Sunday, March 31, 2013

Survival Tactix: The Send-off.....

We're one week away from Wrestlemania. I realize this column is TNA town, but it's hard not to see the glint of the spectacle, regardless of how unimpressed I am with the card as a whole. With the careers of The Undertaker and Triple H on the line, it seems crystal clear that things are finally wrapping for good. WWE is committed to the end of the Attitude Era fan; preparing to say good-bye to the last of the Attitude Era veterans on the WWE roster, thanks in no small part to WWE's yearly spring cleaning. Did I forget about Christian? Nope, but they have.

Over in TNA, the Attitude Era is still active, at least there are some elements of that era still going strong. The continuing work of Jeff Hardy, the Dudleys, and Kurt Angle still prove there is some fight left in the more edgy product of the era that created them. Do I believe this year will be the last of The Undertaker and Triple H? Absolutely. Why? Because both are ready to be done. They've put in their time and, as far as Taker is concerned, he's already picked his successor. The fact that his chosen man to put over is CM Punk has me a bit perplexed, but I don't try to understand WWE logic these days. In my eyes, the entire enterprise has been a disaster since NOT debuting it when they COULD have. Had they really been serious about putting together a memorable program, this would have lasted longer than a month.

Think about this....the Streak of The Undertaker has been stressed SO much, there are t-shirts commemorating its very existence. There are posters paying tribute to it, complete with a list of his previous "victims". King and Cole preach it every week. The point is.....with THIS much emphasis having been put on it for so long, why would they not put THIS YEAR, above all others, as the year to  shine a spotlight on it early? Can anybody give me a reason?

Which brings me to one of my favorite performers of all time....The Rock. *sigh*

He's being put AGAIN into a match that WWE writers claimed last year would be an event "ONCE in a Lifetime". Folks, this is where I would ordinarily "layeth the Smackdown" on Vince, but the truth is, since his return to WWE, he has been maddeningly absent more often than not. I might not be so critical of him if weren't the current CHAMPION. I understand why people would go after Jeff Hardy in response to my analysis, but to be fair, Hardy was only off screen for 4 weeks since he was champion and The Rock has been gone for nearly half the time he's held the title since winning it in January. Fellow wrestling fans, this should not be. And where Hardy has never been noted for carrying himself with his promo cutting skills, The Rock HAS. But his routine has become more dated since his return and he can't even hold his own with the current crop of talents....i.e. CM Punk.

This isn't meant to gripe about the product as a whole, though it might seem as though I am. It's more to shine a spotlight onto what the pinnacle of the WWE experience has become.....something lacking in more than just storyline depth.....but rather a continuity that doesn't lie to those they're trying to stick with the 65 dollar bill to order it.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Survival Tactix: Knockouts Turning Point.....

Most people saw Lockdown as the night Bully Ray brought the Aces and Eights storyline back to the forefront, but there WAS another thing that helped TNA raise their game.....Taryn Tarrell's snapping on Gail Kim. Why was THIS important? Because it brought someone new to the table. It also draws the champion (Velvet Sky) into the feud as the secondary face in the current feud. But doesn't that ruin the story if the champion takes second billing? I don't think so. If this were on the top of the card, I may feel a bit differently, but since this is a division that could use a change, the addition of a primary face that may ultimately create a new tag team tandem might help more than hinder.

In my opinion, giving Mickie James a break was good for the forward movement of more fresh faces to rise into a more prominent place. NOW, I've been looking forward to seeing the return of Taeler Hendrix for a long time. Why wouldn't Ms. Hendrix be a part of this influx of new talent into the division? I'll admit, I've been confounded as to what is holding up the actual debut. I do, however, see something stirring in the ranks of the Knockouts Division that gives me hope. Now that Taryn has joined up, the Knockouts Title scene changes just a bit. Once again the TV Title will take a backseat to the Knockouts strap because there are two stories on the docket instead of just one, making me believe that more will be added to create a kind of faces vs. heels team element, which would be nice to see for a change.

So, who benefits? The way I see it, we do, as fans, but the newcomers truly win out the most as they get the chance to test their brass against the innovators and the legends they walk with everyday.

Rants from Ringside: Delusional Ex Divas


So, after WWE’s recent push to get former WWE diva’s back on the roster has fallen kind of to the side, the division has been on my mind. With the Bella Twins being the only two to take the bait, I have to wonder, was it worth all the effort to try and get these women back on the roster. All that was really accomplished by doing that was showing everyone that the division is so weak that they are needing their old talent back, and adding the Bella Twins to the roster which I am not totally sure that that is a good thing.

Some recent interviews with former WWE Diva’s have me a little perplexed on what show they are watching. Now I understand political correctness. I am a handicap kid who hates the word “handicap” and have had many an argument with people who say the word cripple should not be used. Having said that, I understand that if you have had success with a company and have left on relatively good terms, it is not politically correct to come out and say that the division is in need but after reading interviews from talent such as Trish Stratus and Beth Phoenix I wonder if they realize that they are watching WWE.

Both women agree that the current talent have what it takes to be big stars. Beth even went as far as to say that this is the perfect time to be a Diva. Her explanation of that is that the women that make up the Diva division today can focus totally on their wrestling ability and they don’t have to worry about their sexuality so much. While I do agree that the WWE is not focusing on the beauty of the women, I also don’t think they are training them the way they should. There is no doubt that given the proper training some of these women have the athletic ability to step up and be great stars. But too many of the matches put on by Diva’s are predictable, sloppy and don’t have any impact on anything.

I’m not saying that every Diva’s match needs to be perfect and has to have some great importance, but it would be nice to see one match that didn’t leave me thinking “Wow whole thing could have been featured on Botchamania and why the hell did I have to watch it?” I think pro wrestling in general needs to take a step back and look at how women have been treated throughout its history. The one’s that were not trained right and still had a passion for the business, were valets. I mean look at Miss Elizabeth, she was beautiful, loved the business, or at least the guys (Macho Man could and Lex Lugar can attest to that). She was still a very important part of the wrestling scene through the mid 80’s all the way up to the late 1990’s. All I am saying is that every woman who wants to be in the wrestling business does not automatically have a place as a wrestler just because she is hot or can take a decent bump.

As I have stated before, I try not to be too hard on WWE because they are what I grew up with. I have been watching their product for over 20 years and I know that they have their ups and their downs. I guess I just get frustrated when I see things get so bad and everyone comes out and starts talking like they are great. Don’t be delusional, the Diva’s division and the company in general are in the worst state they have been in a very long time. This is completely off topic but you know a company is doing something wrong when you get a top tier guy like Dolph Ziggler come out and say that it pisses him off that part timers are headlining Wrestlemania. I mean, one of your main attractions should not be bashing the company like that. As always thanks for reading and watch for a new type of column coming later today.
-TFC   

Friday, March 29, 2013

Survival Tactix: Reboot....

The gauntlet has been thrown down once more.....and since I've never been one to shy away from a challenge, THIS is one challenge I'm actually looking forward to writing about.

"Talk about the new rules for the X Division Championship matches."

Okay, so the new rules go something like this......

-All CHAMPIONSHIP matches are under Triple Threat rules.
-The weight limit is 230 lbs.
-The contender pinned is disqualified from the next championship bout.
-The contender NOT involved in the decision WILL move into the next championship bout.
-Contenders are ALSO chosen via Triple Threat rules.

SO.....if Kenny King, Zema Ion, and Jesse Sorenson were to face off in a championship bout and Kenny King gets PINNED, he is automatically disqualified from competing in the next championship match, while the other TWO move on, with a new contender chosen in the weeks to follow.

How do I feel about all this? Truthfully, I think it's a decent enough idea, provided they stick to their guns and ride this concept out. TNA has had this nasty little habit of not following through their concepts until the end. Anyone remember the ranking system? I didn't think so. It lasted all of one Championship title match and then was dissolved. The point is that TNA will HAVE to have fostered a working relationship with more talents in that weight bracket than they have thusfar. Sonjay Dutt is a nice throwback, but anyone who has watched for more than 4 years would remember Shark Boy, Homicide, Matt Bentley, Elix Skipper, Jack Evans, Petey Williams, among the ranks of the masses who would qualify for those rules.

While I agree with the old staple for TNA "....it's not about weight limits, it's about NO limits", there have only been FOUR X Division title holders who have broken the mold; Sonny Siaki, Samoa Joe, RVD, and Abyss. Do I wish to see ANY of them as return holders of the belt? Well, Sonny Siaki has retired, Abyss is MIA, and RVD no longer works for TNA (assuming the two parties haven't come to agreements). This leaves Samoa Joe. Truthfully, I don't really want to see Joe fighting for the X Division again. Why? Because he's bigger than that, and I don't mean physically. His persona no longer fits within the confines of the X Division. Neither does AJ Styles, Daniels, Kazarian, or Austin Aries, for that matter.

Does this disqualify Christian York? Nope...according to Impact Wrestling's website, he weighs in 10 pounds UNDER the weight limit. So who qualifies in MY book?

Alex Silva
Doug Williams
Chavo Guerrero
Eric Young
Jessie Godderz
Rockstar Spud
Zema Ion
Kenny King
Sonjay Dutt

....and the list goes on from there. Some on the list may surprise you, but even though guys like Jessie may not appear a high flying tactician, he COULD be trained in the ways of mat tactics from someone of Doug Williams' persuasion.

In the volume of words, my final reaction is completely positive. The "no limits" objection by TNA purists is really less of a concern as the division was never really tapped into by the performers larger in stature and while it MAY have been a good time to enter into some of those contests when "Option C" was brought into effect, it was never truly utilized and so I don't see the exit of those talents from competition as any great loss to the product as a whole.

Survival Tactix: Impact Rising......

TNA is doing something that SOME critics said they would never do.....they're putting up some REALLY good numbers on attendance. Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois had about a 4,500 fan attendance. Corpus Christi's event is said to have sold out their original allotment of seats, so more had to be made available. In fact, ALL of TNA's future events are selling well enough to support the notion of an actual wrestling boom coming underway once more with TNA leading the pack on the televised secondary market.

To be clear, this is a GREAT time to be a wrestling fan, but more than that, to be a TNA fan. This shoots down any notion that TNA couldn't sell out 10-15,000 seat arenas. The product is growing and, without any surprise from me, the people who once said that TNA wouldn't last this long are now re-evaluating how they grade them.

The product has a cohesion that reminds me of RAW circa 2002-2008, which is a good sign, to me. It shows that people are taking an active interest in the brand. While it's impossible to truly know how well the brand is really doing; i.e. viewers who catch their fix on YouTube, desi, bolly, and other third party sites that replay the show via streaming media OR those who watch the show live via internet feed sites, it seems clear that Impact is on the rise.

Fewer internet columnists have anything but compliments for TNA's forward progress in the guise of the March 21st broadcast, featuring the full rundown promos by Bully Ray, revealing how the con was pulled off. Genius, by the way. On a more personal note, my time away from the daily grind here gave me a bit more insight as to just how much work actually goes into these columns. Funny how a few days away can have that effect. In any case, reworking and retooling and re-engaging hasn't been as tough as I thought it would be. In the coming days, I've got TONS of stuff to bring into the limelight with the new rules for the X Division kicking things off in just 24 hours. Also on the docket, the X Factors moving forward, who's on the World Title picture for the year, and a couple of wrestler profiles to cover.

To anyone who doubted my prediction that Petey Williams would be making his way back to TNA, I told you so....Petey Williams has reportedly signed a deal and is the front runner in most people's minds of TNA originals to put forth the effort to bring him up the ranks quickly, also introducing a new finisher to supplement the notorious "Canadian Destroyer" he currently employs. The idea is to make him into a more versatile character by adding something more suited to larger competitors who may NOT be able to aid Williams in the execution of said finisher.

SO, to those who I seek to entertain, engage, and simply encourage to think, I appreciate the forgiveness you've shown in my need for rest. You are the reason I put out yet another perspective on the vast landscape of writers endeavoring to advance the agenda of professional wrestling at its finest.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Survival Tactix:

I determined that I wouldn't even bother titling this column. Why? A couple of reasons.

1. For the past week, I've been frustrated with a very possible scenario.....RVD's TNA contract is up and, even though there has been negotiations between the two parties, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see Van Dam show up on WWE television. I don't see this as a loss for TNA. Let me make that perfectly clear. It allows the younger talents TNA has been introducing the chance to shine as they were meant to. The element that DOES bother me is that you can BET WWE fans are going to welcome him back as though he's coming back from retirement. It's the double standard at work once more. Ric Flair, Jeff Hardy, Christian, and potentially RVD were verbally burned at the stake by a great many WWE fanboys, but when they returned, they were revered. I'll never understand why loyalty has to end with the company instead of following the wrestler and remaining a fan regardless of where he or she travels to.

2. To be perfectly blunt, my heart just hasn't been in it. I've been going at this nonstop once, sometimes twice per day for almost 2 years now......this makes over 750 columns and it's tough to keep that pace, with very little from the rumor mill moving beyond Lockdown, Wrestlemania's lackluster card from bottom to top, and the potential of WWE phasing out their PPV's with the advent of the WWE Network, which FINALLY looks as though it might launch sometime. I'll be honest with you guys....it's a fun time getting into the trenches and digging into the WWE vs. TNA debate. I've been on the Frontline for almost 5 years now and the road is finally looking like TNA is going to get some traction and move into a move aggressive stance against Vince, and with his goal to even more completely cater to the moms and kids, I can see the WWE product being able to do little to combat the rising TNA product, working hard to rouse the masses of Attitude Era fans and fans from TV-14 era past into giving the newer product a fighting chance to gain some ground.

I love coming here and putting fingerstoke to key for the sake of an alternative opinion on the power struggle we're seeing play out each week. I'm working towards a new goal right now......one that deserves more time than I am able to divide between it and this.....so for a short time, I will have to set this aside. Rest assured, though, I WILL be back to cover more in the events about to unfold. There are PLENTY of things that will be on the docket.....trust me. So until that time, keep watching the patterns and keep an eye on the horizon......

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Survival Tactix: The Invisible Hall of Fame....

We enter a time now where WWE has announced most everyone being inducted into a Hall of Fame that STILL doesn't have a building. While most are deserving and worthy of the honors that induction into A hall of fame brings, a few glaring problems begin to emerge, at least in MY eyes.....

First, Donald Trump is being inducted this year. I get that we're looking at celebrities who have made a crossover into the arena of sports entertainment, but I think there are SO MANY other people who deserve THAT honor than Trump. Cyndi Lauper, for example?

Another problem I have with the WWE Hall of Fame is the glaring absences from a BUNCH of people who WERE a part of the product that SHOULD be inducted, but for whatever reason, haven't as of yet. What about Jake Roberts? Rick Rude? DDP? I understand the problems with a couple of these next guys, but Randy Savage and Owen Hart are the ones that make me scratch my head the most.

SOME see the WWE Hall of Fame as an honor that dates back nearly a hundred years to the regional promotion era, but I see it as a list of names that is compiled by Vince to tell people who HE cares about honoring, not necessarily who DESERVES the honor that might come from the induction, otherwise Sting, Hall, Nash, Lita, Luna Vachon, Sable, Molly Holly, and a great many OTHER names MIGHT, just MIGHT be on it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rants From Ringside: Is the Potential of the Midcard Being Wasted?


You ask any casual fan of professional wrestling who the WWE Champion, WWE World Heavyweight Champion, or TNA World Champion is and they would know, but most casual fans aren’t going to be able to tell you who the WWE Intercontinental Champion or TNA Television Champion is right now. I have been thinking lately about the titles that of course aren’t usually held by the top superstars in their finest hour, but are either used to lift a performer to those heights or revive someone’s career as they are coming back after an injury or suspension. Basically these titles are used to pass the torch by having a main eventer step aside for a new guy and still having a belt, or making it more legitimate in the future when someone does become a World Champion.

I don’t feel like any of these titles, with the exception of one is being handled properly. So, let me start with the company that seems to be doing pretty much everything wrong these days, WWE. To give you an example, I inflict upon myself the torture that is watching RAW and SMACKDOWN every Monday and Friday (I can’t bring myself to watch Main Event or Saturday Morning Slam) and I still had to go to the WWE website to find out who the Intercontinental and United States Champions are. For those of you who care the Intercontinental Champ is Wade Barrett and the United States Champ is Antonio Cesaro. Both of these guys have been champions for a relatively long time (Barrett won the title Dec 29, 2012 and Cesaro won his title at the 2012 Summerslam Pre-show), but nothing has really been done with these guys. When I realized how long these two had been holding these titles it angered me for three reasons.

First of all Wade Barrett was the one guy coming out of NXT that I really thought was going to skyrocket to the top. I mean he is physically intimidating, he is a great athlete and he isn’t awful on the microphone (yes I know he could use some work).  But I feel bad for the guy it was almost like WWE creative teased him with a chance at the top but now is holding him at the mid-card. Sure he is going to get to get a chance to defend his title at the biggest professional wrestling show of the year, but it won’t be the main event like I really had hoped it would be for him at this point.

Antonio Cesaro on the other hand is not someone I could see being a top tier competitor especially with the character they have him in now. But that is why I think he was a great choice for the United States Championship. He won it from Santino Marella who I think everyone knew was not going to be a top tier guy but was a perfect mid card guy who they let shine for a little while. But, it is what happened after Cesaro won the championship that blew my mind, he has not progressed one bit. All that has changed since winning the title is he got rid of the highly attractive Aksana, stopped carrying the flag down to the ring and they have cut down the time he has spent on the mic, which to me is a sign that they don’t have the confidence in him. Well, if you don’t have the confidence in one of your guys to talk on the mic on a regular basis, take the damn belt away from him.

Finally, I find it a little irritating that WWE creative has these two stagnant guys holding belts that can be a stepping stone for someone who truly does have top tier potential. Allowing a guy who is never going to be a top tier guy to hold the belt for a while is one thing because that may be the most impressive thing on their resume at the end of their career but these two guys are not great candidates for that and they need to step aside while someone more deserving takes their place.

Now for the hard part, I hate saying anything bad about TNA. I really do think they are the superior product right now, but I don’t fully agree with the way they are handling their mid card titles either. This is the part where I am going to bring up the one instance where I think they are handling a mid card title right and then I will tell you what I think they are doing wrong. I really do agree that it is a good idea to have Devon holding the Television title. I think it adds a little more credence to Aces & Eights being a badass group if they are holding at least two championships. Having said that, I hate that it the TV title is not being defended on a regular basis. I mean, I totally understand why it’s not being utilized, it makes total sense with the storyline that he wouldn’t wrestle, but I always hate seeing a title not being used.

That, brings me to the second title that I don’t believe is being used to its full potential at all. The X Division title is one of those things that I hate calling a mid card title, but really, that is what it is. First of all the X Division champion right now is Kenny King a guy that I really am not all that impressed with, I know I am going to get flack for that, but I call em’ as I see em’. I don’t think a guy like Kenny King should be holding the belt in the first place, but the fact that it is not being pushed is what is most disturbing about the X Division championship. The X Division is undoubtedly one of the most important parts of the rise and fame of TNA so why has it fallen to the side? I don’t really understand why it isn’t being utilized the way it used to be.

So, there you have it, I think both companies could improve when it comes to how they are using their mid card titles and their mid card wrestlers for that matter. But I do think that TNA has a little better idea about how it is supposed to work.
As always I would love to hear what you have to think, please leave a comment and thanks for reading
-TFC

Survival Tactix: Glimmers.....

I had this hunch....this nagging hunch that there might be something to this Gut Check Challenge that becomes a vessel through which some very important debuts take place. So far, I haven't been wrong, at least not yet. Wes Brisco, D-Lo Brown, and now it's becoming evident that someone ELSE may be on the horizon that was overlooked by the judges and yet may still enter TNA via another door......

Over the past TWO days, Ivelisse Valez, who was eliminated from the Gut Check Challenge two weeks ago now, has competed in two separate TNA One Night Only PPVs. She competed in the Knockouts only event AND in the World Cup of Wrestling event, which I'd like to discuss here. It was long speculated that these events would NOT be representative of the week to week story each Thursday night, but in THIS case, it makes me wonder. During the World Cup of Wrestling PPV, each team had a Knockout representative. Team USA had Mickie James; Team UK had Hannah Blossom, Team International had Lei'd Tapa, and the final team represented was Team Aces and Eights, whose representative was Valez. I don't know whose idea that was, but I think it's brilliant.

Could this be foreshadowing of things to come? I certainly hope so. It'd be really nice to see a full blown takeover, one that requires more of the Knockouts Division to fight off than a simple one on one match-up. The Taryn Tarrell/Gail Kim story is good; the Knockouts Title scene is good, but we can go it a step or two further and pulling the trigger on a woman member of the faction is EXACTLY how I'd go about it. Furthermore, a woman with an MMA background would be something TNA could tout (yeah, that was a WWE dig) over most other organizations right now on the wrestling landscape as a whole.

If Valez makes a return to Impact with Aces and Eights, I think a pairing with either Tara or Taeler Hendrix would be worth watching. In my humble opinion, a pairing with Tara means getting rid of Jesse, which is no bad thing. It also could mean the revival of something I've been calling for an end to....the Knockouts Tag Team Titles. Bringing some prominence to it is CRITICAL if TNA insists on having them around. I don't understand how they don't seem to see that. Seriously, this is a gripe that has NOT gone unnoticed by any wrestling website on the net that covers TNA in any critical fashion.

Whatever the case, it's POSSIBLE that TNA will utilize the development of the World Cup in the week to week, but only time will tell for sure. One thing IS for sure, they heard the fans and they have been giving her second looks as a result. Take this all with a grain of salt, but if the results are anything to go by, we'll see her again......

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Survival Tactix: The Anti-Faction......

So here we are......three names on a list of either unwelcome or uninvited by Hulk Hogan. We have Sting, AJ Styles, and Matt Morgan. Styles wants nothing to do with being TNA's janitor, cleaning up the messes of somebody else, Matt Morgan feels compelled to clean up the current mess, and Sting is trying to sort out how bad the mess actually is. The point we CAN establish is that there is a mess involved and SOMEBODY needs to clean it up. The question is WHO? It's conceivable that there's potentially one, maybe two more involved in all this, but suffice it to say we've a list of potential candidates to reform something special with a couple of fence walkers to keep the balance of power from shifting in either direction. A stalemate. I HATE that word, particularly in regards to a story that shows no signs of movement.

It may sound as though I'm berating TNA for this, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I'm glad for it, this time. Why? Because some familiar faces are getting back into the bigger picture to reform the opposing side to the faction. I hold that things won't turn until we have a definitive "savior" to rely on to lead the charge against a more powerful faction. Who might that leader be? I have a few suggestions as to who could do the job......

1. Matt Morgan.....I don't think he's the heel here. I just don't. I think he's somewhere in between and THAT makes him dangerous, because if Hogan gets involved with the affairs of the Blueprint, you can bet Mr. Morgan will make a Welcome mat out of Hulk's head. I think the best way to put him in the lead role is to simply provide backup if and when he needs it, nothing more.

2. Kurt Angle.....In spite of the beatdown, I still think he's a good choice as one to turn the tides. Do I think he'll lead the "anti-faction"? A good question. Angle works well as a team player in a stable situation, but something like this would require something else, something more. I'm thinking Main Event Mafia, but something more organized than even that.....something comprised of similarly sized gents to those represented by the Aces.

3. Eric Young......Now before you reach for the mouse to click away, we ALL remember him as the leader of World Elite and NO ONE can dispute his success there. No one. Does this mean an exit from the Knockouts Tag Division? Absolutely. Him leading the charge would do something I've wanted to see for quite some time, put him into a potential top tier role as a serious competitor. It would take a progression of things to bring this about, but I believe it'd be a dynamite story.

4. Abyss......I won't lie to you....I believe Joseph Park has outstayed his welcome. It was fun for a while, but now, I think it's time to bring back the guy with the bag of tacks. His return would revive the feud he was in the middle of before the Aces and Eights thing even began. Park needs to be shown the door, so that his brother can make his return. Abyss COULD be a leader. I understand the whole "brainless monster" schtick, but him LEADING the faction could turn him into a more "Bane-like" entity, with the intelligence to put behind the character, making him a far more versatile character, to boot.

I think these four above could also COMPRISE the gang and, with the integration of Samoa Joe, Magnus, and even Rob Terry, could put down some SERIOUS offensive posturing. With AJ Styles, Chris Sabin, and even Jesse Sorenson sitting on the fence, the balance of power could make it all play out quite nicely. Think about it.....

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Survival Tactix: Shifting Sands.....

Anyone who has been watching TNA in the past 6-8 weeks, you'd believe they've taken the whole Aces and Eights schtick WAY too far and for too long......until Thursday night happened. I happen to KNOW I'm not alone in the opinion that Bully Ray SINGLE-HANDEDLY revived a story I thought was long dead. I understand there are people who will dispute me on this and I can understand the apprehension, but as one has pointed out, it follows a time tested pattern. As of this post, we're in the middle of the rising action....awaiting the turning point, where everything begins to pull together towards the resolution of all things.

I gave this column the title it has because some things, some VERY important things are beginning to happen right now, and I have full intention of putting those on display presently......

1. TNA is doing some retooling, folks. With several former Knockouts declining to return for TNA's all Knockout PPV coming fast, adjustments will HAVE to be made to accommodate, simple as that. SO, with all hands on deck and the few left in the pool of possible acquisitions to be brought in from the OVW training facility, we have the Blossom Twins, Taeler Hendrix, Lei'd Tapa, Heidi Lovelace, and Brittney DeVore to name a few PLUS the few TNA is still in process of making contact with; Salinas, Taylor Wilde, and Jacqueline also to name a few.

2. Speaking of the Knockouts Division, right now things are really heating up with TWO separate storylines moving at once towards a possible convergence with one another. First is the Gail Kim and Taryn Tarrell feud that is REALLY working wonders for the division. Second, and the one things are perhaps building towards is the Knockouts Title picture. While WWE is having problems breathing life into a single match, TNA is putting their best on display.

3. Sting, Matt Morgan, and AJ Styles are being prepped. For what? A question I have NO IDEA how best to answer....other than to say it'll be interesting to see what kinds of developments come of it all in the end. It wouldn't surprise me if AJ, Sting, and Morgan banded together as a wrecking crew, but for the moment, I just don't see it.

There are rumblings about Chris Sabin becoming active once again in April. Some say he'll make his return in tandem with AJ Styles as a separate entity, completely neutral, but take it with a grain of salt, as all rumors are simply that until proven otherwise. Another rumor circulating is that TNA will attempt to bring back Alex Shelley to complete the three-man-tandem. In any case, this is an exciting time for TNA. With live events selling well at every junction, I believe we'll see a surge in attendance. Since the nearly 6,500 paying fans at the Chicago event, there has ALSO been talk about holding Bound for Glory in Chi-Town.....how's THAT for AWESOME?!


Friday, March 15, 2013

Survival Tactix: Aftermath.....

It's been a few days now. I'll be honest, I needed the time away. It gave me some perspective on the way I've been looking at certain things, but I'll get into that later. I got a chance to read some columns, most of which were very positive on the TNA brand. That makes me happy to see. I watched Impact this week. I HAVE to tell the truth here, I saw more potential in it than some, but it could have been a better showing for the night. For most people I talked to, there was too much talking, but when I asked them what happened at Lockdown, it began to makes sense that TNA NEEDED to have some of this stuff to build into the next phase of the story....the takeover. This isn't Immortal. This is MUCH better than that. Why? Because the inmates are running the asylum. Immortal was simply a bad boss with his cronies.

Bully Ray is the President. Good. I'm happy it isn't Brooke. I'm OVERJOYED it isn't a Hogan or a Bischoff. As much as I like the man, I'm glad it isn't Jarrett. This week's episode and the news surrounding TNA this week has had me so exasperated with circumstances that I had no clue how to respond to it all.....let me illustrate.

7 former Knockouts so far have denied TNA's request for an appearance at the One Night Only Knockouts PPV. My question is why? Why would all 7 women deny a chance to be on an all Knockouts PPV? To me, this would be a HUGE perk, having a stage all to yourself, being able to showcase to a more full degree. Out of all the names that have been contacted, there are TWO glimmers of hope, in my eyes.....Taylor Wilde and Salinas. Keep your fingers crossed. It'd be INCREDIBLE to see both back in TNA after the break.

TNA has been doing some financial adjustments to better afford the journey on the road. Unfortunately, these adjustments are wreaking havoc on the roster. Without going into too much detail, it's affecting the morale moving forward. This is bad, people, but there was a time when the same thing was going on during the transition from the Asylum to the Impact Zone as well, so it's a tough thing to really call one way or another.

RVD's contract is up and he hasn't resigned any paperwork yet, which is why he wasn't at the PPV on Sunday. Do they let him go? In my eyes he did a decent enough job putting over Kenny King, but the endeavor was too late. I DON'T think he should stick around. I think he needs to be away from the product now. Just let the bait go and leave well enough alone.

Last minute negotiations led Bobby Roode to a contract renewal, hence Aries and Roode retaining the Tag Team Titles. Some complain that the two belong in the main event and they do, but the Tag Team needs some leadership and these two work so well together and can give the division a push in the right direction. Those same people who complain about Aries and Roode forget about WWE tag teams like Big Show and Kane or Kane and RVD or Kane and Booker T or Jeri-Show or Edge and Randy Orton or a SLEW of others that WWE threw together to try and revamp their Tag Team Division.

I'll talk about some of this stuff in more detail as things develop, but for right now, it's enough. There's simply too much mix to really do a whole lot of justice to other than simply telling what's happened and trying to make sense of it all, so the break from here gave me a chance to take it all in, watch the patterns, get a feel for where things are moving, and adjust my vision accordingly. Now that I can see a little better, I say onward.....

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Survival Tactix: Onward.....

Okay.....now that the President of Aces and Eights has been revealed, some things are going to change, the first thing being masks. No more masks, or at least that's the impression I get. The other impression is that the faction will be expanding by a couple of members. I believe we'll see a few key players return that we haven't seen in a while for both sides of the conflict. I say we have a look at my predictions for those players. So let's explore, shall we?


Crimson.....
I don't think he should be any surprise to anyone. He's been away for quite a while and since they've been swerving quite a bit to try and throw people off the trail of which side each player is on, I think this one will be pretty straight forward.

Jay Bradley....
He's been under a mask already, though many had no idea. The most recent man to receive a TNA contract is also a member of the faction sent to take over. He has the look down and plays the villain very well. I see no reason why NOT.

Ivelisse Valez.....
We've been talking about the possibility of taking on a female member for a while now and the freshly scorned Valez would DEFINITELY fit the bill as one having the most recent reason to be upset about her status. I would go so far as to say her first feud would be against the most recent winner of the contract. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see Tapa debut as soon as 2 weeks from now.

For the TNA FRONTLINE>>>>>>

AJ Styles.....
Yeah, he's been reclusive. Yeah, he's been a bit frustrated, but in the end, I think he's too loyal to really make a heel turn at this stage in the game. While he may not be completely happy with what taking on the hero role means, I still think he's the white knight.

Matt Morgan.....
He's been against Hogan all this time, so why would he choose to save the product? Simple. He wants exposure and the idea of him being stopped from making his mark by the guy who turned may just be the ingredient to at least give food for thought that this may not entirely be Hogan's fault after all. I can see the Blueprint taking a step back and Hogan cutting him loose and letting him run free on the faction.

Taeler Hendrix......
Yep. Here's the thing....I think her story will very much depend upon how the story unfolds with Tapa and Velez. Why? Because she was the first woman to win the Gut Check contract in the FIRST place and for HER to see the newest pair getting a chance to shine while she is stuck in developmental is simply not fair. She may very well become the shifting of balance between the heels and faces  on the Knockouts Division.

NOW....I have to vent. I do this at the risk of undoing some positive things I've spoken about TNA in the past. This has to do with the Knockouts Division. If there is one place TNA needs an ambassador, it's here. Something happened over the course of the past 4-5 years with the Division that led to nearly HALF of the division leaving the roster. Winter, Angelina Love, Salinas, Rosita, Sarita, Roxxi, Kong, Traci Brooks, Alissa Flash, Hamada, Rhaka Khan and others all have seen the prominence and decline of the Knockouts Division. Roxxi, Kong, Angelina Love, and Traci Brooks have all declined TNA's offer to appear on the One Night Only Knockouts PPV tapings coming next weekend. My question is WHY? SOMETHING is wrong, folks, and the fact that these women can't be bothered to do a one shot is very telling. I'm a loyal fan of the product, even now. I'm even a fan of what they're doing with the Knockouts right now. My PROBLEM is trying to wrap my head around why TNA burned some of the women to the point that they don't want to be seen under the moniker. THAT bothers me, guys, and I'm not ashamed to say that I don't think the President of TNA would approve if she knew exactly HOW these women were burned. People can say what they want to about Dixie Carter and her knowledge of the wrestling business, but she has been a GREAT ambassador for the brand in her time as President. SO, my suggestion to HER is to put her nose into the negotiations and make some of those phone calls herself and BUTT into the process and cut off the newcomers who are trying to do the job she was meant for.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Survival Tactix: Why?

I'm sure by reading the title of this post, you'll be wondering just how I felt about Lockdown. Well, lemme tell ya, I'm kinda mixed about the whole thing. While I called SOMETHING like this happening, particularly with yesterday's post, and while it all makes sense now, I fail to see how this brings us any closer to the question of why. Okay, I saw Bully's turn coming yesterday, but when I look back, there were always signs that this was too good to be true. I guess my only question is what could Bully Ray POSSIBLY have against Sting that warranted him being taken out first last year? And furthermore, looking back at the story as it unfolded back in the middle of last year, when one guy was caught and he thanked Sting for "patching" him in.....does that mean that taking a beating was a badge of honor to the club? It's just another thing that makes me go hmmmm.

We could go into a MILLION reasons why, but there's really only one that matters, at least here. Why did TNA see fit to allow the faction to LOSE Lethal Lockdown but win the SINGLES matches? It just seems like an over emphasis on the "gang" aspect of their faction. Maybe I'm overstepping, but I get the impression that the strength of a faction is measured by the sum of it's parts....meaning that if every member is built with strength and durability, the faction will be as well, but in THIS case, it seems, if there is a pairing, a tag team, or a team of more, they fall, but in a singles match, the faction interferes to give the one man the win. Lockdown illustrated this theory perfectly.

I WILL say, however, that I wasn't AT ALL disappointed with Lockdown as some were. I LOVED the Knockouts Championship match, which was VERY worthwhile, even if only for the sight of Taryn Tarrell going ABSOLUTELY postal on Gail Kim. Nice spear, by the way....very worth seeing. Here's hoping for Taryn to join the ranks of TNA's Knockouts Division. For those who don't know, she's actually not a bad in ring performer. Give it about 2-3 months and she'll be right back in her element as a wrestler. As for Velvet Sky retaining, I get the feeling she'll have her hands full in the coming weeks and months.....and yes, I do mean the faction. I'm calling it right now, the faction WILL have AT LEAST one female member.

To be honest with you all, the only matches I wasn't particularly pleased with were the short ones ala Joseph Park/Joey Ryan and the battle of the Robbies. Had more time been given to the X Division match or even having a Number 1 Contenders' match for the Knockouts Division would have been nice, but seeing as TNA NOW has TWO  women's stories moving at once makes me overjoyed. I read a post on a Facebook forum stating that TNA has trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time in regards to their Knockouts Division and now that Taryn went OUT OF HER MIND on Gail and with Velvet Sky STILL needing a challenger for the title, it seems that post means little to nothing as of last night.

A strong showing by the Tag Team, Knockouts, and X Divisions last night as all three championships were successfully retained. I happen to believe the finish to the Tag Team match was BRILLIANT, by the way. If ANYONE missed it, look it up.....it's worth the watch. San Antonio truly got a treat by TNA holding the PPV there. I saw a great crowd and the arena looked pretty full, which is a GREAT sign of TNA's growth beginning to catch fire. THIS is JUST what TNA needs to succeed in the long run. Thursday marks the beginning of a new era, in more ways than one. The first is the obvious, the Impact Zone is no more. HOWEVER, the second way is one I will call Faction Development. A while back, I made this idea of a COMPLETELY faction based PPV. I called it BorderWars, but now that I've seen the name used before it has to be revamped. In any case, the battleground for THIS will have to be something new. In any case, I don't see the faction actually dying out until Bound for Glory and in THAT case, I'm betting that the card will be stack floor to ceiling with faction based matches.

What does this mean for Impact? Simple, if Aces and Eights wishes to interfere with the plans of the TNA Frontline, they need a champion for every division and a couple of grudge matches. If I were writing all of this out, it'd look something like this.....

Kurt Angle vs. Crimson
DOC vs. Magnus
Samoa Joe vs. Devon for the TV Title
Knucks vs. Eric Young
AJ Styles vs. Bully Ray for the World Title
Velvet Sky vs. Ivelisse Valez for the Knockouts Title
Christian York vs. Jay Bradley for the X Division Title
Money's Worth vs. Brisco/Bischoff for the Tag Team Titles
Tessmacher/Tarrell vs. ODB/Tara for the Knockout Tag Team Titles

NOW, I realize I put the Knockouts Tag Team Belts on the line, but I wanted to put more people into the shuffle to illustrate how it COULD work. I truly believe if TNA isn't doing anything with them, the belts need to disappear with a reason. I realize there are new faces on this list, but THOSE are my predictions for new members in the coming months. And those are ALL of them, either. I WILL say that, in the interest of keeping Bound for Glory's integrity, I'd ban the faction members from either side from ringside for every match OR put in a Lethal Enforcer as a stop gap to prevent outside interference from having their way in any match.

I realize that there are a few glaring omissions from this line-up and keep in mind, this is only an example of how things COULD go down.....we'll explore more into it as the weeks move closer to June 2nd, when TNA takes Slammiversary to Boston.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Survival Tactix: Two.....ONE

Tonight is the night. It may end up the night the Tag Titles were ALMOST retained, however. LordsofPain.net reports that Bobby Roode's contract has expired. In fact, it seems the contract expired a few weeks back. Hence, TNA upper management has been working hard to pound out a new agreement within the last couple of weeks. I have little doubt that TNA will secure Roode and the PPV will go off without a hitch, but it MAY put a little kink in storylines as the initial plan was for both to retain and build towards their ultimate goal....the securing of all titles. If Intergender Tag Teams were allowed to flourish, I DO wonder if they'd take on a Knockout in their merry band and allow the Knockouts Tag Belts to change hands FINALLY. Sorry....just a little side note.

Whatever the case, Dixie Carter tweeted this week that Lockdown will be the highest attendance number TNA has ever had in the US. That breaks the old record set by Slammiversary of last year at 5500. At last report, over 6000 seats have been sold. This is a GREAT development for TNA. With tickets selling well in Chicago, TNA could be looking at a lucrative new market to branch into. Newly announced future dates in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Arkansas make it increasingly difficult for TNA to encounter with tactics WWE has been trying to employ. This is good. It means that because of the sporatic jumps from city to city, there is no discernible pattern by which WWE can model and edge TNA out of. On a more personal level, because they've taken to the forums and asked FANS where they should go next says a great deal to me in how TNA is making their mark on the landscape.

To top off the news of the day....AJ Styles has said that since TNA has come into his home uninvited, he was going to do the same in Chicago, but that isn't saying he won't be at the PPV tonight. Which brings me to a scenario that I was hesitant to bring up but now feel it COULD come to pass. Imagine that Bully Ray wins the World Heavyweight Title. Imagine the confetti drops from the ceiling and THEN imagine D-Lo Brown waltzing to the ring to congratulate the President of the Aces and Eights for a hard fought battle. THEN, from the back, the faces on the roster come out to try and re-take the ring, while Jay Bradley, Chris Masters, Crimson and the remaining Aces and Eights members rush the squared circle to brawl over the hill. Then, from nowhere, the return we've all been waiting for....Abyss comes to the ring with a thunderous applause and he is able to clear the ring and THAT's how it ends.

Think about it. That's all I'm saying. Just THINK ABOUT IT. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Rants from Ringside: D-Lo Joins the Club.


Let me start this blog off with a little bit of a story. Tactix and I have known each other for quite some time now and one of the things that we both love doing is predicting what is going to happen on TNA. Well, after the February 28th episode of Impact, Tactix contacted me and asked me who I thought Kurt Angle had unmasked when he infiltrated the Aces and Eights . A few names were thrown out, but he was the one who mentioned D-Lo Brown. I immediately shot this down thinking the person that Angle had attacked was too, height and weight, to be D-Lo. So, needless to say I was shocked when it was revealed that it was in fact D-Lo that Angle had put the beat down on the week before. Well, last night I had just crawled into bed listening to one of my favorite movies, “Avatar” playing in the background when my phone goes off. Of course, it was Tactix, Facebook messaging me eager to find out exactly what I thought about D-Lo being announced as the VP of the Aces and Eights. Normally, I would stay up and answer him, but instead I told him that he would know by around noon today. So, I’m done stalling. Here is what I think.

D-Lo Brown is a perfect selection for the VP of the Aces and Eights. I love how so many of the members of the group are guys who have worked for WWE and didn’t exactly leave on good terms. Having guys like D-Lo, Devon, Mr. Anderson, and Mike Knox paves the way perfectly for a reveal of Jeff Jarrett as the President of the Aces and Eights. Another person I love bouncing ideas off of when it comes to pro wrestling is my mother. She is the one who got me started watching the business over 20 years ago and she loves it just as I do. So we were talking this morning about Impact and she asked me where I thought TNA was going with this storyline and who I thought the president was going to be. I simply said Jeff Jarrett then I waited for a reaction. She just stared at me a little perplexed. I explained that it makes since that he has not been around for quite some time. And then bring him back as the President of the Aces and Eights. Now, this isn’t something that Tactix and I have gone over at length so he hasn’t heard what I am about to propose.

My thoughts are that it only makes total sense to have so many ex WWE talent making up the Aces and Eights. They have come from a company that was not being run properly or who have been screwed over by Vince McMahon himself. So, having Hogan come in running things, they could come in with a list of complaints basically making the point that they had come to TNA thinking they were going to be treated fairly and that they expected to be treated better by TNA management. But, that all went away when Hogan came in. Now the X-Division is basically gone, compared to what it used to be. The Tag Team division could definitely be better than it is now and the women’s division is going through a rough patch. They will basically claim that they were not being included before joining the club and that they are here to fight for their opportunity. The fact that Devon has not defended his TV title is going to come into play as well.
In short, I was super excited to see that D-Lo was announced as the VP of the Aces and Eights and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the storyline plays out.
As always thanks for reading and I would love to find out what you think about the whole thing.
-TFC. 

Survival Tactix: Three.....

As promised, the rumor mill. Before I go here, I'd like to explain how WWE's contracts work, by and large. If a WWE performer is RELEASED, a 90 Day No Compete Clause goes into effect, meaning that said performer is not allowed to compete on TELEVISION for 90 days. No TNA, no ROH, none of it...period. NOW, if they allow the contract to simply lapse or expire....no clause. They simply become free agents in the colossal talent pool. Hence Kurt Angle. Hence Christian Cage. Why should I bother bringing up the rules? Because rumors have reached me of a top WWE talent thinking about Crossing the Line......

So who MIGHT be on TNA's radar? The Legend Killer, himself. That's the rumor. Is there any truth? I truly have no way of knowing....yet. You see, the last I knew, Randy Orton's contract went longer than the source I've heard is taking it. His belief is that Orton's contract expires shortly after Wrestlemania, which would mean TNA would get yet another "WWE reject". Have I mentioned how much I HATE that term? In any case, Orton would come to TNA with the training wheels off and under a TV-14 rating, which has been home for the bulk of his career anyway. Feuding with Hardy, Ray, Devon, even Matt Morgan wouldn't be out of the ordinary, but a pinch hit in the TV Title chase would be something a TNA-ified Randy would give some credibility to.

Here's something worth thinking about.....for all of your who come here for a little bit of varied perspective, have you ever wondered what a guy like Orton or Cena or even Sheamus could do without move bans, scripts, or being yelled at after the match? In MY eyes, we saw Orton's best work against the likes of Hardy, Christian, RVD, and Shelton Benjamin over the Intercontinental Title for the early portion of his WWE career, having more than one really good match against each.

90%.....The percent of WWE fanboys who will use his departure as yet another way to complain about TNA's product because of how many former WWE guys they have. You all know my feelings about this little mindset some feel compelled to find themselves in. My response? Deal with it. If the changing of the tides demands that TNA utilize some performers who need a chance to allow their bodies to heal from the long, demanding schedule WWE insists on employing, I say FINE. So be it. It took a long time for me to come to this point. Maybe it was one too many overzealous TNA purists. Maybe it was yet another bitter WWE fanboy, upset his favorite wrestler left WWE for greener pastures. Whatever the case, I have come to the conclusion that my initial impressions of TNA's ability to take on former WWE talents has changed.....hopefully for the better.

APPARENTLY, the best way to come to grips with ANY rumor, even one as big as this, is to step back, look at the bigger picture, and determine what's REALLY important in the formula for the success of whatever alleged change is 'set' to occur. While I don't buy into the rumor of Mr. Orton joining the ranks of TNA's Elite, I don't completely rule out anything. Why? As a long standing wrestling tradition, and words uttered by countless talents, never say never.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Survival Tactix: Four......

Yesterday, I explored the "what if" scenario of Bret Hart and I won't lie, I was a bit astonished. TNA misusing him? Admittedly, WCW DID misuse him, but when you take into consideration the conditions upon which his debut was cast, SOME of that misuse can be understood. Understood, NOT agreed upon. HOWEVER, TNA is NOT WCW. Some of their personnel are familiar, but never forget that this company was built around some of those talents that WCW never gave the chance at success to.....WWE too, for that matter.

Truth be told, Bret wasn't my idea for what to address this day. Last night, TNA put on a decent showing. I truly believe this was the best way they could have played their cards. Yeah, I was a little bit disappointed that they didn't bring Valez to the big dance even though she won her Gut Check match last week, but if they end up signing her anyway, I'm all good for that. I do have a couple of questions to which I have no answers.....

1. Where's Jay Bradley? He did win a contract, did he not? I've searched OVW's talent roster. Not there....was I right? Did D-Lo sign Bradley? The questions abound. If TNA decides to go all out with the storyline, I say they finish it off by bringing in the last of who they have on standby and just get this whole thing over with. THAT MEANS, if they have Chris Masters, Bradley, Crimson, and anyone else, they need them to bring them. If TNA wants to win the day, those loyal to the brand need to lose at Lockdown or win at a cost. In any case, the explanation MUST come with the final reveal....the President.

2. Why NOT pick Valez? Anyone who believes Ivelisse Valez is COMPLETELY done, go to OVW's website and give their roster a look over. While they may not have made it to the main roster, the Blossom Twins are on OVW's roster, along with Sam Shaw, Alex Silva, and Taeler Hendrix... and yes, EXCEPT Jay Bradley.

Lei'd Tapa may NOT have been my FIRST choice, but I will give the judges some credit for picking someone who could be legitimately different from the rest. Her size alone makes her a standout. PLUS, she has a lineage, which is a rarity on the female side of things in the top side of the wrestling business...particularly if she's going to get a decent push. In spite of NOT winning the day, I doubt very much that Valez is out of the running. I can see another option here....the faction. I've been saying that it might be possible for a woman to become a member and SHE'S about as good as it gets. Her background in MMA would go PERFECTLY here.

As for the rest of the show, I have nothing but good things to say. TNA played things pretty safe, utilizing the model I have come to expect, straight from an era near and dear. I have high hopes for this PPV and have a couple more columns with some startling news from the rumor mills, including another "what if" scenario. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Survival Tactix: Five.....

I've had this thought in the back of my head for the entire day....

This week, Bret Hart was interviewed by Wrestletalk TV Extra and during that interview, he used the term "worthless" to describe Hogan and Bischoff. The funny part of that? He chose WCW back in the day KNOWING full well that he wouldn't be main eventing for a while. Why? Hogan and Bischoff's nWo storyline was in full swing and there was simply no room for a fresh-from-Montreal Bret Hart on the top tier.

NOW, fast forward nearly 20 years and WWE has made their peace with Bret, or at least that's what they would have us believe. But what if Bret, as a part of wrestling storyline development, is actually behind a grander story, designed to put TNA over the top? Today, I have the "what if" scenario that might intrigue a great many of you out there.

What if TNA has had a financial backer to buy out Bret Hart's contract and to ultimately reveal that BRET HART has been the leader of the Aces and Eights the entire time?

Suppose....just suppose that a private investor was able to procure the contract AND buy off the no-compete clause as well from Vince McMahon. The legends deal Hart has been operating under is inconclusive in terms of length, but THAT isn't the important part of it. What IS important is that WWE has just released a Bret Hart collection on DVD and Blu Ray and it is bound to bring some much welcome revenue to the Hart Family Dynasty. Additionally, this interview exposes the leadership of a direct competitor.

Last year, TNA played the social media and "smark" community by "leaking" that Devon's contract had expired and that negotiations had fallen through, even making mock indications that he and Jesse Neal, who had been teaming with one another up to that point, were considering going to WWE together. They even went so far as to have Hulk Hogan call the loss the "biggest mistake TNA made" that year before unmasking Devon in the events surrounding Bound for Glory. My point? Right now, TNA is better than ever at playing social media in favor of throwing people off track in terms of big storyline development.

SO, could Hart be the President of the Aces and Eights? I doubt it, but the "what if" scenenario seems to lend itself to a distinct possibility, provided Bret were a completely free agent. If THAT were the case and if TNA were to hold off the final reveal until any sort of non-compete clause were to lapse AND if all other plans were to be put to the wayside, this could work. The idea is that all things would have to work together and the stars would have to align in order for TNA to see THIS story twist take form.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Survival Tactix: Six.....

With only 6 short days to go (including today) and one broadcast left to flesh out the rest of the Lockdown card, I have a barrage of questions that I HOPE will be answered come Sunday night. Most of these questions center on the primary spotlight of the product right now....the Aces and Eights and how best to put closure to the storyline.

My first question is a really simply one. Who did Angle unmask? If the faction allowed Kurt to leave under his own power and not in a bucket, we're certain to find that out this week. NOW, I said before that the guy could be Joseph Park. I realize SOME are looking for D-Lo Brown and that might make things interesting, but the biggest complaint I'm seeing is that nearly everyone in the faction is a mid-card wonder. Knox, DOC, Devon, Brisco, Bischoff, only Anderson has had main event status in the whole bunch and having yet another non-wrestler to join would be something I doubt we'd ever hear the end of....because Shield's members are ALL main eventers, right? At least with Joseph, we could reasonably expect the return of Abyss in the coming weeks.

My second question is also simple. Who's pulling the strings? We've all been speculating TONS of people from Eric Bischoff to Jeff Jarrett to Abyss to Bully Ray to Brooke all the way to Hulk, himself, but as of now, there IS NO one person who stands out. I could quite easily make a case for a few, but others would take a stretch. Up until a month ago or so, the whole ending was still up in the air. Has there been a decision? Fair question, I think, but it remains to be seen if the answer will disappoint the fan base. I DO want to make something PAINFULLY clear to everyone here....I do NOT want to see Immortal version 2.0...hence, no HOGAN.

My last question as it relates to the faction is a bit more tricky. How long should the Aces and Eights band together once Lockdown's lights have faded? In MY eyes, Aces and Eights NEED a win, a BIG win in order to move their agenda forward. I don't see any stage larger than Lockdown right now to make this happen. If every member has been documented and unmasked, I think this is the best time to address how long this faction will last. If it were up to me, I'd push for Bound for Glory. Why? Because that will give the send off the biggest push out the door.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Survival Tactix: "How Could You, Man?!"


This is the moment of truth, boys and girls. Angle unmasked the VP of the Aces and Eights on Impact, as all of you know. The problem is, none of US got to see who the man was. Because of his size, it begs the question of whether or not we could be looking at the "Monster" Abyss' return, but I have this feeling we'll get a more in depth storyline explaining all of that. For now, I'm going to make the prediction that the VP is none other than Joseph Park. Why? THAT is EXACTLY what Kurt Angle and the rest of the Impact Zone is going to want to know.

This begins a brand new story that could very well become the next big story arc involving the return of a couple of old characters. Even now, TNA is in the process of bringing in Judas Mesias for another run, meaning it COULD be that the return of Mesias will herald the complete transformation of Joseph Park into the "Monster" character we all remember. On the other hand, we could ALSO be looking at two completely separate characters who are being set for a confrontation down the road. Yes, the man playing the Joseph Park character is also the man behind the the Abyss mask, but if we're to suspend disbelief long enough for the story to play out, perhaps this is the other possibility for where this revelation is heading.

On a semi-related note, this Thursday marks the last Impact Wrestling broadcast from the Impact Zone. Although the next few One Night Only events will air from Orlando, Impact Wrestling will be traveling for the foreseeable future. On this week's show, we'll have a segment explaining the final segment of the February 28th show above. In addition to THAT, we'll have the Gut Check Knockout Contract decision, a Best-of-Three-Series to determine the numbers advantage for Lethal Lockdown, and further development of the AJ Styles situation.

The two final revelations are sure to be interesting, but I DO wonder if Jesse Sorenson will be revealed as a part of things as was predicted by a couple of sources. While rumors are winding down over the possibility of more than one revelation other than the VP of the faction, it remains up in the air as to what the final decision will be concerning the actual head of the organization. At one time, Hogan had been trying to push the idea of Brooke as the leader of the Aces, but that had met resistance early on by the rest of the Creative Team. It COULD be that this whole thing isn't simply one man at the top or one woman, but rather a trio. If it were me, I'd pick Chris Sabin, Jesse Sorenson, and Crimson, but the point behind THAT would be to simply throw off the trail of a Jarrett or a Bischoff being behind it all. A more complex storyline would make for a more interesting reveal once it all comes full circle.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Survival Tactix: A Shout Out and Other News.....

In 2002, The Wounded Warrior Project was born. Why do I bring this group up? First of all, because this charity is a valuable service to wounded soldiers returning from war. Since not all wounds of war are physical, this organizations helps aid service men and women make the transition back to civilian life, offering job placement, information concerning support groups in the area, and a host of other services to benefit the lives of these veterans. Secondly, a great many TNA performers are active in raising funds for this organization.

On August 16th in Chatsworth, Georgia, for those in the area, there will be a fundraising event featuring a few of TNA's finest. The venture has DOC from the Aces and Eights facing one of the Sting fan site's very own, Shanon Dwayne Smith, (pictured left) in a match that SHOULD prove worthy of the honor of those for whom the funds are raised to help support. For the people who are in process of putting the event together, I honor you here as this is a forum that is bringing attention to such a worthy cause.

For anyone who is curious about how the unfeatured members of the TNA roster are faring away from the small screen, OVW's website has a link to each week's episode.

http://www.ovwrestling.com

The link above will allow access to the weekly episodes for over a month as well as a profile of their roster. Just a note worth mentioning....the Blossom Twins are on the OVW roster. Coincidence? I think not. If my predictions hold any weight, I would guess the pair will find their way to the main roster soon enough.



Friday, March 1, 2013

Survival Tactix: Curious.....

In the wake of my last post, I was doing some digging, as I sometimes find myself doing. A few things came to my attention concerning everything on the wrestling scene right now that I find quite interesting......

1. Wrestlemania only has 4 matches set in stone right now. Everything else is pretty much up in the air. I can think of NO other time in the history of WWE when so little is prepared for the biggest show of the year by this time. With virtually all things being weighed as open game, Vince has yet to make decisions about what can be put together without looking like a total randomized roster shuffle. To make matters worse, Monday's RAW is said backstage to be little more than a "throwaway" episode, making the situation look even more like Vince is losing his cohesion.

2. Lockdown's card is all but finished and all that remains is the formality of making the remaining matches official. The card looks something like this.....

Bully Ray vs. Jeff Hardy for the World Title
Gail Kim vs. Velvet Sky for the Knockouts Title
Bad Influence vs. Chavo/Hernandez vs. Money's Worth for the Tag Titles
Team TNA vs. Aces and Eights
Wes Brisco vs. Kurt Angle

I can pretty much guess there will be at least one more match to round out the card, but Rob Terry vs. Robbie E. is not an upper tier match and will be given little time as it'll probably end up looking more like a squash. Also, I'm going to guess the next challenger for the X Division Title will be announced coming out of next week's episode. My guess is that TNA is wanting to give the Tag Title more time, as well as the Brisco/Angle match AND the Lethal Lockdown match, where it will come down to the wire for the win.

3. Angle unmasked the Vice President of the Aces and Eights on Impact. We still don't know who we're looking at....yet. I'm going to go out on a ledge and guess that Joseph Park has this part played in such a way that I've been talking about over the course of the past months, where he has developed a split personality and is unaware that it's taken over. THIS would put it over the top.

4. AJ Styles and Abyss are MY new picks as the X Factors going into the PPV. I gave very different answers earlier, but now that the story is more fleshed out, it looks like a good bet those two will be the roster members to watch.

5. MVP has announced that he's finished working with New Japan Pro Wrestling and is looking to come back to the States to work. Apparently, he's opened up his expectations to include TNA, even though he's made some pretty critical statements concerning the promotion in the past year or two. I am of the belief that TNA is pretty much set in their roster depth to be able to keep the show moving without the aid of a returning MVP to the States. But even if they DO decide to offer him work, they run the risk of being hit with the CONSTANT double standard of taking on another "WWE REJECT". It never fails. When WWE took on Monty Brown, Chris Harris, Lance Hoyt, Kid Kash, and Awesome Kong, no one claimed they were taking "TNA rejects". This is a catch-22 TNA will never win and it makes little sense to me. Fans will say "TNA needs more recognizable talents", but if they get them from WWE, they're taking on "WWE rejects". I have to shake my head at the STUPIDITY of the argument. End rant.

6. Lockdown will be a tipping point for TNA, make no mistake about that. The night after will determine how well the first step forward is received. This is a pivotal time in the history of professional wrestling in the current era. A good showing in Texas will help drive Chicago's numbers and THOSE numbers will build into the next week. This is special, guys and gals....it's a time when TNA learns how to fly solo and build upon their own merits. They have no shortage on critics, that's for certain, but in spite of the criticisms on the side of TNA, a great many columnists are seeking alternatives now that WWE is falling into disarray in recent years and TNA is starting to look more and more like the company to watch this year.

Let's face facts, Ring of Honor is bleeding right now with the losses of Shelton Benjamin and El Generico and the hiatus of Jim Cornette from the company. While they look to be trying to incorporate a Women's Division of sorts, the company's financial woes hurt the chances of a return to their prominent place in the scheme of wrestling matters despite those efforts, at least in the short term. As far as long term plans are concerned, it remains to be seen if recovery is on the horizon with TNA having recruited their Executive Producer and WWE raiding their talent pool.