Sunday, September 30, 2012

Explanations......

Before I go ANY further with the Great Exchange post, I want to clarify a couple of things. A few posts back, I made a reference to Eric Bischoff as the leader of Aces and Eights, stating that I thought it would be detrimental to the story and I hold to that view. HOWEVER, at no point did I say I wasn't a fan of his work or that I wouldn't welcome him back to the show should the opportunity present itself outside the confines of Aces and Eights. Here's the thing.....I said I wasn't complaining about the promo cut during the negotiations segment even though it sounded like the inflection, speech pattern, and vocabulary of Eric. I like the way he sets up his promos and I believe a great many members from ANY roster could learn a thing or two from him about cutting a healthy heel promo. I hope it isn't Eric leading the group and, though I understand the view of it looking a bit like Immortal without Hogan or Flair, Abyss being a part along with Bully Ray makes some sense....but I digress.

With that in mind, my opinion of Eric being involved in the Great Exchange story in a small way is interesting as it would be Vince showing up on a show Eric has been helping with behind the scenes ongoing since his hiring. While it isn't a necessity as Hogan could play off of Vince on his own, I thought the guesting role of Bischoff would be a nice reversal. So I have a message to the one whose comment is below the post previous and you know who you are.....

Let's try and read every word and what it all means BEFORE you jump to conclusions that I NEVER said....shall we?

Now then.....

My reasoning behind CM Punk being featured in the X Division......it's really quite simple. His best role so far in WWE has been in the role of telling of the travesties and inconsistencies in the political system governing the organization. I see this as something TNA could build off of. I would have him debuting and winning the X Title shortly before Destination X and facing off against someone like Austin Aries there for the World Title. Since both were former ROH Champions, I think the familiarity would be a huge payoff for those who have followed his career so far.

As for the rest, I think some compelling feuds would be raised if AJ Lee weren't governing an entire show, but rather the running of a specialty division like the Knockouts Division. Additionally, if Beth and Natalya were to debut in TNA, WWE could use whoever is left in a valet role and finally retire their Women's Division, which has been embarrassing in recent years.

As for Zack Ryder.....tell me you couldn't see him tagging with Robbie E. with Rob Terry as their enforcer. A solid story leading to him rising up the card with the Robbies would be a good play, provided they knew how to make that happen.

What if?......Part 1:The Great Exchange

If ever a cooperative could be struck between the two national wrestling powers, we may see some truly interesting match-ups. As for the exchanges I'd like to see.....

From TNA to WWE:

AJ Styles
Bobby Roode
Samoa Joe
Crimson
Christopher Daniels

From WWE to TNA:

Zack Ryder
CM Punk
Natalya
Beth Phoenix
AJ Lee


Before I get into the "why's" and such, I think it wise to give my best scenario for the trade.....

Vince comes into the ring on Impact Wrestling and announces the departure of TNA's greatest treasures. His short list as listed above are no longer employed with TNA and are now the property of WWE. In response, Eric Bischoff, who hasn't been seen since the beginning of the year, comes out, followed by Hulk Hogan.

Eric tells Vince that, while it was fun on his show so very long ago, he's not on RAW and that means he's on HIS turf. Hogan, who has been quiet on the tirade, speaks up. He says that under the rules set out back in February, this isn't Eric's show and to hit the bricks. He tells Vince that he's glad he's here, because on this special episode of Impact, his second in command has something to tell him.

On the jumbotron, Sting is on the Monday Night RAW set. He says that he had a feeling Vince would try something like this, so they did some recruiting of their own. But because Vince ran his mouth a little too early, he missed out on something critical. The talents he chose came with a high price tag.........

As a result of picking all TNA originals, a recruitment clause kicked into effect, rendering all performers on WWE's roster over the age of 35 unable to compete for 6 months. Vince looks panicked and rightfully so. The list below is of talents barred.....

John Cena
Big Show
R-Truth
Undertaker
Kane
Christian
Mark Henry
The Great Khali
Rey Mysterio
Triple H
The Rock

NOW, WWE has some decisions to make.......

TNA has already decided their picks and have done so with careful anticipation. Here are the new roles for TNA's picks....

Beth Phoenix and Natalya- Knockouts/ Knockouts Tag Team Division
CM Punk- X Division
Zack Ryder- Tag Team Division/ TV Title
AJ Lee- VP of the Knockouts Division

WWE has already chosen to put Daniels and Styles together once again for the Tag Team Division.
Bobby Roode joins the World Title scene as does Samoa Joe.
Crimson joins the Intercontinental/US Title scene.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Coming........

I've got some stuff coming down the road that will make this a bit more interesting. I'll be tag-teaming on a 3 part post of dream divisions. My good friend over at The Fighting Truth will once again join me to cover each division and throw out some perspective as well. While I've been working hard to go this thing alone, it would be a welcome change to share the load for a few columns as I'm sure it'd also be a refreshing change for all of you guys as well.

In the course of these three columns, we'll cover the Knockouts Division, the TV Title scene, X Division, the World Heavyweight Title picture, and the Tag Team Divisions. We'll list our picks of who we'd have TNA choose for each and who TNA should acquire in the open market. Right now, things are going pretty good for the number 2 company and, with WWE's focus in limbo, TNA is gaining ground.

Since the departure of Devon from TNA, the spotlight has now been cast on Samoa Joe once more. As one of my personal favorites from TNA's history, it just seems to me like it's HIS time again to shine as champion. My opinion? It's ABOUT TIME! I've been calling for this for the past year and longer as he just couldn't win over the critics in the top brass. Apparently, they still listen to the fans. Who knew? Is he going to last or is he a transitional champion setting up Magnus for a run to the top? Either way, he's champion now and has a good feud going into Bound for Glory, which is a good thing to be thankful for right now.

The WWE fanboys out there keep talking up the "renewed" focus of WWE on their Tag Team Division.....to those people, I have one question. When was the last time you saw a Tag Team Title match on PPV involving 3 teams? For that matter, in the year to date, WWE has only had 2 Tag Title matches on PPV. By my best information, we're looking at September of 2010 with a three-way. For the record, I do NOT recognize any match that wasn't featured on the official card. A year or so ago, I know there was a three way, but it was featured on a PPV pre-show, which doesn't count. That's a two year span, peeps!

Do I really have to bring up TNA's record? Okay, you convinced me. TNA has yet to have a PPV this year without a Tag Title match. THAT, folks, is what separates the two organizations. TNA, even in the face of divisional hardship has always had a title picture that was more focused on the personal vendettas of the tag teams with the title as the ultimate one-up over the other. Just take a look at the Bound for Glory card and you'll get the most accurate cross section of the finest TNA has to offer.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Suggestion, If I May......

It's been stated that the Vice President of Talent Relations, Bruce Prichard doesn't have a taste for women's wrestling, hence TNA's decline in their emphasis on the Knockouts Division. As a result, Knockouts like Angelina Love, Winter, etc. have distanced themselves from TNA. To remedy this problem, TNA's fans need to rally for the return of TNA to their high quality of women's division storylines.....if they can do that, feds like SHIMMER will look to THEM for their model of how to do things with their own organization and TNA SHOULD be the ones setting the standard as they have since the Knockouts Divisions' inception.

My advice? Write to TNA on Facebook or on their website and DEMAND for them to reinstate and renovate the Knockouts Division. If TNA has no greater virtue, it's that they listen to the fans and the more voices, the louder the impact.

I, for one, would love to hail the return of Velvet Sky, Angelina Love, Awesome Kong, Winter, Traci Brooks, Salinas, and to welcome Taeler Hendrix and future debuting Knockouts to throw down the gauntlet and set the bar. Gail Kim, Mickie James, Tara, Madison Rayne, and even Tessmacher are the benchmark, but folks, let's be blunt....TNA can do better.....they've DONE better.

I plan on sending this very post to TNA and I encourage everyone in earshot to do the same.....


Tasting Gold.....

Joe is a champion once more. Granted, he isn't World Heavyweight Champion just yet, but I'd say TV Champion is not a bad second place. Perhaps a nice solid run with this title will bring back the credibility that has been long denied the Samoan Submission Machine. Giving Magnus a reason to continue the feud with Joe is a good idea.....it only turns the heat up and will make him a more volatile element once the week off is over for him. In the last column, I was very fearful that TNA was going to put the title on Garret, and I was overwhelmed with relief to find that Samoa Joe has finally found himself in the officials' good graces once more.

On a note that may be a bit premature, the promo cut by the leader of the Aces and Eights this week had all the inflection and tone of Eric Bischoff. Not that I'm complaining.....I happen to be a big fan of 'ol Easy E as he can cut a mean heel promo. My gut, however, tells me that we're not going to see Bischoff as the leader of the faction. But FINALLY we have a development.....FINALLY!!!

2 vs. 2 at Bound for Glory. That changes things. I had initially wanted to see a 5 on 5, but in the interest of fair play for those atop the card down, 2 on 2 seems about as good as can be expected. Scaling things down isn't such a bad plan, all things considered. Knowing what we know now, I want to see something unexpected. The way I see it, there are three outcomes.....win/loss/no contest. Since Aces and Eights have stake in the outcome, I don't see a no contest for once, but something tells me we may see something out of the ordinary this time. This time, unless something else is revealed in the final 2 weeks, I expect Aces and Eights to take the win.

SO....NOW who do we pick to represent?

Aces and Eights should pick Abyss and Jeff Jarrett

And Sting should go to the ring with Bully Ray.

The revelation would be AWESOME as Sting would once again get the beatdown, and Aces and Eights' leadership would remain intact for a while longer. Bully Ray turns on Sting and the Aces and Eights get to rejoin the Zone. Why is such an easy question in this case and the story gets tidied up and knotted with a bow.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Carbon Masterpiece......

Mike Knox, Chris Masters, Abyss, Jeff Jarrett, Matt Morgan......As a unit, these names stagger me with the sheer power. Put these guys in one place and let them loose and there wouldn't be a single soul unscathed.

The rumor behind the curtain is that we will see some kind of 5 on 5 match at Bound for Glory this year. The teams are poised to be Aces and Eights vs. Team Sting with the spots and stipulation to be determined for the bout. Are we looking at a Survivor Series style match with elimination rules, a Lethal Lockdown match, or are we about to see something ground breaking? So far as I can tell, the possibilities are endless, but the competitors are a factor worth speculating over. Bear in mind, these are my picks, but there are so many other worthwhile picks, it's tough to choose just 5.

Bully Ray.....He's tough. Simple as that. He can take a boat load of punishment and still come back for more....who else can match that kind of persistence?

Mr. Anderson....He's available and he can be a good asset in a high spotlight situation. I don't see but one place bigger on the card, which is the World Heavyweight Title picture.

Rob Van Dam....Same situation as Anderson, except he tends to raise his game even higher and can take some higher spots than can Ken.

My last pick might be controversial, but I think it makes the most sense. My final pick is none other than Sam Shaw. Why? He's fresh and new, he could use a good rub right out of the gate, and because he could also use some payback for getting the beatdown by Aces and Eights upon his Gut Check Challenge debut.

NOTE: You may have counted only 4 names. That is because Sting will be leading the team himself at the event IF things continue to go as the rumors are reporting.

If I were booking this thing, I would have one or two X Factors to the match by adding a couple of brand new debuts or returns to help offset anything Aces and Eights has in mind. I would also advise those in authority to keep those names under wraps.

On the news front, TNA is looking to crown a new TV Champion as Devon has vacated the title. The four competitors will be Magnus, Anderson, Samoa Joe, and Garret Bishoff. I have a sickening feeling in my gut that Garret will end up the champion. I hope I'm wrong and that it ends with Magnus, but my gut twitches with a nervous ache. Garret has yet to truly connect with fans. Some will argue that he's better and others will argue worse, but one thing is certain.....he hasn't got the "it" factor that would speak of him as a potential champion as of yet. That says little about his potential as he could pick some of that up as he goes along, but right now, his persona is flat and has very little that speaks to the current TNA fan.

One last note. Bound for Glory tickets are selling well for TNA standards. at last check, 3,800 tickets have been sold, which projects a possible 5,000 seat house for the event. Granted, it isn't 55,000, but with the momentum shifting as much as it has, I find that to be a huge victory when you also consider the amount of seats purchased at the theaters showing it as well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Moment or Two......

I tried to do the unthinkable this week. I tried to watch RAW in it's entirety. I got 20 minutes in before I could take no more. My problem was with the pacing, of all things. The first segment went on and on and on and on until FINALLY, at the 18 minute mark, it ended with a commercial. The first match, Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston was so awkward with the excess stuff going on at ringside that I couldn't even finish watching the match. I bash and I rail on WWE for a great many blunders, especially in the wake of them putting their network on the back burner after so many stalls, but in all truth, I wish it weren't so. Seriously. I truly wish I could watch RAW on Monday nights, Impact on Thursday, and Smackdown on Friday, but my opinion of WWE's product is at an all time low and I can barely sit through 20 minutes before having to switch to something else.

Fact is, for the better part of 4 years, I DID watch it all. I was even watching when ECW got themselves started. I wasn't completely turned off by the product. I was impressed that WWE was wise enough to pick up Monty Brown aka Marcus Cor Von, Lance Hoyt aka Vance Archer, and Chris Harris aka Braden Walker from the TNA roster. My problems began with these men. For as talented as they were, WWE had NO clue how to use them. I suppose a case could be made that TNA didn't either as I was convinced each of them could have been something special, but only Harris ever won a worthwhile title. But I digress....

I keep hearing that WWE's Tag Team Division has improved and from the looks of things, that might be, but WWE has the recent habit of allowing this particular division to suffer after a few months of fame. Remembering back to Air Boom and Miz/R-Truth, it went downhill after them. Granted, there were was an injury and a failed drug test respectively, but once they were broken up, the division was ignored.

The problem? When WWE's division suffers, it disappears almost entirely. Contrast that with how TNA confronts their woes. Even in the most difficult times, there are always at least two teams to compete for the titles. The difference? Instead of ignoring the titles, they put together storylines that FOCUS on the titles. Right now BOTH feds have 4 teams and we'll see who actually comes out on top once the dust has settled.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Something Different?

TNA has announced that this week, four combatants will be selected, one of which will take on the TV Champion, Devon for his title. This match will determine exactly what has happened with his contract situation. If he wins the match, a contract agreement has been inked behind closed doors. If he loses, he's pretty much done with the company and will mark the first time Devon and Ray have been working apart since their introduction back in ECW under Paul Heyman.

Hogan has come under fire as it relates to dropping the ball in regards to not having the TV Title defended each week, but to his defense, the title has been secondary since Aces and Eights have been rioting in the Impact Zone. I will say this, however, Robbie E. won't be picked for the first time since last year. I'm SO happy about that. My suggestions concerning the TV Title are simple.....

-Where the X Title can be cashed in at Destination X, I believe the TV Title should have the same power. The difference being that it be Final Resolution or Turning Point to cash in. 

-Instead of having a title match every week (not that I mind), I would simply put an open challenge on Open Fight Night for the TV Title.

-Once in a while, perhaps for a special, I would have the belt put up in a four-way or three-way bout on OFN where it still is open challenge, but the other 2 competitors wouldn't know who they're facing.

Just a few suggestions to tweak the way the TV Title is done. Now I've been saying this for nearly as long as this blog has been in existence.....TNA needs to lose the Knockouts Tag Titles unless they have enough Knockouts to make a run at them. Right now, they're suffering a bit, but with the impending return of Velvet Sky and the re-debut of Taeler Hendrix and the possible addition of a brand new Knockout, it seems like the possibilities are endless......provided they can hold interest long enough to force a defense from ODB and Eric Young.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Speed Bumps......

This column goes out to another columnist on another site far away. So I use your term to title this post on this day. Why do I call it "Speed Bumps"? Very simply because of the opinions of so many people who like to use much worse terms for TNA's past booking decisions as they relate to their top stars....namely Bobby Roode and the most recent one with Bully Ray and the Bound for Glory Series Finals match.

No one....and I do mean NO ONE would argue that the heel turn of Bobby Roode has been a bad idea as he is arguably the most talented heel character in professional wrestling...or at least the most talented one of the past few years. His turn, however, was done in a way that left a bad taste in the mouths of many a TNA fan. He gets "screwed" at Bound for Glory only to receive his just desserts two weeks later? I mean....what was accomplished? Only that the top tier was solidified as the most balanced in the entire professional wrestling landscape. You get a mega-face and a mega-heel all in the same two week time span. As far as I'm concerned, it's a win/win.

Now we get down to my assessment of the most controversial decision of the past PPV.....the decision to deny Bully Ray the main event title shot at Bound for Glory. Why would TNA make such a decision in the first place? Glad I have your attention.....let's run through a few ideas. Bully Ray may be a part of the Aces and Eights. In his last conversation with Joseph Park, if you'll recall, he asked how things were going with his investigation. Why? Because he wanted to see how much he knew. If Park's intelligence pointed to Ray as a member of the faction, all would be lost and the element of surprise would be gone.

SO.....why didn't the Aces and Eights attack Hardy in his finals match to salvage his title attempt? It would tip their hand too much. Simple as that. Ray will get his title shot and I'll go on record in saying his shot will be fruitful for his very first run as World Heavyweight Champion. The internet, who have been so scornful of his denial at No Surrender will finally understand why things played out the way they did. Is it a perfect scenario? No. But neither was Bobby Roode's denial. I doubt people would have viewed it as horribly as they did if Hogan hadn't gone on record in saying that Roode wasn't ready for a World Title run. In any case, TNA's newest "speed bump" could very well turn out just fine provided they're ready to move up the chain.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

.....Rising?

Once this month has wrapped and all independent obligations have been fulfilled, Beth Phoenix will be a free agent. Now, there are a couple of things to understand.

1. She can still work under the Beth Phoenix name as she had been using it before entering WWE and so any references to the Phoenix name can be done on camera and advertised in print as well.

2. For the past year, Phoenix has been described as "going through the motions" by those close to the situation. On a related note, Lisa Marie Varon, (whom we TNA fans know as Tara) had been described the very same way before debuting under the TNA name Tara. On a further related note, Gail Kim and Mickie James were also described the same way.

If and when Ms. Phoenix decides what to do with her newfound freedom, we could be looking at something special. TNA has some spots to fill on their Knockouts roster with the losses of Velvet Sky, Angelina Love, and Winter and I have been saying that Vince and company need to just let the Diva's Division die as their focus is virtually MIA as it is. With Beth Phoenix on her way out, only Natalya remains to potentially join the Knockouts.

Now that my momentary outrage over this past weeks' Impact has passed, my hope has returned, for the most part. I'm sure that things will improve and be put back in motion to finally build each match into a power card for Bound for Glory.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A few questions.....

After this week's Impact, I've got some questions to get off my chest.

1. What purpose did Shaq serve other than getting people in the door to begin with?

2. Is Brooke Hogan helping the Knockouts Division?

3. When are we finally going to see someone important from the faction revealed?

4. Is the TV Title truly going to be up for grabs?

This week, for once, I was frustrated. Not as frustrated as a fellow columnist who happens to write for one of WWE's strongholds, but frustrated nonetheless. I have HUGE problems with columns that slant so far into the land of Connecticut, there's no grace or forgiveness for a company trying to work their way to the top. Call me old fashioned, but a fair and balanced perspective seems like a decent way to go about things and even though my biases are towards TNA, I still like to write FACTS as I pull WWE news either from direct internal sources or from press releases. My opinions towards WWE are just that, but for a popular wrestling website to only utilize WWE fanboys as their basis of opinion is disgraceful. You want a good TNA perspective? Try asking a TNA fan. If I didn't feel my venom towards WWE were warranted, I would simply stop mentioning them, but I feel that some venom is good for WWE because they need to know that most wrestling fans aren't stupid and the best way to change the current product is to voice discontentment. End fairness rant.

I, however, have some forgiveness, but this week felt pointless. For once, I was ashamed of what I saw in the misuse of Joseph Park, the Shaq letdown, Brooke's appearance on camera, the continued conversation about Aces and Eights without enough revelation to keep the story interesting......I had to shake my head at the backwards step TNA made this week.

We lost some momentum. Open Fight Night was a bust. There. I said it. I hoped and have been hoping for just one of their contestants to win a match against their opponent, but so we've seen nothing on that front. It still is a good concept, but TNA doesn't need jobbers, they need good, decent, great spots filled by local talents who can get the job done, not have the job done.

Brooke Hogan hasn't helped the Knockouts Division. I'm sorry....I wish I could say otherwise, I really do and I gave it some time to try and move past my feelings that it was a waste of time, but Traci Brooks SHOULD have been able to run with it.....NOT Brooke. Being apologetic about the situation doesn't help things and I hope TNA can do the right thing and allow Brooke an out that isn't at the expense of another Knockout leaving.

Shaq claimed that he'd be back to have Hogan's back and we never saw him again. That was a slap in my face as a fan. I felt cheated and slighted. I will never say I felt WWE slighted, because the wrong wasn't THAT extreme, but it was a shame we couldn't see Shaquille used in a productive way to further the Aces and Eights storyline AT ALL.

I have been writing columns in favor of TNA for a long time, even before this blog, but this week gave me pause. I was genuinely panicked. My first question was how is TNA going to salvage this in time for Bound for Glory? Can they really do it? Now clearly, the answer is YES, but how? MY answer is simple......

1. Put Brooke's job on the line in the Knockouts Title match. If Tessmacher wins, Brooke stays, but if Tara wins, she gets the title and Brooke leaves. Problem solved.

2. Never, Ever, EVER bring a celebrity like Shaq into the Impact Zone unless you're prepared for him or her to do some damage. Toby Keith did damage; there have been many an NFL player who have done damage, but with Shaq, it was a promise unkept. Stop....just stop.

3. Slow down the OFN concept and rather than forcing it once per month, give it a break and try again on a smaller scale. Let's spread the concept out over the course of the months. Let's try one call out per episode of Impact.....a call out that will further one of their feuds. Spotlight the X Division and put it as the main event for a feud.

4. Aces and Eights need to be slowly peeled back. Putting a match together involving a mask stipulation might be a nice touch. Fact is, I'd even be interested if the leadership core kept the faction together for a while after they were revealed just to carry the storyline a bit further if they want, but to go month after month with no new revelation as to demands just makes meaningless violence, which is NOT the proper way to garner fan support of the product.

5. Devon is gone. Let's address that. Weekly defenses of his title were neglected on Impact and that needs to be changed IF the title is to remain a part of the product. Simply doing away with the belt without addressing it is not the way to go about it. The fans need to know what belts are still being fought over. Let's go back to doing that, shall we?

These suggestions are few, but simple. I truly believe TNA is the better product out there, but without forward motion, it won't be long before other critics return to their old ways of looking at TNA if some changes aren't made in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tick Tock.....

Tomorrow, we will find something new about the Aces and Eights. What? Now that we now know that "the Blueprint" has signed a new contract with TNA, his new place in the order of things has yet to be known. Is he a force to settle the score with Aces and Eights or is he a member? I have high hopes that whatever TNA's plan, Matt Morgan will end up getting a monster push out of the deal. If he can remain healthy, I can see him joining the already fattened top tier as one of the big faces of the company by years' end.

With Devon teasing aspirations of teaming with fellow former TNA talent Jesse Neal for a run in WWE, it would appear that TNA has a decision to make. Do they retire the TV Title or do they vacate it and run some kind of tourney to crown a new holder of said title? Officials have been toying around with the idea of retiring the belt, but as of this post, no resolute answer has been made. In this writer's humble opinion, TNA could use the TV Title to prime talents for the top with a mid-card title and a decent mid-card tier to compete for it. By utilizing former World Title holders like RVD, Anderson, Joe, Styles, or former X Title holders like Daniels or Kazarian, TNA would be able to get the most out of their talent pool.

On another note, there are a couple of women who may be popping up on the radar for a debut and return soon to help refill the roster spots....




                    AND














So the first and only female Gut Check Challenge contract winner to date and arguably the most popular Knockout in TNA history are being primed for returns. Velvet Sky is taking some time away from the roster to compete on the indy circuit. Once Bound for Glory has come and gone, expect her return, at the very least. If my sources are accurate, the timing could not be more appropriate as TNA's Knockouts Division could use a Turning Point.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

For the Love of the Game......

At the risk of sounding philosophical, I'd like to ask a question. Over the course of the past few days, I've been rather harsh with WWE for the removal of Attitude Era footage from their digital archives in YouTube and other media outlets. I suppose my question is......Is WRESTLING for kids?

In its purest form, professional wrestling is a choreographed artform, where two partners perform a mock duel of fisticuffs and might in front of a crowd. There's nothing inherently wrong with that to give parents pause. Action movies do that sort of thing all the time. Where ratings and products divide the audiences is as simple as story and character. WWF, in their product 20 and 30 years ago, used colorful characters and personas to woo many a child into believing that prayers and vitamins could take them beyond their youth into a place where anything was possible.

When WWF and WCW squared off, it gave birth to a new era for both companies. WCW decided to blur the lines a bit, making storylines more complicated and the characters more true to life. That made wrestling into something else. I don't blame WCW or WWF for a racy and edgy product. I give the credit to the fans of the day. We created the Attitude Era. It made interesting storylines, but it also made it impossible for WWE to go back.

This isn't to say that WWE shouldn't try to tame their product down to draw in a younger audience, but to attempt to remove a piece of the road traveled is the wrong message to send. Holding on to concepts like Hell in a Cell and using the devil to communicate it undoes whatever progress there is to be made in making the WWE product "safer" for kids to watch. Characters like Kane or the Undertaker, who were in essence, birthed by the Attitude Era, simply don't fit the bill as well under those guidelines and it seems hypocritical for WWE fans to make their stances without acknowledging that.

So....is wrestling for kids? In my opinion, it can be. It all depends upon where you draw the line in how deep your storyline and characters are. If you want a deep storyline with more complicated characters, it can't stay within the confines of a PG environment. Simple as that.

More Revisions......

From WWE Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications......

"To better reflect our current family friendly brand of entertainment, WWE is removing some dated and edgier footage from digital platforms. Some of this footage has been misused in political environments without any context or explanation as to when it was produced. This damages the corporate reputation of our company. WWE is well within its rights to protect its intellectual property for fair use."

Let's rephrase for all of the people out there who would rather not be bored with fancy words......

"Because Linda McMahon is being attacked for her connection to WWE's Attitude Era, WWE is removing all traces of Attitude Era footage from internet outlets such as YouTube. We at WWE are trying to save face and have every right to deny you, the fans, the ability to see some of your favorite footage so that you are only stuck watching what we tell you to."

I think Stone Cold said it best......

WAIT!!!!!!!!!! Vince and company, I have just one quick question and I hope you'll bear with me. You are removing all "edgy" footage from your archives on YouTube and placing strikes on those who have it on their personal YouTube channel and yet you produce a PPV called Hell in a Cell, complete with CM Punk wearing devil horns in your promotional material?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the devil isn't a G OR a PG rated character no matter what culture you live in these days. So you have lust inducing footage being deleted on one hand and the figure that relishes its existence to begin with on the other. Is there really a point in trying to choose the lesser of two evils? Do you really think your political opponents don't see this?

Expect some backlash, Vince and the loss of more fans to the open and waiting arms of TNA.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Returns.....

With all of the recent news surrounding live events involving Matt Morgan, my excitement is at an all time high. Wrestling's quickest big man is about to make his on screen return. If there's one thing that must be said, TNA has missed him....more than they know. In the coming weeks, Morgan will be making more live event appearances, unless my sources are incorrect.

I've speculated about Morgan's possible involvement in the Aces and Eights, but quite frankly even with his return, coming into Bound for Glory, you can bet some of TNA's long absent roster members will be making returns as well. Among them......

Jeff Jarrett.....I would expect nothing less than for TNA's founder to make his return at TNA's biggest stage as his presence would bring about another possible Sting confrontation concerning his place in the Hall of Fame this year.

Abyss.....Bully Ray's restraining order would not hold back the monster from a return appearance, even if it means involvement in the Aces and Eights. That particular piece of paper, in fact, would become useless if he were guarded by his Aces and Eights cohorts.

Rosita and Sarita.....Ahhh the latin beauties....I very much hope to see another reign with the Knockouts Tag Team Titles in their future. It would more than appropriate for their return on TNA's stage of showcase. Why? Because the Knockouts Tag Titles are a specialty division and TNA loves to showcase their specialty divisions at Bound for Glory.

I will grant that these are just a few special appearances, but in my view, they may be some of the most important ones as they will help even out some of the odd spots on the current roster. Eric Young and ODB have yet to have their title reigns revoked, but I expect that wrong to be rectified in the coming weeks as well.

On another note, I get the feeling that TNA is readying Zema Ion to drop the title. To whom? Sonjay Dutt. Why? Because nearly everyone from the old days of the X Division has had a run with the X Title. Bentley, Kazarian, Daniels, Styles, Amazing Red, Petey Williams, the list goes on, but it doesn't include Dutt as of yet. Bound for Glory is the time to add Sonjay Dutt to the list among the best the X Division has ever produced.

You Can't Do That on Television.....

Of all the things I caught from Night of Champions, which I did NOT watch live nor in re-runs or highlights, the picture captured of Randy Orton was priceless. This was captured on camera live.


Randy Orton flipping fans the bird. Steve Austin would be proud. Vince McMahon, as I understand it, was very much not. That being said. I issue this open letter to Mr. Orton.

Dear Randy,

I have watched your rises and falls and some have been very good; I'll even go so far as to say some have been great. I like the new persona and I think there is room to expand upon it, but under the new banner of WWE, your actions are frowned upon. That's right.....the same company that gave us Steve Austin doing the very same thing EVERY NIGHT is now looking down on you for doing it. You're supposed to be above that sort of thing.....or at least so they say.

As a wrestling fan, I happen to love the spectacle of the experience, which includes the many personas walking through the curtain. I'm sure the curtain in the current environment feels a bit like shackles as you began in an era when Torrie Wilson's father married Dawn Marie in his skivies on TV or where Triple H and Shawn Michaels budgeoned each other bloody on numerous occasions, but in the current environment, flipping off the fans just won't do.

NOW, if you should decide that there are places you'd like to take this character that rise outside of the kiddie box or should you want to shake up the wrestling landscape just a smidgeon, feel free to Cross the Line. We'll put the gestures to good use as you use them towards Vince and his current direction.

Sincerely,
Tactix

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bound for Glory Super Sized.......

At this moment, if TNA is serious, we could be looking at an AMAZING card for Bound for Glory and we're still 4 weeks out.

Austin Aries vs. Jeff Hardy for the World Heavyweight Title
Bobby Roode vs. James Storm
Tara vs. Tessmacher for the Knockouts Title
AJ Styles/ Kurt Angle vs. Chavo Guerrero/Hernandez vs Daniels/Kazarian for the Tag Team Titles
Lex Luger inducts Sting into the TNA Hall of Fame

If TNA decides to keep THESE matches as a part of the card, we could be looking at an AMAZING card, indeed. The Tag Team Title match alone would be enough for me, but to include some of the hottest feuds in wrestling today into the mix? We are talking about a money year for TNA. In my opinion, TNA couldn't hope for a better card to chronicle in their archives.

To cap it all off......Matt Morgan made a surprise appearance at a TNA live event just this week, coming through the crowd in street clothes and beating down Robbie E. Afterward, another cryptic tweet about broken promises and a question of who he was really working for. Can anyone tell me how awesome his push would be if he were revealed as the leader of Aces and Eights? We would be looking at an era in TNA unlike any other we've seen so far. Am I hyping this up? You're freaking right, I am! I would mark out like a 16 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert if Matt Morgan were revealed as the mastermind behind the most dominant faction in recent memory.

If Matt Morgan, Chris Masters, Luke Gallows, Abyss, Jeff Jarrett, Wes Brisco, and Bully Ray were all revealed to be a part of Aces and Eights, we could probably put together a Turning Point main event to rival this year's Bound for Glory. The fact of the matter is this.......logic comes with Matt Morgan as the leader. It also makes sense for Abyss. It also makes sense for Jeff Jarrett. My point is that right now, TNA has a LOT of options and the swerve away from Jeff Jarrett would be a nice change and would add something special to the mix TNA has put together for the fans this year.

IF Matt Morgan is revealed as the leader of Aces and Eights, I salute the mastermind behind the written storyline and those in power who have determined to finally give the big man his dues. Captain Morgan, you sir, have earned it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Grand Design......

If I were to tell you that there is a twist coming that no one will ever see coming, but that everyone will agree makes complete sense when you fit the pieces together, what would you say? Critics scoff and will say that logic never follows a TNA storyline from start to finish, but this story has been written and planned and penned over and over and over again. It all makes sense so long as all the cards are in place. Now that contracts disputes and matters of money have been laid to rest, all the traps are set and only await one little off step to set it all in motion.

Bully Ray has been re-signed for 2 more years. Some talents who haven't been seen on TV for a while have been let go. Combine this with one final fact that hasn't even been announced yet and you have the finishing touch to bring everything to the bar. I'm going to hold on to that unannounced fact until the end of this column.

So we have the most recent message from the Aces and Eights......

What's next? With 4 weeks left until the flickers of strobes, camera flashes, and spotlight glares that accompany Bound for Glory, I believe we can reasonably expect a few things. Aces and Eights will continue to interrupt Impact broadcasts, but I believe TNA's revised Frontline will get the upper hand and will finally reveal the face of one actual stage presence. When? My guess is next week. I don't believe this will appear planned either. I would guess the revealed order will look increasingly surprising, culminating finally at the Bound for Glory PPV itself.

To further pull back the curtain.....Officials at Spike TV and TNA Wrestling are about to reveal that Impact Wrestling will continue to run live to finish out the 2012 year. This fact takes the bar up another notch into a different place on their road to being a front runner in the professional wrestling mainstream.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Withholding.........

All week I've been defending TNA's decision to let Jeff Hardy have his day in the sun and, even after last night's rematch for the title shot, my opinion hasn't changed. Do I believe Hardy will win the big one at Bound for Glory? Not really. Would I be disappointed? Not really. Here's the cut and dry for me when it comes to all of this.....I'm a TNA fan and my opinion of the product doesn't hinge entirely upon who is holding the belt. Hardy polarized the fanbase when he debuted his own World Title design (which I didn't think was as nasty as the spinner belt). For me, I was just holding out for TNA to stabilize the product and put out a decent wrestling show, which they now are doing. But that isn't what brings me here to the column today.

TNA has been building and building and building towards a revelation of who is actually in the Aces and Eights and yet I found last night a bit wanting of more than I got. Joseph Park and Wes Brisco gave me something to cling to, but I'm still grasping at straws wanting to know more in order to speculate upon how things are going to play out. I had hoped at least one man would be revealed by now, but TNA is wanting to play things a bit closer to the vest, no pun intended. So why ARE they withholding identities? I have a couple of guesses.

1. TNA doesn't want people to assume anything about who is leading the rebellion. Marks and smarks alike have this notion that Jeff Jarrett or Eric Bischoff are behind it all, but putting a guy like Wes Brisco or Joseph Park as their representative would LAUNCH something new....something, I believe, the wrestling world needs right now. Something new and different.

2. TNA hasn't locked in the identity of the leader yet. They may have their notion of who the leader could be, but narrowing the playing field by twisting and turning helps determine who would benefit the most from the revelation. Putting someone like a Wes Brisco or a Bully Ray or even a Bobby Roode as the leader of Aces and Eights would again LAUNCH whoever they finally land on into the atmosphere and quite possibly into the main event right away. Bully Ray would be a lock on the top tier, as would Brisco or anyone else who hasn't quite gotten there yet.

3. TNA is still under negotiations to bring in someone new. If their first choice to lead the faction is still outside of the company, like a John Morrison or Petey Williams or WHOEVER, TNA may be having trouble locking down a deal with said talent. If that is the case, we may get something like a Jeff Jarrett as a backup plan if things go sideways. While I hope this guess isn't the case, I still remain optimistic about the leader being outside of the two front runners, Eric and Jeff.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Endless......

I've been giving some outside sources a great deal of thought and I have a few ideas to toss out to you all for consideration.

-Bully Ray could be the leader of Aces and Eights. Hear me out. His questions directed at Joseph Park could have been simply to find out how much he knew about the faction. Additionally, in every time recently that Aces and Eights has hit the ring, they've scattered upon his arrival. Granted, they did the same thing for James Storm, but in this case, there is a matter of time to speak of. TNA has a limited amount of time to devote to this current storyline in order to set up any sort of match for Bound for Glory. Not only so, but his contract, which lasts another 2 years, allows TNA to do some kind of work up leading to his very first title reign before this year's end.

- TNA has been working VERY hard to rebuild the divisions that have been needing some tender loving care. The X Division has more than enough in their numbers to suffice, and once the Aces and Eights story has run its course, expect more TV time to come to the X Division.

The Knockouts Division is about to receive at least two Knockouts into their ranks, which will further bolster their roster.

 And last, but not least, TNA has been toying around with the idea of retiring the Television Championship. My response? FINALLY TNA is doing SOMETHING with it! I wish the Knockouts Tag Team Championship would suffer the same fate if they don't intend to do anything with it. If TNA has the notion of creating a championship, there also needs to be a plan in place to put some kind of spotlight on said title belt and the stars who are contesting for it.


The King.......

I watched the footage. It was heartbreaking to me, as one who has been a fan of his for as long as I have. Everything stopped. Time stood still and the WWE Universe watched in hushed silence from home as Jerry Lawler went down. As EMT's maintained constant vigil to stabilize his condition, everyone was waiting to hear news as the match went on.

As for the condition of Jerry "The King" Lawler, WWE issued a statement that he is awake and recognizes family members and is communicating with them. From this blog to Jerry, I wish you a speedy recovery without complications.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jeff's Dues......

At No Surrender, Jeff Hardy took the win and people were disappointed. Why, I doubt I'll ever understand. Sure, he damaged his own reputation and made Victory Road of 2011 little more than a farce, but when he asked the fans for one more chance......when he asked most of you reading this for one more chance, you (I) decided he was worth that much. And now that TNA has decided he'd paid for his past shortcomings, somehow people are disappointed? Does that make any sense?

I'll admit he let me down last year. I thought TNA would suffer a great deal from him not putting his vices aside, and perhaps, for a short time, they (and we) did. But fast forward beyond Bound for Glory of last year. Jeff Hardy has been put through the main event since that time and has done quite well. In fact, he's been the model performer, running through every obstacle and jumping through every hoop TNA management has told him to. In my view, he's paid us back for Victory Road.

So where does that leave the other three semi-finalists? In much better shape than people give credit for. I say we look at last year's bracket. With the exception of Bully Ray, who was still tweaking his character at the time, and Gunner, who didn't come close to his previous year's success, both Bobby Roode and James Storm have risen to the top of the ranks, both being given World Title reigns. Don't quibble about how long the reigns were......Roode's heel turn was absolutely necessary to make James Storm into the perfect face and Roode into the heel TNA needed.

This year's crop of semi-finalists are ALL in perfect position to each have a shot at the World Title in the coming months. Bully Ray is ready right now, true enough, but he's still in a place that allows him to be in the spotlight once Bound for Glory has run its course. Samoa Joe, one of indy wrestling's best kept secrets, is still very much a contender.....having even made it into the top 4 says a great deal about TNA's confidence in him over the past year. I believe, in fact, that he has been given more credibility this year than in the past few years combined.

As for James Storm, we all knew that TNA's plans were to have Bobby Roode return to finish what had been left unfinished. James Storm and Bobby Roode is as good a feud as TNA has seen in recent years and, when left to their own devices, they can have plenty of room to outdo themselves on the bigger stage. And once their feud has reached its end, they each look in prime condition to having another run with the World Title.

Let's keep one thing in mind as far as Jeff Hardy goes. Just because they give him the victory going into Bound for Glory doesn't mean they have to cut the reign of Austin Aries short. And even if they do give the title to Jeff Hardy, he has more to offer at the top of the card than he does the bottom. Jeff Hardy sells. Period. He sell more merchandise than ANY other man or woman on the roster. No one else even comes close. He can sell a loss and no one would think less of him for it. Jeff Hardy sells tickets and it can be debated that no other semi-finalist has that kind of drawing power as of yet. TNA needs to do well this year at Bound for Glory, just as they do every year. Jeff Hardy can help with that on many levels. My point is, TNA's decision makes sense when you look at all sides of the argument and not allow the first reaction to carry through.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Things They Don't Say......

I've said it many times before. I love reading other people's work.....especially those who love to berate TNA's accomplishments. Because I spend so much time scouring the forums and fan sites, I get a bunch of different perspectives from all over. There are so many opinions, but a few seem to echo over and over and over again. There are also a few that I almost never hear anymore. Care to hear?

1. TNA is a retirement home for WWE rejects.

I LOVE hearing it every time it's said. Mostly because it gives me the chance to set the record straight for anyone who will listen. TNA used to have nearly half of their roster taken up with former WWE talents. Now, that number has been cut down to 11. Of that number, however, all are scattered in various points on the card. Perhaps the best thing about this strategy is that it gives promising new talents a chance to build a resume, a strong resume.

2. TNA's slogan of Wrestling Matters is a joke.

Why did people say this? Because for a time, TNA used a great deal of time chatting and pining away on meaningless backstage segments. I will chalk all of that time period up to experimentation. TNA was feeling out their borders; trying to see just how far the audience would allow them to take each segment. I believe that officials got their answers and have been able to adjust their strategies accordingly.

3. TNA is ripping off old storylines.

This is another one I love. Why? Because I happen to know that old storylines are what ALL wrestling companies draw from for their ideas. The current WWE story with CM Punk and Heyman looks a great deal like WWE Smackdown of 2003. Heyman is representing Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar at the time. Angle has never needed a mouthpiece and right now, neither does Punk. TNA is using an invasion storyline that has elements of so many different old storylines with one glaring difference.....mystery. The amount of mystery concerning the intentions, members, numbers, and endgame of Aces and Eights is something unlike any other story to come before.

These are just a few things people rarely say anymore. Why? Because they simply are no longer true. TNA has made advances and changes to keep the critics at bay and, for the moment, they remain that way.

Remember the XFL.....

So WWE has suspended their network indefinitely for revamping. Wow. What a shocker. So that means that guys like Alex Shelley, Amazing Red, and the most recently departed Chris Sabin, who all let in hopes of reaching agreements with WWE have basically left for nothing. Personally, I'd feel pretty darn silly knowing I had such a good thing going only for my lifeboat to spring a leak.

So....the reasons for WWE Network failing are too numerous to mention, from not hiring television executives to keep the thing running to the most recent development of not being able to convince cable and satellite providers to carry the stupid thing. And why would someone with the reach of a DirecTV or Dish Network or Mediacom NOT carry WWE Network? Because there are few WWE fans who would pay the extra to keep it on as a premium channel. Quite probably something we should have thought through BEFORE telling the world when you were going to launch, Vince.

Now, this column is just a bit of a dig at 'ol Triple H and Stephanie's company, now that Vince's time running things is limited. Since TNA has been doing things right by not focusing on WWE and trying things to separate themselves from the feel of WWE's product, I think they've improved in leaps and bounds. It seems like every time TNA takes a step backwards, WWE fanboys leap at the chance to poke their fun. This time, however, things are vice versa, for a change.

Remember the XFL......and WWE Network.

After BFG.....

So much time invested into the current Aces and Eights story and I have yet to talk very much about what comes next. In various Facebook forums and chat outlets, I have been playing TNA's fighting advocate in terms of fielding complaints about the product, which as I'm finding thankfully, are few and far between these days. Be that as it may, however, I still get some complaints and most of them are about how TNA is going to move forward, making them a more formidable opponent to the current WWE product on the market.

The task of moving forward on the national level is a tough one, to be sure. A great deal is riding on how this current story plays out in the court of public opinion. Ratings have been fluctuating, which could be a sign of people ramping into momentum for TNA, but two consecutive lowerings in the ratings may also be a sign that WWE's fanbase that tunes in on occasion may be allowing the pace of WWE's product to cloud their judgement over TNA. Since TNA has adopted this storyline, in particular, I've heard more complaining about the pace being too slow than nearly anything else. If TNA wanted to adopt a time table the same as WWE, they would be called a rip-off and fans would bolt for the door, but TNA has stuck to their guns so far and it has been an interesting ride.....a far shade different than their more influential counterpart.

So what happens after Bound for Glory? Changes. What kinds of changes? Influx and alterations. The Aces and Eights promises to add to the ranks of TNA's roster. Additionally, the powers that be want to further enhance the Knockouts Division. Rumblings of a Knockout returning to the company in the coming months may be accurate. In fact, I would even say they're likely. Combine that with the continued influx from the Gut Check challengers, whom we have seen or heard nothing from since earning their contracts. I do, however, have assurances that Taeler Hendrix will be properly initiated once her stint in training is over. Alex Silva and Sam Shaw should also be in tow as well. I very much hope the plans are strong to get crowds into their energy.

As for alterations.....the most noted differences will be in the specialty divisions......namely the X and Knockouts Divisions. Expect higher profile matches with more fanfare. Expect a bigger spotlight and the potential for some colorfully charismatic champions to be crowned in the X Division, at least. As I understand it, Joey Ryan will be joining the X Division once the ink is dry on his contract storyline. That should ensure a decent amount of attention as the greatest acquisition TNA has had since signing Austin Aries.

The ODB and Eric Young Knockouts Tag Championship situation should be addressed shortly, perhaps even as soon as next week's Impact broadcast. In fact, all outskirting titles, the most obvious other title being the TV Title, which may be dropped since the champion has left the company, will be addressed in the coming weeks. Streamlining the number of titles has been a suggestion of mine for the better part of a year and it just might happen now that the number of challengers for said titles are fewer. Whatever TNA has planned for those belts will, hopefully make them stronger or retire them.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Two More Days Until.....

So, it comes to the last two days before No Surrender. I have to say, I'm looking VERY forward to what TNA has up their sleeves for the show. With a stacked card and great news to boot, I want to launch into this thing with predictions based upon this good news. Without any further delay, here we go.......

Bully Ray vs. James Storm.......Semi-Final
TNA has just signed Ray for another 2 years. That's right. 2 more years of one of wrestling's best heels and I have to believe they have something in store for him......namely the TNA World Heavyweight Title. Right now, TNA has the single best World Heavyweight Title scene in ANY wrestling promotion. Period. With Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, James Storm, Bobby Roode, RVD, Mr, Anderson, Kurt Angle, and Austin Aries all within striking distance of the World Title at any given time, it makes sense why WWE is having such a hard time building their top tier. TNA is holding all the cards right now. In this match, however, I predict a victory for Bully Ray with possible shenanigans from a returning Bobby Roode to finish their feud from earlier just as planned leading into Bound for Glory.

Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe.......Semi Final
I hate matches like this. Why? Because I don't want to see either one of them knocked out of consideration. Since Joe and Magnus seem to have some unfinished business, however, and the fact that Jeff Hardy and Austin Aries' in ring segment has been put in place as a swerve, I'm going to go with Jeff Hardy winning this one.

AJ Styles and Kurt Angle vs. Kazarian and Daniels for the Tag Team Titles........
I simply don't see any other way for this to go other than AJ Styles and Angle walking away with the belts, only to lose them shortly thereafter to Chavo and Hernandez. I believe TNA is priming Chavo and Super Mex for a run with the Tag Titles and possibly a lengthy run from the looks of it. I hope very much that Daniels and Kaz stay together and move into an actual feud between them as Daniels and Chavo could very easily have some decent chemistry going into the rest of the year.

Tara vs. Ms. Tessmacher for the Knockouts Title......
I would very much love to see 2 Knockouts feuds going at the same time and I have to believe that TNA doesn't want to give airs that their women's division is suffering from lack of depth. That being said, I believe Gail Kim is going to get involved somehow, leading to a Tara/ Gail feud moving forward and that Madison Rayne isn't far from the fight either, leading her to feud with Tessmacher. SO, I predict a Tara victory going into Bound for Glory with her headlining the division.

Sonjay Dutt vs. Zema Ion for the X Division Title......
The X Division is suffering right now. Let's be honest. In fact, I believe it'll take something very important to salvage the division and make it stay legitimate for TNA's foreseeable future. For that reason, Ion NEEDS to lose the belt. He adds no credibility to the belt for the moment. When time comes closer to Destination X, he can win it all back, but until that time, he needs to step away to let the division gain some momentum and to tune his character.

Austin Aries vs. "The Arm Breaker"
This won't be a truly legitimate match. Let me say that right now. In fact, I predict a no contest finish leading into Impact this coming week. Hopefully, however, we'll see something more invested to move towards a resolution leading into Bound for Glory.

Bound for Glory Series Final.......
I have to go with Jeff Hardy vs. Bully Ray and, as stated before, I fully stand behind Bully Ray as the headlining act going into Bound for Glory this year. I think this year will be something special for TNA as their title scene is only going to expand and lead to more detailed and varied feuds. Bully Ray winning the World Title will kickoff that movement in the right way.

I expect for Magnus to develop into a top star along with Joey Ryan, who I expect to win a contract either at, or shortly following No Surrender. Ryan would have to start into a money feud almost immediately in order for any of it to mean anything. In fact, I believe he could make the X Title look GREAT. Putting him there shortly after coming on board would DEFINITELY set the pace TNA needs to revitalize their roster after the losses they've taken.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Road Leads......

Right now, the question on a lot of people's minds is where the road leads. Who's in charge of Aces and Eights? What is the agenda and endgame? I've done a lot of speculation and even wrote out my own way of playing it all out, but the truth of the matter is that I'm enjoying the not knowing. Every once in a while, I like to be fooled.

Ages ago, Vince McMahon fooled everyone with a storyline that involved The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Stephanie and him. As the story weaved, it appeared that The Undertaker had been planning everything from the beginning, but when the curtain was finally pulled back, everything made that much more sense. I love that kind of thing, where the twists and turns make it absolutely necessary to see what's coming next week.

I bring up an old WWF story to illustrate my love for a deeper than wading storyline. Now, WWF is NOT WWE, but even WWE has had a few stories worthy of mention over the years. I can't say that for what's been on tap recently, save for CM Punk's recent alliance with Paul Heyman, who not surprisingly, is almost always worth watching for what he brings to the table as a heel. TNA's tried their best to put out a decent story over the years, but they really excel at making debuts VERY special.

In the way of news, WWE is keeping Christian off television for a time for two reasons. He's been asking for time away to heal his ankles as they kept him sidelined for a few months between the end of last year and the beginning of this one. That being said, the other reason seems more petty.....WWE wants to "cool" him before his appearance next month at TNA's Hall of Fame ceremony to induct Sting  as the first name. He had been slated to appear on live events and in a feud over the IC Title, but with the nagging injury and TNA's event on the horizon, WWE wants to keep him under wraps until after Bound for Glory.

Also, MMA fighter King Mo, who is training for his TNA debut is nearing his Impact Wrestling first appearance. According to a recent interview, he's slated to make his debut in October. By my best guess, this should probably be at or shortly before Bound for Glory. If he shows up the week before BFG, he can establish a place for himself on the roster straightaway with a money feud going into the rest of the year. The current plan is to have him on the broadcasts one week per month with a PPV match to add to his resume. The idea is to keep him on camera and have him slow down his appearances leading into a fight for Bellator, with whom he's also under contract. Once the fight is over, his appearances would likely gradually ramp back up for the remainder of his TNA deal.

Whatever is in the works, this is an exciting time to be a TNA fan and as for those who have never jumped on the wagon, this would be the time to get in.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Being Roode.......

Bobby Roode is a part of Aces and Eights. Yeah....I said it. I get the sneaking suspicion that Bobby Roode is behind Aces and Eights, or at least has been involved in much of their actions since the beginning. I can see some of you shaking your heads, but think about it. A few weeks back, one in their ranks was whooped on by Sting and company and he simply thanks them for "patching" him. He takes a poke down and becomes initiated. Bobby Roode has been beaten down precisely once. That's all. He's been absent from TV since shortly after that beatdown.

My thought? Bobby Roode vs. James Storm might not come about until Turning Point. Depending upon how TNA wishes to play this all out, a TNA vs. Aces and Eights match might be the bigger money maker than trying to reveal it all in one-on-one matches for Bound for Glory. And if the numbers game comes into play at Bound for Glory, all the better for Turning Point to change the rules, barring them from the building. This has been TNA's year so far and building to a huge, feverish pitch just to fizzle at BFG with one-on-one matches, in my opinion, is a bad idea.

So, my thoughts concerning who else might be involved......okay.....

Jeff Jarrett. This one is easy. I hope he isn't the mastermind behind the troop, but being a part of it isn't such a big stretch, after all, Sting DID take his place as the first TNA Hall of Fame inductee.

Abyss. The legal ramifications of banning him from the building only apply if he's in character. At least that could be the story. Once Bully Ray is taken out of the equation, Abyss will be allowed to return, so I predict a brutal beatdown of Bully Ray either on Impact this week, or at No Surrender, making Abyss able to make a return.

Luke Gallows. He's just signed a contract with TNA to join their roster. This would be the perfect time to get involved.

Chris Masters. My reasoning is the same, save for one small thing.....Masters has yet to sign on the dotted line. He's been working with TNA on an appearance type of deal.

Lance Hoyt. This would be the PERFECT time to bring back another TNA original. A biker of his size simply fits the bill. He would be MY choice to fill out a team if Aces and Eights were to downsize into a 5 man squad. He can brawl. He can wrestle. He can sell.

As I've said before, anyone who is revealed to have been a part of Aces and Eights has an automatic push going into whatever the rest of the year brings. If TNA decided to put 6 members of the Aces and Eights into Bound for Glory, revealing Bobby Roode as the leader could make sense with James Storm as the points winner of the Bound for Glory Series. He could be chosen to represent TNA against the leader of Aces and Eights and that revelation would give added heat to the rivalry.

Compoundly, putting RVD, Hardy (or Joe), Anderson, Angle, and Sting into a 5 on 5 match up against Aces and Eights members would give a theme to the entire PPV. However TNA decides to run with this, you can bet some big revelations are set to take place at and shortly after No Surrender.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

There Can Be Only One......

It has been announced that the winner of the Bound for Glory Series will get to choose his first opponent of the top four going into No Surrender. That's right. What good would that do? Well, first of all, if I didn't want to face the best of the best right away, I could hope he gets eliminated from contention by a "weaker" opponent. My point? Strategy. This year's presentation of the Series brings something new.....the ability for the winner to play his cards close to the vest and strategize his next move to give himself a better than average chance at taking the main event spot at Bound for Glory this year.

If I may point out one thing that may not have been said in a while.....Bobby Roode isn't holding the title right now and has been barred from a rematch for as long as Austin Aries holds it. TNA's original plan (and possibly current plan) was to finish off the Roode/Storm feud at the big dance this year. Fact is, those plans could still take place on one condition......Storm doesn't win the Bound for Glory Series.

So who does that leave? There are two matches tomorrow to narrow those numbers down. If Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam each win their matches, we'll have Storm, Hardy, Joe, and RVD. TNA and Bully Ray, as of this moment, have yet to come to agreement about a contract, which leads me to believe this may be the last time we see him in a TNA ring. Devon is already done, potentially retiring the TV Title, but Bully Ray winning the World Title on the national stage would very much put a cap on a historic career.

I'm betting on TNA playing it safe with this final match, giving the final victory to RVD. In fact, I'm betting on the final four I listed above for No Surrender. As for their chances.......

High Possibility.......Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe- Either one of these picks would make a great many people very happy. Jeff's segment in the ring with Aries could very well have been a foreshadowing of what might yet come to pass. Then again, Joe and Aries have unfinished business from Slammiversary of this year.

Moderate Possibility.....RVD. Rob Van Dam has been poised to take in a shot at the World Title, but I get the feeling it could go either way, depending upon how confident TNA is in his ability to put on a 5 Star match.

Low Possibility......James Storm. TNA's original plan was to continue the feud with Bobby Roode from earlier this year. I'm betting Roode will return in time to cheat Storm out of his victory at No Surrender. That will mean Roode vs. Storm II at Bound for Glory could very well be imminent.....unless......

On MY Terms.....

Kurt Angle. He's one of TNA's most polarizing talents. Why? He makes all kinds of crazy statements on Twitter. Some are simply abysmal. The one I found most troubling, though, is a comment about jumping ship if he isn't billed as the top guy. Now, he did "clarify" his statement and change his tune when the backlash started, but even so....the damage had been done.

TNA has been very patient with Angle and has, at times, dealt with his controversial statements on Twitter and other social media with quite a bit of tact. Do I believe he's the standard? To a degree, but as I have said time and time again....NO ONE is irreplaceable. If Angle decided to jump back to WWE, they would welcome him back and have him feuding with their top talents and he'll probably be demanded once again to go to a full time schedule. Much like RVD, Kurt Angle has a big following and much of the fanfare is worth it as he is one of wrestling's greatest showmen.

So.....would TNA suffer if Angle were to leave? Absolutely. But TNA is becoming truly adept at filling in the gaps and giving opportunities where none had been seen before. Austin Aries, James Storm, Bobby Roode, Ken Anderson, Christian, the list goes on for those who had never experienced a World Title reign on the national level before landing in TNA. I believe Kurt Angle to be valuable for two main reasons.....

1. He's a ring general that can show almost anyone how to have a GREAT match. Even John Cena had a good match against the likes of Kurt Angle.

2. He's still one of the best performers in the business today at 42 years old. His name looks amazing on the resume of a young talent looking to break into the business. If you can beat Angle, you can make it as a professional wrestler....simple as that.

If Kurt Angle were to leave TNA, simply put, life would go on.

30 Days........

A certain wrestling website has been featuring their columnists doing 30 days straight. 30 days with one column per day. While I believe that goal is a drop in the bucket compared to my record, their questions answered are interesting, to say the least. All are favorites and least favorites and not in list form, but rather one with one or two honorable mentions. Favorite wrestler as a child. Favorite current performer. Least favorite performer.....you get the idea. I'm thinking about following in their footsteps unless some kind of news comes across my path in the meantime.

Speaking of news, Devon, the TNA TV Champion has left the organization. Officials within the company have considered putting the Television Championship into retirement. With the Aces and Eights story on the frontline, the Television Title hasn't been defended as often as it was promised. A title defense on every show would have been unreasonable. Every OTHER show would still be plausible, supposing that there were challengers lined up, rather than a competition between one or two people. Robbie E. and Rob Terry being the only people challenging for the TV Title got very old very quickly and, I believe it made the title look flimsy.

If TNA decided to retire the TV belt now, they could always bring it back once the Aces and Eights story has run its course. Either way, though, the Television Title has taken a backseat even on Open Fight Night, which also needs to be tweaked in order to keep things interesting. The Gut Check Challenge, while a great concept, isn't drawing like originally thought. I, personally, would like to see one contestant get a win over their opponent. Just one. Joey Ryan may not have won the day, but I very much hope we haven't seen the last of him. The current dilemma is that TNA is running the risk of the people forgetting about the former ROH star.

My suggestions for Open Fight Night are simple. One title match per night. It truly doesn't matter which belt is on the line. My advice is to finally put the Knockouts Tag Belts up for grabs once again along with the World Tag Team belts and pick out the next challengers for the X Division Title for the upcoming PPVs. Without title defenses on Open Fight Night, few people will appreciate the unique-ness of the concept. With the current stories on the horizon, OFN could be sidelined, but setting everything on the sidelines doesn't solve the problems with the concept unless people are actively working on how to bring it back in a fresh new way. The experiment had a good effect. People are talking about TNA trying new things to see what works and what doesn't. No one is faulting the concept, which is unique for this day and age. It's different from NXT, which is a show all its own and, often times is better than the current flagship program WWE is pushing right now.

Monday, September 3, 2012

One Man's Junk.....Part 2.

I will never understand why men like Ezekiel Jackson and Mason Ryan, who have the body type and size that was so sought after for 20 years, end up at the bottom of the crap list in WWE. They may not be able to carry a promo battle, but they are decent enough in ring to offset that shortcoming. Historically, WWE has used a manager or valet to do the work that a big man without promo cutting skills would suffer for, so it WOULD come down to a package deal. Nevertheless, if someone with that kind of size is good enough in ring, you could rationalize cutting a larger check in hopes of a high return on your investment.

That said if TNA could get their hands on either Big 'Zeke or Mason Ryan, here are a few options. All are time tested, having worked for others in the past.....

Put him in a stable led by a ring general.......Batista was able to make it big by having the luxury of being the enforcer of Evolution with Triple H as their ring general. The story was written to give 'ol Dave the experience and the on-the-job training he needed to move up the card from Tag Team Division Title holder with Ric Flair straight into the World Title scene with a victory at the Royal Rumble. Having Ryan or Jackson in that kind of role would do them some good. 'Zeke would be great with a Jeff Jarrett at his side or a Kurt Angle while I would be overjoyed to see Mason Ryan as a member of a renewed British Invasion, led by Douglas Williams or even Magnus.

Give him a manager and make a run......The Undertaker, Kane, Umaga; the list goes on of successful in ring performers who have been able to look menacing without ever having to say a word. Male or female manager would definitely make a difference here, at least in my way of thinking. A woman with the caliber of Melina or Velvet Sky would be my choice to accompany Mason Ryan. I'd love to see a Scott D'Amore or a Simond Diamond as the spokesman for 'Zeke.

Emphasize strengths, ignore weaknesses.......Paul Heyman was very good at this in his run with ECW as their product was never very flashy. Emphasize strength and technical prowess and leave the flamboyant and flashy moves to those with more charisma or at least let them gain the confidence before expanding their moveset.

Do NOT give them a Streak........It worked for Goldberg, but nearly every persona since then has been met with the same results. Once the streak is broken, so then is the man. There is no shame in losing, so long as the victor is a worthy opponent. Anything can happen on any given Sunday and a triumph over a Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, or RVD would make either one look like a contender.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Abe Isn't Done.....

The man behind the Abraham Washington character is getting ready to shoot on his former employer, as if he hasn't already done so. WWE's walls are beginning to crumble, people. If the mighty empire in Stamford is so powerful and far reaching, why are their own people speaking out against them? Former members of their roster, writers, executives; they're all saying the same things. Double standards, money injustices, travel and accommodations, even how pushes and burials are selected have been on the docket. The inmates are growing restless and now, when TNA is doing the kinds of things they need to, WWE is finding their people turning against them.

Kenny Doane, the man once known as Kenny Dykstra of the Spirit Squad has launched his own set of attacks on WWE and in specific, John Cena. In fact, Mr. Cena has been the subject of a great many former employees of WWE's rants and ravings. The poster boy for Vince's new format is a very polarizing figure, to be sure. His indiscretions with the Divas, traveling in WWE owned busses while lower card talents are forced to foot their own travel bills, and his sound offs leading to certain talents getting de-pushed are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Washington ranted on Twitter for the days following his firing, which was very public news. His dismissal, as noted elsewhere, was about a joke told on air involving Kobe Bryant and his rape allegations from years back. Since it was too off color for the taste of the men upstairs, he was let go from the roster. Now, nearly 2 months since his dismissal, he's loading his guns with all the ammunition he can muster.

From his Twitter account this week:

"Im gonna do interviews soon. I'm in some red tape right now, but as soon as that's clear, I'm bringing down the house."

and

"JTG blasted their ass on Twitter and they went on damage control quick. @WWE has something to hide."

Is all the publicity necessary? Will it cause a downturn in the wrestling business as a whole? I can only hope that people see fit to do the research and cross the line instead of turning the TV off to the entire enterprise.

One Man's Junk.....Part 1. Cobra

In my hometown, there's a store by the name of One Man's Junk. The idea of this place is that treasure can be found amongst the many that some will consider rubbish. This column is to redeem a few of the tarnished.....to bring a little bit of dignity to those who've had it written away from them.....to turn them into promising prospects....because that's what TNA does more often than not. These are MY picks and solutions to turn some of WWE's jokes into the wrestling business' best kept secrets.

1. Santino Marella- That's right. I start things off from the top down. WWE used him the right way for about 30 seconds before turning him into the idiot keeper of the Cobra. When he debuted as Umaga's handpicked opponent back in 2007, he became the underdog Intercontinental Champion. THAT is how I became a fan. Within 6 months, he was rendered useless to the top tier and among the least likely to ever become a World Champion in WWE. If he were to leave the PG environment, the steps to success would be easy.

Lash out........Santino would lose his name and his original gimmick. I would wait 6 months before letting him loose on the roster. His new gimmick would be that of a prisoner of war. A broken man, one who, after being let go went crazy. His debut promos would include a snake, snapping at the camera. How do you re-make Santino? Make him that which he cannot control. Make his interactions limited only to those who saw what was done to him, at least at first. Jeff Hardy, Chavo Guerrero, Mr. Anderson, and Rob Van Dam were the only ones in WWE who have a connection to Marella and saw his spiral.

Create a body count.....Give him a short winning streak against very tough opponents. Make every victory different. Give him 2 different finishers and a submission to make him more unpredictable and to make him dangerous. Let him chase the TV Title and hold it for 6 months, defending it every week with relative ease.

Raise a banner.....By giving the renewed Santino a catchphrase of some kind would make him a part of the American pop culture landscape. Even something as simple as Austin 3:16 made Steve Austin a legend. By choosing something central to his new character's persona, you'd make him something more than just a performer.....but I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

Make him a champion......You don't give a burned man the big belt right away. Give him a year to build to it. Make him a champion in a year at Bound for Glory. Make him work for it. Make his opponent stronger than he is. No one saw it coming.....except maybe me.