Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Final Countdown....

So this is it. The Very first in TNA's ongoing live broadcast summer. The final challenger for the TV Title has been announced......Jeff Hardy. Your challengers are the following:

Jeff Hardy
Rob Van Dam
Robbie E.
Mr. Anderson

Be sure to get in your vote for Devon's opponent tonight. To pull the curtain back a bit, former WWE Tag Team Champion Domino is backstage for the live event. Whether we'll see an on screen appearance is unclear, but what IS on the docket has been mentioned in earlier columns. Just to recap, though.....

-Brooke Hogan will be introduced to the Impact Zone
-Sting vs. Bobby Roode in a Lumberjack Match
-Update on the career of James Storm
-Devon vs. Fan's Choice for the TV Title
-A big surprise announcement from Dixie Carter

What TNA does from here will have a great deal of influence on how well the card stacks up for Slammiversary and I'm going all in that the build will be something special. Now, whether or not we see a new debut or a return is something best left for tonight, but I will say, hang on and brace for Impact.

Going Further.....

TNA has announced something truly shocking.....Robbie E. is one of the competitors Devon potentially will face as a challenger for the TV Title. For those of you curious, I am simply not a fan anymore. This has gone on long enough. Robbie E. needs to be out of the running. Since holding the TV belt, he brought a bad taste my mouth over how the belt was defended, how often, and even though I realize not all of it is his fault, but the character on camera is what is presented. So he is a bad image to have in contention right now.

That not withstanding, Robbie E. has no chance of winning the vote against either of the two others that have been revealed. As for the final competitor, I've got a hunch we're going to see Crimson in the limelight as it's time for them to give him a bit of gold and credibility to his so called "Streak". By my way of thinking, just because you haven't been pinned doesn't mean you're undefeated. Of course, that's just my opinion, but what do I know?

I am chomping at the bit to find out just what the announcement Dixie has in store for the TNA Nation. In a statement just a day or two ago, she announced that she would introduce Brooke, but also that there would be another big announcement on the way. I'll keep digging to see what I can come away with, but I'm betting on a debut or a return from TNA's past that will make EVERY TNA fan throw up a battle cry to give Vince pause. My hope is that we'll finally see the signing of John Morrison and Melina. He needs to jump back into the national scene before people forget about him.

So it's been confirmed now. Alex Shelley is truly gone. It's a true shame to lose such a talent with a great deal to offer, but I wish him the best of luck. He will need it. WWE has a horrendous track record of using former TNA talents. Maybe I've mentioned this before, but every "TNA made" talent to ever set foot in WWE has been released again within 2 years. No exceptions. For the record, once you leave the main roster, you're out. So anyone who wants to claim that Lance Hoyt had a real shot never saw his WW/ECW stint. Lance Hoyt, Kid Kash, Monty Brown, Chris Harris......all were burned by the Titan Towers. I truly hope Shelley can avoid the fate that his predecessors suffered.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Revelations......

Rob Van Dam....Check.
Mr. Anderson.....Check......Devon is sure to have his hands full, no matter which of the four contenders are on the docket. I'll keep the revelations coming here as they present themselves, I promise.

Let's see.....where is Slammiversary's build? Do we have a challenger? So far, the only thing I have seen even on the horizon has been Kurt Angle and AJ Styles vs. Kazarian and Daniels for the Tag Team Titles, which is good enough to Main Event the entire PPV, but is already a great match that will NEED time to blossom.

But, with only 2 weeks left until the 10th anniversary PPV, nothing else has been revealed, which, quite frankly, is a bit of a shame. I'm going to bet, though, that TNA will ramp VERY hard out of this weeks' broadcast. Whatever the challenger, Bobby Roode has an uphill battle ahead of him, bet on that.


Monday, May 28, 2012

From the Crow's Nest.....

Listing the names leaving TNA is like taking bullets in rapid succession. Alex Shelley, Ric Flair, Don West, and potentially Matt Morgan. HOWEVER, let me emphasize this as clearly as I possibly can......Only Don West and Ric Flair are confirmed as released. Alex Shelley and Matt Morgan could still re-sign with TNA once their contracts have been given for renewal.

Maybe I'm just an optimist, but I have some strong leanings that Matt Morgan is going to stay with TNA, provided they give him the kind of push he needs to become a top tier contender. Alex Shelley is a bit of a wild card, but I wouldn't count him out either. Don West is a huge loss. Anyone who laughs has no clue how much he did for the merchandising side of the business TNA was running. He moved more merchandise from their warehouses and created opportunities for TNA to truly break into the collectible market. Figure in that he also provided a decent voice from the announce table in the early goings and you can see just how valuable Mr. West was to the organization.

NOW.....with all of this talk about releases over with, we come to the challengers for the TV Title this coming Thursday. The first contender has been announced as Rob Van Dam. Mr. Pay Per View had a great showing at Sacrifice and, despite a botched and painful looking finish, put on a very nice little ladder match for the World Title. Granted, it was not to be, but RVD still is one of the finest performers on the roster on a consistent basis. So who else is waiting for their chance? I have my guesses.....

Jeff Hardy.......With RVD on the docket, I can only see TNA picking their top merchandise mover as a fan favorite simply to get people voting.

James Storm.....If anyone could polarize the viewers and split the vote, it's Storm. Losing at Lockdown may have made him step away for a time, but I think the chance at gold is too hard to resist.

Crimson.......It's time. I think it's time Crimson had the chance to get some gold under his resume. He's undefeated, unpinned, and has enough skills to pursue this. It'd be a shame if they don't finally pull the trigger and let him be his own man.

Mr. Anderson......I would be a bit surprised if they had him in contention for so long for the big belt and cut him out of getting a shot at the number two belt on the ticket.

Those are my guesses. I realize that makes 5 and there are only four spots, but there are even more spots I could explain. So I have cut it down to 5.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The 31st.....

I've been hearing all kinds of rumblings about the spectacle that is the first Live Impact Wrestling broadcast of the summer. Will there be any debuts? What kind of returns could we see? What do we expect? Will the Lumberjack Match be for the World Title? On and on the questions go and the hype continues to build.

My answer to each question in order goes a bit like this: Wait and see. That's it. I CAN say safely that TNA wouldn't put something like this on unless there was something special to showcase, so a debut or special return I feel safe in predicting for the first live show to kick off the live event summer.

Would I leave you all hanging here without a clue? On any other event, I would say "no", but this time is a bit different. You really want to know what's coming? Watch the show this Thursday in its new timeslot live on SpikeTV or catch it in pieces on YouTube the next day. Sorry guys, but I can promise; you'll love what's on tap.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's Coming.....

The way of TNA is about to change, as we all know. TNA goes live beginning next week; Sting vs. Roode in a Lumberjack Match; Brooke Hogan takes over the Knockouts Division (whether permanent or temporary); and the final two weeks of build to Slammiversary. This has been a pretty crazy week of news as far as TNA is concerned.

I have a question to pose.....what does it all mean? WWE gains insider information from a dirty employee, Ric Flair is given his marching orders, TNA launches lawyers in two different directions, and independent performers begin to choose sides. As far as I can see, the battle lines are being drawn. The difference is that TNA is actually better off this time. When they went live the last time, they rendered the show virtually unwatchable with so many cameo appearances and debuts and with too many radical changes. In the current winds, TNA has everything they need to succeed this time.

A consistent home base isn't what a lot of TNA fans want to see, but neither do they want to see the company go belly up for lack of finances. Real growth takes time and now that their performers are finding more avenues into which to grow roots and a fanbases, so too is the product finding new ways to expand. With at least one new show on the horizon and a consistent influx of new talents to regenerate their roster, TNA is beginning to remake themselves in a fresh new way that is sure to win over the masses, provided that they are just as determined to keep each new talent moving on camera so that people can see some character development and a story to match.

While WWE is more focused on starting up their own television network and bringing back stars from 10 years back, TNA is making every effort to update their own programming. With Open Fight Night, the Gut Check Challenge, and at least one title defense on each and every show, TNA seems far more serious about putting their best foot forward than their northern based counterpart. Sure, WWE has momentum on their side, but so does a pendulum at first......

It Gets Serious.....

Former TNA/WWE employee Brian Wittenstein along with WWE are being sued for interference with existing contracts, conversion, breach of contract, civil conspiracy, unfair competition, and violation of the Tennessee Trade Secrets Act....an added count of breach of duty loyalty is being levied against Wittenstein.

TNA has launched this lawsuit in response to the former employee passing along contract details to WWE and meddling in the day to day contractual duties of certain TNA performers and employees. The potential loss of Matt Morgan and Alex Shelley are very large losses and TNA is not in the position to lose such pivotal talents the way that they may.

WWE's legal counsel submitted that when details WERE passed from Wittenstein to the brass hats in Stanford and he was subsequently fired, WWE sent those pieces of information right back to TNA. So what's the problem? Here it is.....WWE waited several weeks after the firing of Wittenstein BEFORE sending TNA the information they were passed during his tenure back. So he sends the materials, TNA fires him, and then WWE sits on the information for a number of weeks before deciding to send the packet back?! Why would they do that? THAT, folks, is the question of the day.....why would WWE want to keep information on the contract details of a couple of their top stars?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Desperate Times....

Two from TNA's roster are now gone and with them, an established team is now disbanded. In a release piece of news just coming over the ticker, Ric Flair and Alex Shelley have been let out of their contracts and, in turn, The Motor City Machine Guns are no longer together. Chris Sabin, who just returned in recent weeks from a year on injured reserve, may end up back in the X Division OR he may become just another face on the bench, which would be a horrible shame.

With Ric Flair's situation, there were so many complications; so many reservations; so much trouble involved with his tenure in TNA that the upper brass felt no other choice could be reached. Irresponsible lifestyle filled with lavish bar tabs and the expectations for TNA to foot the bill, complete with no showing several house show dates during the span of time he was employed held him to scrutiny among many. His premature verbal agreement to be in attendance at WWE's Hall of Fame Ceremony left TNA with few options other than granting him the break in contract to attend.

This post comes in late to you all late....mainly because it's been a hard thing to swallow. I wrote a column earlier talking great things about the contribution Ric Flair made to TNA in them allowing him to be a part of the Hall of Fame festivities, but for his actions and reputation to pollute what progress TNA had made with certain of their off site relations makes it very hard to have respect or to even respond to all the questions I've been hit with.

As far as Alex Shelley is concerned.....he's a VERY talented guy. Charismatic, athletic, and loaded with talent....WWE may not use him as well as TNA has, but their roster looks better with even his picture on it. TNA will suffer a bit without his presence as it IS the Tag Team Division that hinged nicely with the Motor City Machine Guns leading the charge for the belts.

We, as fans of TNA, mourn the loss of Shelley from the roster, but we rejoice in welcoming the surprises in the coming weeks.....one more week, folks, until TNA goes live for the rest of the summer....count it down.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Round 3....Turning Point

1. Heath Slater
2. Justin Gabriel
3. Zack Ryder
4. Brodus Clay
5. Christian
6. David Otunga
7. Jack Swagger
8. Kelly Kelly
9. Ted DiBiase
10. Chris Jericho

This is what WWE is left with that even stands to compete and Christian is just coming off of an injury and Jericho is on the verge of leaving for another Fozzy tour, making only a marginal part of this list.

1. Bully Ray
2. Chris Sabin
3. Alex Shelley
4. Magnus
5. Samoa Joe
6. Abyss
7. RVD
8. Rob Terry
9. Tara
10. Pope D'Angelo Dinero

As you can see, TNA's performers here are very nearly ALL on the flagship show on television at least 3 or 4 times per month whereas WWE's are rarely on either of the more popular shows on TV save for Christian and Chris Jericho. I say we put in the most bang for the buck and finish off WWE once and for all.

1. Bully Ray vs. David Otunga.....I don't like Otunga. Let me make that clear, so I make this a No Disqualification match. Bully wins.

2. Survivor Series match (The Motor City Machine Guns, Joe, Magnus, and Rob Terry vs. Gabriel, DiBiase, Ryder, Slater, and Brodus Clay)......Without much discussion, TNA's finest prevail.

3. Tara vs. Kelly Kelly.....Is there really a competition here? Why did I pick Kelly? Because she's a WWE top management favorite for selling posters, and Maxim magazine covers.

4. Abyss vs. Jack Swagger.....I like the idea of taking Swagger out of his element and a nice match against a brawler would do him some good.

5. RVD vs. Chris Jericho.....It doesn't matter what kind of match, they always deliver in a match with one another.

6. Pope Dinero vs. Christian......I like that Christian and Pope have some common ground, which is why I picked them to face one another.

Round 2....Different players

I told you we could build a decent card out of simply the players on top of each company. I would go a step further and say that we could go another round with another 10 players from each company and have every bit the headlining event. Unfortunately for WWE, their top tier is so small that very few remain in a commanding role, which means that TNA will come out of it on top but let's look at round 2 anyway....

1. Rey Mysterio
2. Alberto Del Rio
3. Ryback
4. Dolph Ziggler
5. Kane
6. The Miz
7. Lord Tensai
8. Natalya
9. Beth Phoenix
10. Wade Barrett

These are my personal picks from the upper mid-card and top profile places left in WWE. This, in my opinion, is where business picks up. There is simply more talent in this list than there is in the previous.

1. AJ Styles
2. Doug Williams
3. Crimson
4. Matt Morgan
5. Mr. Anderson
6. Jeff Hardy
7. Mickie James
8. Angelina Love
9. Hernandez
10. Sting

How about THIS list? Let's run the card like this....

1. Ryback vs. Crimson.....Undefeated streak vs. a smaller undefeated streak. I love this on paper just for the hype that can be created for the match. The winner would HAVE to depend on the kind of match.

2. Doug Williams vs. Wade Barrett.....UK face-off. This is a good idea and both are talented in-ring tacticians. Unfortunately for WWE, I give Doug Williams the edge for simply having fewer restrictions put on his moveset.

3. Matt Morgan vs. Lord Tensai.....Nothing would make me happier than putting Albert, A-Train, Prince Albert, Tensai on the shelf and I think the DNA of TNA is just the guy to do it.

4. Jeff Hardy and Mr. Anderson vs. The Miz and Dolph Ziggler......This needs to be a kind of extreme rules type match with a decent amount of time to work with.

5. AJ Styles vs. Rey Mysterio.....Who wouldn't love to see this matchup? Seriously. I'll grant that Rey has slowed in his more recent years, but his skill as a ring general is still quite sharp and will make AJ look like a million bucks as he loses.

6. Angelina Love and Mickie James vs. Beth Phoenix and Natalya.....This is a TNA type dream match that will get some time and is guaranteed to be a great match.

7. Sting vs. Kane......While The Undertaker's health has been in question for years, the same cannot be said for his brother, who is still around and kicking on a regular basis. THIS would be a decent match with plenty of hype and fanfare.

8. Hernandez vs. Alberto Del Rio.......Mexican Revolution. I love the idea of putting together two hometown heroes matches. It really makes the card look like an important one for each company to win victories. In my humble opinion, while Del Rio is a better speaker, Hernandez has him beat in terms of his ability to work a decent match. I just hope the amount of botched moves is kept to a modest level.

There is still one more card that can be put together and this is further proof that TNA is doing the better job of using their roster. The evidence is striking, believe me.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

WWE vs. TNA....1 year later....

Nearly a year has gone by since I put together a fantasy PPV card between the Superstars of WWE and TNA's finest. Much has changed in that time and I see no better time than the present to package up another card to salivate over. SO without any further ado, let's get right to it....

First things' first....I say we have a look at the top crust of the roster and evaluate who should be ON the card.

1. CM Punk
2. John Cena
3. Randy Orton
4. Daniel Bryan
5. Sheamus
6. Cody Rhodes
7. R-Truth
8. Layla
9. Santino Marella
10. Kofi Kingston

These are all of WWE's current champions plus Randy Orton and John Cena. Do I believe this line up would be the best representation? NO! However, the current crop of champions are who WWE see fit in pushing, so we'll use them for a rough draft PPV card.

1. Devon
2. Bobby Roode
3. Eric Young
4. ODB
5. Austin Aries
6. Gail Kim
7. Daniels
8. Kazarian
9. Kurt Angle
10. James Storm

These are all of TNA's current champions plus Kurt Angle and James Storm. Do I believe these can put out a decent card? ABSOLUTELY. With one little tweak to the card, you'd have yourself a decent card and a pretty funny spectacle all at the same time. I hope you don't mind a little longer read on this one. Strap in and let's explore some possibilities, shall we?

1. John Cena vs. Kurt Angle.....This match is a bit of a throwback to beginnings, but with the biggest merchandise seller on WWE's roster and arguably TNA's best matchmaker, this would be a decent match. Who wins? Does it matter?

2. Bobby Roode vs. Randy Orton.....Why? Because I believe this would be a TREMENDOUS match as Roode could pull something special out of Orton, like a few new moves.

3. Gail Kim vs. Layla......This is a WWE classic throwaway match...that is, unless Layla can pick up her pace and do something unexpected.

4. Austin Aries vs. Cody Rhodes......I want to stack the deck on this one. TNA's X Division Champion can outwork the Intercontinental Champion any day of the week. Easy W in the column for TNA.

5. Daniels and Kazarian vs. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth....A reunion is imminent for this as R-Truth is a former TNA World Title holder. Who wins this one? I would like to point out that this is one I would give a bunch of time and much that is unexpected could happen.....so I don't know.

6. James Storm vs. Sheamus.....This will HAVE to be a Street Fight or a Falls Count Anywhere as both guys are far more capable brawlers than they are technical masters. As for the winner? No clue, but a good match nevertheless.

7. Eric Young vs. CM Punk.....Because I LOVED Eric Young's heel persona, I would put THAT persona against CM Punk. Under those circumstances, we will see something magical happen....I can guarantee that. Eric Young is one of the best and underutilized performers on the TNA roster and he can hang with Punk.

8. ODB vs. Santino Marella......Why? Simple. Santino is a clown and the match is comedy gold. With a setup beginning with Santino trying to woo ODB away from Young and ODB forbidding Eric from getting involved, it could be REALLY funny.

I'm sure you noticed some glaring absences from TNA's presence....Jeff Hardy, RVD, Anderson, AJ Styles, and a host of Knockouts, but fear not, we can put together a decent number of PPV cards to include them in the line up.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Scandal.....

Hogan and Bischoff bring some baggage with them. Make no mistake about it. Compound that with attempting to run the second most popular televised wrestling federation, and it makes one wonder if the attention will be a detracting factor, damaging TNA's following. Eric Bischoff would say that controversy creates cash, but as I have always said here, it's not always the case. In fact, sometimes controversy creates complications.

In spite of that, though, I believe both to be doing a fine job, putting together a decent show each week and dreaming up new ways to try to bolster a greater fanbase. I don't think the end of the surprises has been reached, in fact. TNA has been doing a decent job of deflecting blows to the product by sparingly using both Hogan and Bischoff on their programming and Sacrifice. Now that Bischoff is no longer being featured at all on their broadcasts, his current lawsuit no longer is in the forefront and shields the better portion of TNA's underbelly, as it were.

Do I believe that integrity should skirt the motives and actions of every performer? Absolutely. Do I agree with the actions of Hogan and Bischoff if it comes to light as true? Not at all. But does it deter them from doing a decent job promoting the product? That is the question that needs to be addressed. Back in the 90's, Vince McMahon's character on TV did every bit the number and intensity of the actions being accused of Hogan and Bischoff and with less tact in avoiding it. Yet despite all of it, his product was the one to survive the Monday Night Wars.

So do I think the lawsuits of Hogan and Bischoff will hurt the TNA product? That depends entirely upon them, so far as I'm concerned.

Events Unfold.....

So WWE wants to go three hours beginning this summer.......do I think it'll help their product? One word comes to mind. Nope. Over the course of the past year, they have dropped the ball on nearly every big thing they've had their hands on. CM Punk's run beginning just after Money in the Bank; they could have made MILLIONS just by letting time pass and allowing Punk to go elsewhere running his mouth, but they chose to allow time to slip away from them. Cena's potential heel turn at Survivor Series; had they allowed the turn fans have been dying to see for years, we would have seen something new and fresh, maybe even producing even more cheers than if he had someone truly cruel to go up against.

With the latest two mishandlings of huge potential moneymakers in the Wrestlemania match between The Rock and Cena and the treatment of Brock Lesnar in his first PPV upon returning, it seems clear to me that the men and women in the white tower in Stanford are losing their sense of perspective. SO, since this site has always been about changing perspective and addressing it, why not look at the last two items I've brought up?

At Wrestlemania, WWE had two options, let John Cena win, or let The Rock win. No one even gave thought to a possible third option.......introducing Lesnar there and setting up Rock vs. Brock II there that night. Doing just that gives 2 things....

1. Reason for The Rock to run back to Hollywood for the time being.
2. A more convincing place for Brock to pick up from where he left off.

Could he have debuted on Raw the same way? Absolutely. It would give him someone to feud with throughout the summer, but the way he debuted in his first PPV back losing to John Cena was bad booking, pure and simple. Sure we get Heyman back on TV, which is a long time coming, but it made Brock look less than what he was when he left. When he left, he was the biggest main event player WWE had, sharing the moniker with guys like Cena (who was just getting ready to break out at the time), Batista, and Triple H. Now, he's a guy with a grievance. I must admit, not impressed.

For a company that likes to think of themselves as forward thinking by putting together a network without executives to run the thing, plan out more than one weeks' worth of programming to begin with, and consequently push the launch back as a result, somehow I don't see how 3 hours of programming will improve their already watered down 2 hour show. If I didn't mention this part, WWE creative has nothing for Kharma to do at the moment, so her return (which has been ready for a month or better) has been revised. If they keep it up, she'll ask for her release just like Gail Kim did. I don't know about you guys, but I wouldn't mind seeing Kong back in a feud to take the belt from Kim like back then.

Friday, May 18, 2012

God of War....Part 2: Exposure

What I wrote about a couple of columns about is finally taking shape, people. We have the Greatest Man Who Ever Lived as the poster boy of TNA. In his first run, he never wore the belt, but in this run, he's king of the world.

I hope you all enjoy this image as much as I am. Many congrats to the man, Austin Aries. He'll be World Champ soon enough, just give it time.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Family Moments.....

From the beginning, let me say that it's a bad idea. Had Garett Bischoff taken a different name, gotten more polished ring work before debuting, and been given a better opening storyline, I might feel differently, but this is nearly enraging. TNA has just announced that Brooke Hogan is joining TNA as the new VP of the Knockouts Division. I only have one thing to say about all of this, she'd better play this part like an Emmy Winner because otherwise, fans and critics alike are going to be calling for Hulk's resignation out of sheer damage control.

Do I have any personal vendetta against Brooke? Not as of yet. Does she have need to defend herself as a legitimate contender for the role? More than anyone else in the history of the business.....more than the billion dollar princess herself, Stephanie McMahon. Why? Because she'll be representing a division second to none in the other promotions across the country. The Knockouts Division VP role she'll be taking over is a tainted one by old standards set by Karen Jarrett (did I mention that I am thankful everyday that she's gone?). Fact is, it's also an unnecessary one.

I hold any familial talents to a higher standard and, I believe, rightfully so. No other position will receive more scrutiny than one in high authority by family who ranks higher still. Only Brooke can defend her place and, provided she's up to the challenge, we may see an even better product presented from week to week, with more Knockouts being featured from week to week.

If this column sounds like a broken record with the same thought over and over.....good, that's the idea, because my position in all of this is cautious optimism, but I believe that the cord should be held closely, if the need arises to pull it quickly.

Blindsided......

Just when I thought the year could not get any better for TNA, the most recent news raises the bar. With a  May 31st launch date, TNA goes live from the Impact Zone in their new timeslot. How long will live episodes last? Through the entire summer! This comes even before my projected time for them being able to go that route, which would have been near the end of the year, provided the PPVs do well. So much for spoilers, eh?

So how does this affect the roster and travel schedule? My guess is that dates would be spread thinner, now that Impact goes live for the summer, but you can bet on an even better turn out once the wheels begin turning. Watch the next 2 weeks of Impact with the knowledge that it'll be coming at you freshly each week every Thursday following.

God of War......

Today, I want to talk about TNA's biggest X Factor right now......Austin Aries. Never mind that he's the current X Division Champion. Right now, he's moving up the card. Do I agree with that decision? After putting up a possible match of the night at Sacrifice, you'd better believe it. He's gutsy, athletic, and he's got charisma in spades. I will say this about him, though.....I didn't always see him that way.

In Austin's first run in TNA, the X Division was in a different place. They had Sonjay Dutt, Senshi, Petey Williams, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Amazing Red, and they stacked the card with them, making Austin Aries just another face in the crowd. Now, the X Division is smaller and more streamlined, allowing for him to stand head and shoulders above the rest. With the addition of Alex Silva to possibly enter into the X Division, it may give Aries the chance to do something more.....move towards the World Heavyweight Title.

I grant you that that World Title scene is a bit crowded. Bully Ray keeps hovering in range as do Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, and James Storm, but Aries has something different to offer the division......the legitimacy of being in the midst of a lengthy championship reign while chasing the big belt. He's a champion in pursuit of another title to add. I believe he gives credibility to the X Division, but he's become bigger than the division and needs the chance to breakout and become something more.....one of the faces of TNA.

Where does the X Division go after he's gone? Simple. Onward and upward. I believe that the division is LOADED with pure athletes who can put on a great show. Doug Williams could quite easily make a return to the X Division and carry it as he once did. A good story would see a couple of big guys coming in, wanting to break the shackles of the X Division, making the claim that Bischoff's weight limit keeps the X Division at the bottom of the card.....because the X Division isn't about weight limits, it's about no limits. Aries' departure from the division won't cripple it. The top of the card needs something and nothing short of "the Greatest Man that Ever Lived" will do.....

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When it Rains....

Scott Steiner began his rants on Twitter about Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff and the new regime last month. From day one, those criticisms have been getting increasingly graphic and personal. Some sounded legitimate, but most of it just sounded angry. Was he released before his contract was up? I couldn't say. Was he upset that he wasn't used from week to week? I couldn't say that either. But whatever the reason, his tweets persisted.

In recent days, he tweeted that he's been silent because he's received a letter from Hogan and Bischoff's attorney. This is where the story picks up, guys......Hogan made a remark that made me sit up and take notice....it wasn't Hogan's lawyer, it was TNA's.

TNA vs. Scott Steiner. I gotta say, I'm a bit shocked by it. I had been just trying to ignore it and not allow TNA and the Hogan/Bischoff regime be dragged through the mud by anything unfounded. TNA, however, believes this to be serious enough to go to war over. When something like this comes to light, it makes me do two things. First.......I consider the worst case scenario. Something like this could really polarize the critics, even the ones who really are pulling for TNA to succeed. In the battle set to begin here, it also becomes a test to see just how much of it is true and how much is fabrication. Second, though.....I have to wonder if this could be a version of the Matt Hardy/Lita/Edge angle played out from WWE a few years back. What if this is a ploy by Eric Bischoff to wrangle in fans and critics alike with a HUGE Twitter backing and social network mastery to match?

IF this is a ploy. It is TNA's "all in" approach to try something that will change the landscape. Guys, this is serious....either way. If it's a ploy, this is high risk with a questionable amount of return, to say the least of it. If it's real, it could mean TNA finally distancing themselves from the regime and trying to pick up the pieces or worse. Do we ignore it or sit up and take notice? I wish I knew the answer to that one, but it seems like when it rains......it pours.

The Boss on Screen.....

Vince did it. Bischoff did it. And now Dixie is doing it. Appearing as a character while still being the top management figure is a tough job. Think about it; you're doing double duty. You're getting coached by top names on how to properly pull off a performance.....unless you're naturally gifted, which few truly are as evidenced by John Laurinitus. Sorry guys, I won't be watching WWE TV for quite some time so long as I'm even sensing that he'll flash across my screen.

The current storyline for Dixie is an affair with one of TNA's top performers. My concerns are few here as the developments I'm seeing come to fruition aren't nearly as bad as some of the things Vince or Eric have tried (and failed) to pull off in years past. I'll have to admit, however, that Dixie Carter can put on quite the show of dramatic skill, whether it is due to theatric training or superior coaching. Whatever the source of her talent, Mrs. Carter is a fine actress. As for the story, we'll just have to rely on AJ Styles to set records straight for now, though I happen to believe that all is not what it seems.

I would like to take a moment here to discuss one person I believe people want to know about....Sting is getting ready to make his return. As for his role? Well, you're going to have to wait, but I will say this....he'll be back within the next 2 weeks. With the feedback positives FIERCELY outweighing the negatives over Sacrifice, TNA officials are gaining some confidence to invest more time into the building for Slammiversary. Look for some amped up story developments and at least one plot twist in the upcoming weeks of Impact leading up to and following the event.

There has been no confirmation of this, but I would venture a guess that the Bound for Glory Series will be making a comeback for the summer's months leading into TNA's most popular event of the year. On that front, there is speculation that this years' festivities will be held in the Impact Zone or at the very least, somewhere very close. With budget concerns tightening the wallet, TNA is needing to go more conservative once Slammiversary has turned its' lights down. Bear in mind, however, that conservative does NOT mean slowing down.....only sidestepping costs and avoiding big expenditures like signing brand new talents whose cost is too high to reasonably rationalize.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hype and Circumstance.....

So the journey towards Slammiversary has begun. Those backstage Sunday were stunned at just how good it was without the top three management figures on site. Dixie, Hogan, and Bischoff were absent at the PPV. Plans have been hammered out as to what is coming. A return is coming Thursday, one that will  make at least one person very unhappy. The champ won't be happy. Let's just say that.

There has been speculation that Matt Morgan could be heading back up north to WWE now that his scheduled dates have been used for the year. Once those dates are gone, he becomes a free agent once more. My understanding is that he's going to re-sign, but stranger things have happened.

Look for the debut of at least one more star to add to the roster in the coming weeks, maybe two. Just maybe. There also may be one more star waiting in the ranks that I am not at liberty to mention the name of just yet, not until details pound themselves out. In any case, just wait and see.....

So the journey to build the 10 Year PPV has begun, enjoy the ride......

Monday, May 14, 2012

According to Plan......


That's right. It's all part of the plan. Roode stays on top until next month. Why not take the title away at the PPV with the most amount of hype for the year so far? It's TNA's 10th Slammiversary. We'll stack the deck so high, he may as well not even show up to the show itself. It's a guarantee he's not going to retain after this one.....

So, for those of you who missed out on the PPV, shame on you. You missed a GREAT show! I can guarantee you, someone has been training, eating his vitamins, and saying his prayers in order to make an Impact upon his return in the coming days and weeks, but even more than that, TNA has been making their plans in preparation for the big one. TNA NEEDED Sacrifice to be a PPV that properly built up Slammiversary as something special. In my humble opinion, it did just that. It made getting the belt off of the top Mens' and top Womens' Division ABSOLUTELY necessary.

It also cemented Austin Aries as THE guy. The breakout star of Sacrifice beat Bully Ray with his patented submission. Did I mention that he was able to get him off the ground for the Brainbuster suplex? Yeah, worth the money just to see that. On top of his accomplishments there, it becomes obvious to me that there was no need for any kind of management figure for the card to go off without a hitch. Sorry Hogan, sorry Eric, this was nearly a perfect PPV. Very little talk, save for the open challenge issued by Crimson. I already know what's coming of this. This is how he'll lose the streak.....running his mouth until his streak snapped by King Mo. Either his streak, or his arm or leg. I doubt very much Matt Morgan will care either way.

Kurt Angle and AJ Styles put on a wrestling clinic, proving once and for all that they are the best performers left in the sport. Yeah, better than anyone WWE can bring to the table. Put nearly any match WWE can muster and set it next to AJ vs. Angle and you'll see the difference. I'll grant that the finish was a bit spotty, but we all saw it coming and it wasn't overpowering to the point of truly polluting the match itself. A nice face hint for Angle, giving AJ a hand out of a beatdown by Kaz and Daniels.

So now begins the build to Slammiversary.....go ahead, there has never been a better time to cross the line than right now.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cruel Ironies.....

For those of you who are going to watch Sacrifice, I applaud you. To those of you watching with your Moms, I envy you. TNA has a cruel sense of irony going for them with a Pay Per View entitled "Sacrifice" airing on Mother's Day. Seriously, could they not have picked a more inconvenient day to put this on? In any case, this isn't a rant, just the airing of a frustration.

THAT, however, is not why I'm here today. I am here to throw out my predictions. So without ANY further commentary, here it goes.....

Bully Ray vs. Austin Aries......I know very much that I want Aries to come out of this feud on top, and I can believe it's heading that direction....but not this time. I am calling for a NO CONTEST with Abyss coming to the ring and doing his damage to Ray for laying hands on his brother last week. By the way, I very much like where this story has gone. Understated, given plenty of time to develop, and the younger brother lawyer character was played quite well.

Mr. Anderson vs. Jeff Hardy....Why is this match happening? One columnist writes that it's nonsense booking, but I would argue that since he doesn't watch the show, he missed out on Anderson giving Hardy a Mic Check finisher without looking who was on the receiving end 2 weeks back. Violence begets violence. Seems to be the theme of the event. I have a hunch this one could move into next month's festivities in some way, but I'll give the edge to JEFF HARDY.

AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle......Kazarian and Daniels did their damage. While all of us know that the woman in the photo isn't Dixie Carter for real, the story does beg some interesting plot points and I would guess that TNA has plans to pull back the shades a bit in this match. KURT ANGLE is the victor by my review of how things seem to be moving.

Brooke Tessmacher vs Gail Kim for the Knockouts Title......In all sincerity, I want to see the belt moved off of Gail as soon as humanly possible, but I don't see Brooke being the one to do it....at least not yet. She's still too green as a singles performer. So I give the victory to GAIL KIM grudgingly.

Rob Terry vs. Robbie E. vs. Devon for the TV Title......I cannot wait for new challengers for this belt and I believe the only way to do that is to force this match to a no contest by injecting someone new into the feud, or removing one of the major players, whether Devon or Robbie E. That being said, I don't think we'll see that here. I give the win to ROB TERRY just for the drama factor of possibly splitting the two up.

Kaz and Daniels vs. Magnus and Joe for the Tag Team Titles......JOE and MAGNUS. No complications exist for me to believe otherwise. Sure, the heels getting the edge would mean difficult times ahead for AJ, I just don't see it happening.

RVD vs. Bobby Roode in a Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Title......I'll be honest, I have no clue who to put odds on. On the one hand, this match would make King of the Mountain next month a bit unnecessary. On the other hand, both competitors have something to gain here. Just for the sake of TNA wanting to have an original holding the belt going into Slammiversary, I'll give the win to BOBBY ROODE.

I will predict an impromptu match for the Knockouts Tag Titles, but I doubt anything will come of it, so a cheap victory for ODB and Young.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Surprises.....

Dixie Carter took a trip to New York this week. She didn't say why, only that there was another surprise in the works for the company. Speculations? Plenty. Anything concrete? I'm afraid not. While columnists a plenty will have a great deal to say about the workings of TNA, but I'm a shade or two different from the others online. I happen to be an optimist who is seeing growth in places across the board that the haters are not.

Two more former WWE guys are looking to cross the line, so I'm being told. I have been talking about these two for quite some time and it looks as if plans are beginning to come together for TNA to welcome them into the fold. Is this for certain? Most things rarely are. Wrestling's business side of things falls under those that aren't certain. Things could change, but if they don't, we'll see two young performers who are hungry for some payback. They were told that their pushes were a sure thing and then they were let go without a word. Sounds like an old, familiar story.

The first once held an undefeated streak just as Crimson does now, having defeated a great deal of the WWE mid-card of the time with his finisher. The other found great success as a part of a tandem, but came into his own as a singles performer, giving credibility to a mid-card title with his bouts against the likes of TNA performer Jeff Hardy. In any case, both have been trying to court TNA's upper brass in hopes of a debut on their roster in the past couple of weeks.

In any case, I'm sure you were wanting names. Fact is, however, you already know them. Once one makes their presence known, the other will appear more obvious. Trust me.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Long Live the King......

TNA announced this week the signing of Muhammad "King Mo" Lawal to join up with their roster for the summer into the fall of this year. For those unfamiliar with his accolades, allow me to illustrate. Lawal's professional record is 10-1-1. This includes a KO victory against former Brazilian Ju Jitsu specialist Roger Gracie. A former NCAA Division I All American from Oklahoma State, he's also a 3 time US National Champion. He holds a Silver World Cup Medal and a Gold Medal from the Pan America Games in 2007.

A roster filled to the brim with talent makes TNA the perfect place to spotlight Lawal. Imagine Crimson's streak broken by a national champion like Lawal. How about a showdown against Kurt Angle? Maybe a feud with TNA's only Triple Crown Winner, AJ Styles is more to your liking. Whatever your tastes, this is something big and big news comes once in a great while. For TNA, however, big news is 10 years of throwing the critics and haters through the stage like an Abyss-powered chokeslam. For TNA, big news is picking up the best parts of WWE's bad judgement and turning it to maximum overdrive.

I, personally, welcome the former World Champion to TNA and believe he'll do some amazing things for the company as the weeks and months wear on. From my sources, he's believed to be fully clean after a spotty record with Strikeforce. As a fighter in the Spike TV hosted Bellator Fighting Championship in the coming year, he's sure to capture his share of the spotlight. "Bringing legitimacy to professional wrestling" isn't only Brock Lesnar's catchphrase anymore.

Black Hole Son.....

From the debut of the Monster Abyss, I was hooked. He was crazier than Kane, but just as strong. He wasn't Mankind, but he was still an intriguing character. While both WWE incarnations fell to the managerial duties of one Paul Bearer, Abyss fell to a more sinister manager; Father James Mitchell. I've spoken my peace about Father Mitchell's progressive microphone prowess and forward presence. He has been TNA's darker TV-14 masked brother to the more cinematic PG Kane since 2003.

His return this week on Impact heralds something new.....or so I hope. With a questionable storyline history, Abyss stands to gain something in this restart, credibility that was lost during 2010 in the 'ring of power' debacle. The monster needs to return to the darkness from whence he came and cast tones upon the Impact Zone that stand as collateral damage, even if only to journey to somewhere TNA rarely goes....

Including Father Mitchell and potentially re-introducing someone like a Judas Mesias or even Kevin Thorn would restore some of the fascination with the stale variation seen during recent years. If a hero is only as good as his villain, TNA needs to first determine which Abyss will be moving forward, the hero or the villain. The villain has little feeling, only the desire to injure and inflict pain. The hero's agenda has yet to be named, but the speculation is to win at virtually any cost, and to leave the arena on his feet, while his opponent leaves in a dustpan.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Weapons with Mouthpieces.....

In the world of professional wrestling, there has always been an answer to not being able to do the talking for yourself. The answer? Managers and valets. The simplest solutions are usually the ones that work the best. So....you have a beast that you need to have the mystique of not speaking? You get a man who somehow is able to calm the beast enough to enter the ring and complete a match without killing his opponent. Examples? I'm glad you asked....I give you my top 5 favorites.


1. Paul Heyman representing Brock Lesnar- The Next Big Thing made his beginnings as the monster who never spoke with the former frontman of ECW as his mouthpiece. Heyman's genius as a promo guy made Lesnar every bit as formidable as the worst of hardened criminals. He could have stayed shrouded in secrecy until his debut and allowed Heyman to do all of his bragging beforehand and let the awe sweep through as he destroyed everything in sight.

2. Armando Alejandro Estrada representing Umaga- R.I.P to the former Jamal of Three Minute Warning, but the man who spoke on his behalf was the agent whose words on the mic not only made you wish that the pain about to be inflicted on Umaga's victim would be cast on him as well. Since that was the idea to begin with, it made him as good a manager as any we've seen in recent years.

3. Ric Flair representing AJ Styles- This may surprise some of TNA's fans as Flair's influence hasn't been the best, particularly as a member of the worst year in TNA's history......2010. His place as spokesman of Fortune, however, was one of the few brights spots of that year.

4. Father James Mitchell representing Abyss- The Monster Abyss never appeared more menacing than under the guiding hand of one of the most devious planweavers of them all. Had Sting not separated the two, Abyss may still be one of the most feared of TNA's performers.

5. Paul Bearer representing Kane and The Undertaker- Last, but not least, arguably the most famous dark personality to manage a performer, let alone two. His persona made The Undertaker and Kane the most feared duo to ever step into the squared circle.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

At Last.....TV Title Relevance!!!!

I have written long and drug out posts about how the TV Title needs to matter in order for TNA to gain traction. Open Fight Night has finally ushered in what so many fans have asked for......putting the TV Title on TV. What a concept! I will say this, though.....Devon needs to lose at some point. I'm putting my money on Matt Morgan or Crimson to take the newly revamped title to the next level.

In all truth, I can't believe I never saw this as a necessity in the plans I initially drafted, but now that it occurs to me, EVERY title needs to have a purpose. Name one person who wouldn't like to see the potential of a title change on TV rather than only PPV.....that's what I thought.

The Television Title re-start in only one little piece of this puzzle that Eric Bischoff and company were sharp enough to point out in Creative Team meetings. I promise, this will be the last time I bring this up, but Scott Steiner has been railing and railing on Bischoff and Hogan for whatever reason and he's now been bringing old personal information about them. I ask you all one thing.....what does it matter what they are doing behind closed doors if they are doing a decent enough job running the company at large? I may not condone some of the things brought up in his tweets, but I've said it over and over again.....only YOU can prevent Twitter fires.

But despite the smear campaign from Steiner, if you listen to Bischoff' and Hogan in interviews, there is much to be learned from a creative and professional standpoint. Few have defended the regime that has been given a great deal of power over the day to day, but I, for one, stand behind their strategy as it closely resembles the simple basics I have outlined here. It took from 1993 until 1996 for WCW to hit high levels with a large financial backing from Ted Turner, but this is TNA and money very much is something to consider in their planning process. I'm going to bet on a couple more years of ramping before TNA is self sustaining. In the meantime, hold on tight....

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Value of X......

TNA's X Division has been a showcase point since its inception it's first year and the list of performers to fight for the title reads like a who's who of professional wrestling's greatest high flyers. However, the list also contains some of the divisions' most devastating hard hitters as well. The X Division stood for extreme rules, extreme velocity, and extreme risk taking for maximum pay off. In recent years, Eric Bischoff has put a cap on the lightning bottle by removing the divisions' most famous landmark phrase...."it's not about weight limits, it's about no limits".

By my reckoning, it's time those reins were removed. I say we bring back the World X Cup and make the ultimate prize in the division the final prize. No trophies, just the belt. Bring back Sonny Siaki. Bring back Apollo. Bring back Lance Hoyt. Bring back all the big guys who fought over the X Title and mix it all up once again. This division has lost its way and there are ways to go about bringing it back to its former glory. Austin Aries is the perfect champion to begin the journey towards X Division superiority of TNA's Impact Wrestling brand.

The value of TNA's X Division is paramount to TNA's success and it MUST be under the original concept of the division for the brand to flourish. Initially, I was going to book its return to glory and I can still do so if it's desired, but this column is a rally cry. TNA's fans need to have a voice here. I've written to TNA asking for no limits to return and I encourage everyone else to do the same. Why? Because the X Division isn't about weight limits; it's about no limits.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Knockouts Main Eventing?

Advanced Booking Tactics 201: Knockouts at the top

I mentioned in the last column that TNA needs to spotlight the specialty divisions. I'm here today to give just one idea as to how to go about putting the Knockouts in the main event.....so without any further ado, I say we get right into it....

First off, let's have a look at both champions and their status.

Gail Kim- heel
ODB/Eric Young- face

As you can see, the scene is uneven with a face pair with a heel major champion. Since the landscape will work more smoothly with a fully face champion pairing, I'm going to predict Brooke Tessmacher as the new Knockouts champion after Sacrifice. Now, having said that, this will mean a spectacle of a match at Slammiversary whether it's a simple one on one or if it involves multiple challengers, it doesn't matter....for the Knockouts Division to be able to main event a PPV, a great deal has to be at stake.

Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that Brooke keeps the belt another month, just past Slammiversary's festivities. I can only see this thing going down one way....ODB and Eric Young are going to be breaking up in my booking of the PPV Knockouts main event. All belts are up for grabs and Brooke, as the reigning champion wants to prove herself as a fighting champion. Hogan has an idea and makes a pairing of tournaments, where the tag team victor and one singles victor will challenge the current champions for their titles in a final elimination match.

Velvet Sky/Tara
Gail Kim/Madison Rayne
Angelina Love/Winter
Mickie James/TBA
Rosita/Sarita

Going along with the scenario that the tag team that wins is a definite challenger for the Knockouts Tag Titles. Each other tag team remaining is put into a battle royale where the winner is the sole challenger for the Knockouts Title. So let's say that Rosita/Sarita and a brand new Knockout are the challengers for the set of belts. A sole survivor 3 on 3 title match takes place on PPV as the main event to determine 3 different champions. The final remaining person standing wins the belts for their team.

The most important thing about this entire story is that it has to affect everything. Meaning, the World Champ has to have a problem with this decision in order for it to matter at all. This decision to put the Knockouts at the top of the card has to be pushed as a landmark match, becoming the first women's PPV main event in the history of the televised wrestling fed. THAT is what will make TNA shine if the Knockouts are spotlighted.

Step 4: Spotlighting Divisions....

Basic concepts 101: Handing off the spotlight

TNA has had a nasty habit in the last 3 years or so of sometimes hiding the X Division and TV Title behind the main event of the night. By doing that, they miss out on a golden opportunity to put more people under the spotlight. So.... my solution? Kick the main event down the card for a night. Put another division in the position normally reserved for the main event feud at the end of the night.

Unbreakable 2005 gave the X Division a chance to shine, but so far, the Knockouts have yet to hold that kind of honor. Why not put the two Knockouts Titles in the main event? Some would argue that it wouldn't draw money, but I think a great many WWE fans would be surprised that TNA's women's division is getting their just desserts more than their hometown heroes. By making the specialty divisions special, you encourage the bigger names to make a decision. Stay in a place that holds them back or jump into a place that will give them a place to showcase.

I say put the X Division back in the saddle and let them have a 30-45 minute match. Give the Knockouts the same amount of time. Let 6-8 people fight over the TV Title on PPV. Why not? Something new. Something different. Something innovative. Then, let the people decide if the idea is any good.

Step 3: PPV Development.....

Basic concepts 101.....Making a PPV worth buying

TNA's finishes are a complaint common to their product. "I loved the PPV, but hated the ending." That's the response I hear most from sites that provide fan feedback. One columnist goes so far as to say that TNA's PPVs are there to put emphasis on the upcoming weeks' broadcast of Impact. While I can't say as I agree entirely with the assessment, I will say that TNA has had a track record of not pulling the trigger on some things they really should.

In retrospect, some would say that Bobby Roode should have come out of Bound for Glory last year as the champion. Now, that decision doesn't seem like such a good idea with Roode being the ultimate heel for the company. I would like to see JUST ONCE for TNA to have a solid ending with a clean finish; no tricks, no gimmicks, no run ins, no nothing. Just a nice, clean 1-2-3. How long has it been since we've really seen that?

How about putting a Knockouts match at the very top of the card? Some would call that crazy, but if it makes sense, why not? What about putting the X Title in the main event? Unbreakable 2005 was heralded as one of the best PPVs TNA has ever put out. My point? Put together a PPV where everything makes sense and nothing is polluted by questionable finishes.

If you want to sell a PPV, guarantee something exciting and deliver....period. Don't bait and switch your fans who paid to see something you don't plan on giving out. I can guarantee we'll see something good coming out of Slammiversary this year, bet on something exciting, something fresh, and something innovative. TNA needs to deliver every time in order to expand.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Step 2: House Shopping....

Basic Concepts 101: Bigger Houses

TNA's Impact Zone is getting a bit small for their crowd. Simple as that. They need a larger venue to call home, at least until traction comes underneath them that allows for them to take the show on the road full time. SO.....I have to believe that Universal Studios has a larger venue on site or that the Orlando area has a site from which TNA can broadcast from each week. With the contract TNA has at Universal Studios, there must be something that can be done; strings that can be pulled to move everything to a larger home base.

One simple truth: A show is only as large as what the venue can reasonably hold. The Impact Zone's empty seats are few and far between. People DO like the show presented from week to week. Hence they are still in business and in a roundabout way, so is this site. If you take the word of guys like Shane "overrated ECW guy" Douglas or Scott "Twitter sound off" Steiner, TNA will be dead by year's end, but if you go by the attendance in the Impact Zone and the consistent ratings they put up each week, you can tell that's simply not true.

Exposure and a bigger place to call home are two pieces to the puzzle. I believe only two more remain......spotlighting the specialty divisions and PPV development.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Step 1: Exposure......

Basic concepts 101.....How to get noticed.

TNA is already recognized as the number 2 wrestling federation around by most wrestling fans, but TNA's fans, generally speaking, are Attitude Era fans. This is WCW vs. WWF all over again, folks. I will say that this time, TNA is a much better rounded organization, employing a Women's Division that's second to none; and the X Division, which holds the bulk of wrestling's finest high flyers. Having said ALL of that....the question remains....How do we get TNA's name out there?

1. Top stars doing talk shows...... Kurt Angle has already done some of that. Hulk Hogan has already done some of the work there as well. Radio shows regularly feature Eric Bischoff or Dixie Carter or Ric Flair or other top tier celebrity figures to try and give TNA some credence as a national power, but we wrestling fans can be a rather fickle bunch so promotion in the arena of shows and media can't be the only outlet.

2. Top stars breaking into other mediums......Mickie James went country for 2 solid records, James Storm is featured in Montgomery Gentry's performance of his entrance theme, AJ Styles has even appeared in a music video.....since TNA is based in Nashville, the country music capital of the world, it only stands to reason that they would promote in that arena, but crossing into other genres of music would be of equal value. Imagine Jeff Hardy or Sting or Rob Van Dam featured in a video by a hard rock performer. Music opens up another avenue to promote. TNA has done well on one front, but more work can be done.

3. One truly classic story......All it took for WCW was one story to make them a national and international power....nWo. TNA needs one really good, well thought out, perfectly balanced story to tip the scales in their favor. I initially thought a Fortune feud over the World Title would be a GREAT idea as something to build towards, but the top brass had other ideas, which is not a criticism, only an observation. The fact is, the Bobby Roode angle is becoming a bit stale, which means they are going to have to put the belt on someone new VERY soon in order to keep people interested, if nothing else.

4. One more acquisition......As against the prospect as I have been, even I have to admit that one more HUGE name will sell TNA to the jaded masses who have dismissed them as second rate. I may not fully be behind a guy like Batista or Goldberg, but one more marquis player would set TNA up for a nitrous boost that could make them a profitable powerhouse. Angle is winding down his career, working a limited schedule. Sting's days as an in ring performer are nearing their end. The top tier is beginning to thin out, but another prime time player would shake the roster up a bit. Another option if a larger name can't be found would be........

5. Pulling the trigger on Crimson, Matt Morgan, and Austin Aries......If TNA were to turn their top three upper mid card guys towards the top prize and make them main event players, critics would take notice. I promise you. Making a play off of Crimson's Streak, Austin Aries' uncontested X Division Championship reign, or Matt Morgan's past as the longest reigning lone Tag Team champion in TNA history would be a far cry easier than trying to prime a new challenger for the Heavyweight belt.

6. Pull Abyss out of the field......His character needs either a new person to fill the persona or for something dramatic to happen to him to make him worth watching again. I am getting very tired of seeing Abyss being misused, mishandled, and generally mismanaged almost to the degree Kane has in the past decade for WWE. He needs to reinvent himself or leave for good. That's my opinion in the matter.

That does it for Step 1...Step 2 is on hot standby.......

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rewriting History.....

WWE is in the habit of doing exactly what I titled this column. That's right, rewriting history. It's pretty bad to put out TWO separate documentaries about the fall of WCW, but to go in and do a documentary disparaging Eric Bischoff once again for storylines that happened nearly 20 years ago is pretty low, even for WWE standards. By all means, have a look at this from WWE.com.....

"At the height of the heated “Monday Night Wars,” Hulk Hogan and his New World Order cronies were getting much of the credit for the record television ratings of WCW’s flagship program, Nitro. And they deserved it. But fans tuning into TNT to see exciting matches weren’t getting it from guys like The Disciple and Scott Norton, who spent the majority of their time mugging for the cameras. The show needed innovative, entertaining bouts to hold viewer attention, and WCW President Eric Bischoff was sharp enough to realize this.

Through the crumbling of WCW and his own shameless self-promotion, Bischoff has become somewhat of a sports-entertainment punchline. It’s not a totally unfair assessment of the guy who once challenged Mr. McMahon to a karate fight live on pay-per-view, but the truth is the slick salesman had more than a few good ideas hiding beneath his Ken doll hair and, more importantly, had the nerve to pull them off. So, with Ted Turner’s blank checks in his pocket, Bischoff set out to amass the single greatest lightweight roster in sports-entertainment history."

If there was ever a mixed compliment to match, I've never seen it. Nor have I seen a more polarized opinion of Bischoff's portrayal between "The Rise and Fall of WCW" and now. All the way until Bischoff decided to jump back into sports entertainment with TNA, WWE had been more than cordial, giving credit where credit was due. But Bischoff isn't the only one WWE has taken pot shots at. Through their YouTube channel, they've been pretty specific about gathering video of silly storylines featuring Sting, Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle, and other performers now under the TNA banner.

Is this really necessary, Vince? I'll grant that the Voodoo Kin Mafia might have gone a little bit overboard, Rhino burning the ECW Television Title on Impact, pokes at the Nexus, and the consistently better programming may have made you a bit upset, but that's no reason to throw down the gauntlet.....or is it?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Back to Basics.....

I'm back after a day or two to recharge, but I'm sure you're wondering why I needed the break.....because, the announcement has come....kinda. On Busted Open, which is a radio show on Sirius XM 208, Dixie Carter had this to say about an old prediction of mine.....

On a Second Show: "I think you’ll see something second of ours and maybe even third of ours. Whether it’ll be on Spike or another network, it’s definitely part of our plan. We just need to become more mainstream, have more exposure in different ways and with different shows—a top priority for our company."


If I had to choose a time to say it, I'm going to say it's now.....I TOLD YOU SO!


TNA's new strategy is on par. Bobby Roode is waging war on the roster, Gut Check is underway, Open Fight Night's premier was a success.....all that's left is to get the critics to shut up and give them a chance to blossom.


So we've looked at the bench, which is being utilized pretty well, all things considered. We've looked at the strategy TNA is employing and is moving towards. We've even tackled just about every possible complaint about the TNA product in general. What's next? I say we go back to basics and focus in on what it's going to take for Nashville's brightest prospect to turn things up another notch and take the show on the road......so.....ignore Scott Steiner and his posse, the haters of progress, and enjoy the product while it's hot.