Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ultimate Fantasy Part 5:) Putting an Era to Death...

Let me set the scene and do so in a way that would introduce those who are completely ignorant of the TNA product to its virtues......

April 7th......Wrestlemania has put on a spectacle that has been on par with what was anticipated in the hype leading up to the event. The final match of the night FINALLY has come around and delivers in storybook fashion, everything goes off without a hitch.

Monday Night RAW, April 8- The show opens up with CM Punk bragging about how good it felt to step into the ring with a legend almost as good as he is and it brings out John Cena, who has a few words in response. The two engage in verbal fisticuffs for a bit, but are interrupted by some familiar music......

Kurt Angle, microphone in hand, interrupts both men.

"First off, you haven't beaten EVERY man from the era before you, Punk! I was breaking ankles while you were still breaking in your tricycle. And as for you, Cena, it's been a long time since you and I have seen one another. I've got some unfinished business with you, but that's not why I'm here. I'm here to give you both an initiation."

About that time, TNA performers emerge from the crowd like water passing through gravel, surrounding the ring. Punk and Cena go back to back. The deluge is quick and decisive, the swarm is complete and both men are down and out before they knew what had happened. A couple of minutes go by and the lights go out. GONG! The Undertaker's music hits.

He walks out to his usual entrance, slow walking to the ring, but as he raises the lights again, the ring is completely empty, save for one thing......a black baseball bat. Punk and Cena are now missing. Cue credits.

The Thursday night broadcast of Impact begins with a promise. Angle comes out and has some footage to show the viewing public. On the Jumbotron, Punk and Cena are tied up back to back, demanding to know why they've been taken.

"I'm sure you all know by now that the Chairman of the Board is up in arms. He's calling in favors and doing whatever he can to get his workhorses back. But the fact is, Vince has options. I think everyone knows what Vince is capable of. We all know about the battles between you and Stone Cold and the kind of twisted man you can be. Fact is, you'll need to pick up THAT man in the mirror if you want your main event back. I will warn you, though, it's gonna take more than you've been willing to sacrifice in the past 2 years or so."

Fast forward to RAW of the next week. In the opening segment, Vince comes down to the ring and reveals that he's been given the footage from Impact. After showing the footage to the paying public, he has a couple of things to say....WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? YOU WANT A WAR?! WELL I'VE GOT NEWS FOR YOU, RAW IS WAR!!

And so ends the PG Era. Somebody just TRY and tell me you wouldn't like it. This is how I WOULD do it if I were writing it all. Imagine where you could go from there....you could finally get an inter-company match or two for the Survivor Series of that year, making sure that things are spaced out perfectly to make it feel like the Attitude Era reborn. Imagine Sting vs. Undertaker at Survivor Series. For anyone who would rather see it at Wrestlemania, I direct your attention to the blog archives for my opinions of that match ever taking place. Type "Undertaker vs. Sting" into the search bar and give it a read.

Survivor Series is where MY opinion says there will be the best money to be made as it could be played in two different ways. A traditional Survivor Series elimination match would give Taker the rest he is needing since the rumors going around are that he may not even make an appearance at next year's Wrestlemania due to his failing health. Even a one on one confrontation would be better served there as it would be completely up to the creative team as to how best to handle it, rather than the predictability of another notch in The Streak of the Undertaker. Whatever the case, once the event is over, nothing in WWE will be the same and the viewing public will have TNA to thank for it.

The Way It Is....

Every once in a while, one of the fan sites on Facebook has the ability to ask a really good question and while I ponder the best way to answer, it sometimes forces me to ask a few more questions just to put the proper amount of spin on my answer. For example, this is MY task:

The Rules: Exchange ONE wrestler from WWE for another from TNA's CURRENT roster. I will ONLY exchange equal-ish talents; meaning I can't trade Robbie E. for John Cena....not that I'd want to.

My pick to send is James Storm. My pick to receive is Daniel Bryan.

Before ANYONE decides this isn't a fair contest, let me explain. While there MAY be a possibility of Steve Austin coming out of retirement for one-more-match, I have my doubts, particularly after coming off of a surgery just this summer, hence his absence from the 1000th episode of RAW. While a CM Punk feud with Austin would be, as WWE would say, Money in the Bank, it certainly wouldn't be a timeless classic. You all know where I'm going with this. James Storm is a NOTORIOUS beer drinker and an endorsement by the Texas Rattlesnake himself, even going so far as guest refereeing or enforcing the match would be almost as good, by my way of looking at it, making the trade FAR more even than it might otherwise be.

The American Dragon is still young. My pick from the WWE roster was to bring in someone who could still go a few years AND has history with a great deal of the TNA talent roster. Austin Aries, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, even Kenny King......they're all former ROH alums. Nothing against someone like Sheamus or Randy Orton, because they would have been decent enough choices as well, but no one else has a more storied history with as many TNA talents than him. It would be a grand day, indeed, to see a 6 man elimination cage match between Bryan and his former ROH cohorts....now THAT would be a true classic.

Woes and Triumphs....

If any of you read comments the way I do, you'll note that the previous column brought a comment forward. I draw your attention to said comment....

"For a guy who dislikes the wwe.... you sure know a ton about it! do you watch it just to see there flubs? Spend 40- 50 bucks on thier ppv's just to turn them off 20 minutes into it? we know wwe messes up....WE GET IT!! TNA is far from perfect as well..... case in point, velvet sky!! the x divsion is no longer about the high flyers that made tna great... its about fighting for the big one.... those spots are earned over time.... not just for anyone who wins the x division title. there will never be a perfect organization that will please everyone... (fans and talent) but cant we just agree that wrestling is great? that it takes a true athlete to do what All wrestlers do? I love your blog... your news reports are what keeps me coming back. you are a talented writter.... but its become more or a wwe tabloid! "

I hope I'm not betraying any trust in re-posting this. I believe that great comments need to be recognized as such. Having said this, I have a words or two I would like to say in response.....

I make no apologies for WWE rants. This is my view on WWE and, until they decide that they WANT to change the opinions of their critics, my opinion is unlikely to change. NOW, having said that, I DON'T watch WWE's product on a regular basis. I watch highlights and read results to find out the context. As far as Sunday went, the establishment I was at happened to be playing the event on their big screen so I watched what I wanted and went back to my conversations when I was finished with it, so I don't want to sound as if I PAID for the event just to nit-pick.

All FACT and backstage stories are from reliable sources and from a LOT of homework. I don't ever want to give the impression that I don't know what I'm talking about because that would be unprofessional and that is simply not what I want to communicate here. I look at my job here to educate and to give a perspective that is new and different to what a lot of wrestling critics and fellow columnists out there are saying. Since so few out there take on a perspective that is in favor of TNA's product, I'm here to try and fill a void.

I appreciate the comment and I respect your stance. Wrestling IS great. We absolutely share that in common. 

I have one final thought to bring to light before putting a cap on another column on the day. The X Division Title. I've heard quite a few people talk about what made the X Division great. Do you want to know MY opinion? During the lucrative run of the X Division back when Joe, Styles, Williams, and company were involved in it, my only complaint was that these guys needed to be in a main event and there was no good way to put them there without ruining a storyline of some kind already taking place on that level. I think THAT is what I loved so much about Austin Aries' "option C" initiative.

With this initiative in place, TNA can put an ear to the pulse of the X Division and see if there be anyone in their ranks who is ready to make the jump to the next level without making the division feel like a dead end. Imagine if this had been in place 6 years ago. Guys like Daniels or Kazarian or even Low-Ki might have been able to capture the ultimate prize. Who's to say? I like options and putting a sort of "Money in the Bank" feel attached to a belt makes that belt look like just another mid-card title....it's also a representation of an opportunity that has an expiration date.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ultimate Fantasy Part 4.) Gone Rogue....

I know what some of you are thinking.....where could he possibly take this blog after yesterday's pipe bomb? Business as usual. Since I doubt VERY much many WWE fanboys are in a fight picking mood, I see no reason to beat a dead horse. All that is left is to point to each body falling off of the WWE bandwagon. So, in keeping with the spirit of bandwagon falling......

Monday, October 3rd. The day after Hell in a Cell last year, RAW faced quite possibly the least believable situation....all the talents, staff, officials, and crew walked out on the Chief Operations Officer, Triple H. While no one believed it to be true, today I pose the question.....what if it was? If WWE had released every person who walked out that day and handed out pink slips to every man and woman leaving the arena that night, what would have happened? Where would they have gone? ROH? TNA? I'd like to dig a little deeper and explore the possibility of what MIGHT have been if the RAW walkout had been real.

First off, bear in mind that every talent who walks through the doors of WWE signs a contract containing one of the most restrictive pieces of legal-eze to ever grace a page, the no-compete clause, which states that after TERMINATION, any performer must wait 90 days before competing for a televised entity. Now, characters like Christian never waited because their contract was already up by the time they were done with WWE, meaning they could go wherever they wished without waiting. But guys like Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Taz, Tara, Gail Kim and others weren't featured until the clause had run its course.

NOW, there were a few exceptions to the walkout. In fact, a majority of the face population was absent from RAW that night, as were the bulk of Smackdown's roster (assuming there were true separation between the brands). But what I'm wanting to cover is just who would likely show up in TNA after the walkout took place. This is the list of PERFORMERS:

Mark Henry
Christian
Cody Rhodes
Ezekiel Jackson
Dolph Ziggler
Wade Barrett
Alberto Del Rio
Sin Cara
Jack Swagger
Heath Slater
Mason Ryan
Jinder Mahal
Titus O'Neil
Darren Young
Kofi Kingston
Evan Bourne
And EVERY Diva on the roster

Some pretty compelling talents on the docket there. I didn't even list J.R., Jerry Lawler, and Michael Cole. Keep in mind that the Aces and Eights storyline hadn't started until right about the time the no compete clause was up for each. The fact is, if things had run their course naturally, the first possible debut date would have been set for either the beginning of January OR the beginning of February, depending upon when precisely the termination was put into effect.

In TNA, things would have been brewing towards the first debut of Aces and Eights. I would have written it with Christian being the leader, revealed at Turning Point or Final Resolution this year, leading to the additions of

Mason Ryan
Wade Barrett
Beth Phoenix
Natalya
The Bella Twins
Kaitlyn

I picked the talents in this scenario, but truth is, I wouldn't have taken any more from the WWE roster save for Jim Ross to couple with the newest recruit, tag teaming the two hours of action. I can think of no one better to initiate a new announcer than to pair him with the likes of the greatest announcer of the past 50 years.

Among my picks, I can hear gasping over Kaitlyn and the Bellas. Why them? Simple Near the end of their tenure with WWE, I saw a glimmer of hope from Brie Bella as a competent women's wrestler and not just eye candy. Fact is, that opinion has extended to include Kaitlyn in that number. Bouts including the three training alongside someone like Tara or Mickie James or Gail Kim or even ODB would be profoundly beneficial for everyone involved.

As for Mason Ryan and Wade Barrett? I can see a healthy tag team rivalry between them and Kaz and Daniels, making for a great many tremendous matches. If either one or both ended up at the top of the card, I think we'd see a lot of satisfied men and women, seeing as WWE has had NO CLUE how best to utilize them.

Ammunition....

I wasn't going to write this today. To be blunt, I wasn't going to EVER write this....but two events coming to light in WWE COMPELLED me.

1.) Beth Phoenix was written out of the company last night in typical fashion for someone who asked for their release.

2.) It appears the Claire Lynch storyline is alive and well, but not in TNA anymore.

To address statement one.....I'd like to educate SOME of you who still think I'm being some kind of bully who is just picking on WWE without evidence to back me up. WWE is NOTORIOUSLY horrible to women who decide they want out, whether it be to start a family or whatever the case may be. The Diva that made my jump to TNA the easiest choice was Lita. Her final promo sealed it. I would never go back......


Was she serious? Maybe, maybe not. She left without fanfare, without the ticker tape parade, without the title....but more importantly to me, without intentions of ever coming back. Trish Stratus left with a title belt, Lita left with nothing.

Since 2008, WWE has released 16 Divas. 3 have left to retire, but the rest read like a who's who of Women's Champions who deserved more than they got. Melina, Awesome Kong, Gail Kim, Mickie James, Victoria, Tiffany, Candice Michelle, Ashley Massaro....the list goes on and on. That's 4 years, folks. Four years of WWE continually and systematically dismantling their Women's Division by releasing those who can work a match longer than 10 minutes without the general public wanting to leave the room to make a sandwich. If it wasn't bad enough that they fire those that CAN perform, they replace them with fitness models who have never worked a match in their lives and expect the veterans to train them and job to them before such time as they are able to wrestle a match.

Beth Phoenix left wrestling to be with her real life boyfriend and to help him recuperate from surgery, which is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks. For those of you who DON'T know, her boyfriend USED to be known by his championship-winning name, Edge. So it's political. WWE, I don't know how you do it. You'll fire people for wanting to start a family (Kong, Dawn Marie, Candice Michelle), you'll fire people for wanting a better showing on TV (Gail Kim, Victoria, Mickie James), and you'll fire people for not getting along with higher ranked talent (Tiffany, Melina), and you'll even fire people just to let them know that no one is irreplaceable (Cherry, Ashley Massaro, Christy Hemme). I gotta hand it to you, Vince, you sure showed them.

And now, for the part I have been waiting for FOREVER. FINALLY, WWE has done the unthinkable. They've chosen to take a page from TNA. In about three months, they're gonna wish they hadn't. So the leadership is under attack for "fraternizing" with a top level talent. Where have I heard that story before? The "evidence" is them getting together for a "business dinner" and then getting into an elevator. Well, that sounds important. SOMEBODY CALL THE PRESSES!!!!

WAIT! We've just received word that Cena and AJ went to that hotel room to help a pregnant addict, not realizing that the baby belongs to John Cena. I suppose that means that Swagger and Dolph Ziggler will become Tag Team Champions and Cena will team up with Randy Orton to feud with them for months. Is anyone else watching this?

In all the time I've come into forums and listened to discussions, I hear that WWE's storylines are better or that TNA can't think of an original idea or whatever their gripe is for the day and just when TNA escapes from an awful ORIGINAL storyline, WWE swoops right in. Typical. It does amuse me. I had no intention of posting this portion, but in the face of the WWE Universe who seem to have this notion that they have a curb in the court of public opinion about what ORIGINAL means or what is deemed as GOOD or WORTHY, I have something to say. WWE is NOT the end-all-be-all. WWE is NOT where the sidewalk ends. WWE is NOT the bastion of all things great and the place where every great talker in the professional wrestling industry goes to share their coffee. WWE, furthermore, is NOT where TNA's brightest minds go for wrestling advice. This isn't just a rant, it's a wake up call. 

For those of you who want numbers, Smackdown JUST LAST WEEK scored a 1.74. TNA Impact scored a 1.0. If anyone else has it in them to try and tell me that WWE isn't losing fans, you might want to give your calculator a second glance. 

Since 2008, WWE has FIRED over 150 talents between the main and developmental rosters. Among them are former World Champions, former Women's Champions, former Tag Team Champions, former Intercontinental Champions, former US Champions, and former Cruiserweight Champions. Is someone really going to tell me that all of those people were necessary? Why would WWE pick up a talent only to discard them the following year? Seems a bit unfair to me. The thing is, folks, WWE may be sitting on top of the mountain, but it's at the expense of a great many talents who might have been able to do more had they been given more than what they got. Things aren't changing for the better, ladies and gentlemen. The name count is only going up in the Future Endeavors Club. 

The Defense Rests, Your Honor....

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ry Van Back and Heck in a Fence.....

I managed to watch 20 minutes of WWE's PPV tonight. I'll never get that time back. I watched the ending of the World Title match, which was NOT in the cell, I might add. I also TRIED to sit through the Divas Triple Threat match, but was unsuccessful. I finally tuned in to see WWE's "Next Big Thing" vs. CM Punk. Take a guess how long the match lasted.....about 10-12 minutes.....and I got the screwjob ending I was expecting.

You know, as much as I rag on WWE Creative for their general lack of ambition, and direction for that matter, I really want to see them pull things together. It's a hard thing to watch (from the safety of the TNA compound) the company I grew up loving being trivialized and ruined by lesser men, put in charge by a man who has lost his edge.

While WWE sends out their spin team on damage control for all the dissatisfied people who paid nearly 40 bucks for one of the worst showings they've had in years, SOME in certain circles, got exactly what they paid for....nothing. WWE may frown on people who use streaming sites to watch their PPVs, but when the current product has more in common with WCW's final days than with WWF's prime, I see no reason to criticize.

Why am I ranting? I realize I only watched 20 minutes in an establishment showing the event, but the way I see it, WWE had the chance to put things into motion that would have established BOTH Punk AND Ryback as main event tier stars, but with Ryback having never faced a top tier star until now, his road becomes that much harder. WWE Creative NOW has to find a way to salvage Ryback's credibility and put him back on their timetable without building towards a feud that might last until the Royal Rumble if they want to have ANY chance of putting together a match between Punk and The Rock.

Do I care? In a way. If WWE sabotages their own product as often as they have in recent years, allowing TNA to win by default, I don't see it as a true victory....not in the purest sense. If TNA wishes to be seen as the best in the world of professional wrestling, it means MUCH MORE if their rivals are operating at optimal levels. Take the Money in the Bank briefcase, for example. Which gives the fans more bang for their buck, cashing in on a beaten down champion to win the title or cashing in at the beginning of the PPV to face a fresh opponent? RVD, of course. The same logic applies to the world of the wrestling business as a whole.

Cold Front.....

News from TNA suggests that the current Aces and Eights storyline could last 6 more months, maybe less. Now before I hear a groan, let me put this in perspective. In 5 months, we're looking at Lockdown and after that is Sacrifice, leading me to believe that there's the possibility of some great things on the horizon, not the least of which is further revelations of other members of the faction. Keep in the forefront of your mind how long it took in WWF for Vince McMahon to be revealed as the mastermind behind The Undertaker/Stone Cold/ Stephanie storyline. For those of you who DON'T remember, I'll tell you that this well planned story unfolded in 1998.

Over the course of 6 months, Steve Austin was involved in a storyline that involved the deepening of The Undertaker, launching the faction called The Ministry of Darkness. During this time, The Undertaker kidnapped Stephanie McMahon and, on RAW, intended to marry her in a dark wedding. She was saved by Steve Austin and was returned to the welcoming arms of Vince. Over the course of the next 2 months, the story evolved until finally, it was revealed that Vince had orchestrated the entire ordeal, leading into the next chapter in the Austin/McMahon epic. I grant that this is all in a nutshell, but the spirit of the story is there.

My reasoning in bringing all of this up is that TNA has been doing a decent job of keeping the continuity despite the story beginning to show signs of wear. I'll admit, I was getting tired of it all before Devon's reveal, but there's something compelling about it that has me hoping we'll see some delving into the Abyss character and how he relates to Joseph in the end. I'm also withholding some judgment until Turning Point, when there may be another reveal, hopefully buying more time in the patience of the fans.

Think about this, folks. At the end of the storyline, there will be more feuds open to negotiation. Why? Because there will be more members of the TNA roster. More members= more direction=more opportunity to grow as a company. Every member of Aces and Eights revealed gets a HUGE push right out of the gate and IMMEDIATE credibility. Just as Randy Orton and Batista got their pushes as members of Evolution, so too will those in the Aces and Eights. Devon has gone super-heel, overshadowing Bully Ray, making him look more like a tweener than a true heel. This is special because it shows how well TNA did in leading the social media and internet following.

So then, who's next to be unmasked? My sources tell me that we're looking at a final member count of 5, maybe 6. If I were a betting man, which I am, I'd put my money on Garett Bishoff or Wes Brisco. It was no accident that Wes Brisco was introduced in backstage segments during the amok antics of the Aces and Eights. Furthermore, Garett Bishoff hasn't been featured very prominently, leading me to question his loyalties. After that, it's anyone's guess.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Balance.....

I'd like to take some time aside. I've been confronted in debate over brand superiority. WWE or TNA? I have made it clear as to my position, having given a great many arguments over the course of the lifetime of this site in favor of my personal choice. I do hope, however, that I've been balanced. Balance and bias are not two different sides of a coin. My perspective in the grand scheme of things is simple.

If WWE held the same standard for quality that they did during the last era in their history, I would still be in their number as a supporter. And if WWE decided today to alter their product to return each division to prominence, I would begin watching again. If WWE was serious about bringing fans back by not dumbing down their product and using their own format from years past to serve as a template for how to move forward, I would split my wrestling viewing and occupy my Monday Nights once more.

But the sad truth is....WWE isn't the same entity they were when I started watching all those years ago and they are showing no signs of improvement. Does anyone remember what happened at Survivor Series 2002? Let me run down the card....

Bubba Ray, Spike Dudley, and Jeff Hardy vs. 3 Minute Warning with Rico
Billy Kidman vs. Jamie Noble
Victoria vs. Trish Status- Hardcore Match for the Women's Championship
Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship
The Guerreros vs. Kurt Angle/ Chris Benoit vs. Rey Mysterio/ Edge for the WWE Tag Team Titles
Shawn Michaels vs. RVD vs. Chris Jericho vs. Triple H vs. Booker T vs. Kane in the first Elimination Chamber for the World Heavyweight Title

The competitors aren't important in illustrating the point....WWE isn't the same. If WWE put a show on this year that could come CLOSE to the Survivor Series I mentioned, things would look very different, indeed. I'd say we'd be looking at TNA sitting in the backseat for quite some time were that the case, but with ratings declining for WWE and TNA remaining steadfast, I'd say the tides for WWE are turning and TNA, who are just starting to escape the old stereotypes they've been given over the years, are beginning to rise above.

Just a side note, when was the last time the WWE Championship match was shorter than that of the Women's Championship? I can't remember back that far either. The WWE Title match at Survivor Series a DECADE ago was outlasted by the Women's Title match by 3 minutes solid. Give that some thought.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Ultimate Fantasy Part 3.) The Trojan Horse

I've been thinking about the very thing Bischoff and Hogan were before the nWo was formed....what can we do that's never been done before? And then it occurred to me, what if every former WWE talent hijacked a WWE PPV for real BEFORE Vince could get security in place to stop them? WWE tried to invade Nitro while they were live in progress, but were stopped by WCW's security and the doors were shut. Here's MY scenario:

January 27, 2013....Phoenix, Arizona:
WWE has been broadcasting the 26th annual Royal Rumble for nearly 2 and a half hours when the unthinkable happens. All of a sudden, audibles from McMahon and the sound booth are no longer heard. The 90 second countdown has begun. During that time, commentators, and all other manner of recording and talent personnel have been replaced by TNA staffers. The countdown has reached single digits now and the crowd begins counting down in unison.

The countdown reaches zero and the lights go out. The audience goes crazy as a laugh starts to come across the PA system. A white light appears at the entrance and the laugh continues. By now the crowd is getting feverish, having never seen this kind of entrance before. The light goes out once more and a spotlight centers in on the ring, where Sting is standing, microphone in hand. He's joined by every former WWE Superstar on TNA's roster. Anderson, Hardy, RVD, Angle, Guerrero, Jarrett, Bully Ray, Devon, Pope, Hogan, Christy Hemme, Tara, Gail Kim, Mickie James, Taryn Tarrell, and Taz.

"Rumors have been circulating about whether this year will be the year I make a jump." he begins.
"This year was no different. And then it occurred to me that we need to try something new. Your regularly scheduled Rumble match WILL continue, but as for the last 10 spots. I think we'll leave those for MY crew."

He points to the entrance ramp and brand new entrance music brings AJ Styles to the ring to a thunderous applause. WWE talents remaining in the ring believe this to be a WWE planned thing, so the event carries on. The final 10 entrants in the Royal Rumble are ALL TNA originals and the line-up goes something like this....

AJ Styles
Daniels
Abyss
Kazarian
James Storm
Bobby Roode
Magnus
Samoa Joe
Matt Morgan
Austin Aries

"But Matt Morgan isn't a TNA Original," some critics would say. My response? SHUT UP! WWE HAD their chance to make something out of him and they flubbed it twice. TNA repackaged him and redubbed him as the "DNA of TNA" That fact alone gives TNA liberties to call him their own. The Royal Rumble match would end that night with a BRAND NEW winner...leaving WWE wondering how to move from there.....

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ultimate Fantasy Part 2.) ....vs. Vince McMahon

In this column, I'd like to take a look at the potential feuds of three men from TNA and the kind of rivalry they could launch against the WWE CEO. The war that could be wrought would be amazing, but MY scenario would feature the potential of those three man going into war as a stable with one man leading the charge and finally coming to blows with Vince. My first question going into a scenario like this is who has the most motive? Let's have a look?

Austin Aries- His not making the cut in WWE's short lived Tough Enough television show is a tough sell in my book. Why would WWE deny Aries if they could see something he could bring to the table? I, personally, have no Earthly idea. The eventual winner of the show the year he tried out was released after having made one appearance on the main roster before being shipped back to developmental and then given his walking papers, the process took less than 8 months. I'd have been livid.

Samoa Joe- Some would say I've got a vendetta against WWE that I'd love to see Joe carry out and, to some degree, they're right. This particular member of the TNA roster, after being offered a contract by WWE, refused it and so the top brass in Stamford made an executive decision. They went to their roster, pulled a name out, and modeled the man who emerged AFTER Joe. Does the name Umaga ring a bell? How would YOU respond?

Kurt Angle- "A cup of coffee and a gold medal don't mean s*&!" Nice words coming from Vince to one of the best all around performers to ever grace the squared circle. After having been moved from RAW to Smackdown, back to RAW and finally demoted to the fledgling AND short-lived ECW brand, Angle bowed out......only to cross the line. His prodding WWE to "watch what I do" makes me believe this would be something special.

SO....with three of TNA's best on one hand and a set of IMPARTIAL WRESTLING writers (not soap opera writers, I might add) on the other, I say put a plan into motion and set up a HUGE spectacle on TNA's stomping grounds. For once, TNA could be on the offensive. TNA would be the conquerers, not that they won't eventually anyway.....

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ultimate Fantasy Part 1.) Joe's Gonna Kill You

WWE's "Next Big Thing" since Lesnar, Ryback is on a streak. I say we put the clock on stop and suspend to bring a worthy challenger from TNA's ranks....Samoa Joe. Let's re-imagine the contest taking place during the 18 month long streak of Joe. I do this for a number of reasons, not the least of which being Joe's intensity just a few years ago vs. that of today.

My favorite question to answer in ANY of my columns is that of WHY. I do this because, quite often, the reason and rationale has to be given in relation to evidences outside of opinion. Simply put, if I want to convince ANYONE that my stance is the right one, I CANNOT weigh in with only my opinion to defend me. So how did I arrive at this match-up in particular? Two reasons....

1.) Fans of WWE's product have made comparisons between Ryback and Goldberg. Though that might be a good match-up, Goldberg is a retired man, while Samoa Joe's streak lasted nearly as long AND he's still active. Compound that fact with Joe's agility, which by my estimation trumps that of his streak holding predecessor.

2.) Recent news of Ryback's performance both in live events and Monday Night RAW, both of which I will address shortly.

The fanfare of the Internet Wrestling Community would be off the charts and the hype surrounding a match like this would most certainly be among the most perfect match-ups of the recent era between the two wrestling companies. I have my own thoughts about how this match would go down, but in light of the most recent news captured both on YouTube and WWE programming, the contest may be shorter than some might expect. Why?

Sunday night, at a WWE Live Event, Ryback botched his signature finishing maneuver, "Shell Shocked" on Paul Heyman. Had this been an isolated incident, my opinion of the match's finish would be split down the center, but fact is, it isn't. Three weeks ago, he failed to hoist Lord Tensai (the man once known as A-Train or Albert) not once, but TWICE to deliver his finisher. That speaks volumes about how reliable Ryback's abilities really are. Failing to deliver on a finishing move tells me only one thing.....the move is either too dependent on Ryback's strength or that of the opponent's ability to aid in it's execution.

Superstars like Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, and others in the top tier of the wrestling elite all have one thing in common....multiple finishing moves. Each had not only a high impact finisher, but a submission, or secondary finisher as well. If Ryback is to ever rise above his current state in the court of public opinion, WWE needs to address the possibility of adding another maneuver to his portfolio in the event his first attempts fail once more.

SO....in light of Ryback news of the day, Joe's intensity and ability to rise to the occasion in more ways than one, I only have one chant and it isn't "feed me more"......

JOE'S GONNA KILL YOU!

The Trouble with Flair.....

Ric Flair is a diva. Did you all catch that? Don't get me wrong, he's quite possibly the greatest professional wrestler of all time, but he expects people to treat him as such everyday. I'm a fan of his work in TNA, WWE, WWF, WCW, AWA, etc. The fact remains, however, that he's not the man he used to be. Is he still a drawing factor? No. TNA proved that. In fact, unless his face-off was against Jay Lethal, there was little change at all in ratings for segments with him in them.

"Tactix? Why do you bring up Ric Flair?"

Sunday. That's why. As a good portion of wrestling fans who watch WWE AND TNA know, Hell in a Cell is this weekend. It's been rumored strongly that the Nature Boy is going to be revealed as a GM to take the reins of both shows. SO, on one hand, we'll have WWE, whose General Manager is Ric Flair and TNA, whose GM is Hulk Hogan. Is anyone else seeing a trend? If Rowdy Roddy Piper takes up the mantle on WWE programming as Flair's enforcer, I'm going to spit in the face of the people who once called TNA the copycats of the business.

In TNA, Ric Flair overextended his expectations of just how much Dixie Carter and company were going to compensate him, believing that he'd get some kind of stipend for hotel expenditures, lavish gifts, liquor, among other things and it led to some unpleasant turns of events. He was even left behind on their tour of Europe a couple of times for not being accommodating. Ultimately, it was living like a rockstar that killed Ric's tenure with TNA. Now, ladies and gentleman, you can see why Ric Flair will have to work his butt off for the rest of his life. It's not fair to others who could use the position Ric has been lavished with, but with Vince out of other options and his arsenal of tricks up his PG rated sleeve, it couldn't get much worse, or could it?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Do I Say It?

Monday Night, WWE's programming did something I saw coming a mile away, it put up the worst rating in 15 years. 1997 was the last time WWE saw such dismal numbers. There was little in the way of sporting events to account for the loss of viewers other than what I have been saying for years now, WWE's PG format is beginning to show signs of wear.

Contrast that fact with TNA's consistent trend of 1.0 ratings and suddenly, it doesn't seem so far fetched to believe that TNA could go head to head with RAW in a couple of years, provided they continue to build their fanbase and not get too anxious to expand out of the Impact Zone. While moving around IS on the horizon, it should be noted that doing so right now would be a financial disaster. Why? Because recent figures suggest that they are having difficulty drawing even 1000 people to shows and it hasn't mattered whether they've been live events or taped televised shows.

Let me be clear, TNA IS growing, but not to such an extent to warrant leaving their home and traveling permanently. My advice to fans? Give it time. It'll come.

Another point of interest is the most recent interview Chris Jericho did with Busted Open Radio. Within the dialogue, Jericho touches on a great many points, not the least of which is CM Punk's main event match at Hell in a Cell, which to date, is the only actual Cell match on the gimmick named show. Go figure. At any rate, to read more in depth highlights of his interview, check out your favorite wrestling news site.

His thoughts on CM Punk and Ryback individually are what interested me. By his opinion, Punk has gone as far as he can as a heel in WWE. By his own admission, Punk's title reign is meaningless in the scheme of building Ryback as a major player. I happen to agree on both points. Unfortunately, the interviewer made no mention of his possibly making moves down south, but as always, ANYTHING is possible.

In upcoming columns, I plan on discussing a few things that many pro-WWE fanboys tend to over look about the rising company hailing from the Impact Zone. Talent rosters, divisions, and title values among other topics are on the way.

Must-see DVD.....

Since I have NEVER done this, I've decided to put together a top 5 list. The PPV's no pure wrestling fan should do without seeing. The truth of the matter is that there isn't much new happening in the business. John Cena has been medically cleared to wrestle, which means that even in a card where he's NOT featured as a competitor, he'll have a part to play in the main event. *sigh* WWE as usual.

SO, to pass a bit of time and, as it turns out, give me something positive to write about, I'd like to share MY favorite PPV's.....and without any particular order.....


1.) SummerSlam 2002......
This was an amazing card from top to bottom. Truth be told, I can't think of a better line-up for the time than Rock vs. Brock, Triple H vs. HBK, Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero, the list goes on. Fact is, the card was a wrestling clinic with stuff for all tastes. Rey Mysterio's high flying style met Kurt Angle's mat based defense.....The Rock's microphone prowess met the heelish tactics of Brock's mouthpiece, Paul Heyman.....two of the all-time greats, Chris Jericho and Ric Flair faced off....fact is, there are few PPV's out there that can top my list quite in the same way.

2.) Unbreakable 2005......
Maybe I spoke too quickly. Here's a wrestling fact: Very few PPV's are given a high grade on simply ONE match, but this one, in my book, is worth the watch over and over again. Why? Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels vs. AJ Styles for the X DIVISION TITLE! On PPV! Seriously. TNA has never done it since, but this was something special because there was very little down time and no one ever got sloppy. The precision of each spot and each chain of holds and counters was crisp and clean.

3.) Wrestlemania XIX.....
Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon, Austin vs. The Rock III, HBK vs. Chris Jericho....with the only real exception being Triple H vs. Booker T, which had no business being on the card to begin with, this was a great WWE effort. In my humble opinion, the last truly great PPV of the last decade for WWE was this one and it's predecessor......

4.) Wrestlemania 20.......
The very first Money in the Bank Ladder Match, featuring the ONLY sportsman winner....Rob Van Dam. That's right, he has been the only winner to cash in his shot at the following month's PPV AS THE MAIN EVENT, whereas every other winner has either waited until after a World Title defense OR in the case of John Cena this year, cashed in on an episode of RAW.

Combine this with HBK vs. Chris Benoit vs. Triple H, Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero, and one of the few truly great Women's Title matches...Victoria (Tara) vs. Molly Holly and you have quite probably the best Wrestlemania of the last 20 years.

5.) What could possibly close out this list? I have been giving that a LOT of thought. I HAVE to say that, at the risk of being controversial my pick is Lockdown from 2008. Joe vs. Angle headlined the event and the list of performers reads like a Who's Who in the best pure wrestlers in the business for the past 10 years. Sting, Christian, Jay Lethal, Austin Aries, Awesome Kong, The Motor City Machine Guns, Team 3D, and every Knockout on the roster. This was a good event from top to bottom and it rounds out my list.

Upheaval....

It never ceases to amuse me when I hear someone is frustrated with Monday Night RAW. It somehow makes me feel like the columns I've written about the misgivings of the competition are worth every last word. I don't claim to know everything about this business, contrary to what some of my critics might say about this daily column. I DO, however, claim to know a few things about how a successful wrestling business should be run and right now, you won't find very many of those ingredients in WWE's current product.

Still, it also amuses me to note that on some pages, a critic who has watched WWE's product for 10+ years can somehow choose the current product over that of 2003-2008. Seriously? Let me get this straight, you'll choose this....



over this?



Call me biased. I'm unashamedly so when it comes to my appreciation of the former product to that of today. As much as I HATED a few of the stories from back then (namely the return promos for Randy Orton interrupting every single episode and PPV to tell us how his arm was doing), it is NOTHING compared to the facepalm trainwreck we are seeing today. But TNA's product did something back then that still has yet to be outdone......



Don't think that they haven't tried to capitalize on their success with this match. In 2009, they did it again for the World Heavyweight Title. What I would like to see right now is the reintroduction of a few stipulations. Tell me you wouldn't LOVE to see Austin Aries vs. AJ Styles in an Iron Man Match. Or how about Joe vs. Magnus in a Last Man Standing Match? Maybe a current Jeff Hardy against Matt Morgan in a Three Stages of Hell Match? At this point, we're not seeing a few things I think that would be interesting, not to mention nostalgic. This isn't saying I'm not satisfied with the product, quite the contrary, but the stipulations would help.





Monday, October 22, 2012

Reflection.....

Before I do ANYTHING else, I want to thank you guys for coming here day after day. I realize that some of this stuff that comes across this page is a bit repetitive, but I do appreciate the patience. So, as a performer not unlike those I write about, I salute you for the honor of doing this. This is another landmark post as it's the first post after reaching 100,000 page views. That's a HUGE number and I have no idea how it happened, but thank you all just the same.

NOW, with Bound for Glory in the rear view and Turning Point speculation already put into the system, I'd like to take a moment to slow things down a bit and look at a few favorites. Since some of you are new to this page, I'd like to give spotlight to a few stars who either need to make a return for nostalgia's sake, or others who need to be signed for years.

Michael Shane aka. Matt Bentley
As Kazarian's former tag team partner, I can see no better time to bring him back if they want to make something special out of the Tag Team Division. Placing him with someone like Crimson or even one of the new Gut Check contestants like Sam Shaw would be a good way to give them a running start into the scene.

Monty Brown
I happen to miss "the Alpha Male". Most fans of TNA would remember him from 2003 until his departure in 2006. Unfortunately, management of the day didn't treat him with the kind of fanfare they should have. By giving him a title run at the end of the Planet Jarrett storyline, they may have been able to keep him as a prominent member of the roster rather than allowing him to go to WWE after his run in 2006.

Lance Hoyt
Of the big men who have left TNA, this is the guy I want to see the most. Why? He's agile, he works REALLY hard, and he's another TNA could have ridden right to the top on. His charisma wasn't top notch, but his ring work was refreshing for the day.

Nikki Roxx
For those of you who don't remember......her debut name was Roxxi Leveaux. Upon her last appearance in TNA, she was put in a career match up against Madison Rayne. Had TNA kept her in place, we may be watching a very different Knockouts Division. The fact of the matter is that TNA needs to bring back a couple of experienced Knockouts and Nikki is about as good as they could ever hope to get back without attempting to bring someone out of retirement.















Petey Williams
If there was EVER a doubt in people's minds that I would bring him up......remember this.....

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Whether Predictable or Not......

A column sparked inspiration for what I would like to ask. Is it better for a product to be predictable or unpredictable? To truly sink my teeth into this column, I must ask a couple of questions....

a.) If you already knew how a history shaping moment in professional wrestling would play out, would it be as special as being oblivious?

b.) If the answer is yes, what part does innovation play in a predictable environment?

c.) If the answer is no, what makes the moment so shocking or history making?

Let's apply the line of questioning to a few instances.

1.) Hulk Hogan walks down to the ring at Bash at the Beach '96 and turns on Sting and Savage. Was it ground-breaking? Absolutely. Why? Because, up to that point, Hogan had never been a heel. Other superstars had played the heel part so he could remain a face for his entire career up to that point. If people had known he would turn heel, they wouldn't have believed it anyway.

2.) Mick Foley wins his first WWF Championship despite WCW revealing it would happen on live TV. Was it history making? Sure. Why? Because even though people knew it was coming, they switched channels JUST to see the title change, proving that predictability CAN be worked to the advantage.

3.) Triple H and Shawn Michaels reunite one night to reform DX only for Triple H to turn on HBK, creating the longest feud since Austin and McMahon. Had I known it was going to happen, it may have ruined my sense of surprise, but it might have compelled me to see it all for myself.

At the risk of sounding wishy-washy, I am of the belief that good storylines and innovations live OUTSIDE the realm of predictability. With good writing, innovative structures and wonderful talents involved, you can build something special even if the results are given out ahead of time. Going live doesn't mean the surprises leave either. I have to believe that writers, talents, structures, and production all coincide in a harmonious symphony REGARDLESS and the result is something that HAS to be seen firsthand even if you know how it all ends. If John Cena had turned on The Rock at last year's Survivor Series, reforming an nWo stable, it would be something you would have to see to believe, let's face it.

So which is better? As far as I'm concerned, I like to be surprised, but I also like to see exactly what I predicted. I say the jury is still out on this question, but I will say this, WWE is not doing anyone favors by putting the results out where the world can see before the card is put together. It's simply more difficult to make history when you're spending all your time thinking about the present and not how the business can be shaped by the effects of a major shift in thinking.

Pick-up Lines.....

Ever since Bound for Glory, I've had plenty of things on my mind, many of which I've revealed here. There are, however, a few more ideas I have to make this special. I've suggested that Velvet Sky could serve as a distraction for Tara's main squeeze, but IF TNA decided to put together a brawl of power couples, I can see no better three-way than this.....

 
In this scenario, the power couples seen here would be introduced AFTER Tara and Jesse have been declared as potentials for the Knockouts Tag Team Titles. Even if the pairings don't last, it seems to me that THIS would be the way to introduce something new to the mix. I understand that Morrison and Melina haven't been reality TV stars or even stars OUTSIDE of reality TV, but their characters have been A-List forever.

I respect TNA's wisdom in removing the weight limit from the X Division. This makes the X Title even more coveted than the TV Title. Why? Option C. With the X Title, it creates a great deal of competition within the main roster and makes that title look every bit as important as the Intercontinental Title did in WWF when The Rock, Stone Cold, and Triple H were fighting over it. It creates the possibility of some AMAZING match-ups and the ability to give Zema Ion and a returning Jesse Sorenson a GREAT resume.

Another thought I've been entertaining is that of the TV Title, now that I've already mentioned it. Right now, Magnus and Joe are in the number for the belt, but there are a couple of people I have in mind to add to their number.

Mr. Anderson.....Right now, he has nothing to do and the TV Title needs someone to help make it look like something special. He can carry a microphone. He can work a passable match, when the stakes are made to look important.

AJ Styles.....He INVENTED the darn thing, why NOT include him? Okay, actually Nash did, but AJ Styles is the most decorated performer to hold that title since it was cast. I think bringing in Styles would do great things to elevate the title out of the mire.

One last note: Turning Point is supposed to be the PPV to bring the finalized members of the Aces and Eights into the roster, at least for the short term. It seems fitting that the PPV feature a member in every title match save for the World Title, in any case. The TV Title, the X Division Title, the Tag Team Titles.....why not? It would give some added incentive to win them back come time for Final Resolution in December.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Feudal Matters.....

So just where does TNA stand to go in terms of feuds going into the next PPV? I know I've been giving that matter some thought....particularly after the events of Thursday. We already know about Jeff Hardy and Austin Aries, but just how far will they go? I believe this feud is somewhat reminiscent of the CM Punk feud as Hardy was nearing his final WWE days. Since WWE wasn't fully able to capitalize on a full fledged long term program, the way TNA has with Storm and Roode, it's tough to say how far TNA could go with it. I do believe TNA is on the right track with the opening of a long term program as Austin Aries has a tremendous heel side that would fit in very well considering his match performance at Bound for Glory.

As for others? Here's my rundown of possible feuds going into Turning Point.

Bully Ray vs. Devon
Sting vs. The Leader

Since TNA hasn't made it clear yet as to whether or not Zema Ion's title chase will begin sooner than later, I will go out on a ledge and say that TNA has some unfinished business with Sonjay Dutt to attend to that will ultimately lead Zema Ion back into the chase. Ion needs to get some focus and charisma behind him to get the crowd to care about his eventual rise back to the title as a heel and culminating with the return of Jesse Sorenson.

I have a notion that we'll get a surprise at Turning Point. Tara isn't the only one with outside influences, but I WILL give you all a hint.....

Moving on, TNA has another division to work on....the Tag Team Division. Chavo and Hernandez have been booked pretty strongly so far, but then so have Kaz and Daniels, barring the Claire Lynch story. Why not put Morgan and Ryan in the division? The history of Hernandez and Morgan would be certain to add a bit of spice to the mix while also giving Kaz and Daniels someone to hang on the microphone with. 

In all of this, there is one little detail I haven't brought up.....Eric Young and ODB. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times.....either retire the Knockouts Tag Team Division or put it to use! I'll admit, I'm tired of saying it and if ODB insists on wearing the belt STILL, it has to mean TNA has plans, but God knows what they are. In fact, as far as I can see it, only two things can save this division.....any questions?


The Multi-Purpose Room....

So APPARENTLY, WWE is having a tough time determining how best to end their Hell in a Cell PPV with Ryback and CM Punk in their main event. Why? As I have stated time and time again, ever since Goldberg, "The Undefeated Streak" has been a curse to every in ring performer. When a creative team is faced with a proposition like a streak, they have to confront a HUGE problem....what happens when they lose a match? Where do they go from there? I'd like to talk about an exception to what I'm going to call the "law of the Streak".....I'm talking about Brock Lesnar.

Brock Lesnar had an undefeated streak from his debut in March of 2002 all the way until Survivor Series in November of the same year. His rise had a few notable exceptions to the rule....

1. His opponents on PPV were ALWAYS main event players. Some would use Samoa Joe as a rebuttal, but even AJ Styles, who was featured in prominence at the main event level later, wasn't a top tier player at the time.

2. His undefeated streak lasted LESS than a year.

3. His streak was broken by outside factors that allowed him to remain in the top spot. When Brock was defeated by the Big Show at Survivor Series, the victory featured Paul Heyman punching out the referee, allowing Show to get a chokeslam off before a new referee was sent to count for the pin, making Brock Lesnar's story of retribution the driving force on the blue brand for the remaining time leading up to Wrestlemania the following year. So his story was never treated to the same kind of fanfare as that of Goldberg before him or the other "streak" contenders after him.

There is a reason for my bringing up Lesnar in this column. He has been tossed about in creative team meetings as a means of ending the match in DQ fashion. In response, a potential Lesnar vs. Ryback feud would ensue leading up to the culmination at Royal Rumble. While I happen to see this as the best possible scenario, officials aren't high on spending the money on an EXTRA venture that wasn't planned.

To switch gears, I was just listening to an interview....even now, after the exchange of questions, I'm impressed as to the man's poise behind a microphone. He makes a better ambassador now than he did when he came on board a couple years back. I'm talking about Eric Bischoff. I'm not just going to tell you about it either......have a listen for yourself....

http://www.kfan.com/player/?station=KFXN-FM&program_name=podcast&program_id=ProWrestlingRadio.xml&mid=22540482

Friday, October 19, 2012

When?

I've been talking about debuts and returns now for quite some time now. I can imagine some of you are getting nearly as ailed by the passing of time as I. Given that contracts and such have already been signed, when do we get the debuts of the Gut Check Challengers or the return of Velvet Sky among others? Believe me, the thought has occurred to me too. I think we should run down each one to make sure we're clear as to whom we're waiting for.

Sam Shaw....The first time he debuted, Aces and Eights beat him down in the middle of the ring, cutting his match off entirely. So when does HE get some payback? Has he been patched and become one of them? The question of when his debut happens has been on my radar, for sure. As for my guess? One of two things could happen.

1.) He could be the next revealed.
2.) He could debut as another wanting revenge in a sanctioned match.

Alex Silva.....Another possible X Division contender. This could be exciting, provided they bring him in as a part of some kind of possible battle royal. A battle royal or tourney would showcase who remains within the division and give him some chances to shine his resume. So when? I'm guessing that Rob Van Dam needs some kind of secondary challenger to Zema Ion and picking from the bench might be the best option. SO, once his rematch clause has run out, a new contender will have to be named.

Taeler Hendrix.....She has been running the indies with other Knockouts to break in her boots and prove her worth to the top brass. That fact alone says she's well on her way to debut. I will even go on record in saying that next month she will come down with a crash. Now, will she win the title right out of the gate? Doubtful, but stranger things have happened.

Velvet Sky.....By far, my favorite underdog Knockouts Champion. I predict something special for her return. A love interest. And another's love interest, I might add. I can see Mr. Godderz as her first target back, being thrust right back into the main event with Tara. I'm going with another month or sooner before we see her return.

Trail Mix.....

With another episode of Impact on the books, I have so many thoughts running through my head....but where to begin....

-Tara's next opponent?
-Austin Aries' treatment of the Hardy Championship?
-Matt Morgan's conversation with Hogan?
-The Storm/Roode segment?
-ODB and Eric Young's relationship?
-Sting's agreement with Bully Ray?

I have a blanket statement to make.....TNA has so much going on that it very nearly REQUIRES another hour's worth just to fit everything in. I'm not talking about 3 hour Impact. That, friends, would be STUPID. Not only would it wear out the goodwill of fans, it would create brand new problems, namely those on the creative side of things. That notwithstanding, I've got a laundry list of thoughts on Impact and not to put too fine a point on it, not everything is good.

To begin with, Robbie E. should NOT be allowed any more TV Title shots for the rest of his life. If Devon is no longer champion, his feud with the Robbies should not be inflicted upon the NEW champion. All due respect to the creative team, feuds aren't usually inherited. My advice? Move on.

Next in line? Tara. When I mentioned that a new challenger would be in order, ODB wasn't quite what I had in mind, not that it's not a decent idea. In fact, I'm intrigued as to how this could play out with both Eric Young and Sodderz as reality show stars. I'm willing to give this a couple of weeks' before making any judgements about it.

Austin Aries and Jeff Hardy....This is a subject I wanted to bring up to begin with, concerning their match at Bound for Glory. Is it just me, or did BOTH men fight like sadistic heels more than heroic faces? I have no idea how things changed, but they both looked like they wanted to kill each other in the ring. That being said, on Impact, both men have this "tweener" vibe. Tarnished heroes are how I would phrase it. The good thing? It isn't quite over and Aries is about as determined as he can be. The bad news? The Immortal Championship belt is back and I daresay, it won't be leaving for at least a couple of months.

I only have one problem with what is going down in the Aces and Eights storyline. Bully Ray is about to be turned fully face and it's at the expense of his title hunt. The Bound for Glory Series was gifted to Jeff Hardy for a number of reasons, but his first title defense comes next week against Bully Ray? The knowledge of the existence of Devon on the other side of the fence leads me to conclude that Ray is going to lose, being robbed by his brother. This time, however, it'll be Ray on the winning side as TNA officials are high on Ray having a run with the title in the coming months. This will be a good moment for fans and critics alike, but the path is going to be somewhat daunting to watch after an entire summer's worth of work being set aside for first things first.

Are Roode and Storm done feuding or is there another chapter to be written for the rivalry? I have no idea where they can go from Bound for Glory. The bloody mess was a testament to hard fought battles and yet another thing WWE can't deliver on anymore....all out brawls. You won't see another Triple H vs. HBK bout featuring Last Man Standing rules in the current product. Let that sink in.

My last thought is about Matt Morgan. His place is a bit more prominent, true enough, but is he any closer to the World Heavyweight Title? I would argue that he is. My guess is that Morgan won't reach the top this year, but maybe as soon as Lockdown, we can see something special for him....his first reign as champion.

I predict that Hardy will retain the Immortal belt until Final Resolution, where he'll drop the belt to Bully Ray. Ray will have a couple of months as champion before finally losing to a heel champion, possibly even Mr. Anderson, who will hold it until Lockdown, where Morgan will take the reins. These are rough estimates, but foreshadowing seems to be there.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

House of Cards......

This column hit me in an instant. Here's the question.....if the top 6 World Title contenders from WWE and TNA were all out of commission for a year, who would be brought to the table and which company would have the edge?

This is the PERFECT time to illustrate the time and preparation each company has invested for just such an occasion. Let's take the following stars from each roster.....

WWE:
John Cena
CM Punk
Alberto Del Rio
Sheamus
Randy Orton
Big Show

TNA:
Bobby Roode
James Storm
Jeff Hardy
Kurt Angle
Rob Van Dam
Austin Aries

Before I launch into the column headlong, I think it best to give the "why" to whom I've picked from TNA. Since WWE's top tier is so rigid, it was easy to pick from the top. TNA's, after the first 4, was a bit more difficult. With so many former World Title holders, who is best suited to be exiled in this column? My goal was to pick the ones that are fan favorites AS WELL as former champions AND ones that management would tend to pick to run with the pieces.

So who does WWE pick to refill the pieces? This is my best guess....

WWE:
The Miz
Ryback
Dolph Ziggler
R-Truth
Kane
Christian

WWE would have some MAJOR difficulty coming back from the losses of their big 6, particularly because the waiting list is so long for those they want to "test" at that level. Combine that with the fact that they have 2 major titles to fill out with hopefuls. Ryback being the most recent example, Ziggler, Truth, and a couple others have been mentioned as possible main-event players. The problem is how to move the higher ranked players to the side without allowing them to lose their status....at least in their eyes. Daniel Bryan is absent because, according to some backstage sources, management views his reign as somewhat of a flop. That being said, he was relegated to the Tag Team Division both to help bring order to the division, but also to receive side by side training from another veteran.

TNA:
Samoa Joe
AJ Styles
Mr. Anderson
Matt Morgan
Bully Ray
Daniels

TNA's list was MUCH easier as the list of people teased for main-event status is far longer. Morgan was on track to winning the World Title last year, until injury stopped his progress. Bully Ray was this year's promising new title holder until TNA decided to bring back Devon, making the adjustment to allow him to feud on the highest televised level under the World Title. Daniels is on this list because his time is limited. Right now, Daniels is the most often overlooked, yet most decorated star on the roster right now. He has held every title that was available under the old guard except for the big one. Him on this list is necessary because of Unbreakable 2005 and Turning Point 2009 if for no other reason.

With all of the choices locked in.....who stands the better chance of coming out on top? If you go by how each man is being pushed these days, TNA easily wins out as every man has either been coming off a title run or has been rising towards one. Joe being the only exception as the current TV Title holder. WWE has been waiting so long to pull the trigger on Ziggler, I wonder if they ever will. Truth's path is long and it'll take a few more losses and wins for them to make a determination. Ryback is WWE's experiment and, if history has anything to say about it, Ryback's championship push (and his credibility, incidently) won't end well if he still has no losses upon winning the big one. The Miz has been pushed to the second tier and has been there for long enough to be comfortable.

My famous distain for WWE's decision making in how they orchestrate their champions, championship runs, and the spotlight as it relates to both is demonstrated by how often the matches are put at the highest point on the card. The World Title picture hasn't been a true factor in their building of their product for nearly three years now. Despite CM Punk's notorious "pipe bomb" last year, the World Titles have been second fiddle to their top star's running drama play ever since. SO....my point is that WWE would HAVE to put emphasis BACK on the World Title IF their top stars were to get injured and right now, they just don't have their players in place. Simple as that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reason and Rationale....

I've been challenged, folks. This gauntlet thrown down is one that I have been coming to battle with surprisingly little these days as critics are being silenced by what TNA has been bringing to the table. I keep bringing up the critics. Why? Because columnists like myself and others on the most popular professional wrestling sites on the internet are influences on the wrestling culture. We inform, offer opinions, reason, rationalize, and watch the patterns of our chosen federation to throw our support behind. We help sway and analyze what tactics are working for one federation and what aren't for others. It is the columns we write that help people form the opinions they hold.

So when I'm confronted with a question that begs to be answered, I research; I ask questions; I go to every source I have at my disposal to find answers to the question posed. Today, I find myself on the precipice, ready to take some of the questions to task.

1. What is the state of WWE?
I write this particular question to illustrate a point. Right now, WWE is in the middle of a kind of internal upheaval, with Vince McMahon FINALLY realizing that the soap opera writers he hired aren't doing the quality job he hired them for. In fact, there have been times during creative meetings when he approves ideas that directly contradict progress made in a show from the previous week and when confronted about it, he shrugs, claiming that if he doesn't remember what happened last week, how are fans going to?

I keep hearing about high quality matches WWE performers are putting on. John Cena jokes aside, with very few exceptions, I am still waiting for the kind of intensity WWE had when Cena debuted in 2002. Stone Cold Steve Austin, a voice I happen to respect, said that only three or four guys really want it...the biggest payouts, the biggest prizes, the most title defenses. Some are simply happy to be on TV. That says a lot about the current roster and about the kind of morale in the locker room. When guys like Zack Ryder and Tyler Reks have to go to YouTube and other social media outlets just to garner fan support to force WWE's hand, you know there's a problem.

After systematically dismantling the white hot summer of Punk last year, WWE has had difficulty putting anything together worthy of note. The Rock vs. Cena was a failure, despite high buyrates, leaving a great many critics to wonder why Cena would lose to a ring rust-clad Rock; the 3rd hour of Monday Night RAW has sent Vince into a spiral, firing a 10 year tenured writer just to prove a point that no one is irreplaceable, and the main event (barring Ryback's risky rush to the championship) is laden with disposable champions. I call them such due to the fact that they have been so consistent in pushing whichever feud Cena has been in AHEAD of their own World Title picture, making the titles look cheap and unworthy. WWE's recent history of trial and error booking has led to the dismantling of The Miz, Jack Swagger, and even Christian, who is a proven champion and yet has been relegated to a secondary role in the title landscape.

Combine that with an undercard that has no rhyme or reason and you have a roster filled with dissatisfied people. Anyone who voices an opinion to the contrary of management becomes a jobber; JTG is case in point. Upon voicing his belief that he has more to offer than he's been given, he began a losing streak. In fact, only one man in the new era has been able to garner enough fan support on his own to get a mini push out of the white tower in Stamford, but where is he now? Zack Ryder is right back where WWE found him, tucked neatly in the bustle of the undercard, lost in the shuffle. Some on the roster are strong workers, but since WWE is running into the problem of a congested mid-card and a glass ceiling few are allowed to break through, you'd never know it.

To cap off their problems, the Cruiserweight Division the WWE Network promised to deliver has been stalled as the prospect of a fan supported network hasn't sat well with cable and satellite providers. So, with the smaller wrestlers having to perform on the lesser shows like Superstars, Main Event, and Saturday Slam, the two flagship shows have no longer been a haven for the new and up and coming performers. Some claim that WWE is in the midst of a Tag Team renaissance, but once again, history is against the prospects of WWE maintaining airs on that front. They've already disassembled Truth and Kofi as a team in the running. That leaves just a couple of legitimate teams to dispute the current lack of order.

2. The State of TNA?
Since 2010, the Hogan/Bischoff regime has done something interesting. In 2 years, they have meddled, interfered, hired, fired, and made some dramatic changes. I've gone back and watched some footage from 2006 and though a great many matches were top notch, some of the booking left MUCH to be desired. When the announcement was made that Hogan and Bischoff were coming into the company, I was excited that finally TNA had caught someone's attention.....namely Eric Bischoff.

During the mid-90's, Eric Bischoff's ascent to the top of the WCW ranks behind the scenes allowed him to do things differently. His reputation as being someone who would listen garnered him a great deal of favor. Nevermind how events ended with WCW, because there is plenty of blame to go around, from Hogan to Nash to Bischoff to Russo to the executives in the white tower at Turner, who in response to the AOL/Time/Warner merger delivered the death blow. The fact is, it was a little storyline that put WCW in the driver's seat, combined with his innovations made to the roster itself.

This is why I bring all of this up....Bischoff knows how to cut costs in a wrestling promotion while still making the product look more professional. His negotiation abilities have allowed TNA to maintain a consistent home on Spike TV and have secured some of the wrestling business' best behind the scenes people. Guys like Dave Lagana, Bruce Pritchard from the creative team, who are WRESTLING people are now making a difference in the way TNA is being viewed by the critics. The decision to take away the 6 Sided Ring was a tough decision, but it was made to clean up the product. While I STILL miss the 6 sides, it now makes sense and even though I called for a storyline to be brought to the table to explain it rather than simply sitting down to TNA on Thursday with 6 sides and then that Sunday at Genesis it being replaced by the traditional 4 sided ring.

The depush of the specialty divisions has been for a purpose, so I'm beginning to see. The X Division has languished and floundered under the championship reign of Zema Ion. The fact that Austin Aries is now a top tier star proves that TNA can make a legitimate champion out of the undercard, but Ion has needed something to push him outside of his comfort zone, something to freshen his take on the character he portrays and to give him a reason to fight.....HENCE RVD. Why not give a guy like Zema Ion or Sonjay Dutt a big name on their resume of defeated heroes? Despite having slowed a bit, RVD can still deliver a decent match. More importantly, however, he can sell a loss like a million dollars. A loss handed to Rob Van Dam means something. Not just to fans, but to anyone who beats him.

The Knockouts Division has been cut down to create new champions, which is why Tess was given her shot and why Taeler Hendrix was brought on board. In fact, with the possible addition of the Blossom Twins hailing from the U.K., and the return of Velvet Sky, TNA's Knockouts roster will be notched and ready to thrill once more.

There have been losses and some have been substantial, but as a company, TNA is growing their fanbase quicker than WWE is losing theirs. The lines in the sand are being drawn and with Ryback as the only thing in WWE's chamber, the battle isn't looking good for the big man on the hill. Contrast that with a revived faction storyline, fallout from a white hot feud ending in a street fight on Sunday, and the potential for a new main event come Turning Point, TNA is sitting on higher ground.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Rising Mid....

Joey Ryan, Matt Morgan, Magnus, Samoa Joe.....these four talents make up what was Sunday's TV Title match and a pivotal contract match. In columns past, I have spoken a great deal about each one of these talents, making a great deal of noise, stating that they each promise to move up the card. Where Joe has already been to the top of the mountain and more than once, at that, his former tag team partner and now feud-mate, Magnus has yet to ascend to such heights.

I happen to believe Matt Morgan to be among those in line to get a push and this alliance will buy both he AND Joey Ryan the time to get the other into a feud within their respective title scenes. Additionally, I believe Magnus' rise to the top will include dethroning Joe and holding the TV Title for a respectable reign before joining the World Title scene possibly near the beginning of the coming year.

Now onto a player I have NOT talked about yet.....Jesse Godderz. What to say.....he reminds me of an early days version of Chris Masters. The true test of his fortitude will depend greatly upon who his first opponent will be once his story has gotten into full swing. It'll be interesting to see how much press his presence garners TNA during the Knockouts segments this coming week. I DO have prediction, however. Tara will have a new feud to look forward to once hers with Tess is over. A returning Velvet Sky could serve as a ready distraction for her new squeeze, making for a compelling serving of drama to go with the Knockouts Title scene. All this notwithstanding, Mr. Godderz is going to have to work EXTRA hard to break out into his own. History isn't kind to TNA's attempts to interweave relationships and the entering into a title scene of any kind.

I am overjoyed that we have a new player to add to the X Division shuffle. With RVD as the new champion, I think we'll FINALLY get something shocking out of Zema Ion. Face it, he has been stagnant and his reign has gone largely overlooked. I, for one, believe that removing the strap was necessary to freshen his character as well as put more variety into the division. Now that the weight limit seems to be off, we can move back to the former slogan....it's not about weight limits, it's about NO limits. And with the additional power that Joey Ryan brings to the table, I think things will be shaken up quite a bit indeed.

Monday, October 15, 2012

......GET THE TABLES!!!!

Devon as the first revealed MEMBER of Aces and Eights. Notice how I put emphasis on the word MEMBER. Being the first member does NOT mean he has been the leader this whole time and now that he has been unmasked, I can see Jeff Jarrett more clearly behind the madness. But you know, after all the weeks of build and this payoff, I'm not so disappointed at the prospect of Jeff Jarrett being behind it all. Do I hope it isn't Jarrett? Sure, but does Devon soften the pangs of disappointment in the possibility? For me, it does.

So now, the roles of Ray and Devon have almost completely shifted, with the two switching roles in one 30 second time span. One fellow columnist makes the assertion that even though Devon may not be the leader of the faction, he HAS allowed them into the arena and has been the mole in the organization the whole time.

The great thing about Bound for Glory this year is that I have had difficulty waiting to post columns as quickly as I can write them. Thursday is going to be special. Believe it. In fact, I hope the leader in his mask confronts the situation head-on. I hope he reveals that Devon has been the mole in the yard, but you have yet to uncover who the mastermind is. He opened the door, but turning the tides came from somewhere else.

In this story, which is unfolding slowly, but surely, I can see everything finally being put to rest at Final Resolution and how appropriate. With only two PPVs to go on the year, TNA is putting the finishing touches on the best and most consistently good year in their history. I'm of the belief that any good wrestling promotion has to consist of logical stories, compelling characters, stand-out divisions, and strong leadership both behind the scenes and in ring. TNA is putting out some of the best in wrestling today and their ambassadors, the talents and Dixie, herself, have been making good headway in determining the fate of a company most dismissed as the number 2 company in the nation......until now.

Bound for Warring?

So Austin Aries has been dethroned for the moment, Joey Ryan is being welcomed to the TNA roster, Jesse Godderz is Tara's BF, and Devon is a member of the Aces and Eights. Have I got your attention? I should certainly hope so. With so many revelations on the docket and so much to say on the subject, I have intentions of pulling the curtain back little by little this week, talking about as many aspects of the PPV as possible before moving on into other matters.

First on the agenda is Jeff Hardy. In my case on Jeff Hardy's behalf, I defended his possible victory at last night's PPV and, it seems my duty once more, to bring another argument to the table. In a hard fought battle, Aries came up short. Why? To find himself an allegiance or an enemy. Who else has something to gain in this battle towards the World Heavyweight Title? How about Bobby Roode?

Bobby Roode may have lost his battle as well, but he now has a shot at the title once more as Aries is no longer champion. It gives both men a possible rivalry and also frees up the title picture for a new challenger to come onto the scene. I happen to love the possibilities that Jeff Hardy as champion has created. Look at the list of challengers. Roode, Aries, Storm, and that's just in the preliminary round and not counting Matt Morgan, who, I believe, will join the fray by year's end.

As a face, Aries was cheered, but leading up to that point, he had been an arrogant heel. That's what led him to the dance and that was what made him interesting. His face turn was gradual and so much so, that I almost lost sight as he made the transition. I think that dealing with the loss will bring Aries and Roode back into battle with one another, allowing for James Storm to take a place in line. That, however, brings another possibility to light.....Bully Ray.

Bully Ray sided with Sting and TNA against Aces and Eights and, it could be, that he has earned himself the right to pick a favor in return. How possible is it to see Bully Ray at the top of the card? By my own calculations? Quite possible. How soon is something worth debating. Bound for Glory brings EVERYTHING into question and THAT is how to make PPV work for you. With TNA putting so much as a possibility, it makes the sheer number of options explode. There are so many logical options on the table now as to where to go next that it makes this Thursday a MUST-WATCH episode.

With Hardy as champion, we now have a new set of circumstances to operate from. This presents a possible hiccup as critics of Hardy will keep bringing up Victory Road. I was pulling for Aries to retain the belt, but Hardy DOES make things interesting....admit it, critics.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Game Day....

As promised, I have full intentions of moving into analyzing the WWE vs. TNA supercard. For the moment, however, I'd like to take a moment to congratulate Sting on his induction to the TNA Hall of Fame. Some would make claims that it's too soon for TNA to have a Hall of Fame, but I happen to think otherwise. My reasons are simple. I believe it best to give prominent stars of the business some honor that have walked through TNA's door. These are talents who may never receive honors from WWE to be recognized for their contributions to the wrestling world.

Guys like Ken Shamrock, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, Petey Williams, Team 3D, The Motor City Machine Guns, Beer Money, America's Most Wanted, and a host of other talents could one day be inducted and rightfully so as members of a roster that values their own. With adopted talents like Ray and Devon, Jeff Hardy, and others who may well deserve the Hall of Fame honors with WWE, it could very well be that they won't until they decide they want to retire. But what if they retire with TNA? It seems best to me that they still be honored.

ANYWAY, now that THAT talking point is out of the way, I say we move on to the card. Before I walk onto the field, however, I would like to point out that the format we would HAVE to use for each match is the one that grants the most creative freedom in ring....TNA. SO, beginning with the undercard.....

Tessmacher vs. Eve......For a women's contest, this seems about as good as any WWE could muster without using their two powerhouses. That not withstanding, I like how TNA has been working with their talents by putting them through the riggers with some true wrestling greats like Tara, Mickie James, and Gail Kim. SO, with that said, I give the edge to Tess.

Antonio Cesaro vs. Samoa Joe......First off, with all of the Ring of Honor alums on this fantasy card, it seems that this one has me the most excited. But with that excitement comes a reality. Knowing what I do about WWE's product, complete with move bans and the restrictions that go hand in hand with that, I have to give the match to Joe. Joe works a stiffer style in ring than Antonio is allowed to.

The Miz vs. Zema Ion.......I truly believe that the Miz would be clueless as to how to deal with Ion's low restriction, high spot, risk-taking style going in ring. Nevertheless, I somehow get the feeling this might be a good looking match once they gelled. I expect a slow start and them picking up the pace as the match progressed with The Miz getting the W with simple experience as the factor.

Team Hell No vs. Kazarian and Daniels.......I LOVE this match. Why? It's a showcase of greats from three different places....WWE, TNA, and Ring of Honor. Kane and Daniels bring a level of experience that is unrivaled among every other match on this super card. Given some time, I think this could be a potential Match of the Night contender. In fact, though it might be a bit of a cop-out, I don't believe either team has a wide margin over the other, so I'd book this one as a time limit draw.

The Main Event- WWE vs. TNA.....If you'll notice TNA's line-up, you'll see a couple of glaring omissions; AJ Styles and Kurt Angle. Why not include them? I think this a simple question to answer: I wanted to pick a team new to the main event scene with only one veteran member to help shore up the odds. Further, Matt Morgan's inclusion comes with a promise in his contract renewal. Since he's been promised a more prominent position on the TNA roster, I thought, for the sake of size and stature, to include him.

TNA has an advantage here under their own format not only because of fewer restrictions, but also because they have something WWE doesn't.....namely more stars to choose from in their top tier. A wise fellow columnist once gave credit to TNA for creating a top tier filled with talents, rather than keeping the scene small, protecting a precious few from the mid-card. Under that mantra, it made this line-up something special. While I happen to be COMPLETELY unimpressed with the talents in WWE's main event scene, save for CM Punk, I think this could be a decent match, provided we can do one thing with the stipulations: Take away count-outs and disqualifications. In doing this, you can see glimmers of some things. Since Cena, Orton, and Punk came along BEFORE the PG era was enacted fully, I believe they will dictate how well this match goes.

So who do I believe has the edge? Naturally, I would say TNA. Why? Experience. I use that word HERE because I am referring to experience in a No Disqualification environment. Cena, Orton, and Punk have some experience, but Jeff Hardy was a part of the Attutude Era, which was famous for such a thing. Compundly, Austin Aries was a member of Ring of Honor for longer than Punk and they have a reputation for working a less restricted style as well. Some of the most brutal matches in recent years on TNA's card has featured Roode and Storm and, I believe brutality will be the key here. Truth be told....I don't want a match, I want a FIGHT. So victory has to go to TNA.