Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What if It's Not?

Don't think the thought hasn't occurred to me. It has. Probably more recently than at any time in the past 12 years. All this time, I have defended TNA and gave hints and survival notes on how TNA can best stay afloat, but I'd be lying or naive if I were to deny that the question has popped into my head....

Yes, these are conspiracies and yes, it's hopeful thinking, but what if it's not? What I mean is what if TNA actually goes under? Does it change anything? I have a couple of theories, but right now, the question I've been dealing with is whether or not this blog is still relevant if the subject matter holding it up falls down and out. Well? Do I change the name to reflect the new hunt for what I find relevant in the world that rivals Vince? And what's so special about the stuff Vince DOESN'T own?

So many questions bubble to the surface when I think like this, but it's only natural to want to know that what you've invested so much time into has all be for naught. I mean.....have I wasted my time throwing my support behind a failed experiment? I say NO.

And do you want to know why? That IS the most important question, after all. Why. What reason is there? Why is the PERFECT question when things go wrong or when things fall into place the way we plan. The question why provides answers, reasons, and motives and gives perspective when all three point somewhere that makes little sense.

To put any minds interested at ease, I'm not going anywhere or even changing the name of this blog. Why not? Because in spite of everything that's gone down and even IF TNA goes under, I still believe in the three things that drive Vince crazy; Tag Teams, Knockouts, and Wrestling.

So where does my attention shift if TNA goes belly up? That depends upon who has the best chance of putting up the best fight against him and the machine that's behind him. TNA is and has been the front runner for the past decade. In fact, Ring of Honor, who had a tv deal with Sinclair, NEVER even came CLOSE to competing even with TNA, let alone WWE. TNA not only competed with WWE's third branch for a time, but they had been sniffing the heels of WWE's second place show for nearly two years.

Is it possible that TNA has been limping forward on the hopes of securing a new tv deal and the reason Spike hasn't offered a new deal is because the programming isn't good enough to meet standards? I suppose that might be, but right now, TNA has signed talents whose contracts don't expire until well after the date Spike TV's television deal expires. Add to that the fact that the ring change, the new season of British Bootcamp airs as the deal expires and the fact that the 2015 Maximum Impact Tour that goes back to the UK is still on the books, meaning that plans have already been in the works. In a climate that tells critics to watch the demise of TNA, officials in highest ranks are telling performers that everything is still okay.

Why would that be? MY belief is that the offer from Jarrett is still on the table and that he and Dixie knew Spike TV wasn't going to give them the deal they were asking for and decided to work the problem from two different angles. Which goes something like this....

1. Dixie and company continue to work the day to day operations and call the departure of Jeff Jarrett from the company a "business decision". On the short term, the biggest names (Sting) in terms of paycheck status will have to be allowed to leave and find their place elsewhere. Have the crew continue to seek out a deal with Spike in spite of the difficulty and try to shop the product out the door.

2. Jeff Jarrett has to secure money to fund a new banner, something that the casual fan will be able to say out loud without fear of sounding like a pervert with a secret indulgence. With MEGA name value attached to the enterprise and influence enough to attract attention, Jeff should have no problem securing a television contract. CMT, MTV, any network with a reasonably high viewership and steadfast loyalty is the goal.

HERE, folks, is where things get complicated. AJ Styles, Sting, and other homegrown stars on TNA's roster all leave within a few weeks of each other. How do you explain that? Do you remember how I mentioned that Global Force Wrestling has standing alliances with AAA, New Japan, Wrestle-1, and other worldwide companies? Think about ANY former TNA wrestlers. AJ Styles, Konnan, Judas Mesias, Alex Shelley, Luke Gallows, the list goes on and on. Each of these performers have one thing in common: they all fall under the umbrella of the Global Force Wrestling. My theory is that Jeff Jarrett had been planning the funding and such long before the story came out and he wanted out even as early as 2006, but things simply weren't coming together to give the incentive so he advised some of the earliest departures from TNA to find refuge someplace within the confines of a list of perspective alliance feds. Once Jeff was officially free from his duties in TNA, which was designed to come off as a shock to the wrestling world, he was able to line the deals up squarely and was able to do so in record time, blaming the process in his interviews on advancements with the wrestling world.

With TNA's track record tarnished by bad booking, a revolving door of writers, and funding difficulties from the top down, they NEEDED a facelift, but they couldn't just abandon the project with a tv contract and worldwide commitments to honor, so the status quo had to be maintained.

You want signs that this is true? Fine...here's how we'll know that an acquisition has taken place:

1. Global Force Wrestling will make their first appearance on the world stage in the same way as WWF did when they acquired WCW....on two networks at the same time. Global Force Wrestling will be promoted with some SERIOUS gusto leading up to their premiere.

2. Bound for Glory news will be carefully guarded and when the event happens, we'll see something begin to happen in kayfabe that will directly relate to the merger. Imagine AJ Styles coming back to end the show with the rest of Bullet Club since New Japan has him under their employ...that kind of thing.

3. ShopTNA.com will have a MASSIVE sale. We're not just talking about small percentages, but bundles will increase as well. Why? With a name change like TNA to GFW, there is a crap ton of TNA merchandise to liquidate in order to set the house in order and we'll even see live shows chock full of giveaways.

4. Other performers will walk away from the brand in the coming weeks. Bully Ray is just the tip of the iceberg.

I realize this is a long column, but there's just so much to talk about and I'll bleed this into the next because of all the details that have to be ironed out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

About Last Night.....

This column is for the much appreciated question concerning WWE's usage of the Claire storyline. So, you want to know what I think? I don't really care. Let me qualify that, because there were all kinds of things that were working back when it was used in TNA, leading to the scrapping of the storyline altogether. When Claire first came on the scene and made accusations concerning AJ Styles, I was rolling my eyes and chuckling under my breath that the story would never stick. As it turns out, there were enough vocal fans and people who just wanted to expose the story by exposing the actress playing Claire as a fraud that it polluted any chance TNA might have had in turning the story into something palatable- something that could have been interesting. Believe it or not, there were fans irate enough to send threats, causing the actress to pull out of ANYTHING TNA-related after just a couple of appearances. This, folks, is a case of stupid people not differentiating between reality and fantasy, which pro wrestling falls under. These, we all know, are STORIES, told by actors and actresses- not to be taken with anything more than a grain of salt.

SO, in a panic, TNA brought in a lawyer character to torpedo the entire thing and it prompted TNA to write the whole dark AJ storyline, which came at the end of his TNA tenure. I firmly believe that if the fans that put this whole thing on ice had just let the story run its course and not raised so much fuss over it all, their hero would have been brought back to center stage and in proper time, justice would have been served and we could have all moved on and been better for it. So when WWE decided to copy the whole thing, I couldn't have cared less because I know NO ONE is going to raise enough stink for any of it to matter in the long run. Fact is, it'll no doubt even garner even more support for the brand because they're creating controversy for the brand to platform their shows off of. Yet another case of the WWE Universe's double standard.

I really didn't mean to turn this into a little mini-rant, but something HAS to be said for maintaining a level playing field for EVERY promotion who wants to compete with the Monday Night hometown hero.

Now before I say anything too terribly controversial, which may already be too late, I just read that several varying network executives attended one of the most recent tapings of Impact and in a backstage meeting with the crew, there was reassurance that things were going to be okay. Now keep in mind that everything holding Jeff Jarrett from buying the company out from the Carter family a few months back is now off the table by either design or by their hand being forced due to a lack of options, but either way, there are some things about this entire situation that seem entirely too coincidental. I don't like coincidences as I believe they mislead and can cause some unfortunate and premature conclusions to be jumped to, which is why I like to do some research before bringing anything here.

There is an exodus happening right now and one that can't be ignored. Bully Ray has given his notice to TNA. Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio have been released and will become free agents soon respectively, both heading to AAA in Mexico to seek their fortunes there. Let the record show that AAA has a standing agreement with GFW (Global Force Wrestling) along with New Japan, the homes of Alex Shelley and AJ Styles as well.

As far back as 2006, there was talk about renaming the brand in order to be taken more seriously by the casual wrestling fan. Now, with a constant fanbase supporting the brand, why would they even consider changing the name? If they determined they didn't like the direction the brand was taking, they may even abandon the product altogether, putting TNA in the exact position they wanted to avoid, so they stayed the course....in fact, they even invited some star power to try and garner some support, but when the financial streams started bleeding money, the Carter family HAD to come up with something, so they made the best of a bad situation and lived with the terms as long as the status quo remained unchanged.

Once Flair, Hogan, and Bischoff were off the payroll, steps were even taken to try and put the fans back in the driver's seat. How? By turning the clock back and giving them the choice of whether or not they wanted to bring back the 6 Sided Ring; bringing back fan favorite TNA performers and the throwback matches fans have been dying to see. Given the run TNA has been on, it seems strange that an outside company has been placed in charge of finding a new permanent home for the TNA brand...doesn't it? Why not Dixie and company themselves? Truth be told, this feels a bit like reality is waiting for the bait and switch.....

I've been called a conspiracy theorist by a few people and the truth is...they're right. I still am holding out hope that TNA's assets are only holding GFW's seat and keeping it warm while Jeff Jarrett launches the next chapter and puts things back on track.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Last Ride....

I've decided to give this thing another go and jot down a few things I'd LOVE to see in the coming year, provided TNA finds a brand new home or secures the one they have at the moment. SO, without ANY further ado, here's MY list of "to do's" for 2015......

1. King of the Mountain....
You'll find that this column is going to have a BUNCH of returns or debuts and this sets the tone of the whole thing. The King of the Mountain match was a staple to Slammiversary, but it also created the moniker of TNA's founder, Jeff Jarrett. This backwards Ladder Match has been the field trip to chaos for quite a long time and it's been too long since we've seen it, so I say let's bring bad old habits.

2. World X Cup.....
While we're on the topic of bring back old habits...why not the World X Cup? It seems as though it would make some sense to set the clock back just a bit and hit pause for another round of nostalgia for the old school TNA fans. Matt Bentley, Petey Williams, Kazarian, Daniels, Jushin Liger, heck....why not Rey Mysterio if he's available? Just a thought.

3. One More Time....
If we're going to see one more match from a few of the best of TNA's brightest years, why not put Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, and a returning legend into Six Sides of Steel or into a Gauntlet....fact is, ANY match with these guys in it is going to blow the lid of the venue, but then I remember....I never mentioned the legend by name. Since this is all wishful thinking, I say bring back AJ Styles for another run.

Bringing back Styles is a bit of a weird topic for me, as vocal as I was in the wake of his departure, but as it turns out, both sides of the discussion have had some reasonably decent success without each other...who would have thought? Even so, though, my DVD collection still has some room for another "Best of AJ Styles" title in it. Okay, end sentimental moment.

4. Knockouts Faction war.....
I've made mention of a TNA roster war with more than two factions, but a women's faction or two has yet to truly manifest itself in either of the two major wrestling promotions up to this time. Personally, I'm all for gender equality in this case. I'd LOVE to see a showcase match at Lockdown with a pairing of two Knockouts teams in Lethal Lockdown. It's still new territory and, quite frankly, I KNOW the talent behind the scenes, minus Rebel, could put together a very nice and respectable match; one for the ages.

5. The End of Abyss.....
As a character, his time has come. It's time to go in a different direction. His character is stale and languishing in it's luster. TNA NEEDS to put together the story to wind down the character and put him, ultimately, to rest. In the beginning, Abyss was a GENIUS character and one that TNA sorely needed to meet the demands of a niche audience, but that time has either passed or is passing and maybe not for the hardcore rules match as a whole, but Abyss' inclusion in that category moving forward. And just in the same way that putting Kane to rest without Paul Bearer is going to be tough, Abyss without James Mitchell is not going to fly any better, so TNA had BETTER do his departure up right and secure the dark Father for the story.

6. The Bound for Glory Series....
This year, the series is absent...did anyone notice? I know I did, because the World Heavyweight Title has taken a bit of a backseat of late and, truthfully, there was never a reason for things to feel that way, even in the midst of a bit of turmoil from a managerial standpoint. The point is, when the Bound for Glory Series was first put together, I was skeptical, but it drew me into the story because there were outside ways for a person to get a title shot that did not involve the series at all. For example, when "Option C" was brought to the table, the series was already underway, but the cash-in gave TNA a way to move forward on the promise to have a challenger each month for whoever the title-holder was at the time. Combine that with the fact that every time, the title holder had a feud going on that would last a month or so into the summer AFTER Destination X that involved someone who WASN'T involved in the series.

Is there more to this list? Probably, but this is the most important stuff that could be included on the surface. With the return of Rhino, Kenny King, and Matt Hardy, and the current reign of Bobby Lashley, along with the debuts of MVP, and Jessicka Havok, this year could be the return to glory TNA has needed since 2009.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reborn....

If WWE has put out just one DVD that is ABSOLUTELY critical for every wrestling fan to watch and take notes on, it has to be "The Rise and Fall of WCW". Why? Because of everything that is chronicled  in the chapters leading up to the inception of WCW and the ultimate demise of the organization. Fact is, right now, I think history is giving a smaller scale comparison even now with the current state of TNA.....

1. Consistent numbers.
Before anyone goes and tries to compare apples to apples and say that TNA is nothing like WCW or even the much smaller Jim Crockett Promotions banner due to MASSIVE Crockett numbers vs. TNA's more moderate and modest numbers. While TNA DOESN'T have monster numbers, they DO have consistent numbers, meaning a loyal pack of week to week followers, which is no small feat for any organization going up against WWE in ANY capacity.

2. Rumors of network buyout.
Back in the day, these rumors became reality, but rumors of Spike wanting to buy out TNA have surfaced in the past few months. Could it happen? Absolutely. But would it change the product? THAT is the real question, and one that has yet to be discussed.

3. The Roster comparison.
Right now, there is no question....TNA's roster has the cutting edge in terms of pure talent on their main roster while WWE is still breaking the indy spirit of those they want to bring into the fray. Talents like Prince Dewitt, Kevin Steen, KENTA, and others who have done things a certain way are going to now adjust to the new way of plying their craft under the heavily watered down product WWE peddles to the masses. Not so with TNA, hence Jessicka Havok and others who have their debuts coming.

These, folks, are just the surface of the comparisons, but there are more...make no mistake about it. I'm doing a TON of research to give more credence to the claims, but for now, this is the beginning. Do I think TNA is going to fold if they don't find a permanent home? Nope.