setting up a possible rematch for the title, if need be. Point is, A puzzle piece the caliber of Jericho WOULD be a game-changer, PROVIDED TNA was willing to do a few things.....

1. PLUG the HECK out of the VP of Aces and Eights vs. member of TNA's finest match on EVERY channel they can pay off with the stipulation that the mask comes off if he loses.

2. Announce the signing from the rooftops long before his debut.

3. Set up an alliance with one or two from the "old days".

Once Jericho is revealed as the VP behind the faction, it'll make some critics sit up and take notice of TNA's poise these days. It'll also mean the burning of 5 dates or so from a possible 10-15. Unfortunately, that cannot be avoided. At any rate, this is just a simple outline and potential timeline as of yet, but I don't count on rumors until the ink is dry, which it isn't.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Survival Tactix: Threats....Triple or Otherwise....

It seems obvious to me what's coming.....Bobby Roode vs. Austin Aries vs. Jeff Hardy for the World Heavyweight Championship. Aside from Unbreakable 2005's main event, this could very well be TNA's finest Triple Threat Match in their history. Hard-hitting, acrobatic, filled with high impact spots and some technical bouts of mat chain wrestling.

I took a trip down memory lane just today and saw something pretty magical. Those of you who remember the 2002 Royal Rumble will remember a four man face-off featuring some pretty special personalities. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Kurt Angle, and Mr. Perfect lit up the mat that night and made a wonderful blend of old school and next generation which brings me back into what I've talked about over the course of this blog's lifetime. When veterans are used in a way that puts together dream match-ups and highlight feuds, you know you have something special.

Think about Sting vs. AJ Styles, Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe, RVD vs. Zema Ion, and Bully Ray vs. Austin Aries.....these are feuds between some of the finest of two generations, brought together in attempts to create something new by simply putting the matches together. But this is only the first step to creating success. You can't simply drop out the veterans and hope the youth will take the reins on their own. It quite simply doesn't work. Thankfully, TNA has been able to take the criticism and turn it into a big bold "I told you so" for all the doubters who thought bringing in WWE's Future Endeavors Club members was a bad idea. I'll sit back and watch the fruits of good decision making work its magic the right way.

NOW.....this brings me full circle. Jeff Hardy vs. Bobby Roode vs. Austin Aries.......this is a dream feud representing main event caliber performers from THREE DIFFERENT WORLDS. Austin Aries represents the cream of the crop of Ring of Honor's elite graduates. Jeff Hardy represents one of the finest members of the Attitude Era's Tag Team Division. And last, but least, Bobby Roode, Team Canada's most successful representative and one of TNA's best heels in their history. Just think about this as something you would never get from WWE. Without delving into old material, this kind of rivalry would never have seen light at the top of the card in the current climate of the WWE machine, but perhaps in another time, we may just's tough telling. They brought Steve Austin, Mr. Perfect, Kurt Angle, and Triple H together for one night over a decade ago, so the age old saying sticks around.......never say never.

Survival Tactix: In The Winds....

You've seen the same promos heralding the return of Sting and, since this blog as of recent is filled with questions, I have yet another.....does he come alone? SHOULD he come alone? How does he return? I think it best to examine everything that has been announced and work from there. So far, TNA has announced Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle vs. Aces and Eights in a Steel Cage Match, the revelation of the Wrestler of the Year Award, and the face to face confrontation between Bully Ray and Hulk Hogan.

With those events and the return of the Icon on tap, I think it safe to say Sting's return will come in one of TWO places......

a.) The Steel Cage Match. I'll go it a step further even. I'll say it comes at the end of the match. Somehow, the faction gets inside the cage, the lights go out and Sting shows up in ring to take back his bat and we'll have another mask pulled.


b.) The final segment of the show. Hogan and Ray have their confrontation and the ring is surrounded by the faction. As the Aces close in, Sting appears and finally, Anderson shows up with his answer to the Aces and Eights offer. Whether he goes heel or face remains to be seen, but I won't be surprised either way.

If Anderson goes Face, I predict a mask will be pulled at this point. There IS one thing I CAN say safely about this story: At Genesis, TNA is going to release some game-changing information. How can I be so sure? I can think of 8 reasons, each of them being weeks until the next PPV. Think about it.....if TNA DOESN'T put together something shocking, they lose any momentum they might have gained in trying to bring an outside player into the Aces and Eights faction.

Let's face the fact, Anderson is one of the most peculiar picks for outside help the faction could have gone to for aid. Why? Because Anderson changes his mind more often than a 5 year old in a toy store with 10 dollars to spend. He lasted in Immortal for a grand total of two weeks or so. Given his track record, I fail to see what the point of the faction asking for help from him if it didn't mean a definite face or heel decision. Additionally, it could also lead to the faction trying to play both sides against the middle, forcing Anderson to choose a side. Either way, the lines begin to be drawn and Anderson becomes a part of the puzzle.

If TNA wanted to bring in someone new to side with Sting in his return, they could always go with "Option C".....

Friday, December 28, 2012

Survival Tactix: "Smart Muscle"

Devon and the headship are chatting and they agree that what they need is "smart muscle".  Devon says that he has an idea of smart muscle and that he just might be "pissed off enough". question is WHO? Let's explore the question a bit.....

The obvious first suspect is the subject of their "outreach" all know who I'm referring to....

The question concerning Anderson he really "pissed off"? I have my doubts, but that doesn't entirely rule him out as a suspect. But there IS someone on the roster who IS more than a little bit "pissed off", so to speak. Have a look.....

Sure, he's really angry. But does that make HIM the recruit Aces and Eights want as their "smart muscle"? A fair question....but there are more than enough people upset enough to join Aces and Eights.....need more examples? I'd be happy to oblige....

What about a guy who keeps getting cut from the event? He's a TNA Original, and he has an axe to grind.....forward to the 8:30 mark for your next example. Kid Kash has been cut TWO times in the past TWO outings for title shots; one as a singles X Division performer and the other time as a tag team with Gunner. I'll bet he's a bit warm over that. On to the next example.....

I'd say AJ Styles is pretty upset. Would he go heel? I think he just might. HOWEVER, is this the goal of Aces and Eights? Do they try to recruit the Phenomenal One? A good question. Right now....the twist playing out on screen with Aces and Eights is BEGINNING to move forward......finally and the question I'm asking all of YOU is WHO ARE THEY LOOKING TO RECRUIT?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Survival Tactix: Going Further....

So we've explored a few possible reasons TNA is having trouble breaking past the 1.0 rating rut, but aside from Marketing, I haven't seen anything just yet to be the culprit behind the slump. Nevertheless, I say we keep digging......

Venue Size.....

This MIGHT have something to do with the way TNA comes across to the masses. The bigger the space, the more potential for attendance. Huntsville, Alabama and Wembley Stadium are the best examples of arenas that just plain delivered TNA the way it needed to be shown. Those shows helped create the vision of what every week SHOULD look like. By the way, MY thanks to all of you who were in attendance in EACH of those outings. You helped create that special PPV feel that only comes from a warmed up crowd. THIS just MAY have something to do with the feel of the show and may HELP draw new fans.


Just give them time....WWE has been around for over 100 years while TNA has only 10 years to their credit as of yet. So does time solve the problem? Perhaps SOME of the problem can be attributed to time, but certainly not if the product is as superior as I or others often claim. This is NOT to say time won't help, but that time ISN'T the only factor working against TNA.

Television time COULD have something to do with the plight. Without a full blown TV presence, the fullness of their roster CANNOT be put to use. You want more X Division? You want more Knockouts competition? You want a better chance for younger talent? You want a better representation for the brand? Give them more television time. That'd be a start.

Young Blood Not Getting Pushed.....

Can anyone REALLY believe this? With Zema Ion, Tessmacher, Joey Ryan, and most of the TNA Originals either having a title reign in the last year, or getting more TV time than others on the roster, this thought is simply not true. This is a nonsensical reason at best.

WWE Loyalists.....

Surprisingly, this, to me, is one of TNA's smallest worries. If all TNA had to worry about was a group of elitist, short sighted WWE fanboys, the journey to the top would be a short one. However, since WWE's loyal elite are much fewer in number these days than they once were and TNA has been doing a fair job of dividing the audience enough to where fans aren't choosing one or the other, but rather choosing both. This, I believe, is good for the wrestling world, but I'm afraid it has little to do with TNA's current dilemma.

Writing Staff/ Storyline Revamp......

I have mixed feelings about this notion. I understand that the current storyline surrounding Aces and Eights has gone on for a bit too long with no forward movement, but there have been countless storylines in WWE that went on every bit as long and had even less movement in the past decade. I think back to Evolution, which lasted nearly a year and a half and though the finish was terrific, the story had little progression and it wasn't until the collapse that forward movement took place. Do I believe this has ANY bearing on the ratings? Nope. Do I believe the writing staff is to blame for the slump? Do a degree, yes.....but not fully. Yes, the current story needs to keep moving, but NO, the writers don't need to be replaced.

Dead Weight.....

Here's the thing.....Ric Flair is gone. Scott Steiner is gone. The roster has been streamlined and the presence of legends like Sting and Hogan has been used more sparingly up until the current Brooke story. Sting has been away from the screen this year longer than he's been around, which speaks volumes into the merit of this argument. I, quite simply, see no more dead weight on the roster nor do I believe this to be a good reason for a decline or stagnation in ratings.

SO.....what does this pairing of columns reveal? TV time, venue, and marketing all play a part in the rise of TNA to their rightful place in the echelons of the stable promotions built to last.....

Survival Tactix: Picking Up Business.....

In less than a day, I have gotten such an overwhelming response to a question posed that I scarcely know where to begin. While I have my own ideas as to the answer to the question, you, as members of TNA's fanbase know a great deal about the problem. As for the question itself?

"What is TNA's biggest problem preventing them from gaining ratings ground?"

Among all the over 100 answers, however, there was a theme that began to appear. Have a look.....

Hogan-----6 Sided Ring (Yes, the two are related)
Rebuilding Divisions
Returns and Debuts
Venue Size
Time (Both in general AND TV time)
Young blood not getting enough push
WWE Loyalists
Dead Weight

Some of the themes that are shining through here, guys and gals, have to do with TNA's acquisitions and losses in the past 2 years. Only one factor, in fact, on this list TNA can do absolutely nothing about......the fans. WWE loyalists are going to call TNA the land of "WWE Rejects". I'll even go so far as to say that it isn't TNA's responsibility to convince the fanboys. Those fans will always be there. BUT as for the other things on the list? I think it's time to have a closer look.....

If there is ANYTHING on this list that has more merit than the others, it's this. TNA does precious little to advertise the product outside of morning show appearances by LOCAL talents. An example? Kurt Angle made an appearance on a local Philadelphia talk show shortly before Bound for Glory. The point is, TNA is sparing with their television appearances to promote the product. Why? I have no idea. It could be funds, but I doubt it. TNA is willing to spend more money to recruit more talent than they are to promote the product and I, for one, have no idea why. Without name recognition, you, as a promotion, have nothing.

The Hogans.....
I heard this answer more than once and though I'm NOT a fan of Brooke or her role in the organization, I DO think Hulk Hogan has helped TNA. The announcement of his involvement gave SOME name recognition to the brand, BUT likening to a two sided blade, he alienated some of the fans by his role in TNA disgarding the 6 Sided Ring. Before anyone has any ideas of lynching him in town square, I think his reasoning has some merit. He stated that the 4 Sided Ring is about tradition and not using that format alienates some of the more classical wrestling fans. In a word, he's right. By the same token, I'm finding out, though, he's wrong. With each post I read suggesting that they want to see the 6 Sides back, I HAVE to wonder.....would it help? I say it would make no difference at all.

Fans asked for Samoa Joe as Champion....TNA Delivered and there was no rise.
Fans asked for big names to debut......TNA Delivered and there was no rise.
Fans asked for more TNA originals to become Champions.....TNA Delivered and there was no rise.
Fans asked for a rebuilding of the X Division.....TNA gave fans an ENTIRE PPV built around it.
Do you see the trend?

In the coming days, we'll keep exploring. I've said it before, the fans are generators invaluable to the whole process. Without them, TNA wouldn't exist, but without them, they wouldn't grow either.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Survival Tactix: Coming Attractions- TNA

Today marks a very special day. To all of you who bear with the ravings and the wanderings this blog offers, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This ALSO marks the final predictions column for 2013's events. I have covered every division TNA currently has and that only leaves one thing.....where TNA goes as a whole in the coming year.

For the past couple of years, I've been predicting a second show in syndication, but for whatever reason, the timing has not been quite right for them to put the plan into action. I have stated that Dixie and company HAS plans to put out another show, but until the details iron themselves out, news on that front has remained rather "hush hush".

Gut Check will remain intact going into 2013 and the possibility of adding to the ranks of the ailing divisions is mounting. This much is a very encouraging fact. If TNA continues to pick up men and women ANYTHING in the vein of Christian York or Taeler Hendrix, we're in for a very good year indeed.

I also predict we'll see precisely what I predicted for a PPV schedule with a month absent of a PPV presence. TNA will put on 3 hour Specials to shore up the amount of time without that presence. Does this mean the edging out of other PPVs? Doubtful. I believe 8 or 9 on each year is just fine for business and really will prove that once the turning of the year has run its course.

WWE will continue to pluck TNA for storyline ideas and people will continue to write about it in forums and argue about it on Facebook walls. And this one is the kicker....some of the undercard performers that WWE has in their employ....those that fear their jobs are on the line since the debuts of NXT's finest, they'll ask for, and receive release from their contracts. My favorite part of that equation is that at LEAST one will be given a tryout and possibly a contract in TNA and they'll do exactly what they've been doing for the past few years.....creating something decent from what WWE hadn't the patience or the fortitude of pushing.

Aces and Eights will finally run their course fully in 2013, but remnants of the faction will continue to band together until they've been ether driven from the roster and returned to new packaging OR put in a position where their persona status is changed. By banding together, I mean a possible tag team or something like that.

This MAY be the year TNA escapes the 1.0 rut. It took a full year before the new regime began figuring out just what the fans of TNA are actually looking for AND garnering some outside casual fans besides. Now that WWE is taking notice and is even taking pot shots from time to time, I think TNA is bound for some higher numbers, particularly going into the U.K. tour this coming February. I happen to predict that if TNA comes out of those shows strongly, the product is in for a PHENOMENAL year.

And lastly, but certainly not least, there IS still the possibility of a second show....a kind of hour long dose of programming that ISN'T a reality type show, but rather an extension of the TNA brand. I surmise that even now, TNA upper management is shopping around for another outlet as Spike, as good to them as they are, simply can't be the only home of TNA. With the current financial woes of Ring of Honor, who have put Jim Cornette on indefinite leave, TNA COULD square a deal with Sinclair's FOX syndicate, provided the negotiations are respectable enough. SO, 2013 looks like a promising year to come, but only those in the white tower and the fans have the power to make it be just that.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Survival Tactix: Coming Attractions- Tag Team Division

I have one thing to say about this before I say ANYTHING else......if anyone tries to say TNA's Tag Team Division is lacking, you are out of your mind! Lemme run down the list for ya.......

Bad Influence (Kazarian and Daniels)
Gunner/ Kid Kash
Kenny King/King Mo
Robbie E./Robbie T

Looking at this list kinda reminds me of Smackdown from about 2005-06. Back then, you had a couple of serious teams and a slew of teams that could make it if WWE Creative would simply get behind them and give them a shot. That's what I see here. In my eyes, each one has a good shot at becoming something special if given the right story and the nod to go through with it.

I know.....Kenny King and King Mo aren't official yet, but TNA Creative has plans of putting them together and seeing where it goes. The hope is that King Mo will bring in the more MMA persuaded fan. If thing work well under that line of thinking, they may give the pairing a run with the titles. My response? GREAT! I have been a fan of Kenny King since he came into TNA and even though my opinions of King Mo are really null and void, I think he could be a valuable asset to the roster as a wrestler even moreso than Brock Lesnar is to WWE due to his ability to be on screen more often in the coming year.

One thing TNA has going for them is a simple thought process......a tag team needs to look like they belong together and aren't just thrown together......there needs to be a cohesive element that joins two individuals as a team and TNA seems to understand this concept far more than WWE right now. Let me illustrate.......

Bad Influence (Ring attire)
Ryan/Morgan (Attitude)
Chavo/Hernandez (Ethnicity)
Gunner/Kid Kash (Skin Art)
Kenny King/King Mo (Namesake)
Robbie E./Robbie T. (Ring attire and Namesake)

As for my predictions on the year upcoming? Well, you've got the Kenny King partnership impending even as this post goes up, but outside of that, my predictions HAVE to pick Ryan and Morgan and the Kaz/Daniels teaming to become the tag team feud of the year until that time. I believe that the stronger personalities like Daniels, Ryan, even Kenny King, once he's had the chance to exert it, will rise to the top of the division while the muscle teams (Kash and Gunner, Robbie E./T.) will find themselves serving as the enhancement teams, helping make the stronger teams look good.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Survival Tactix: Coming Attractions- TV Title

If there was ever a title TNA could be more confusing with, it's this one. Is it important? What do they want to use it for? Is it a tool to test potential stars with? Is it the benchmark for how dominant a star on their roster is? There is no rhyme or reason to how TNA is booking the defenses OR challenges for the TV Title.

NOW, if I were booking the title? That, folks, would be something to see....I would make it the ultimate test of fortitude. The TV Title would be the one to fight for on Impact as a gateway towards the World Heavyweight Title. THIS would be where the big boys would begin their journey.

Hypothetically, if Matt Morgan were to win this title from Devon and were to hold it until Lockdown, he COULD be called the most dominant champion to have held the belt simply by virtue of doing so in spite of the Aces and Eights. Would TNA do that? I'd love to see them try it.

As for my all depends how seriously TNA management wants to invest time and creative energy into the TV Title as a booking tool. IF the answer is that they WANT to invest......I predict this title to be the single most fought over title in TNA within 2 months and the champion by the time those months are over would win the World Title before Bound for Glory.

My pick for the next champion would be Morgan, but truth be told, I wouldn't be a BIT surprised if AJ Styles won it and held it for the duration of the Aces and Eights story. I love the notion of another member of Aces and Eights were to take it from Devon, leading to a rift within the faction, but it wouldn't hurt my feelings if Christian York were to be given the ball to run with either. The point?

If TNA decides they simply want it to be a sideshow, a secondary belt with no real storyline value, it really makes no difference who wins the thing and, in essence, should be retired as another useless piece of TNA memorabilia.

Survival Tactix: Coming Attractions- X Division

In this list of coming attractions, I have covered the Knockouts and Main Event Picture. The columns to come contain what may be on the way for the Tag Teams AND a few debuts and returns to finish off the year. However, today is X Division day and determining the value of X to the TNA product as a whole.

First things first, everyone reading this NEEDS to know what has happened so far.....

Chris Sabin re-injured his knee in a spot during his return match, sidelining him indefinitely.

Sonjay Dutt dislocated his shoulder in the X Division Title Ultimate X Match at Destination X this year, which complicated his chances of winning his first X Title. Some will bring up the fact that he competed after his dislocation had been worked back into place, but he ALSO was working under a short term deal with TNA to give the division a bit of a nitrous boost.

Jesse Sorenson was injured early in the year, as everyone knows if you've watched TNA from the beginning of the year.

Kid Kash was relegated to the Tag Team Division with Gunner and has been used as an active reserve performer in THAT division.

So WHO does that leave? Zema Ion, RVD, Doug there anyone I missed? That depends ENTIRELY on whether or not the weight limit is still in place. To the best of my understanding, the limit was 225, but Van Dam weighs closer to 240. Without the restrictor plate in place, we could be looking at Magnus, Mr. Anderson, Christian York, even Samoa Joe. The point is.....TNA isn't giving the X Division any definitive limits; no limits of any kind, actually. This complicates how the division can be booked. BUT, since I've been doing it anyway, I may as well give it a shot.

Next year, Jesse Sorenson WILL be returning. This much has been written in stone. Fact is, he's been cleared to wrestle right NOW, but TNA is wanting him to work his way back to Impact, taking his time to ensure that no further damage is done to keep him away from ring time.

Another scenario TNA is toying with is AJ Styles returning to the X Division and claiming the title going into Destination X so as to trump the stipulation of Turning Point. My prediction on THAT front is that TNA officials will want to see how well the return of Jesse is received BEFORE pulling the trigger on either entering into the main event picture in the first place. IF Jesse is being given the proper instruction and training he needs in ring and on the microphone, TNA seems willing to make his return as big as any in the year, even so much as to chance him in a World Title role, provided the public takes to him.

As it has gone each year, TNA seems VERY committed to putting out a season feel to the division, which is a bit of a shame. It just seems they invest more in the division when it comes time for the spotlight PPV than they do at any other time in the year. I, however, predict a greater emphasis moving forward into the year as TNA works hard to put all hands on deck, filling in places where some weakness has been showing through.

I also predict a couple of debuts coming into the X Division fold. Once training has finished, I see Alex Silva and Sam Shaw moving in to fill spots. Beyond that, little is certain......

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Survival Tactix: 2013's Coming Attractions- Knockouts Division

In the last column, I talked about the short term future as well as that looking from mid-late year. Since I very much want to see something special occur in this division as the Knockouts Division could use a little bit of life breathed into it. Granted, when Knockouts have matches on PPV or TV, they get some time......6-8 minutes, in fact, but what's missing is representation.

Let's have a look at the roster right now......

Velvet Sky
Mickie James
Gail Kim
Taeler Hendrix
Madison Rayne

Can anyone tell me who has been missing as of late? In the past month, all but two have made appearances on IMPACT......Rosita and Sarita. I DO predict that sooner than later, we will see the latina Knockouts return to TV. I, however, have ANOTHER piece of news that I think makes the latin ladies return even more special. This piece relates to a project TNA has been running for the past couple of months. British Boot Camp, which will be airing in a couple of weeks, has two BRAND NEW Knockouts potentials.....the Blossom Twins. Have a look....

This pair of potentials could help TNA do SOMETHING with the Knockouts Tag Team Division. As I have said NUMEROUS times, if they aren't going to work with it, they need to retire it. I believe that enough backlash has happened for the head of creative do give the Knockouts TIME, now it's time to see them REPRESENTED and an emphasis on the Tag Title in that division IS on the horizon, by my prediction.

As for who will gain some prominence? TNA is really looking to build new stars for EVERY division and I believe the Knockouts are no different on that front. That said, the Knockouts who HAVEN'T won the big belt, but very well could if given the right set of circumstances are Taeler Hendrix, who has generated a fan following of late, AND ODB. An ODB title reign would be something special because she's been around since the beginning of the division and DESERVES it.

In the short term, I see a return of Velvet Sky to a championship reign and, I believe it also possible for Sky and Tessmacher to team for a few matches in the Tag Division as well. No matter what the spot on the card, I get the feeling Velvet will be a major player in the revival of the division to prominence.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Survival Tactix: 2013's Coming Attractions.....

I'd like to take this column in a different direction for the next few days. I've been looking at forums and various outside outlets and there are a few predictions I'd like to make concerning each division as it relates to TNA as a whole. With that thought in mind, I want to take some time to hit on each one so as to be completely thorough. SO, from the top......The World Heavyweight Title....

I've made it no secret that I believe Bully Ray and Matt Morgan to be the next World Champion first-timers TNA has brought up the ranks. As for when? THAT, my friends, is a little tougher to predict than the who's on the list. As far as I can tell, so long as TNA is in the free and clear with Jeff Hardy's contract being re-signed, I see no reason for Jeff to continue retaining indefinitely.

My best prediction for the World Title right now, one of TWO things will happen....

1. Bobby Roode vs. Austin Aries will be announced in the week or two leading up to Genesis.


2. Jeff Hardy will be forced to take on BOTH Austin Aries AND Bobby Roode at Genesis.

If Roode vs. Aries happens, who takes on Jeff? Why not James Storm?

This coming year will be the year TNA begins to shuffle things around again, bringing new guys into the title picture whilst moving others into contention for other titles on the horizon. That's my prediction for Jeff Hardy once his World Title reign has reached its end.

The coming year will ALSO be the year TNA decides to try something groundbreaking.....they'll move from their soundstage into somewhere larger, to seat even more fans. Even if it doesn't last long as a permanent home, it'll be a far cry better than a small soundstage on the Universal Studios lot they currently occupy. I realize this isn't concerning the World Title, at least not directly. Even though that IS the case, I plan on sprinkling little tidbits like this into every column for the next few days, so stay tuned.

There is one other name I think will rise very rapidly through the ranks. Will he hit the top tier next year? It IS possible, but there is much to be done if and when he DOES. That's Christian York. The coincidence isn't lost on me either, folks. TNA makes TWO Christians into World Champions? What are the odds? If Christian Cage were to rejoin TNA, I LOVE the feud potential there in seeing two Christians fighting one another and it having nothing to do with faith.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Survival Tactix: Playing Face Up?

The most recent 1/3/13 promo is Sting....which begs the question: Is TNA playing their cards face up rather than close to the vest? You can call me crazy, if you like, but I don't think it's that simple....particularly not when the end of the year taping is nigh. Sting may return and he may have a good week, but there's something stirring underneath. The thing is, I don't think it's even from Sting. I have seen this pattern before, though. Sting will get his bat back, and he'll use it. We'll have another big brawl, but when a promotion gives away the surprise before it gets here, expect something more than just a return or a debut.

Something IS beginning to bother me. At the end of Impact, Bully Ray is kissing Brooke. I'm not talking about a little peck on the cheek "thanks for being a good friend" either. He asks what he has to do for Hulk to trust him. Here's a thought you may not have considered.....LEAVE BROOKE ALONE! Seems simple enough. A though crossed my mind as I watched and it terrified me. If it turns out that Ray ISN'T her main squeeze? I know where my thoughts will go from there. AJ Lee's TNA doppelganger. You can try to tell me Lee's the best thing since sliced bread, but all I see is a gal whose been around the track more times than an INDY 500 Pace Car.

This column is full of wanderings....why? TWO reasons.....

1. In order to keep the important pieces of this blog working like they should, I HAVE to keep writing. I read a quote by Ray Bradbury once. He said that the more a man writes, the more he CAN write, which is an encouraging thought once all is said and done.

2. Right now, things in TNA look to be in a state of transition. AJ Styles is going from face to perhaps a heel; Bully Ray isn't sure where he stands; Kenny King has turned heel.....because TNA is trying to find ways to keep the current storylines moving until such time as they can turn a profit with them, I've got to TRY and give them the benefit of the doubt.

This brings something ELSE to mind.....if I may be so bold to ask, why is it that TNA fans have this peculiar idea that the X Division was otherworldly about 6 years ago? Keep in mind this era brought Curry Man, which I thought was a terminal outing from the beginning. I understand the desire for highspots, believe me. I like a good HOLY S(*@ moment as much as the next guy, but I DON'T believe THAT'S where it ends. Only a couple of years later, Doug Williams held the belt for a lengthy time and did so with superb mat tactics and a flair for chain wrestling that was quite simply unrivaled at the time. In a match on Impact, he was able to match a healthy Kurt Angle move for move, which is really saying something. Additionally, there weren't 30 X Division stars THEN either.

What I think people are REALLY saying, but won't admit it, is that TNA needs to bring back the World X Cup. That's right, I said it. WWE wants to start up their own Cruiserweight Division once they've launched their network, but TNA had the monopoly on that kind of daredevil. Truth be told, the  World X Cup outdates Curry Man and Suicide. It runs back to the days of Sonny Siaki and Team Canada's captain, Petey Williams. It put guys like Elix Skipper, Hector Garza, Puma, La Parka, and Matt Sydel (Evan Bourne) on display. Yeah, there were highspots, but there were also very few rest holds, submissions, and countouts. I'll admit, I'd LOVE to see TNA bring back the event. I'd also love to see King of the Mountain again, but who knows how THAT'LL play out?

Rant from Ringside: 1/3/13 Promo Disappointment

Ok, I have a grievance that I need to air here and now. Over the past few weeks TNA has been airing a promo for something big that is supposed to occur on 1/3/13. Now, I am not one who reads into what might be coming up in the business so if it was announced before tonight that Sting is going to return on 1/3/13, I didn’t know it. I like to be a little bit surprised by changes to storylines. But, I am getting away from my point. Promos in my eyes are supposed to be used for two reasons, introducing someone new to the company or announcing the return of someone who had been out for a long long time. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Sting has been out for quite some time after his beat down by Aces and Eights, but by no means do I think he has been out long enough to deserve the promos that they have been playing.
The other thing that kind of irks me about the 1/3/13 promos is that they have a kind of evil dark feeling to them. I understand that they are shot this way because they are going to bring Sting back angry looking for blood, but over the last 20 years the best promos that have been dark and gritty have been introducing guys who were evil. Guys like Rellik and Mankind had great promos before their introductions because they were dark, mysterious, and best of all new. If they wanted to run a long time promo for Sting, I feel the best way to do it was shoot some new ones where they are showing him lurking in the darkness. The WCW Sting promos where he was hanging out in the rafters were best because even though they weren’t introducing someone new, they were able to show him as the bad ass that he is.
What do you guys think? Are you excited that the 1/3/13 promos are announcing the return of the Icon? or do you think like me and feel that they are blowing the opportunity for introducing a new talent with a really great promo? Let me know what you think.
As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Survival Tactix: How to "Knock-out" Aces and Eights...

THIS column is not from my own mind....but I LOVE the way Wes Wesley thinks. Such forward thinking is to be aspired and built upon. Now that credit has been given where it's due, Here's the question....

"How would you bring a Knockout into Aces and Eights?"

Hmmm...well...truth be told, the best time, in my humble opinion is on the first LIVE Impact of the New Year. Why? Because no one would predict it to be coming and there would be no spoilers to get in the way of the surprise of it. NOW, because of just how TNA's roster is set up, I wouldn't bring in one Knockout, I'd bring in THREE. Why? Simple. With three, it would be possible to compete for BOTH Knockouts titles at the same time.

But that's only HALF the reason. The other half has to do with how they make their debut. This HAS to be a shock event. Without the shock value, the whole debut is shot, in my opinion. Here's MY booking......

At the top of Impact, Aces and Eights' resident voice changer spokesman announces that on Open Fight Night, no one is safe. He continues, by saying that every champion is being put on notice and there are NO exceptions.

Hogan has his hands full with every champion in his office, demanding some kind of protection. He says that though Aces and Eights are pretty heartless, even THEY wouldn't be foolish enough to go after the Knockouts Division, but just in case, he's giving them the night off for their own protection and has security walk them out.....

Sting comes out to address the crowd. He announces that since Hulk has his roster to look after and that since Stinger's his right hand man, he makes it MANDATORY that every contender for the titles they respectively are vying for to look out for their champion. He says that there are no longer enemies within when the enemies of TNA are gunning for the entire roster. Anyone who allows their champion to be attacked alone will forfeit their respective title shots.

Elsewhere, security officers are found strewn about the backstage area by Brooke, who sees a couple of faction members guarding the exit. The other Knockouts are unharmed, but Jesse is laying in front of the exit door, mumbling that Tara's in trouble. Once Hulk, Kurt Angle and Angle's Army approach the exit, the faction members scatter.

They open the door and Tara has been bludgeoned, along with ODB. It LOOKS like the MEN have done this.....for sure, and Hulk storms to the ring in the final segment of the night to give the faction hell for what they've done. Devon comes to the faction's entrance at the corner of the ring, telling them that it wasn't them that attacked the Knockouts. He says "Let's just say we've done some recruiting...."

From there, you could allow paranoia to spread until Lockdown's announcement puts ALL members of Aces and Eights on the card in some form or fashion. That means the two KNOCKOUTS members of Aces and Eights responsible for ODB's beating would face off against Eric Young and ODB for the Knockouts Tag Titles. In addition, the Knockout responsible for TARA'S demise would face her for the Knockouts Title. Since every match is in the cage, it is speculated that the cage will keep outside interference from entering. As for my picks?

Knockouts Tag Team challengers......Rosita and Sarita
Knockouts Title challenger.......Jillian Hall or Melina

I would LOVE to see a debut for the Knockouts Division who can carry a match and ANY of them qualify under that condition.

Survival Tactix: Instant Mix.....

Over the course of the past week, Shelton Benjamin, one half of the World's Greatest Tag Team, asked for and was given release from his Ring of Honor contract. Why? He was contacted by WWE. In the wake of that contact, it's expected his return will be imminent in the coming weeks with the signing of a new WWE contract. ....And yet my question is why?

Why does WWE desire the services of Mr. Benjamin? Do they plan on finally giving him his just dues upon his return? How does Shelton fit into the newly shaped roster?

Moving into other news.....

At a live event in Mexicali, Mexico, John Morrison told fans that in 6 months, once he's returned to a full time wrestling schedule, he plans on making his way back to WWE. It has yet to be revealed as to whether or not he's been contacted by management in WWE, but it's certain THAT answer, among many will be brought to the forefront in the coming months.

The same questions confront John Morrison as his return could ALSO be imminent. My concern is that BOTH men will find themselves EXACTLY where they were before leaving the rigors of the WWE road schedule.....mid-card, never to rise.

The sad part in all of that is that WWE had a very good chance in giving Shelton a break in his beginnings on the RAW brand in 2003, when he began a short term program with Triple H, besting him twice in two meetings. Yes, he was in his formative days, but that kind of rubbing of shoulders SHOULD have given him a higher place on the card. *sigh* The road not taken....

SO, is this a shift in the tides? Well, it certainly is an attempt to wrangle in a few fans that stopped watching in the past couple of years. Those in Ring of Honor will probably wonder why Charlie Haas has lost his partner, but apparently, WWE has no interest in bringing back The World's Greatest Tag Team.

Plans HAD been discussed to bring back MVP as well, but as of yet, he has NOT been contacted by the white tower. Who knows what WWE has in mind for the coming year....

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Survival Tactix: Bob and Weave.....

In the last column, I brought my thoughts about Ric Flair and the current state of WWE. Moving ahead in that vein, I'd like to bring something to the attention of those in WWE's fan camp.

In the past 3 years, WWE has had FOUR factions or stables of men made up entirely or mostly of debuting NXT talents. That INCLUDES WWE's newest entity, The Shield. What most of the same fans cheering for The Shield seem to forget is just how quickly both Nexus factions and The Corre dissolved. NOW, does that mean The Shield isn't around to stay for a while? Not at all, but before claiming them as Stable or Faction of the Year, you would do well in recognizing WWE's history of not keeping their end of the bargain when it comes to factions.

That said, TNA has kept Aces and Eights, for the most part, anonymous and veiled. Compoundly, they have made their revealed members big enough to create a bit of buzz, but not fizzle out the faction's forward movement entirely. While some would claim the story has run its course and needs to be dropped, I believe that with the right blend of upheaval, revelation, and intrigue, TNA will breathe some new life into this feud that ultimately involves more of the roster than what we've seen so far, just give it time....

One reason WWE has had a surge in the number of new debuts and returns has to do with John Cena's physical condition. As is the story with any athlete, if you play them injured, you run the risk of further injury. If you play them every game, you run the risk of burnout. If you play your top player as a main event draw AND a spokesman AND a movie personality AND the front runner for nearly every top story in your show, you run the risk of doing irreparable harm to your player. John Cena is beginning to break down, folks. I've been saying this for a while now. WWE's problem now is that they are RUSHING to find someone to put in his spot and there isn't anyone on their roster right now that they can see can do it the way they want. This means pushes for players than may not be ready for such a shift in their career status.

TNA, on the other hand, is doing a fine job of pacing. They are BUILDING new talents by giving them a resume. By defeating Jeff Hardy, someone is going to make a name for themselves as a future contender. By defeating RVD, someone is going to make a name for themselves. By defeating Chavo and Hernandez, someone is going to make a name for themselves. You see my point? The proper utilization of veterans on TNA's roster is creating new names in the business. Without Angle, there would be no James Storm or Bobby Roode in the main event tier. Without Gail Kim and Tara, there would be no Tessmacher as a new champion.

So right now, I see something special coming down the pike, and without the hours of outside footage to wade through, TNA is better able to run through their storylines without fear of the story being clouded by the sheer amount. Right now, TNA is getting ready to dive into perhaps their strongest showing each year in recent years, their annual trip to the U.K. This means fired up crowds, strong attendance, and the prospect of moving forward across the boards. My only advice to TNA is to NOT look over their shoulders. TNA CANNOT afford to lose their focus if they plan on going toe to toe with WWE.

One more thing for TNA fans to look forward to.....the X Division is getting ready for their annual nitrous surge and, in the months leading into Destination X, which airs in July, I believe we can expect the ramp up to bring in some more new blood, just like last year. THAT means a better showing of the newer talents and a more complete viewing of the state of the division. Think about this, if May is the beginning of the season of the Bound for Glory Series, a bolstering of the X Division a couple of months following will keep fans watching just to see who, outside of the BFG Series has the ability to challenge the current Heavyweight Champion once Destination X rolls around.

TNA has some uphill climbing to do in the coming month or two, but I'm confident that once February and the tour of the U.K. has run its course, they will be no worse for the wear....and neither will we, the fans.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Survival Tactix: Darkest Before the Dawn....

Sometimes, I'll be sitting on my couch when the idea of the day hits me. Other times, I'll be sound asleep and I'll HAVE to get up and jot it down, before it oozes out and into oblivion. Today, it just hit me even as I write this....the war begins before the year ends. WWE vs. TNA.....

I never could have called it, but when Ric Flair came out, welcomed by John Cena back to RAW, it became clear that WWE was calling out TNA. With TLC a day in retrospect, an award episode of Monday Night RAW brought one subject of TNA's lawsuit with WWE into the limelight. And when The Shield and CM Punk, opposed by Team Hell No, brawled in the arena thereafter, I could see the battle lines being drawn. The biggest problem with this battle is that WWE is starting at a disadvantage in TWO areas.

FIRST, RAW has no intention of dropping their newly acquired hour of programming picked up over the summer. This means that 3 hour long episodes of RAW will continue for the foreseeable future. It wouldn't be such a concern if it didn't happen that ratings have been in decline nearly every week for something like 20 weeks. In fact, only last week did ratings stop declining and actually gain any sort of rise in numbers. But ratings only account for so much, as I've said so many times before. So how is THIS a problem? THAT, folks leads me into point number two.

WWE has Monday Night RAW, Main Event, Saturday Morning SLAM, NXT, A.M RAW, and Smackdown......this makes 11 hours of first run programming EVERY WEEK! This drowns the casual fan with a diluted product and will ultimately do more harm than good in the long run. If you count a PPV per month, that makes nearly 48 hours of WWE programming each month! Let that sink in a moment.....

While TNA has been trying to find ways to expand and have gotten a fair amount of social exposure for the size of their brand, they've been virtually ignored by media outlets in the mainstream wrestling press, which is appalling to me, as one who loathes the idea of a wrestling monopoly with WWE at the helm of the wrestling boat, as it were. I, for one, am hopeful that the slimming and streamlining of the TNA product will bring about more success for the future of the brand.

As of this post, TNA has cut 3 PPVs from their schedule on the year, creating a possibility for TNA Creative to bring about good storytelling, development of younger talents into the upper echelons of the hierarchy, and a better use of more of their roster with the possibility of more hours of first run programming to do just that. With the fun and high quality of their live events from nearly every person I've chatted with, TNA is VERY good at being the more personable of the two wrestling entities in business today. I believe THAT is one thing TNA needs to keep intact as they reach for every gold ring ahead of them because losing that means the loss of a bit of their life blood....connection to the fans.

Truth be told, even with the small scale expanse of this blog, TNA is gaining ground, and that is profoundly encouraging. People are beginning to understand that the WWE machine has no intention of re-evaluating their drawing strategy, making their turnaround something of a slower process, whereas TNA's evaluation is underway even as this post finds its way across the web. The WWE Alternative Movement is gaining momentum and, as I've stated before, TNA HAS to make the next couple of months count as they move into the New Year and start it all off with a bang, which the promos for 1/3/13 lead me to believe they understand as well.

Survival Tactix: Wasteland or Paradise?

In a conversation had last night with my column writing cohort, a subject came to mind that begs to be discussed. February. You see, in the new schedule for 2013, February is a PPV-free month. This is the gap between Genesis and Lockdown. There is no word as to what could FILL said gap as of yet, but you folks know me, I like to explore. I say we do just that.....

From January 13th until March 10th, TNA will run PPV silent. That means 8 programming weeks before the next PPV. To go further with this, on the other side of Lockdown, we're looking at the same 8-9 week gap. Lockdown is like PPV Alcatraz, for those of you who want a working example of what that looks like. My question is really very simple: Can TNA bridge that gap both safely AND in such a way that makes the gap not feel so long? As a pro-TNA columnist, I feel compelled to say "yes", but since the past few weeks of Impact have been a bit lackluster, I have conditions.

1. The Aces and Eights story HAS to keep moving. If TNA believes their own fanbase has enough patience to go 8 weeks WITHOUT any significant change in pacing, they have a rude awakening confronting them. Revelations HAVE to come and they have to be game changing in order to keep fans both interested AND to buy themselves the time they need to put the finishing touches on the ultimate reveal.....the Leader.

2. The Brooke Hogan/ Hulk/ Bully Ray/ Austin Aries saga needs to either converge with the Aces and Eights story, as stated in an earlier column, move into interesting territory, or be dropped completely as it, by itself, is functionally unnecessary.

3. If the Joseph Park story is on TNA management's list of things to bring to the forefront, they need to have movement on THAT front as well. If they want to create Abyss from scratch with the alternate personality angle, fine, but let's see the progression, shall we? If they want Joseph Park to be a completely new persona and for Abyss to be someone new as well, fine, but let's bring out the monster in short order and really make some connections for the people to sink their teeth into.....unless the separate entity or split personality is the leader of the faction.

Since these stories have been driving the shows as of late, it seems reasonable that they continue to be so until such time the build toward the Lethal Lockdown Team build-up. If TNA does this as I surmise they will, teams will consist of 4 or 5 and will be announced week by week leading into the event. That still leaves 3 or 4 weeks of blank space, meaning TNA will have to find a way to occupy that space with something worthwhile.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Survival Tactix: 2013's Contenders....

I've decided to try my hand at who will be standing in the on deck circle for each of the TNA titles. I realize this could become a bit dodgy as 2012 isn't even over, but over the course of the column, I'll explore our options.....

TV Title

TNA is so fickle with their choosing of who will battle for this belt. That said, it seems nearly impossible to say who will hold the belt from one week to the next. But even with those limitations, my guesses for future champions in 2013 are:

Kurt Angle
Mr. Anderson
Joey Ryan
Christian York

Since I have no real contenders to go on other than who has been on the list in the past year, those are my contender choices. It's been TNA's habit of booking a small list of contenders for this belt, as Robbie E. was given ENDLESS chances to hold and recapture it this year.

Tag Team Titles

TNA has been doing a good job of keeping teams together long enough to make the titles worth fighting over. That said, there are a number of teams TNA has used to keep the division in working order recently. Of those, I believe the champions will go something like this...

Joey Ryan/Matt Morgan
Aces and Eights
Christian York/Jeff Hardy

Since Chavo and Hernandez are already holding the belts, I've simply left them of the list for the time being. It seems they'll be fighting over them for a time. I'm hopeful we'll see a possible Aces and Eights UNMASKED team come to the dance in the coming months, ultimately capturing all of the gold shortly before dissolving. With the York/Hardy team up, it'd be a short term thing, but I can see it bringing Christian into notoriety as a world class TV performer.

Knockouts Title

Is there any doubt that Velvet Sky is going to be on this list? Seriously. Aside from the obvious, I believe we can include the Knockouts we've seen in recent weeks as contenders.

Velvet Sky
Madison Rayne
Mickie James
Gail Kim

This is half of the Knockouts Division. Truly that says something about how serious TNA cares about keeping people in the loop. It's a nice change to see more than just two or three Knockouts on the docket.

Knockouts Tag Team Titles

Yep, TNA still has 'em under ODB and Young, but 2013 is a new year and I believe we'll see a resurgence in the Knockouts Tag Division. That said, I think we'll see teams like this.....

Taeler Hendrix/ Tessmacher
Rosita/ Sarita
Jillian Hall/ Madison Rayne

The last team nay only be a possibility as I know Hall was given a tryout and garnered high marks from TNA officials. Whether she is ultimately signed or not? That remains to be seen. On a side note, my personal dream team would be Melina and Velvet Sky, but this is reality and it's only moderately possible we'll ever see that teaming.

X Title

This is the belt people love to bring up. They want to say it's been forgotten, but with RVD as the current title holder, it seems somehow less likely for that to be true. Simply put, I can see a rejuvenation coming in the wind as Jesse Sorenson's return is imminent. Expect his return to be something special and perhaps even the weeks leading into Lockdown, we can expect to see his return. So here it goes....

Kenny King
Zema Ion
Jesse Sorenson
Kid Kash

I have seen TNA do some special things with the division in the months leading up to Jesse Sorenson's injury. That said, I see no reason why Kid Kash, who helped make Jesse's rise possible, couldn't be the one to hold the belt as a pioneer of the division to begin with. Would he be able to cash in for the World Title? Doubtful, but there IS someone I'd love to see given a try...

World Title

This title has been fought over RABIDLY in the past year and a half or so and it's been quite possibly the most important World Title in the business today, in this writer's humble opinion, having headlined every TNA PPV since forever. With that said, I see a long line of contenders...some veiled in mystery, others as yet untested. Nevertheless, here are my contenders for the World Title......

Matt Morgan
Bully Ray
Jesse Sorenson
Leader of Aces and Eights
James Storm
Austin Aries

I can see some of you shaking your heads at Jesse. My question is WHY? TNA has NEVER, with the exception of AJ Styles, had a white bread babyface champion since their inception. He is TNA's answer to John Cena. The difference is, he can move like a wrecking ball in the ring in a way Cena could only dream. I would LOVE to see each one with a respectable reign, but I know full well that cannot be, at least not in the way I imagine it. Some will be dominant, while others will be space filler, waiting for the next in line to take their place.

Rant from Ringside: No More Divas

First off, I do want to apologize for my absence. I know Tactix has been so excited about me joining him on his site, and believe me, so have I. It will feel great to actually have someone read my posts. So, I wrote my last post about “The Shield” then my computer broke, well, when we had figured out a solution to the computer issue, I started getting sick, like real sick. So, after going so far as to have a PICC line put in my arm and now going in every night for the next two weeks to get antibiotics, I am finally starting to feel like writing again.

The first night that I had a broken computer, Tactix, not knowing I couldn’t do any writing, posed a question to me that he thought would make for a good column. He basically asked me what I thought about WWE shutting down their Diva division. My mind started racing and I gave him a little sneak preview of what I thought I might write about. So, here is the expanded version of that sneak preview.

The idea that WWE would shut down its Diva division is kind of a sketchy subject for me. Tactix, you are going to be a little taken off guard by what I am about to say because this wasn’t in my preview, but just bear with me. On one hand I am incredibly excited by the idea because everyone who has watched WWE since the Attitude Era, you will know that there have been very few bright spots when it comes to the Diva division in WWE. Mickie James, Victoria and yes Gail Kim were really a major part in the success of the Diva’s division over the years and look where they are now, over in TNA. Lita and Trish Stratus are the two major successes in the more recent success in WWE’s Diva success and they are gone now too. So, who is left? In a word, mediocrity, none of the women who are currently on WWE’s roster are even fit to lace up Gail Kim or Mickie James’ boots. Vince is still stuck on looks and has allowed true talent fall to the side. Don’t get me wrong women like Eve, Natalya, Layla, and especially AJ Lee get my full attention, but if I am being brutally honest, which I always am, none of these women are the full package. I mean, sure, to be a successful Diva you don’t have to be a master on the mic and be ultra talented in the ring at the same time, but they at least have to excel at one and be good at the other.

Let’s start with my favorite, AJ Lee, she is gorgeous, fit and fantastic on the mic, but I have yet to see her really do anything impressive in the ring. Yes, she has not been in a full time wrestling position for a while, but that is going to change and I hope that she really stands out as a legendary Diva. Next I want to talk about Natalya, being the daughter of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart has really done wonders for her in ring ability. She is one of the more athletically gifted women on WWE’s roster, but they are not using her to her full potential and I believe it is because she is not as equally gifted on the mic as she is in the ring. She is truly one that I believe if they gave her just a few more opportunities to talk, she would become a Diva legend.

That leads me to my final point; I know it sounds like all I have to say about the WWE’s Diva’s division is bad things, but really I do believe that if they would take the time to focus on the talent they have and developing that talent to its full potential, they could completely revolutionize their Diva’s divison. Unfortunately, Vince McMahon and the other people in creative, see these ladies as nothing more than easy on the eyes and time fillers. They see the Diva division as something that they have to do to appease the few women fans and all the horny men that call themselves fans of the WWE.
As always, thanks for reading.

Survival Tactix: Ask Ray for Directions....

Something's occurred to me of late....where is Bully Ray going? Ever since losing to Jeff Hardy at No Surrender, it has seemed like TNA Creative isn't sure exactly where to put him on the card. It's like purgatory....he's sitting in the upper top tier main event waiting room. And while he's sitting there, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, James Storm....they're all in a better striking place for the World Title than Ray. I have to admit it, I was stumped.

That's when it occurred to me....he's following Hogan, only slower. Think back....Bully Ray was a part of Immortal and a hated part, hence Mr. Anderson vs. Ray last year. Hogan went face after Bound for Glory while Ray remained heel. Fast forward a ways and Ray was brought face when Devon was revealed as a member of the Aces and Eights. It had nothing to do with a face "turn" per se. It was simply the logical place for him to be since he'd been fighting OFF the faction, right? So now Bully Ray is a face? Nope. I would argue he's a "tweener", or somewhere in the middle, leaning more face than heel. Is this a good thing? I'd like to think so. Fact is, I think he makes a far better anti-hero than John Cena ever did.

That notwithstanding, it seems reasonable that Ray's face "bend" is leading to the ultimate showdown with the faction. If Brooke turns out to be having a relationship with a member of the faction, it would make sense for Bully Ray to be in on the story now, bringing his focus BACK on camera, to the Aces and Eights and his brother Devon. The only thing left is to determine WHO her interest is. My money is on a member who has yet to be revealed. If I'm reading into the story rightly, Brooke or Bully will reveal the member who will ultimately be involved in their downfall at Lockdown.

It's a Fall of Rome-type story where the occupying force is defeated from the inside, much like Immortal was, but this time, it will have been due to plan, not necessity. Once Lockdown has happened, and Ray is vindicated in the eyes of Hogan, I believe THEN we'll see Bully Ray become the World Heavyweight Champion for the first time in his career.

THIS is where I can see this story taking a shift for the better. I simply can't see Brooke turning heel at all. Nor can I see the faction lasting much beyond Lockdown, which historically has been a place where stories go to end. That leaves internal destruction. If I were to give one man a push straight out of the gate with this story, it'd be CHRIS MASTERS. If Abyss OR Jeff Jarrett were revealed as the leader of the faction, a feud with either could be a ticket to avoiding the mid-card and jumping straight into an upper-card spot.

I can't think of a man on WWE's roster who was given a more unfair send-off than Masters, especially after he was given high marks by Triple H only a week before his dismissal. It just goes to show how duplicitous the upper brass in WWE can be. SO, if TNA were to put a monster (no pun intended) push to the man responsible for bringing down the most powerful faction in TNA history, there would be no going back. And you can take THAT to the bank.

So where does that leave Ray? Waiting at the top for the next contender for his World Title once the smoke has cleared. Think about it....

Survival Tactix: The Most Right of All......

I've gone through so many categories here and I realize there are a few that have gone unnamed, even on lists that might have had them on it....names like Samoa Joe, Abyss, Joey Ryan, Madison Rayne, Curt Hawkins, and others. I've had a category in mind for all of them and it goes something like this.....

Bold, Yet Underestimated.....

For some reason, all of these men and women can't seem to catch a break, even though the talent is there and they've been given chances to make something happen before. They may have even been successful before, but for whatever reason, they have had their path winded down a road that twists beyond what they can see. Why is THIS right in wrestling? Because since they ARE that talented, they can always be relied on to do their duty and, in a moment's notice, carry matches, feuds, and make magic happen where some BACKSTAGE critics might believe failure is inevitable.....

Samoa Joe
Curt Hawkins
Joey Ryan
Madison Rayne
Doug Williams
D'Angelo Dinero

I scratch my head as to how some of these men and women found themselves in a reserve position, but when I look at title reigns and things like that, it reminds me that guys and gals like Joe, Williams, Abyss, and Rayne, who've held the largest titles in their division, CAN be counted on to do what they're known for, delivering when it counts.

Stars of the Year.......
This is the last category in this series of columns. This goes to those who have had returns, debuts, title wins, and match of the year candidates that are worthy of some recognition. These men and women had a great year with high profile feuds and held their own......

Miss Tessmacher
Joey Ryan
Samoa Joe
Velvet Sky
Bobby Roode
James Storm
AJ Styles
Austin Aries
Jeff Hardy
CM Punk
John Cena
Triple H
Zema Ion
Matt Morgan
Bully Ray
Chavo Guerrero
AJ Lee
Dolph Ziggler

I know this is a long list, but truth be told, it was intended to be. I'm sure there are a few some would believe I've missed, but in my eyes, it was a calculated risk to put this list together to begin with, so I accept the blame for any WWE guys or gals I left aside. I also know that it looks like I put the entire TNA roster on the list, but you all know that's not true. Joe had the best year he's had in YEARS this year, capturing and securing the TV Title as long as he did. Some captured their first gold (Tessmacher, Ion), while others bought themselves a better spot in their careers (Morgan, Ryan, Lee). Some debuted for the first time (Chavo), while others were held at the top tier for the first time on a big stage (Bully Ray, Austin Aries). Whatever the case, these men and women did a respectable job of making circumstances work in their favor and my congratulations go out to them.

It's been a nice change, simply looking at both rosters without critiquing performances, talent, or lack thereof. I hope this series has been as enjoyable to read as it has been to write. To those who have found this place for the first time this year: Welcome. To those who've been faithful to this column, I thank you. This site is for you guys and gals who make these daily columns possible. I bid you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I'll be continuing to do what I tell all of you to be doing....watching the patterns. There is news on the horizon, and in the next column, I'll bring it forward and do a bit of analysis concerning all of those things.....

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Survival Tactix: More of What's Right....

In the last column, we looked at a few things right in wrestling today. In this one, I'd like to continue in that vein and look at a few more things, giving credit where credit is due to new faces and old personalities alike.

Attraction Legends......

The Undertaker

I don't think there are two better representatives to hold this title than the icons of their brands. Unfortunately for WWE fans, the only get to see their icon at one time per year. TNA fans are treated to Sting a few more times than that. While these days are memorable, we remember they won't last forever with these icons and so, I give them their recognition this day.

Unsung Heroes......

This category I give to those talents who have yet to gain notoriety, but are working their way to that end. These men and women continually train and hone in order to move into a more prominent position on the card of their respective brand.....

Sam Shaw
Alex Silva
Alex Riley
Cody Rhodes

I look to these men and women as they seem to be just on the cusp of entering into a bigger place on the card than they currently are in. There are others as well, but this set of columns can only accommodate so many, just as the shows they represent.

Enhancement Talents.....

I give this name to those who are the teachers and do a tremendous job of instructing newer talents in the ways of how to carry the torch once their time to retire has come. These selfless men and women have nothing to prove and are among the finest performers in the world and can work with ANY talent from top of the card down.....

Kid Kash
Chavo Guerrero
Curt Hawkins
Zack Ryder

Break Outs.....

These talents are tomorrow's flag holders and will grow into fine working examples of how the business has done right by them. I see a good crop of young talents out there and I am hopeful their brands can utilize their gifts in the best possible way......

Christian York
Taeler Hendrix
Damien Sandow
Dean Ambrose
Roman Reigns
Seth Rollins

Best of Both Worlds......

I wanted to use this category to put my shine on the best men and women to perform as BOTH heel and face. I believe these to be the best in the industry today due to their versatility to play both parts....

Eric Young
CM Punk
Daniel Bryan
Kurt Angle
Mr. Anderson
Bully Ray
Mickie James
Velvet Sky
Gail Kim
Christopher Daniels

Truth be told, I had John Cena on this list as well for his work in 2002-03, BUT since WWE's "grand master plan" is for him to remain a face for all eternity, he stays behind. Each is SO tremendously talented and I can't deny they put the best parts of their gifts on display every time they're on camera. I think the best part of this category is that each man or woman on this list seems to be having genuine fun in their role.

Last, but Not Least....The Dream Makers.....

I give this title to those who have shaped this year's best surprises. These talents have found themselves in the best place on the card, to the surprise of many who have been watching the patterns as long as I....

Brooke Adams (Miss Tessmacher)
Daniel Bryan
Austin Aries
Velvet Sky
Mark Henry

While one of these might only be making it onto this list by virtue of accomplishments made before succumbing to injury and possible retirement (Henry) and another by her return (Sky), the rest have made it onto the list by grabbing the top rung on the ladder and, against all odds, holding on for a respectable time. They have won the biggest title in their division and brand and can only punctuate that success by regaining that title to add to their accolades.

Survival Tactix: What's Right.....

Right now, I look at the wrestling battleground, where TNA and WWE face off in an attempt to garner the kind of wrestling fans each brand can be proud to call their own. Some line the camp of WWE and others, like myself, call TNA THEIR brand. And while these lines in the sand disappear and reappear in a kind of tide-like advance/retreat pattern, one thing seems certain....there are a few performers in MY view, that embody what the wrestling business is about. They don't entirely come from TNA's roster some of you might be thinking. These men and women work very hard and train to hone their craft into a sharp precision tool, captivating audiences with every line, every move, every match they find themselves in.

And so, in the spirit of the holidays, with the end of the year fast approaching, I give this to you....these men and women are what's RIGHT with wrestling today. I will be posting my list of the TOP PERFORMERS in TNA and WWE in a fresh blend with no favoritism, being fair to those who do well in their craft DESPITE WWE's restrictions. While TNA has no such restrictions, their own restrictions ONLY fall in the limit of time they can give to any member of their roster with their 2-3 hours of programming per week they have to work with. SO, without any further ado, I give you MY FIRST ROUND of picks.....

Company Men and Women.....

I begin with performers every company LOVES to have on their side. They will do whatever is asked of them AND get a great deal of credit as a result. And to THAT list I submit.....

John Cena
AJ Styles
AJ Lee
Kurt Angle
Gail Kim

It's a good thing to perform for a home and these men and women consider themselves there now. I respect that to a very large degree. A promotion needs representatives who are loyal to their brand and these all fit that bill in spades.


What do I mean? I believe there is a place for those who keep their options open and opt for the company that shows them the most opportunity. These are the players you LOVE to have on your bench and want to keep there as long as you can because they deliver. Among them.....

Jeff Hardy
Velvet Sky
Matt Morgan
Ken Anderson
Brooke Adams (Miss Tessmacher)

I know of no greater compliment to the women on this list than to say that both have worked extremely hard to get their spots and I believe they have earned every minute of every victory this year. When I look at the men on this list, I respect them for being free to explore how they want their careers to move ahead and, with the new year approaching, it makes sense to believe they will find progress as they, too, have worked very hard to get where they are.

Hated Heels.....

The opening promo from Mission: Impossible II echoes in my head. "....a hero is only as good as his villain...". I believe that to be ABSOLUTELY true. And to that list I give you......

CM Punk
Bobby Roode
Austin Aries
Bully Ray

I wish I could name another truly good heel in WWE, I really do, but I give you the best answer to this that I can. WWE is built around the hero. TNA begins with the villain. TNA has built a company around the bad guys. Jarrett, Shane Douglas, Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, even Eric Bischoff. It isn't hard to understand that the best storytelling is done when the audience truly believes the bad guys COULD win out. In TNA, there were YEARS when the bad guys held all the power. In WWE? Not recently, unless you consider CM Punk, who was booked like a heel ever since his return to television after Summer Slam last year.


They always seem to come just shy and then when they win, you cheer them even more. THIS is what's right about wrestling. So my picks.....

James Storm
Rey Mysterio
Wade Barrett

I leave you with these men in mind, because they, in story, put themselves in places where a great many men have failed for lack of patience and perseverance. It takes fortitude to succeed and with a strong will, a drive to conquer their obstacles, and a steady attitude, much will come to fruition.

Friday, December 14, 2012

TNA vs. WWE: One More Time Part 3. Results

For those of you reading these columns, you're probably wondering why I would put so many men and women into matches on this card. Truth be told, the answer is in the middle of the question. I want as many people to get a chance to represent their respective brand and give the most competitive way of determining bragging rights. So, who wins?

Four Man Tornado Tag Elimination Match
Bad Influence vs. Morgan/Ryan vs. Rhodes Scholars vs. Prime Time Players

One of the perks of writing this column is that I decide how I want to book these things, but I want to be fair about it. I've seen every one of these teams perform and they all can really go. SO, we have to set a couple of guidelines. WHICH MEANS we'll have to split the rules here and allow blood, BUT we will enforce countouts. Under THOSE rules, I happen to see Rhodes Scholars and Bad Influence as the final two teams with Daniels and Kazarian taking the final win.

Ultimate X
CM Punk vs. RVD vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jesse Sorenson vs. Evan Bourne vs. Kenny King

This match is one of my personal dream matches due to the caliber of every performer. I truly would have to toss a coin to determine who I would want to take this win home. My picks are CM Punk or Jesse Sorenson.

Survivor Series Women's Match
Tamina Snuka, Kaitlyn, Natalya, Eve Torres, and AJ Lee  VS.
Velvet Sky, ODB, Sarita, Taeler Hendrix, and Madison Rayne

With the completely varied styles represented, it becomes difficult to even choose, but if I were to match ODB with Kaitlyn, AJ Lee with Madison Rayne, Sarita with Natalya, Taeler Hendrix with Eve, and Velvet Sky with Tamina, I have to pick ODB as the Sole Survivor with Tamina as the final WWE Diva eliminated.

Legends Tag Match
Sting and Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker

Those of you who have read much of my column know that my opinion of The Undertaker is rather low these days with him only performing one day per year, BUT that not withstanding, I will assume the Deadman is at his peak (whatever that is these days) performance and that HBK has no ring rust since retiring. If I had MY way, this would end in a draw. Why? Truth be told, I believe these 4 legends are as good as we can hope to see in the foreseeable future as all around storytellers in the ring AND each can hold their own leading up to whatever match they find themselves in. In my gut, though, I believe that conditioning would have to win out here and I would pick Sting and Angle to win out in the end.

Fatal Four Way
Christian vs. Samoa Joe vs. Antonio Cesaro vs. Devon

Two Attitude Era Superstars and two former ROH champions. I happen to LOVE the possibilities this match could create as NONE of these guys are slouches in the ring. With a bunch of high impact moves, fast paced action mixed with a good old fashioned brawl, I'd pick Christian to stand tall after all is said and done.

6 Man Scramble
Cena vs. Hardy vs. Storm vs. Ryback vs. Ziggler vs. Roode

Nothing would make me happier if Cena lost this match before the match started, BUT since I can't discount him outright, I must consider a few factors. Brawling ability, match type, impact ability, ring tactics, and talent. With that said, only two move to the front in my eyes, Bobby Roode and John Cena, leaving me to put the best balance of these factors as the tie breaker, leaving Bobby Roode standing alone as the victor.

I feel this match deserves a bit more explanation as to how I arrived at my pick. I've watched HOURS of Cena matches first run and in his early years in WWE, he was quite a decent showman. I've also watched TONS of footage on every front of the others on the list and the best heel and the most dominant face HAD to rise to the top. Ryback is still too green, Storm isn't as strong of a face OR heel as Roode. Even Jeff Hardy, as much as I am a fan, he still doesn't have the following as a face OR heel as either Roode OR Cena respectively. All that said, it HAD to come down to face vs. heel to me and Bobby Roode is a much more talented heel than Cena is a face. Simple as that.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Survival Tactix: TNA vs. WWE: One More Time Part 2

So we've got Flyers, Tag Teams, and Women represented; now we need to carve out a couple of things, the first of which is something I'd like more than ANYTHING, the special attraction. SO without any further ado, I propose a Legends Tag Team Match-up.

Sting and Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker

This match is for SO many reasons, not the least of which being the two older veterans. Undertaker and Sting will need SOMETHING to cover the fact that neither are in their prime anymore. And even though Sting is, BY FAR, the more spry of the two and wrestles his schedule accordingly, I would argue even he could use the more agile and fresh mat tactics of Angle in his corner to help hide any shortcomings that may have accumulated over the years. Likewise, Michaels can STILL wrestle circles around most athletes HALF his age and this kind of match would give The Undertaker to still be featured in a prominent match AND look like a million bucks with pacing more to his style.

Follow THAT up with a TV/Intercontinental/ United States Title Division Match.

Antonio Cesaro vs. Samoa Joe vs. Devon vs. Christian

This match is due to the standings in TNA for the TV Title AND since Kofi Kingston is in another match AND because Christian will be returning to TV shortly anyway, I figured this would be the best blend of all talents that could represent either brand.

A World Title shuffle is something I REALLY want to see here with another big bout, this time involving 6.

John Cena vs. Jeff Hardy vs. James Storm vs. Bobby Roode vs. Ryback vs. Dolph Ziggler

No explanations are needed here.

And last, but not least....the mismatch of the decade......The Shield vs. Aces and Eights.

Since I won't be going into any depth in later columns to cover this, I just want to say that it was nice knowing The Shield could show up for a bludgeoning of such a colossal magnitude and, even though they would put up a decent fight to begin with, the sheer numbers behind the Aces and Eights faction would see The Shield dismantled in such a way that could not be done justice on free TV. Don't misunderstand my match here as a reflection of how well The Shield operates, my point in making this match has little to do with function and more to do with how successful each faction can be as a unit. The Aces and Eights held nearly an entire roster at bay while a dedicated few maimed Austin Aries on live television....can The Shield say the same? The element of surprise means little if the stable is too small to defend itself against a small army.  The defense rests, your Honor.