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.