Monday, April 30, 2012

The Bench.....

I've spent a solid amount of time talking about the bench without referring specifically to anyone on it, so to speak. I think it's about time I did.....

Pope D'Angelo Dinero.....Great mic worker, charismatic showman, decent in ring tactician. His problem? It seems that too much of a good thing burned him, so TNA officials sent him back to basics to tone his persona down and fine tune his ring craft.

Doug Williams.....No idea why TNA saw fit to bench this guy. He's a technical wrestling machine, he's got microphone skills in spades, but he has had difficulty maintaining a feud....making it last. Austin Aries can move pretty fluently from feud to feud without it looking awkward whereas Williams hasn't had such a luxury whether by persona or storyline design.

Mark Haskins.....He has no character, so far as I can tell. Maybe that's the lack of TV time talking, but maybe it's not. I have no way of knowing either his limits or skill set aside from the sickening sound he made landing on his head at Wembley Arena earlier this year. Maybe he's still healing, but his time off should have been sufficient.

Kid Kash.....The last performer used sparingly in the past few months. I, personally, enjoy the persona he employs, but for whatever reason, his time spent in the Jesse Sorenson storyline was wasted on Zema Ion instead. I still have no idea why TNA spent so much time building him as a legitimate foe and then dropped his use clean.

This column is going to be short, guys. Why? Because Abyss may not be on TV right now, but he's being referred to in an ongoing story. Everyone else has been used on TV in some form or fashion within the past couple of weeks.  Let's see WWE match those numbers.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Jury....

So....the jury is still out. WCW vs. TNA; who is WWE sending to TNA for their newest release? What DOES Dixie Carter have up her sleeve for Slammiversary? Does Petey Williams ever return? Why all the changes to the Impact Wrestling format?

All of these questions and people have difficulty seeing the pattern. Critics are ignoring the facts. Open Fight Night. Impact is going one hour earlier. Dave Batista is in Florida for Wrestlemania weekend, but never shows up for any WWE shows in the weeks that follow. Instead, Brock Lesnar, whom WWE wanted to keep a moderately guarded secret, was known about before RAW ever aired.

Have another look at the rules of Open Fight Night. ANYONE can be challenged. An independent name will take part in the Gut Check Challenge. Dixie hasn't shown her hand just yet, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a plan in place. The WWE Network should probably hold off a little while longer as their resources will be needed elsewhere......

I now ask you....who is the better chess player.....Vince McMahon or Eric Bischoff? Dixie Carter has given most of the controlling power of the day to day in TNA to Eric Bischoff as their chief producer. The suits in the corporate offices at Spike TV are a far cry different than the blue ties at Time/Warner were when they took over as proprietors of the Turner Networks. They actually want to see a wrestling show succeed and given the fact that Vince shafted them on their end of the television deal, Spike has a stake to claim for TNA to blossom. The biggest and best difference between TNA and WCW......Eric Bischoff has learned his lesson.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

TNA (+/-) WCW

A good question erupted on Facebook....how does TNA stack up to what WCW was? I say we have a look at the pros and cons.

WCW- With the stacked roster of household names in their youth; names like the Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, and Chris Benoit.....most of which were in the Cruiserweight Division. The top of the card was filled with names that had been established in decades past. Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Sting, Ric Flair, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall....the list was unmatched for a long while. The matches from top to bottom were good, both in terms of technical prowess AND ring psychology.

NOW, before anyone goes and talks about the Russo Era and things leading into that end, I'm considering the lucrative run that made WWF take notice. Where WCW was lacking.....a true Women's Division worth mentioning. While women's matches took place, only one year held an actual title to be fought over by women's performers. Additionally, the top performers in the company had difficulty letting go of their top spots....making it VERY difficult for younger performers to catch a break.

TNA- I am only going to use the years of TNA after the break from NWA, but during the years following that, TNA's X and Tag Team Divisions were THE thing to watch. Sure, the stories were pretty good, for the most part, but the matches were almost always fast paced and fun to watch. Once the Knockouts Division was established, it too, became a feature division to watch. The fact that TNA's Knockouts aren't simply eye candy makes TNA better as a place where women can ply the trade.

The top of the card is a GREAT mix....a blend of veteran performers with established careers and younger, hungry wrestlers still looking for their first taste of championship gold. THAT'S what makes TNA so good. Opportunity. WCW's windows were clouded and small and allowed very few undercard performers to truly break into the main event scene.

Compare? TNA has greater potential as their roster is younger, faster paced, and quite frankly, better written. WCW's nWo MADE them into a powerhouse. Unfortunately for TNA, such a stable would not surprise the current viewer. Granted, the Nexus made quite a first impression, laying waste to the WWE landscape, but TNA's current viewer remembers all of that. Where TNA DOES excell? Creative vision. They are trying all kinds of things to keep in touch with the fans of Wrestling-like products like UFC and Bellator while still maintaining their own distinct style.

The legends should be remembered, and the times of WCW were wax and wane, but ultimately, the lessons need to be learned so that the current products won't go the way of WCW.

Pink Slips.....

It's that time again.....WWE's notorious spring cleaning liquidation. All "useless" wrestlers MUST GO! If you're quick, you, too, could get your hands on the contract of some of the best wrestlers to ever NOT get a chance to prove themselves in the biggest company on Earth. Who, you ask, may be on the bidding block? I'm so glad you asked......

Ezekiel Jackson.....Ever since ECW collapsed, he's been in a state of uselessness. He rarely is used on one of the big two shows and finds himself on the receiving end of a loss more often than not against someone who has no business beating him. With no strikes on his wellness card, Big 'Zeke could be on YOUR roster if the price is right.

Okay, no more game show talk, but seriously guys, WWE kills their roster every year by cutting guys who really could have a chance to make something of the product that is better than it is now. This is just the short list.....

Evan Bourne.....He's got a few breaks in his foot. How can they use that to benefit their show? With 2 strikes on his wellness card, he's not only a wellness risk, he can't be effectively used on the injured list anyway.

Tyler Reks......I can't count the number of years I've had him here on the cut list, but he just hasn't been cut yet. This year may be the year.

Rey Mysterio......Some of you may be surprised, but you shouldn't be. Rey is even now serving 60 days' suspension for his 2nd violation of the wellness policy. He only just got hit with the suspension this week. He would be the most shocking release of the year.

There are a few more I would add to the list, but you all get the idea, look for someone who hasn't been used much in the past 3 months and you can pretty much draw your own conclusions as to their futures, which is really sad. But I mean this with the kind of sincerity WWE does not....I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Gauntlet....

Open Fight Night was a success, I think, for the first run. As I've said before, I believe it to be a launching pad to the debut of someone big, but until that day comes, we'll just have to enjoy the ride while it lasts. In a Q and A with Dixie Carter just recently, she claimed more big surprises in the coming weeks as TNA ramps up for Slammiversary. I can safely make a few guarantees.

1. Jeff Jarrett will be on hand to say his peace on the matter....thanking the fans for being the driving force behind the organization.

2. More TNA Originals will be back in force to be a part of the festivities. Dixie Carter has been good about bringing back old favorites to celebrate big events.

I've been asked what I think about the OFN concept. I think it's an innovative approach and much more organic in its execution than NXT has been for WWE. Outside of the Nexus and Corre stables, which went defunct before anyone knew it was happening, NXT has been a failure of WWE, much like the XFL of yesteryear. Thankfully, they picked a good man to debut the prospects in Al Snow, one of the trainers of the first couple of seasons of Tough Enough. Snow has enough credentials to hang his hat on in the business and is a respectable scout for talents.

In short, Open Fight Night is a great concept with a thousand possibilities for making TNA a better scout of new talents than their competition. Look for some vignettes to start popping up for debuts or returns as the announcements should be coming soon.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

I promised you a list of possible competitors who could potentially walk down the ramp. True to form, I shall through it out to you guys right now.....beginning with high possibility working my way down.

High Possibility......

Chavo Guerrero....He's already open to the idea of coming to TNA to face some of the finest originals they have to offer. Will he be granted a contract? I hope so as they could use a stable with a credible leader and he can use the microphone better than just about any other hispanic wrestling personality on the landscape today. With TNA looking to better themselves in that market, he should be on the short list.

Chris Masters.....He's trying to garner fan support to get him on board anyway, so his coming in is just as likely as Chavo and since BOTH have been working in India for the TNA promotion out there, it stands to reason he should be on the short list as well.

Moderate Possibility.......

Batista.....About three years ago, I wouldn't have thought this was anywhere close to possible, but with all of his talk and withholding of information about his future plans has me believing that something big might be shaking with The Animal called Batista. I can see no bigger news for TNA right now than the possibility of his landing to help celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the company being around. While I don't believe in a one or two year investment he'd demand in order to work the schedule he would ask for,  it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility anymore. After all, he "can't relate to a PG product."

Trish Stratus.......I happen to know for a fact that she's a fan of TNA for their Knockouts Division. She even gave TNA a real look as a possibility a few years back. That is a fact as well. If you throw in that she's got a myriad of familiar faces to lock horns with as well as some new territory to conquer, it seems like a good investment to have one of the most influential women of wrestling to bring in a few viewers. Aside from one other woman, there is no one else who could draw viewers in more than Trish.

Lita........She and Trish pioneered the Women's Division, making it something to pay attention to rather than simply a time to go get another soda and sandwich from the fridge. Combine her statements from the fan axxess this year and you've got another reason to pay mind. Velvet Sky has gone on record saying she'd want to face her as a challenger. So has Angelina Love. I'd venture that most of TNA's original Knockouts would like a shot at a legend like Lita.

Slim Possibility......

John Morrison.....There was a time when I thought TNA was his only option, but those days have gone past and with rumors circulating that he might be bound for another WWE run, it'd be less likely than ever to see him grace the platform of TNA.

Goldberg......I've said never say never, but his case is the living embodiment of that statement. If TNA and Bill ever came to an agreement, you can bet there would be some fanfare and you can also bet that TNA would catch some MAJOR heat for it. This would be a HUGE bullet for ANTI-TNA critics' guns and you can bet their aim would be for the head. "They keep getting old guys" or "Why can't they build their own characters" or "Oh good, another WCW 'has-been' coming in to finish the company off". I get sick of hearing it all.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Open Fight Night...Purpose and Function....

For those of you who stuck around and caught the couple of posts the past couple of days, thanks for reading, for those of you who missed it.....I'm back and I've got a couple of things to talk about. First up on the docket.....My business strategy. If anyone was thinking I want to put only the second string roster members on the new show, NOTHING could be further from the truth. First of all, there ARE no second string roster members, in my humble opinion. Second of all, the second show NEEDS to be a "must see" show so that those who miss it will be a little bit lost on Impact the following week if they didn't see it.

Now, I'm sure some of you are scratching your heads asking why. My reasoning is simple. In order to draw people into watching the new show, there must be reason to do so. Why not pursue current plot points and storyline progressions on BOTH shows, each that affects how the other begins or ends? Seems to me that it stands to scrutiny. Not only that, but it gives more time for writers to change a characters' direction.

Okay, now that THAT is out of the way, on to what I really want to talk about.....Open Fight Night. By show of hands, does anyone know who is allowed to show up on Open Fight Night? That's right, ANYONE who is a free agent right now on the open market. You guys have mentioned Batista and Goldberg, BOTH of which are on the open market right now. Chavo Guerrero, Chris Masters, Lita, Trish Stratus, everyone's pretty much fair game. Let me assure you all, Brock Lesnar is only flash in the bucket compared to what TNA has in store for Slammiversary. THAT is what Open Fight Night is all about. When does it end? I have no way of knowing, but I can tell you this, storylines are going to move forward now and with more intensity. Who's coming to Open Fight Night? THAT'S a subject for tomorrow. Pros and cons abound for what's next.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When I Crossed the Line.....

The thing about being disenchanted is that sometimes you look at things a shade differently than you otherwise might. Sometimes something that might escape as simply bad taste becomes something worth making a big deal out of. Sometimes, a player who has jumped ship makes the disenchanted wonder why that might be. Sometimes, when an era ends, you have to wonder if it was headed that way to begin with, or if it was something that was planned out long ahead of time.

I crossed the line in large part because of Jeff Hardy. I wanted to know what was so attractive about a small grassroots company in Nashville, Tennessee. What would make the glo-paint clad leader of the Imagi-Nation leave a goliath like Vince McMahon? Bear in mind that this was 2004 and April 6th was the last time Jeff had wrestled on Raw. His last opponent was, of all people, The Rock. He lost that night and didn't pop back up until June 23rd of the following year. Among the reasons he left was burnout.

By the time Jeff Hardy arrived on the scene down south, things in TNA had shifted away from some of the madness that was being written by Vince Russo and was being booked, in large part, by Jeff Jarrett and Dusty Rhodes. In those storylines, Jeff Jarrett might have been champion most of the time, but there was a promising young roster to compensate for what might have been lacking on the landscape back then. I saw something there during a pay per view that was different from WWE. It wasn't as well produced, granted, but it had some of the best in ring action I had ever seen.

I was hooked by something new. WWE had its charms, with Goldberg on the scene and the feud between HHH looming on the horizon, I figured that things would remain as they were for a while to come. Once Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, The Rock, and Steve Austin were gone for good, so it seemed, things began to cool. Once Eric Bischoff and Kurt Angle left, things had gone cold for me. Sure, there were a few great things to come about, but the number of good things were getting fewer and far between.

When 2005 came and Christian showed up at Genesis, TNA seemed like the place to be and with the return of Sting and the debut of Kurt Angle, I was sold. Even when Jeff Hardy went back to the WWE, I was hardcore TNA by that time. Matt Hardy's story polarized me to WWE. Edge and Lita and their newly heel personas made Edge a household name at the time, but it fully turned me from the product.

The Hardy Boyz took Tag Team gold that year, but I no longer cared. I was happy they experienced success, but I was upset at the journey. Lita's farewell to the WWE Universe of the day was one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever sat through. She deserved better. WWE owed her more than what she ended with. Trish Stratus left WWE as champion. Lita left with nothing.

I crossed the line to see something new. By the time Lita's farewell was on camera, a new women's division was on the horizon elsewhere and it was being given a spotlight. Guys who were doing the kinds of things The Hardy Boyz were famous for, were doing it under a brand new banner, now rebranded for the world to see. In the years to follow, Jeff came back and was restored by putting himself on display as a role model of what to avoid and how to take responsibility for bad choices. I can get behind that. It's something new.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rob, Roode, and the Sacifice PPV....

I've seen posts suggesting that RVD will definitely win the title at the next PPV. I'm inclined to agree, although I'm a bit leary of the move to put the strap on RVD after such a short return. Jeff Hardy has been fighting towards the belt for 6 months and James Storm for 4. I personally believe this is a setup for the next phase in the Roode era. I have a hunch something interesting is going to come of the main event at Sacrifice. This whole 4 month time span has been building towards Slammiversary. Lockdown's finish may have disappointed some, even most of James Storm's fans, but it did do one very important thing....it made getting the strap off of Roode look like a necessity.

If you can think back to 2002, Triple H was bestowed the World Heavyweight Title by Eric Bischoff and he held that belt until the very first Elimination Chamber, when he dropped the belt to HBK. After winning it once again, he held it all the way until Unforgiven 2003, when Goldberg took the belt. For the record, Triple H held the belt for 10 months. Bobby Roode has held this belt since November. That's just over half of that time. Why do I keep bringing this up? Simple. People want to compare TNA to WWE because WWE has set the standard for so many years and they've been the most dominant "wrestling" source for over a decade and a half.

The point to this is that it took a multiple competitor situation and a cheating free environment to take down Triple H at the time and I daresay the same will be true of Roode, unless James Storm has something to do with the finish at Sacrifice.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

One year Anniversary......

Well, I've about done it. One year's worth of commentary, opinion, and marking out for the little company that could. TNA is for the fans of wrestling. I've been saying that all along. I've thrown rocks at the glass ceiling Vince built, and hopefully, given a different perspective from those firmly planted in the WWE's camp. Here's to a year's worth of highlights; a year's worth of decent storytelling and characters.

I'd like to thank every person who has come in here looking for something different and stuck it out through breaks and no news weeks. Thanks for coming back day after day, you guys make writing here worth the time. So I raise a glass to you as well.....

This year poses some interesting things as Slammiversary looms in the distance. To all of you who've bought tickets; you're in for a good ride, so I'm told. To everyone else, reserve a seat at your nearest spot showing it or order the showing on PPV.

As for this column....just as TNA moves into a second decade of Nonstop Action, so will I. I've got no desire to see this end. I've got plenty of ideas in the works, not the least of which being the possibility of launching a full scale website with more than just me at the wheel. TNAEnforcer is only the beginning, folks......so get out of your seats and cross the line, because at the end of the day, wrestling matters.

Friday, April 20, 2012

If....

If I had the reins to do as I please with TNA from this moment for one year, there are a number of things I'd do. In fact, I'll lay it all out in 5 easy steps.

1. Move Impact into a larger set to give room for more people.....as it stands, it's difficult to make TNA look like a big deal when the Zone is as crowded as it is with as few seats as there are. This will allow a larger feel without spending the kind of money they would if it were moved to a new arena each week. So sue me, I want to save TNA money for other things.....like.....

2. Cutting a PPV from the schedule each quarter and putting together a Monday Night LIVE 3 hour show with a PPV feel. This would do TWO things. FIRST, it would save money even more by using their own facilities. It ALSO would give WWE a run even if only once per quarter. I would arrange the card in the same way as a PPV, but I would spend some of the money saved to air the product with limited interruptions. This would keep people from channel surfing right past it. Commercials can be a help, but they can also kill a person's interest.

3. Put out a second show. Dixie Carter, herself, has said that it's coming. What did I tell you guys? I would make the second show an additional 2 hour block on Thursday. Since Impact tapes on Tuesday, IT could go live on Tuesdays and the taped show could still tape the next day and air on the normal Impact timeslot on Thursday night. On this show, I would take the undercard to a new level and give them more exposure. A second show would allow more talents to showcase and more story development for the larger storylines that could affect both shows. Could talents from Impact show up on the new show? Of course! It's no different than Smackdown was when it first began airing. It was simply an extension of Monday Night RAW. TNA isn't a big enough brand to support a brand extension nor would I support such a move.

4. Promote like crazy. If these steps are to be taken seriously, everyone is going to HAVE to know what I'm doing so they can follow. TNA is doing a decent enough job on the social network front, but they NEED the actual network support from varying sources to get the word out. TNA commercials on RAW and Smackdown would be how I would go about promoting because THAT'S where the concentration of "wrestling fans" are. You want to go toe to toe with a machine, you don't do it on their turf. THAT'S why I chose Tuesdays and Thursdays to air the two shows and NOT Mondays and Fridays.

5. Put together the nostalgia package. I'm talking the 6 sided ring, former TNA talents, the whole ball of wax. I'd put it all out there and let the chips fall where they may. It isn't hard to put guys like Fortune on top of the company as the face of TNA. THAT is what will conquer the giant, not WWE's ex's.

Why Not?

If you were to ask a critic about TNA, there are a few complaints about their product and while some of those points are VERY valid, most are simply perspective. Let's have a look at the two most common.

1. TNA is full of WWE's rejects.
2. TNA can't do clean finishes on their PPVs

Number one is an easy one to overthrow as there are only 16 former WWE performers on the nearly 60 person roster. Of those, a few can be discounted as they aren't wrestlers. This is perhaps my biggest reason for not suggesting guys like Batista or Goldberg as possible acquisitions. Money is only half of the problem. If TNA did what WWE is doing now, by picking up free agents from 10+ years ago, they would have to push the guys they are trying to build down the card. Guys like Crimson, Matt Morgan, Austin Aries, and James Storm who have put in their time would be wasted.

Number two is quite possibly the toughest one to combat as run-ins and cheat wins seem like a way of life for Bobby Roode and TNA. My best example of unclean finishes from WWE would be from 2002-03. Triple H's reign as champion was FILLED with such finishes...look at Royal Rumble 2003 and No Way Out of the same year vs. Scott Steiner. Two different losses without losing the title. If there ever was a king of questionable finishes, he would be that king, particularly back then.

My point is that EVERY company has battled these complaints. WWE is neither above it nor are they immune to them. TNA's finest performers are, for the most part, in the driver's seat in every division. I see no problem with taking on the performers they have, but if people out there believe that Batista would bolster their ratings, I ask where the ratings were when Kurt Angle came over. What about Christian? Or Jeff Hardy? Fact of the matter is that ratings have barely changed in nearly 5 years. All of the performers I listed off are better, more versatile performers than Batista ever was and they were young enough to step in without being accosted for being too old. Batista is halfway into his 40's, people. So is Goldberg. I will grant that Sting is in his 50's, but he is able to serve as a decent General Manager that makes the show compelling to watch. I would argue that neither of these guys could be able to say the same.

I realize that this was a bit long winded, but suffice it to say that half a million dollars, which TNA is not in a position to spend for such a short term deal is simply not worth the scrutiny. TNA needs to make this journey to the top on their own, for now, without the help of more former WWE talents, particularly those in the higher age bracket. Just a thought to maul over.....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The 10 Year Mark....

I realize I'm still a little ways off from Slammiversary, but I just can't help thinking about some of the great elements that have gone by. I also, however can't help but think that this is the time for TNA do use the nostalgia to bring in a few old favorites. I've already talked about a potential return of Team Canada and even though Devon Nicholson has Hep. C, it would be an awesome way to bring back one of the most dominant stables in TNA history. I'm going to go out on a limb with this column and throw out a few names that TNA could legitimately bring in or bring back without complication.....

1. Monty Brown

Do I want to see this? YES! He could have been bigger than anybody TNA has had under contract in the time they've been around, but he hovered around the top tier without ever crashing through.

2. Lance Hoyt

It was hard to see his spiral downward when he got to WWE. Both Monty and Lance were released with the ECW brand and they couldn't have made a worse choice than letting these guys get away. His work with Kid Kash was good, but his work solo near the end of his TNA tenure was great.

3. Chris Harris

I realize that I've talked him up over the course of the past year, but IF I'm hearing correctly that he's back in ring shape and IF TNA has the confidence in putting together a good run for him, I think Chris Harris could be an awesome force in the coming year.

4. Bobby Lashley
 

Now before anyone tries to inform me that his time in TNA was too short for him to be considered an asset, I would argue that if he devoted the time himself rather than trying to dictate terms of the agreements made with the company back then, TNA would be in better shape for it. But his indecisiveness allowed time to slip away from him.

5. Petey Williams


Without a bout of doubt in my mind, Williams is the hands down pick of most of TNA's fans the world over for who they would like to see come back the most. The Canadian Destroyer; Maple Leaf Muscle; the captain of Team Canada....call him what you will, but he's the real deal. He will bring the game every time it is there to be played.

Will any of these be back to bring in the 10 year anniversary of TNA? I can only hope....

Canadian Angle.....

I'd like to pitch something to you all. Lemme know what you think.....

April 19th....Hogan makes his "Open Fight Night" announcement.

April 26th....The first competitor is announced....Kurt Angle is chosen. Kurt decides he wants to cash in and the match is set for that night. During the match,  Devon Nicholson comes over the tron. He says he's going to take him out for good....the distraction is enough to cost Angle the match.

That night also, Austin Aries is laid out in the back without any idea who did it.

May 3rd....Angle is shown being taken out on a gurney. Over the course of the episode, the TV Champion and the Tag Team Champs are also put out of commission for the night. To end the show, Devon Nicholson is in the Impact Zone holding a Canadian Flag wrapped around a hockey stick. He says that the blood spilled is red like the flag he's holding. Hogan demands to know if he was responsible. To respond, Devon lets Hogan know that everything will become clear next week.

May 10th....Every champion is in the middle of the ring and they demand that Hogan do something about the targets on their backs. Hogan calls out Devon Nicholson. Nicholson says he'll come out soon enough, but in the meantime, Hogan needs to know that it all began with Angle, but it ends when every title is fought by a member of his own team. Hogan reluctantly agrees, provided that every member is present tonight.

In the last segment, all the champions are in the middle of the ring with Hogan. Nicholson comes out and he's got a mic. He says that although the World Title has a competitor already, he's willing to bet another spot can be made for him, since he's taken the championship scene hostage.

"Devon, your TV Title is also up for grabs against a good friend of mine...." A-1 comes out and saunters towards the ring to meet up with Nicholson.

"Joe and Magnus, I'm sure you're pretty pissed about getting whooped on in the back last week. I can assure you, there's more where that came from." Jack Evans and DH Smith join A-1 near the ring along with Johnny Devine.

"Aries, Austin Aries....I haven't forgotten about you-"

 Aries gets into Nicholson's face and says it's a nice gathering of historical relics he's got, but with all of the glam, there's still something missing.....

"Yeah......ME!" Petey Williams walks out onto the ramp, smiling as the show goes off the air.

TEAM CANADA HAS RETURNED AND THEY'RE INVADING SACRIFICE!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What Did Fortune Do For Fortune?

I have pondered the question for quite some time now, mostly because it seems like the path to the World Title seems like a straight and narrow road. What did Fortune actually do for Fortune? What I mean to ask is what the stable did for each member. Who won out? Did anyone really lose?

AJ Styles- I'm sure there can be a case made that he lost the most, but I would argue that AJ is NEVER more than one match away from a title shot for ANY division. If you look at history, just about every time he's gone to bat for the big belt, he's been successful more than half of the time.

Kazarian- This guy confuses me. I had him pegged. I mean, in my mind, he was going to give the fans his best work to date, but he's been trapped by a guy who could have, would have, should have already been a World Champion contender by now, Daniels. Six months ago, I would have predicted Kazarian to be in the line-up for a World Title match against Bobby Roode, but in his current state, the best he could do is job for the Tag Team Division with Daniels.

Bobby Roode- Moving on.....

James Storm- He's been a part of the upper-most echelons ever since winning the World Title for the week he reigned. I'd say that's probably about as good as winning the thing because it is cementing him as the guy who everyone is rooting for. He's the people's champion for TNA. He's got a good character; he's got enough skill both in ring and on the mic to take on just about anyone you can throw at him. Just a little while longer, James fans...just a little longer.

I want to give you guys a little morsel to chew on. Devon Nicholson.....have a watch....

Progression is Coming......

What have I been saying for the past 6 months?
- Make the TV Title matter
- Bring on new ideas.....

How about giving a nobody a shot at a TNA contract on live TV? TNA says "YES!"
How about forcing the TV Champ to compete every week to keep his title? TNA says "YES!"
How about giving any TNA wrestler a chance to challenge anyone else on the roster including the World Heavyweight Champion on Impact? Once again, TNA says "YES!"

Here's the scoop.....Dixie Carter tells fans to stay tuned and that changes are coming down the pike that will take the company further. Look up again at the 3 new elements of Impact.....is anyone going to complain about these changes? Put your hands down WWE marks, you guys don't count....at least not in THIS discussion.

Putting a little bit more control into the hands of the writers is good for TNA. It gives them someplace new to venture and more often to do just that. NOW, concerning the first and third points on the list of ideas. These combine to formulate what Hulk Hogan is calling "Open Fight Night" which will take place once per month. I am assuming this is in addition to PPVs. During this evening of Impact, an independent wrestler will be brought aboard with the chance to perform against one of TNA's finest in hopes of receiving a roster spot and a contract. Additionally, one of TNA's own will be given a chance to challenge ANYONE else on the roster, including champions. Let all of that sink in for a moment....

THIS means that someone who has ridden the bench like Doug Williams could challenge Bobby Roode for his World Title. I see some people getting a free ride to the races once per month and an intriguing opportunity for success. Imagine one man like Williams deciding that he doesn't want to waste his challenge for World Title gold on Impact and decides he wants to face Roode at Sacrifice instead. NOW, if the rules are such that the chosen one of the month has to have the match either on Impact that night OR at the next PPV, this could be a HUGE upward step for the good folks in TNA as this would bring up their talent ranks fast. Not only that, but it would give those bench riding a shot to get back in the game and play again. I say this is good news, but I'm just a fan of choices.

One highlight....just one....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Less is More?

I realize this will make the second or third time I've talked about Lockdown and I promise, this will be the last time. This is a focus on a piece of information I just read today. Apparently, the Hogan/Flair segment went longer than expected and, as a result, the rest of the matches had to be cut to fit the time in the show....this tells me one thing.....Hogan and Flair need to step away. I truly wouldn't say anything if I thought things were going to change, but I feel confident in promising that things won't change so long as the focus remains on them and not on the performers putting themselves on the line each night.

Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair are two of the greatest of all time. Throw Sting in and you have the trifecta of legend. Without a doubt, the appeal of having them all in one place is enough to make the hardcore wrestling fan salivate, but too much of a good thing turns a good thing into a VERY bad thing. You want an example? Have a look at TNA's 2010 year. A-W-F-U-L. You know what I say? I say make Sting a feature attraction much like The Undertaker is for WWE. Keep Hogan in his office UNLESS there is a darn good reason for him to make his presence known. Relegate Flair to a manager role or give him a shot at the announce table as a part of a three man team. Truth be told, I haven't seen much of Flair from the announcers microphone. Listening to him play off of Tazz and Tenay might be refreshing.

I would like to thank the correction of my error concerning the King of the Mountain Match. Since the last match was a couple of years back, I had forgotten it WAS 5 competitors. HOWEVER, since WWE's Money in the Bank Match is so successful, and each TLC Tag Team Match was historic in their own right, I see no reason not to put in 6 guys OR design a brand new gimmick match. I feel completely in my rights to remind people that Eric Bischoff was the man who crafted the Elimination Chamber. AND since he is still a top executive with TNA despite being written off of TV, it seems to me that he could work more magic.

Here's a thought that might make newer TNA fans intrigued.....BRING BACK THE 6 SIDED RING!!! That little piece of TNA history just might brings back some fans in and of itself by separating TNA from WWE even further. It's been almost a year since I started this column and, in that time, I've yet to truly delve into the possibilities of the 6 Sided ring. Fact of the matter is, the 6 sided ring was every bit as much of a character to TNA as any wrestler on their roster. Genesis 2010 was among TNA's worst PPVs of all time. Why? Because the 6 sided ring was replaced WITHOUT WARNING and WITHOUT EXPLANATION. Had there been some kind of story to go along with replacing it and it had been put right back once the story had run its course, it would have been no problem, but since it didn't come back, I say it's high time it did. Just saying.....

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Lockdown Low Down.....

I've been reading a lot of flack for the way Lockdown played out. As I see it, you could look at it in two ways.

1. TNA is looking at PPV in exactly the opposite way they should which is to plan out the finish to try and bolster ratings for their weekly show.

OR

2. TNA is a lot more forward thinking and is giving a belt and champion credibility enough to last until such a time as can be found to make the odds simply insurmountable in order to crown a new champion.

I happen to stand in the center of the number 2 camp. Another fellow columnist on another site would have you believe that TNA is so desperate to get their ratings up that they are planning out a finish that will be so controversial that it will get people to tune in in order to see the fallout on the show in the coming week. While there is some evidence to support this view, I tend to be a great deal more forgiving of a finish to a PPV than most. I may be upset at first, but I will calm down and think about things rationally eventually. Fact is, this goes across the board....for WWE AND for TNA as well.

As I recall, I was thinking that either Storm would walk out as champion OR that Bobby Roode would be placed in a sort of situation where he had odds so stacked that there was no other choice but to write him out of the picture. I'm thinking about the return of the King of the Mountain Match. It's been about 2 years since the last one and I'm thinking it's high time we did just that. Put the 6 best contenders into the biggest match TNA has outside of the Lethal Lockdown match. I would put him in with the biggest and most dangerous bunch so as to guarantee his demise. My list would go something like this.

Matt Morgan
Crimson
James Storm
Jeff Hardy
Bully Ray
Bobby Roode

Give this list to the bookers and let their minds explode. This is the way to take the belt off of Roode. I would put him through absolute HELL leading up to the PPV. I mean brutal match after brutal match where he is put through his limits. THAT'S when you take the belt off....when he's had enough.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Garett Effect.....

I have read COUNTLESS columns about TNA and the one thing that inevitably comes up is their pushing of the Bischoff feud. While admittedly, I have talked about the feud in a favorable light in the past, even I have to come to grips with the fact that this is getting a bit old. Do I believe TNA would really give Garett a shot in TNA as a part of the roster? I think it best to weigh our options.....

If he DOES come aboard, and manages to keep his nose to the grindstone and take his training seriously, he could legitimately surprise people. Now, having said that, if his opponent continuously is Gunner, I will make the drive to Orlando myself and take care of the problem once and for all, removing them both from the roster one way or another. THAT is a waste of talents and TV time. IF Garett is to become a member of the roster for an extended period of time, he NEEDS a character. Right now, he's just a name....Eric Bischoff's son. Seriously, that's all he is to me right now. In like fashion that Eugene was Eric's nephew, that's all I can truly think of him as. He's not compelling enough to me for him to matter to my world.

So, we've got in ring training, a new opponent, and a character as things that need improvement, what else could help young Garett? How about a push that DOESN'T involve his father? If he's going to be John Cena crammed down our collective throats, let's do that APART from Eric. I still believe the Eric Bischoff/ Hulk Hogan play was a good buy for TNA as Eric's job of PR for TNA has been exemplary, particularly with the network execs over at Spike, who have graciously afforded the TNA an extension on their programming contract until October of 2014. HOWEVER, to say his presence on camera after the fall of Immortal at Bound for Glory last year is unwelcome right now is a severe understatement. Once again, it's a waste of resources that TNA can do without.

A victory over Eric would determine if Garett is worthy of such a push since he will finally be able to break free of the staleness involved with his story. BUT, if Eric DOES win, it does give Garett and TNA a reason to move forward with other talents who, as of now, are sitting on the bench waiting to return to TV. So the pros and cons are laid out.....all that's left is to wait for the story to wrap up at Lockdown and have a look at the aftermath the Thursday following.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Battle Card....

So I've been asked about Rob Van Dam.....PWInsider.com reports that RVD will be back full time beginning at Lockdown and will be billed as one of their top talents. While I don't disagree with the assessment, I will say that RVD's days as a full time wrestler are winding down. TNA has done a fantastic job of building their younger talents to carry the company, while WWE is still trying to get theirs over in spite of returning veterans.

Another question I would like to answer before getting into the card is that of Dixie's meeting with Spike TV officials in the past week. TNA is keeping very quiet about specific changes that will be made to the product, but one thing I can tell you for sure, TNA is going to be a lot more focused on getting their younger stars prepped and ready for the top tier. That means you'll see Austin Aries, who isn't exactly young, but is young to those in the mainstream. You'll see AJ Styles, Joe, Magnus, The Guns, Crimson, Morgan, and the current players in the heavyweight clash on Sunday; Roode and Storm. I can speculate that big changes made will be the stage production, lighting, and possibly a move into a bigger sound stage or into an actual arena to further their place in the expansion.

So now that THAT is addressed and I've made known that I WILL keep you in the loop as things develop, I say we move on to the business of the matter.....Lockdown. I give you the card and my prediction about the outcome. Why? Because everyone does it and it seems like the right thing to do, so jumping right in.....

Crimson vs. Morgan.....I just don't see Crimson losing here. I really don't. BUT, I can see it happening to Matt Morgan. So I would say Crimson is the victor for the day, but not without some sort of underhanded tactic to walk out with the win.

Velvet Sky vs. Gail Kim.......Velvet Sky wins. Why? Because Gail has held the belt almost ever since her return to TNA. I think it's time for the belt to return from whence it came.....to the champion who was never given her rematch.

Jeff Hardy vs. Kurt Angle.....Jeff Hardy takes the win. Kurt Angle is in some pretty bad shape as a result of training so hard. A victory here would mean Kurt would have to move on to something new, while a loss is an excuse to take some time away to heal. So that's what I believe he'll do....take a little hiatus and rest.

Team Eric vs. Team Garett......Going off of the information given about TNA's desire to begin a concerted youth movement, I'm going to say that Garett's team comes out of this thing winning. I have no idea whom he would face after this, but almost anything would be better than seeing a furtherance of him facing Gunner. I have gotten so tired of seeing Gunner in the role of lackey. It's time he grew a set and disbanded from the fray.

Robbie E. vs. Devon for the TV Title......I think Devon needs to win in order to bring in a new challenger for the title. TNA NEEDS to make this title mean something and I think the best way to do that is to make a clean break from the current challenger and bring in a couple of new faces to replace or to contest for the belt.

Motor City Machine Guns vs. Joe/Magnus for the Tag Team Titles.......I think that this could be a good rivalry, one that could last into at least another month of feuding, so I think Joe/Magnus will retain.

Bobby Roode vs. James Storm for the World Heavyweight Title......I have to go with James Storm. It feels like the right time for the belt to change hands. This is the biggest punishment and it makes sense to either change hands here or to force something for Slammiversary. I'm going to go with James Storm for the win.

I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see some kind of altercation between Sarita and Rosita and ODB. And I think that one will end just the way it should, Eric coming down to play the valiant husband. Although, this could end in a very dramatic turn with Eric leaving ODB, which could make it an upper-midcard headline feud of sorts.

I also expect some kind of number one contenders' match for the X Title either as a pre-show match or an unannounced impromptu match at the beginning of the PPV.

I realize that this column is a bit lengthy, but everything could not fit into something as complete without making it this long. I look forward to this PPV probably more than I have to any other this year to date. Bet on plenty of brawling and some blood to be spilled. Life outside of the PG world is kinda nice like that.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Problem Like Maria.....

Maria Kanellis is wrong. Dead wrong. Let me back up.....Maria, who performed in WWE in the Diva's Division is now with Ring of Honor. Now, for those of you who don't know my feelings about Ring of Honor, I bring them to you now. Their roster is colorful and their performers are among the highest caliber in the world. HOWEVER, in the course of the past 15-20 years, their production quality and presentation style leaves much to be desired, even by the standards people complained about for TNA in their early days. Further, it hasn't changed much during that time.

They have 3 belts; a Television Championship, a Tag Team Championship, and a World Heavyweight Championship. No Women's Championship. Only two females on their entire roster, in fact.....and one is merely an interviewer. Why do I bring up the roster OR Ring of Honor in the first place? I'm glad you asked......

Maria Kanellis was interviewed by VOC Wrestling Nation in Philidelphia recently. In her words, she believes that Ring of Honor's status "has surpassed TNA" and goes on to say that they have the best wrestlers in the world. With all due respect to the men and two women on the roster of ROH, it does little good to have a decent roster if you can't showcase them the way they deserve to be. Eddie Edwards, the Briscoes, and the rest of their roster deserves to be given angles and camera quality to properly capture the best their matches have to offer, but rather than focus their efforts on bringing the aesthetic quality of the show Maria brags up, they attempt to hide it behind the match itself. There IS a way to have your cake and eat it too, guys. TNA has found a good balance....work towards that, ROH.

If there was a women's champion who had any place to talk about roster quality, it's not Maria. She's in a company where she'll never be a champion. Why not? There is no belt to fight for. Seems simple enough. This isn't a criticism of the product, only of the one bragging up a product she has no place in to begin with.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Miscellaneous Wanderings.....

As the title of this column suggests, I'm going to be jumping around a bit. I've been asked why I continue to do this. Why do I keep spouting the glories of TNA and putting down WWE in the columns I write here? Because I see more in TNA's ability to grow than I do in WWE's ability to keep selling what they are to the general public despite Scott Steiner's personal protests to the contrary.

I've talked about WWE's Women's Division and given the opinions of a few superstars as to their undoing of that division, but for those who STILL don't buy my speech, I give you another of my favorite Divas of all time....Lita.

Let's all show a raise of hands as to who might not be asked to join in WWE's Wrestlemania Fan AXXESS in coming years. Who is better to talk about the state of the division she helped pioneer?

For anyone interested in the bid for the United States Olympic Team, Kurt Angle won't be on it. He suffered an MCL tear, which will take up to 6 months of recovery. On a side note: this has no bearing on the match this Sunday between Angle and Jeff Hardy for Lockdown. Kurt has assured that it will be a great match as his knee will be well guarded.

Also, Eric Bischoff, who in spite of whatever happens on Sunday, will continue to serve as one of the chief producers for the show behind the scenes is giving assurances as well. His assurances are more focused on the time frame after Lockdown, which promises to be something to rival the things happening up north.

TNA's strategy for getting the word out in the form of putting Lockdown in select theaters is something I bragged up when they did it for Bound for Glory, but this PPV promises to be something almost more special as it may just determine how loyal TNA fans really are when the biggest Pay Per View event on the calendar year comes to the big screen. Don't forget to keep the ticket stub and send a copy to TNA for your free t-shirt.....

Bully Beatdown

TNA Creative has been in debate over something I'm happy to say may be on the horizon that I have said would happen this year. They want to make Bully Ray World Champion. Finally. They believe Ray is the best heel performer in the industry today and I can't dispute that. I think he's a more real, raw, and charismatic showman in terms of his ability to cut promos and work stiff enough to sell himself than anyone else in the business. I give him full props for the full blown character reinvention. I'll be honest, I never saw that kind of thing coming from him. EVER.

So now we're looking down the barrel of a possible story to put him into the title picture. Could it be compelling? Believe it. Could it be believable? I didn't think it believable that he could be as good of a heel for the company until recently. Could they do it up right? I sincerely believe they could do just that....provided his feuds have some staying power and his matches are played out with a mix of clean finishes on PPVs and perhaps a cheating tactic or two on TV.

Bobby Roode's success as a heel has been booked strong and he's playing his character well. I believe Bully Ray needs the same kind of booking behind him in order for him to be as successful. How difficult is it to put someone on the wrong end of a Bully Beatdown?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Scotty too shoddy?

If anyone has been watching Scott Steiner on Twitter, you would have seen his many criticisms of TNA and the managerial decisions surrounding the product. The fact is, his critique is so filled with words that it's truly staggering. I'm surprised he hasn't exceeded the maximum number of words for the social network, to be blunt.

Now, I think I've made my distaste for Twitter perfectly clear in past columns, but for anyone who hasn't read any of those, let me say that it's in bad taste to air your dirty laundry on social networks in general, but for those in the wrestling world, it's news. CM Punk's Chris Brown battle on Twitter started something in the wrestling world....now EVERYONE is venting their frustrations with their perspective brand.

Now about Scott's specific complaints? He fires off about the Abyss storyline, Garett Bischoff, TNA cutting costs on catering, who they're pushing and who is getting the shaft. Seriously, there is so much more to his rant that it's maddening. My question about all of it is WHY?

His career has been rather bumpy as of recent years, but is that the fault of TNA management? In my opinion, no. His moveset is 30 years old and it hasn't been adjusted....so many legends have come and gone and each one coming through TNA has been able to adjust to their product and yet, for some odd reason, he hasn't. Sting took on some new tricks, as did Hogan. For Hogan, the leg drop disappeared...nevermind that his hip replacement surgery took that move away from him. My point is that adjusting would have been his saving grace, but he never did.

And the end of the story? Who knows? But one thing is for sure, friendships have been severed and relationships ended over his words. I've said it before, and I'll say it again.....only YOU can prevent Twitter fires.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The DVD....

I know that the past day or two have been sporadic for posts and, believe me, there is a good reason. I've got a LOT of TNA news to bring to the table. SO, without too much further ado, I say we launch right in there....

First on the docket is that Spike TV and TNA have come to a contract extension agreement which would put them with the network until AT LEAST October of 2014. This is HUGE news because TNA AND Spike are going to be looking for ways to gain viewers in the coming year. So expect some pretty amazing things from the creative staff in Florida AND Nashville as they will be debuting characters, bringing people back, and whatever else it takes to sway the WWE crowd.

Next up is the DVD. As I stated in an earlier column, WWE and TNA negotiated pretty hard for how to allow Ric Flair to appear for the Hall of Fame ceremony. Also as stated, WWE agreed to to allow TNA to utilize the voice talents of one of their performers and physical presence in their sound stage as host for a future TNA DVD release. The backstage word is that it will be someone with ties to ALL three legends on the TNA roster; Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Sting.

Under THAT condition, only a few of names float to the surface. One name is not officially under contract, one is under a legends deal of his own, and one is retired. While there may be more that I don't see, these names strike me as the most logical names to have connections to the legends TNA has under contract at the moment.

1. Mick Foley.....Right now, he working on an appearance contract, which means he's not locked into a set amount of dates to work. Since he's worked for TNA, he would have those connections, but his name is not the one I believe to be most likely.

2. Kevin Nash.....Currently, he's under contract as a legend, but is serving out his time on the paper without dates or presence on television. In fact, some close to him speculate that he won't resign another WWE contract and will, instead go back to TNA once his current deal runs out. That, in my opinion, makes him a bit of a wild card.

3. Shawn Michaels.....This is the single name I'm most hopeful for. Michaels has had dealings with every legend on TNA's roster. He appeared at an independent wrestling show for a Christian rally of sorts as a run-in to save Sting from a beat down and was interviewed by Sting on a Christian talk show a few years back, for those who doubt the Sting connection. If Vince were to give his blessing on the endeavor, which you can bet Michaels would ask for, this would be a HUGE deal for TNA. In my personal opinion, it would be bigger than WWE mentioning TNA by name at the ceremony itself.

With speculations that the connections with Sting, Flair, and Hogan, it can be reasonably be assumed that it would be some kind of tribute to them as as part of their 10 year Anniversary Celebration, but there are no real concrete answers as of yet. As always, I'll keep digging and looking for the pattern in this. Answers will come in time.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Breaks....

Because wrestling is the sports entertainment that knows no seasons, it's among the greatest events, in my opinion, to exist. No breaks, no vacations, no real holidays to speak of. At least not in WWE. TNA, however, is a different beast entirely. Because this site has been faithful to attempting to shift the load and balance the scales, so to speak, I truly enjoy writing the virtues of the number 2 wrestling company in the nation. I would no be so diluted as to not know that the numbers don't lie. WWE is the top dog right now and not to acknowledge that would be foolish, which I am not. HOWEVER, WWF was the top dog for a full year before the ratings adjusted to make that known during the Monday Night Wars.

My intent on this site is not to tear down WWE...at least not what I know they can be. In fact, I believe TNA is more what WWE was 10 years ago than WWE is now. These days WWE is so top heavy with so much emphasis on singles competition, there's simply no room for a Tag Team Division, which truly is a shame. Fact is, a good portion of the pure singles performers came from tag teams to begin with and to forget that is to lose sight of how to build a strong top tier. Look at the following names.....

Steve Austin
Shawn Michaels
Bret Hart
John Morrison
Jeff Hardy
Triple H
Kevin Nash

All of these guys had or have a pretty strong singles' career. But they also had a respectable beginning in a tag team tandem before making it big. The Hardy Boyz, DX, Stunning Steve and Flying Brian Pillman, The Hart Foundation, Michaels and Diesel, MNM....all will one day find themselves in the pages of hall of fame books the world over.

WWE really needs to take some time and think about this. Without a respectable Tag Team Division, they are missing out on giving more people a fighting chance to succeed in this business that we all know and love. It's no wonder Epico's rants about putting the Tag Team match on the Wrestlemania pre-show existed. That's right, one half of the Tag Team Champions made loud noises on Twitter about the division's place on the card or rather the lack thereof.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lockdown's Solutions.....

I've just had a look at the card. Everything makes sense so far. Here's what we've got on tap, unless things change.....

Lethal Lockdown.....Team Garett (AJ Styles, Mr. Anderson, Austin Aries, Garett Bischoff and one you've been asking about....RVD) vs. Team Eric (Bully Ray, Daniels, Kazarian, Gunner, and possibly Eric himself)
Jeff Hardy vs. Kurt Angle
Joe/Magus vs. The Motor City Machine Guns for the Tag Team Titles
Gail Kim vs. Velvet Sky for the Knockouts Title
Devon vs. Robbie E. for the TV Title
Bobby Roode vs. James Storm for the World Heavyweight Title
Crimson vs. Matt Morgan

Sounds like a pretty solid card to me and I will say that the finishes to each match will NEED to make sense if TNA expects buyrates to work out the way they plan. The most often talked about complaint among critics is the finish of the PPV. If the finish isn't good or isn't a clean finish or if it doesn't make sense, the critics will tune out instead of enjoying the product.

If it were me writing the card, I probably would have had the TV Title defended on Impact for the week after, with a number one contenders match for both the X Title and TV Title on the PPV, but that may be just me. Whatever the case may be, it's still a respectable card and a lot of people are getting used. I would think guys like Doug Williams and Anthony Nese will get some more time in the coming weeks now that Aries is beginning to move up the card. Also, now that the Guns are back, it makes 3 teams, but I would venture that another team should be formed to put an even greater emphasis on that division.

Every little tweak I'm suggesting is just fine tuning, guys. In truth, if they wanted to just sit back and work with what they have, I'd have no problem with it as their performers are doing just fine in their work for the moment.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Purging......

I've brought it up on occasions about this time of year....the annual spring cleaning for WWE. The Future Endeavors Club Class of 2012 is in processing right now. Pink slips are being stuffed into envelopes as you read this. The Webmaster for WWE is having the messages underwritten and the roster is already beginning to stir, with those most vocally opposed to their position in the company are the ones who are most likely to end up on the wrong end of the stick. Every year it happens and every year I ask the same question.....why do you keep bringing in new people when you haven't properly utilized the ones you're looking to let go?

I won't go into my disapproval of these practices much deeper, except to say that I expect this year's purge to be an especially long list. Why? With the re-integration of The Rock, Brock Lesnar, and perhaps Batista into the fold, the top of the card is going to put the pushes of some of the younger guns on hold, pending how these inclusions pan out. SO, with John Cena, The Rock, CM Punk, Sheamus, Batista, Brock Lesnar, and Randy Orton on rotation for the top spots, guys like Daniel Bryan (who I know some will disagree with me upon), Santino (who WWE had been getting behind up until now), and others on down the card will have to accommodate the returning veterans and get used to being used as fodder for them.

TNA is not in the same position, as their bench of inactive players, or players who haven't been fully used as of recent is very small. They can't afford to let many wrestlers on the roster leave because Impact is finally becoming a real variety show, one that is getting the most use out of their roster. With Scott Steiner out of the picture, it allows more money that he otherwise would have been getting from TNA to potentially go somewhere else. If the rumors are true and Ric Flair does leave TNA to go back to WWE to work for them once his contract expires, it may free up even more potential that TNA could put to good use.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dialogues.....

Because I love the public forum here more than anywhere else, I bring a few subjects to the table this day for two reasons. One is designed to get some education out there as to the nature of this business we all love so much. The other is to give a bit of history and set a record straight. Let's jump in.....

Most guys in WWE are given a run with the IC Title or the US Title to see the kind of impact they will have with fans before they are given a run with the big belts.....True or False?


False!!!!! Most guys are given a push of some kind BEFORE they are given a title run of ANY kind. I will go further with this and reveal that most of the guys I refer to here are given their push before they ever make it to television.....on the house show circuit. THAT is where the majority of the decisions are made concerning their future. If they go over well, they have a mini push on Superstars or Smackdown. Rarely is a debut done on RAW these days. Many never are given a run with the IC Title OR the US Title. Fact is, some never get a title run of any kind. My point is that the number of wrestlers that reach the main event level is INCREDIBLY small. Those that make it into the Tag Team Division are lucky to have a job.

A Women's match will never steal the show at a PPV or be the main attraction because they don't draw money or viewers.....True or False?


FALSE!!! Go back about 10 years and look at the Women's Division of that day in WWE. Those women were often given 5 to even 10 minutes to run a match on RAW. I can even name a RAW main event featuring Lita vs. Victoria in a Steel Cage Match. The women of that time were given time because they COULD and often DID raise ratings not for their looks, although they were stunning, but for their in ring prowess and ability to sell a decent story on television. Look at the roster of the time....

Ivory
Lita
Victoria
Molly Holly
Trish Stratus
Jacqueline
Jazz
Gail Kim

We're talking true Diva Legends in the making, people... I refer you all to a truly great classic match between Trish Stratus and Victoria fought at Survivor Series 2002, which was a Hardcore Rules match to boot.

In TNA, once a person is in the X Division, they are stuck there......True or False?


False once again.....The X Division is a great place for highly athletic stars to begin, but that is only a beginning. AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Abyss, Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, The Motor City Machine Guns, and a quite a few other TNA superstars have held the X Title. Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin are both ex champions of the X Division and now are former Tag Team Champions as well. Abyss has held BOTH the X Division Title as well as the World Heavyweight Championship. AJ Styles has held every title TNA has had. Kurt Angle has held them all at once. Samoa Joe is currently Tag Team Champion with Magnus. Is my point clear enough? The beauty of TNA is that they can adjust their roster to sufficiently round out every division as they need to. WWE has not been able to do that for nearly 6 years now.

Exhaust....

I realize it's been a day since I posted anything and for that, I apologize....I needed the break, though. In any case, I've had some time to reflect and let some of the events of the past few days of wrestling sink in fully. I've got about 10 thoughts going through my head right now.....

1. WWE needs to focus. With The Rock over here and Brock over there and Cena somewhere else.....and what about the titles? The World Titles are getting overshadowed by the Superstars. What made the WWE product so good for the run they had was that every feud had something at stake and, most often, it had to do with the World Title. Now....not so much. The titles have been relegated to a lesser role, which takes more away from the prestige of said titles.

2. TNA's doing a good job of bringing Austin Aries into the limelight. I think he's outgrowing his division, which is a good thing....moving him up the card can only boost the quality of the product, which I'm all for.

3. If I keep seeing Natalya and Beth Phoenix being underutilized, I may have to buy and ticket to CONN and start bashing some heads, until their contracts are open to cross the line.....

4. Daniel Bryan deserved more than 18 seconds.

5. I hope Arlington is okay after the spot of bad weather in the past few days. Our thoughts and prayers are with you guys in that area. Hoping this doesn't jeopardize Slammiversary for you.

6. Gail Kim needs to lose the belt. Seriously.

7. Where is the TV Title? Shouldn't it be on TV?

8. What job is Curt Hawkins qualified for in WWE other than career jobber?

9. "Has anyone seen Abyss?"

10. Brock Lesnar is a lot more scary in person than on TV, which is saying something after RAW last week.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rewind.....circa 2002....

Tell me something.....when did WWE decide to turn the clock back to 2002 by putting Cena, The Rock, and Brock Lesnar on the same show? Throw in Batista and Ric Flair and you'd have a perfect copy....sort of. The difference is that this is 2012. WWE is still PG. Was it nice to see Brock back? Absolutely. Will it be nice to see Batista? Sure, it will. But folks, the problem will remain the same. The rating of their show, the condition of their veterans, and the lack of devotion to their specialty divisions will still be waiting for them once the smoke clears. The glint and the glam of seeing pieces of a fallen era coming back into the limelight will fade, and when it does, the youngsters trying to catch a break in the business will still be fighting over scraps.

How many times must we go over this? Now,  Zack Ryder, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, and the rest of the undercard will stay right where they are. Why? Because the remnants from 10 years back are back to holding the reins. WWE has shifted from putting focus on the youth to pushing them back down the card. Face palm, people......face palm.

What do we want to see? Correct me if I'm wrong, but Brock Lesnar made a LIVING out of making people bleed. WWE is making a big deal out of NOT making people bleed. Conflict of interest? Just a little bit....One of the bloodiest duels I have ever seen involved Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker. You can bet there will be no repeat performance under the current rule of law.

You want my reaction to RAW? It was a mixed blessing....kinda like getting a bladder transplant from a bed wetter. You're thankful for something new, but you know it won't work quite like you're planning.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Foreign Exchange.....

After doing a bit of research, I've found something interesting concerning Ric Flair's appearance at WWE's Hall of Fame induction ceremony. TNA officials tried to negotiate for WWE to mention TNA by name, thanking them for allowing Ric to participate. WWE declined this point. They DID, however, grant TNA another request as fair exchange, or so my sources have led me to believe.

TNA will have a WWE wrestler serve as a host either in person or as a voice-over for a TNA released DVD in the future. Now, the details of this agreement are still clouded in a veil, but this proves two things to be true....

1. Ric Flair is valuable. His presence COULDN'T have been done without in inducting The Four Horsemen. Simple as that.

2. TNA was in the right place at the right time for Flair to join Hogan in the company. Now, you all can say what you want about what was done in the storylines, but facts are facts, WWE has agreed to let one of their own cross 'enemy lines', so to speak because Flair was under contract.

Two questions loom over this development....What does this DVD release cover that would be so valuable for a WWE Superstar to host or voice over for it? AND Who is the candidate to host this release?

As for the what? I can't begin to guess. BUT, as for the WHO? Ahhhh...there I have a few to toss in...

1. Christian....He's been there, stood at the top and has now been champion in BOTH companies. He seems a logical candidate.

2. CM Punk....While his tenure in TNA was brief, I have to believe there is a part of him that has some good things to say about the number 2 company on the horizon...particularly now that the product is getting better.

3. Chris Jericho....Surprised? I'm not only suggesting Jericho because Fozzy's song "Enemy" was the theme song for Bound for Glory back in '05. I think he could give some perspective to the most jaded of TNA skeptics and make them take notice. After all, he is one of the most recognizable performers in wrestling today.

4. John Cena.....This would be a curve ball and I HAD to put him in here. Now, this would be a bit inconvenient as his new feud with the pain, himself, Brock Lesnar is still in its infancy, but wouldn't it be a huge coup for TNA if he DID jump even for a DVD voice spot?


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Grab a Shovel....

Try to remember the last time you saw someone buried in TNA.....by buried, I mean systematically destroyed in virtually every way. I doubt you can remember that far back, can you? Wrestlemania featured a maddening display of burial as Daniel Bryan was kicked and pinned in 18 seconds. 18 seconds, people. It took longer for the main event of Victory Road last year where Sting pinned Jeff Hardy, to put it in perspective. What's worse, the backstage word is that they were going for the shortest match record since Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero back in WW/ECW.

Now, I can appreciate cutting time somewhere to give to another match near the end of the card, but that kind of embarrassment is (or WAS) below WWE's standards. My reasoning has to do with the duration of Bryan's title reign. To have a championship reign last as long as his did and then to cut it off in 18 seconds buries his credibility as champion.

For the first time in a VERY long time, I'm simply speechless. I can think of few things to say to describe what I've seen. Devoting an entire hour to Rock vs. Cena is more than simply infuriating, that would be generous. I may have to give this some time before reflecting in more detail. Stay tuned....I'll have more enlightening thoughts in tomorrow's column.

Xplosion.....

Producer Kevin Sullivan with TNA has some decisions to make. Fans want longer episodes of Spin Cycle, more matches, and house show footage, according to a poll conducted on the international circuit....so what does this mean? TNA is going to do everything they can to see to it everything is delivered. So for those of you who live overseas, this should be welcome news. To those of us who live in the US of A, it means we need to be a little more active in our attending of events and such to bolster support here.

With Wrestlemania hype nearly over, WWE has plans to reveal their brand new deal with Brock Lesnar, who has just inked a one year contract. His involvement is said to surround Wrestlemania 29 next year, but the details are to be revealed more fully on RAW Monday night. Whether he appears at the event tomorrow night is something yet to be determined, but it could make a drab looking card on the surface a bit more interesting. Who would his target be? That is something that might sway my calloused opinion of the WWE product, if even slightly.

Now, that being said, I see nothing wrong with what TNA has on tap. Three matches for a card three weeks away is just fine as there are still a couple of matches I can see coming. There has been no Lethal Lockdown match announced, but I would imagine it being announced as soon as Thursday when Impact airs. I am going to guess that the feuds on the card will include Crimson vs. Morgan, Austin Aries vs. Bully Ray, Velvet Sky vs. Gail Kim, and perhaps a number one contendership match between four teams.....Anderson/Styles, Kazarian/Daniels, Mexican America, and the returning Motor City Machine Guns with that match occupying the main event on Impact the weeks before the PPV. All of this would lead me to question the direction TNA will take the division, whether heel or face. Whatever they decide, you can bet on a compelling build toward a great title match.

I am still of the belief that TNA has their own fate in their hands. They can pull off a great summer by staying the course and not allowing WWE to worry them into doing anything rash or in bad form....there is truly nothing to fear when time and the return of fan favorites are on their side.