Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Between Each Breath.....

I feel like every time I'm writing these days, I'm waiting for the big news to drop....some kind of big news that officials claim is coming, some announcement that will change the way we look at the promotion I've spent nearly 1000 columns defending. Mark my words, the day the 1000th column drops, it'll be something special. As for the topic? I'm still about a month's worth of titles before the big number, but I think I'll leave that to a couple of places to determine. First, I'll leave it here, for those of you who come in here on occasion to check out what's new. I thank you for coming and chilling for a time. And I'll toss up a poll on the Sting (TNA) fansite over on Facebook.

What should this whole thing be about in the coming year? Will everything change with the network switch? What kinds of borders can TNA cross and still remain the company we cheer for and pull for in the long run? It seems like there are a few more borders than COULD be crossed, provided those in the rumor mill keep the rumors running for me to speculate over. Which brings me to a WWE main eventer who has yet to sign a renewal contract.

For the record, this man is NOT John Cena, not that he wouldn't be welcome to see in TNA IF he is completely changed in terms of his persona. I do NOT want to see Cena as a good guy for a long time...seriously. But why am I even bringing HIM up....it isn't he who hasn't resigned with the machine, but rather a surprising name, if the rumors are accurate.

Apparently, Randy Orton has turned down two separate offers from WWE Corporate for contract renewals for 3-5 years in length. Why? I have no idea, but what intrigues me about the story is just how much control he has over the way his character's persona carries over the airwaves. Stories about WWE creative coming to him with ideas he doesn't like and using his relationship with HHH to dismiss them outright put me in mind of the way Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash did the same thing in WCW. I wonder if he's as bored with his current usage as those of us who've jumped ship are.

Truthfully, I didn't intend to put Randy Orton into a new persona, but if I could put him ANYWHERE on TNA's roster, where do I start him? In my mind, there are only two or three choices.....and all but one put the history on display with the kind of backstage reveal to help bring down the mystique WWE wants to bring to their show.

1. Jeff Hardy....Orton and Hardy have a storied history battling over the Intercontinental Title in his early years, but in his final years with WWE, Hardy feuded with Orton over the big gold belt; the World Heavyweight Championship. To me, history could begin here.

2. Kurt Angle.....In the world of professional wrestling, there are few who could put  Orton through his paces in the opening months of his TNA tenure than Angle. With a compelling story beginning with Orton calling him out and laying him out with an RKO, only to be attacked by a couple of Angle's hired guns just to show Orton that he's not in Kansas anymore.

3. AJ Styles.....If TNA really wants to embarrass one of WWE's golden boys, AJ Styles HAS to be the one to do it. Why? Because it would be among the best representations of WWE vs. TNA booking, with TNA coming out looking like a million bucks. Like it or not, Orton loses here and has to earn his keep even if only to hold the attention of the masses of WWE fans who believe he can do no wrong. I firmly believe he HAS to don the unpredictable persona, carrying it far further than he did up north.

But I don't want to see the man himself destroyed. No sir, not by a long shot. This is only temporary and I would want to ally him with one of TNA's best and brightest to bring him back up the ladder and into the main event. But see here's the thing: Randy Orton makes a TERRIBLE babyface. If we're talking about an anti-hero or a true heel, I can get behind the guy, even root for him, but as a babyface, I really can't......ever. So who would I ally him with? My choices are three in number...

1. Austin Aries....If Orton allied with Aries, you could do so much with them as a tag team, but this is only a vehicle to take both up the ladder before turning one against the other.

2. Bobby Roode....The "It" Factor and the "Legend Killer" as a tag team? Sign me up please. Both pull off the all business persona well, with both having been in stables with Ric Flair and both have accolades worth comparing. As far as a money feud goes, this one is in my top three for TNA on my wish list.

3. Magnus....My reasoning for Magnus is because he took out one legend the "Legend Killer" never had the chance to, Sting.  With Sting on the horizon for Wrestlemania next year, this feud putting Sting's name in two places at once would be something I'd find interesting. From a business perspective, it lessens the loss of the Icon by putting together an alliance of those who've beaten the legends and seen them leave.

I realize that this post is about one of WWE's golden boys, but in the end, we're always talking about options and TNA is the option that WCW wasn't in the end. TNA still has enough focus to put together something coherent and cohesive and something that gels well. With TNA in an era that they fit well with and WWE more focused in on their reality shows and pandering to the lower aged, affluent audience, I see nothing but potential for Orton making a jump AND with injuries plaguing him of recent, it would give him more time to heal if he DID make the jump and signed with TNA with the proviso that he would get whatever medical help he needed and recovery before making his debut. I'm open to new possibilities....heck, I was even open to Hogan.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Would SHOCK Me?

In TNA's run, there have been quite a few things that actually shocked me. Debuts like Christian, Jeff Hardy, and Kurt Angle come to mind, along with the Dudleys and a couple of others, but I ask myself if there are any OUTSIDE the ring who've shocked me. In fact, there have been a few.

Eric Bischoff....Because of his time as the single greatest General Manager of RAW, in my humble opinion, as well as the inventor of the Elimination Chamber, I thought he'd be true blue WWE for life, even though they put his baby out to pasture following the events of the Monday Night War. Still, when it was announced that Hulk Hogan would be coming to TNA, his face was the furthest thing I expected to see standing nearby.

Bruce Pritchard....As Vince McMahon's right hand man for over a decade, HE WAS WWE or as high up the chain without being named McMahon or Levesque. He held more power than virtually anyone else in the back, but when his number was called for the Future Endeavors Club, him showing up in TNA was something I didn't see coming.

Tazz.....No one was more excited to see a new face at commentary when Don West was on his way out than me, but few could have been a better fit for the announce table than Tazz. I'm a purist in the taste I have for decent color commentators at the announce table and Tazz is that, to me. Bobby Heenan, Jerry Lawler, even Jonathan Coachman, on occasion, fit the bill for WWE, but Tazz was one guy I thought who would outstay a solid chunk of the youngbloods vying for their own place at the table.

But right now, in 2014-15, is there any one man who would shock me from a backstage standpoint or even in a wrestling debut? Yep, there are a few....

Shane McMahon.....Talk about bombshell and one to talk about for the ages. History repeating itself and all the while moving on a COMPLETELY different course would shock me. If Shane legitimately took the reins and ran with them on a competition course with his father's company, I doubt very much you'd see so many haters. Shane has been to the top before and was a major player in WWF/E and when he determined he wanted out, I have no doubt he meant it, but if he suddenly decided he wanted to try things from the other side of the coin, I think that would shock EVERYONE.

Jim Ross.....Aside from Shane, his name strikes me as one I would welcome the most. But would it shock me? Absolutely. From his blog and a perspective that exists outside the business and yet all the while connected, he has the perfect vantage point to give fresh perspective, but him SIDING with TNA? That's something I just wouldn't see coming. In spite of the on screen shenanigans Vince and company has put him through, he remained a Monday Night and PPV staple for decades and that is a testament to his long suffering. Him making the move to TNA would be amazing as I would be cheering the loudest for the Sooner to call matches for AJ Styles' return and the current roster as a whole.


Monday, October 20, 2014

The Hinge Pin....

In virtually every door in a house, there are hinges that allow said door to swing freely and allow things in and out. And in nearly every hinge on nearly every door, you have what is called a hinge pin; a central point at which a peg sits and holds the door in place. Without these hinge pins, the door can only function for so long before coming off track. So why the general lesson in carpentry in a wrestling column? I've made it known that Sting was this hinge pin on so many occasions for TNA in the run he had with them. That was storyline and that was in the ring.

But this column isn't about Sting, for once. This is about the return of TNA's golden boy and the hinge pin in their current plan moving forward. This is about the return of AJ Styles......

In December of last year, AJ Styles left TNA after months of negotiations ended with neither party able to come to an agreeable number to put on his contract. With that in mind, his tenure in the independent circuit has come with some developments that lead me to believe, as I find myself thinking a lot, that there is more than meets the eye to everything that has come around this past year....and not just with Styles either, but with the entire climate of GFW and the partnerships that promotion has around the world.

So what makes AJ so darned important? I've speculated that he may be bringing the founder, Jeff Jarrett right? Well, you all remember that pesky little 35% of the company Jarrett still owns? Well apparently, those shares may not be worth a nickel to GFW, the time on a new network does and THAT is where TNA holds their advantage over GFW, as I've also mentioned before. Right now, GFW holds partnership deals with AAA, NJPW, and a host of other promotions worldwide and TNA is still in good favor with NJPW and Wrestle-1 along with them holding the network cards in terms of their visibility in nations outside of the US. I smell a honest to goodness wrestling cooperative in the works.

With AAA, in particular, you COULD see Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio in TNA, meaning a Rey vs. AJ Styles match COULD realistically happen. Imagine Bullet Club in TNA. We're talking about everyone winning and GFW potentially branching off once TNA has helped establish them and their personas on the small screen....even if it's just on the short term.

So really, what I'm saying is that for once, AJ Styles gets to be the man who saves TNA AND helps create something ELSE that's brand new and that's something even Sting couldn't do.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

And now, the news.....

F4Wonline.com reports that TNA officials are telling their business partners that a TV deal is imminent and will be announced within 10 days.

TNA is rumored to have been in talks with a "shocking" acquisition. But who is it?

I have been looking at the potentials and I have a few ideas to share with you.....who could it be.....

LOW POTENTIAL
CM Punk- In interviews and all other forms of communication, he has made it abundantly clear that he has little to no desire to return to wrestling and with more than enough money to survive without it, why would he?

Edge- Now I hear in your heads, you're telling me it's impossible, but people said the same thing when Shawn Michaels was "forced" into early retirement in 1998, but 4 years later, he made his return and had an arguably even better run than his first. Could it be? His "brother" made a TNA debut IMMEDIATELY after a WWE PPV. On the other hand, his acting career is in full bloom and I highly doubt he'd put that in jeopardy for one more run.

MODERATE POTENTIAL
Beth Phoenix- How is THIS shocking? She was let go for wanting to be by her man's side during his surgery that forced his retirement....you might remember him from above. Edge? Her venting that frustration and revealing him as the new general manager would be a shock. Would it not?

Randy Orton- APPARENTLY, his contract comes up sometime in early 2015 and he has flat out REJECTED both offers WWE has made to have him re-sign for even a short term deal. Could he make the jump and if so, would that shock the masses?

HIGH POTENTIAL
Alberto Del Rio- He was unceremoniously released after an altercation backstage with a member of the WWE staff. Granted, he made tracks back to Mexico, but wouldn't it be in the character of TNA to sign another former main eventer....

Rey Mysterio- Even in the twilight of his career, his name value carries a TON of weight . Would it be the caliber of a Kurt Angle? That all depends on how long he can stay healthy as well as how long his contract would last. But shocking?

Well, I suppose it all depends upon a couple of things.....

1. Don't overstock the debut. TNA made a mistake of EPIC proportions by FILLING the debut episode of Hulk Hogan with cameos and only keeping a few in stock afterwards for longer than a couple of weeks. Don't do it. You'll run the risk of burning everyone out before the first commercial.

2. You'd better have a darn good reason for signing on board. If there isn't a good reason for coming, you may as well stay home. When Christian came on board, he did so for the change in pace, the variety in his peers, and the money. How many times can you use that as your reasoning? If it isn't DIFFERENT, it isn't worth my time.

3. You want a shock? Tell us you've signed someone like CM Punk, bring out AJ Lee, and swerve everyone into the middle of next week and then have Punk cross by the ramp without walking down it....just walking, leaving everyone with a look of bewilderment. Give us a debut without it actually being a debut, if that makes any sense. The point is, the reveal HAS to be better than the announcement.

Okay, peeps...I've been keeping my ear to the ground and I believe I may have something that would shock me and this stems from a rumor I just caught wind of that may turn out to be legit: Word going around is that AJ Styles may be coming back, but that news wouldn't be the shocking part....the shocking part is that I get the feeling he might follow through on a former prediction of mine and bring GFW with him with TNA founder Jeff Jarrett. If there is something, ANYTHING TNA could do to spark a fire, this would be it.....just think about it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Underdog....

I don't know why, but I've always been a sucker for underdogs. When Coke overran the nation, taking their prominent place in most of the restaurants in the city I live, I stuck by Mountain Dew. When Marvel Comics sold the bulk of their distribution rights to Disney, I leapt to DC Comics, who remained mostly independent even as a giant in the industry. I favor Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, and Dean Malenko over guys like Triple H, The Undertaker, or Hulk Hogan. When WWE ran PG, I lobbed every last bit of my support behind TNA....do you see what I mean?

If I could put a finger on why, I'd call it defiance. I have this generalized distrust of the majority in the forms of entertainment I subscribe to. Why? I'm a purist at heart and to that end, I make no apologies for my taste as the times continue to change. Now I realize my inner nerd is about to show, but since this is the kind of audience I have determined to write for, you get what you get.

I'm a product of an era where mystique made fans draw conclusions when the story wasn't clear and it's that kind of storytelling that drives a good product in virtually every medium. In a good television series, the action forces the viewer to think and respond to the events moving the story forward and at the end of each week's show, you have AT LEAST one more question than you had when you started, even if one question was answered over the course of the episode. The trick is balancing which questions are answered with ones to be revealed later. There was a time when WWE played this card PERFECTLY.....but those days have long since passed. TNA has had some luck with that kind of writing and still is doing a fair job. What TNA has done well for many years and continues to do well is repackage and push talents WWE didn't give a chance.

Another news story just broke just yesterday: In Nashville, Dixie Carter has been telling people that a major announcement is coming very soon....in fact, more than one are coming soon. Could it be the TV deal that we've all been waiting so patiently for? I'd put my money on it, but even more than that, it's been rumored for quite some time now that officials have been talking with a couple of talents who could help shake things up and more than just on the surface. Any guesses?

I happen to believe that a new TV deal is imminent and all that's left is to wait for the announcement to come over the wire, but as for the notion of TNA signing new talents? My question is WHO could TNA sign that would shock people? If Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff couldn't shock people and Ric Flair and Mick Foley and the molten lot of other talents TNA signed who just came because they were pissed off at Vince, who could TNA POSSIBLY sign who genuinely wants to be there and under a reasonable contract?

I think that HAS to be the subject for the next column, because this one is simply too full to fit the kinds of thoughts I have on the matter. But as for the subject at hand, everyone knows TNA is the far smaller company that has no serious chance of overtaking WWE anytime in the near future, but that kind of thinking simply draws me into the fold. I have no intention of reverting back to my WWE ways now that the phase they're on has yet to pass and the politics are now worse than ever. No, I'll take my chances with the underdog.....after all, every now and then, the underdog wins one.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

TNA is Punk'd....

So the news just broke about TNA having made an overture towards CM Punk about joining up with the establishment. Rumor has it that the deal would have been something similar to what Sting might have been paid and some where near the same number of dates, matches, etc. Now, when the proposal was made, the source reporting states that Punk has little to no desire to make a professional wrestling return of any kind. In line with TNA's proposal plan, I'd like to ask a question or two and attempt to answer them......

Would Punk fit in with the current crop of stars on TNA's roster?
Is TNA in a good position to dish out the kind of money Sting was getting paid?
Would CM Punk be an asset or a liability to the brand?
How would Punk be used, provided TNA DID fork out the funds?

To begin, I'd like to outline what the rumor actually covers. In the mind of some in the white tower, since the loss of AJ Styles, TNA no longer has a "face of the company". Do I agree? Yes and no, but my reasoning can wait until a later column to tackle that question. In any case, TNA is wanting to build their future on a name, a major name who can bring in viewers just on his name alone. Is CM Punk a draw? In my view, he is....HOWEVER, CM Punk is unpredictable. Most would consider that dynamic something that can make a performer fun to work with, but the notorious pipe bomb of 2011 was only partially bulleted with talking points and when he went overboard, he was cut off. TNA, again in my view, can't afford that kind of candor.

TNA is loaded with talent ripe for a fresh run with a big name that Punk could provide, most of which, as it turns out, have worked with him in Ring of Honor. Joe, Aries, the Wolves, and the list goes on from there, but there is also a void he could very easily fill. He's still a moderately young buck, all things considered and with a very much lighter schedule than WWE employs, there lies a much less chance of him getting burned out. Does that help the argument? Who knows?

Some would contend that TNA is in no position to make bargains with Punk with the kind of price tag he could potentially carry. Unverified claims say that TNA was paying Sting in the neighborhood of 500,000 dollars per year and those kinds of funds would offend guys like me, who believe AJ Styles was being given the short end of the deal when he finally decided to leave the promotion. In my view, Punk isn't on the same level as Styles and has no business fetching that kind of payout for less dates and lighter work. For my money, I would seek my stars elsewhere or build them myself.

In spite of all the speculation and such concerning his pay, attitude, and the like, the question of how he would be used comes into play and I briefly touched on this early on here. TNA is wanting a vocal, loyal, colorful, big league name with years to give to help rebuild the roster around. Could Punk fit the bill? I give a loud and resounding maybe.....and that's all I can say.

Just a While Longer....

It won't be long now, people, until the powers that be in the white tower of Nashville reveal what they've wrought in terms of the new home for TNA. The announcement is coming, or so we're being promised. I love the notion of WGN and CMT being in the running. What bothers me, however, is the amount of time CMT might have AND the weekly timeslot. While WGN has never hosted a wrestling show, at least to my memory, I have zero reservations that they could garner the kind of numbers we're all in the market to see.

Yes, I'm partial to WGN, but if CMT is able to promote better via their big events (i.e. the CMA's or even their highly rated nightly shows), we may be looking at a decent change-up. The point is, whoever TNA finally decides to go with is going to have their hands full just getting the word out that the promotion is there to be seen. Who will have the easier time making that happen? Well, we would really need to have a closer look at what we've got to work with.....

WGN: This is a network that could use some work as MOST of their schedule consists of reruns....seriously. A LIVE or even a decent taped show with a current running schedule would be the first step towards making this a much more valuable piece of network real estate to lure some really good prime time shows.

CMT: Again, with a host of what I would call place marker shows that are sitting where a well placed, action-packed show with a currently running schedule would fit well.

On the surface, either channel would fetch a decent audience, but I get the sense that whichever network has the bigger pocketbook has the better chance of securing the kind of program TNA could offer.

As I have already stated elsewhere, GFW is also trying to secure a deal and if they can pull that down by the time their inaugural PPV hits in January....I believe 4th....TNA will have some serious competition, but if TNA is able to tie their deal down before that time, not so much. I can only see enough room on the landscape for one 2nd place promotion at the moment. That said, I believe that whichever network signs the deal first will dictate terms for the other organization, leaving them to pine over a deal the next time it comes around. Just my opinion.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Something on My Chest....

Today I opened my inbox and discovered some news I found interesting. Apparently, GFW and TNA are talking to the same networks. Big shocker? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Why? THAT, my friends, is quite possibly the easiest question to answer. Most networks don't want pro wrestling, even though there is a HUGE demographic the product every WWE alternative offers. Seriously, we're talking about millions of people watching this from their armchairs and sofas, taking in the spectacle of something Vince doesn't own. Not thousands, folks.....millions. The networks have included WGN America, Velocity, and now CMT in the mix, but with two potential promotions, networks are having to just pick one. So who has the best chance?

Do you guys remember that little thing I've been nagging you guys about for as long as this blog has been around? You know.....ratings? Yeah, those things. Well, apparently, networks like to see programs that have consistency. Who knew? GFW has no track record whatsoever. TNA, on the other hand, has a history of consistently decent ratings. In fact, TNA led the ratings on Spike for the bulk of their time on the network. This isn't something to be taken lightly.

If TNA secures the deal with WGN, it might seem likely that CMT would back GFW, right? I mean, after all, he's being partially backed by a HUGE country music icon and a former NASCAR champ...so they'll be set, right? Not so fast. Even though Toby Keith has investment involved in the upstart company, CMT is just like any other network out there.....they want to see a track record before they'll front the airtime. That said, we may see GFW go the route TNA did in their inception and run a weekly PPV to see what the buyrates are before thinking about putting off any of their current programming to allow for GFW to join their programming family, so to speak.

So this is good news? Absolutely. At least as far as TNA is concerned. Once a deal is inked, talents can breathe a little easier knowing that their future is secure, at least on the short term. Provided TNA is able to help their network home turn viewers their way, some good paydays are also on the horizon.,,,but that is something that we'll see in the coming months.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Greatest....Part 3. Knockouts

The toughest thing about narrowing down this particular category is that there have been more than just one title at stake for a time, allowing for more performers to be under TNA's employ at one time. That said, I have to narrow it down, so I shall do my best to include the best 10.....so in no order.....

10. Taylor Wilde.....
This one was a no brainer as she was one of the most talented on the list ever. She was also the one who broke the streak of Awesome Kong, which is no small feat for no small opponent.

9. Velvet Sky.....
Another no brainer. Who disputes that she is the single most popular Knockout on the entire roster from every possible perspective?

8. Madison Rayne.....
She was 2011's breakout star of the division, bar none, having been ejected from the Beautiful People to strike out on her own was the best possible move to freshen her character and give her a persona of her own.

7. Gail Kim....
She was the Knockout pioneer, putting up the biggest battle with authorities to formulate the Knockouts Division in the first place. No one put more on the line to see its inception than it's first title holder.

6. Angelina Love.....
The final piece of the Beautiful People and one of the most decorated and celebrated champions on the entire roster, past or present.

5. ODB.....
Her contribution to the roster is that of contrast and depth of character.....some of the best comedic work in the history of the promotion as a whole involved her and Eric Young.

4. Sarita.....
As one half of arguably the best tag tandem to ever hold the belts, Taylor Wilde's tag partner cannot go without mention on this list, adding a special something to the division during her tenure.

3. Daffney.....
TNA's hardcore Knockout and personal tragedy story is hard to deny and her character during the era of Dr. Stevie was the stuff of legend.

2. Traci Brooks.....
She was there before the division was formed and skirted the division during its entire run. TNA's original valet was undeniably the best thing going for Michael Shane.

1. I have to hold a tie on the final spot for one reason....their contributions made the division better and the brand better as a whole respectively. I realize that there could be a dispute, but to deny Tara OR Christy Hemme a spot on the list would be a travesty, not to mention So Cal Val for her contributions behind the scenes as well as on camera.

There have been more and I don't want to devalue the contributions of those who have given so much to the division, but with only a few spots and literally dozens to choose from, cuts have to be made. That said, I would like to give shout outs to Kong, Rosita, Salinas, Nikki Roxx, Mickie James, Taryn Tarrell, and Jackie Moore.