So now Devon is done with the television side of the business, or at least that's what the story says. As far as his actual status? The word is that he's taken the job that USED to fall to D-Lo Brown. And as for the one who pinned him? AJ Styles. I've been predicting Styles to win the World Title at Bound for Glory, but there is something looming on the horizon.....the end of his contract. Even as I pen this, both sides have entered into another round of negotiations in which it could come down to the wire. How can this be when he has been the single most loyal member of the roster, turning down every outside invitation that may have come along? To be blunt, TNA is still in the process of their restructuring and that process has seen the slimming down of the roster to an almost unprecedented level, bringing the roster to nearly a skeleton crew. What does this have to do with the contract? The only variable being measured in negotiations is money. I doubt TNA would let Styles get away from them, but it does raise the question of who they believe is worth the money to fund.
Things are getting a bit lean, but this is the direction they've needed to go from the beginning.....out onto the open road. So under the circumstances, it makes some sense that TNA would start releasing those who haven't been used in some time or aren't a part of the performance, creative, or production side of things and even consolidating certain roles in order to save valuable money. Here's how far cuts are going.....there is even talk within the organization of not resigning Hulk Hogan once his contract ends, meaning a possible return (as I predicted) of Jeff Jarrett. How is this good? Jarrett has a lot of sweat equity put into the product and has been good for the company in well placed spurts. How is this bad? I think that depends upon your perspective. If you subscribe to the view some hold, Hogan is expensive; too expensive for the amount of ground he has taken the product. He costs nearly half a million dollars of revenue from the company footing at least a portion of the capital TNA employs. On the other side of the coin, his name still sells. Copies of WWE games with his name in the marquis are still generating good buys. Toss in more legends like Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage and you have some serious name value in terms of wrestling historical figures.
Another thought that crossed my mind has to do with the Knockouts Division as a whole. Mercifully, every woman on the roster can put on a clinic, given the right opponent. It seems to me that TNA is setting up two potentials for Bound for Glory: Gail Kim and ODB. While Kim has more name value, ODB would, in my mind, benefit from the placement on the card more. Why? She's become something of a fan favorite. Her ability to take the moment and bend it to conform to her character is brilliant; which, I might add, is something sorely lacking in women's wrestling today. However, her placement over the years has, to my mind, been absolutely baffling. My hope is that she'll be able to garner enough backstage support from those in power to put her in a more favorable spot to close out the year.
At the suggestion of a friend, I watched the AJ Lee "pipe bomb" promo from RAW this week and my opinion differs a great deal from the talk over town, praising her poise and reveling in her delivery. My opinion? In 2011, CM Punk forced WWE officials to take notice of his abilities both on the microphone and in the ring, making him a sensation no one to date has been able to match in the WWE product. I found the AJ Lee three and a half minute long rant to be little more than a carbon copy of the original, tailor made for her role as a non-conformist. To be blunt, watching her give the verbal finger to the six divas in ring whilst they taunted impotently without the aid of a microphone themselves bored me to tears and encapsulated a piece of what's wrong with the giant these days.
From the smaller side of the fence, TNA is gearing up for another run and shedding some weight to be competitive. I empathize with those who were let go in the restructuring and I pray they find safe ground upon which to plant themselves and that their roots will take shape in time. As for those still under contract, I hope they're all ready for the whirlwind that awaits in the coming months.