Friday, March 30, 2012

Round 2: Current events....

There is a question in my mind that keeps floating around in my mind....how do I say something in this forum that I haven't already said and still maintain the integrity of this column? Do I talk about the road schedules that wear and tear on the bodies of the WWE Superstars vs. the far easier schedule TNA's roster enjoys? How about a division comparison? Do I talk about Vince McMahon's move ban list? The point I'm making here is that I have covered A LOT of ground as to my disappointment in the PG canned format that has made it difficult in virtually every facet to move into new territory without it feeling like something is missing in the way of intensity.

With a depleted bench and the top tier working hurt, WWE's list of the walking wounded is long and after Wrestlemania in 2 days, the list is sure to be even more sizeable. In fact, it only seems fitting to remerge the rosters for Raw and Smackdown just to make a complete product. What completely baffles me, however, is that even now, there are guys who rarely even get a chance to compete on television to help take up the slack left by those stepping away to heal.

This is my biggest problem with WWE, folks. There is only room at the top for, at most, 6 men at a time in all of the product. You have your basic three on Raw in Cena, Del Rio, and CM Punk. On Smackdown, there is Daniel Bryan, Big Show, and now Sheamus, who has replaced Mark Henry as their golden boy. Seriously, people....look at TNA right now. There is Roode, Storm, Ray, Jeff Hardy, and the promise of Crimson, Morgan, and Aries in the coming months, provided that Aries renews once his contract has expired.

I wouldn't even want to discuss a Women's Division comparison as WWE's is dead. TNA devotes a great deal of time to the Knockouts Division for storyline and character development. WWE can't even begin to compete on their level.

High flyers? WWE has them very often grounded while TNA's X Division continues to shine at each PPV and on television in nitrous boost matches. While I would ask for a bit more from week to week, PPV matches often go for nearly 10 minutes with little downtime. WWE's resthold laden undercard is boring and underdeveloped with Superstars like Santino, who has no business holding the championship he currently wears, horribly representing their respective divisions.

While WWE's Tag Team Division flounders and the titles can go for months without being defended, TNA's Tag Team Division is experiencing a resurgence with the return of Mexican America and the Motor City Machine Guns, who will be returning this coming Thursday night. The current alliances of Anderson and Styles along with Daniels and Kaz would make fine additions to the Tag Team Divisions, while WWE is still trying to scrape together one team in Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel to fill the Wrestlemania PRE SHOW!!! Seriously, if this doesn't tell you how much they think of their own Tag Team Division by NOT including them in the actual event, I have no idea what will convince you.

My long list of grievances I have simply narrowed to what we can see from week to week. I don't even include the number of insults and intentional humiliations thrown; from repeatedly teasing Lillian Garcia for misstating the name of the US Champion to the hypocrisy-laden Anti-Bullying campaign launched by WWE in recent months. I crossed the line to step away from Vince and his cronies watering down their product to be ingested by children. I wanted to see a more gritty product, designed for those fans who have a more refined love of the craft. I crossed the line, because at the end of the day, wrestling matters to me.

Facts.....

For reasons complete unknown to me, I have been pushed into yet another debate of wills between those on the WWE side and those on the TNA side of the fences. While my position is clear in over 300 columns' worth of material to bring in the momentum, some feel compelled to push WWE. I can understand and I can appreciate the zeal. I will ask that you at least try to remember who it is you're rooting for in the battle.

To those who say that men like Sting will never be in the WWE Hall of Fame because they never worked for Vince or the establishment that is WWE or was WWF or was WWWF before that, I bring attention the following men:

Ernie Ladd
Gordon Solie
Antonio Inoki
Gorgeous George
"Bullet" Bob Armstrong
The Four Horsemen

I would like to point out that NONE of these men OR stables appeared in WWE or ANY of the incarnations owned by Vince McMahon. A side note: WCW should NOT be included as a part of the WWE Universe as NONE of the inductees here ever appeared in ANY way on a television program produced by Vince McMahon as performers. That having been said, there are only 79 inductees in the entirety of the WWE Hall of Fame, some of which have been snubbed, for reasons only Vince and those close to him are aware.

Next on tap, the argument that had Kevin Nash and Booker T not returned from TNA they would have no place in the WWE Hall of Fame.....really?! Booker T's partnership in Harlem Heat alone would qualify him for such honors. His 5 Times (no, I won't do the whole schtick) holding the WCW Championship wouldn't hurt either, nor his WWE World Heavyweight Championship reigns. Vince would be an IDIOT not to induct Nash, Booker, Goldberg, Hall, Sean Waltman, Savage and the entire list from my previous Hall of Fame column.....but what do I know?

Some of the greatest performers to ever live are missing from the Hall even though they were LOYAL to the WWF name. Jake Roberts was quite possibly one of the best experts in ring psychology ever to compete....yet his name is missing. For Vince to ignore Goldberg, even if he never showed his face in WWE, would be foolish. There are plenty of very vocal fans to attest to that.

As for more Undertaker vs. Sting at Wrestlemania chants.....look....the ship has set sail and ISN'T coming back for another pass. Would it make money? Absolutely. But would it be best? Not a chance. There is simply no way to end a match of that magnitude that would satisfy a true wrestling fan. If Sting wins, he breaks the streak and guys like HBK, Triple H, and Kane, who were far more capable performers when they faced him, would look as if they were inferior. To say Sting, even at his prime, was a better performer than Shawn Michaels is laughable. And now, even moreso. If Undertaker wins, he buries a storied career of a WCW icon. Not cool. Why not have Goldberg vs. The Undertaker and watch Taker get his fan-rude, non selling, underworked, overpaid self get his rear end handed to him....or better yet, why not Brock Lesnar?

The reasons for why not are far more plentiful than those in favor. Simple as that. Should Sting be inducted? If Vince has it in his heart to swallow his pride and induct someone who won't be buried or recreated by him.....sure.

I have so much more to say, but I will save my venom for another column to discuss the status quo in the here and now. But suffice it to say, my opinion is just that, an opinion. If you believe WWE to be the lead dog in the pack, I will not try to stop you from believing it, but in my mind, the young and hungry of the roster in TNA is the superior one. We'll get into that next time.....


Extensions and the Medalist....

If there was any doubt about TNA and Sting maintaining relations, I've just been given an update that he has extended his contract with them. The question remaining now, is how long the contract extension is set to last. I have confidences that the extension will last at least until next year's Bound for Glory, but the details will reveal themselves as the time gets closer to his initial contract end date.

On another note, Kurt Angle has suffered a hamstring injury that may sideline him from competing at this years' Olympic trials and, in turn, the games themselves. He holds that it's simply a tear, but an MRI scheduled today will reveal what manner of injury we're looking at. This will also determine exactly if and how he will be replaced in the match against Jeff Hardy at Lockdown.

Lastly, the Motor City Machine Guns were initially going to be facing Joe and Magnus for the Tag Team Titles, but since the face turn of the champions, plans have been revised. Now, their return is being altered...but again, time will tell the story. All will welcome the Guns, but the decision of how they will return is still up in the air. If it were me booking, I would turn the Tag Title match into a triple team dance in the cage, with Mexican America challenging Joe and Magnus and the Guns being the last minute entrants.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fears and Shout Outs.......

I've heard some pretty disturbing rumors concerning the financial state of TNA. I've been hearing that they are paying talents late and the like.....all of that worries me until I look at their website and see the deals and offerings and the expenses that must be cut in order to bring about the merchandise cost they extent to their fans. Think about it, people. If their talents were getting paid late and the strings of the money bag were so tight, how do you explain the travel outside of the Impact Zone? What about the deep discounts on merchandise? Maybe you can tell me about the production value improvements made in the last couple of years or the contracts of their top stars.

The point is....even if some of the backing is coming from outside sources, TNA is offering far too much to their fans to make me believe the problems are financial. If anything, TNA is gaining ground. Choosing host cities is expensive. Setting things up in a new venue is expensive. So I would disregard the rumor until there is sustainable evidence to support it, which as of yet, there isn't.

Now, I have a couple of shout outs......

To the guys and gals coming from Facebook, in particular the Sting (TNA) fan site, the discussions on the walls of that place are good. Some of my best work here comes from inspirations I get there.

To everyone else, thanks for coming....it's tough to do this daily, but for everyone new who comes in and wants to get another perspective about TNA and WWE other than what most of the critics say, I like to think this is something new. So pass it along and throw out questions and comments....I welcome it all.

Thanks again......Tactix


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Unholstered.....

Dixie Carter tweeted this message just today......

"334 days later, I just received Chris Sabin's medical clearance to return to the ring. Very excited! MMG fans stay tuned!"

With 2 weeks left to Lockdown, you can bet there will be one appearance to silence every other.....The Motor City Machine Guns. Now exactly what form the return will take? That is a question best left until the event, which I might add, is also appearing in theaters across the land.

As was the case with Bound for Glory last year, Lockdown will be shown in theaters and viewers who go to see the show and send a photocopy of their ticket stubs to TNA will be sent a free Lockdown T-shirt. Be sure to send the photocopy along with the size you request to the address. When the date comes, I'll be sure to include that address here.

The Hall of Fame.....

The WWE Hall of Fame yearly makes their point of putting some of the best performers deserving of recognition on display. HOWEVER, in spite of having a vast number already inducted, the number of glaring and obvious omissions is staggering. Care to have a look?

Randy Savage
Owen Hart
Jake Roberts
Sting
One Man Gang
Dean Malenko
Rick Rude
Lita
Trish Stratus
Alaundra Blaze
Luna Vachon
Kevin Nash
Scott Hall
Bruno Sammartino
The Honky Tonk Man

The list is far longer, but my attentions go right away to the top 3 names. I'll never understand why the presentation of honors to the celebrity guests like Drew Carey and Pete Rose receive their screen time ahead of men like Randy Savage, Owen Hart, or Jake Roberts. Some of the inductees seem more like recognitions of Vince's drinking buddies more than those that have a legitimate claim to fame.

I'm not trying to say that those honored thusfar have no claim whatsoever, but I AM trying to say that those those honored as celebrities do NOT deserve the montages or the inductions by superstars taking time from men and women who have paved the way for other performers in the business. Drew Carey, Pete Rose, and Jay Leno, if ever inducted, would not deserve the same treatment of his induction as Randy Savage and every celebrity, I have a hunch, would agree with that assessment.

As for group inductions, there are only two groups that I can see deserving of some recognition right now rather than waiting for later.....the nWo and D-Generation X. The tide turning groups established themselves and cemented themselves in the limelight more than any other stables in the past 30 years, not barring the Four Horsemen, who will be inducted this year. The fact of the matter, though, is that the Horsemen's day predates the 90's by quite a few years. For the record, I do NOT believe the revised assemblance of the stable deserves the same recognition, at least not right away.

In any case, I believe that the driving force behind the omissions in the Hall of Fame is largely political, just as the Top 50 Superstars of All Time DVD that was released a few years back now by WWE. I am sorry, but putting men like Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan outside of the top 10 is ridiculous and no one can convince me otherwise.

Make no mistake, the politics involved in the induction process cripple the establishment of some of the men made mention of at the top on that list. I simply don't understand what the problem is, and I'm not the only one.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cells....

Things are beginning to solidify for Lockdown and, I must say, it's going to be quite the show. The main event has been set for nearly a month, but the undercard is just now falling into place. So far, all that is set as of the last set of tapings is....

Bobby Roode vs. James Storm for the Heavyweight Title
Velvet Sky vs. Gail Kim for the Knockouts Title
Crimson vs. Matt Morgan
Jeff Hardy vs. Kurt Angle
Garett vs. Gunner

I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see Austin Aries vs. Bully Ray and a match between AJ Styles, Anderson,  Kazarian, and Daniels to round out the card. The current TV Champion also doesn't have a challenger, which may also be an option.

TNA's PPV run is having a pretty hot streak and, I believe this is going to continue.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Extreme Rules.....

I've decided to take the gloves off today and throw around some names to assemble WWE's and TNA's finest names to compete for bragging rights. The PPV card I've put together is designed to put the best performers against their best opponents.

John Cena vs. Kurt Angle: Iron Man Match......Cena has competed in an Ambulance Match, TLC matches, Last Man Standing Matches and all other kinds of matches, but Angle was MADE for this kind of match. In a situation like this, all stops must be removed.

Kane vs. Abyss: Falls Count Anywhere Hardcore Rules.....This one is out of demented curiosity. Which guy is more sick in the head? Since the PG era has taken over the Red Machine's ability to truly matter against the more hostile Abyss, I felt the need to see just how far down WWE had sunk in the eyes of Kane.

AJ Styles and Daniels vs. Air Boom: Ultimate X.....I am stacking this deck for a reason. I know for fact that WWE isn't doing matches like these, which makes me question why. After all, TNA's finest are not only competing in matches like this, but they are also THRIVING on them. Daniels and AJ are THE guys to take the fight to the big E.

Devon vs. Cody Rhodes : Tables Match......It should be no surprise that this match is here. You've got the Intercontinental Champion vs. the TV Champion. I say we do it up right and tell Devon to get the tables. Guaranteed, Rhodes will know what that means, at least from watching it at home growing up.

Joe and Magnus vs. Epico and Primo: Steel Cage Escape Match......Once again, champion vs. champion. I simply don't believe the WWE has any chance whatsoever of winning out on this one under these conditions. With both size and experience on the side of TNA's finest, the deck is stacked.

Beth Phoenix vs. ODB: Queen of the Cage.....Both of these women are TOUGH. There's no way around it. No card should be complete without seeing a womens match. I just want to put these two chemicals together to see what happens when you shake them up.......

Team Undertaker (CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Santino, and The Undertaker)
vs.
Team Sting (Austin Aries, Bully Ray, Matt Morgan, Bobby Roode, and Sting) : LETHAL LOCKDOWN......
You're probably wondering why Santino is in this match. Simple. I want to see the United States Champion get his rear end whooped. Here's the long and short of things: TNA's roster is filled to the brim with guys who are making their living on putting themselves on the line to benefit their company that spotlights them. Ever since going PG, WWE has lost perspective on what brought them to be the national power that they are. This completely made up PPV card shows that the scales are tilting and that the ones who are winning the day are guys who can deliver the goods in the ring and prove that a superior roster isn't made up of household names who are manufactured by Vince McMahon.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Twitter Wars....

CM Punk started it all, but the battle rages, this time on more even footing. David Otunga, as mentioned a couple of days back, made a comment about Impact's ratings. It had a response....

"If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then I'm flatter than #Impact's ratings.." was the comment that started it all.....

The Greatest Man That Ever Lived; The X Division Champion, Austin Aries himself responded in kind...
"Shocked that @David Otunga took the lime to comment on @ImpactWrestling. I'd think he'd want to become at least a good hand first....#MrJenniferHudson."

If there was a better representative to respond to the comments, Aries was it. Is anyone else excited about all this? I mean, really now. If it all comes to blows, I'm putting my money on guys who actually wrestle instead of simply talking. I say we do an all out company vs. company falls count anywhere hardcore match card or a TRUE Extreme Rules PPV (I'll post the card tomorrow). Let the paramedics pick up the pieces of the PG era. When we put the most hardcore guy in TNA up against the best in WWE, you may as well use a shovel to pick up what's left.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Laughing.....

I'm sure you're wondering about the title of this post. It's simple. A day or two back, David Otunga of WWE tweeted a little snide comment about TNA's ratings. I think this is absolutely laughable. I mean, isn't it funny that WWE will never use TNA's name or references to them on screen? If that's not funny, I think it IS funny that they allow their performers and talents to throw out high brow remarks and little digs at them off screen in their Twitter accounts and Facebook updates. I suppose it goes to show how arrogant the Goliath has become.

TNA has been in talks with WWE about allowing Ric Flair to appear for the Hall of Fame ceremony on Wrestlemania weekend to be inducted as a member of the Four Horsemen stable. It's been said that TNA is asking for very little in return as well, further showcasing their high class in contrast.

In this whole battlefield of wrestling fan building, I'm beginning to think that rather than one single storyline or one "game changing acquisition" or anything else, all TNA needs is time. Right now, they are putting out a heck of a show on a consistent basis. Granted, there are a couple of tweaks that will have to be made, but even hardcore anti-TNA critics are starting to come around and take notice that some very progressive changes have been made to the product since last they gave it a shot. Reviews to that effect have been written and in regular intervals of recent and the audiences of those reviews have been thinking about it.

Now, I understand that thinking about it and actually pulling the trigger and giving TNA another go are two different things, but if and when they do, we'll start to see those spikes (no pun intended) in their ratings that I've been talking about in columns past. TNA isn't ready to try and go back to Mondays; that endeavor will wait until the groundwork has been laid down, but that time will come soon enough. In order for that to work, another show will have to be in place to further round out the product that Impact Wrestling presents each week. Take my word for it, TNA isn't done yet, but when they are ready to go toe-to-toe with Goliath, they will be laughing their way to the bank.

The Un-Bourne

According to WWE sources, Evan Bourne, who was set to make his his return to action after serving 60 days' suspension for his second violation of the wellness policy, has had an unfortunate setback. In a twist of circumstance, he managed to break his foot in four places and fracture it in five. Details concerning the incident causing the injury weren't given, but it can be rest assured, he'll be out of action for quite some time. So....what exactly does this do to the WWE roster? Well, first, it destroys any chance of an Air Boom reunion.

The residual damages to the roster deal with the load that must be carried by the high flyers like Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, and Justin Gabriel in his absence. These guys could be utilized to take up that slack, or WWE may simply move away from using them altogether. Meaning that upon his return, he'll have to learn a new way to perform, or be released from employment. This, of course, leaves 2 options.....indies, or one of the two companies that DO use that kind of talent; Ring of Honor or TNA.

My distain for the Tag Team Division in WWE is well known, and this puts further distance between them and any thoughts that a successful division for them is possible. Maybe I'm being a bit dramatic about one guy, but all things being equal, having a tag team tactician like Bourne freed up R-Truth to have taken on another partner to replace Miz, making more than simply one pairing of decent performers to carry the division.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Running Red......

I've got two things to talk about today. First up, Crimson. After seeing Impact, it's clear to me that TNA has an ace up their sleeves in Crimson. He can actually cut a decent enough promo. I will grant that he's still a bit green, but his calm demeanor and arrogant persona worked well and, up until the beatdown by Morgan, his promo was much more polished, which I can only assume comes with practice and training with one of the greats in the backroom. You will find few companies with a better lineup of teachers than TNA. Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, Sting, Al Snow, Austin Aries, Ken Anderson.....and though some of the names don't seem like legends at face value, they've each got a library of footage to claim as their own to back up their legacy.

Yes, Crimson's in-ring work is still a bit unpolished, but Matt Morgan is one of the best big men in the past 20 years. And on that note, Matt Morgan is the last subject of the day. He's quick, able to carry a match, and can do what's necessary to make his opponent look like a million bucks. TNA made the right choice to mentor and help mold the undefeated one. Having said all of that, I will say that TNA still owes Morgan from last year's Bound for Glory Series. Before injuries sidelined him, Morgan was the top brass favorite to face Angle for the title at the biggest PPV event in TNA. Keeping that in mind would serve them well and a revenge win to break the Streak would be the thing that puts Matt Morgan on the right path.

Now, both men need a win at Lockdown, if they are indeed destined to face-off, but if a distraction for Crimson can be found, Morgan could very well resume his quest unhindered for the World Title. And if he's successful, TNA could put him in a position where he could once more resume his rivalry with a bigger prize on the line. I like the idea of Streak vs. Title at Bound for Glory. The drama of a former partner being the one to snap the streak sets up a beautiful rivalry and, if TNA is able to play their cards properly, Crimson will still be able to walk away from such a feud with his credibility as a dangerous competitor intact.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Timeframe....

Historically, TNA has used the time between Slammiversary and Bound for Glory to introduce acquisitions and innovations and I believe this year is no different.  Last year's innovation was, in my mind, groundbreaking with the Bound for Glory series. I will grant that there were some bugs in the system employed at the time, but I think the foundation for the summer long tourney is sound. If TNA decided to employ the tournament once again this year, it would sweep the playing field once more and reintegrate the top tier. That's good for business, giving the young guns a chance to catch a break.

As for who is coming; what debuts are in the works...I've had people ask and I'm still sticking to my guns. I'm going to hold my cards and let you guys find out closer to their debuts. This is one of those things that makes being a TNA fan so much fun....not knowing who is coming next.

I do know that Crimson and Morgan's little spat from Victory Road has sent them into rivalry, which I think, can only mean good things. Another part to the story will make a good match at Lockdown, provided the pair are going to face one another, but since a Team Lethal Lockdown match changes the landscape, I suppose withholding judgement on it would be wise. Nevertheless, Crimson's first loss is something that will make someone a major player. I only hope TNA won't use that loss as a rupture, allowing more people to get wins where there isn't reason. Joe's streak was every bit as impressive and he was up against far more formidable opponents. Where TNA failed was to keep Joe's character's integrity and not allow Kurt Angle's win to dictate terms. If Crimson's first loss has a similar effect, it will cripple his credibility and make him a jobber in no time flat. Think about it, TNA.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Stepping up.....

There is talk going around that the plan for RVD in the coming months is a feud against the current X Division Champion, Austin Aries. I think a high profile player like RVD would be just what Aries and the X Division needs to bring both into the upper visible echelons of the company. The fact that in the coming weeks, he's going to be competing as a tweener character makes me believe that he's going to be TNA's next great project to bring to the dance. I can see him either vacating the title in favor of the Heavyweight Title or losing the X Title once he's won the big belt.

Both contracts are up in the coming month or two, which means TNA needs to act fast to renew or they'll risk losing a pair of truly great talents who are very over with fans. The climate of storylines in TNA has stepped up in intensity, which is what Lockdown is all about and I can see some solid match of the year candidates shaping up. I won't spoil it for you all, but trust me, there is some good stuff on the way.

If you're wondering why I spoiled news of the Tag Team Division and not some of the best matches coming for Lockdown I have an answer for that as well. The Tag Team Division has been in a bit of disarray for a few months now, though the storylines have been enough to cover some of the missing pieces. Instead of simply giving you all assurances that things would get better, evidence seemed more appropriate.

Interesting.....

Something interesting caught my eye this morning. I've heard one unfounded claim that Sting might be WWE-bound. This is interesting as there have been no talks, no rumors, no anything to confirm this. While some would consider this a welcome morsel of news, I look at it for what it is, false. My thoughts have been crystal clear about Sting going to WWE, particularly in their current state. If there was ever a time to go north, now is not that time. That time passed a long while ago. Wrestlemania 19 would have been the best year as The Undertaker was in a Tag Team bout and a Sting confrontation would have stacked the card to the rafters. It probably would have gone down as the biggest Wrestlemania on record. If you were to look at the card from that year, the card looked like this.....

Rey Mysterio vs. Matt Hardy for the Cruiserweight Title
The Undertaker and Nathan Jones vs. Big Show and A-Train
Jazz vs. Trish Stratus vs. Victoria for the Women's Championship
Los Guerreros vs. The World's Greatest Tag Team vs. Chris Benoit/Rhyno for the WWE Tag Team Titles
Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels
Booker T vs. Triple H for the World Heavyweight Title
Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon
The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship

Someone try to tell me that Sting as The Undertaker's opponent wouldn't have made the card the single most perfect card ever to exist, I dare you. It would have made the blend of WCW vs. WWE guys the most amazing showdown to ever exist. As it stood, the event was amazing. It's one of my favorite Wrestlemanias with probably the best card on paper. Legends, icons, and history makers alike filled the night and WWE has never seen those heights since.

Then, however, is not now and Sting's place is in TNA, even if a break is on the horizon for the icon. I will say this, though, Sting's contract isn't up until after Bound for Glory and even then, the prospects of him going north are slim and none.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reunions.....

As promised, I have news of the Tag Team Division. Magnus and Joe have a match this Thursday against a team not seen since Final Resolution. Mexican America reunites to challenge for the belts. With the Motor City Machine Guns looming on the horizon, it's appearing that more teams are on the docket to emerge. While the brass in TNA management are keeping silent about who else is coming, you can be sure that things are coming that will pleasantly surprise the avid TNA fan.

Mexican America, Magnus and Joe, the Guns, and possibly two more teams for a division that once seemed without direction. However, TNA is good at playing the game with the cards that are dealt and this is an example of just that. With more teams now in a division that has most always been of higher caliber than WWE in recent years, the tides turn.

To further add to the mix, characters like Kid Kash, Anthony Nese, Rosita, and Sarita, who had been moreorless sidelined tending an place in storylines affecting their respective divisions, all come back into the limelight this Thursday. Back on the 28th of last month, I predicted the Latina Knockouts back in action, as well as Super Mex and Anarquia and Kid Kash......trust me, peeps......I'll keep you in the loop, just like always.

Momentum.....

Kevin Nash answered some questions this week concerning his position in the world of wrestling. Among them was his opinion on what TNA needs to be able to compete more completely with WWE. He said what Hogan said back in the day.....a game changer. What he meant was a former WWE marquis player with vast name recognition. The moment I read it, I wanted to jump through whatever device Nash was using and beat him about the head and shoulders. With all due respect, that is NOT what TNA needs.....not at all. What TNA needs is for the people who haven't been watching wrestling since Austin and The Rock's time to tune into Impact on Thursday nights. Here's the truth of the matter.....the WWE fans who are exclusive to the product will throw out all kinds of gripes about TNA, whether it's that they have all of the old performers or they have too many guys they don't recognize, or whatever is the complaint of the day, but what it comes down to is that they're comfortable where they are. Plain and simple. There's nothing wrong with that, but those are also not the brand of people TNA needs to target anymore.

You know what TNA needs? Momentum. That's right. They need just one week where they break out some huge numbers and are able to use that to move forward. That kind of fanfare would allow them to move ahead with expanding their borders. Once they have made some fans out of the Attitude Era veteran fans, they will be able to leave the Impact Zone of Orlando behind and truly utilize the road. My advice for TNA concerning that, however, is for them to continue doing tapings in 2-3 week intervals so that the talents can use the down time to rest their bodies. Playing things safely has always made TNA a better company than WWE in terms of the schedule. This is the way to do it. WWE is not WCW and Vince McMahon is not Eric Bischoff and the revelation of show results aren't in Vince's bag of tricks, they never were.

I have some WWE news that I found interesting. Shane Douglas, the Franchise, crashed RAW this Monday night in a mask when he appeared in the crowd during the Kane/Big Show match. His intent was to cause an ECW chant. The funny part of this is that not only did it not work, but most of the people in attendance in the area he was in had no clue who he was even after removing the mask and exposing his t shirt. He was escorted out unceremoniously.

This is the state of WWE, people. No one knows who these guys who helped the industry are. They have no clue who Kevin Nash is, or Shane Douglas, Sabu, Road Dogg (how many people in the audience popped at the Rumble?)......the point is the crowd is too young. They need a montage or a vignette showing some back history in order to explain. But then that was the goal of WWE in the first place with the PG format. Can someone over at WWE tell me why you would feature guys from the Attitude Era who were mid-card players on RAW or Smackdown when your audience is too young to know who they are?

In the next column I've got some spoilers about the Tag Team Division, but for now, I'll leave this column with a thought.....TNA is building for Lockdown, this much we know, but there are people waiting in the shadows to make their returns and debuts in the coming months. Stay tuned. Devon isn't the only surprise.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Taking Notice.....

From reports I've heard, Impact is shaping up to be a pretty big deal. With the possible return of Rob Van Dam, three title bouts, and the fallout from the main event of Victory Road, people are beginning to talk, which can only mean good things for the product. As I mentioned in the previous post of the day, TNA sold the PPV for all it was worth and the story development is running almost perfectly. Officials are hoping this will be the biggest year for TNA as their anniversary announcement of Dallas, TX is the host city for Slammiversary.

I'll be honest, I was expecting a city in the Midwest or the West Coast, but Dallas is a great choice. It's a hub for airlines, a hotspot for football, and wrestling fans are ALWAYS hyped to see decent performances, which TNA has in spades these days. Being able to draws fans to the Lone Star State is something for TNA that remains to be seen, but I'm confident that if the supporters of the product will throw in their lot, TNA will make their mark and make it big. Is it a coincidence that TNA comes to celebrate their 10th Year running in the city WWE wished to make their Wrestlemania venue for next year? Doubtful. But is it poetic? You'd better believe it.

The Fruits of Success......

After every TNA PPV I always go to a site to check the fan reactions. Even if I thought the PPV was great, I still get a bit edgy when I'm about to click on the button to show some of the fan reactions, and today was no different. HOWEVER, this was a GREAT day. It's truly a wonder sometimes just how polar opposite some fans can be. That notwithstanding, fan support was overwhelmingly on the side of the TNA Nation, with a thunderous applause for Victory Road.

As for how I did with predicting the winners?

50/50. In truth, I think that's telling. It shows me that TNA is trying to keep people guessing. It worked against me. I picked Sting, but Roode took the day and bolstered some SERIOUS heel heat in the process by getting Dixie involved. I picked Madison Rayne, but Gail had an ace up her sleeve and took the win from Maddie. I picked Zema Ion, but the reign of Aries continues. I've only got one thing to say, Aries' next challenger should be something VERY special. On a side note: I never did pick a winner for the open challenge from Robbie E. so a win or a loss needn't be tallied. In any event, a big congrats to Devon for the victory to become the NEW TV CHAMPION! It's about time!

In every case of loss, it made me question what the story is going to be for Impact this week. The setup was terrific for Lockdown in 4 weeks and TNA Creative deserves a great deal of credit for putting heel Roode over the top. I will take this chance to brag a bit about my prediction of the Machine Guns' return being imminent in the coming month or so. Okay, that was it. It'll be nice to see how the Guns return will step up the Tag Team Division. Maybe other teams will materialize.

Victory Road did everything I anticipated it would do and was more entertaining than I could have expected as well. With all of the targets lined up in a row, TNA just has to pull the trigger. One person on the site I checked even went so far as to say that 2012 is TNA's year.....I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Surprise.....

In a strange little twist of events, WWE has decided to toss in a couple of matches to add into the card. In the course of a few days, they've added Kane vs. Randy Orton and Maria Menounos and Kelly Kelly vs. Eve and Beth Phoenix. I hope you'll forgive my lack of enthusiasm. The most recent victim of Super Cena, Kane has been relegated to job to a returning Randy Orton, who needs very little to build momentum. I hate to say it, but Kane's comeback has become one of the biggest letdowns in my recollection. For all the segments involving Kane beating someone up, in the main event, he becomes the victim nearly every time and for that, we can thank the all wise members of WWE Creative.

Why is it that WWE seems so insistent on making a Divas match that no one truly will invest in? At least with Trish Stratus, as much as I'm not a fan, people will mark out at seeing her return to the squared circle for another match. Now, what I CAN see happening is a returning Kharma creating a Wrestlemania moment by going to work on the champion after the match bell has rung, but for the setup, this is really something that leaves much to be desired. WWE is better than this, people. You and I have seen so much better from the mind of Vince K. McMahon even from the Diva's Division.

This makes 8 matches. In an earlier column, I made a rookie mistake in thinking Wrestlemania was only a 3 hour long show, when it's 4, but even then, there is little time to make any sort of lasting difference when you consider all of the things WWE HAS to add to the show....

-Hall of Fame inductees
-Star Spangled Banner
-Ring Entrances (making sure to take their time in the main event matches)
-Vignettes
-Promos
-Backstage segments
-Post event music video

Add all of that into the 2 hours plus involving the 4 headliner matches and that makes a great deal of filler and fluff, more than any other Wrestlemania in my recollection. It truly hurts me to see what the yearly event has become because I was a fan for the long haul, or at least so I thought. The mighty goliath has been brought to the level of the children they now cater to and only a David, who caters to the adult fans, can manage to bring a battle to fruition.

The Beauty of Competition.....

Over the course of the time I've been writing, whether it's been for a Facebook fan page or here, one thing is inevitable....there is always one WWE fan who will say that TNA has no business competing with the number 1 "sports entertainment" company worldwide. I have no respect or patience for that opinion. In my view, it's selfish, short-sighted, and has very little to do with the well being of the pastime we all love, professional wrestling.

WWE would not exist as it is today without WCW and ECW. Guys like John Cena and Randy Orton, Edge, and the rest in the top tier would never have gotten the chance to prove themselves had WWF not needed the fresh faces to put up against their competition and The Rock, Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Triple H, and the top tier of the Attitude Era would never have seen the light of day had WCW not forced the hands of WWF Creative at the time.

The point is, competition is good for everyone: fans, wrestlers, writers, and executives alike all benefit from the success one company can capitalize on from competition with another company. The idea here is not that Bobby Roode or James Storm or even AJ Styles to be recognized by the WWE Universe as people they need to respect as top tier performers. I could care less what WWE thinks of TNA's roster, to be blunt. The idea is that there is always someplace to go to ply your trade. If WWE doesn't want what you have to offer, maybe TNA will or vice versa.

WWE has the name recognition and hype that comes from the Attitude Era victor, while TNA has a roster deep enough to put on a show worthy of mention and their utilization of talent in the undercard is almost unrivaled. The specialty divisions give women and undercard men a chance to showcase their skill set and make the company shine. The positives of dividing audiences and doing battle is something that is necessary to poke and prod WWE's complacent creative team into doing something more than kid faire FAR outweigh the negatives and TNA would do well to remember that this set of skirmishes are all leading to one place.....war. War brought popularity to WCW AND WWF in the mid-90's and into 2000 and I daresay that this decade would bring out some very interesting matchups if it all came to blows.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Here, Take a Card.....

When it was announced that Sting was going to face Bobby Roode No Holds Barred, but not for the title, I began to have this feeling that there was something in his bag of tricks to be played and this was the best way to go about it. I still believe there is something afoot, but I have a more solid idea what that something is.....Sting has an ally lying in wait. Now, this is a hunch, judging by the pattern in the setup, so don't take it as gospel just yet, but there is something familiar about the setup.

I want to give my picks each month for the winners of each PPV. Seems like every columnist online does it and they seem to go over well enough. SO, to follow suit, this is just that column.......

Sting vs. Bobby Roode: No Holds Barred......I've made my predictions clear as to the what might happen, but as for who will win the day, I have to go with Sting for the sheer X Factor.

Crimson/ Morgan vs. Magnus/Joe: Tag Team Title......I love the four guys in this match and they all have a decent mesh amongst their respective team. While I can definitely see the merit behind keeping Morgan and Crimson together, I am going to go with Joe and Magnus for the two in a row retain with Crimson and Morgan ready to move on to other things.

Zema Ion vs. Austin Aries: X Division Title.......Austin Aries has a great thing going, but I believe he's ready to move up the card. That being said, a loss for Aries is something both guys could benefit from in the long run. Zema becomes the man who defeated the longest reigning champion in TNA history and Aries moves into something new. I hope his new venture includes the TV Title in his cabinet of accolades.

Madison Rayne vs. Gail Kim: Knockouts Title......This has been a good story from the beginning. I am glad to see Madison back in the hunt. Fact of the matter is that I hope she takes it. In fact, I'll go with that for the psyche out factor. I think she'll catch Gail off guard by scouting her offense and breaking down her defense. I think it's time to change the landscape a bit in the division by switching up the challengers and champion as well.

Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Hardy.....While I have no idea how long this feud is scheduled to last, I can safely say that this will be a match of the night contender if there is sufficient time to be had for it. Since a couple of the high profile matches on the card like this one, have this theme of a possible X Factor, I'm going to go with Kurt Angle on those grounds.

Bully Ray vs. James Storm......I think this one will be an upset. Bully Ray is on a roll right now and with that being said, it makes much more sense to put him as close to the belt as he can be once the match is over. I go with Ray because in that, I am betting on him becoming the next contender to face the champion of Lockdown, whoever that may be.

AJ Styles and Mr. Anderson vs. Kazarian and Daniels.......The heels have had the edge on Impact the past few weeks, so I'm going to side with the faces as my pick on simple revenge. I'm curious as to what the problem is with the relationship between Daniels, Kazarian, and Styles and I think the only way to further this is to move it forward with a face victory.

Robbie E. is issuing an open challenge, which means one of two things.....I will give my picks for each.

A. a possible debut (Chris Masters)
or
B. a brand new challenger (Doug Williams)

Since Williams hasn't been on TV for a while, I think he would be a solid candidate to compete for the big belt. Furthermore, his ring presence and tactics make it possible for him to steal a victory and the title. A debut is something that has this organic feeling. An open challenge is the single easiest way to bring in someone new. WWE has been employing it for years as a way to bring in new talents AND to bring back talents who have been injured that are making their return. Chris Masters has gone to the internet to garner support and I have the suspicion he may be the debut TNA could use to elevate the title.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Victory Road to Lockdown......

I, for one, love how TNA is flowing the two PPVs together so seamlessly. You've already got one match lined up. Now, exactly how the champion will look once he arrives will make the match that much more special, but my bets are on him still looking like a champion, even after the lights of Victory Road are gone. I've just got this feeling that there is more than meets the eye to the Sting vs. Bobby Roode match coming up. Both have an ace to play, but only one is an ace in the hole.

I've already done some talking about a possible team battle that may be materializing, but there are other matches that could take place on the card..... how about Velvet Sky vs. Gail Kim vs. Madison Rayne for the Knockouts Title? Since Velvet Sky was the legitimate last competitor to face Gail Kim in the Battle Royal before Rayne decided to get herself into the mix, it seems like that may be enough reason to expand the match to include Sky. What will really be interesting to see is how the undercard develops. Where does the Tag Team Division go into the PPV? Will the challenger for the TV Title overwhelm Robbie E.? Will Eric Young and ODB be defending their belts at Lockdown? So many questions and the coming weeks promise to have at least a few answers.

Kazarian and Daniels are hold onto something that makes this whole feud tick, but they aren't saying what just yet. I'm enjoying seeing Anderson back off the bench. His year has been very short and, I believe this is the way to go about bringing him back into a decent feud that is really picking up steam. I hear critics of this feud all the time complaining that Daniels and AJ have had a million matches over one thing or another. This is true, but what about Kane and The Undertaker? Their rivalry has lasted on and off for over a decade. How about Shawn Michaels and HHH? Their feud that began in 2002 didn't end for nearly 2 years. Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock have had a rivalry that lasted through the entire Attitude Era. All I'm saying is to put this all into perspective.

I would like to know where the Bischoff feud is ultimately headed. I know, the haters of this feud are many and varied, but in the end, I would like to know what it was all for. Will Garrett move into a brand new feud or will he simply fade into the background? What about Eric? If Garrett does ultimately win, does he stick around or does he fade? All I am looking for, right now, is the endgame, so we can see things finally move on.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

TNA's Contrast.....

With Wrestlemania getting so much hype, I'm sure it must seem like TNA has to pull out every stop they've got just to compete. I would argue that all they need to do is continue putting out a consistently good show each week, just like they're doing. Why? Because of the post-Mania drought between April and August. Once SummerSlam come into view, WWE tries to compensate for the loss in interest by putting together a good card for their big PPV for the quarter. It has gone this way for nearly a decade, and I see only a negative change on the winds for this years' climate.

TNA has a great setup going into the Wrestlemania season, with young names atop the card and a list of decent feuds going into Lockdown. When the smoke clears at Lockdown, we may see new champion, ending a very respectable run for Bobby Roode at nearly 5 months.

As time marches on, I am fairly certain that an anti-Sting faction will emerge to challenge in the Lethal Lockdown match. On the surface, we have Austin Aries, Bully Ray, and Bobby Roode, but I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Crimson or Morgan goes into the event as a part of the faction, depending upon who makes a heel turn. I know that Roode is already spoken for in a championship match, so he is out. Here's my guess as to the teams for this year's Lethal Lockdown match.....

Team Sting.....Jeff Hardy, The Motor City Machine Guns, Crimson or Morgan, and a brand new debut....John Morrison.

Team anti-Sting....Kurt Angle, Joe and Magnus, Morgan or Crimson, and Austin Aries

This is my best possible scenario for not including Bully Ray in this feud, I am guessing he'll have his hands busy with another feud, yet to be revealed. My preference would be someone like Chris Masters, since Ray has been bragging about having a physique to be proud of. Since Chris Masters has been trying to rally support from his fans to bring him into the TNA fold, I suggest they begin the process by putting together his vignettes in anticipation.

Additionally, this PPV would be the BEST time to make another big debut for the company by signing Morrison. His name recognition alone would garner some confidence in the product, particularly if he's able to make waves in the X Division right away. His name, along with Zema Ion, Austin Aries and a possible return of Doug Williams to the division would make it the division to watch, even making it a possible main event contender for PPVs to come.

Putting AJ Styles, Kazarian, Daniels, and Anderson into the Tag Team Division right now is the BEST thing TNA could possibly do right now. The match up is great, the chemistry is good enough to make the teams last AT LEAST until the return of Chris Sabin, who according to officials in the past week (as predicted, I might add) is only a month or two out from making his return as a part of the Machine Guns with Alex Shelley.

But in all sincerity, people, TNA has the better chance of coming out of the summer as the company to watch than WWE right now. With Sacrifice on the docket for May and that PPV's history for decent main events, life is looking pretty good for the "number 2" company in the nation. Victory Road is just a warm-up....trust me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wrestlemania....Say it ain't so.....

Wrestlemania may end up being just a 7 match card as officials want to leave enough time for the mains events as well as backstage vignettes and promos for The Rock. Word is that The Rock will be given as much time as he wants for his promos and segments leading into the main event.

Officials have announced few matches for the card with just 2 weeks to go because they wanted to make sure they have enough time cleared for the top matches. Triple H vs. Undertaker, CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho, and The Rock vs. John Cena all have 25-30 minutes set aside.

There is talk that Hell in a Cell will be in the middle of the event, with The Rock vs. Cena last and Punk vs. Jericho opening the show.


I feel almost compelled to say a few things about this development. First things' first, this is a HUGE facepalm, in my opinion, because The Rock, who has been promoted heavily for Wrestlemania to begin with, has not invested the time into making appearances or even doing any true in-ring work outside of Survivor Series. 


An hour and a half between three matches.....let that sink in for a while, people. Throw in a Team Laurenitus vs. Team Long 6 on 6 contest, which will inevitably be another half hour and you've got less than ONE hour to promote Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus. Throw in another 20-30 minutes' worth of backstage segments, vignettes and promos and then try to put on Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show and any sort of Diva's contest....that covers 7 matches....and that's really all....


I'll suspend my disbelief....no....I can't- WWE, this is pathetic. Seriously. To top it all off, Cody Rhodes has been working with an injured elbow and leg and is still expected to go over a fresh and healthy Big Show at the event. There is simply no making this stuff up, guys. All I can say about this little trainwreck is that if WWE's top tier doesn't deliver in a big way, this is going to be a VERY long year indeed for them, to be sure.

Diva's Challenge.....

I'd like to try an experiment. Beth Phoenix is the current Diva's Champion. Picking a competitor to face her at Wrestlemania should NOT be a difficult thing. BUT, for whatever reason, WWE seems to have a touch of oblivion when it comes to them writing a story to go along with the Diva's Division, making it ABSOLUTELY necessary for the Divas to go to the internet to bolster some attention. Does any of this sound familiar? Yeah, I'm talking about you, Zack Ryder.

Ever since Phoenix went to the net via Twitter, rumors began coming out of the woodwork as to who her challenger would be. Let's have a look, shall we?

Natalya.....This shouldn't be much of a surprise as the two of them are the best women performers on the entire WWE roster, but for some reason, it doesn't look like a matchup between them is going to happen.

Kharma.....Ever since the Royal Rumble entrance of Kharma, speculation began to fly that SHE would be the next challenger for the butterfly belt. With her still recuperating from her pregnancy and WWE not rushing her back to television for the Mania storyline build as of yet, the probability is a bit low for her as well.

Trish Stratus....This one is VERY recent. She's been making teases at a possible match at Mania between the two. Now, I have never been a fan of Trish; no offense to those of you who were and are, but she, in my humble opinion was one of the most overrated Divas WWE has had. On the heels of saying that, however, I will admit she's arguably the most popular Diva of the modern era. I wouldn't be a BIT surprised to see her come out of the curtain when Phoenix goes into her 'challenge' segments in the coming weeks.

Medusa....This one is a wild card. She has the white strap WWF Women's Title in her possession from the mid-90's. She's been making challenges herself, claiming she'll put her title on the line in Miami this year as well. I, personally, LOVE Medusa. I think she was given a raw (no pun intended) deal in WCW and I think she was one of the best WWF Divas of her time in terms of in ring performance. NOW, add in a few years experience and some training with some of the best in the business today, and you could have a battle of the eras that may be worth the watch on the big stage. As far as how probable? My guess is not very. WWE has done such a shoddy job of explaining who most of the legendary characters of WWE past are that, I would imagine, no one save for the precious few who have followed from ages ago would even understand Medusa'a significance to the title scene.

I give Beth Phoenix, Natalya, and Tamina all the credit in the world for being the performers carrying the division on their backs. Yes, I did just snub Kelly Kelly. Fact is, if WWE did more shopping for Divas in the indies and less at Hawaiian Tropic bikini pageants and the like, the division would have something worth giving some time, but until then, the three towers of power of the division will either have to make do with the time they have.....or cross the line.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Presence.....

You guys, there is something I am really curious about.....on virtually every wrestling news page I go to, there is PLENTY of opinion and commentary and the like about WWE. I mean, the internet landscape is simply PLASTERED with WWE propaganda and columnists painting them as a herald for the newest era of wrestling history or some such nonsense. I have to know...what about TNA?

TNA is growing, as I have stated in many columns and is the primary subject of this column, which comes as daily as I am physically able to bring it to you. In any case, you'll be hard pressed to find many pro-TNA columns and I truly have no idea why. With a 10 year milestone in sight, my only guess is that the critics are a bit scorned for TNA proving them wrong, lasting long after the predictions of their demise were bypassed. What can I say? As far as ratings are concerned, some critics will use Neilsen as the end-all-be-all standard by which the promotion's success is measured, but these ratings neglect internet viewers who will YouTube the highlights, hit up free view sites, or even simply check in to http://www.spike.com for the Impact Wrestling replays in their entirety.

I do have some news for those of you interested......

First up.....WWE Network. Can anyone tell me why WWE has moved back their launch date all the way to November? Anyone? WWE never even considered this one....you need people who KNOW HOW TO RUN A NETWORK BEFORE YOU LAUNCH ONE! That's right, folks. WWE never hired anyone to actually run the day to day operation of a network and yet they have more film in their archive than they have ANY idea what to do with. Add in the fact that their selection of programming was only planned out, at last estimates, to cover the launch week itself and you have yourself an April Fool's Day gift, wrapped and ready for the fans.

How about this little gem? WWE has decided to try and trademark the term "Kayfabe". To explain what kayfabe actually means, I consult Wiki. In simplest terms, kayfabe is the attempt of a promotion to pass off fiction as reality. A great example is WWE's most recent wrestler DVD's. Virtually all of the most current DVD releases are done with every performer in character during interviews and such. THIS is kayfabe. NOW, why would they attempt to trademark the term? I'm glad you asked. WWE has a t-shirt line that has been in suspension for the past few weeks carrying the word "Jobber" and other such insider terms referencing backstage lingo.

To shine a bit of good light onto TNA, I am pleased to report that TNA officials have been in talks with Brandon Jacobs, who appeared in 2 consecutive episodes of Impact in confrontation with Bully Ray. In a related story, shortly after appearing in TNA, he was released from the Giants after contract negotiations fell through. The subject of the discussions has been his future after football. Don't be surprised to see the Super Bowl champion running back making waves in TNA inside the year if he hasn't been picked up by another team in the league before training begins.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Renewed....

As things get nearer to Victory Road, TNA news has been sparse, at best. This is good news, if you can believe it, because it means that big things are coming. I'm betting on a few things coming to fruition.....

1. TNA's Slammiversary location announcement will be coming in very shortly. Since Dixie Carter tweeted that the PPV would be going on the road, speculation has been swirling about where the 10th Anniversary show could be held that could be capable of generating the kind of attendance that would get people's attention. Me? I'm guessing one of only three cities....Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles.

2. Bobby Roode has something up his sleeves for Victory Road and I haven't even a clue as to what, but you can bet it will be something worth watching for the shock value, if nothing else.

3. TNA's India promotion is a hot ticket, from what I'm told by a few of my acquaintances from that part of the world. I look to see an interbrand exchange taking place in the near future. Look for a couple of brand new faces to the TNA Impact Wrestling landscape.

All of these make me very excited to see what's coming. And with ideas in the works to put out a new show or repackage Xplosion to reach a larger audience,  things only look to get bigger for TNA in the coming year.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The "It Factor".....

I realize Bobby Roode claims to be the 'it' factor of professional wrestling. He claims to set the benchmark for what a champion is supposed to be. But I would like to know....is it true? Who truly is the "best in the world", as CM Punk and Chris Jericho talk about being?

I'm not talking about being the best ever, because there are so many names who could lay claim to that title,  based on factors I have covered before. What I want to know is who can say it and back it up for the current generation? If ANYONE says John Cena, I've got a loud and resounding NO on standby. Don't get me wrong. He has been given a great gift by Vince and his list of sponsors as the face of WWE, but he, in no way, is the best in the world. Say what you want, but John Cena cannot move up and down the card and still make the PPV feel important. IF, and I do mean IF, Cena were allowed to make calls barring the decisions of Vince and his cronies and sponsors and such, I think a Cena turn back at Survivor Series would have put him into the running, but in the climate he operates in, he's entirely too "white bread face".

I WOULD argue that Chris Jericho needs to go on the short list. As a staple to the WWE product for about a decade altogether, I've seen him go both up and down the card and perform at the same caliber every time. It takes a very special opponent to be able to have that kind of luxury and Shawn Michaels among the others on the list of opponents Jericho has faced on PPV in an undercard capacity made some of the luster for him. Nevertheless, the argument stands.

Also on the list MUST go Kurt Angle. WWE isn't the only place he has risen and descended down the card and made people look good. In TNA, sometimes the feuds he has been in have been the highlight of the card. Jeff Jarrett, Sting, and AJ Styles have all faced Angle in the undercard and have made the PPV look like an important event.

If Jeff Hardy doesn't go on the list, I'm not sure who else could fill the spot. His list of accolades speaks for themselves. TLC in the midcard, World title matches in the upper card; he has done them all and helped bring whatever division he's been in to another level.

Upon close examination, I feel compelled to put two more guys into this category from WWE's side of the fence. Randy Orton and CM Punk. I've seen both guys grow into performers the world looks at to carry matches and even though I have my difficulties with Randy Orton's wrestling style, he has grown in leaps and bound since his debut and rise. Punk is a controversial figure. I like that. He makes waves and that deserves mention. Where John Cena fails to make waves and move from a place near the top of the card, Punk and Randy Orton have succeeded time and time again.

Lastly, but not surprisingly, I place AJ Styles on the list for TNA. He, as representative of the X Division, helped put the division in the spotlight. Ascending and descending the card, he has elevated talents and made them look like champions. Few can hold a candle to his athleticism and his matches are often the best things on the card.

These are my contenders. While a few would argue that Jericho will be gone soon, I would argue that if Edge were still around, he'd be on my list too. The point is, Jericho comes back and makes waves each time. Edge cannot say the same, though I wish he could. I'm sure there are others I've missed in the current shuffle, but these are MY picks as the best in the world TODAY.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Carrying the Banner.....Gaming Division

Thanks to one very good, spirited discussion on a site I visit most often, I am glad to speak about TNA in a forum that they have been horribly represented, the gaming realm. It has been suggested that THQ, whose prowess on the world of wrestling games is virtually unrivaled in the guise of WWE's RAW vs. Smackdown, WWE 12, and all the games the Titan Towers has brought about before under that banner should produce the next TNA game. While the notion of THQ putting together TNA's most successful venture sounds like it has merit, I would argue that the beginning of something new is what's best by giving some very healthy alternatives.

My personal favorite contender to go toe to toe against THQ is one who also holds two Game of the Year nominations with one victory to it's credit. Rocksteady Games is my front runner to remake TNA's legacy as a sleeper victory, taking the title away from WWE. Add in that this company is UK based, whose fans have already shown overwhelming support of the TNA product for the past few years and it only seems fitting to have one of their own as representatives of the new line of TNA games. The fighting engine powering the Batman: Arkham games is virtually unrivaled in both it's simplicity AND versatility and the integration of TNA's movesets would make a Rocksteady produced game one of the most heralded wrestling games by hype alone. Put together a second set of writers to create a storyline with multiple scenarios and endings and you've got something WWE doesn't, a game in a league of its own.

My second, albeit less hopeful choice is EA Games. They've got a running history with MMA games in the recent past. Some, in fact, are even worth playing. The adaptability and customization alone of these games allow for TNA's movesets and their most decorated champions likenesses would be well suited to a platform like those employed over at EA Games. If you're looking for a game with an endless supply of online options and a community to channel them and create for them, there is no one better to produce it. It should, however be noted that, while their sporting games are among the best in the world, they have yet to produce a game where storyline and the customization and network they are known for that can mesh in just the right combination. I call that a challenge and one that coordination between TNA and EA Games would do well to answer.

THQ has a head start and a standing commitment and contract with the WWE product to boot. Other competitors have a great deal of work to do to successfully integrate the best pieces of TNA whilst matching up storylines to fill the space. This much is very true, but judging by the WWE product we're seeing right now, it is only a matter of time before a new competition is out there to challenge the masses of this generations' gamers, no matter which side of the fence you fall on.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Anything Can Be Used As a Weapon......

I read a t-shirt once that read "Anything can be used as a weapon if you hold it right." Funny as it sounds, it's quite possibly one of the most true shirts I've ever read. This applies to performers as well. The more versatile the performer, the more ways to capitalize on their talents. I direct this column to some of the most talented guys and gals who are doing the best with a character that may not be for everyone. This is to give credit for their talents as well as their ability to be flexible to adapt to what comes down the road.

Eric Young- I don't know many people who are a bigger fan of him than I am. I LOVE his comedy in ring and outside of it in the backstage segments. He can play ANY part, of this I am convinced. He made a TREMENDOUS leader of a faction (World Elite), he played the part of a frustrated employee in the time transitioning into that role, and he's made a great character to lighten the product with humor. His story with ODB is one of my favorite things going on right now because it brings something a bit unexpected to the forefront that may be a bit over the top, but it's done in such a way that shows he's having a good time and I respect that.

That brings me to the other half. ODB. She's brash and has a very polarizing character. People either love what she's doing or would rather her try something else instead, playing the monster of the Knockouts Division role, which I thought she did rather well, even in the face of Kong. She seems to be an often overlooked piece of the division because she is so unorthodox and I find that interesting and special to the contributions she makes.

This might get me some comments, but I like Gunner. In my humble opinion, I think he gets the raw deal in almost every outing, playing the part of a high profile lackey. I wish it weren't so, because I think he could be top tier material if given the ball to run with. However, in the role they have put him in, he has done what he's been able, which is to be commended. You know what I want to see, though? I want to see the Gunner that was in the last couple rounds of the Bound for Glory Series. THAT's the guy I want to see; the one who could take people apart and do it all by himself without a faction to answer to.

Kid Kash is my last example. As the veteran performer mirror to Austin Aries for a time in the feud introducing Zema Ion and Jesse Sorenson to the X Title picture, he looked right at home. I would LOVE to see him get more screen time as he is one of the best talkers to match Aries. I rarely bring up Kid Kash because he is so rarely used right now, but since the fall of Jesse Sorenson, I can see a place for him to fit into the whole X Division picture. Give him a mic, some time, and a couple of good, solid, 10-15 mintue bouts and things will look right as rain, I guarantee it.

Anyone can be used as a weapon on the landscape of professional wrestling, so long as they are featured with a spotlight and the opportunity to become just a little bit better than they are today. Take notes, Vince, TNA is doing things just a bit different, and it's working.

Wrestlemania Tidbits.....

As I predicted, Shawn Michaels will be the X Factor in the match between Triple H and The Undertaker as the guest referee. On a related note, the Cell is in process of undergoing a kind of restructuring in order to account for the outdoor event. Since it cannot be suspended from a ceiling, the running idea is to build the cage structure complete with top and fully enclose the cell once it has been dropped into place by rolling dollies or something to the like. It is my guess that the assembling of the cell will be made into almost the kind of spectacle the rest of the match will become.

I do have one question for the people here: Exactly WHAT is the main event for this year's Wrestlemania? Unless my math is wrong, there are 4 potential main event matches; two grudge matches, and two world title matches. Seems to me that IF The Rock is going to stick around for another year; meaning about 6 actually present appearances, Rock vs. Cena NEEDS to go at the end to sell it. HOWEVER, if there is to be extensive fallout between Triple H and Undertaker, THAT needs to go at the end. The writers and directors really have their work cut out for them.

For once, WWE seems to have had a light bulb going off in a positive way as far as the Divas are concerned. What was once believed to take place in a dark match before the PPV now looks to be on the card near the beginning. The old idea was to put Beth Phoenix against Kharma or Natalya, but it now looks like WWE is going in a different direction with that. My bet is that we'll see yet another return of Trish Stratus to challenge the current Divas champion. I will say this once and once only, I have always thought of Trish as overrated and has gotten more in her short time in the Women's Division than a few who deserved it more. I digress, though, as the argument is neither important nor relevant as the Divas are NOT the women's division to be watching if you want consistently good talent.

For all the failings and flubs where gold could have been had, WWE is actually making this a big deal. I will say, it's not enough for me to pay them to see it, but as far as I'm concerned, the highlights will be plenty good enough to whet my appetite for their filler-laden product.

If you are of the persuasion that this will be one of those times when history will be made, I wish you the best in your viewing of the event. Me? I'll be sitting at home watching a movie or something with my family, thankful that at least I won't be disappointed until I read about it the day after.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Time Away......

For anyone who hasn't heard, Shannon Moore is taking a break from wrestling. Is he leaving the company? No, not at all. Just a break. There, however, is talk that  a few talents will be leaving in the coming months either for OVW or making a clean break with the company. Since there have been no names mentioned in any reports I have read or heard, I would guess that some of the undercard names are on the short list of those looking for work elsewhere. My impression is that doors will be left open to their return once a new show is launched, so that they will get the kind of exposure that will make working for TNA worth the effort.

Among the names, I am guessing will be Anthony Neese, Mark Haskins, and maybe Kid Kash. There HAS been talk that RVD may be parting with TNA once his contract runs out, which I believe to be in April, but as of yet, nothing is confirmed. The landscape is streamlining and TNA's roster has thinned to the point where they are using all but precious few performers week to week. I think the way things are being done is making people take notice of just how many people are being used. If you look on the WWE side of things, there are over a dozen performers who regularly ride the bench during both RAW AND Smackdown tapings.

What TNA is succeeding in doing is being consistent. Their rule right now is that everyone who appears on camera has a reason for being there.....some story thread they have a part to play in. Those on reserve aren't just riding the pine, they are also giving input to the brass hats who make the calls and write the storylines. To those who are still bringing the show, I thank you. To those who are looking for work elsewhere, I look forward to seeing you once more in the future.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Crossovers.....

TNA has a doppelganger in India, in the event some of you don't know. Ring Ka King, as the product is called, is comprised of independently and TNA summoned talents alike. I've said in the past that TNA will bring in some of those talents to bolster TNA's product, giving them a more fresh roster to roll through the motions. Additionally, this would open up possibilities for TNA talents from the main roster to do some traveling to bulk up exposure for the brand by introducing them to a new crowd.

The list of 18 talents on the Ring Ka King roster, as stated before, is varied between independent performers as well as those from the TNA main North American roster. Among those ranks stand a number of notable faces from the former roster of WWE past. Let's have a peek....

Eugene Dinsmore
Chris Masters
Chavo Guerrero
Nunzio
D.H. Smith

I see a talented bunch here, with enough of a mix to keep people interested. Imagine a few rivalries.....

Chris Masters vs. Bobby Roode
Eugene Dinsmore vs. Eric Young
Chavo Guerrero with Mexican America vs. D.H Smith with Doug Williams and Mark Haskins

Some of the feuds speak for themselves like that. With the right amount of tweaking and fine tuning and the like, you'll end up with a rounded and rotating cast of characters to carry out the storylines here and abroad.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

TNA's Masterpiece.....

If, by the title, you're confused, I bring to you some cause for happiness. Chris Masters may be bound for the Impact Zone sooner than later. I have spoken my admiration for his work, which has only gotten better since his release from WWE. Ring Ka King has only made him better, working with a great cast of players and getting a peek at what he's to look forward to with TNA's main roster.

So then the question of if becomes a question of how. How should TNA bring him aboard? I have three ideas.....

Tag Team Division- He eliminates Crimson, putting him on the shelf for a time. When he returns, Morgan and Masters have formed a strong team chemistry. They make a run with the titles for a while.

TV Title- Do it now. Mystery challenger for the title. Put together a vignette hyping him. For Heaven's Sake, put it on PPV as one of the main events! What better way to put a spotlight on a title to give it prestige than to put it in immediate view?

Main Event......Interrupt Sting and give Roode a more real threat. Sting gets a call from Dixie and she says she's got a solution to his problem. I say put this at Slammiversary. IF Roode makes a play and retains OR if he demands a rematch for the belt, Masters solves two things.

-it gives Roode a break and puts him back on the hunt in the defensive posture.
-it puts Roode in defensive posture by putting against an unscouted opponent.

Trust me on one thing: Chris Masters can be HUGE for TNA if they can put him in the spotlight in such a way that would make him look like a big deal; like he's the next big thing.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Shallow Bench.....

Pro Wrestling Torch reports that Mark Henry may be on his way out. As it turns out, Henry's groin injury, which saw him sidelined for a few dates, was worse than previously thought. The Creative Team with WWE wanted to give Henry time to heal, but Vince McMahon was described as less than sympathetic and made the decision to have Mark drop the title to the Big Show at TLC. Additionally, he pushed Henry to make and perform for scheduled dates in the weeks to follow. 

The now running belief is that the tension may be enough for him not to re-sign with WWE once his contract comes up later this year. I've been saying it since the beginning of this blog's history, WWE needs to back off a bit from their travel schedule. Too many performers are given the notion that if they take time away, they will have to start all over to build themselves back into a worthwhile place on the card upon their return. If you have any curiosities about why WWE's talent bench is so shallow, it's their policy about injuries. Vacations and injuries are classified the same way. They mean delays and WWE has little tolerance for delays. I did mention patience not being in their moveset, as I recall.

If WWE had learned their lesson concerning this, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, and others may have never left in the first place. But really, what do I know?

Confidential.....

Does anyone remember WWE Confidential? Let's go back to 2001-02 and I'll give you the low down. At the time, wrestling fans were given a taste of what some of the backstage was like. Guys like RVD and Brock Lesnar and The Hurricane would give candid interviews about their personas and how close to the characters they actually are. It was a great show, completely free of what is now known as kayfabe.

In the years that followed, WWE would become the epitome of kayfabe, actually fining their performers for not showing up in character, attire and all. I'm sure you're probably wondering where I'm going with all this. At last month's Against All Odds PPV, an accident happened to 22 year old Jesse Sorenson. In an X Division Number 1 Contender's match, he took a knee to the head, compressing his vertebrae. Characters in commentary dropped their personas to be real for a time.

For the peace of mind of his fans and anyone watching that night, TNA ran update videos, chronicling his partial recovery on Impact broadcasts. One columnist on another site called it tasteless. I call it high class, giving a good performer's fans an update and a word from their guy that he's okay. For the record, Jesse Sorenson is out for the year, according to TNA President Dixie Carter. I give MAJOR props to the head of this company for showing the kind of concern and reaching out to Jesse's family as soon as the accident happened. It was the right thing to do and, rest assured, it's something the president of the company SHOULD do personally. When the care of an individual is put into your hands, as the leader of the corporation or federation, it's the right thing to do to put EVERYTHING else aside and deal with the situation personally.

Slammivarsary will be short one man on the card. The celebration will be a mixed event. I, personally, will be cheering his return next year and I guarantee, his return will be something special, something worth looking forward to. IF TNA plays this properly, he could be the biggest comeback of the year next year, filled with fanfare and a great place on the card. Keep us updated, TNA. Wishing Jesse Sorenson Godspeed and a recovery completely void of complication. Thanks for keeping our attentions on the X Division.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is it Fair?

Wrestlemania is the biggest professional wrestling spectacle of the year with the biggest payoff and usually tries to tout the best card of the year. My column today is about two of WWE's biggest attractions right now.....The Rock and The Undertaker. I've got plenty to say about each, but I'd like to begin with the lesser of my questions to you, the readers of this column.

The Rock has been "back" for nearly a year now. He's been a part of two major PPV's and is on the cusp of his third. The current feud is the hottest thing in WWE right now and is occupying the top spot on the card. Never mind that there is no title on the line or that the two main events with a title on the line are being pushed down to give time to this and the one other feud I want to discuss later. I ask you all this question....is it fair? Is it fair to give The Rock, who has only appeared live on camera less than 5 times since hosting Wrestlemania a year ago, a spotlight at not one or two, but a rumored three straight Wrestlemanias since his departure from active competition on the roster after Wrestlemania 20? There are dozens of guys unused right now, guys who would be hungry for the payoff that the yearly biggest PPV of the year gives and one spot is for a guy who isn't even there most of the time.

I'm sure this sounds a bit like an anti-WWE rant, but the truth is, I LIKE The Rock. He's one of my favorite Attitude Era giants. He sells for WWE when he there. He makes TV interesting most of the time. My only gripe with him now is that it feels like when he cuts promos, it's like he's making up for lost time. 6 and 8 minute long promos feel like I've just run a marathon, because I'm winded trying to wade through them. I love you, Rocky, but could you tone that part down JUST a bit?

My other question is directed at The Undertaker. He wrestles one date per year. That's it, folks. Just one day per year. If you could decide to come to work one day per year and get a guaranteed half a million dollars just for putting on a show for less than 30 minutes, would you be surprised to see 20 guys who've come in everyday complaining? I know I wouldn't be. You see, The Undertaker's payday for Wrestlemania may not be half a mil, but I can safely say that I'm close. This is just for the one PPV. This has nothing to do with his contract, which guarantees much more than that JUST TO BE ABLE TO CLAIM HIM AS A PART OF THE ROSTER!

There was talk that he would be retiring once the lights of Wrestlemania have faded, but that talk has died down with the understanding that if he were to only compete at the yearly spectacle, he'd be able to go maybe 5 more years. It has been a long held belief that the notorious Streak of the Phenom at Wrestlemania will never be broken. That being said, it begs the question, is it fair? Is it fair to the rest of the people who are chosen to get in line only to be fed to the Streak? Let's just say that, for the sake of argument, Sting decides to sign with WWE for a short Legends deal....long enough to put out a DVD set; is it fair to him to feed him to the Streak? Even more, is it fair to the ones who came before him to let him BREAK the Streak?

I leave this question in the air as I don't have the answer. I just know that for the current Wrestlemania, there are 3 spots that could have seen a brand new star that are now spoken for. Next year, there look to be a guaranteed 2. Is it fair? You be the judge.