Thursday, January 31, 2013

Survival Tactix: Redemption and Vengeance.....

Redemption and vengeance.....the two oldest motives in all of wrestling storylines NOT involving a woman. I hope that's not being too crass, but the truth is, love doesn't factor into what we've seen in TNA's most aggressive story to date. The Aces and Eights' new spokesman, Taz, talked about vengeance and redemption and I'm wondering EXACTLY what he meant. With the flurry of columns I've written concerning the faction, it's a wonder I haven't really sat down to consider just what might be meant as motive for each potential candidate TNA has for the President of the Aces and Eights.

Brooke- What could "daddy's little girl" POSSIBLY have against the Hulkster? What's more, how do vengeance and redemption fit into the explanation? To answer THIS motive, why not look at the forums? Her approval rate is abysmal, at best, and atrocious at worst. Maybe nobody TOLD her that winning the crowd over would be as hard as it has been. Maybe she was suckered into a decision she wasn't prepared to make. Or MAYBE she's been dealing with the jeering from those in the locker room to such an extent that she believes "Daddy" is responsible for giving her no choice but to comply. In any case, Brooke will HAVE to sell THIS to the fans and go COMPLETELY OUT OF HER MIND to do so. Anything less will be a COMPLETE failure.

Jeff Jarrett- The Founder has PLENTY to be upset about after having been unceremoniously dropped on his ear after losing to Jeff Hardy last. Compound THAT with being denied his spot as the first entrant to the TNA Hall of Fame and the indignity would be at feverish heights. He was a part of Immortal with Hogan and yet Hogan made no efforts to bring him back into the fold once Sting's tenure as GM was over. That MIGHT have been the last straw and for that reason, above all others, he needed to get someone's attention. The genius about it is that he took back the company he founded without having ever set foot on the grounds to do so.

Eric Bischoff- As the man behind the Hell's Ride TV show AND the man who was "fired" by his son in storyline by Hogan's verdict, he has something to complain about. "If I was just a bad influence, why was I dropped on my face the way I was?" If Eric was simply a strong influence to convince Hogan to behave the way he did, how DARE Hulk throw him out when he was every bit as bad as him? If you want to play games like this, I can play better. I'll take the FULL power for myself and put it to good use. An age-old model with a TNA twist.....Eric would have NO problem pulling it off.

Dixie Carter- My personal favorite idea. Hulk showed her the door and put her in a precarious position with his legal posturing and chessmanship. And Sting, who warned her in the first place asking for her to give him a second chance at the reins after THAT? He, too, needed to pay for even the suggestion that Hulk had changed. HE put Brooke in her place as VP of the Knockouts Division, not her. Dixie has done EVERYTHING for the fans, but Hogan has stood in the way every step. It was time to get someone's attention and make some changes. This scenario is the one most "former" TNA fans would LOVE to see.

Abyss- Because I LOVE this possibility AND the explanation, I will allow Alfred to explain.....

Abyss' return would herald an intelligence that has not been known before in the wrestling world....a monster with a brain capable of engineering an army of masked men to do his bidding and having no agenda at all other than tearing down things and people. Abyss can't be reasoned with, bribed, tortured, or negotiated with. He just wants to corrupt, maim, divide loyalties, and then watch from afar as things collapse, laughing at the effectiveness of his handiwork.

A question I've been wrestling with is whether or not OTHERS might have a bone to pick.....the last name brought to me was one I didn't expect, but one who could shift things in a way COMPLETELY new.

AJ Styles- Being sick of doing double duty as both the engineer AND the proverbial whipping boy for the mass of other people's problems is something Hogan and the present regime has reduced him to, in his mind. Thins back to his beatdown....among the weakest they've presented. He was MORE than able to walk out under his own power AND was "patched in" as it were. Styles lied to us, telling us he was sick of being the corporate janitor, all the while performing surgery on the TNA roster, diving, conquering, and ultimately putting the regime out for good.

Survival Tactix: Both Ways?

Today marks the announcement many believe to be a tipping point for TNA. This COULD be the announcement that marks the beginning of the end of the Impact Zone. Since 2004, TNA has called Orlando home and has grown more with each passing year, with the possible exception being 2010, which was barely worth watching. In any case, since that time, the Impact Zone has been the safety net to house the comforts of stability for the 6 years they have been there. But today COULD be a trial flight, testing the success of leaving the comfort zone and moving into the WWE dominated wrestling mainstream.

But here's the kicker.....Can TNA have their cake and eat it too? To be more clear, is TNA in a position to not only tour the country in reasonable sized venues, but keep their broadcasts live as well? Huntsville, Alabama made me a believer when they came in force to give TNA a proper welcome to their venue. But I'm not talking about ONLY Alabama here, folks. Is the rest of the United States willing to make room for TNA in their weekly viewing regimen? While live broadcasts were fine in the Impact Zone, taking a LIVE feed on the road is a proposition all its own. You want a consistent viewing public to see the show, but you ALSO want the venue and the crowds within to be of high quality as well, making the show look like the powerhouse it could grow to one day be.

I don't want anyone to think I don't have confidence in the brand.....I wouldn't be well past 700 columns in support of them if I didn't. I AM concerned only to the degree that the US, who don't even compare to the loyalty the U.K. fans have shown to the brand by showing up in CAPACITY force at virtually every engagement. That's right, I said it. TNA has won some very impressive inroads with Europe by gaining the confidence of the fans there. At home, however, WWE is the only show in town, by viewing the numbers. This isn't to say there AREN'T pockets of HUGE fan support. New York fans came out in force to give TNA their best attendance for a live event at nearly 6000 people for one of their BaseBrawl tours. Joplin, Missouri boasted nearly 3000 people at a live event, which makes me proud of the fans in the South and East.

Here's the point I'm wanting to make here, folks, and this isn't even a challenge to current fans of the product, but rather to the fans of WWE's product who have gotten a bit tired of the PG Era and want to see a change in the wrestling landscape. Go see a TNA show. If Vince sees that the new kid on the block is getting a following, he'll step up his game. It happened in 1996, when the nWo phenomenon began and it could happen again. TNA NEEDS to grow in order for everyone to win. If TNA is going to travel AND stay live, that means fans of WRESTLING need to put their money where their mouth is and support the underdog to save their OWN brand.

Can TNA have their cake and eat it too? A fair question and one that will only be told in the weeks that follow the taped UK broadcasts and the next PPV. Whatever the outcome, I think this test of fan support will determine just how long the Impact Zone will remain in TNA's future. If all goes well, we'll see it in the rearview, but if the fan support isn't there, it'll take a bit more time for the public to come around. Either way, we win the day as a broadcast outside the Zone looks SO much better.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Survival Tactix: The Brackets.....

I've been doing a LOT of video watching and comparison making amongst the many MANY names on the voting list for TNA's new Gut Check format. From all of those candidates....I believe I have narrowed those candidates to the final EIGHT. I'm VERY curious as to TNA plans to run the bracket format once each bracket has been narrowed to 16 candidates. If things run in a true bracket as they would be in college or professional tourney form, I think I can narrow the playing field to a select few qualified candidates. NOW, as for the final four? THAT would be a HARD question to answer without knowing the 16 winners from each bracket.

1. Genevieve Guellet
2. Adrian McCallum
3. Carl Wilson
4. Michael Cochowiczq
5. Chase Stevens
6. Adrienne Reese
7. Sami Johnston
8. Jesse Sturgeon

I WOULD include a couple more, provided that TNA is wanting to put more emphasis on their Knockouts Division....

Tina San Antonio and Holly Davis

I believe TNA has some precedence in putting names on this list that will appeal to a certain brand of TNA fan. The fan I'm referring to is the hardcore, old school, 6-Sided-Ring-loving, King-of-the-Mountain-watching, Full-Metal-Mayhem-infused wrestling enthusiast. For those of you who follow the indy circuit closely, you'll know that some of the best and brightest current names are here. Sugar Dunkerton, Lufisto, Sami Callihan, Athena, and OMEN highlight the list and Chase Stevens from the former TNA Tag Team Champions, the Naturals round out TNA's potential gold mine picks.

In other news, Dixie Carter has made the statement that there is an announcement coming that should make for interesting television. Could it be a recruitment announcement? Maybe. The launch of the new show I've been predicting for so long? Perhaps. How about a MAJOR acquisition? It's a possibility. Point is, TNA is keeping a tight lid on what news the President is wanting to share with the TNA viewing public.

The running belief, right now though, is that TNA is taking their show on the road this year, only holding the bare minimum number of shows in the Impact Zone. This is important in putting the critics in their place. Since the company is still in its early stages, I believe this is another experiment to determine just how ready the public is to support the WWE alternative brand. MY challenge to those reading this right now is to GET OUT THERE in DROVES and bring every skeptic you can get your hands on with you.

Survival Tactix: Royal Flush.....

As a normal, red-blooded, Attitude Era fan, I was fooled into watching part of RAW last night. After eyeing the forums and making sure the coast was clear, I waited until it was time for The Rock to make his return as Champion to WWE. I was expecting a lot more than what I got. I wanted an altercation, but I received a raincheck for 3 weeks. Needless to say, disappointed was an understatement. That sense of loss got me thinking, though.....what happens during the drought?

Every year for quite a while now WWE goes through a post-Wrestlemania drought where Creative has little to do but twiddle their thumbs and wait for SummerSlam. THIS column isn't going to be a bashfest, I promise. In fact, with The Rock, Jericho, and possibly The Undertaker leaving after the big PPV anyway, I think we'll see a greater chance of TNA gaining even more footing, provided the Gut Check Challenge voting goes according to current polls. No, I didn't forget about WWE's precious Shield brigade. A decent bunch.....not to be compared with the numbers game, but a decent bunch just the same.

SPEAKING of the numbers.....I have a few things to say concerning TNA's handling of their newest faction. In spite of the lack of revelation for entirely too long, I think the members of the faction are ALL, save for Garett, going to be just fine as additions to the permanent roster. As for those among the rumored remaining, I am hopeful we'll see something interesting as TNA goes live once more February 28th.

WHICH brings me FINALLY to a question.....What happens on Impact once Aces and Eights have run their course? An interesting question that opens up a great big world of possibilities.

1. Each member COULD be mandated to never reform. Hey, it happened to Team Canada!

2. Abyss returns and, in a strange twist, we get Judas Mesias back for a time. Score one for the good guys.

3. Jeff Jarrett challenges in a "Loser Leaves TNA FOREVER" match AND, in a strange twist of events, Brooke Hogan is sent into exile as a result.

In all seriousness, though....TNA is in REALLY good shape right now, all things considered. With things picking up for Lockdown, I think the next two LIVE weeks of Impact are going to be absolutely enlightening.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Survival Tactix: Rumble.....

Last night was an interesting one. I actually sat at a big screen and watched the Royal Rumble match itself. I wish I hadn't. Where last year's surprise entrants were legends of the ring and Attitude Era throwbacks, I was kinda hoping the rumor mills were right and that Chris Masters, Carlito, and Shelton Benjamin would take on one last hurrah before making a plunge elsewhere. Instead, I was treated to 10 seconds of the Godfather, Chris Jericho, and Goldust.

Let me make one thing clear: I'm a Jericho fan. ALWAYS have been. But Jericho was quietly signed to a contract to ultimately face-off with Ry-Van-Back. Masters and the others haven't been signed to anything and even an appearance deal would have been nice to see. While the surprise entrants weren't amazing, the conclusion was even less so. If you didn't see John Cena win his second Rumble match a mile away.....I have no words to describe how naive.

Even though this column is titled "Rumble", the ROYAL Rumble isn't really what this post is about. In the past few days, TNA has wrapped up their tour and has come home. You've seen the photo of the crowd at Manchester here, but those at Wembley were JUST as impressive. I'm looking SO forward to seeing how it translates to film. While those of us who DON'T want to be spoiled avert our gaze from news sites and spoiler links, the rest (like me) are pleased with the direction of the storylines and, most of all, the matches being set up for Lockdown.

Those in the know already have down the two newest members to be revealed this week, but those to come are going to be special. As I've brought to you already, the FIVE names most brought up are to be discussed and decided upon in the next couple of weeks' worth of creative team meetings. Also on tap will be the last revelation......the President of the faction.....set to be pulled out at the PPV itself. For the past year, we've watched and waited, we've speculated and theorized. And yet, without the absolute confirmation that it's someone worth caring about, it makes the waiting game even harder to play. The names being discussed are as follows.....

Brooke Hogan
Eric Bischoff
Jeff Jarrett
Dixie Carter

Brooke is being pushed by Hulk and, I hope, will be RAILROADED by upper TNA management for that suggestion. The rest are, in MY eyes, reasonable. I see no problem with it being Bischoff. SOME will call it a travesty and an abuse of The faction itself is an abuse of power, I fail to see the point. The leader has a bone to pick with Sting and the general assembly in TNA's power structure. That COULD rule out Abyss, but it brings Jarrett and Bischoff to the forefront.

Dixie would be a refreshing change in pace, as her character, to me, has always had this damsel in distress vibe that certainly isn't coming from a place of strength. Being the leader of a faction like THIS would shift the tides and if Jarrett is alongside as the VP, when Dixie finally comes to light and Jarrett is revealed as well, if she didn't want the GM job, there's always Jeff, which wouldn't be a bad thing.

In the MEANTIME, we, the fans, will enjoy the taped shows from the UK and rowdy crowds they bring to the product. Thanks again, for making TNA even more exciting to watch.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rants from Ringside: Rumors Flying about Aces & Eights

So, a couple of sources have reported that TNA is going to be unmasking at least three new members of the Aces & Eights in the coming weeks. Amongst the names built into these rumors are guys like Chris Masters, Kid Kash and Chris Saben. The one guy that these two sources have in common though is none other than Jesse Sorenson and you know what, that would make total sense.

It was announced a month or so ago that Jesse was close to making his return to TNA and he is such a beloved talent that it would only seem right that he would do it in a big way. But when it comes to the Aces & Eights, it also only fits that Jesse would come back. One of the big rumors is that when everything comes to a head and they start naming their demands, one of the things that they are going to be most fighting for is a push on the X-Division including a return of the 6 sided ring. That last part right there, makes me happy in ways, most people just don’t understand.

So, this is how I see things going down. After more and more members are revealed, it comes time for the Aces & Eights to step up and start naming their demands. This will be done by Taz since he has become the new mouth piece for the Eights. I think through this whole process, D Von is going to start taking a more silent role basically telling Taz what to say. So Taz will step up and start going on about how TNA is not what it used to be. Naming all the ways TNA has wronged them. Then comes the demands, one of which will be a push for a new re-energized X-Division led by Sorenson, Kash, and Saben if my sources are correct.

You may be wondering what has me thinking they will be demanding  a push on the X-Division when all of the guys that has been revealed are big men who would rather run for the World Championship. Well,  I think it is going to be more a push for the way things used to be, back before Hogan stepped in. I think Jarrett is going to step up and try to “win his company back.”
Now, I may be wrong about all of this. Those rumors I have heard may be just that, rumors. All I know is that the idea of guys like Kash, Saben and especially Sorenson becoming part of the Aces & Eights is an exciting prospect that will keep me wanting more. 

Survival Tactix: Consistency.....

TNA has put some distance in between us and THEM, if you all know what I mean and the current climate of the brand is finding some kind of stable ground to stand on. Since shortly before the Bound for Glory Series finished in 2011, TNA has had a decent run of things. I defy ALL the critics who say that they need to rebuild or revamp or overhaul or rethink or......just put away the thesaurus and listen closely.....TNA is a BETTER product than it was when the Hogan and Bischoff regime came in and in the past year and a half, they've elevated some pretty impressive top tier talents into the main event picture.

THIS is what TNA needs more than anything else in the world. Consistency. Right now, they have that. They're taking their time with storylines and though the time of standstill was hard to watch with the Aces and Eights, the rest of the show helped carry the momentum through. TNA is on the precipice right now, looking over the possibility of a big risk.....a second weekly show.

I know, I've made the prediction before and for the past year, it hasn't come to pass, but it IS coming. If you're wondering where the hold up is, look no further than the mirror. It's up to the fans. Those of you in the UK, you guys make Impact look like a MILLION bucks. From those of us who ACTUALLY care if TNA improves, I would like to send a big "Thank You" to you. Your energy is inspiring and it makes ME believe we can do the same here.

I've heard enough rants and burial attempts by columnists claiming to have the "best interests" of the wrestling business at heart. If you really want the truth of the matter, those who say they want TNA to succeed and yet continuously nit pick whatever complaint is cool for the day are just as big a reason for people not watching as anyone else. I crossed the line completely years ago and I've never been sorry I did. This blog has been a bastion of hope for all those who believe something like what you in Manchester COULD happen here in the States......and elsewhere.......


Survival Tactix: Strength in Numbers.....

To date, TNA has revealed 3 members of the Aces and Eights....Devon, D.O.C (Luke Gallows), and Mike Knox.

From various sources I've been in contact with, there are, as predicted, 5 members left to reveal, creating a virtually complete Lockdown card with each member holding a spot on the card. Two of these members HAVE BEEN revealed as of now in terms of the TV tapings on the UK tour. For the benefit of those NOT wanting to be spoiled, I'll keep those two members under my hat until such time as they are made known on television.

This column is to talk about two conflicting reports concerning who could be in the last 3 spots. My partner is set to reveal the one name in common between these reports, so I'll leave THAT name to mystery as well, for the moment, but rest assured, it all makes sense. MY place is to talk about the conflicting FOUR names that could be revealed aside from the "shocker" and the two revealed on the tapings spoilers coming out all over the net today.

Source 1.) Crimson and Chris Sabin......

Crimson hasn't been seen on TNA television since his streak was broken last year with the return of James Storm from a month long hiatus. Chris Sabin has been out of things since his return match on Impact near the beginning of last year when he re-injured his ACL in a bump outside the ring. Both have had time away, Crimson went to OVW to hone his skillset and Sabin into rehabilitation. As for their bone to pick? If TNA makes the call to go with THIS pairing, we'll see soon enough.

Source 2.) Chris Masters and Cliff Compton (Domino)......

This pairing has a vein that intrigues me. The source claims that the plan from the beginning was to create a group of former WWE players on a smaller scale to invade like the nWo did. NOW, if this is the case, the plan failed. Why? Because NONE of these players were top tier players in their entire tenure with WWE. Even Mr. Anderson in his peak there was only reaching the bottom of the glass ceiling at the time. What it boils down to is that this pairing, if done as a tactic to put another pair of former WWE guys on TV again, will NOT last and will be doomed to failure if their former employers are ever mentioned on screen.

If the choice were up to me? I would pick Masters and Crimson. Why? First, Sabin has had such hard luck in his recent career with injuries and when THAT kind of injury occurs, things don't always mend as strong as they were before. I DO miss the guy, but I don't want to see him put into a position that could re-injure what has already been surgically fixed.....twice. Second, I want to see what kind of improvements have been made on Crimson's end of things.

Regardless of how things get divided or whom is selected for the final cut, it all comes down to who has been pulling the strings. My vote WAS for Jeff Jarrett for a time and then Abyss and even Eric Bischoff, but if there was one person I would LOVE to see holding the reins, it's Dixie Carter. Why not throw a full blown bash for the woman who has been talking about things "going according to plan" in 2013 and potentially throwing half of the viewing audience. Talk about a morality lesson in TRUST.....right? Hogan and Ray in this "trust" angle being trumped by a leader who hasn't trusted Hulk since his return to the GM position would be moral irony at its finest.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Survival Tactix: The Value of X: Redemption

I love writing the columns concerning the X Division and those who made their mark in a great way there. This one is no different. In light of the few who have no desire to be spoiled, please avert your eyes and don't read too far into this column until the events I speak of have passed. After that, please feel free to take it in at your convenience.

NOW, the news of the day comes from the U.K. tour, where in tapings for the 7th of February have already taken place. In said tapings, Austin Aries and Bobby Roode have won the Tag Team Titles, which is a big deal. Two former World Title holders now hold the Tag Team gold. What does that mean for the World Title picture? First of all, let's bear in mind that this comes on the heels of both exhausting their rematch clauses. Second, this COULD free up another team to break off and feud up or down the card. Reluctantly, I have to suggest that Matt Morgan and Joey Ryan will be the first team to fully separate with Ryan rolling into the X Division and Morgan beginning his ascent to the upper echelons of TNA's finest, culminating in a World Title run this year, making HIM the first this year to have his first title reign.

TNA has been launching one or two first time World Title contenders per year beginning in 2011. With James Storm (yes, his week long reign DOES count) and Bobby Roode in 2011, Austin Aries last year,  and Christopher Daniels so far this year, Matt Morgan doesn't seem like a very big stretch. While the brass in Nashville determine just HOW to remove the belt from Jeff Hardy and whom to drop it to, the fans have said Daniels or Roode or Aries.....anyone who could ACTUALLY carry the belt overseas without running into legal entanglements. Since the events of 2011, Jeff Hardy is not legally allowed on the tour of the UK.

Austin Aries and Christopher Daniels aren't the only ones who have the prospect of the X Division as a launching pad from which to attain the World Heavyweight Championship, there are a couple of names being tossed around that COULD potentially be booked to look like dynamite in flesh and have been used rather potently in the recent couple of months.

1. Bully Ray......

He may not be an X Division contender, but he's been used more prominently than virtually anyone else on the roster. His loss at No Surrender last year had SOME fans reaching for their phones to give TNA a piece of their minds. However, as many of you can guess, his time isn't over yet. TNA wants to give him a title reign and, I'm confident we'll see that before long.

2. Christian York.....

This name might surprise some of you, but I wouldn't be a BIT surprised if TNA skyrocketed him into the driver's seat sooner than later. Why? He's not a newcomer to the brand. He was around for their first show. He can carry a match and has proved that time and time again since his debut as a member of the roster and even moreso on PPV, having put on a tremendous Genesis performance against Kenny King AND RVD in the same night. Does he win it this year? Don't count it out.

SO, with the return of Jesse Sorenson coming into view and a vacant spot where Destination X used to be, you can bet there will be a story to explain how the X Division Title "Option C" status will fit into the equation. Why? Because the prospects for World Champion are bright in the X Division of late and THAT, folks, is the value of X.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Survival Tactix: Leftovers.....

This morning, I got to thinking.....what is TNA going to do with those three performers that DIDN'T win the British Boot Camp? I think that question is even more aimed at the Blossom Twins than anyone. When Hulk Hogan was asked why Spud was chosen he said that he was picked because there was a need on the roster to fill and that he would do well to fill it. I'm sure he REALIZES that TNA is losing their Knockouts Division's notoriety by releasing Sarita, Winter, and Angelina Love, doesn't he?


Here's the thing, as I'm marching through over 700 columns here, I'm realizing that some of these columns are sounding like rehash of old stuff. I want to see a balanced roster- both in story AND in man (woman) power. I want to see all performers on the roster respected and taken seriously. Back in the early days of the Knockouts Division, Gail Kim and Awesome Kong MAIN EVENTED Impact one week. Likewise, the X Division MAIN EVENTED Unbreakable 2005, which became arguably the best TNA PPV of all time.

We haven't seen the Tag Team Titles main event a PPV yet. Somebody tell me THAT wouldn't just be a sight to see. In all of these words, I DO have a point. TNA KNOWS they need to beef up their X Division. They have had DEVASTATING injuries plague the roster in that department. In fact, the X Division is the most often ASKED for division in terms of TV time that you'll find on any message board on the net. This is where Spud fits.

The Knockouts need a boost as well. THIS is why I ask about the Blossoms. As the rotation of Knockout challengers for Tara mounts and the interference begins to wear old, TNA NEEDS to interject some kind of game changer and a two-fold champion package seems necessary to fend off that interference and level the playing field. The only two options I can think of are ODB and Eric Young's return to keep Jesse in check OR the Blossom Twins with the switchout possibility to make more for Tara to keep track of. Either way Jesse needs to be kept out of the fight in the ring.

In TNA, the two divisions that have this tendency to be the first ones to fade into the background are the Knockouts and the X Division, but fans won't let the X Division fade, nor should they, but NO ONE should forget the Knockouts either. TNA provides an outlet for women to ply their craft in ring and a platform upon which to launch a talented young lady into the atmosphere in terms of popularity and career depth. Once a woman has tested her metal in TNA, she can say with certainty that she's the best the world has to offer.

Just for kicks, I'd like you to give some feedback for the video below. This is the Blossoms facing off against Taeler Hendrix and a partner.

Gut Check Brackets 1-8 Picks TFC

So, the other day, Tactix contacted me and asked me to come out of hiding to help him on evaluate the top talents that TNA has chosen to include in the Gut Check Tournament. As Tactix mentioned in his picks, I want to congratulate Rockstar Spud in his recent success. I can’t wait to see what he will bring to the show. It is actually interesting that he has had that recent success because as I was watching Ross Jones’s video, the one guy who actually stuck out more was Spud. But I’m getting off track, Tactix gave his picks for brackets 9-16 so I am stepping up and giving my picks for brackets 1-8. Just like Tactix, I am going to give my top two picks with a little bit of an explanation. So, to not make this article longer than needed let us jump right in.

Bracket 1: Genevieve Goulet and Ross Jones
I will admit before starting to write about professional wrestling, I never really paid attention to the independent promotions. I always got frustrated with poor production value and weak performances, but as I was going through this list there was one name that I had heard of…kind of. Genevieve Goulet was a name that sounded familiar to me, but when I realized it was Lufisto, I knew exactly who it was. Goulet is someone aspiring female professional wrestlers should respect greatly especially in Quebec, Canada.  It was while wrestling in Canada that she actually convinced the Ontario Human Rights Commission to drop a regulation that banned women from fighting men. While dropping that they also dropped many other regulations that opened up professional wrestling to a greater extent in Ontario. I always love watching LuFisto because of her explosiveness and her ring presence. On the other hand Ross Jones, is a more technical wrestler who isn’t real flashy and really doesn’t look the part, but might be a good addition to the X Division.

Bracket 2: Matt Nebeker and Rhett Thibodeauz
I am really surprised that these guys don’t have more votes than they do. Out of a very competitive and talented group of young performers, I think these two men stood out far above the rest. I have been watching professional wrestling on a constant basis for about twenty years and when I look at Matt Nebeker, I see a guy who knows the business. I see a guy who has a love for the business and I see a guy who could go a long way. The same can be said for Rhett Thibodeauz, except I with Rhett, I would also have to say, I see Rob Van Dam. Clearly, the guy is trying to imitate RVD. I mean many of the moves he does, how he puts his body on the line time after time, even down to the leotard is all reminiscent of RVD. I think both men would be an incredible asset to TNA. Nebeker I could see being in the X-Division and Thibodeauz could be a go between for both the X-Division and the world title.
Bracket 3: Josh Kelley and Lazaro Gonzalez
Out of a group of mediocre performers these two were the top…I guess. Needless to say the guys from 

Bracket 3 were not my favorite. In reality, I don’t think anyone from this group should ever step into a wrestling ring again.

Bracket 4: Veronica Carrejo Tommy Sinkfield
Now, I know some of you are going to be questioning my judgment on one of these two performers, but just wait for my explanation. Veronica Carrejo should win this bracket, if she doesn’t she was robbed. She has a knockout body, pun intended, she is a great in ring performer and she knows how to keep the fans entertained with her mannerisms.  So you may be asking why I even bothered to have Tommy Sinkfield on here if I am such a fan of Carrejo, well, it’s simple, I needed a second person and he is the one who kept me the most entertained. Especially watching him trying to lift that behemoth they put him against.  

Bracket 5: Eric Haraksin and Michael Cochowiczq
There is nothing I love more than to see someone come out there and do something fresh and unusual. Eric Haraksin a couple times in the video provided by TNA did some moves that I had either never seen or had only seen a few times. I think that type of creativity is one of the things that the business as a whole is missing these days. On the other hand you have a guy like Michael Cochowiczq who is a fast high flying crazy son of a gun who is fun to watch. He reminds me a lot of Jeff Hardy and there is always room for another obscene talent like Jeff Hardy.

Bracket 6: Adrian McCallum and Edward Gillette
This is the first time I have totally 100% agreed with the votes so far. I think Adrian McCallum is by far the best of this group. There were a couple others that kind of showed some potential, but McCallum looks like he has been doing big show level work for many years. Gillette on the other hand has some weak spots in his game, but he has the look and I do believe that with more practice he could definitely be a contender in the business.

Bracket 7: Tina San Antonio and Michael Oberegger
I promise I am not only picking Tina San Antonio because she is beautiful. I really do think she has great talent. I think the Knockout Division would be the perfect place for her and I would like to see what they would do with her. Michael Oberegger is one of those guys who I think is good. Not great, but good. I think with a little bit of work, he could be great, but I do think he was the best of the guys in his bracket.

Bracket 8: Sami Johnston and Pete Agostini
This is another one where I completely agree with the fans. I Normally wouldn’t be so sucked in by a guys promo, but Sami’s promo about the number three was just awesome. I love it when a guy comes out an just knows how to work the mic. Hopefully he is as good in the ring as he is with a mic. Pete Agostini  I am not going to lie, I first thought was too old to finally be hitting the big time. But after watching him perform, I think he would fit right in with the big boys in TNA. He is strong he is big and he knows how to wrestle. I really wouldn’t mind seeing either of these guys on the TNA roster.
So, those are my picks from the first eight brackets. I know this is super long and I am sorry about that. As always thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Survival Tactix: Under Construction.....

As promised, I have gone through HOURS of footage, read dozens of profiles, and sorted through ALL 16 brackets of Gut Check contestants. This column is my personal analysis of what stars highlight each bracket and who I, personally would like to see have a hand in TNA's rise to the top of the professional wrestling landscape as a whole.

Before I launch into this this, I would like to offer Congratulations to Rockstar Spud for his winning the British Boot Camp reality show and being hence added to TNA's roster page. A good showing each time out and hard work in each match made this happen and I look forward to seeing just how well his career could go as a result of being in the assembly of talents already on the roster.

Without ANY further ado, I present the highlight reel from the brackets. Since there are 8 brackets I'll be covering here, in the interest of space and time, I'll simply given my first and second pick and a short synopsis. So let's jump in, shall we?

Bracket 9: Chase Stevens and Kelly Klein.......

Chase Stevens is no stranger to TNA, having been a former Tag Team champion with then partner Andy Douglas as a member of The Naturals. His pick to return makes sense as his history would lead to some interesting singles' matches. Kelly Klein, while having no such history with TNA, could be a definite asset to the Knockouts Division, which has been more shallow of late with the departures of Rosita and Sarita.

Bracket 10: Steven Antolos and John Yurnet.....

Both men have a decent moveset and could be assets to TNA. In what capacity remains to be seen, but even if put into the rock solid midcard, they would BOTH thrive. Yurnet would be an AMAZING tag team ring tactician and I would see some very good work in the TV Title arena for Antolos.

Bracket 11: Lince Dorado and Jessika Heisser....

Over and over I hear that TNA needs to be working on building divisions that are a bit down in number and this bracket would give a brand new X Division star in Lince Dorado and chance to shine, complete with the mask that completes the luchador wrestling style. On the other side of the coin, Jessika Heisser could help fill out the Knockouts Division by giving a different look to the division and providing some extra tactical support on the mat.

Bracket 12: Wagner Brown and Nicolas Harmon......

These two are sleeper picks as NEITHER are leaders right now in the voting. I happen to LOVE what I've seen of their footage. Wagner Brown being my frontrunner as a champion with more accolades than ANY other member in the bracket. Harmon, on the other hand, has all the makings of having the same accomplishments if given the chance to do so. His execution is nearly flawless and his timing in ring is tremendous.

Bracket 13: Adrienne Reese

Out of the entire list here, there is simply only one name. Why? On the indy circuit, her name is Athena, the Wrestling Goddess and she ranks 28th in PWI's Top 50 Women's Wrestlers of 2012. Tell me you need any more reason than that.

Bracket 14: Andrew Pulido

I realize this makes the list look a bit one-sided, but when you look at the poll numbers right now, Pulido isn't in either first OR second place. HOWEVER, as a tag team tactician and one half of the indy team, the RockNES Monsters, Andrew Pulido is a proven specialist. This may be a long shot of him, but at 25, he ALSO has more longevity than EITHER of the two leaders in the bracket.

Bracket 15: Carl Wilson.....

The list begins and ends with one name....Sugar Dunkerton. I won't lie to you, I nearly fell off my chair laughing, but this guy is the real deal. Having found a spot in Chikara in the recent past, TNA NEEDS to make the Impact Zone the home of this guy. He can cut a SERIOUS promo and has the skills to boot.

Bracket 16: Jesse Sturgeon and Nicole Barela....

Jesse Sturgeon is a beast...simply put. He reminds me of Magnus in terms of skill, which is a compliment, to be sure. He also strikes me as the kind of guy who could rocket up the card. My second pick has been going by the name Niya Barela in the Northeast Indy circuit. If you want another Knockout pick, she needs to be near the top of the list, having wrestled on the roster of Shine with basically HALF of the wrestlers on PWI's Top 50 Womens Wrestlers of 2012.

With mild apologies for the length of this column, you've now been educated, at least in part. By all means do your homework and benefit TNA by voting as the process ends March 11th for the first round with the second round of competition beginning shortly thereafter.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Survival Tactix: Jackhammering TNA?

The pride of WCW in the peak years, Goldberg, has taken to Twitter.....

A fan made a comment today on his Twitter page.

"Such a shame.....the Spear needs to be seen once again!"

The comment didn't go unanswered.

"It's coming..."

This brought on the snap of ANOTHER comment, stating that it wasn't cool for him to tease a return to the ring if he didn't mean it. Goldberg responded once more......

"I mean it."

He made it PAINFULLY clear that he would NOT be returning to WWE.....EVER. process of elimination, what company on the face of the wrestling landscape COULD Goldberg perform for? Further, what would his purpose be? Could he REALLY hang in the ring with the current talents? At 46, Bill Goldberg is reaching the final possible days of his WRESTLING career, at least from the perspective of a heavyweight title prospect. But what about as a measuring stick?

HOWEVER, in stark contrast to The Undertaker, who is 47, is in such bad shape that it ABSOLUTELY REQUIRES him taking every bit of the time he's not performing in recovery and training as his body has been dealt such massive blows over the years. In the early stages of planning, WWE had written off the possibility of him even performing this year at the big dance.

I can hear the arguments from critics now. "Great, another 'old guy' that is just in TNA to get himself a paycheck!" The funny thing is that those very same fans, who jeered Ric Flair's presence in TNA were OVERJOYED when he returned to Monday Night RAW. There IS a word for that......fickle. This really isn't intended to be a rant of any kind, but it DOES make me wonder as to what kind of reaction he would receive IF and WHEN he does show up.

Allow me to present a few facts for the benefit of those holding out hopes....

FACT......When Bill Goldberg surfaced in WWE would anyone like to guess who helped in negotiations? Eric Bischoff. Does anyone know where he works NOW?

FACT.....When Eric Bischoff was hired as a part of the deal that brought in Hulk Hogan, a few casual get-togethers were had with a certain WCW main to venture who that was? Exactly, Bill Goldberg.

FACT.....Bill Goldberg has the itch. He's stated that he wants to give back. He has ALSO said that he wants to show his son what made him into the celebrity he is.

THIS, folks, is where TNA is shining. Proper use of veterans on the roster. The true purpose behind Goldberg potentially coming into TNA is TWO-FOLD.

1. He's a veteran and ANY defeats wrought by one of TNA's finest is HUGE for their resume.
2. Any victories by Goldberg STILL give a new talent a good rub and a lesson in how to perform at the highest level.

Could Bill Goldberg still hang in the ring with some of TNA's top talents? A fair question, why not ask Shawn Michaels or Kurt Angle? He may NOT be either of them, but his injuries have been far lighter in his career and he's got less holding him back from having a classic match in TNA than he EVER did in WWE. Chew on it, people.....we may see a Jackhammer in TNA this year......

Survival Tactix: Get Your Vote On.....

For all of you interested in having a hand in the forward movement of TNA, the following information is CRITICAL:

TNA has opened up a brand new format for Gut Check involving fans in the selection process. The link is already up on TNA's website.

Gut Check Voting

My partner and I, over the course of the coming days, will highlight some of the bright spots in each bracket. No matter what kind of wrestling you like, there is PLENTY on the VERY long list of indy talents. 16 Brackets make up the revised Gut Check Challenge format. On each bracket are 10 plus talents looking for a contract to the big dance. Without spoiling any of the coming highlights, I'll just say that TNA has some of the BEST indy circuit performers looking for a spot on the roster.

By TNA handing some of the roster building to the fans, it give US the power to determine what we want the revised roster to look like and THAT, my friends, is what this business is all about. We become the shareholders in a wrestling company on the rise. The last interview with Dixie Carter saw her calling this year a possible "tipping point" for the company if all goes according to plan. If the plan calls for the best things on their roster to be given an emphasis reborn from the early days of the promotion combined with that of 2004-2009, we could be in for a ride the likes of which WWE could only HOPE to achieve.

Regardless of your choice, we ask that you jump over to the site and let your voice be heard on the ballot. This is NOT something that comes along everyday and THAT is what makes this set of circumstances special.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Survival Tactix: If All Things Were Possible.....Step 6. Final Resolution...

If there was a white heat for the December PPV, Royal Rumble eclipsed it by a LONG shot. A segment during the beginning of the show saw CM Punk going into Vince's office, telling him he has an idea that will ensure victory and solidify The Corporation as the last faction standing when the dust settles.

"Make this a tag match with the President and the VP of The Aces and Eights vs. CM Punk and a mystery partner.....just trust me on this. I have someone in mind that will make this thing ERUPT." says Punk.

"Okay, I'll tell you give me the name and I'll think about it...."

Punk whispers the name in Vince's ear and Vince smiles wickedly.

The music cues and Vince announces the challengers to The Aces......

CM Punk comes out to a big applause. He enters the ring and Vince introduces his stand in for tonight's match......

DONG! The lights go out and The Undertaker's Theme begins playing as the Deadman saunters down the ramp to the ring.

Once Taker has entered the ring, his music begins to fade.

The lights go out and a video package rolls for the VP and in that moment, Sting emerges from the curtain to a THUNDEROUS applause. He walks down the ramp, around the side of the ring towards the broadcast table to grab a microphone.

"Mr. Taker, it's been a LONG time. We haven't met before in THIS persona and I know you've been dying to have the pleasure, but you see, I happen to know that you know my partner VERY well. Just so you know, you've been scouted, so be careful.....for your own sake....."

Just then the lights go out.

"You wanted to know who was behind this?" asks Sting. "Well, Vince, we tried warning you...."

A man in a black leather trenchcoat walks down to the ring with a towel over his head. He's staying out of the direct flashes of the cameras and as he enters the ring, Sting walks over and puts a hand on his shoulder. He enters the ring and stands in the middle and points to the Titantron and a promo shows a WWE coin op game going dead......GAME OVER.....

Sting grabs the towel and pulls to reveal Triple H.

Mixed reactions color the arena as the lights come back up and the match gets underway. The match goes for nearly 30 minutes with each man giving everything they've got to the outing. At the finish, The Corporation wins the day, but are IMMEDIATELY surrounded by Aces and Eights members....including some from the crowds.

"Vince," begins Kurt Angle. "You've won the day and since we are a group of our word, we won't be back.....unless you continue to cheat the people......"

Just then, the lights go out and when they come back on again, the faction is gone and Triple H is left in the ring alone.

"Oh, and can take it from here." says Sting from the P.A.

THE END........?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Survival Tactix: If All Things Were Possible....Step 5. Who's Pulling the Strings?

Velvet Sky, AJ Styles, Kurt Angle, John Cena, and Samoa Joe have all been revealed to be members of the Aces and Eights, but we STILL don't know who is behind it all and why. With Survivor Series in the rear view, there are still about 6 members left to unmask and THIS puts Vince into OVERDRIVE, mandating that NO ONE on the roster is to walk about without a member of the Corporation as insurance.

Team Hell No and Rhodes Scholars are in the ring, demanding for some masks to come out to play. As if on cue, the lights flicker and the spokesman comes over the Titantron.

"Be careful what you wish for. You're biting off more than you can chew because there ARE those who wouldn't care to lose their masks. Bear in mind, though that the days of the Corporation are numbered. You STILL are having problems keeping your house in order....."

As the lights come back on, three objects get tripped over; a ball peen hammer, a large bag of thumb tacks, and a baseball bat.

Triple H, who has been silent up to that point, comes to the ring and makes a challenge. At the December PPV, Team Hell No and Rhodes Scholars will face Aces and Eights in a masks vs. careers match. The match will be Elimination Rules with the sole survivor winning for their team. To make sure that there is NO interference in the finish, this will be held in a Cell.

The night of the match comes and there is a feverish heat to the PPV. We have Velvet Sky vs. Kaitlyn with AJ Lee as the Special Guest Referee on tap first. With a fast count, Velvet Sky takes the win....AJ Lee pulls off the referee stripes to reveal a white t-shirt and a leather patched vest.....she's been behind the orchestration of the Diva's Division.

The final match on the comes and each member of their respective team is introduced. This is where The Corporation takes the upper hand. Vince comes over the Titantron and announces a change to the match. There will be a Special Referee for the match......"Time to play the GAME>>>>>" Triple H comes to the ring in stripes.

The final member of The Corporation is Kane while the last member of Aces and Eights is in battle. In one move, Kane is down, but just as the faction member closes in, Triple H launches a Pedigree and puts Kane's arm over. A fast count and the match is over.

We have the four in ring being forced to unmask......

First........Jeff Hardy
Second.....Austin Aries
The final member unmasked in the night is Sting

This only leaves the leader to reveal and THAT comes with the Royal Rumble. The day after the December PPV, Vince begins the show bragging about how he's outwitted the plans of The Aces and Eights for good.

"I wouldn't count my chickens before they've hatched, Vince," the voice comes from Sting.
"You still don't know what the endgame is, but I'll save some time for you. You see, 20 years ago, you tried to kill the voice of your competition, creating a monopoly where only YOU profit from the blood, sweat and tears of those who do your bidding. The problem is, there are those who quite simply refuse to trust you and you've given them no reason to. You insult the intelligence of the fans by dumbing down everything and expecting it to be alright. But it's NOT alright, Vince. These fans deserve more than what you've spoon feeding them. But there IS a way you can still salvage something of this.....

In two weeks, the leader of this club is issuing a challenge to YOU. You win this challenge, we leave and you never have to worry about the invasion again, but if HE wins, things around here are going to change. The ball's in your court....."

Survival Tactix: If All Things Were Possible....Step 4. Positioning

So now Cena has been revealed as a member of the Aces and Eights. A handful of non factioned members of the WWE roster have gathered and formed a third cooperative to remain independent from BOTH Aces and Eights AND The Corporation. Among their numbers....

CM Punk
Zack Ryder
Daniel Bryan
Big Show

By this time, the roster on the side of the Corporation is nearly equal with the Cooperative, but the Divas Division has been unscathed....up until the night of Survivor Series.

Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee has been booked as the title match and Kaitlyn has been holding the belt for the better part of the month. The match gets underway and, during the skirmish, the referee gets knocked out. Coming out to replace him is a womanly figure dressed in stripes and a MASK. Instinctively, they don't check whether they have a mask or not, Kaitlyn simply hits her finisher and pins Lee. The ref counts: ONE.....TWO....silence. Kaitlyn finally looks at the referee and, shocked, pulls away as the masked ref draws closer. As she gets to the ring ropes, suddenly, the referee grabs Kaitlyn's hair. In the flailing, Kaitlyn grabs the mask and's Velvet Sky!

During the Survivor Series match, the teams have been chosen: CM Punk, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, and Big Show vs. Randy Orton, The Shield, and Alberto Del Rio. This match closes out the night and just as the last two competitors are squaring off, the Aces and Eights come out. What THEY don't realize is that The Shield has taken two of their members as they were coming out the curtain and appear on the Titantron as the faction has surrounded the ring.

"You MAY have ring surrounded, but we've got a captive audience of our own...." says Ambrose.

Without missing a beat, they pull the mask to reveal AJ Styles and Samoa Joe.......

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Survival Tactix: If All Things Were Possible....Step 3. Introducing...

Orton is now on the shelf and accusations are flying in every direction. For nearly three weeks, a random person on the roster is beaten down. Finally Vince is fed up. The day before the closest PPV, he comes to the ring and announces that he's decided to suit up his own army to exterminate the pest problem. He says that once upon a time there was another pest organization that gave him fits and to combat this, he put together a group of individuals that would be his feet to stomp out their lights.

"Tonight, I'm bringing back The Corporation to take back this show. No more beatdowns will rip apart MY main events. I've already picked my first three members, so without further ado, come on out...."

Alberto Del Rio, Randy Orton, and John Cena come out from behind the curtain. Just then, all three get beaten down by 4 Aces and Eights members. Just then, Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston rush from the back to aid. No sooner do they gain the upper hand, another 5 masked men come through the crowd and rush in to help. As the masked faction turns the tides once more, The Shield and the Prime Time Players join the mix and the brawl continues.

The segment lasts about 15 minutes until the first member of the NEW Aces and Eights is revealed....and it's Kurt Angle!!

So now, the Corporation consists of

John Cena
Dolph Ziggler
Big E. Langston
Alberto Del Rio
Randy Orton
The Shield
The Prime Time Players

The Aces and Eights hit the bricks and we now know one member.

The following week, Vince is bragging about how quickly he's turned the tides in this little skirmish. As he is still talking, Angle comes over the Titantron.

"All you did is prolong the inevitable, Vince. You didn't think I'd be a game changer, but TNA has only picked up business since I joined a few years back. You have no idea how deep your roster has been infiltrated.....but you will soon enough...."

TONS of finger pointing and accusations are made of guys AND gals who aren't members of the Corporation. Among them is CM Punk, who has determined he wants NOTHING to do with any of it because he's simply above them.

Vince has decided that those who aren't with them are AGAINST them. Punk and those who don't want to be in the number are called to the ring, surrounded by members of the Corporation. Punk is accused of being one of the masked hooligans trying to tear this roster apart.

No sooner do those words get said, Angle appears once more.

"Look what WE'VE done...You're getting senile in your old age, Vince. What you DON'T know is WHO has Crossed the Line...."

"Listen here, Angle. I've got this situation well in hand. You are NOT a threat to me."

"Maybe I'm not, but THEY are...."

The Aces and Eights carve a path into the back and get the unfactioned roster members to the back as the two factions brawl. Just as the last member has been escorted to the back, another mask is removed.........


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Survival Tactix: If All Things Were Possible....Step 2. Infiltration

We know the players in the "investigation". Cena has been suspended. The question is who becomes the next victim. My vote is for another main eventer.....most likely Alberto Del Rio. Why? Because he's been Vince's little pet project for years now. I wouldn't even have an appearance of the faction here. In fact, I have another idea....incriminate CM Punk. Why? Because it lets Cena off the hook.

So CM Punk put the mask and flannel in Cena's locker? Not so fast. Cena's return is short lived as he says he's tired of being the scapegoat in this company and has decided to simply stay at least THAT way, he won't be a target anymore. Punk interrupts and continues accusing Cena of slight of the hand tactics even though fingers are pointing now at him instead.

Once the closest PPV has happened, Cena has some time off. Now that Cena has been let off the hook, so to speak, it's left in the lap of CM Punk. Vince returns and calls Punk into his office. It seems TWO beatdowns is enough to get to the bottom of things. Punk claims to know nothing, but during his visit, ANOTHER main eventer is taken out, this time by more than one assailant as their match is over and they are returning to their locker room. Randy Orton is taken by four men in masks who RUSH him out the doors of the arena and into the back of a waiting car.

Three teams are dispatched to the headquarters, the arena, and the production truck. Once all teams are in place.....

Vince comes to the ring and announces that one from their roster has been taken. All of a sudden, the lights go down and, when they come back up, the ring is surrounded, Orton is lying in the middle of the ring bloodied, and footage from the truck shows the spokesman with the voice changer.

"You were the King of the Mountain, Vince. You showed how taking out the enemy was done, but I have taken down your defenses without ever setting foot on your turf. It's over...."

"You can't tell me when it's over. I INVENTED the game changer. I decide when forever ends." Vince answers.

"We'll see..."

Lights go out once more and when they come back up, the faction is gone and a ball peen hammer sits in the middle of the ring.

Survival Tactix: If All Things Were Possible....Invasion

A thought occurred to me as I watched The Shield attack Ryback at Survivor Series. "If all things were possible, how would I use the debut of the Shield to serve as a springboard to a TNA invasion?" First of all, there have been so many invasions in the past decade and that market has lowered considerably in the past few years. With both Nexus incarnations, the Corr, the Main Event Mafia, and Aces and Eights, how can it be done in a fresh way that HASN'T been done in WWE?

First things first, we HAVE to establish the players. I would launch into the invasion on THREE separate fronts. One at WWE headquarters, one at the footage truck, and one on the arena's cameras, that way no one could stop the footage from airing unless they called the Network and had them pull the feed from their end of things, but it would EXPLODE ratings, make no mistake......

Think back to the DX invasion of WCW. In the video package that chronicled the endeavor, Triple H stated that if he were Bischoff, he'd have let them in with their Jeep. NOW, however, I don't think his opinion would be the same. Let me make one thing PAINFULLY clear....I don't want this to be a simple "one off" stunt. If I had my way, a WWE/TNA cooperative storyline would play out over the course of a 6 month long timeline. Another thing I want to make clear, I DON'T want this to be a TNA vs. WWE type of conquest, but more like a collision of factions, culminating in a HUGE faction themed battle royal. Sounds a bit like the Corporate Rumble mini-battle royal from 1999, doesn't it?

I'm glad the connection has been made, because the Corporation would HAVE to return to even the odds. I simply don't believe that any other faction has the staying power OR the kind of defensive name power to stave off an invasion. Now that we've established the two factions....let's look at the things necessary to begin....

1. The inside person. He/she is the mole that has been stoking the flames from the beginning at the beck and call of the leader.

2. The fall guy. He/she becomes the target of the discord. This could mean suspension, firing, or beatdown.

3. The crusader. He/she either makes the suggestion to launch the investigation OR does it him/herself.

That's really it. It all begins with one or two little things. One main eventer is unable to enter his match due to an "accident" in the parking ramp. A car pulls out and hits him. If I were picking the main eventer, it'd be CM Punk. Why? Because I would want the person demanding the investigation to be Paul Heyman. Sounds simple enough...right? Punk is out for a little while. During that time, a piece of video surfaces of a person in a mask....blurred by the low resolution of the cameras, waiting for Punk to cross the path of the car before running him down.

Heyman accuses the man with the biggest bone to pick with Punk as the driver.....he has only one suspect, John Cena. I can hear the "UGH! Not the Cena/Punk story again!" running through your minds. Not so fast, though. The accusations are denied vehemently, but with AJ Lee and that little stable getting on board with the accusation, Vickie decides to launch an investigation. Upon searching his locker, they find a skull mask and a flannel shirt in his duffel. Suspension.

So right now, the players are John Cena, CM Punk, Vickie Guerrero, Dolph Ziggler, Big Langston, Paul Heyman, and AJ Lee. Since this is a TNA invasion, the focus on this story HAS to be from the perspective of the "invaded".

Friday, January 18, 2013

Survival Tactix: Human Wedding Crashing Machine?

I only have one word to utter since watching I'll even say it backwards.....WOW. As one who loves to say to watch the patterns, I missed this one by a MILE. Those who hate the story are going to hate the developments, but I, for one, LOVE IT! Why? Because it makes sense.

"But he's not a wrestler...." He never needed to be. All the faction really needed was a man inside.

"But he may have to step from the announce booth....." There are those in the forums and message boards who thought he was getting a bit stale anyway. Besides, they already have a man to sit in his spot to take over in the short term.

"But he's.....fill in the blank" The point is, it doesn't matter what kind of argument you want to play here, it makes sense.

Aces and Eights needed a man on the inside to do recruiting and, while it may not have been D-Lo Brown, Bruce Pritchard and Al Snow seemed unlikely, and since Taz had been running the commentary booth, I thought "he couldn't be a member because he's on the air right now." A simple phone call before a commercial, a suspicious bathroom break and he's letting the faction know Snow is running to his car for a minute and you've got your "out", so to speak.

Taz's revelation turns the tide of the story. I TOLD you things would pick up speed. Without Against All Odds to serve as a story punctuation point, this train is going to be running full bore without a comma all the way to the end of the sentence.....period. (bad joke)

Joking aside, though, this NEEDED to happen. This is a game changer because now, unless plans change, which they could, Taz will be off commentary for the next little while. That is, unless Taz is a mouthpiece to further the faction's agenda and pull the curtain back a bit. Keep in mind that we STILL don't know what they want, who they're really after, and what the endgame ultimately is.

Lots of seemingly random paragraph pauses, I know, but the thoughts here are still energized that FINALLY this thing is getting some steam behind it. There are some who'd like it to just end now, but I'm in another camp entirely. I just wanted to see it moving and Taz does that. You wanted the opinion of this writer, you've got it.

I say "Bring it on!"

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Survival Tactix: Outside the Rumor Mill.....

There is a distinct benefit of sitting outside the proverbial doors of business and simply listening and watching the patterns as they relate to the rumors being posted from time to eventually can CORRECTLY predict some of the goings-on to come. On that note, I've had my head to the rails and have heard some interesting rumblings of late that might shed some light into current story plot points and punctuate them a bit more clearly.

Number 1. Judas Mesias has taken to Twitter, stating "For those that ask about TNA, Yes there are plans for me to return, but AAA is my home."

If one were to speculate, his presence could finally herald the return of Abyss from his storyline exile and put him back into the active character roster. What kind of timeline could we be looking at? In October of last year, AAA (a Mexican wrestling independent promotion) published a 3 Part Question and Answer manuscript stating that there are legal entanglements preventing the exporting of Mesias among other talents on their roster as a temporary influx to aid in their storylines and "one shot" PPVs.

Number 2. TNA has been cultivating a relationship with independent promotions like CHIKARA, AAA, IWGP, and NOAH.

The use of talents like Rubix and a couple of the other names included in the X Division tournament last year at Destination X made a statement. TNA is wanting to expand, but not at the expense of smaller promotions, who have offered the one off appearances and performances from members of their contracted respective rosters as a show of good faith. THIS separates TNA from the pack, an established dialogue that helps build the company without crippling the companies that foster some of the talents and aid in the financial cooperative that is ultimately formulated.

Number 3. TNA's plans concerning the Knockouts Division.....

Without going into COMPLETE detail, in addition to the Blossom Twins as possible contract earning assets to the division, there are other overseas talents who will be participating in the Gut Check seminar in the U.K during the February tour. Among them is independent Portuguese talent Shanna, the Alpha Female. After seeing some pretty compelling footage of her showcasing, she fits the bill of what Dixie said in her interview of what she wanted to see out of the division. Beautiful and phenomenally talented. One thing I can personally guarantee is that once the division is reloaded, we are BOUND to see something serious going down.

These are the biggest rumors and facts shaking the vaults at the moment. The voices under the doors of the rumor mill continually speak, and I say once more to every faithful follower of this the patterns.

Survival Tactix: Let Her Speak.....

I've made a decision of late. As a matter of fact, I'd like to simply post 2 videos and get some feedback because I think this is the kind of interview you simply won't get from any other promotion in the world from the President of that company. In my PERSONAL opinion, Dixie Carter is the single best ambassador for TNA in terms of her willingness to get in there and mingle with fans and to really serve as a buffer between them and the company. Some may complain that her knowledge of the creative side of the business is lacking, but to me, that's what she has men like Bischoff and Hogan and Bruce Pritchard and Al Snow and all those guys for.

But before I go overboard preaching her praises, why don't I just let her tell all of you what she has up TNA's collective sleeves this year.....

This is nearly 15 minutes of sit down interview and has the feel of a shareholders meeting with TNA fans as the shareholders, as I once mentioned in an earlier column. Have a listen and toss up some feedback, reactions, and opinions concerning what was said......

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Survival Tactix: Mic Check.....

Once in a GREAT while, a single promo can turn a wrestler into something more. When something special is made from a moment in time that might not have gone strictly according to script, a wrestler becomes a household name. TNA hasn't reached "household name" status just yet, but I believe, nevertheless, that there are a couple of names that need to find their way into the history books. They join the ranks of a trio of my personal favorite moments of the modern era. TNA's two best World Champions had to start somewhere and these are their moments that I put here as examples of what TO do......

Bobby Roode.....

Austin Aries.....

These two promos, though completely different from those of my 3 favorite promos that set up 3 of WWF/ WWE's biggest stars for life, still are important for a very special set up who they were AND in Aries' case, set up a yearly ritual that will allegedly find its way onto the card for Slammiversary this year, keeping the ritual intact.

So who are my THREE?



These three served very different purposes in their respective eras. People still chant for "Y2J" when Jericho comes onto the ramp. People still own "Austin 3:16" t shirts. People still cheer when CM Punk has a microphone in his hand. Jericho served as young blood infused from a dying entity. Austin served as the solution to a heel boss, and Punk has served as "the voice of the voiceless". 

Some moments are immortalized and I truly believe my favorites here will be, but in the history of TNA, I believe Aries and Roode should find their OWN place in the annals of the history books with their work speaking for itself.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Survival Tactix: Glutton for Punishment.....

Since this is something historic and I understand that it wasn't the kind of show it should have been, I've decided to give RAW a chance, knowing fully what I'm walking into. SO......this first half is nothing more than an announcement that I will be watching Monday Night RAW's 20th Anniversary episode....I am hoping for a miracle, but I fear I'll be walking into something that will keep me awake another hour or two after the show is over just from disgust. Let me be perfectly clear with what I want to see from a 20 year celebration.....I want to see the vast majority of WWF's Attitude Era main event tier. I want to see a Diva or two from that period. I want to see a high flyer taking out a heel. I want to see a main event that involves one of the main eventers from the period.

It doesn't seem too much to ask, does it? WWE has 3 hours to deliver all of that. It seems simple enough to pull out the stops to celebrate a milestone like 20 years, doesn't it? We shall see.....

3 Hours Later......

I've faced down tests of ALL kinds from physical to mental to emotional and NEVER have I tackled such a difficult task in all my years. When I watched Genesis, I was disappointed. Nothing in this WORLD compares to what I witnessed this day. 20 Years of RAW was reduced to business as usual plus The Rock.

Eve has quit WWE, so her loss was expected, but to tell you the honest to goodness truth, the Divas match was the ONLY thing I really wanted to see. Kaitlyn is one of the few Divas in the current crop that I would LOVE to see Cross the Line.

The Beautiful People Version 4.0
THIS would be a pretty epic picture, to be sure. Nevertheless, this WASN'T the reason for the column and so I return you to that column, already in progress.....

There were seven matches on the card and, none stuck out as even important, save for two. A congratulations to Kaitlyn for winning the butterfly belt, but her success was only to last long enough for John Cena, the savior of WWE to be featured in a Steel Cage (Padded Cell) match.

If there was ever a match that should NOT be done without someone being busted open, a cage match would be it. Furthermore, there should NEVER be anyone allowed to escape through the door, but since TNA has been making this fundamental flaw in the stipulation, I must expand the argument to chastise them as well.

Let me be perfectly transparent for a moment and spell something out......I was given NONE of what I asked for. I wanted the top tier and I got 2 (Foley and The Rock). I wanted a couple of Divas from the the past and didn't get that. I asked for high flyers and didn't get that either. In fact, there wasn't ANYTHING about this show that made it special to me. If they had simply left out the fact that it was the 20th Anniversary, I would have never caught it based upon the line-up of matches, the results, or even the feel of the show. It was simply business as usual, as I stated before, and that's a true shame. I feel sorry for the people who paid good hard earned money to attend and were given such a show.

Quite possibly the biggest disappointment, for me and a great deal of others I've talked to, was the glaring and obvious absences of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, The Undertaker, or ANY other top tiered talent who had been there from near the beginning of Monday Night RAW in 1993. Had there even been a video sent from them, I'd have been less disappointed, but I didn't even get that.

SO WWE STILL somehow manages to find a way to turn this writer against them even after hoping against all hope that they could put the wrong things right and make this 20th Anniversary show look like something worth watching. After having watched from near the beginning of their tenure, I congratulate their success, but oh...well....*sigh*

A least there's always Thursday.....

Survival Tactix: At Least There's Thursday....

I've given some food for thought concerning Genesis and, even though my outrage was mild, I still strongly believe the situation is salvageable. This week is the wedding, which instills a morbid curiosity  I have nothing to compare against. SOME would dismiss Genesis and call for TNA's demise, but I think it FAR premature for that. I'd even go so far as to say it was MUCH better than anything that came from 2010. That was a low point I hope never to see again.

Despite what Genesis did or didn't deliver, Thursday offers something more important.....answers. By that, I mean that we'll get some kind of understanding from Anderson as to where he truly stands in this story and perhaps even what his part is to play in it. Remember, this marks week 8 leading into Lockdown. Things, hopefully, will begin to move rather quickly as we ramp up towards the caged PPV and I see the World Title situation heating to a boil right now, with Christopher Daniels in the on-deck circle.

We've got 3, perhaps 4 members of the faction that have been revealed. If there's to be a Lethal Lockdown match, we'll need 4 or 5. This year promises to close the book on the Aces and Eights and that means putting everything into proper place before playing it out. If there are to be 5 members revealed, I have some picks if they do NOT include the leader. These have changed significantly from the beginning, as events have unfolded to shift where things were headed.

1. Chris Masters......
I badly want to see him back on the world stage as he is one of the few remnants of WWE past I could see making a difference in TNA. He's still young enough to start fresh, but he's old enough to know how that's done. Some will call him a "reject", but truthfully, I couldn't care less. I was a fan of his work in WWE and I was a fan of his work with Ring Ka King in India. Things are bound to go up from there.

2. Jay Bradley.....
One of two most recent Gut Check Challengers, he's been traveling with the crew and I think he'd be a HUGE asset to the company. Why? Because he provides yet another brawling personality to work with and THAT, folks, is something TNA needs right now. Matt Morgan, D.O.C., Mike Knox, and now Bradley could provide a new generation of big men in the business, which would lend some credibility to TNA as a producer of such talents.

I have speculation concerning which direction TNA is going to take this Lockdown PPV, and I'll keep that on hot standby for sometime in the coming weeks. In the meantime, watch the patterns and wait for things to materialize.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Survival Tactix: Rising?

We have Hardy vs. Christopher Daniels for the TNA World Heavyweight Title.....I suppose this should lead me into a question. If Austin Aries AND Bobby Roode working together can't put Hardy down, why on Earth would I believe Christopher Daniels by himself can do ANY better, particularly when he has two weeks to prepare? I had hoped the comparison would NEVER come to TNA, but Jeff Hardy has become John Cena.

He's taken a beating at the hands of Aces and Eights prior to winning the World Title, he's managed to outlast a Ladder Match and a Triple Threat Elimination Match with stacked odds. I suppose the MAJOR difference between Cena and Hardy is that Hardy has a better ring presence and is able to sell an injury well enough to make the match believable.

Genesis did NOT deliver the way it SHOULD have. Despite glimmers of hope, there were some glaring problems that cannot simply be wished away.....

1. The matches that were advertised for the PPV went well enough, but there was a theme I couldn't seem to shake....the veterans all won the day. Devon, Sting, Hardy, RVD, was a mixed bag because I WANTED to see a few things and was given something entirely different instead. I wanted to see York or King move into their rightful place on the roster, but I was given a check in the loss column for Christian York. Granted, he had me believing he'd come out on top at one point, but the powers that be didn't see eye to eye with the fans, who WANT to see something new.

2. Jeff Hardy could NOT be booked any more powerful than he already is. He can stand up to being thrown around like a rag doll and bludgeoned by multiple assailants on more than one occasion and STILL somehow manage to retain the World Heavyweight Title. If Christopher Daniels somehow manages to turn this into a Fatal Four Way, I'll be very disappointed. Not only so, but it leaves Roode and Aries looking painfully weak.

3. Joseph Park is able to conjure the spirit of Abyss, but it doesn't last. I have NO clue what must be done for him to remain in that form, but if it requires the use of a car battery, jumper cables, a tire iron, and a pair of brass knuckles, I may have to alert the FBI. The sheer brutality that will be required to lend credence to the Joseph Park character as Abyss in the flesh will be astonishing. Make no mistake about it.

4. Joey Ryan and Matt Morgan splitting this early is a mistake and, if TNA is actually thinking about forcing each to their own devices, the backlash will be brutal. Nothing could hurt the division right now more than separating one of their cornerstone pairings before they've made their mark.

These are just a few problems I can see on the surface and, if things degenerate, it could mean some very unpleasant times for the favorite wrestling company for you and me. As I've said before, the match quality was top notch, but THIS was the time to put youth in the driver's seat and it wasn't done. The time to entertain the idea that anything is possible is RIGHT NOW.

Survival Tactix: Opportunity Knocks....

So THIS is where things come full circle. It's been over a year since James Storm won and lost the World Title in a week, giving critics plenty to whine about while also creating TNA's mega-heel, Bobby Roode. Tonight, something gives because between Storm and Daniels, it's winner take all.

Dixie Carter, this afternoon, tweeted that the winner of tonight's match-up between Daniels and Storm goes on to a World Title shot on the 24th of this month. For those of you who aren't keeping track, that would make it Championship Thursday. SO, for the number 1 Contendership, one of the two will emerge the victor, while the other goes home with nothing. If I had to pick one right now, I want it to be Daniels, but with James Storm as high as he is with fans, I just can't see it.

That brings us to WHO goes into that particular Thursday as the champion and who squares off as the challenger. My money is on Roode vs. Storm one last time for the belt as TNA is very much into heel vs. face matches. This, folks, would be the rubber match as they split one match apiece. We saw Lockdown of last year end with Storm kicking Roode out the door and into a victory. We ALSO saw Storm get his revenge at Bound for Glory last year as well. This would be one last time to put the rivalry to rest.

SO.....since the curtain has yet to be drawn and the stage, even now, is being set, I leave you with one final thought......

Enjoy the Show!!!

Survival Tactix: In THIS Corner.....

Since I've ALREADY weighed in about Genesis tonight, I thought it might be nice to continue on the trend of grading Gut Check Challengers. BUT, I want YOU to weight in as well......

First up? Brian Gage....

Not a bad promo. In fact, the only question I have to ask about him is whether or not I can visualize him feuding with ANYONE, in particular, on the current roster. Unfortunately, I'm at a loss. Perhaps one of you can help with that.

In the meantime.....

Now HERE is the kicker: Jay Bradley has been traveling with TNA for nearly a month now and most of you had no idea. Why? Because he's been under a mask. That's right, he's been a card carrying, patch wearing, roster whooping member of Aces and Eights. Will the conspiracy theory presented just a few days back come to pass, with D-Lo Brown serving as the final judge? That's for upper management to decide. As for me? I happen to LOVE Bradley's chances of finally making it to TV on the big stage.

Here's my scenario in this case.....

Brian Cage ends up getting the contract, but for his trouble, the swarm comes. Jay Bradley, however, is nowhere to be found. In the weeks following, Brian has two more matches, both of which end in a beatdown. In the course of the Angle Army mask initiative, Cage joins up with them and during one of the beatdowns, Jay Bradley is revealed. THIS is how I would play the cards.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Survival Tactix: The Hours Before Genesis.....

TNA has announced 8 matches for this year's Genesis PPV. The most interesting part of this card is that 4 matches deal with two subjects......Aces and Eights AND the X Division. On the part of the X Division matches, one man will be doing double duty. As for whether the man is Kenny King or Christian York? That largely depends upon which TNA has more confidence in to carry the title. That's right, folks. I believe THIS is where RVD drops the title.

I'll get more into this as we go along, but for now, let's have a look at the final card for the evening.....

Christian York vs. Kenny King
RVD vs. ??? for the X Title
Devon vs. Joseph Park
D.O.C vs. Sting
Chavo/Hernandez vs. Joey Ryan/Matt Morgan for the Tag Titles
Velvet Sky vs. ODB vs. Tessmacher vs. Mickie James vs. Gail Kim for #1 Contendership
Daniels vs. James Storm
Austin Aries vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jeff Hardy for the World Heavyweight Title

This is where the rubber meets the road for TNA. Aces and Eights have a vested interest in the outcome of this PPV, being that TWO of their own are in matches involving players who are high up on the totem of the story's intrigue. With Joseph Park having this "alter ego" of late that involves the seeing of his own blood and having that create the "channeling" of the Abyss character, it makes me wonder exactly what we could see out of that match. And what of DOC? Does the faction leave him to face an enraged Sting ALONE? I see something beneath what we can see from atop the card.

Unfortunately, circumstances have really made this card TOUGH to call. Without the promise of Against All Odds to help aid in the storyline process, I can only feel justified in predicting what seems REASONABLE for the moment.....

BOTH Christian York and Kenny King have been primed for this moment and I daresay both deserve a shot, however, I see a greater chance of King walking out this time. Why? Despite a heightened push from the top for York to get some camera time, Kenny King is striking a lot of fans the right way. He plays to the crowd well and works well with RVD. Combine that with his semi-feud of late and you have the formula for a good match and if you end THAT with RVD LOSING his title? It could be the best time to introduce some muscle to guard said champion. Enter King Mo.

Moving into the Tag Team Division, it seems clear to me that the Chavo/Hernandez pairing needs some spice put into the mix and relieving them of the title would do just that. Morgan and Ryan are in a GREAT place and the best way to reward the hard work and dedication to this point is to give them both a taste of gold.....a preview of something better to come. I believe both men are on the rise in the ranks of the pecking order. What remains is the eventual split that is destined to happen sooner or later, depending upon how things play out with the upper echelon storylines going at the time. For now, though, both are playing their parts perfectly and so, with that, I call for a title change.

Christopher Daniels vs. James Storm is an interesting pairing, to be sure. In my mind, I'm not sure what's at stake. Are either in a position to challenge for the World Title? Perhaps Storm, but Daniels? I don't think so as of yet. In spite of some hard fought battles and even his most recent, which saw AJ Styles going into voluntary exile, I still don't think Daniels is moving. With a victory over Storm, though......NOW you're coming close to deserving of a shot at the big belt. Maybe I'm going out on a limb, but I don't think Daniels will be swallowing his teeth this time.

I believe Jeff Hardy has re-signed with the company for the foreseeable future. That said, I simply don't see him retaining. As for WHO takes the reins from there, I get the sneaking suspicion Roode will walk out, head held high, claiming to be the best by virtue of being the only one still standing after the smoke has cleared. I DO see A Double getting his licks in and even coming back to reign once more, just not tonight.

So hard it is to call a gauntlet match and even moreso when it comes to the Knockouts Division and the lineup on the card. I may be going against the grain, but I give the win to Tess and here's why: I don't believe TNA wants to have Velvet take the belt from a veteran this time. Having another sparsely used talent coming back into the fray is just another thing that helps keep things fresh in terms of the product as a whole. If Madison Rayne were on the card, I may have given my vote for her as the dark horse victor.

Regardless of who wins the battles, you can bet on one thing....history is being made with every one of the PPVs TNA puts out this year. Why? Because this is the first year a promotion has done such a drastic cut in terms of PPV products as a whole as it relates to the weekly promoted broadcast. Since that is the case, TNA will be more determined than ever to make sure their PPV product is even better than normal.....and you can take that to the bank.