Sunday, June 29, 2014

DEVON!!!!!.....and the crowd joins in....

I can't believe it's coming. The writing was there, the moment was there, the players were in place, and it happened. I hope they plan on showing it. Seriously. Is there ANYTHING, and I mean ANYTHING that would spell out certain vindication better than the sight we may well see on screen in the coming weeks?

In the weeks of threats and power struggles and outright chaos, Dixie went too far, according to Bully Ray, and after many weeks of attempts, finally goes through with it and puts the TNA president through a table.

The question I have for this column right now is this.....could Dixie's bodily sacrifice actually put boosters on TNA's viewership audience? As a secondary stand-by question...does it earn Dixie Carter some much needed respect and brownie points with long time fans of TNA who have all but given up on things? As I can only answer for myself, I will only do just that. So without further ado, I say let's jump in.....

From the time Dixie decided to jump in and get her hands into the waters of the company her family purchased, I have tried to be her defender, but when she began eating into time on the show that could just as easily been given to a young upstart, it got MUCH harder. Apparently, we fans got to her, because one of the changes to the product, according to an interview, will be less grandstanding and more wrestling in ring. If this is punctuated by a spot like the one we're on the verge of seeing firsthand,  my hope in the product will be much more secure.....not to mention my faith in her ability to lead the product forward. Once a television deal has been either extended or renewed, I think we'll see something far more special than even the table spot of Dixie Carter...but either way, right now, she's earned back some of my trust.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sting and AJ: One Year Later....

Before ANYONE calls me out and corrects me by saying it hasn't been a year yet, in my view, it feels like it. When MVP comes out and flaps his mouth and Dixie comes out to retort, every time I wish it were Sting or AJ or both to restore order. I don't like Team Dixie and Team MVP isn't doing anything for me either, but I can't say it's been booked badly, it just seems like a team is missing to balance the playing field....

Think back, people....who always turned the tides in heel authority figure stories? Before Sting's arrival, it was Styles, but once Sting came in, HE was the 'go to' guy. During the time Team Jarrett was running ragged over the roster in 2004, Sting won the World Title at Bound for Glory and sent Jarrett packing. When the Main Event Mafia was running over the roster, who turned face first? Sting. When Hogan came onboard and began securing control, who held him at bay and turned the tides and Hogan, in the process? Sting. When Team Dixie first came to power, who was the pillar at the top of the opposition? Sting. The facts don't lie, even though the characters might.

Since I've covered AJ Styles extensively elsewhere, I won't linger over his history, but suffice it to say that TNA really could use the burst of energy he brought to the ring and especially in a renewed 6 Sided Ring. It's not the same, and no one can convince me otherwise.

ON THE OTHER HAND, there is plenty happening right now that prompts me to believe we'll see Styles one way or another. When Styles left TNA, he began leaving a trail of injuries from his opponents in other promotions. For some reason, his tenure in TNA accustomed those receiving his finisher in the way to take it and not get hurt, but not anywhere else. I have only one explanation: he never thought he'd find his way to the door and would ultimately retire in TNA. Seriously. Watch any interview in the wake of his final negotiations falling through. He believed he would be facing friends and colleagues for many years to come, but when the opponents he faced were in a different mindset than those under TNA's banner, signals were crossed, messages were mixed, and people got hurt.

I'm not blaming Styles. In fact, I'm saying, for the record, that TNA should have retained him. Could he return? Absolutely. And Sting? For once, I have no idea why. Would he bring in new fans? Maybe. Is there a place for him to fit into the current landscape? I'm having trouble finding it. Without a brand loyal babyface as his co-pilot, I simply don't see a place for Sting to stand where it makes much sense and that's a sad thing for me to say. I'm a big fan of the Stinger, I really am, but he's done everything TNA can offer him. He's held every belt, grabbed every ring, and crossed every line set up for him. I think the only place Styles holds the advantage is his age, but unless officials are willing to roll up their sleeves and open their pocketbooks, we won't see him back in TNA again.

So now the question is, is TNA better or worse for the losses? I say better on the Sting side, but worse for Styles. I'll probably catch some heat for this, but there would have to be something drastic that would happen to bring back Sting....what, you ask? I'll save that little morsel for later because THAT piece is purely speculation.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Camping in the Newsroom....

With as much happening, it seems to me that I may have to follow the title of this column just to keep up with the sheer volume of the developments TNA is throwing at me right if you'll bear with me, we'll tackle them one little baby step at a time. If you've come here hoping to avoid spoilers, you'll be fine until about news bit number 3, until then, enjoy the ride......

1. TNA has just announced that Bound for Glory will emanate from TOKYO! I didn't stutter, people....we'll be watching the biggest PPV in the company either on delay OR live with a HUGE time difference. Is this a good idea? A fair question, but considering almost every outing has been described as somewhat of a half disaster. As forward thinking and progressive as TNA tries to be, they have some difficulty filling every arena they reserve. The thought, from inside, is that TNA's closest business ally, at the moment, Wrestle-1, could help bolster some numbers by reaching their outlets, which could be a good strategy, just not for those of us who WOULD attend if the show were closer to home.

2. The volume of returns and debuts continues to mount as more continue to be added on nearly a daily basis.  Does this mean positives coming down the pike? Could it mean that the Carter family are FINALLY willing to sink enough money to pay for prime time players, negotiate to bring back some they've lost, and do what will be necessary to secure their Thursday night timeslot on a reputable network? Here's hoping, but with who they've come into agreement with, I am being particularly cautious. And with THAT we come to the point where spoilers are unavoidable.

3. Team Dixie is getting help from some interesting sources. It seems that one of my own personal wishlist members of the TNA locker room has been snapped up, but with him comes one I have no use for in my formulation of TNA's future. Ezekiel Jackson has been picked up for a season. There is no word as to how long his tenure will last, but his presence does help balance a physique offset that Bobby Lashley creates. With him, however, comes Snitsky, whom I have NEVER had a liking for, but maybe that "isn't his fault." I don't see a future in his tenure, to be blunt, but again, no word has been released as to the length of the deal they reached.

4. In addition to these, FINALLY, we get to see some use being put to one of TNA's MMA investments.....King Mo joins the fray in a semi-active role on behalf of Team Dixie. Does this mean we'll even see a match? I wouldn't count it out, but given his track record thusfar, I'm not counting on full commitment either. And that's the problem here, folks. TNA is doing a decent job of trying to create a respectable roster and, for the most part, they've succeeded, but with every success (MVP, Tigre Uno, Brittney, etc.), there is a potential disaster waiting around the corner (Rebel, King Mo, MVP, etc.). Did I put MVP into BOTH categories? YES!

MVP getting injured nearly right out of the gate is NOT what TNA needs right now. If this becomes a problem, TNA is going to have to lighten him from their talent load quicker than the ink drying on his contract. Yes, his presence is an asset in terms of his ability to work a mic and carry a story, but that only extends so far as his ability to hold together long enough to bridge ring work with that innate mic ability. Long story short: He MUST remain healthy to make a difference on this roster. Period.

If the floodgates of news don't break open any further, we'll take some time to discuss Sting and AJ Styles in the next column, but I DO promise.....we'll get there, hang in there.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More to Say, Have You?

So now, it's official.....the 6 Sided Ring returns in New York, joining Matt Hardy, Rhino, Tommy Dreamer, etc. The debate over whether or not it will be accepted when it does return wages on and another pair of names from WWE past are poised to make their way down the ramp for the competition, and these guys have my opinions twisted.

In the perfect stable, you have a main eventer or two, a second tier player, a specialty division player, and a tag team. We have MVP and Lashley on the top tier, Kenny King in the X Division, and right now, we're on the verge of TNA bringing in their tag team to fit the current heel faction, or at least potentially. They've held tag team gold before, but with the most recent round of WWE releases already over with, NOW they can reunite under a new banner. Sure, an immediate appearance could be a breach of the 90 day clause, but with a name like Crime Time, I doubt it would stop them.

That's right, the tandem could show up at virtually any time. So when the entire stable could become another Nation of Domination, why am I so mixed in my opinion of it? Mostly because it contains almost nothing but former WWE talents and I have said more than once that TNA needs their own creations to helm the controls at this juncture. Still, the thought of a coherent storyline that has the potential of forcing a faction war for the first time that forces every member of the roster to pick a faction to represent has me salivating. THAT is the kind of prospect I could build an entire PPV card around.

The questions I have concerning all the comings and goings are mounting, though....

- Is the influx of talents a short term arrangement or are we destined to see more debuts and returns as we bring Bound for Glory's season to a close?

- What happens when Global Force launches officially, having made press release statements aligning with both AAA and New Japan Pro Wrestling?

The question I've been asking since contract negotiations fell through still begs an answer.....
- Is TNA better or worse for the losses of Sting and AJ Styles?

I'll attempt to answer THAT question nearly 3 months after the fact in the next column, but until that time, keep watching for patterns.....

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The One Ring to Rule Them All....

In the last column, I praised TNA's 6 Sided Ring staple during their 7 year usage tenure. I make no apologies for my preference, but something caught my eye today in the news.

Austin Aries and EC3 are now speaking out against the possible change as it relates to the fans' choice in the matter. According to tweets by both men, the ring poses physical dangers to the performers. To this, I have a question.....why has this news NEVER come up in the 7 year use of the ring to begin with? Was this simply a choice made by Jarrett and company that gave no other options to the wrestlers but to do with it what they were able? If this truly posed a legitimate danger to the talents, you can bet the plug would have been pulled LONG before 7 years.

Fact is, it wasn't until the Hogan regime swooped in that the 6 Sides were put to rest in favor of the traditional ring. That said, HIS reason, according to NUMEROUS interviews had to do with it looking juvenile and his not so humble opinion, I might add.

Lockdown's Six Sides of Steel format put TNA into a league all their own, paving the way for themed PPVs across the boundaries in WWE as well. People can say what they want, but TNA started it all in the modern era. In any case, the tenure doesn't matter. The format doesn't matter. What DOES matter is whether or not we're looking at a deal breaker from a wrestler's perspective IF TNA reverts back to the old ring.

To coincide with the possible return of the ring, TNA has been putting out return announcements ALL OVER the place in the past few days. First, it was Tommy Dreamer and Matt Hardy, then it was The Great Muta, Low-Ki and Rhino and now, Brian Cage, and Homicide are on tap for returns as of Destination X. With the volume of returns being prepared to put into play, it stands to question how legitimate these complaints actually are. Is the potential for injury actually a real possibility or are we dealing with the alarmist kayfabe controversy?

Truthfully, I don't know, but I DO know that I had yet to hear anything but praise for the look and the innovation of the ring in its introduction to the promotion in the formative years, and even leading into 2009, when the talk was swirling to do away with it, Jeff Jarrett was the most vocal opponent, but once the decision was made, it took something of a minor miracle to bring about even the POSSIBILITY of its return. But now, assuming fans follow suit to vote and TNA sees fit to pull the trigger, we may see the return of the ring regardless of kayfabe or reality.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

REALLY!? Could it BE?! For REAL this time?!

TNA has just announced an opportunity for US, their (mostly) loyal fans....we now have choice in where SOME of this is headed. If there has been an absent roster member TNA has been on my criticism radar for, it's the one member that has set it apart from every other promotion in the televised universe....the 6 Sided Ring.

But NOW we get to set the clock back, provided that everyone goes to Impact Wrestling's website and follows suit by voting for the return of the missing element in TNA's already steeped arsenal. For my hour each week, I HAVE to see this return in order for a fire to return to one division......the X Division. If there is ANY argument to attempt a dispute, I would remind everyone that TNA had the 6 Sided Ring from 2003 all the way until Genesis in 2010. Under this banner, EVERY match from the Best of the X-Division volumes including 2005's crown achievement.....the Triple Threat battle from Unbreakable between Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, and AJ Styles.

HOWEVER, with every bit of excitement, comes the bitter taste of the negative elements mostly consisting of elements like the World X Cup and Elevation X, among the other tourneys and gimmick matches TNA fans would love to see return to the promotion. Anybody remember King of the Mountain?

Having said my peace on the matter, I'd like to take another moment or two to continue in the spirit of returns to mention another name fans SHOULD be excited to see.....Taryn Tarrell, who was on par to win her first Knockouts Title before her plans were put on hold for nine months plus, a fact that I am happy she determined to carry out. In any case, Tarrell's feud with Gail Kim made her the breakout star of last year, in my humble opinion, highlighted by a Ladder Match and a KILLER performance at Slammiversary in a Last Knockout Standing Match. With her return imminent, it seems that if her poise remains unchanged from her trajectory last year, we will see some of her best matches yet against the current champion, Angelina Love.

Another return that, in my mind, is more welcome than not is the return of Devon. People can say what they want, but I've always been a fan of Devon and, particularly his character as a member of the Aces and Eights. Truthfully, I think that even though his bag of tricks wasn't particularly wide and varied, he held up quite well in spite of the sheer volume of hardcore matches he's been in over the years. One source I've read speculates that TNA has plans to bring back Beer Money to feud with the Hardyz and Dudleys for one night. I, for one, am COMPLETELY against this course of action as it negates the forward movement of a TNA up and coming tandem to get their break. Look, I get that the veterans are a draw, but they're also a resume bullet waiting to be loaded to fire whoever beats them into the top tier.

A match between Beer Money and the Wolves vs. the Dudleys and Hardyz sounds like a good idea, but unless it involves tables, ladders, and chairs, I'm not interested.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Why Not?

We were given a couple of treats at Slammiversary this year, people. Let's be honest and put all cards out there: I KNOW Eric Young has that Daniel Bryan look to him, but to be fair, he DID do it first. He was rocking the beard even before the whole wedding with ODB thing a couple of years back. Fact is, if ANYONE calls this a copycat response to Bryan's push, you have it all wrong. The thing that has ME baffled, however, is why Eric Young is in the winners' circle while Christopher Daniels was put out? You know what? Nevermind that....really. I'm glad he's getting his just desserts....he's a funny guy and a talented performer inside the ring and out....a real class act as well.

To tell you the truth, he's starting to grow on me, which is something I didn't see coming. I saw Young as the kind of guy who could hold every title BUT the World Belt simply on his ring talent, but the thing that always held him back, I thought, was his gimmick....a goofy, zany, sometimes downright annoyingly animated bearded guy, unrefined and unapologetically so. The powers that be, however, didn't share the same opinion.

And now Team 3D has been inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame. Okay, TNA...we get it. Kurt Angle, Sting, and now the Dudleys because Ray is still on the payroll and because they need another marquis name on the ticker. Why not AJ Styles? Why not Jeff Jarrett? Why not Ken Shamrock? This is the anthem from the more vocal fanbase tuning in each week. You know what? I see both sides of this thing. On the one side, there isn't a more decorated tandem in professional wrestling HISTORY than the Dudleys: FACT. On the other side, there are FAR more long term names that mean more to the brand in terms of their longevity. But then you HAVE to take into account their age.  Devon and Ray aren't in the up and coming category and, at least from my perspective, a Hall of Fame would feature performers in the twilight of their careers and THAT, my friends, is what the induction means.

So why not Jeff Jarrett? My guess is two fold. ONE: Jeff Jarrett has begun the establishment of a new competitive brand that will try and put up numbers against the TNA brand. And TWO: Even though Jarrett was a competitor for the brand, he is still the founder of the company and much the same way that Vince didn't induct himself into the Hall of Fame of late was because when you put the guy in responsible for the show, you automatically sabotage the class with the appearance of arrogance. I'm not saying I share that opinion, but in the eyes of TNA officials, it might make some sense.

I guess what I'm saying in all of this, folks, is why not? Sure, some of this might look something like what's going on across the pond, but the differences are still there and those differences MAKE this something special. Eric Young isn't a technical specialist as Bryan is, but he does hold his own and plays the underdog role well. Young is finally getting a chance to have fans backing him as a legitimate champion, so I say again....why not?

The Bully in the House of Hardcore......

A story broke about two weeks back that had me interested involving Tommy Dreamer and his House of Hardcore pseudo-promotion. Why do I call it a pseudo-promotion? Because the events are sporatic, at best, and though they draw decent crowds, those crowds cannot be sustained in a traveling format, at least as things stand at the moment. That said, over the past few years, TNA has had dealings with talent exchanges in the House of Hardcore "roster"of common attendees. This story, however, has to do with an invitation that was allegedly accepted and then recanted at the last moment.

Bully Ray was invited to the House of Hardcore event and then was "pulled" from the event by Dixie Carter and was, in turn, made a spectacle of at said event by the host, Tommy Dreamer. He blasted Carter in more than one form of media that night, including Twitter, saying in no uncertain terms that she had no clue how to be professional about this.

For about a week, when TNA said nothing in response, I wondered if there would ever be any kind of follow-up or fallout from the words said that night.....then I read the news that crossed my desk tonight....Dixie Carter sends out an invitation to Tommy Dreamer.

So Dixie Carter responded via Twitter that Tommy Dreamer is invited to attend this week's live Impact broadcast and vent his frustrations in front of the world. In my mind, this is good booking for TNA to acknowledge a smaller event and promotion base because it helps get the name out AND gives some positive spin on the story to boot. Couple that with an added layer of depth to a lacking weekly product and you have a good place to work from this week.

In other TNA news, it appears that Matt and Jeff will be reuniting for at least a night or two in New York's TNA tapings. I don't care who you are, this is a good thing for the company. Like them or not, the Hardy Boyz are history and, if coupled with a reunion of the Dudleys for a Bound for Glory match with a TNA homegrown tandem or the Wolves, it could be an AMAZING display and one worth the cost of the entire PPV.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Spring Cleaning, Throwaways, and Takebacks.....

Okay folks, I have PLENTY of news to put out there, not the least of which being that I'M BACK after having the cable snapped on my laptop, no time to replace it until today, AND a bride having had major hip reconstructive surgery. WHEW! So now I've got some recovery to do and that time is a long time coming. With any luck I'll be on the daily again real soon. In any case, let's jump right back into the thick of things, yes?

First up on the agenda, WWE is right back in the swing of their spring cleaning season now that Wrestlemania is over and they have the understanding now that there aren't going to be any talks for the return of CM Punk now that he's just gotten himself hitched to AJ Lee. Not only so, but with the injury status of Daniel Bryan now called into question and the complicated reality of his recovery and uncertain timing of his return, they've called an audible and pulled the trigger on the breaking of the Shield to shake things up and try to speed run them to the top of the card respectively.

With these changes in play, WWE has decided to solidify their roster poise by trimming the fat once more, so to speak. With 11 talents and the like on the release list, this marks one of the more conservative release years WWE has had in the past few years. Here's the list thusfar......

Drew McIntyre
Jinder Mahal
Theodore Long
Brodus Clay
Evan Bourne
Curt Hawkins
Marc Harris (Referee)

Right now, the scuttlebutt concerning these releases is that WWE is trying to minimize their losses with the costs accrued by the WWE Network and those stemming from the changes made to the PPV landscape as it relates to said network.

As for TNA? I'm glad you asked. MVP is injured as of this post and will NOT be available to work this Sunday's PPV. With this injury in mind, TNA officials posted two matches that directly relate to the main event.

Samoa Joe vs. Bobby Lashley
Austin Aries vs. Kenny King

The winners of these matches will be included in the main event, which now will take place inside a steel cage. I, for one, would like to congratulate those writing this portion of the card as it adds something special to the stakes and helps ramp up the storyline moving towards Bound for Glory. On a side note, the x factor for the entire event comes in the form of one man....Bobby Roode. Having been suspended indefinitely, it stands to reason that this might be the best place to bring him back into the fold.

With all of the changes going on in the wrestling landscape, it would be foolish to assume anything about any of the major player promotions running right now, even TNA, as imperfect as they have been of late. That said, releases, stock scandals, contract lapses, and even slander from former employees make little difference these days as the fans really don't care one way or the other as it relates to their favorite promotion regardless. This isn't a knock on anyone, it's simply a statement of fact, people will believe what they want to, and that's how it should be.