Friday, August 31, 2012

Dealing With It.....

It's been 2 years now since WWE adopted their PG format. It's also been 2 years since TNA began the Hogan/ Bischoff Era. Today, I want to talk about how each era is fairing in the school of public opinion. To grade each on their effectiveness, I will use 4 categories: Divisions, Champions, storyline, and forum. Division will determine how well each company uses the titles in their respective brands. For every title, there is a division, or a set group of challengers who contend for whatever title is on the docket. Champions determines how well each champion is used and how strong they allowed to be featured both on the card and on each show. Storyline is dependent upon three things: consistency, depth, and entertainment value. And last, but not least, forum- or the way each company is talked about by columnists like myself. Now that I have covered each category, let's explore......

Divisions:
WWE......Picking WWE was an easy first choice to talk about because there is so much to cover. So far as I can tell, there is very little rhyme or reason as to who will be vying for secondary titles, namely the Intercontinental and United States Titles. The Diva's Title isn't much better. With only a VERY small handful of women who could carry a match, let alone wear the title, those who can still cater to those who can't. In fact, the only title scene that is making any improvements whatsoever is the Tag Team Division, that are now featuring 4 teams, making this the only time in the past 2 years that a Tag Team Title looks like it belongs in the organization.

TNA.....TNA's title scene is also a simple topic, but with higher highs. The World Title has 5 people vying for position to headline Bound for Glory this year. The Tag Team Division in TNA has always been good. Why? Because even when there are few teams to challenge for the belts, the challengers make the belts look important because the story behind it is almost always good. The Knockouts Division, though weakened by the loss of 2 of their better workers, is still among the better women's divisions on the national circuit. The only true dim spots in TNA right now are the TV Title and the Knockouts Tag Divisions. And I'll leave it at that.....for now.

Champions:
WWE.....Ahhh....WWE. Never in my life have I been so bored with the lineup of champions and potential champions on their roster. John Cena, CM Punk (whom I am a fan of), Daniel Bryan, the Big Show, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, and the occasional run in waiting of Randy Orton. Yawn. The problem? Unless John Cena is in the top seat, very rarely will you ever see a WWE Title or a World Heavyweight Title match at the top of a WWE PPV.

TNA.....Every. Single. Month. That's how often you'll see the champion of the World Heavyweight Title defend his belt. It doesn't even matter who the champ is. What does this do? It makes the headlining act look like what he's supposed to be.....a big deal.

Storylines:
WWE.....Brock Lesnar for a couple of months, Triple H has "retired", A.J. Lee is in charge, Daniel Bryan is still pissed at the world. I think that about covers it. Did I forget Ryback? Nope. I left him off because he's an afterthought....a copy of a time long gone.....a knockoff of a man synonymous with the word dominant. My problem with the storylines? Lack of depth. Writers in WWE are writing in a box....a two lettered box in all caps that means parents can relax because they know a story can only go so far.

TNA.....No such box. In fact, the current storylines involve a gang war. Who's in charge? Who knows? THAT is what makes the story deeper. Why do they want control of TNA? Do they want control? Why maim the champion? Are you seeing the levels of the questions? Fans keep guessing and no one knows how far TNA is willing to take things. That's how I like it.....unpredictable, but it never stops me from guessing.

Forum:
WWE......This one is very tricky. With a company as old and as renowned as WWE, the fans are loyal, despite the shortcomings of the product they know and love. A great deal are frustrated with how their favorite players are being pushed (or not pushed in some cases), a lack of continuity in the storylines from week to week, and the sheer amount of talk and recaps in each 2 hour program. Does it change their viewing habits? I've seen quite a few people make claims that they haven't watched WWE programs in weeks, months in some cases. I've also encountered fans who will remain vigilant until such time as their programming doses will improve.

TNA......Critics are very quick to be cautious of TNA's newfound improvements to their weekly show and not without good reason. Admittedly, TNA has been a bit dodgy in terms of fulfilling their promises with their storylines and the like and, for that reason, people are hesitant to believe the hype that some columnists like myself put out about them. But those same fans who have been steering clear of WWE for weeks and months? They have crossed the line and aren't looking back. Where does that leave outside opinion?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some History......

November 21, 1988- A growing independent promotion is bought by a corporation and is renamed in the process.

March 26, 2001- A corporation-owned wrestling promotion signs off for the last time, having been purchased for 4.2 million dollars by a larger promotion.

For those of you who have no clue, this is the epitaph of World Championship Wrestling. That's the total length of time WCW existed.....13 years. Some of the WWE fanboys will tell you that TNA is in the same state WCW was when it was bought by Vince McMahon.....nothing could be further from the truth. The facts are far more convincing than a lie would be.....

1. When Time/Warner and AOL merged, Ted Turner, who had been a huge supporter of WCW in those days was suddenly without authority of the networks bearing his namesake. TBS, TNT, and others were no longer his domain to rule as he pleased. Replacing him, a panel of people who looked upon professional wrestling with distain and had no intention of letting it stick around.

Contrast that with TNA, whose contract with Spike is a wonderful arrangement, allowing for stars from other shows on the network as well as MMA fighters who are trying to gain notoriety a way to get a spotlight in preparations for their debuts. Spike has been VERY supportive of TNA's initiative to grow and expand where it fits the bottom line.

2. Near the end of WCW's run, some bad decisions were made, allowing Kevin Nash to book matches, tinker with storylines, and ruin pushes and opportunities that had been laid out carefully beforehand. It wasn't only Nash, either. A great deal of the problem was a "creative control" clause written into the contracts of some choice talents, not the least of which was Hulk Hogan. This allowed a person under the clause to rewrite his own actions that were to appear on camera. This made headaches for the writers, producers and everyone under the chain of command.

Nearly every promotion learned a valuable lesson from WCW's demise. And even though there are no creative clauses in TNA, talents and writers collaborate often and it allows for more freedom in the way their shows are put together. No move bans, very few scripts, and a helm more concerned with fan support than trying to please the shareholders. Since TNA isn't a publicly traded commodity, there is no pressure to please a board of trustees, as it were.

3. WCW grew too quickly and, in turn, ate up the profits they were pulling down.

TNA is being much more careful that they don't grow so fast and forget what brought them the popularity they enjoy......the fans. TNA is more cost efficient and streamlined, perhaps to a fault, in some cases.

My point in writing this is that if anyone is like WCW, it's WWE right now. With John Cena, Randy Orton, and others as placeholders in the main event, they sabotage; they begin rumors; they outright lie to keep their top spot. Compoundly, fans are beginning to see through it. With attendance numbers and viewing numbers lower than they've been in a decade, it seems clear to me, at least, that the giant is on the decline while TNA, the 10 year old Nashville grassroots company is on par to outlive its predecessor.

.....and Upward.

A question has been asked. How does TNA go from where they are now to the bigger show without going bust like WCW did? How long will it take to compete with WWE? The first question is being answered as we speak. The second? Well, that's a bit tougher to answer. I DO have some answers, though, so without further intro.....

1. Climbing ratings......TNA HAS to get out of the 1.0 ratings they're used to enjoying. Consistency is good, to be sure, but sooner than later, Spike TV officials, fans, and shareholders are going to want to see the progress in a more tangible way than just show quality. What good is a top notch show if only a select group of people are watching? By my best estimation, they just need to keep doing what they're doing and put out a good, strong show each and every week. The storyline is progress right now is doing the job, so the focus NEEDS to be on not screwing that up, for the moment.

2. Open up to talents everywhere......Eric Bischoff, I'm guessing, is up to his old tricks once more. In WCW, he wisely scoured the GLOBE for talents, instead to sticking to his own backyard. TNA is doing just that with their GUT CHECK Challenge by taking the concept to the UK. The UK has been arguably TNA's biggest overseas support structure. It only makes sense to start there to seek out a new talent or two. As home of William Regal, Douglas Williams, and current BFG Series contender, Magnus, UK has put out a strong number of very talented performers and I would wager a strong chance that yet another will be brought into the fold.

3. Spotlight the specialty divisions more......Every once in a while (not often anymore), TNA needs to be reminded to keep spotlighting the X Division and Knockouts Division. Part of that is to introduce new performers to the mix, giving a wider variety of talents for fans to get behind. Another aspect is to hold strictly to the 30 day defense rule. Each champion MUST defend their belt every 30 days. That means there will never EVER be another Eric Young and ODB, who have not defended their belts in months. There is no excuse to not have enough performers. If your truly believed that, you wouldn't have let go of the Knockouts that left. Not only that, but the new faces on the roster from the Gut Check Challenge really need to be brought in quickly to fill in the gaps left by other women and men who have gone.

4. Patience.....Things like this take time. More importantly than that, though, TNA's growth doesn't depend on them completely. It also depends on fan support. If more fans watch their programming, buy their merchandise, interact with the stars and staff, and get involved in the product, the TNA brand will soar. Simple as that. In stark contrast of WWE, TNA understands that their fans are their life blood. That's precisely why TNA holds meet-and-greets after their live shows and at PPVs; so that fans can get a more personal interest in the product. It's also why a good deal of talents stick around as well. Sure, the schedule is lighter than WWE's, but being in a room filled with fans and getting that kind of confidence boost from them is a great charge if you love the business as much as they do.

Contrary to a lot of critics, I don't believe that moving to another network will "fix" TNA. In another time TNT was only a couple of years old when WCW came on board and made it a nationally recognized power. Fact is, Spike had WWE from 2000 until 2005 and their ratings held just fine. TNA isn't WWE, though and their road is a bit longer due to them having to build their fanbase from the ground up where WWE's had followed from long before.

That's one reason I write these columns: to generate fan support. TNA does need to grow. With growth comes rewards for those who have done their part on stage and in the ring and behind the scenes writing the stories we love watching on our televisions. Getting behind the product is the best way to begin moving onward......and upward.

Monday, August 27, 2012

No Surrender.....

In light of the attack on the roster, the event promised by TNA in September's PPV, No Surrender, the final Bound for Glory Series matches will inevitably take place. What remains to be seen, however, is exactly how this will be accommodated by Aces and Eights. As of yet, no demands have been made. The battlegrounds haven't been agreed upon either. I would venture a guess that an announcement will be made this week on Impact both about the skirmish at the end of last week's show and the condition of Austin Aries and whether he will be able to compete at the PPV.

With 2 weeks left to put a plan into motion, I've said it before, TNA has to find a way to level the playing field. By my best guess, the coming week will be to inform on the condition of the World Champion and to guard his short lived recovery. The week following will be to announce the battlegrounds upon which the main event will be fought. Since Bobby Roode will not be able to challenge for the title, I would once again predict that Sting and Aries at least will be performing in the main event  vs. Aces and Eights representatives yet to be named.

Going even further with the prediction, I believe at least one member will be revealed either at No Surrender or the week following to set up the program leading into Bound for Glory. This understanding is little more than speculation as there are plenty tidbits of the pattern yet unseen, veiled by the wonderfully talented staff behind the pens of TNA Creative. Even so, WWE would do well to take some notes and hire their writers more carefully, much like TNA has done here. Their success will, be their reward for the diligence invested in such a well layered story.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spin....

Spin. That's what this column is all about. How does a writer spin it? A wrestling fan with leanings in a certain direction will spin their favorite product in one way and another will spin it in another. Here's where I'm going right now: I've said before that I love going to other blogs and commentaries to see how TNA is being represented by those of us who speculate and watch the patterns. We write, we critique, we offer our suggestions, and then we watch to see how the suggestions play out. But something very interesting is happening right now.....the boards are silent. It seems as though precious few are saying anything about TNA the past few days. My first impression is that it's working....

You might wonder WHAT. That, people, is just what I plan to talk about. People are waiting to see where TNA is going next. Do they move this story into the highest levels of quality or do they squander their newfound spotlight? In the past, TNA hasn't had the cleanest track record, admittedly, for making good on their stories, but not for lack of trying. Quite often, the performers have played a heavy part in it. A year ago, TNA officials were pressured by Spike TV to bring back the Main Event Mafia to combat Immortal. Those plans were derailed by Kevin Nash and Booker T, who both jumped ship to WWE at the last minute. Their reasons are unimportant because the damage had been done by that time and TNA was forced to break up Fortune to salvage what they could of the storyline. Thankfully,  all was not lost because by the end of the year, every member was in the title picture and Bobby Roode was put on the national scene for his first reign as World Heavyweight Champion.

TNA has paid a high cost to get here. Alex Shelley, Brian Kendrick, Velvet Sky, Angelina Love, Awesome Kong, and a great many potentially key members of their roster have left in favor of other opportunities elsewhere. If TNA's plans aren't huge, there was a great deal of loss for nothing. Some would look at what TNA is doing with their current Aces and Eights storyline and scratch their heads, while others like me praise them for the job they've done in silencing the columnists on the WWE side of the fence. Oh, they'll continue to write about how great (or terrible) their product is, but right now, they want to know what kind of hand TNA has right now......royal flush or the dead man's hand?


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Onward.....

TNA scored a spike (no pun intended) in their ratings. After having some difficulty making .95's the past few weeks, a 1.15 was the unofficial Nielsen rating for this week's Impact. For those keeping track, that is great news. It does raise a few questions, however.....

1. What does TNA have on tap as a number 2 storyline? Since the early wrapping of the Claire Lynch saga, TNA has a gaping hole in their show. If it had been the plan from the beginning to tie up the loose ends in this particular story at the same time as the Aces and Eights faction war, we'd be having a different discussion altogether.

2. Where has Joseph Park been during all of this time? In the recent past, Mr. Park performed a textbook Black Hole Slam on Bully Ray. As you will all recall, Ray banned Abyss from the Impact Zone with a legal restraining order. Since that time, he has become a talent legal retainer? Am I following the story correctly? Does TNA have plans on answering this?

3. When are ODB and Eric Young going to defend their titles? We're going on 5 months since they won the titles and no one has even challenged? I feel like a broken record with these titles. Either defend them regularly or retire them. Seriously. Let's be done with this instead of simply pushing them to side.

4. What is the main event picture going to look like when it comes time for the next PPV? Since the events of Thursday night, Austin Aries is going to be either out of commission or, at very least, injured enough to stand a much lower chance of retaining the title until Bound for Glory. I have an idea.....don't have him defend it on PPV. If TNA has it in for Robbie E. so badly, give the poor guy a rub. His character stands no chance against Aries, so give him a title shot and have him lose on Impact. It gives the champ the ability to rest another 30 days before the title HAS to be defended once again.

5. When the battlefield is chosen...how many members of Aces and Eights will be called upon to take responsibility for their actions? I believe we have reached a point where something needs to be revealed about the faction to move the story forward.

These are just questions off the cuff.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Perfect Number......

This is number 500 guys. I've taken everything into consideration from past feuds to present battlegrounds and I'm convinced that Impact Wrestling on August 23rd, 2012 will go down in history as a landmark night. How appropriate that number 500 should fall on a night when numbers are so important. The hand has been dealt....

Tonight I am more convinced than ever that this is the story to put TNA on the national level. The events of tonight put them over the top. This outranks nWo, in my opinion. It outweighs The Nexus. It trumps Evolution. It sinks The Four Horsemen. Nothing even comes close to Aces and Eights. This faction has changed my entire strategy of how the perfect faction is formed and has held my attention from beginning to this very night.

Two years ago, (and yes, it has been that long) we witnessed The Nexus tearing apart the landscape, whooping everything with a pulse. Within 6 months' time, the crew was dismantled, embarrassed, and quietly buried. That same year, we were subjected to "Them". You all know who I'm talking about and it took a full year to rinse the yucky off the product's good name. This year, TNA upped their game and have brought about a story to put in the archives. The faction that waged war on the entire roster. nWo did something similar, but with Aces and Eights, it has been a complete mystery as to how many members they're bringing to the party.

So....TNA took things even farther than I predicted. A wonderful play. My hopes are that this week's power play doesn't have an adverse effect on the way the story unfolds. With war on the horizon, the top brass HAS to introduce something to level the playing field. Answers don't even have to come out until after Bound for Glory. Fact is, this story could finish out the year, if they play it right.

Let me stress this as strongly as I can. The leader of this faction HAS to be very well thought out. The return of Jeff Jarrett or Eric Bischoff will look like an nWo rip-off and TNA has to understand that critics will only be on their side for as long as this remains interesting. Once it's revealed that a WCW guy is behind it all, a great deal of the momentum could be lost. Someone like John Morrison or Joey Ryan or even a returning TNA original (*Cough* Petey Williams* Cough*) would have a tailwind the likes of which could only be dreamed of. Fact is, every member of Aces and Eights that is revealed would have a sporting chance at having a bright career once the story has run its course.

This column is a great big congratulations to the TNA Creative Staff and their diligence in putting together something that will be remembered for years to come. In the battle of David and Goliath, the curtain will finally be pulled back in the coming weeks and I am anxious for what moves are made in preparation.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is Attitude Missing?

I would very much like to thank a commenter for this column. The question is simple.....was the Attitude Era the best era? Is that kind of environment what the wrestling world needs right now to bring the popularity back? Some wrestling fans would argue that the sex and scandal in storylines is absolutely what will bring fans back. As for me, I have a different take on the matter.

In pre-Attitude Era WWF, we had cartoonish characters with colorful personas (see also Koko B. Ware, Doink the Clown, etc.); we had men in uniform (see also The Mountie, Big Boss Man, etc.); and we had the monochromatic wonders (see also HBK, the Harts, The Undertaker, Diesel, etc.). It was popular and even in years shortly prior with Hulk Hogan and his vitamins and prayers rhetoric, it worked perfectly with the fans of the day. Since that time, wrestling has changed with the fans and their tastes. While trying to maintain a sense of realism and good ring psycology, the business kept changing and morphing into a reinvention of itself.

While there were elements of the Attitude Era that made 80's and the era shortly before that time pale in comparison, there were elements lost from WWF of the earlier era that made the Attitude Era just plain hard to watch for me. I simply never bought into the whole Divas as sex symbols mentality. I just wanted to see wrestlers on a wrestling show doing their thing and let the fans make their own judgements. As for now?

I want to see the ring psychology Jake Roberts made famous restored to prominence. I want to see the writing depth of the WCW and WWF Monday Night War brought to the forefront. So many great stories from that time period and well thought out, with plenty of plot twists and innovations that made the debuts of the day ring with feelings of nostalgia and awe. I believe TNA is doing all of that and is doing it very well, with performers that are able to do tremendous storytelling in the ring. Ring generals like Angle, Sting, the Dudleys, and Jeff Hardy help bring authenticity to the product. WWE's veteran performers are few a far between, with even fewer from the Attitude Era back. Triple H, The Undertaker, Christian, and Rey Mysterio account for almost all in ring coaching from within the squared circle.

So....is the Attitude Era necessary to bring wrestling to prominence? My view is yes and no. We don't need DX having women from the audience flashing the cameras, but we do need something bold and unafraid to stand out. We don't need the same men in the top events every month, but we do need continuity amongst the characters and storylines that share that in common. We don't need models being expected to do the same work in 6 months that other performers are doing in 6 years, but we do need beauty to add to the ranks of the experienced. You see my point? The Attitude Era brought some fine things to the table, but the current product needs to change once more into something the fans can appreciate again......which is why TNA is growing faster than WWE at the moment.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pope is....?

In a statement released by TNA management, D'Angelo Dinero has been rendered unable to finish the Bound for Glory Series due to a broken collarbone. This will mark the second year straight that a member of the roster has been unable to complete the full series. Matt Morgan was injured the first year at nearly the same time last year.

I've had high opinions of Dinero since his debut and the fact that he has been held back by outside commitments, questionable booking, and short term feuds that were too forgettable to last is a very real shame. His character, I believe, is progressive, charismatic, and reminiscent of what made The Rock a household name. While his stature and style aren't exactly the same, his ability to work a mic and improvise ranks up with some of the best in the business today. Had I named his character, I would called his finisher The Alter Call, but that's just me.

In other wrestling news, WWE released another superstar from their main roster. Tyler Reks, whom I believe should have been a smash with a unique mysterious character, asked for his release after repeated Twitter complaints and YouTube rants about his lack of TV time and wasted use. TNA would be wise to pick him up as their roster could use a character with a mysterious past since the exile of Abyss. Even the eventual crossing of paths with the monster would make for interesting TV. I ask everyone reading this....why is it so hard for WWE to utilize their roster to the fullest? They have 5 hours of first run programming with one on the way and they can't manage to make every character count? Please.

Sources are now saying that TNA has plans to have Brooke Hogan wrestle a match at Bound for Glory.....I can only hope it ushers in a new VP or sees her retire from her position. It was a nice thought to try it out, but it has been tough to endure. Surely TNA can find a more suitable replacement. My picks? One of two people......Molly Holly or Ivory. Even bringing back Traci Brooks or Roxxi would be favorable in the wake of Brooke's departure from television. A true shocker would be impossible here.....Taylor Wilde.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

TNA's Rebuttal.....

For those of you who believe in a rising power to challenge WWE, I salute you. You make writing this whole blog worthwhile. To those of you who still need convincing, I shall keep doing what I urge everyone to do.....watch the patterns. We are on the verge of a wrestling renaissance and I believe it'll take the efforts of TNA and Ring of Honor to bring this entire thing about. Ring of Honor has a unique role in the wrestling landscape. How? In the top tiers for BOTH bigger promotions, the top tier has some of their own ambassadors. CM Punk, Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan), Austin Aries and a few within the confines of the the BFG tournament (Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, and AJ Styles). All are top notch performers who never needed to be retrained as Triple H has gone on record saying about former ROH and other independent promotions. Ring of Honor is a donor for the best of the best and has been for the past 10 years anyway.

There are some changes on the horizon, folks and the only reason this post is so long in coming is because there are events unfolding that require watching just to see how they play out, not the least of which took place this weekend.

With SummerSlam in the rearview, it seems it's now up to TNA to up the auntie. SummerSlam, after having seen what highlights were necessary, I believe was lackluster and even though WWE didn't bury Lesnar's victory over HHH, it still seemed like WWE played this entire PPV too safe. The big E had the opportunity to truly WOW the fans, but chose to play it safe and let RAW carry whatever momentum they feel they had coming off of one of their big four PPVs of the year. *Tactix shakes his head*

CM Punk....I feel for the man, I really do. Over and over and over again I see WWE upper management hold down his pushes, deny him the main event, and continually hand him losses to cool his momentum. I've talked about his second-fiddle conundrum vs. John Cena before and I won't continue on that path again here.

So as previously noted, it's up to TNA to raise the stakes of battle. Now having to book a storyline to replace the Claire/AJ/Daniels story that wraps up this week, TNA has a challenge that SHOULD be less than formidable. When news broke revealing the character, Claire's real name, she was met with some unfortunate circumstances. Barring details, suffice it to say that this story MUST end quickly for her to save face. My suggestion? Move forward with the Abyss/Joseph Park duality. While I loathe the idea of making AJ Styles and Daniels a background thought, I understand that there are factors outside of the control of TNA management that require just that.

Impact will boast some impressive surprises and revelations to further the Aces and Eights' siege of the Impact Zone and TNA live events. All of this leading up to what I still believe to be something special in the way of a Bound for Glory theme. In any case, I can safely say we, as wrestling fans, won't be disappointed by the developments that will be incoming for the broadcast.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mysterious Ways......

There are few people in this world that get me riled up. The people who have difficulty putting double standards behind them when it comes to TNA comparisons happen to be the ones that drive me here. The feeling is almost toxic. It really makes me ask questions.....questions to which I already know the answers, but questions that, I feel, must be asked in order to point out the double standards by which those in Vince's camp seem to operate on a frustratingly high level.

What is the focal point of RAW each week? We get two things. Whatever match John Cena is selling and whatever match Triple H is selling. That's it, folks. There are no more tricks WWE can sell anymore. If someone tries to say Ryback, I respond with this....there have been a great many to come after Goldberg with a streak to break. In every case, once the streak is broken, the man loses his momentum. Goldberg was no exception, he created the rule.

How many times must CM Punk be buried beneath the tremendous ego and reach of John Cena before he decides to pack his bags and head South? TLC is coming once more and once more, I get this feeling that WWE is going to try and capitalize on the popularity rush he got last year at this time. The problem? Same as always, John Cena. WWE seems to believe this guy should never go on a vacation of any kind for the rest of his career. He's in the largest feuds on nearly every PPV. Aside from the Royal Rumble, he has main evented every single PPV of 2012. In fact, he main evented all but two PPVs in 2011 and of those, all but two were the last matches on the card.

In direct contrast, let's look at TNA.....Bobby Roode has been in the main event for every PPV to date this year. Why? He was either the champion or fighting for the championship. Is that bad booking? Not from a standpoint that sees him retain in a different way nearly every time. His recovery from a controversial booking decision has been successful and so much so, that it has brought people who felt burned, back around to see how it will turn out.

I read this in a column and I almost threw my computer on the floor. The writer suggested that James Storm's momentum was gone once he lost at Lockdown. I will grant that he may have lost a step or two, but to say his momentum is gone even though he has been a focal point to the most interwoven storyline going right now? That's ridiculous! His beatdown this week opens the door wide for what could be a pair of truly milestone PPVs, No Surrender and Bound for Glory. Right now, James Storm is in the hottest story and is the points leader for the Bound for Glory Series and he's lost all of his momentum? Thanks for trying, Mr. TNA critic, but you sir, have no clue.

In the same column there was a complaint about the AJ Styles vs. Daniels match, which lasted over the 15 minute time limit. Really? You're going to complain because a match took too long? Really? Really? I feel completely justified using The Miz's question into oblivion at that. The one time that TNA decides to give fans a conclusion a minute over the rulebook on free TV and you have to have something to say about it. Fine. You want to complain about Claire Lynch. Fine. Go right ahead. While the Claire storyline is overshadowed by the Aces and Eights, what appears to be a Fatal Four Way for the WWE Title is being fueled in part by the fact that AJ, who stood up Daniel Bryan at the alter in a mock wedding in favor of taking the General Manager position is angry at CM Punk AND Bryan? Do I have that about right? Strike from the record that the WWE Title match is likely to get the last match honors at SummerSlam to hide the possibility of a possible Brock Lesnar victory over Triple H and you've got a recipe for success, right? Please.....not even Y2J could save you from that storyline blunder, but then he's also on his way out.....my bad.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

CM Punk vs. TNA or Indies vs. the World

Does anyone remember how often I wished Karen Jarrett would be fired from my TV screen? In the wake of seeing Brooke Hogan this week on Impact, I'm feeling a bit of buyer's remorse. Why? Because as much as I couldn't stand her, I can stand Brooke even less. She's a statue.....emotionless, fake, and without any quality that makes a person in her position interesting.

I would have been thrilled to see the former ECW General Manager, Tiffany if it had been the decision of Sting or Hulk Hogan to introduce her. In fact, I'd have raised a glass in celebration, but when Brooke came on stage and started talking, I became instantly irritated and resolved to not care what she had to say, no matter what it was or whom she was introducing. I will go so far as to say that the only thing I have any interest in hearing from Brooke is that she's stepping down from her position as the VP of the Knockouts Division. End Brooke Hogan Rant.

On to a bit of news I withheld talking about until something developed. Now that there seems to be nothing on the books, I don't see why not. CM Punk was asked if there were any indy stars who he'd like to face on a larger stage if he had the chance. His response? Samoa Joe. The obvious implication is that TNA is an indy promotion. In response to his little dig, Kurt Angle, who has no business jumping into any sort of Twitter battle, jumped into the line of fire and fired back, suggesting that TNA pays him more than WWE pays Punk. While that may be true, it's certainly not relevant to the issue at hand. The point: so what?

One columnist went so far as to call TNA a "glorified regional promotion", which I would call laughable, at best. His opinion hinged on a booking decision from last year that saw Bobby Roode lose to Kurt Angle at Bound for Glory. Though I admit I might have agreed with that assessment at first, TNA management made a controversial decision and played a double title change card. WWE, whose use of that card is legendary, seems to be above reproach, particularly when it comes to the use of a Money in the Bank briefcase. The use of the title change to turn Bobby Roode heel was the very thing that made TNA the show to watch in the months that followed.

Back to the subject at hand.....CM Punk in TNA once more would be HUGE. Make no mistake about it....with a loaded microphone and fewer restrictions on what to do with said microphone, CM Punk could light up TNA and make them even better. Think about it, Cookie Monster Punk. Leave the comfort of your plush Muppet Show hosting, child catering, guest host flubbing, glam induced sugar job show and Cross the Line.....go ahead. If you want proof of TNA's freedom? Have a look....

Punk, you may have had a bigger stage, but Joe got to the mic first.


The Status Quo.....

I've been doing a lot of talking about how I would write things or whom I would push or what needs to be changed in order for TNA to become the dominant brand in professional wrestling these days, but the thing most important to be talked about is the state of the brand itself. Since some of the road and tapings duties have fallen to newer management, there have been difficulties in getting contract disputes resolved in a timely and cost efficient way that still benefits the performers. Velvet Sky, Angelina Love, Ray, and Devon have been the most recent examples of this.

Another little problem beginning to materialize is from a prediction I made very early on. There is some resentment festering in the locker room over Brooke Hogan and her position in the company. The most early feelings were that of hope that simple name value would add something good to the mix, but in recent weeks the feeling is that her name hasn't helped and the she isn't talented enough as a talker or a character to hold the title she currently has. Combine that with an increasingly modest Knockouts roster and you have a potential problem that must be addressed quickly in order to salvage what remains and to rebuild what has been neglected.

Outside of the contracts and Knockouts Division, morale seems high as each of the last PPVs have been viewed as a tremendous success, swaying very hard critics to the cause. While the ratings have yet to jump into higher numbers, most believe it's only due to some fans who've felt burned by the brand beginning to warm up to the new changes. Some in the internet wrestling community are even more impressed with the changes in TNA than they are in WWE's tweaks.

This brings me to the contrast. WWE held a meeting before Monday Night RAW this week. During this gathering, talents were told to refrain from using language in tweets and other uses of social media that would be inappropriate for children and that remarks outside of those parameters would not be tolerated. Any kind of comments that might have been made by talents in the meeting were silenced as the top guys are content with their position and the bottom guys, in the wake of A.W's firing, were more afraid of losing their jobs.

Additionally, many within the company believe that as Triple H is given more hold on the reins of the day to day operations that we'll see greater emphasis on the Tag Team Division and even less emphasis on the Divas Division. My response? Send Natalya and Beth Phoenix and we'll put their talents to good use rather than seeing them squandered.

Personally, I have no idea what value the WWE's Diva Division has to begin with- virtually no screen time, throwaway matches, and hopelessly mismatched combatants make the division a mess from the gate. Add in that most of the current Divas have been shopped via modeling agencies and beauty pageants and you have a recipe for a train wreck that isn't even so bad it can't be turned away from. In fact, most critics say that their matches are when they get up to make themselves a snack or use the restroom. My advice? Close up shop and let TNA do your job, WWE, they're better at it anyway.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tomorrow.....

Impact this week is sure to have a few surprises. Most notably among them is just what happens as it relates to James Storm and his alleged ties to the Aces and Eights? Bully Ray pulled a fast one and got the 20 points and back into the game. Predicting what TNA has in store for Ray, in particular, is difficult, but if he and Devon HAVE signed on the dotted line, I believe we can expect to see a World Title run in his future. This would be a hard sell to some fans out there as they are far more used to his tag team work with Devon in his career. HOWEVER, there are precious few who could possibly disagree that his most current persona has been, by far, the most interesting in his career to date.

Austin Aries....Where do I begin? His battle for the World Title was memorable; one of the finest examples of fans getting their just desserts in TNA's history. His retaining of the belt was good planning and a credit to his character. But what does TNA have up their sleeves as far as an opponent's list for No Surrender? I think it'd be worth taking a quick look at the roster for potential contenders. I can think of only one option for this upcoming PPV. Don't pick a contender for the title. With so few contenders outside of the Bound for Glory Series, I see only two who even have a faint chance to even challenge......Abyss and Crimson. Neither of these are favorable in my view, but if TNA wants to have such a match, I say put the match on free TV and insert some kind of warmup face off match with Sting and Aries vs. two members of the Aces and Eights. Since Sting is a floating talent, lingering on the outside of the current BFG Series standings and is serving as interim GM to boot, it seems the most logical idea TNA has at the moment. A loss would be inevitable, but HOW it's pulled off would demand explanation and would build everything to a fever pitch come Bound for Glory the following month.

Madison Rayne is the Knockouts Champion. It's about time. TNA did a good thing in giving Tessmacher her day in the sun, but with illness having made quick work of her in the past couple of weeks, the title change needed to be done and there are few characters on the roster with a more full ring presence than Rayne. If there ever was a time to give the new girl a shot to do something, this would be that time. Taeler Hendrix has a look that reminds me a bit of Taylor Wilde. This is a credit and the fact that she's talented enough to hang with a veteran like Tara makes her doubly able to be included into the mix of potential challengers. The Knockouts Division needs a new face in the title hunt. Mickie James, Gail Kim and Tara have all had their title runs and Tessmacher is ill, so the best course of action is to revitalize the division by giving everyone some much needed camera time.

So Zema Ion retains. While I don't agree entirely with the decision as Ion's persona is about as lifeless as a zombie on death row, I understand the logic. Kenny King, as talented as he is, needs time to develop and mature on the bigger stage. Ion has been in the company over a year now and, with that, has managed to develop a good working relationship with upper management. I do see a title change in the future with him possibly winning it back before the return of Jesse Sorenson. I don't, however, see TNA giving the title to someone who is untested. That being said, I think Sonjay Dutt's time is now for his first title reign as X Division Champion. The best time? Bound for Glory. What better way to give a veteran his dream than to do it on the biggest stage TNA has?


Court....

So Aries retains, Madison Rayne is the Knockouts Champion, AJ Styles won 20 points and Team 3D each won their matches; what does this all mean? For Ray and Devon and their fans, I believe it means they're going to be sticking around after all. There was some speculation as to whether or not we'd see them in TNA for much longer as their contracts expire shortly, but wins here tell me that the ink is drying on their renewed deals, giving TNA more options for viable World Title competitors.

While the World Title picture is, as of yet, up in the air, I think we're about to see something special come to fruition this week as the rematch clause has been waived. Bobby Roode is about to become a lot more interesting, of that I am completely certain. Compounding the dilemma, Aces and Eights continue to fuel the notion that James Storm is behind their tactics. With Bully Ray having won the Tables Match at Hardcore Justice despite interference, it'll be interesting to see where things go from here.

AJ winning here was an important thing to have happen as it makes the battlefield that much more interesting. No Surrender is on the horizon and maybe, just maybe we'll see daylight about this faction and their purpose in TNA along with Claire's involvement with Daniels, AJ, and TNA. AJ and Daniels both say to keep an open mind because the ending is good, so I walk forward with high hopes and raise my glass to TNA for another great PPV in the books. Hardcore Justice was a good showing and it marks the 4th straight outing TNA has put on that has gotten high fan marks. Congratulations to the creative team and to each competitor on the card for a job well done.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Who Are the Aces and Eights? Part 4: Bound for Warring

With two ongoing projects on my plate, I figured it best to finish what I've started before going into the most current TNA PPV on the books, so do check back tomorrow as I'll have my review of Hardcore Justice. SO....I now return to my prediction of the Aces and Eights, already in progress.....TNA's promotional machine goes into overdrive with welders and miles of metal in the construction of an enclosure surrounding two 6 Sided Rings constructed side by side. The structure would be designed to allow no escape for anyone put inside.

The Frontline has gathered at the front end of Impact for the announcement Hogan has been talking about on Facebook and Twitter all week long. Angle, as spokesman of the group wants to know what this is all about and if Bischoff knows who the leader is. Hogan says yes and no. He says that Bischoff
gave him a name, but that the guy mentioned has been touring the indies for a while now and it doubtful he has any connection. The Frontline offers to go bring back the man in question.

This is where the story branches depending upon how much time the story has. For the easy version, the Aces and Eights shut down the investigation and challenge The Frontline to a final battle at Bound for Glory. Sting and Hulk Hogan reveal the last ditch effort to stop the faction from going too far......a new match designed to restrain the Aces and Eights for long enough to make them pay for the chaos. 5 members of Aces and Eights will be chosen by their leader, a man who will be revealed at Bound for Glory. At Bound for Glory, it will be revealed that John Morrison is the leader of the Aces and Eights.

For the more complex version, Morrison has been beaten down and it seems that there are no other opinions of who could be leading Aces and Eights. The challenge is made and Aces and Eights 5 man team shows up with Joey Ryan as the leader. In anticipation, Hogan says that he's brought someone in as a special surprise for The Frontline. A brand new theme rings and John Morrison comes out to join The Frontline as their 5th man.

The second scenario is how I would write it out, but if time makes things a bit cumbersome, the first scenario would do in a pinch. TNA has needed a strong storyline and this is one for TNA's best story list for sure. I have high hopes things will play out with a new match type come Bound for Glory, but anything is possible in this business.



Saturday, August 11, 2012

TNA? Competition?

My apologies for my break from finishing the way I would have written the Aces and Eights as I know some of you would have wanted to see where I was going. To spoil some of it, I had 2 possible outcomes which I will reveal one at a time over the course of the next couple of days. In the meantime, I have something else to talk about. Actually, I have two somethings to talk about.

1. Abraham Washington. WWE has released A.W. over some off colored remarks on camera about Kobe Bryant's rape case a number of years ago in a Colorado hotel. That's right. WWE. The same company who inducted a convicted rapist in Mike Tyson to the Hall of Fame. WWE. The same company that has horribly bullied good 'ol JR on a great number of occasions for over a decade. In fact, Vince McMahon, this June mocked him on RAW, poking fun at his Bells Palsy. So much for the anti-bullying campaign.

Should the WWE Universe be up in arms over this? I suppose it depends on how you view this recent news. I've been saying for over a year now that WWE is in some trouble and now, it seems, the problems are finally beginning to materialize. Abraham's Twitter rebuttal has brought some mid-carders on the roster to become more vocal about their mistreatment by WWE management. JTG, of Cryme Time fame went to Twitter to voice the injustice of travel expenses and bullying on the roster from the top talents down. Others on the WWE roster are making a great many complaints about top talents, not the least of which is the WWE poster boy.....John Cena.

THIS is the kind of thing that kills a company, people. Egos. Double standards. A land without consequences. Hogan got out of the way of the spotlight and TNA has been better for it. Eric Bischoff was taken off of TV and TNA has been better for it. Jeff Jarrett, who held most of the spotlight for the first few years of TNA's existence, has been taken off of TV and TNA has been better for it. This brings me to the second topic....

2. The Wizard World Convention. TNA Knockout Tara stated that she was banned from yesterday's Chicago convention because WWE was going to be present. In fact, she said that WWE would only make appearances if TNA was excluded from the festivities and was informed by the convention that she would no longer be appearing for the event. Wow.

Could it be that WWE is getting nervous about their standing? TNA is on the verge of exploding, folks and WWE can see the writing on the wall. Count on it. When Austin Aries won the World Heavyweight, the current WWE Champion gave his congratulations to A Double. CM Punk giving kudos to the enemy. How about that? I've been a Punk fan for quite some time, but that was classy. Seriously. WWE had been hyping their 1000th episode of RAW and now that things are over and done, has anything changed? Sure, but not for the better. Abraham Washington's release is only the beginning of the shifting of the tides.

The House of Hardcore.....Justice

Tomorrow is Hardcore Justice.....it seems as though the PPVs for TNA keep getting better. Remember back about a year ago at this time. TNA was having difficulty putting together a show worth watching consistently, let alone a PPV. Every PPV was only a lead into the following week's worth of programming. Now, stories are more crisp and flowing; talents are more potent; and the competition on each show is much more fierce.

Having said that, it's that time once more to take a look and evaluate the card.

AJ Styles vs. Daniels vs. Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle.....This has the potential to be one of TNA's greatest matches. Why? Because we're looking at a combination of Unbreakable 2005, Genesis 2005, and Turning Point of 2009. Daniels, Joe, and Styles have an intangible chemistry together in the ring and Kurt Angle has done tremendous work with AJ and Joe in the past year. This is TNA's matchmaker crew as they can go with ANYONE. Look for this to be a match of the year candidate. as much as I love all three men, I just can't shake the idea that Kazarian will be out there gunning for Angle and Styles, leaving Joe as the ultimate victor of the match.

Jeff Hardy vs. Robbie E. vs. Bully Ray vs. James Storm.....This one is a tough call. TNA has had all the time in the world to try and woo Ray and Devon to stay, but it's entirely up to them if they want to make that decision. My prediction is that if Aces and Eights leave James Storm intact and take out Bully Ray, we can be safe to say that Ray and Devon will be on their way out. BUT if TNA has come to decision that Storm is going to be the target and the others will simply be moved out of the way, I'm betting on a Bully Ray victory. If Ray and Devon leave, I'll bet on Jeff Hardy to take the 20.

Magnus vs. RVD vs. Anderson vs. Pope......I don't have any idea how to call this....honestly. I believe Pope has put in his time and it's time to collect. BUT TNA is in the business of creating new threats to the World Title and they may decide to let Magnus have a shot, pushing Pope back into mid-card mode. Whatever the case, I want to see one of the two newer talents take this and since he's been on a bit of a hot streak, I'm going to side with Magnus as a newfound threat.

Kenny King vs. Zema Ion for the X Division Title.....Since I believe TNA has some stock invested in Kenny King these days, I'm going to go with King here. Ion has had a run, but I get the feeling that there are plans in the works to give Ion another run with the belt shortly before the return of Jesse Sorenson.

Austin Aries vs. Bobby Roode for the World Title.....This match is a bit of a giveaway and some of that will depend upon what happens in the James Storm match. The current plan is for him to finish the Roode/Storm feud at Bound for Glory. The question is whether the world title will be on the line for said match. If Bobby Roode is champion come Bound for Glory, I can see no other option but for them to continue with Storm winning the Series. Even so, I still believe Aries is the guy to carry the company for a little while longer. He may lose the belt soon, but I don't think this month.

Gunner and Kid Kash vs. Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez......This is a no-brainer for me. Chavo is fresh, he's new, he's the most recent acquisition. I see no reason they should lose.

Madison Rayne vs. Tessmacher for the Knockouts Title......I would LOVE to see a surprise twist in this match where Tessmacher retains, but I just don't see it happening with the way Rayne is being booked, having the referee in her pocket. Rayne wins.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it, people. Aces and Eights will be the game changer in this PPV and will succeed where The Nexus flopped. If there is someone who knows more about a successful faction takeover than Eric Bischoff, I don't know who it is. Even Vince McMahon can't pull off a successful invasion storyline. In any case, the faction in town will determine a great deal of the direction TNA is going to take in the coming weeks leading up to and past No Surrender.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Matter of Time.....

Hardcore Justice is Sunday. The matches are set. Writers have been put into overdrive as they work on damage control. Bully Ray tweeted that he was 50/50 on whether and Devon would stay or leave TNA and the current Aces and Eights storyline gives TNA an easy out should Ray decide he truly does want out. As of right now, there are 7 matches. There is always the possibility of an impromptu match, but I doubt this month we'll see one. SO....

Austin Aries vs. Bobby Roode II (No Rematches once the bell has sounded)
Bully Ray vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Robbie E. vs. James Storm (20 Point Tables Match)
Mr. Anderson vs. RVD vs. Pope vs. Magnus (20 Point Falls Count Anywhere Match)
Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe vs. Daniels (20 Points Ladder Match)
Gunner and Kid Kash vs. Hernandez and Chavo Guerrero
Kenny King vs. Zema Ion (X Division Title Match)
Tessmacher vs. Madison Rayne (Knockouts Title Match)


Aces and Eights have vowed to show up for the festivities, but as for who gets the beatdown....that remains to be seen. If TNA is serious about losing Ray and Devon, expect one or both of them to take on the brunt of the beatdown and for Devon to lose the TV Title in the coming weeks. I can see the World Title match ending with Aces and Eights as well, provided TNA is wanting to reveal more in the coming week's episode of Impact.

Whatever the case, TNA is wanting to keep this air of mystery intact until such time that the battleground is established. if.....If.....IF the leader of the faction is a newcomer, he will have the hottest opening stride in TNA this year. If they reveal at least 5 members, we could be looking at a renewal of TNA's roster. If TNA decides to put all of their investment into this storyline and really make a run with this by introducing a brand new TNA-exclusive match type, this will be a GREAT year for Impact Wrestling on the world's platform.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ethics.....

This is not meant to be answered, but how many talents is TNA willing to rotate out of their current roster? Here is a list of this year's releases and expected releases if TNA doesn't act quickly to retain them.....

Angelina Love
Velvet Sky
Alex Shelley
Tony Nese
Jesse Neal
Shannon Moore
Toxxine
Matt Morgan
Bully Ray (in contract dispute)
Devon (in contract dispute)
Winter (in contract dispute)

While a couple of these releases and potential releases isn't a huge loss, all of them over the course of the year is HUGE. It can't be ignored that TNA's released talents have claimed that management is the problem. Since Bruce Pritchard has come on board with the company, the storylines have held a consistency they had difficulty matching in the past. With that, however, comes the sparing use of certain Knockouts on the roster and the de-push of potential mega stars like Matt Morgan and the former Team 3D.

Something needs to be done before more talents decide they need to step away from the product. If Dixie is having difficulty seeing this, we truly have ourselves a problem worth bringing to the doorstep of the TNA corporate office in Nashville. If the idea is to bring brand new talents into the fold and rebuild everything that has been lost with untested talents, we could be onto something good, but with the testing process comes patience. Is TNA patient enough with their newest acquisitions to let them get over with crowds in their own time, or will they begin to run WWE's line and cram them either to the bottom of the card or off the card entirely? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Who Are the Aces and Eights? Part 3: Already in Progress....

With James Storm having been beaten down, the TNA Frontline revamp, featuring Sting, AJ Styles, Austin Aries, Kurt Angle, and a re-welcomed James Storm search for answers. After catching one member of the faction during a beatdown, he reveals that a former General Manager from the big dog in the yard has all the answers.

Angle, discusses the matter with Jeff Hardy before a Bound for Glory Series match and they come to the same glaring conclusion.....they need to find Eric Bischoff. After talking to Hogan about the new information, Hulk agrees to make the journey to Bischoff's ranch out west.

Eric Bischoff is not happy to see Hogan after the events that transpired earlier this year. Hulk demands to know if he has anything to do with the Aces and Eights. Eric denies any involvement, but he does know what's happening and that he know what is coming.

"How do you know what's coming?" Hogan asks.

"Because it's all based on my idea," Bischoff begins, stopping Hogan's retort by continuing.
"It's not me, but there is only one man I told this plan to and he was a protege back when I was managing another promotion about 10 years ago. You'd better prepare something big because a war is coming."

This takes place over the course of a 2 week span where the Aces and Eights have been continuing random beatdowns in the meantime, being run off each time by the Frontline. Hogan tells Sting that they need to come up with something to stop the faction before it turns into World War 3. Sting's eyes light up as he tells Hogan to walk with him to reveal his idea.

A video package begins airing about a buried structure being brought back to life with a modern twist from the mind that brought you Lethal Lockdown. One structure to divide alliances and bring chaos to ruin. A place where those who enter are forever changed.....

Monday, August 6, 2012

Aces and Eights Notes (Paused)

I'd like to pause my own variation on what's happening on Impact in recent weeks and spoil the rumor mills about who is actually under the hoods and my thoughts on whether TNA should :

-reveal their faces on camera
OR
-keep them around if they are to be revealed

The names I know to be involved are......

Chris Masters......I've been tell you guys that TNA needs to sign him because he will fill a spot left by Matt Morgan, but the current storyline begs for him to be revealed as a part of the faction and TNA should do their best to keep him around once the smoke has cleared.

Wes Brisco.....His involvement in the storyline after appearing on camera without the mask is as of yet unknown, but he IS for sure one of the attackers beneath one. As for whether or not he should stick around....I saw a potential super-heel behind his favor asking from Kurt Angle. I like his chances should TNA deem him worthy of a revelation when the time comes.

By the way, thanks to Anonymous for the correction concerning the Brisco Tag Team, who are still under contract with Ring of Honor. Misinformation kills momentum and this shall be a lesson not soon forgotten.

Mike Knox.....Kelly Kelly's psycho ex-boyfriend from the defunct WW/ECW product is another under the masks and this move is one I can be persuaded either way. While I was never drawn to his character on ECW, I was also not paying much attention to the ECW product when it was last on television. Nevertheless, another former WWE talent makes me wary of picking up his contract.

Luke Gallows.....The man once known as Festus has me intrigued. I have no idea why, but I see more potential in him than WWE ever did. His character, when paired with someone like Anderson, Angle, Bully Ray, or even Daniels could bring out a microphone powerhouse the likes of which we haven't seen in quite some time. TNA would do well to pick him up and keep him around.

The rest of the men beneath the masks may or may not be important. What DOES matter right now is whether or not TNA has inclinations to add to their roster in the coming months. I am of the belief that this kind of storyline would revolutionize TNA's active roster and breathe new life into the top tier, bringing new rivalries, teams, and allegiances.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Who Are the Aces and Eights Part 2: In the Shadows....

Since James Storm has not only been accused, but seemingly found guilty as the Aces and Eights have been absent despite the large crowd awaiting their appearance. Instead, the competitors saw fit to fight amongst themselves. This leads us into the week before Hardcore Justice.....

The matches are heated. The exchanges are tense. The faction's absence is deafening. James looks even more guilty as they once more ignore the challenge set out for them.

Over the course of the night, each Bound for Glory Series competitor is still under the impression that James Storm is the leader of the faction. Bar the fact that the Aces and Eights swarm in and aid Storm in winning his match. Before the PPV has reached the final match on the card, James Storm has become Public Enemy number 1. The World Heavyweight Title match is on tap.....Bobby Roode vs. Austin Aries.

At about the 10 minute mark of the match, the Aces and Eights come in, attacking both men. Leading the charge, Sting, Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, to their attempt at playing the numbers game, but when reinforcements come out of the woodwork, they are overwhelmed. Storm, still angry about his aided victory, rushes out to save the day. To no surprise, the faction scatters. The match is called a No Contest, seemingly burning Bobby Roode's chance at a rematch for the title.

On Impact, Bobby Roode makes his accusation again. This time, James Storm comes out to the ring and challenges Bobby Roode to a match at Open Fight Night. In the main event, the match once again is interrupted, but this time, after Bobby Roode is beaten down. The Aces and Eights turn on James Storm, beating him worst of all.....

Who's the leader of the Aces and Eights now?

Who Are The Aces and Eights?

WCW made history in the mid-late 90's by becoming the first promotion to have a seemingly legitimate hostile takeover by the nWo. In 2001, WWF had an invasion that involved two previously televised and distinctly separate entities in WCW and ECW. 2012 will be a new milestone for wrestling fans around the world. 2012 marks the year when a faction takes over without their leader stepping foot in the ring until the smoke has cleared. They have created anarchy and division so far. Expect more of the same.

The smarks and marks alike all believe it's either Jeff Jarrett or Eric Bischoff. If I were writing this, it wouldn't be either of them. Oh, the motive doesn't have to be anything more than seeing if such a thing could be done. I'd want the fingers to be pointing for a while. Even send a guy to visit 'ol Eric at his ranch in Montana. Find out what he's up to. Have him be a small part of the story, but he's not the leader.

Instead, a rumor begins to circulate about a protege he once had and a conversation he had with said man about the perfect takeover. This conversation went until his protege said a statement that would change wrestling's history. The statement?

"If this place screws me, I'll just take over another one and remake it my way."

He's been touring the independent circuit like he's a free man. He wants you to believe he'll never show up on the world televised scene again so no one will know until he's ready. I've been saying that all TNA needs to take off is a powerful storyline and this would be something special because it would be compelling, and with a twist no one would quite see coming.

In the coming days, I'll spell it out and maybe; just maybe, we'll see a renewal of wrestling's renaissance just like the one that took place nearly 20 years ago.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Daily Grind.....

This column, as daily as I am able to make it, would be nothing without an audience to read it, so from this humble site, I say thank you to those who've taken the TNA journey with me. Additionally, I would like to spread a bit of hype about another milestone coming in just a few days......500 columns. I still need some time to let that one sink in. In any case, I've come up with a few ideas of just how to go about celebrating this milestone, but I think it best to open it up to you all first. What do I cover for column number 500? Do I run a review of Hardcore Justice with all the trimmings? Should it simply be business as usual?

For other milestones I've done the Big "What if?", my favorite finishers, plenty of WWE vs. TNA fantasy PPV cards, and predictions to flood the world, but there HAS to be something I have yet to cover and I leave that to you guys to lend me a hand in that way. My suspicions about TNA's next steps into the grander picture of professional wrestling are on the way, but in the meantime, I'd like to talk about one thing....Joey Ryan.

When I first saw Ryan, he was in Ring of Honor. He was charismatic. He had some good potential, provided he was given a microphone and an opportunity. Unfortunately, Ring of Honor has seemed less inclined to progress beyond a certain point on the road to success and as a result, his head, like the heads of Austin Aries, Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, and others hit the ceiling as they grew out of the boundaries Ring of Honor has. In my eyes, Ring of Honor is one part independent promotion, one part developmental league and Joey Ryan no longer fits within their confines. SO....his Gut Check Challenge seemed like a logical next step into a bigger world.

I have LOVED his YouTube channel and his appearances ARE leading to something special. In fact, sources close to the situation have been saying we'll see some kind of match between Ryan and Al Snow at Bound for Glory, if not sooner. Does he have a following? If you've seen the 87% signs on Impact in weeks past, you'll know the answer is yes. Does he have any sort of involvement in the most forefront story on the TNA landscape with the Aces and Eights? My understanding of the situation is that this is a very separate situation from the one surrounding Joey Ryan, but tensions on camera rise as we move into this new and special time that may welcome Ryan onto the TNA roster.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Interested......

SO.....we've got a few developments that MUST be talked about. Let's just list them for simplicities' sake right here.....

-Claire's voice is quite possibly the only thing in the world to rival AJ Lee's and Karen Jarrett.
-Aces and Eights didn't appear on camera this week.
-Joseph Park is now representing a couple of Impact stars.
-Wes Brisco is looking for a job and wants Angle to speak for him.
-The match types have been announced for the four way matches at Hardcore Justice.

I don't think the first is worth mentioning twice, but the implications for where this story is headed speak heavily toward AJ being drugged for the photo and the child not being his in the first place, but that kind of thing has been done before.....sort of. Stephanie and HHH had a similar story more than a decade ago. Whatever the case, I look to see more revelations, probably by someone not tied to the story right now.

Joseph Park taking on a couple of performers as legal counsel is an interesting twist. Makes me wonder not only if it's a cover for his newly developed alter ego but also if one of those stars is Abyss. Just thinking about this out loud......

Aces and Eights didn't show up this week. I'm intrigued about where this is going. Makes James Storm look like a very guilty man....or it makes the faction look intimidated by the number of men surrounding the ring. Suddenly the numbers game looked a bit lopsided? Whatever the reason for their not showing up, it does make the story more interesting.

On a related note, one of the men beneath the masks FOR the Aces and Eights was a man whose face was revealed last night. Wes Brisco has been one of the attackers for a short while. Granted, this is backstage news, but the fact that he shows his face on camera asking for a job seems a bit suspect. Why? I was hoping that question would come up. Eric Bischoff has had a hand in the development of this story and his knowledge of what the internet is dredging up on forums is very good these days. The man does his homework, suffice it to say. Most of the "smarks", as they're referred to here, already know Brisco is one of the Aces and Eights beneath the mask, which makes everything a bit more shadowy as we don't know if he'll be revealed as a spy or if he'll EVER be revealed at all.

As far as the matches are concerned, we have a Ladder Match, a Tables Match, and a Falls Count Anywhere Match. I won't lie, this looks a bit like an Extreme Rules PPV WWE would put out, but with the flair only TNA can pull off. It's weeks like this that make me love being a wrestling fan on TNA's fan list.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Network Connection Lost.....

April 29th, 2012- Wrestlemania happens. It's also the 1st scheduled launch of the WWE Network. The date came and went. The problem? There were two....

-WWE only planned out a week's worth of programming.
-While the staffing for documentary filming was fully staffed, there weren't any network executives hired who knew how to keep the network running.

Fast forward two months. WWE made announcements that they were launching a Cruiserweight exclusive show to go along with their launch slated for the fall. Two more months later brings us to today. WWE has hopes to announce more news about their network within three months.

(Tactix shakes his head.) I love WWE Network announcements. They make the arguments for me.

As far as TNA is concerned, I have some news. We have the competitors lined up for each Bound for Glory Series match. Additionally, each match is slated to have a special stipulation to be outlined tonight on Impact. Also, the winner of each match will be awarded 20 points in the series. SO.....here they are:

RVD vs. Mr. Anderson vs. Magnus vs. Pope
AJ Styles vs. Daniels vs. Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe
Bully Ray vs. Jeff Hardy vs. James Storm vs. Robbie E.

I love every match announced so far. They all look good when added to the main event of Austin Aries vs. Bobby Roode in a Destination X rematch. Provided TNA puts on a good show tonight, I can readily see TNA putting up some respectable numbers to follow. Hopefully more revelations will be made to further their headlining storylines, but we shall see.....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

One Day Away.....

TNA has been keeping very quiet as of recent in terms of how the Hardcore Justice matches are going to be determined. I assume we've got something special planned. I've speculated so far, but up to this point, nothing has been locked down into place. With the return of Eric Young imminent and ODB freshly signed to a long term deal, I would assume we'll see some more tag team hilarity and maybe, just maybe, we'll see a title defense.

All sarcasm aside, I look forward to seeing Eric again. For all the grief people give the guy, it looks as if he's having a good time with the story he's been placed in. I love that about Eric Young. He is a consummate performer who make a comedic storyline look at the very least passable. Contrast that with Santino and his ridiculous Cobra finisher. *sigh* (And they called Vince Russo's writing bad.)

Back to the PPV....I am quite curious just how fully they are willing to take the concept. If the Knockouts Division is willing to go there as WWE's Women's Division of old used to, this could be a very interesting PPV, indeed. I also wonder if we will yet see some kind of appearance from the Aces and Eights faction I've grown to enjoy. So many critics love to complain about TNA for not having an original idea, but this faction has some very distinct differences from every faction to come before.

-The numbers are never the same.
-The victims chosen are seemingly at random
-There is no definite leader as of yet
-The purpose for the assaults has yet to be revealed
-They have yet to appear on a PPV

These differences separate them from even the Nexus stable of a year or two ago, which was among the biggest WWE disappointments in my recent memory. Just a side note, if you want to make a successful stable function as a unit, you don't fracture the group and put them on two separate shows...if you do fracture the group, you put them together on the same show and sit back for the fireworks. If TNA has one thing going for them that WWE doesn't right now, it's a singular mindset to let a story run its course fully to completion.

So we've got some things to cover for the PPV.....we just need that one day to let those revelations be known.