Monday, March 31, 2014

The Best POSSIBLE Match EVER....Part 2. Mid-card...

Okay, folks...this is the part where we break down the walls and work on some of the rising players on each roster. This is ALSO where we throw down the Women's Division Gauntlet. With that said, let's have a look....

4. Tables Match....Bully Ray, Jeff Hardy, and the Wolves vs. The Shield and Sheamus

This is the kind of match I'm sure people will want to see under Survivor Series rules. The match ends when every member of one team is put through a table. While I understand that some would rather see a shorter match, no one can deny that this would be a perfect blending of old guard and up and coming stars in the business. This has TLC I or II quality written ALL OVER IT. Period.

5. Dolph Ziggler vs. Ethan Carter III

I put this here for two reasons:
1. Dolph Ziggler DESERVES a higher spot on the card than he's getting these days and
2. TNA is trying to build Ethan Carter into a high card mainstay

This could be both men's breakout match, provided the thing were given the time to blossom and if they are able to pace it fairly well.

6. Knockouts vs. Divas: Taryn Tarrell, Madison Rayne and The Beautiful People vs. AJ Lee, Natalya, Summer Rae, and Tamina

I am not going to mince words here. I have NO faith in WWE's Divas Division WHATSOEVER and haven't for a great many years. Thankfully, I'm in good company as soon-to-be Hall of Famer Lita happened to say the same thing in effect in a recent interview. This would be a short one, but I'd actually like to see where it goes with all four women in a reasonably paced and length match.

By now, I know some will question my placement of certain members of each roster on this virtual card and I DO understand the skepticism, but my goal here is to provide what I believe is the best bang on the card for the virtual buck and that is going to mean cutting a couple of members of WWE's roster, especially due to the sheer size. You'll also note that there are quite a few tag matches and team ups and THAT is to simply put as many talents from each roster on display as humanly possible.

The main events are designed to read like an epic battle and THOSE bouts are next....

#$(&@ *Gasp* @#*_@#*( *Studder* WHO'S COMING BACK?!

It's rare for me to actually choke as I'm going through my daily news, but when I read this, I had some difficulty sitting down on my own.  Jesse Sorensen is now in talks to return for the long overdue Zema Ion feud that everyone waited for to no avail...until now.

Now let me preface this by saying that Sorensen is NOT the best in the world, but when he was released by TNA management in a bogus twist of events that began my love/hate relationship with Dixie Carter, I never in a million years thought we would see his return. Just to be clear about the circumstances, I'd like to set the stage for those who don't remember....

2012- Jesse Sorensen is injured when a move from the top rope to the outside sends Zema Ion's knee down onto Sorensen's spinal column, causing immediate paralysis and leading to over a year's worth of rehabilitation. This took place in February, 2012.

Fast forward to July of 2012. Jesse walks out from behind the curtain at Destination X to a HUGE applause stating that once he's cleared, he'll have his revenge and then use the freshly christened "Option C" clause to walk out as the World Heavyweight Champion at Destination X in 2013. In the time it took for that year to go by, he had taken a job as a marketing assistant, but was still focused on making his return to the ring, but in June of 2013, TNA removed his picture from the roster, meaning that trouble had been brewing behind the scenes.

Speculation, right now, says that he was fired when he was TOO insistent on making his return to the ring instead of learning a new job within the organization. Further, it was, perhaps a situation of upper management wanting to protect the young Jesse from doing any further damage to his body by releasing him from his contract. This news polarized me against the establishment at first, but after time passed, so did mentions of his ever returning.

So is this a big deal? With the return of Angelina Love and the teased returns of Taylor Wilde AND Sorensen? To my mind, it isn't a question....YES. The next thing is for Daffney to wake up one morning and say she's coming back too....it's that kind of story in my view.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Best POSSIBLE Match EVER......Part 1.

I've been giving this a lot of thought and today I have a few things to get off my chest, namely matches that COULD happen that haven't yet. I've decided to take off the promotional boundaries and place a few dream matches on this column. There are only two rules in this.....the players CAN'T have already faced one another in a televised match AND neither competitor can be retired. SO....with no further ado, I introduce the first two combatants:

The Undercard......

1. Robbie E. vs Zack Ryder

First off, I NEED to see these guys being in a situation where something good can happen and if there was any way to dress this match up just a bit, I would give each guy a throwback to their personas of old in their respective companies. I would bring their tag partners to the table and one piece of insurance. That said, Curt Hawkins and Edge would be at ringside for Ryder and Jesse and Cookie would be at ringside for Mr. E. Forget about the finish to the match, I think both guys are a far cry more talented than most give them credit for.

2. Tag Team Turmoil.....
D-X (Road Dogg, Triple H, and Billy Gunn) vs. AJ Styles, Daniels, and Kazarian vs. Motor City Machine Guns w/ Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Cesaro

One of these things is NOT like the others and we all know who they are. My point in this match was to simply put a magnifying glass on just how short Triple H and his well pushed friends fall from the technical mark. If I were to put in three legends in their prime into the mix,  my picks would include Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, and Dean Malenko, but the rules are clear....retirement is the end. NOTE: I realize that this match up has TNA vs. WWE and AJ Styles isn't a member of either roster at the moment, but talks ARE still underway and until such time comes that talks break down entirely, I'm calling his stint with ROH a sabbatical.              

NOW, before ANYONE tries to throw out "YOU SOLD OUT" chants, my conditions for these matches are VERY clear and trust me, by the time this card has concluded, you won't be disappointed....especially with a double main event. So that brings me right back to

3. X Division Match......Rey Mysterio vs. Petey Williams.....
Another case of yet another star not technically on either roster, but TNA has this tendency for short term engagements and, for this column, I'm making an exception here. Bear in mind that I gave WWE an exception with the CM Punk selection for one night only. Can you imagine a Williams vs. Mysterio bout? Good stuff.

With that, I'm closing the book on this chapter of the best POSSIBLE match.....

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Twists and Turns.....

Does anyone, by show of hands, know the mark of a great storyline in wrestling? It's the ability for every player involved to lead even the most cynical fans to believe that the lines between fantasy and reality have disappeared completely. This goes across the boards for everyone from writers to producers to commentators to those who have to pull off the lines on screen....everyone MUST be on their game and on deck to see something special being placed into the history books.

Right now, I'm seeing those lines blurring in terms of TNA and the reasons, to my mind, are mounting even more recently. The return of Angelina Love; the rumored returns of Taylor Wilde and Tara in the waiting; and the tides of uncertainty looming in the distance, I simply can't see more than a few feet ahead in any direction and that's exciting to me. A number of pieces of information flood my mind as I'm writing this right now.....

- TNA has been looking in the Northeastern portion of the country to do some tapings in the next month or two and has had feelers sent out to casinos, fairgrounds, and other venues to establish a more permanent home on the short term, but I have been given the impression that this entire facade is just that....an elaborate deception, designed to throw the fans off the trail of the political backstage drama unfolding as the stage houses only the top 10 percent of the full story.

- Kurt Angle has made claims about maybe parting company with TNA to make his way back up north, BUT in the same sentence, a new source now reports that he's been in contact with the funding partnership spearheaded by his one time rival Jeff Jarrett to headline the project he's been working on all this time.

- A top ranking news site is now reporting that AJ Styles has signed a one year deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling, which is where Alex Shelley has been performing for a while and where MVP came to TNA from. It's no secret that TNA has ties to NJPW and has for some time, but another group of fiscally saavy investors have also been in contact about collaboration with NJPW....you guessed it, the music celebrity investment group involving Jeff Jarrett.

And what of the network being rumored to carry the Jarrett project? I've heard TBS has been listed as one potentially looking to get back into the wrestling business once more, but I ALSO heard that Spike TV is looking to upgrade their programming into more avenues of wrestling promotional material. In fact, the more often I hear news about Jarrett's project, the more I hear about TNA and the more my mind travels back to a creative team meeting with Dixie Carter the week Jarrett announces his resignation from the day to day duties in TNA Wrestling. When asked about Jeff's departure, she replied that it was a business decision and promptly moved on with the business at hand for the day. Even now, those words haunt me as strikingly curious.

Whatever the case is officially, it can be readily assumed that there are considerable implications for the state of TNA when roster members who have had their fill in the past few years decide to return or that they WOULD if they were given the right deal. I tend to favor the way Jarrett negotiated with talents and was the kind of ring general TNA needed in their inception and led the roster into the limelight for a good run, minus having a hedge on the World Title scene most of the first few years. If a change in management IS in TNA's future, I can only see positives with the kind of fanfare being rustled up from networks and executives for the lead-in announcement that comes April 7th.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Forward Movement....

Rumors will swirl, spoilers will make their way each week onto the web, and speculation will remain steadfast until such time as the new business pursuit of TNA's founder comes to light. Right now, the running plan from news sources I've been reading is that Karen and Jeff will be rolling out a reality show surrounding the fanfare of this new (or rebranded) promotion. The show will be chronicling the journey from inception (or continuation) to unveiling.

If this is a rebranding, we're looking at COMPLETE- right down to the logo- rebranding. Some critics have said that TNA will never be taken seriously from their name alone. TNA. Sure doesn't SOUND like a program worthy of much respect....at least not to me....or those who judge the product on brand name alone. But this column isn't about that...at least not really.

On a personal note, I'm a torn man.....on the one hand, I'm a TNA purist who loves the way the old product circa 2009 and back looked from a wrestling perspective. On the other hand, I'm a HUGE fan of the way new champions have been created and the sleek and upgraded photography has been done. Combine all of that with a split of both era rosters and you have a happy man and, I surmise, a happy public too.

I suppose that's what makes me excited about what may be coming down the pike. I would LOVE to see get a facelift and an overhaul, all the while leaving most of the current roster intact and producing an influx and enough screen time to feature each talent so that you have no waste on the roster because everyone is being put to good use in storylines that are relevant. Under the current regime, the Carter family has yet to put more than the bare minimum amount of funds behind the product or to go all out in making negotiations for more screen time to feature their ENTIRE roster each week. There was a time when that wasn't the case, but that was during the white hot 2006-2008 years when every outlet wanted a piece of the action that was totally nonstop.

Is it so wrong for me to want a return to some of TNA's fundamentals with a more current spin on the brand? As much as I am NOT a fan of Karen Jarrett, I can't help but go through previous posts and compare her to my feelings towards Dixie Carter of late....to be real, I can't say which I like better, BUT at the end of the day, she isn't the one calling the shots and for that, I can forgive her tenure to come in the product that is coming or that is being reborn.....


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sacrifice.....LIVE on PPV this year....

In the last column, I wrote that this year, Sacrifice comes to us live on PPV. A couple of years back, TNA put forth an initiative that placed all but three PPVs on notice, filling the blank spots on the schedule with one shot PPVs called One Night ONLY, as all of you out there know already. This year, however, things have changed a bit. To what end, I have only guesses.

In recent months, as I've ALSO written here,  Universal Studios has become a bit of an obsolete option for TNA, but right now, the Nashville-based promotion is needing a place to set down for a while and cool their heels. So in the interim, TNA has been reaching out to casinos, smaller venues, and even venues of historic relevance to the wrestling community to try and bolster some options to last through the summer.

As for what Sacrifice holds in store? I would venture a guess that Dixie is looking to put forth a last ditch effort to try and gain control, but I have this gut feeling we're going to see a twist in the story from MVP's side of things. I've been saying it and for once, I think I'm fully justified in believing MVP isn't the major investor in this story. He's been wrestling and getting his hands dirty...true enough, but for all the wrestling he's done, he has yet to have a truly meaningful victory over anyone substantial. This being said, I think the Willow character will have a part to play in what's coming, but my only guess is that it has something to do with Abyss/ Joseph Park and the situation between he and Magnus.

I can absolutely see TNA bringing back the Knockouts Tag Team Titles because of a piece of news I'VE been waiting for that has finally come to light. In a recent interview, former Knockout Taylor Wilde has stated that she'd be willing to make a deal with TNA to return to the company after having been away for a little over 4 years. With the returns of Angelina Love and Madison Rayne, I see no reason why Wilde's return would be anything but valuable, ESPECIALLY since Lei'D Tapa has just been released. WHAT?! Yeah, you read that right....Tapa is gone.

In the world of TNA, I think the BIGGEST mistake they have made in the Knockouts Division in the past three or four years was picking Tapa over Ivelisse Valez in the Gut Check Challenge. I would even put this ABOVE putting Brooke Hogan in charge of the division, which ALSO was a travesty of monumental proportions, but I digress that point. My power play, if I were writing this thing on the Knockouts side of things, I would replace Tapa with Valez and team her with the returning Taylor Wilde to compete for a restored Knockouts Tag Title against The Beautiful People and Tessmacher and Madison Rayne. That leaves Gail Kim, The Alpha Female, Taryn Tarrell, and ODB to hold down the Knockouts Title scene for a while.....I kinda like where this is going.

As for the X Division? Kenny King can't seem to return quickly enough and Tigre Uno has been a breath of fresh air to the division and has a Rey Mysterio vibe about him. With him, Manik, Sabin, Zema Ion, and Kenny King to tear it up for a while on the X Title scene, the woes are seeming to work their way out.

Now all that remains is the indecision of TNA management on how to book the returns of King Mo, "Rampage" Jackson, and the recently returned Bobby Lashley. Once those cards have been dealt out, we'll have a better idea of what we're dealing with in the long-term.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lifeline.....

Dixie Carter is off TV for the time being. Contracts are beginning to come up and we're heading right into the fog of Slammiversary. The past two years, TNA has revealed their Hall of Fame inductee right about this time. Bear with me, people, I have quite a few thoughts that I'm about to put on rapid fire and then HOPEFULLY connect the dots by the time it all ends. In addition to the inductee, we're also looking at some glaring peculiarities in the PPV schedule. For instance, Sacrifice is now being advertised as being on PPV this year. Why Sacrifice? The date reveals nothing as April 27th isn't a red letter day or anything like that.

Another thing on the horizon is the return of two roster members who have yet to compete in an actual WRESTLING match: "Rampage" Jackson and King Mo. I said it last year when Jackson was slated to appear in TNA for the first time and I will repeat it now....If Rampage can carry a match and make himself and his opponent look good, I say we give him a chance to shine, but as of right now, neither man has given me any reason to care about their return. I'm willing to give this a chance, but they had better make it count.

In news of the "things that make you go hmmm..." TNA has also reserved the Hammerstein Ballroom for a trifecta of Impact broadcast tapings in April. Rumor has it that they paid 300,000 dollars to book the spot too. While some are skeptical of the high dollar amount and believe those numbers have been inflated by the shifts in power and former employees wanting the more educated fans to buck support for the TNA product by giving the impression that they are being frivolous with the books, this report was given to Prowrestling.net. The running impression is that if TNA can do some decent business in this venue, there are plans to run more events in the Northeast region of the country more often and may even try to locate a semi-permanent home from which to tape Impact now that Universal Studios is becoming less of an option.

I have high hopes for the coming couple of months as it will, undoubtedly, give rise to a few developments that will give TNA and independent promotions a more elevated chance to gain some public exposure. This is good for the wrestling business as a whole and not just a top tier venture.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Metamorphosis....

In the wake of Lockdown, I've been asking myself some very important questions, not the least of which has been "What is TNA turning into?" To explain my perspective, I think it HAS to include a return I never thought I'd see again. Of course, I'm talking about Angelina Love. Her return after the Hogan/ Bischoff regime debacle had me simply stunned. I didn't think we could bribe her to come back even as investors and, from her demeanor back then, you'd have had an easier time making deals with a loan shark than with her....ESPECIALLY when they depushed the Knockouts Division.

I've brought up the loss of AJ Styles more than once, but another two contracts are coming to an end and THESE ones are pretty big, folks.....Christopher Daniels and Kazarian. That said, you won't be seeing them for AT LEAST three weeks' worth of Impact broadcasts due to each week having ALREADY been taped ahead of time. I think the question to pose to the masses is something I really feel pushed to ask: How many times can we say "they don't draw money" to mid-card-upper card talents who've been homegrown TNA guys and gals before you're left without a roster? From MY perspective, ALL the homegrowns (Daniels, Kazarian, Styles, Roode, Storm, etc.) are a valuable commodity, worth the every penny of the money TNA spends to keep them on staff.

With "Corporate Kane" Abyss, Rockstar Dud, Ethan Carter, Magnus, and Storm helming a now rutter-less Dixieland stable, the story seems to be spinning wheels with no real direction. I can only believe them to be stalling for time at the moment....but for the moment, Dixie is off my TV. This makes me more able to tolerate what has seemed like a period of uncertainty. As for Magnus, I have great difficulty taking him seriously as a champion, and for the same reason I had such trouble with the 2002-2003 reign of Triple H and the 2002-2004 reigns of Jeff Jarrett. There are no truly clean victories, only inference-laden hollow finishes that have yet to make me suspend disbelief. I had such hope for you, Magnus.

So who takes the belt from Magnus? There was a time when I thought the answer might be AJ Styles, but now, I get the suspicion we might end up seeing one of two people created as champions next: Gunner and Ethan Carter. Gunner is walking through his most relevant period of his career since 2010 and Ethan's current feud with Kurt Angle will demand some respect as they will, most certainly, give him the nod if and when Kurt decides to go back up north to finish off his career as a Hall of Famer twice over. Do I agree with the way this is playing out? I can't say as I'm disappointed, but I CAN say that I think the timing is a bit suspect. While Carter and Gunner are both making their strides, I don't think either are up to the task of holding the main belt of the brand for any lengthy title reign, but rather have a placeholder reign much like James Storm of 2010.

The way I see it, TNA has a couple of options. One, they turn one of the Dixieland stable face and run a program against Magnus to ultimately take the title OR two, they run a current face up the ladder ultimately take the belt. Since TNA, of recent, hasn't done much in the way of experimenting with putting a bad guy up against someone even worse, the other two options seem the best alternative. SO, that means, to me, that Gunner is being primed to eventually win the belt, and my guess is sooner than later.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bigger or Better....


When I was a younger man, I was a part of a college group that played all kinds of really random games. One of the favorites was a fundraising game called "Bigger or Better". The premise is simple...at the beginning of the night, teams of 4 or 5 would each be given a nickel. In a door to door mad dash, each team would ask the man or woman of the house if they had anything bigger or better than the nickel. By the end of the night, each final trade was sold off to raise money for the church. I recall couches, filing cabinets, and even a sailboat in need of some TLC all being sold off by night's end. Why bring this up?

Right now, TNA is in a place right now where they want to expand and give their performers the kind of compensation they deserve, but they simply can't afford to do so. D-Lo Brown called it "growing pains"....and I couldn't agree more. The climate in TNA is good, but they need a strategy that is willing to think outside the box.

Many times I have given my take on TNA's woes and the best way to correct them. Some say storylines, which I believe IS a PART of the equation, but I don't believe it to be in the top three pieces of the puzzle. The three pieces that move the needle in MY view right now are as follows.....

1. Set TNA apart from WWE....
The best way TNA circa 2003-2009 was able to differentiate themselves from WWE was their ring and how it was used. 6 sides, folks....I went there. But setting themselves apart wasn't narrowed to just the ring shape; it was the gimmick matches and stipulations and the spotlight on their specialty divisions; The Knockouts and X Divisions. Going back to what separated them in the first place IS the first step towards solidity. One more thing....let's have some debuts and surprises that matter, huh? Pacman Jones  does NOT matter.

2. Marketing/ Visibility......
For far too long, TNA has been virtually invisible to the casual wrestling fan. By not buying time during WWE programming, not getting the word out that TNA is out there, they lose out on the massive amounts of potential fans who might have been swayed if they only knew. By wrangling in the  current "Attitude Era" fan who is just sick of the circus and the move bans and the this or that, you move the needle. Aim for THOSE fans.

3. Travel....
Due to the massive costs, TNA has remained, by and large, a stationary entity. Under new management, more willing to put forth the capital needed to succeed on the road AS WELL AS in a stationary location, we would see a brand with a greater degree of focus.

TNA is, and HAS BEEN in the same Catch-22 for years. They need to move around and travel to make more money, but you need money to travel in the first place. A once a year UK tour is NOT sufficient to raise funds. The travel package NEEDS to include a promotional plan to let towns and cities know they're coming. TNA has done what they can on their limited budget, but a fresh influx of outside dollars would help aid in the process and would also allow a larger roster, paying them a reasonable going rate.

The story at the beginning DOES relate....TNA has been trying their best to trade up in terms of talents, allowing some to get away (Matt Morgan, Tara, Mickie James, etc.) in order to take hold of the cream of the crop on the indy circuit and that says something about the business sense involved in that process. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

One Month Left....until....?

In the most recent teaser post by Jeff Jarrett, we have been given a treat....the understanding that we have to wait another month before he's going to make the announcement we've all been waiting for, in the kingdom of pro wrestling fandom. For those who have been waiting with the kind of anticipation that I have, it's something of a downer getting teased and teased and teased only to have to wait yet again.

And yet....I wonder....what could he POSSIBLY have in store that would incorporate talents and promotions that TNA has been working with faithfully the past few years? And does TNA fit into these plans or have we been fully cut off? With each time the announcement gets pushed back, I am further intrigued by what could cause such pause. Sure, he's "resigned" from TNA, but in his latest teaser, a fade reminiscent of the old X Division intro from yesteryear draws me in and I get restless.

The rumor mills turn and turn, speculating everything from a brand spanking new promotion designed to put TNA into THEIR roster, a network featuring footage from worldwide promotions, and a secondary brand of the TNA brand. The question everyone wants to know is what this announcement will ACTUALLY reveal, if anything.

Secretly, a part of me actually hopes that if this is a new promotion, it puts TNA out of its misery. I know, I know....this blog wouldn't even be here if it weren't for the efforts of the TNA establishment, but the establishment I hold to is the one that came before the current system of governance....the one that looked at Samoa Joe as the hottest free agent commodity the industry had in its reserves....the one that crowned a "King of the Mountain". THAT'S the TNA I started this blog to represent and, though there have been some eras since then that have been good, right now, they are suffering, badly.

I'm still holding out hope that Jarrett and his band of cohorts are taking the reins of the TNA brand and getting the chance to work with it the way it was MEANT to be run.....from the top of the business as a whole. Does that mean jettisoning Dixie from the brand? Absolutely. While Immortal might have been a great concept on paper, it felt too much like TNA trying to bottle the same magic the nWo created, which is a BAD thing when the target audience remembers when it happened the first time. Further, the current state of TNA, with Carter at the helm makes little sense and it just downright offensive with her claims that she singlehandedly built the company under which she rules with an iron fist.

Enter MVP. I honestly feel bad for this guy right now, IF the powers that be are counting on the numbers to elevate and push the needle towards the redline...they will be more than a little bit disappointed. HOWEVER, in the event of the return of Jeff Jarrett, numbers WILL jump by a very large margin, especially among those who are in the wrestling know. Count on it. Though a month is a long time for a simple announcement, I can say this.....I'm listening.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Lethal? Eh....

We got Willow, whose presence didn't even have the hint of difference with Jeff Hardy. We got Abyss, whose presence didn't even have a hint of similarity with who he was in his beginnings. And last, but not least, we got more shennanigans than during the era of Vince Russo. I shook my head tonight. This ISN'T the TNA I know and love.

Before I give the impression that there was nothing good about the show, let me give you the positives, in a nutshell.

Bobby Lashley is back, for however long back is. I am excited about this return, however, if this means we won't get a full time schedule from him like last time, I can't support this move by upper management.

The Knockouts Division was on point tonight, putting on a more than worthy showing for such modest time allotment. This was a match very much like Taryn Tarrell's breakout performance from last year and even had its very own OUCH spot to tout just as the former match had the Bulldog off the stage. I don't think it's any coincidence that Gail Kim was a part of that match as well. It was nice to see at least ONE division that is alive and well.

It was ALSO amazing to see the influx of the Japanese Wrestle-1 promotion contenders including, but not limited to The Great Muta. Tigre Uno made a very impressive debut against Manik and made the early moments of the PPV a nice little introduction.

This stuff and limited moments in the later goings on were the bright spots, but those moments couldn't cover up the messiness that was the end of the final two matches of the night. I simply can't place this event on my shelf. I'm a TNA fan, but I'm also a fan of smartly booked, efficiently run, and effectively twisted PPVs. This was just not one of them. I hate to say it, but I DO call it like I see it and right now, TNA has to answer for this by way of the fans.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Locked in a Cage....

Lockdown is, by far, my favorite TNA innovation. Why? The cage.....if Elimination Chamber featured every division in the Chamber, we may have a very different WWE, but since TNA has determined to give us all cage matches all night long, who am I to complain? From the blue beast cage of yesteryear to the Hell in a Cell, I've ALWAYS been a fan of cage matches because it forces whatever story the promotion and competitors are up against to raise the stakes. Face it, if your opponent has it out for you enough to grind your face into a cage, you're gonna HAVE to elevate your game.

Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, The Hardy Boyz, and dozens of soldier minded pioneers of the cage match have paved the way for TNA's Lockdown event and the game changing "Lethal Lockdown" match, featuring a Royal Rumble style match with Survivor Series rules of pinfall and submission and elimination. But we already KNOW all this...so why do I even bother launching in so heavy-handed?

Each Lethal Lockdown match has high stakes and this year's event is no different, placing the control of Wrestling Operations on the line. I have no idea how this year's event will pan out and this because of a couple of X Factors.

1. Dixie Carter's Dixieland Gang has the numbers advantage.
2. Jeff Hardy.....which character does he show up as? Will he be himself or Willow the Wisp?

The climate of the Lethal Lockdown match hinges on where it sits on the card. If we see it before the World Title match, I believe we'll have a mess of interference from every angle, but if we catch it AFTER the World Title contention, I think we'll have a very different match on our hands as fans. I will chance this in FOUR ways....

1. IF Samoa Joe wins the World Title, I predict a loss in the column of MVP.
2. IF Magnus wins to retain, I predict a win for MVP and control of operations.

3. IF the World Title match happens AFTER the Lethal Lockdown match, I predict Magnus wins AND Dixieland takes the victory in a clean sweep.

4. IF the World Title match happens BEFORE the Lethal Lockdown match, I predict Magnus retaining and MVP's gang winning.

That's my story and I'll stand by it, win or lose.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Apples and Oranges.....

In response to my last post, a well spoken point was made....

"...it's like apples and oranges." This made when I used WWE and TNA in the same sentence. I LOVE  that phrase, when used to describe the vast difference between the two companies. Despite the shape of the ring, the color of a few choice performers, and a couple of divisions the two share in common, they could NOT be more different.

Now before I find myself in a WWE vs. TNA rant that is counterproductive and uninteresting, by my view, I think it's time to discuss something that might be coming on the horizon which may interest the masses that come here......

NOTE: When I read this in my daily rounds to the various news sources and anonymous insiders who claim to have the fast trak, I was dumbfounded. Imagine a wrestling conglomerate.....one COMPLETELY devoid of WWE. When WWE launched their network online, I became convinced that in order for ANYONE to put steps towards WWE to catch up to the success, they would have to step up the playing field and do something drastic. Why not organize a few well placed wrestling feds that simply want to be acknowledged and allow them to put their best foot forward, forming a cooperative network to showcase them all?

Under this new banner, executives would choose a figure to serve as a face of this entity. Dropping the riddles and fog, let me speak plainly. A rumor reached me not long ago that Spike TV has been kicking around the idea of reinvention in recent months. To that end, it's been speculated that the financial partnerships fostered by Jeff Jarrett have potentially convinced the top tier execs at Spike that wrestling is on the verge of a boom and that in order to be able to compete with WWE on a global scale without allowing them to run a monopoly uncontested, they need to organize.

New Japan Pro Wrestling, Wrestle-1, and AAA have all had dealings with Jarrett in the past AND are on current good terms with him on a personal level. These promotions all have one thing in common: all are wanting to gain a foot hold in the American marketplace. Spike TV, as it turns out, in efforts to find themselves a face to speak for the newly christened network turned to a recently departed TNA employee to, perhaps, embody this newly formed entity. Who, you might be asking? AJ Styles.

If Ring of Honor and TNA were offered the chance to peddle their wares on a scale like Spike TV's brand new network, WWE would DEFINITELY have cause to feel threatened. WWE may have the single most vast library of vintage wrestling footage from Georgia Championship Wrestling, NWA, AWA, WCW, ECW, and just about every other major promotion during the 70's, 80's, and 90's into today's current product, but with a network consisting of vintage ROH, TNA, independent NWA, and PPVs spanning the past decade at least, along with documentary material covering all of the above, I see no better place for the avid wrestling fan to go for their daily wrestling fix.

BEAR IN MIND, THIS IS ALL SPECULATION stemming from interviews from Jeff Jarrett in the recent past, rumors, and TNA's continued optimism concerning their product even in the face of top talents leaving the promotion and dodgy potential for taping venues moving into the future.

But wouldn't it be cool if it WERE true?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Few Questions.....Answered.

Over at the Sting (TNA) fan site of Facebook, I get the pleasure of answering questions posted on the site.....a couple of which I now answer here. Why here? Because these are GREAT questions, worthy of some time and more complete answers. Now before I begin, I'd like to apologize for taking so long before this post. Life has been more than a little bit hectic and, with the adjustments that I've had to make in order to write at all, this comes on the heels of a crazy couple of weeks.

ANYWAY, all that said, it's right back into the thick of things. I'm going to try and answer a couple of questions in THIS column and one or two in the next, just to make sure this doesn't get too long and so I am able to focus in on the topic without getting into more fine points. SO....let's begin.....

1. Why has there been a de-emphasis on the Tag Team Division in the past couple of years? Why do feds limit performers to one belt at a time instead of multiples (i.e. X Division AND Tag Team Title at the same time)?

This one is a tough one. First off, when a wrestling company decides to release talents from the roster to save money, you have to find a place where it makes sense to cut costs. This isn't saying that the Tag Division should or shouldn't be examined more closely, but when you consider the fact that the Tag Team Division of 2008 had about 5 or 6 truly decent teams in contention for the belts and you understand that this can't be done with the number in the ranks right now, it has to be understood that putting a more compelling storyline to connect two teams together as rivals bridges a gap created by the lack of wrestlers on the roster.

To put it another way.....with such a low number of talents on the roster, TNA has had to focus on storylines to maintain the division rather than tag team numbers.

As for the multiple belt situation? WWE has had quite a few situations where performers held more than one division belt at the same time. Jeff Hardy, Edge, Chris Benoit, and others have held tag team gold as well as another belt during their respective runs with WWF/E and Kurt Angle held every belt at once in TNA back in 2006. As for the reasoning as to why this doesn't happen often? I wish I knew. I DO know that the situation in TNA with Angle was all about creating a situation where one performer had done it all in one night and since Angle was the hottest free agent at the time picked up by the rival promotion, it made sense from a business perspective to allow him to usher the piece of history in.

2. With TNA and WWE picking up veterans the way they have, does it hurt the up and coming talents and at what point do they determine that the star power isn't as important as raising up their current talents?

The answer to part A is easy. As for part B? Not so much. Does the star power take from the younger talents? ABSOLUTELY......HOWEVER, if those veterans are there to elevate younger talents the way Angle did for Desmond Wolfe or the way Jeff Hardy did for CM Punk, it makes sense for them to make their debuts/returns. With Brock Lesnar, The Rock, and Batista of recent, their returns have done NOTHING to help the younger talents and, instead, have pushed guys like Dolph Ziggler and others back down the card and aided in the departure of CM Punk from WWE's ranks.

When TNA began, and at various points in WWE's history, top talents either left on their own or gave notice that they were leaving, creating opportunities for younger talents as the older stars helped create resumes for them, thus establishing them as new stars. Jeff Hardy MADE CM Punk into a first time World Champion. Sting helped MAKE Magnus. Mick Foley helped MAKE Randy Orton and Edge....the list goes on and on. Often times it's easy to predict when the necessity will come for promotions to create new stars and when they have the time to establish their current ones into leadership roles. Right now, TNA is in process of creation since Angle has given indications that he intends to leave; Sting has left; and Jeff Hardy may only have one year left in his contract. Once Hardy and Angle have left, there will be precious few former WWE names for TNA to market to the masses, not that they've needed them to establish their top tier. Fact is, TNA has created AT LEAST one brand new World Champion per year since 2009. Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, Chris Sabin, Bully Ray, Mr. Anderson, and James Storm have all had their respective reigns as the top dog and each made their name on the backs of one of three top selling veterans in their year.

So WHEN do top stars need to move over and make room? It seems to me that the process needs to be as fluid as the business itself....allowing flex and the ebb and flow that creates such hardcore fans who come to see history made as new talents get their own chance to make a name for themselves.