My focus in this column is simple. Emphasize the composition of TNA's Top Tier. To that end, I use the following criterion: All champions MUST have had one believable World Title run. All champions MUST have earned their title without outside interference.
1. AJ Styles
2. Kurt Angle
3. Samoa Joe
4. Bobby Roode
5. Austin Aries
7. Jeff Hardy
8. Jeff Jarrett
Under the set of circumstances outlined, I understand that there are some glaring absences, namely Bully Ray, James Storm, Mr. Anderson, and Chris Sabin, but if I am to be completely honest, out of the three, only Bully Ray could conceivably make the cut in spite of the rules of this column due to his ability to balance mic work with a solid in ring performance and a reign worth its weight. Before anyone determines to try and bring up RVD, anyone outside the organization I've disqualified from this column.
In the recent past, TNA has had a solid history of bringing two new champions to the top tier each year since the Hogan/ Bischoff influx. Additionally, there have been a good number of competitors who have been elevated to reach the top only to be sidelined by injury (Matt Morgan), contract negotiations (RVD), or sudden depush (Gunner). Whatever the case may have been, the Bound for Glory Series is directly responsible for aiding in the building of the top tier. While storylines a year in the making have had a great hand in naming the winner of the main event at Bound for Glory the past year, it brings to me an understanding that this year just might be no different, placing the number one name on the list in the winner's circle this year.
The promo cut last week was written by AJ Styles with all the passion and venom that could be mustered and it was clear that sometimes fiction mirrors reality. I have high hopes that we'll see a return of Jeff Jarrett and the decline of the Hogan Era moving forward. Why? Because in spite of Hogan's name value, in the past year in general and past few months specifically, TNA has been experiencing the brunt of the financial burdens his price tag brings as well as that of Brooke, whom I have said many times had no business to ever set foot on the ramp as anything more than a bystander. When Jeff Jarrett was in power, there was a sense of stability from a backroom perspective that can't be touched.....a cohesive force that bound the product together in spite of storyline inconsistencies.
Hulk Hogan had a good run in TNA. I mean that sincerely and I truly believe he tried his best to promote the product to the best of his ability, but with his price tag and the price tag he demanded for his daughter, Hogan put TNA in a difficult position and I think those in power had to make a hard choice for the sake of the many counting on them for their livelihood. Interestingly, I had no intention of this column morphing into a "good-bye" column counting down the months until the final day of Hulk Hogan's contract, but the promo cut by TNA's original fan favorite polarized me, forcing me to concede a point I've been resisting......TNA can no longer afford to keep Hulk Hogan AND move forward.