I've said it many times here that TNA reminds me a great deal of WWF during the Attitude Era, but with a more wrestling based roster. I stand by that assessment. With Sports Illustrated giving TNA some decent press in their article covering their President, Dixie Carter and Turning Point putting to rest one of the longest running storylines in their history, I'd say things are coming along pretty smoothly to finish out the year. This column has a couple of different slants that I'd like to talk about.
First, the Wrestling Observer reports that Thursday's NXT tapings were a buzz with activity stating that it was "shocking how much WWE officials were stressing about TNA taping across town". NOW, I grant that TNA isn't the juggernaut WWE is to date, but this seems telling to me. With Triple H and his "Yes" men determined not to do any more recruiting from the indies for their talents as they claim to have "too many", it makes me curious to know exactly what they plan to do now that they have Daniel Bryan and John Cena inexplicably bound to their respective Bella Twin on their reality show now that the "no little man" clause is set to go into effect. For those who weren't paying attention a week back, I'll explain.....
WWE officials have looked at their ratings and how they break down and have come to the conclusion that Daniel Bryan is to blame for falling ratings along with CM Punk and others on the roster of shorter or smaller stature. So, to that end, Bryan and Punk are out, Big Show is in, and according to reporters from the Wrestling Observer, an initiative moving forward will send AT LEAST D-Bry back to the mid-card to eek out the rest of his WWE career. Further, CM Punk's contract is up at the beginning of 2014, meaning that Punk COULD become the hottest free agent of the year. Does he jump to TNA? I, personally, hope not, for reasons too numerous to mention in THIS column. Suffice it to say, though, that Punk has himself a bit of a bad reputation backstage AND a bit of a sour disposition amongst fans, which is a MAJOR conflict of interest as far as it relates to TNA, which is HEAVILY fan generated.
But all that notwithstanding, the point is that Punk's contract is coming up and D-Bry's is sure to follow shortly thereafter. Do they simply take what they're given because WWE is the biggest show on the block or do they jump ship? WWE is actually nervous about TNA taping their show across Orlando, people....is this sinking in? They've just build this GIGANTIC training center and they've been running people through there like mad, trying to find the next "it" man; the next "Stone Cold" or the next "Rock" to light their business back on fire. Vince, I'm going to let you in on a little secret and I know it won't sink in because nothing the fans are telling you ever does because you know better, but......guys like "Stone Cold" don't work in a PG ENVIRONMENT! If Randy Orton can get a hefty fine for flipping the finger in the middle of the ring or if the censors kick in when someone makes an off color reference to another performers posterior, you'd think the rafters are going to come down from Vince's rage, but when Steve Austin did it, the roof simply came OFF from the energy from the FANS.
I HAVE to know the answer to this, because I, for one, am COMPLETELY stumped. What does WWE have against the independent circuit? Has CM Punk sold enough t shirts? How about The Shield? Haven't THEY generated enough buzz? Jon "Dean Ambrose" Moxley and Seth "Tyler Black" Rollins have done quite well for them, considering they come from CZW and ROH respectively, not to mention Claudio "Antonio Cesaro" Castagnoli of ROH fame. Truth be told, if I didn't know any better, I'd say that WWE was swiping those of upper echelon indy status just to keep them off the TNA roster. What other reason would they have to acquire Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards from Ring of Honor?
TNA is the PERFECT "Ghost of Christmas Past" to WWE this season. They're taking WWE's "Summer of Punk" and making something special out if it, legitimizing federations the world over in the process. Do I care that AJ Styles is making waves on the forums because of the CM Punk comparisons? Nope. Why? Because people are talking. And NOW, they're asking questions...."Why didn't Punk go overseas?" "Why didn't Punk go to Ring of Honor like he claimed he might?" And all of those people who were disappointed that Punk didn't go there get to see AJ STYLES face a legitimate Mexican contender in El Mesias (which was a good match, by the way), a Japanese top notch performer, one of the UK's best and brightest, and others in turn until TNA calls him back home to put the finishing touches on this collaborative storyline spanning continents.
Here's something I just thought about.....Chris Hero aka. Kassius Ohno was released about a week back now and has been taking indy bookings. I want to see HIM in TNA. His work with some of the top notch veterans like Daniels and Samoa Joe was "ask for it by name" type stuff. A mainstay spot on the TNA roster is, quite simply, one of the best things that could happen for Hero or for TNA, honestly, because they NEED new faces and, besides that, faces that have some credibility behind them AND since the brand of fan TNA has right now KNOWS him from RING OF HONOR, it gives TNA something to work from......history. Joe, Daniels, Chris Sabin, Austin Aries.....all have a history to draw from and that's what TNA does best; repackaging and giving performers a shot to work out their characters on camera. I say bring him in......NOW.