Friday, November 29, 2013

THE Final Resolution.....

So here we are at the end of the Thanksgiving week in the States and I think we can all agree that both of the top promotions in the land decided to play it pretty lax in terms of not really moving very much in the respective stories of each, which is just fine with me. The last "PPV" of the year is on the horizon, Final Resolution. This leads me to the subject of this column: the events leading into the PPV-style special AND the card itself. The only spoilers in this column will deal with the card itself and I WON'T go into ANY detail as to how TNA arrived to this end. SO, if you don't want to know what's coming, you know the drill.

The card, as far as I know it, consists of a couple of things: the World Heavyweight Title match between Magnus and Jeff Hardy AND the potential showdown between Madison Rayne and Gail Kim /w Lei'D Tapa. If things continue on their current track, I believe the card will go something like this:

Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky vs. Gail Kim and Lei'd Tapa
Kurt Angle vs. Bobby Roode
Jeff Hardy vs. Magnus
Mr. Anderson vs. Bully Ray
Bad Influence vs. Gunner/Storm vs. Bromans vs. Eric Young/Joseph Park
Austin Aries vs. Zema Ion vs. Chris Sabin vs. Manic


There's NO ONE who can say this isn't a decent card and considering that the return of AJ Styles is imminent, there's really only one of two ways this could go down.

1. Styles shows up AT Final Resolution to determine the face-off against the new World Title holder

OR

2. Styles shows up in the weeks after the new champion is christened.

To my mind, there's really no sense in having AJ show up until well after the new champion is crowned as it would cheapen the reign of whoever finally takes their place as the new face of the company in the poster boy's absence.

Another thing to consider is that TNA is going to want to end this year off as strong as possible to try and render aid to their numbers, which have been slightly down to this point. To that end, it wouldn't surprise me if they put a specialty match for the X Division Title and even brought back Kenny King from the sidelines. Further, in the tag match, I would expect Joseph Park to finally either make his transformation OR for total separation of the two characters to take place WITHIN the confines of said match. What would be appropriate is if the rules allowed for a more physically demanding match type, for example a Ladder Match between all four teams.

I realize there are quite a few ideas and it might even seem as though I'm rambling, but the truth of the matter is that quite a few of these details will NEED to wrap before year's end in order to ramp into Genesis come the New Year. Genesis implies a change and a fresh start moving forward and without some of these storyline plot points coming to a punctuation, TNA runs the risk of alienating fans by running the story too long on precisely the points I've outlined here.

The pieces that don't seem to have a place as of yet are Sam Shaw, who has been resurfacing of recent with his interview segment with Christy Hemme just this past week; Samoa Joe, the remnants of the Aces and Eights, and Ethan Carter, who is still building towards one thing or another. I would chance that Sam Shaw and Ethan are being built to bring back the TV Title under different conditions, but that concept has yet to be fleshed out and there aren't even rumors to back that up. I'll go into THAT subject deeper in the next column and how I would arrange the battle for the TV Title. Until then....keep watching the patterns.....

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Rebuilding the Divisions.....Knockouts Edition

I've stated in other columns that TNA is committing themselves to rebuilding what was lost in the past couple of years now that they've come back home to the Impact Zone for a time. Having spent a great deal of time going back and watching matches from some of the greats of Knockouts past, I find myself more certain than ever that the talent is out there and it's awe inspiring. Alissa Flash, Taylor Wilde, Sojo Bolt, Salinas, Ivelisse Valez, Angelina Love, Awesome Kong, Trinity, Rosita, and Sarita, among the host of other talents held TNA to the highest of high standards for women's wrestling competition. As it turns out, the powers that be haven't burned every bridge among the women who have put them on the map.

While Nikki Roxx has announced her retirement from the sport, moving side by side into the history books with Taylor Wilde; Trinity, Sojo Bolt, Jackie Moore, Alissa Flash, and Ivelisse returned for the One Night ONLY PPV this year, leading me to believe that there is some hope for the division yet. The question for this column, however, is who is going to be listed among the active roster members for this revitalized division? I have my hopes, but it ultimately rests on the shoulders of the ones making the decisions. That said, let's look at MY picks.

1. Velvet Sky- The most popular seller of Knockouts merchandise bar none.
2. Gail Kim- The history maker and innovator of the division.
3. ODB- The most recent fan favorite.
4. Tessmacher- Last year's most improved player.
5. Taryn Tarrell- This year's most improved player.
6. Ivelisse Valez- Lei'D Tapa's foil for the Gut Check Challenge.
7. Lei'D Tapa- The new amazon character.
8 and 9. Hannah and Holly Blossom- A FAR better pick than Rockstar Spud.
10. LuFisto- The single best competitor in the entire Gut Check voting pool.
11. Taeler Hendrix- The first female Gut Check winner.
12. Madison Rayne- Among the finest heel women to grace TNA's stage.

This is my roster compilation. Plenty of veterans to offset the disadvantages that youth might bring into the equation. There's enough diversity to make for some interesting match types, to be sure. If there was a return I could plan to surprise the masses, it'd be Melina Perez. It's about time to bring back someone familiar to the small screen. I can see some wheel turning....why not Angelina? Why not Kong? Simply put, they don't want to come back and even if they did, the fans know the difference between genuinely wanting to be there vs. having no choice but to come back in order to stay relevant.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Presence Detected......

SPOILER ALERT: If you are purists and want nothing to do with the knowledge of future episodes of TNA Impact Wrestling, you might want to turn back now. Otherwise, feel free to cheer at the end of this column with the knowledge I'm about to disclose......

For the past couple of months, TNA has been narrowed down to 5 Knockouts on their roster: Lei'D Tapa, Velvet Sky, Brooke Tessmacher, ODB, and Gail Kim. In an earlier column, I made the statement that the coming weeks would see a prominent return and, in my humble opinion, there are few Knockouts in TNA's history who have been a better heel than the one returning......Madison Rayne. Yes, she is about 2 months out from having a baby, but she's as tough as they come AND she makes something possible that wouldn't surprise me one bit.....the banding together of one of TNA's most famous long running tandems.....The Beautiful People.

Could it happen? I think it could. While Chris Sabin has been playing the heel over the course of the past couple of months, I have yet to see indications of Velvet playing into that persona. In fact, it MIGHT be possible to see Sabin make a face turn gradually over the course of the next few months IF Velvet and Rayne reunite to take on Kim and Tapa. I won't tell you guys HOW the return happens, but you'll know it when you see it. So what does this mean for the state of the Knockouts Division?

TNA is, even now, looking to rebuild their long-suffering Knockouts Division after giving time off to Taryn Tarrell during the tenure of her pregnancy and the releases of Mickie James and Tara. I won't lie, all were big losses, especially since the original plans called for Tarrell to win the Knockouts Title at Bound for Glory this year, but Tara and James ALSO came with a big price tag and very little guarantee for a tenure that benefitted the long term plans TNA has for the division as a whole. I can't blame upper management for letting them go as they do need to cut some higher costs in order to benefit the bottom line. It did, however, leave a big gap in the division and THAT is where Madison Rayne shines. Rayne was, without a doubt, the single most improved wrestler on the entire roster when she broke away from the Beautiful People, establishing herself as a dominant presence.

Another division that is slated for overhaul is the X Division, which comes with the return of ANOTHER member who has been out for months....Zema Ion. As difficult as it has been for me to truly get behind him, it has been painfully obvious that he's been gone. Some might dispute me on this, but I found myself missing his highspots and even the hairspray, oddly enough. But his return and the rebuilding of the division under the tutelage of Austin Aries and Chris Sabin as the veterans makes me believe that good things are coming down the pike for the X Division as well.

With TNA back the Impact Zone, at least in the short term, and having unloaded some hefty contracts, they NOW are able to make some decent offers to a few talents on their radar, among them being a couple from Ring of Honor and the return of some old favorites. Homicide, Rubix, Gregory Helms, and Joey Ryan have been in TNA's sights of recent and, from what I'm told, John Morrison is also a strong contender, though nothing is set in stone as of this post. With Ion's return, and the promise of returns and debuts in the coming months, rest assured that business is going to be picking up for TNA's other specialty division ramping into their PPV schedule to start the new year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Survival Tactix: No More Surviving.....

I feel like I HAVE to ask this. I don't know the answer to this question and it's that fact that actually bothers me. Why is it that so many fans complained about Hulk Hogan and the regime's influence on the product, but when he goes away and has been telling people he won't be back, those complaining still feel obligated to complain? Hogan's GONE, and you're STILL not happy?! Oh, I get it....it's Dixie, right? Why does that bother people, when they KNOW full well she won't be around for long? This same group of people also complained when Jeff Jarrett was champion through most of the early televised era of TNA, stating that he was "burying talents" and such. Even though that might have been true, it didn't last long before Jarrett took a more backstage role in the company, allowing for more new talents to take on the champion mantle.

What's more, the numbers aren't going up, as one might surmise would be the case from a public so sick of having Hulk Hogan's family on camera. In fact, they're actually going down slightly, which is confusing to me. I'm seeing what's coming this week, which historically speaking, has always been a bit of a down week for TNA AND WWE as we enter the Thanksgiving season, and is bound to put up some lower than normal numbers anyway. HOWEVER, coming OUT of the month, TNA has some GOOD stuff in store including a much anticipated return, which is HUGE for one of their struggling divisions right now.

Another thing on the horizon is that TNA is working towards FINALLY putting an end to an angle I've had hope for, but has let me down.....the Joseph Park/ Abyss debacle. Even as I write this, I have one hand on my head and I let out a massive sigh of frustration. How hard is it to screw up the transformation of Joseph Park? I'm being absolutely serious here. He went through a torturous experience with the Aces and Eights and somehow managed to keep his Joseph Park alter ego intact. I have no problem with that. What I DO have a problem with is that they kept teasing the transformation with Park using some of Abyss' moveset when someone made him bleed. That would have been so easy to transition out of, but they wasted virtually every segment. As far as I'm concerned, let's just get through it quickly and bring the monster back to main roster without any more delays OR find a way to separate the two into two separate entities. 

Another thing that has started to get under my skin.....what's with the hate on the whole AJ Styles storyline? Is it original? YES! While I've gone into detail on this whole thing with CM Punk, not only has Styles run with his threat and actually pushed the envelope BEYOND what Punk ever did, when he returns, we're not looking at a systematic burial. The "Action Never Ends" campaign has done a good job of chronicling the journey of Styles AND the unnerving of Dixie and, in my humble opinion, has managed to raise the stakes of the feud, if that's possible. 

This past Sunday, WWE presented Survivor Series. I've seen the highlights and I'm glad I missed the lulls as I'm told they were plentiful. In fact, during the Orton/ Big Show bout, there were "TNA" chants that broke out. Any time I hear that, it gives me some hope for the underdog. Now that WWE has teased the deathblow to one of the two top titles in a unification match between John Cena and Randy Orton, it seems clear to me that the glass ceiling just keeps getting thicker and thicker. How so? Instead of FOUR competitors vying to capture one of TWO top titles, there will only be TWO competitors in the battle for only ONE top title in the land of Vince. That means a smaller top tier, which means fewer opportunities. Let's face it, WWE's top tier is small and, if they go through with a unification of the top titles, is going to get smaller....much smaller. 

I'm not saying that WWE needs to be downsized or anything to that end, but it would appear that WWE doesn't share that assessment. With the US Title, the Intercontinental Title, the Divas Title, the World Tag Team Titles, and the two World Titles, it looks like WWE has ALREADY begun their downsizing. Once the two mid-card titles have been unified, which I would bet is coming within the next year, we'll be right back to the way things were about 20 years ago....only this time, we're looking at a division of women with far less in ring talent than when Alundra Blaze won the Women's Title in '93. 

So WHERE is all this going? While I've mentioned that TNA's numbers have taken a step down, I believe this is temporary. I'll go out on a limb and say TNA's numbers will pick back up as the finals of the World Title Tourney come to a close and a new champion is crowned. I'll even go further and guess that they'll spike again with the return of AJ Styles. WWE's numbers have also gone down, but this trend has been ongoing and has been on the same course ever since they began their PG initiative. Sure, there have been little spikes, but by and large, the numbers don't lie. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

"WWE's Perfect Foil" or "The Ghost of Christmas Past"

I've said it many times here that TNA reminds me a great deal of WWF during the Attitude Era, but with a more wrestling based roster. I stand by that assessment. With Sports Illustrated giving TNA some decent press in their article covering their President, Dixie Carter and Turning Point putting to rest one of the longest running storylines in their history, I'd say things are coming along pretty smoothly to finish out the year. This column has a couple of different slants that I'd like to talk about.

First, the Wrestling Observer reports that Thursday's NXT tapings were a buzz with activity stating that it was "shocking how much WWE officials were stressing about TNA taping across town". NOW, I grant that TNA isn't the juggernaut WWE is to date, but this seems telling to me. With Triple H and his "Yes" men determined not to do any more recruiting from the indies for their talents as they claim to have "too many", it makes me curious to know exactly what they plan to do now that they have Daniel Bryan and John Cena inexplicably bound to their respective Bella Twin on their reality show now that the "no little man" clause is set to go into effect. For those who weren't paying attention a week back, I'll explain.....

WWE officials have looked at their ratings and how they break down and have come to the conclusion that Daniel Bryan is to blame for falling ratings along with CM Punk and others on the roster of shorter or smaller stature. So, to that end, Bryan and Punk are out, Big Show is in, and according to reporters from the Wrestling Observer, an initiative moving forward will send AT LEAST D-Bry back to the mid-card to eek out the rest of his WWE career. Further, CM Punk's contract is up at the beginning of 2014, meaning that Punk COULD become the hottest free agent of the year. Does he jump to TNA? I, personally, hope not, for reasons too numerous to mention in THIS column. Suffice it to say, though, that Punk has himself a bit of a bad reputation backstage AND a bit of a sour disposition amongst fans, which is a MAJOR conflict of interest as far as it relates to TNA, which is HEAVILY fan generated.

But all that notwithstanding, the point is that Punk's contract is coming up and D-Bry's is sure to follow shortly thereafter. Do they simply take what they're given because WWE is the biggest show on the block or do they jump ship? WWE is actually nervous about TNA taping their show across Orlando, people....is this sinking in? They've just build this GIGANTIC training center and they've been running people through there like mad, trying to find the next "it" man; the next "Stone Cold" or the next "Rock" to light their business back on fire. Vince, I'm going to let you in on a little secret and I know it won't sink in because nothing the fans are telling you ever does because you know better, but......guys like "Stone Cold" don't work in a PG ENVIRONMENT! If Randy Orton can get a hefty fine for flipping the finger in the middle of the ring or if the censors kick in when someone makes an off color reference to another performers posterior, you'd think the rafters are going to come down from Vince's rage, but when Steve Austin did it, the roof simply came OFF from the energy from the FANS.

I HAVE to know the answer to this, because I, for one, am COMPLETELY stumped. What does WWE have against the independent circuit? Has CM Punk sold enough t shirts? How about The Shield? Haven't THEY generated enough buzz? Jon "Dean Ambrose" Moxley and Seth "Tyler Black" Rollins have done quite well for them, considering they come from CZW and ROH respectively, not to mention Claudio "Antonio Cesaro" Castagnoli of ROH fame. Truth be told, if I didn't know any better, I'd say that WWE was swiping those of upper echelon indy status just to keep them off the TNA roster. What other reason would they have to acquire Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards from Ring of Honor?

TNA is the PERFECT "Ghost of Christmas Past" to WWE this season. They're taking WWE's "Summer of Punk" and making something special out if it, legitimizing federations the world over in the process. Do I care that AJ Styles is making waves on the forums because of the CM Punk comparisons? Nope. Why? Because people are talking. And NOW, they're asking questions...."Why didn't Punk go overseas?" "Why didn't Punk go to Ring of Honor like he claimed he might?" And all of those people who were disappointed that Punk didn't go there get to see AJ STYLES face a legitimate Mexican contender in El Mesias (which was a good match, by the way), a Japanese top notch performer, one of the UK's best and brightest, and others in turn until TNA calls him back home to put the finishing touches on this collaborative storyline spanning continents.

Here's something I just thought about.....Chris Hero aka. Kassius Ohno was released about a week back now and has been taking indy bookings. I want to see HIM in TNA. His work with some of the top notch veterans like Daniels and Samoa Joe was "ask for it by name" type stuff. A mainstay spot on the TNA roster is, quite simply, one of the best things that could happen for Hero or for TNA, honestly, because they NEED new faces and, besides that, faces that have some credibility behind them AND since the brand of fan TNA has right now KNOWS him from RING OF HONOR, it gives TNA something to work from......history. Joe, Daniels, Chris Sabin, Austin Aries.....all have a history to draw from and that's what TNA does best; repackaging and giving performers a shot to work out their characters on camera. I say bring him in......NOW.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Standards....Part 1: Wrestling Matters....

If a person were going to judge TNA on the basis of their WRESTLING prowess, how well would they score? Would they score higher 5 years ago? What I'd like to explore in some depth is whether or not the actual standard has changed in terms of wrestling QUALITY for the business in general, but for TNA specifically.

I suppose the best place to start is from the beginning....2002; June 19th, to be exact. The very first show NWA: TNA launched. If anyone wants to throw out the term "WWF has-beens", they could have started on the PPV that night. Psicosis, Jerry Lynn, Christian York, Joey Matthews, Ken Shamrock, Brian (Grandmaster Sexay) Christopher, Konnan, Rick Steiner, Buff Bagwell, Scott Hall, K-Kwik (aka. Ron "The Truth" Killings aka. R-Truth), and Jeff Jarrett all were included on the card. In fact, the list here reads like a Who's Who on the WWF midcard roster list from 1999-2002. You can call it whatever you want, but the collection of talents put together on that night made history. Was every match a wrestling classic? Not in the way you might classify a Chris Jericho vs. Dean Malenko match from 1998, but by virtue of a new wrestling promotion being formed from the dust, so to speak, it was.

In the weeks that followed, the crown jewel of TNA was founded....the X Division. Inspired by the X Games, which had become popular by that time, the X Division had one tagline: It's not about weight limits; it's about NO limits. What strikes me as interesting, however, is that even in the grand stage of the early years of TNA, there was never mentioned a TNA iconic match that embodied the brand until 2005. By THAT time, TNA had secured a TV deal with Spike for a one hour block of first run programming. At the PPV Unbreakable, TNA had their first Match of the Year contender between Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, and AJ Styles.

In what can only be described as the HBK Era between 2002 and 2010, Shawn Michaels was a match of the year holder in every year, but in 2005, the voting actually could have gone either way, as another future TNA alum held the other half of 2005's Match of the Year honor, Kurt Angle and Unbreakable's main event between the three competitors garnered some public fanfare. So when TNA signed him away from WWE in 2005, it was TNA's single best investment. In the years that followed, Angle held honors from PWI for feud of the year as a winner or runner-up from 2007 until 2011.

From the perspective of a fan who has seen it from day one, I LOVED the early days, but there was always this hazy cloud as it related to the World Championship scene from 2003 until Kurt Angle came on the scene in 2005. The cloud's name was Jeff Jarrett. I think at Bound for Glory 2005, when Sting won the World Heavyweight Championship, things began to shift for the better in the company's legacy. Why? Because leading into that, TNA was essentially WCW; where the Cruiserweight Division had their place and the Heavyweight had theirs and never the two shall meet. Oh, there was a heavyweight or two that held the X Title on occasion, but by and large, it was a title dominantly held by the cruiserweights on the TNA roster.

Unbreakable in 2005 changed the rules. There is an unwritten rule amongst wrestling promotions that states that the World Heavyweight Title MUST be defended at the top of the card. TNA, at that point, had such a compelling storyline going in the X Division between the three competitors that made it IMPOSSIBLE to play the PPV any other way. That was the night the X Division made the main event their own.

In 2004, TNA began to establish their identity on the televised world stage. King of the Mountain, Xscape, Ultimate X, Lethal Lockdown, Six Sides of Steel, Full Metal Mayhem, and other match types became staples of the brand. While it's true that these matches had been established before that time, many who had not been watching them until their debut on Spike TV finally were able to take advantage of the chance. This may sound like a history lesson, but I DO have a point. If I had to compare the TNA of 2002 with the TNA of 2005 with the TNA of 2009 with the TNA of today, my personal choice is the TNA of today. Why? Because of the position of the World Heavyweight Title as it relates to the brand and how the roster aligns itself to that fact. Let's be real here for a minute....a brand's World Title holder is what garners the most attention among the masses. It, for the most part, is the pinnacle of whatever brand that holds it. Everyone wants to be the World Champion.

Up until nearly two years ago, the X Division was the glass ceiling that most of the competitors that held it bumped their head on on their journey to fulfill their wrestling dream. All that changed with "Option C", which was introduced by Austin Aries. Now, the X Title has an actual street value as the ticket OUTSIDE of the Bound for Glory Series given to the most dominant player in the division. Ask Chris Sabin. Ask Austin Aries. Sabin, Aries, Bully Ray, Bobby Roode, and a great many other top notch performers were allowed to break out and have championship dreams realized AND be the ones to carry the company to boot. Maybe it's just me, but I will take a match between Bobby Roode and Kurt Angle or Aries and Hardy or Sabin and Styles ANY day of the week over one of the 3 minute X Division matches of old. That isn't to say they were bad, but the matured and wisdom laden wrestling TNA has been putting out of late has been well played out, planned with preciseness, and executed with the kind of care one would expect from a company that wants to do good by the fans.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

One......

I've decided to put together something I don't think I've ever done. I'm going to narrow down all of TNA's history and give you all ONLY ONE talent I want to see make a return. You might think someone like Petey Williams or Alex Shelley. Good picks and, to me, the most obvious picks, but my answer would be "no". You might say Raven or Christian.....also good choices, but no. How about Chris Harris? Nope. Kong? Angelina Love? Mickie James? Sonjay Dutt? No, no, no, and no. So who would I pick? Before I give that away, let's have a look at the roster.....

TNA's roster is comprised of 46 people. 6 are announcers; 1 is out on maternity leave, and 2 are MMA fighters who have yet to have a match. That makes 35. Of those, there are 5 active Knockouts. Just 5....so NATURALLY I'm going to go with a Knockout. Does this mean I HAVE to? Not at all. I COULD have gone with an X Division star and if there were two spots in this column, I likely WOULD have gone with Jesse Sorenson, but I didn't give myself that kind of out. No, I said ONE and ONLY one. My pick is easy.....Ivelisse Valez.

TNA uses Bellator (or is it vice versa?) for cross promoting their product. It gets more people tuning in to the MMA product and has a decent enough following for the network they're on right now. Why is this important? Valez has an MMA background; Tenay and Taz made short work of announcing that when last I saw her perform, which, as it turns out, was on the Knockouts Knockdown PPV I just had the pleasure of watching a few weeks back. It was VERY nice to see her in a TNA ring again. For those who believe that was only twice she's been in TNA's ring, you'd be wrong. She ALSO represented Aces and Eights in the World Cup themed PPV this year as well. That makes THREE TNA WRESTLING appearances this year.

I guess I want one thing to be made clear here....this has everything to do with rebuilding a hole in the roster and this is the best choice I can make considering that she isn't new to the product and TNA had some backlash to endure after she was dismissed from her Gut Check Challenge EVEN THOUGH SHE WON her challenge match. To my mind, that fact alone SHOULD have given weight to her position in the endeavor, but the powers that be didn't share the perspective and so, she was sent home....but she didn't stay there. TNA brought her back....TWICE. Seems to ME that someone caught their eye. She's young, pretty, can hang with ANYONE in the ring, and could actually make submissions something special to the Knockouts Division. I won't call her a female Dean Malenko, but who's to say she couldn't be?

Apparently, Gail Kim has a 'blonde' opponent for Turning Point. Could Valez fit the bill? She certainly WAS blonde in the Knockouts PPV. However, Candace LeRae, as mentioned in an earlier column has mentioned making her way to the East Coast. Which direction does TNA go with THIS development? I know MY hope.

Rants From Ringside: MMA Edition (AKA The Screwjob Heard Round the World)

Let me preface this by saying there are some serious Spoilers in this so don’t say I didn’t warn you. This past Saturday was UFC 167: GSP vs. Hendricks. The Ultimate Fighting Championship had a stacked card to help celebrate their 20th anniversary. The show featured top stars like Chael Sonnen, Rashad Evans, Robbie Lawler and Josh Koscheck. It was a night of tremendous fights including the main event that put Welterweight Champion George St- Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks. Even though this was one of the better fights of the night it will always be remembered as one of the most controversial calls in UFC history. Johny Hendricks came in looking great. He was busting GSP up at every turn and wasn’t allowing him to wrestle him to the ground like GSP is known for. During the second round Hendricks hit GSP with a left that had his legs looking like limp noodles. I was really surprised he wasn’t able to finish the fight there, even though he definitely tried the best he could. The third round didn’t exactly go Hendrick’s way, but that was the only stumbling block he really had. Round 4 and 5 were clearly his as well. So to most people watching that night, Hendricks had beaten GSP for the Welterweight title 4 rounds to 1. Unfortunately the judges must have not been watching the same thing. They gave the fight to GSP in a tight decision. This was the biggest screw job since the little incident in Montreal with Bret Hart.

The thing that really irked me about the whole situation, besides Johny clearly being shafted, was the fact that GSP got up there and basically retired. He didn’t come right out and say that he was done with the sport for good but he did say that he was going to hang up his gloves for a while. Well, one of the things that I really like about UFC President Dana White is that you can read him like a book, and if you can’t, just wait and he will tell you exactly what is on his mind. They did an interview with him about 10 minutes after the fight and his head was still bright red from being so pissed. When asked about the decision he said, “Nevada is a scary, scary place.” He also talked about how they have “the worst athletic commission on the planet.” This brings up some serious questions when thinking about the future of the UFC. I mean, there is no way that they can move the two closest shows on November 30thand UFC 168 on December 28th. But Dana came right out and said that he is almost scared to bring fights to Nevada anymore because the judges just don’t know what they are doing.

One of the biggest gripes of the casual fan was the fact that GSP could walk out of the arena with two swollen eyes, each with a cut underneath and a generally bruised and battered face still being the champion and Johny didn’t have a mark on him and he lost. The fact is right now there is nothing in the wording of what judges look for that talks about the damage taken by a fighter. I personally think that is something that needs to be taken into consideration when judging a fight. I mean the whole reason people fight is to do damage to the other person, it is only fair to have their successfulness in that endeavor taken into consideration if the fight last the whole 15 or 25 minutes depending on the situation.

It is true that Las Vegas is the fight capital of the world and probably always will be, but it was decisions like the one laid down on Saturday that have ruined some people on boxing. It definitely had the stench of fixing to it. Now do I think the fight was fixed? Absolutely not. I think Johny was yet another casualty of an athletic commission that has repeatedly sent judges to UFC events that just don’t fully understand what they are watching.

The other issue that was brought up surrounding this whole incident was the fact that GSP said he was going to hang up his gloves for a while after this fight. When asked about this, Dana White basically said that this was not happening. He said he would give the guy time to heal and train for a rematch, but Johny was definitely getting his rematch. Allowing GSP to heal is, as of yesterday, mandatory because the Nevada State Athletic Commission put GSP on a 45 day injury suspension and Johny got a 6 month medical suspension due to an injury to his right leg. If you need any more information on what injury GSP needs time to heal up, just Google an image of his face after that fight, yikes.

All in all it was a great night of fights that was capped off with what I think will prove to be one of the most important matches in UFC history based solely on the fact that we got proof that the Nevada State Athletic Commission does not know what they are doing when they are watching a fight.

Thanks everyone for reading and I hope to be writing again soon. –TFC.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Skeptics and Changing Plans.....

For all the times I make predictions and surmise based on hunches and rumors from some within the walls of the most prominent wrestlings companies in the nation, there are always a few that, for one reason or another, fall by the wayside. A great example was pointed out just this week....the third faction I made a great deal of noise about. I shake my head now because I've heard an explanation for it all, but it doesn't make the pill any easier to take.

When TNA was deeply entrenched in the Aces and Eights storyline....even about as far as May 2nd of this year, there had been some tension between Matt Morgan and the regime running the show at the time, then Hogan and Bischoff. Morgan felt they weren't living up to their end of the bargain when he signed on for another year. His goal was simple. Win the World Title and enjoy a respectable reign. I don't think it was too much to ask for. Yet, upper TNA management at the time didn't share his opinions and when he faced Sting for the Number One Contender's match and lost EVEN though there had been a plan drafted to allow him to actually beat Sting and go on to face Bully Ray for the title and carry on the feud from there. As the time drew nearer, however, Morgan asked for his release and it became clear that this was the best time for them to bring AJ Styles back into the main event tier for another run with the belt and closure to a one year storyline that held Styles at arms' length from the title until Bound for Glory. SO, Sting beat Morgan and Morgan got his release, just as he asked, and whatever plans TNA had for putting together a third faction to work in disbanding the Mafia and Eights went with him.

Another plan to go belly up? Chris Masters being revealed as a member of the Aces and Eights. It is a verifiable FACT that Masters DID appear as a member of the faction under the mask. It is ALSO a verifiable FACT that one of the plans for the entire faction to consist of former WWE performers in a story not entirely unlike the nWo. It is ALSO a fact that Masters had been trying to impress officials enough to garner a contract for nearly a year as he had been featured on TNA's side project in India, Ring Ka King. It was said that Jeff Jarrett put in a good word and it was convincing enough to give him a spot under a mask as an extra for a COUPLE of episodes and a tryout match to boot, but when it came time to sign him, they decided against the deal.

Should I apologize when the storyline changes direction? It isn't my company and I don't have any control over what kinds of things actually make it into the storylines to begin with. I've been wrong and I will probably be wrong again from time to time, but if it was an entertaining read for those of you who come here day after day, I'd like to think I've done what I set out to do, which is, I'm coming to find, a two fold goal. First, to give a "wouldn't it be cool if..." scenario AND to educate on some history and give TNA a level playing field, just like they deserve. If I've hit on one of the two, I'll sleep well knowing the other will iron itself out.

BUT, there are a couple of things I DO want to bring up, now that I've been doing some reading up on the headlines of the day.

1. Turning Point is going to be AMAZING this year. The line up is top notch stuff.....

Samoa Joe vs. Magnus in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
Bobby Roode vs. James Storm in a Bull Rope Match
Gail Kim's Open Challenge
Bully Ray vs. Anderson in a No Disqualification Match (Anderson loses, he leaves. Bully loses the faction dies.)
Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Hardy

2. TNA has their eyes set on a few choice ROH roster members whose contracts are set to expire soon: Roderick Strong, Eddie Edwards, and Davey Richards. Dave Lagana, who is now a part of TNA's creative team, worked with all three as a member of Ring of Honor's creative team. In addition to those, a certain indy female performer was given a tryout match and may be bound for the main roster in short order. Her name is Candace Lerae and she was said to have impressed those making the cuts. Her Twitter account teased a possible move to the East Coast.....

Monday, November 11, 2013

Wrestling Networking 101....

TNA officials have begun utilizing storylines that are "thinking outside the box". In the last column, I referred to the House of Hardcore show in New York, where Bully Ray issued a challenge to fellow ECW alum Tommy Dreamer for a match at TNA's December 30th One Night ONLY "Old School" PPV. The cooperative work amongst TNA's creative partners doesn't end there, though.

For those who don't wish to be spoiled, feel free to stop reading now and pick the rest of this column up Thursday or Friday after this week's episode of Impact.

In a twist in the Joseph Park saga, Park challenges Abyss to a match at the upcoming Turning Point special this month. To put the idea of Joseph Park "transforming" into the monster himself to rest, TNA has put their creative cooperative juices to work by utilizing AJ Styles' most recent title defense in Mexico to pound out a trade agreement. In the trade, Styles would perform in Mexico for their promotion, AAA and in exchange, one their performers would work a TNA angle for a night. Their pick? Judas Mesias.

Now, before ideas swirl about Mesias taking the place of Abyss, more accurately, Mesias will be ASSUMING the identity of Abyss for the night. Meaning, he will be performing under the mask and will likely come with an old ally. Rumors are now circulating that Father James Mitchell has been contacted and his presence alone may lend credence to the Mesias/Abyss portrayal. What will be interesting to see is if the "Monster" gets a costume makeover to cover his tattoos on his upper arms OR if TNA determines to use temporary ink to mimic the ink of Abyss' character.

If all this isn't enough, more talk has reached my radar. TNA's relational ties with New Japan may bring home a former X Division and Tag Team tactician to reform one of TNA's most dominant tag team tandems. If current storylines and rumors continue to prove true, AJ Styles will form a small stable of his own upon his return, consisting of Chris Sabin and currently contracted New Japan performer, Alex Shelley to reform the Motor City Machine Guns plus one.

Interested in what may well materialize by year's end? It doesn't end there, either. Reports circulating the net are saying that Jeff Jarrett will be making his return to television sooner than later and he has a great deal to say about the past number of years. Whether or not the trend of backstroking away from the former regime's tactical stance as it relates to the ring shape remains to be seen, but it all points to the strengths of TNA circa 2009 AND the strengths of TNA circa 2011. We're likely looking at the return of the acclaimed "King of the Mountain" match come next year's Slammiversary AND the return of the 6 Sides of Steel for Lockdown, making the next few months absolutely critical for TNA to continue the trend of proper long-term planning and execution of innovative approaches to the creative side of their storylines.

Spread the word, people.....the TNA we all know and love is coming back, folks, and there isn't anything anyone can do about it. So Cross the Line, you'll like it.....

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Conditions.....

Just when I think I've made TNA's condition clear, I find comments like "TNA's a dying brand" and "WWE has the right direction and that's why they sell out shows and TNA has empty arenas".

*FACE PALM* *sigh*

This is a reaction, and one that comes on the heels of Daniel Bryan's impending demotion, the re-insertion of the Big Show into the main event mix, and the release of former Ring of Honor talent Chris Hero, who had been performing under the name Kassius Ohno in NXT. Combine that with comments about TNA's future and WWE's current direction and I find myself unable to remain silent.

Since I've already addressed the "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson in an earlier column, let's start with the Big Show. At 41, the Big Show has been placed right back into the main event scene. This comes as the beginning of an initiative in WWE to de-push smaller performers and put the straps back in the hands of those of larger stature. Since there is no one larger, Big Show is re-pushed. What makes little sense to me, at this point in the game is that there is absolutely no evidence to support the mindset that WWE Creative now has. So let me get this straight....the bigger you are, the larger your audience is going to be to see you perform? Can we ask this question to Chris Jericho or Shawn Michaels or Rey Mysterio? Maybe Eddie Guerrero would have something to say in response if he were with us today.

The point is, WWE has reverted back to an audience that is massive by virtue of their age, NOT their ability to purchase products for their own OR their ability to give reliable or intelligible input as it relates to improving their brand. Why is this important? The Attitude Era was HUGE. There is simply no denying it. Why? Because it gave an outlet not only for kids to see some good characters emerge, but for adults to have a vicarious experience, sharing frustrations with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin or The Rock as they whooped on anything with a pulse. WWE will never see the same kinds of numbers drawn again under their current direction. NEVER. You know what made the Attitude Era big? It wasn't the child-friendly content. It was because, as indicated by the name of the program, Monday Nights were RAW. It was that content that made a connection to an entire culture and made wrestling "cool" to watch and not just something that the kids are into.

TNA, on the other hand, is suffering from a two-fold curse. On one hand, old school TNA fans are very slow to returning to a brand that was "puppeteered by the man who drove WCW into the ground". The confusing part of that statement is two-fold as well. Are we talking about Eric Bischoff, who stood on the Creative Team for the past 3 years or Vince Russo, who held that position for the majority of years prior? In any case, the team of writers and executors of current angles is comprised of WRESTLING people these days. A couple are former WWE writers from the Attitude Era days and shortly following and there's also the founder, himself, Jeff Jarrett.

As for the second part of the curse....visibility. We have covered this at great length. TNA needs to be seen and the avenues through which this happens are expensive. Commercials and marketing for this brand of entertainment are expensive. It was believed that sending the show on the road would bolster the numbers and aid in the visibility of the brand, which it may have done on the short term, but in the long term, it hurt the financial pads that had held things together when they were stationary. Now that TNA is home and they've allowed a couple of high dollar contracts to expire, they have the chance to reinvest in their roster and build back up what has been lost.

Is TNA what they once were? No. The fact is, however, they don't need to be. If TNA continues to recruit from the indies as they have been, works towards setting themselves apart as something different, and innovating their brand and keeping things fresh, the audiences will come. Make no mistake. Hogan, as it turns out, didn't help as much as he claimed he'd be able to. Neither did Bischoff. HOWEVER, TNA was given valuable information about how to shoot television in a way that was organic, unfrivelous, and future focused. When Eric led the Creative Team, storylines had been planned as much as 6 months ahead of the shooting schedule at times. Up until he had joined up, this was RARELY the case, which is why often plot points would fall apart and stories would feel thrown together.....because they HAD BEEN.

Consider this....Universal Studios LEAPT at the chance to have TNA back INSTEAD of taking WWE up on their offer.

CM Punk's contract expires VERY early next year and sources close tell me he's been frustrated with how he's been booked since his year long reign as champion ended. What's more, it's been teased that he may not re-sign once a new contract has been offered.

TNA's been marketing themselves among the indy circuit harder than ever, going so far as to send Bully Ray to the recent House of Hardcore event, hosted by Tommy Dreamer. The event was said to have been a decent sized crowd and he was joined by Devon to make an invitation to Dreamer to a match at the One Night ONLY PPV in New York on December 30th. This marks joint activities with Dreamer's projects, Wrestle-1 and New Japan, AAA, and CMLL in Mexico, and others on the landscape, proving that TNA is serious about a different demographic than WWE is catering to these days.

Hulk Hogan is going on record these days claiming he "quit" TNA when in actuality, he contract expired in the week or so leading up to Bound for Glory. To me, that sours my impression of the guy I defended so often this past 3 years. It's a sad thing to see the shift so soon after giving praises to the brand only days prior to the PPV. Good riddance.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The American Dragon vs. WWE.....

In a column that is weighted towards TNA, some news caught my eye this morning that I found interesting. It seems that WWE is using Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) as their proverbial whipping boy, blaming low ratings on his status at or near the top of the cards and so, it appears, Bryan will be pushed down the card once again. This time, however, he may never rise up the card again, at least for WWE. For reasons baffling to many, WWE has wasted this guy in terms of his ability to work. When his strings are cut and he's allowed some freedom, Bryan Danielson is one of the best technical workers in the business today.

What's worse, it appears that this marks the end of the smaller competitors. Where TNA is taking chances by giving X Division wrestlers a chance at the top tier, WWE is scaling it back. The IWC has their own opinions concerning the American Dragon, as he was called in Ring of Honor and they, at times GREATLY differ from mine. I don't understand the scruff, the "YES!" and "NO!" persona, which is simply laughable to me, or how WWE has continuously plagued his pushes with stop and go traffic, giving him pushes for short bursts and then depushing with little to no warning. I don't understand his position in reality TV or how it has any bearing on WWE's ratings for their weekly Monday or Friday night programming.

My take on the matter is simple. He needs to cut his losses. WWE has wasted his potential as a true top tier mainstay and a regular threat to any title holder, even if his last name is Cena or Orton. In the short time span before signing with WWE, he had the option of going to TNA, but he turned it down in favor of training for WWE's slower pace. While it may have the effect of lengthening his career, it also makes the ability for fans to see a 4 star match a rare outing.

Austin Aries, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Bobby Roode, Kurt Angle, Daniels, Kazarian, and a host of TNA's finest await the arrival of an American Dragon caliber performer to bolster their numbers. I sincerely doubt the pay would be the same, but if the quality of life is raised, it's tough to argue with the results. Is it possible? I have my doubts. Why? Because Vince's juggernaut is a hard act to pass up if you want to stick out on the casual wrestling landscape.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Defensive Much?

A colleague of mine was angered by some of the results from Bound for Glory. As a result, he has all but given up on the TNA product. In the spirit of defense, I want this column to serve as an illustration of TNA's condition as well as a sound place upon which to base a foundation for the future. To begin, I'd like to bring a couple of names to the spotlight in order to make some sense of all that's been happening both behind the scenes as well as on screen. SO, as I've said many times before, let's explore.....

Abyss.....

It's been nearly a year since we've seen the Monster and, while the Joseph Park character has grown on some people, to others, he's simply an annoyance and has outlived his usefulness now that the Aces and Eights have all but imploded. So how does TNA go about bringing back the original character? They set up a transformation. Could it have been set up better? Of course. But what we're asking, in essence, is if the ends justify the means. So do they? Let's have a look at some other names to perhaps tackle that question.

Daniels and Kazarian.....

They lost the tourney in the Bound for Glory pre-show. In my eyes, their promo encapsulates what so many TNA fans were thinking. Yes, they ARE TNA, but so is the return of Abyss. From what I can glean from the way things have happened, TNA is setting up two things right now.

1. They are trying to raise up some legitimate tag teams.

2. They are trying to set the clock back a ways and use the lessons learned to move forward, leaving current storylines behind.

Daniels and Kazarian have been given basically as much freedom as a wrestler can be given without it being written into their contract. They control the words, but are given the talking points. They control the pacing, but not the direction. When they lost the tournament, it was thought that the return of Abyss would overshadow the loss, but for some, it wasn't seen that way.

The Bro-mans......

First off, TNA is doing something great with these two......they're letting them break free and actually wrestle. I can't count the number of people who have said that they would love to see the man portraying Robbie actually set loose and be allowed to do some showcasing. Rob Terry held that wish back, which wasn't the idea of TNA creative pre-Hogan. So now, Robbie E. has a decent partner who has been training and is improving in each match. It was really nice to see their victory come following the execution of an iconic finisher....the Hart Attack. I realize that it may have been ancient history lost on some, but to me, it was a sign that TNA is serious about putting some legitimacy back into the Tag Team Division. I realize that statement might polarize some, but now TNA has some teams that look like they belong.

Since the departure of Bischoff from the creative team, TNA has been trying to distance themselves from storylines Bischoff was moving forward with. Through the pushing of AJ Styles, the return of Abyss, the rising of new tag teams, the return of TNA to the Impact Zone, and the eventual return of Jeff Jarrett, TNA is starting to set things back, but the transition isn't easy. I get that. The wheels are going to spin a bit until the gears catch and take off, but the process IS moving and that's a good thing....it's moving towards a hybrid of the best of both worlds. Now, TNA has learned how to move a long term storyline with a logical consistency that works on a number of levels, but they ALSO have a roster that is capable of supporting some real movement amongst the divisions. It allows X Division wrestlers the ability to move into the main event where there was no way before. This is the direction TNA has ALWAYS needed to go with the X Division. It makes the top tier available to the entire roster. Hogan and Bischoff did that. Give credit where it's due.

So, if the clock gets set back and TNA returns to a few of their roots, while ALSO incorporating the lessons learned during the tenure of the Bischoff/Hogan regime, do the ends justify the means in doing just that? In my mind, I say yes. If I, as a longtime TNA fan, am able to get Abyss back to his "monster" self, AJ Styles as champion, Jeff Jarrett into a more hands on role, more legitimate tag teams, a few more Knockouts to aid the division, and the 6 Sided Ring AND more logical storylines and better long term planning to boot? Do I really care about the means to get there? To a degree, but you'll find some very forgiving fans if that is the final result.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hush.....

So now the forums and outlets are reporting what I predicted just yesterday.....interesting. As interesting  as that news is, what fascinates ME is that no one is saying a word. No criticism. No opinions to either direction, in fact. Billy Corgan is the mystery businessman and he's made himself a very wealthy friend, from what I'm told, which puts TNA into an interesting place in the scope of wrestling history.

Does anyone want MY opinion? I'm happy to give that much. This kind of news is the best thing that has EVER happened to TNA. Why? Because it gives them some much needed momentum to move forward. Here's TNA's situation as of now:

-Spike TV's contract lasts until 2015.
-Storylines right now are wide open to allow for new creative direction to take over, should the opportunity present itself.
-Partnerships and functions between TNA and Mexican promotions (AAA and CMLL among others) as well as Japanese promotions (New Japan and Wrestle-1 among others) are in place and cooperating very well.
-Universal Studios has agreed to aid in new ways to continue innovating the brand and making the shows fresh for their audiences in the wake of their return to the park.

Now, before I go much further into this, there are all kinds of "rumor killers" and such from EVERYWHERE stating that TNA isn't going up for sale. This goes as high as Janice Carter, the woman with the checkbook in the highest echelons of TNA management who has committed herself via memo to TNA's future. Representatives from Billy Corgan have spoken out as well, stating that they have been too busy composing the card for their 2nd Anniversary show coming soon. Long story short, the patterns are there. TNA is in prime placement and the players have found their place at TNA headquarters MORE THAN ONCE. What's more, it seems that there may even be yet another mystery player waiting and watching in the shadows, biding their time.

What's it all mean? From MY perspective, there isn't any reason to believe that TNA is going out of business. In fact, quite the contrary. Spike is satisfied with the ratings numbers; younger talents and TNA originals are getting good nods from management; and FINALLY TNA is understanding that the amount of TV time they have isn't enough to feature every person on their roster.

The campaign "Where the action never ends" is something long planned, but was shot down by creative head Eric Bischoff and seconded by Hulk Hogan during their active tenure. Their strategy was to focus all efforts into a singular primary story, surrounded by a few smaller storylines, but under the new campaign, ALL talents have been encouraged to send in footage to officials for posting to YouTube, Instagram, among other forms of social media they have partnered with. This allows for storylines to continue to develop beyond the limited parameters of the Impact Wrestling broadcasts each week.

Plans are still in place to bring back former active roster talents AND debut even more new ones, but the "who" and "when" have yet to be revealed. Put this all into perspective, people. If WCW had done what TNA has when they found out that the travel schedule cost too much, we may be watching Nitro instead of RAW today. This is the best evidence I know of that TNA officials don't want to see history repeating itself.

All of the above makes me believe that the more they deny, the more likely the deal is to go forward, and the more names will come out of the woodwork to bid for TNA's good name. To put a fine point on this post, TNA is in better shape than ANY critic could ever predict.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Players at the Table.....or ARE They?

I've been looking at this entire TNA situation and digging and hitting up every contact I know who can shed some light on who could POSSIBLY sit down at the table and be a good fit for TNA. As of yet, no one's talking, even though the shadows have been meeting behind closed doors. Whoever the players are, the powers that be HAVE to be able to cooperate together, which leads me to believe that the buyers have a working history with Jeff Jarrett, who owns 30% of TNA's assets to date. To that end, I've been kicking around a few names for a while and it may be possible that one of these names could be in the driver's seat by the end of the year. In no particular order.......

1. Dusty Rhodes.......
Probability: Low

His history beginning with Jim Crockett Promotions and Georgia Championship Wrestling is well documented and his relationship with Jeff Jarrett and his father is also well documented. He served as lead booker for TNA for a couple of years and even an on camera "minister of authority" for a time so he is no stranger to the company. Could HE be on the list of candidates to serve as a real life owner? As far as I'M concerned, his name is on my short list of hopefuls, but as of late, his loyalties have been with Vince and considering his most recent involvement in a prominent angle featuring his sons Dustin and Cody as well as a Legends contract to boot, his likelihood is suspect at best.

2. Jim Ross.......
Probability: Moderate to high

Surprised? You shouldn't be. For decades, Vince has used "Good 'ol J.R." as fodder to garner cheap heat for his heel characters, firing Ross many times over the last 10 years alone. The fact that his treatment in the past 5 years, being edged out of a broadcasting role and virtually forced into retirement speaks volumes. Even so, Jim Ross is one of the top 5 brightest minds in the entirety of the professional wrestling industry. His negotiations with nearly every top WWE talent for the past 20+ years is a shining resume and putting him back on television under a different banner would be the icing on the cake for EVERY TNA fan.

So what brings me to the conclusion that he may be having meetings with Jarrett and the Carters? In years past, he has never acknowledged the TNA brand, partially due to the loyalty to his WWE contract, but, I believe, also due to a genuine lack of time to pursue even a passing interest. Now that he has had some time, however, in his semi-retirement, he's given some high praise to the TNA brand and specifically to Tazz and Mike Tenay's commentary work of late. As a student and master of the craft behind the scenes, Jim Ross' comments make me convinced that he has faith in the Nashville based promotion and has many times stated that competition is good for the prosperity of the business. With his track record of bringing in top draws and his obvious time on his hands, I place him nearly at the top of the list of possible buyers for the Carter family's share of TNA's assets.

3. Chris Jericho.....
Probability: Moderate

When WCW fell, Jericho had already made the jump to Vince's lifeboat and has enjoyed a very successful run of fame indeed. I did, however, run into a piece of footage that caught my eye. On the Monday Night War DVD, when it was mentioned what WCW sold for, he stated on camera that he would have bought it for the price that was offered because he could have afforded it BACK THEN. If that's true, his own assets have multiplied many times over since then, meaning that he could very easily couple his finances with a partner and sustain a successful promotion and assuming his mind isn't consumed with outside pursuits, TNA WOULD GROW on his name value attached to it.

Why HIS name and not Hulk Hogan's? Chris Jericho brings a fanbase that covers far more than just wrestling. His musical success and reputation behind the scenes even in WWE would be invaluable, but even if he wasn't the sole proprietor, a partnership between him and another musician and professional wrestling enthusiast is very possible. Who could fit the bill?

4. Billy Corgan......
Probability: High

I'm sure you noticed that I placed his name HIGH on the list, which is a first for the list. Why? What possible connection could he have with TNA? One name bridges the gap and one piece of news makes me believe him to be the highest probability. The name? Jay Bradley. Jay Bradley was scouted and recruited away from Corgan's independent promotion, Resistance Pro Wrestling to compete in Gut Check and, when he was signed to the TNA roster, a valuable networking resource was gained for TNA.

Corgan founded Resistance Pro in 2011 and made some pretty big waves by bringing in some pretty big names both as talents AND as members of the staff. Colt Cabana, D.H. Smith, El Generico, even Kevin Steen of current ROH fame have performed for the promotion. Former TNA, WWF, ECW, and WCW talent Raven serves as an agent there. Some of the top indy women's talents have passed through and their roster would be a MAJOR acquisition for the TNA brand.......WAIT! I'm getting ahead of myself. The piece of news.....right.

Earlier this year, Billy Corgan made an overture towards Stephanie McMahon and Triple H to pitch his organization as a developmental league to partner with WWE. Long story short, he was unceremoniously shot down. In the months that followed, he has been quietly been meeting with TNA officials to some end. Could he be the potential buyer? He's my best guess. His connections with venues worldwide with the Smashing Pumpkins opens doors that otherwise would be impossible unless your last name is McMahon. If his promotion partnered with TNA and was joined by a performer the caliber of a Chris Jericho, we could be looking at the best partnership professional wrestling could ask for.....period.