Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Further....Part 2: The Middle Bouts

So we've reached the middle of the match up pool and there's quite the stacked deck here. I, for one, love these picks, but I'm sure there are more in the masses. By all means, give me comments on these if there are others I might be missing. Well, before I go and ramble even more, why not just jump in...shall we?

Samoa Joe vs. The Rock

Two Samoan machines duking it out is something I would LOVE to see. The Rock could carry the feud on the mic, but Joe would absolutely deliver in ring. This isn't to say that 'ol Rocky is a slouch, by any means. What I AM saying is that this one is a feud that almost writes itself. Rocky came into the WWF as the smiling Samoan while Joe came into TNA as the undefeated, angry Samoan Submission Machine. Give Joe a win here and he'll be cashing checks FOREVER.

The Undertaker vs. Samuel Shaw

The Deadman vs. the psychopath. I love where this feud could travel, provided TNA creative were up to the task. Even if Attitude Era writers were to take this one on, you could count on something special in terms of shock value endings, events, and the build to a main event level match. Sam Shaw has the makings of dominance, he has only lacked the one storyline to set him apart as the new generation's cerebral assassin in the truest sense of the words. And NO, Triple H, you're not my pick.

Bobby Roode vs. Triple H

I wrote a column back when Roode won his first World Title that diagrammed his inaugural speech as  the "It" Factor. In said column, I stated that if his speech were tweaked just a bit, it would have been something word-for-word to come from Triple H during his feud with Batista in the mid-2000's. I love the kind of punch for punch jab work that could come from this match. Roode is one part Trips with a smattering of Benoit and Angle for good measure. The technical prowess of Roode is dialed back by other columnists, but I won't shy away as he is every bit as good as most of the best in the ring today.

This is a trifecta of matches I'm very much behind, but with these matches, I have a very specific order I would want these matches to finish in. That said, I would book Joe to finish over Rocky, Taker to ultimately down Shaw, and Roode to put down Trips. Sorry H fans. This is the middle of the match ups peeps, and I'm getting really fired up about the whole thing.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Leading Edge....Part 1: Super Legend Card

Okay people...this is gonna be something very special. Why? Because this is filled with match ups I've never covered before, for one. For another, these legends are among the greatest for their day or any other. I'm not talking about from just WWF either, but TNA as well. Seriously, people...I love this set of pairings and there IS one name on my list that I will have to explain, but rest assured, I will do just that. All I ask is for you all to keep an open mind.

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. James Storm

Is this really any kind of surprise? If I didn't know better, Storm went off the Austin template from back when he and Roode teamed together forward. The difference? He's not the talker Austin is, but he definitely IS the brawler. You can count on this being something special from the beginning. Do I believe this could be an Andre vs. Hulk match up? In a TNA vs. WWE event, without question....especially provided that the most watched era made a return and if both were on even footing in terms of booking.

Edge and Christian vs. The Wolves

If there was any need for me to explain why Christian is on the list before now, I hope the need is gone. Yeah, Christian was in TNA and yes, he's kind of an X Factor on the entire list, but I see no reason not to include him and since The Wolves have been to war with the other two greatest history making tag teams in the Attitude Era.

Austin Aries vs. Shawn Michaels

For me, this was about two things: Age and experience. Aries and Michaels are in their 40's and despite that fact, they could easily still steal the show on every card EITHER of them are on. This makes for the very best match if Aries plays the heel, but I have no problem if the shoe is on the other foot either. Both guys work so well on the microphone as well as in ring that no fan would care who wins or loses in the final match.

From the perspective of a lover of pure entertainment that is well paced, properly balanced between promo and in ring action, AND a decent match up to boot, this is the beginning of the best card I can manage from what is in TNA's current wheelhouse and what WWF was able to churn out in their prime. Truthfully, I couldn't even care less who wins in any one of these battles, so long as they are booked out with high stakes, good story, and a large crowd to witness the spectacle.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

3 and Three.....

So here's to the launch of TNA's new hope coming in the first week of January and the ten hour marathon lead-in, but here's ALSO to the second show and ALSO to the now THIRD show, putting Impact onto the small screen in a way that would make WWE jealous. This brand new announcement broke just last week. Destination America will now feature THREE shows dedicated to TNA, making good on the notion of them building the network around the little company that could.

In the newest show, TNA's greatest matches will be put on display. This is an AWESOME idea as it would expose people who know virtually nothing of the brand to a new way of looking at the business as a whole. It's no secret that I believe TNA's talent roster and match quality trumps virtually everything in WWE's wheelhouse across the boards, but this show is where you look for the proof. I have to say, this TV deal is quite possibly the best thing to ever happen to TNA and I doubt very much we'll EVER see another company given this much airtime and immediate exposure to the casual wrestling fan.

With this "Best of" show on the weekends at around midday, the Impact broadcast on Wednesdays and Impact: Unlocked in a Tuesday or Thursday slot, we're looking at a pretty powerhouse schedule with plenty of opportunities for the name and talent to get some good traction out the gate, provided that viewers can latch on quickly. This is a job for TNA creative to work on. Good writing and booking= good match ups and rivalries.

With WWE looking to bring Sting into the fray of their programming come the Royal Rumble on the Road to Wrestlemania, TNA is going to have to up their game and put their best foot forward to move ahead. To that end, I've been thinking about a topic for the last few columns of the year AND that of the one to roll into the big quad 1000th column. I think I have an idea.

I'm thinking of doing another WWE vs. TNA column with another twist: I'm looking at a Legends version, with the idea of pitting the long standing members of TNA against some of WWF's best. I don't need to say it, but I will anyway; each face off HAS to be declared against two who have never squared off before AND each member of each organization MUST never have been a wrestling member of the opposing roster. I've picked a list of fan favorites from each and I say we have a war.

From TNA:

Bobby Roode
Samoa Joe
Magnus
James Storm
Austin Aries
Angelina Love
Velvet Sky
Samuel Shaw
Eddie Edwards
Davey Richards
Abyss

From WWF:

Steve Austin
Shawn Michaels
Triple H
The Rock
Trish Stratus
Lita
Edge
Christian (I WILL explain)
William Regal
The Undertaker
Mankind



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Closing In....

Right now, TNA is on the hunt for the future. One recent report states that officials offered Alberto Del Rio 400,000 dollars for a one year deal. The catch? They wanted exclusivity. Meaning, they want him to be TNA all the way....no outside work; no AAA, no ROH, no one else. For those of you who aren't clear, that's a heck of a lot of zeros. As it turns out, they offered the same deal to AJ Styles to return. Unfortunately, he declined. That's a lesson TNA should have learned the first time: Always reward your most loyal employees.

This post marks 996 columns, which is 4 away from the big 4 digits. 1000. That's a landmark and I'm very proud to have been able to keep this thing rolling long enough to reach it. I've asked before if there's anything in particular I should write about, but in the end, I have something in mind that just might do the trick. I'll keep that little morsel to myself, for the moment.

In other TNA news, they've announced a little update on the format of this new show, Impact Wrestling: Unlocked. This announcement is such a throwback for me, being a WWE fan of yesteryear, before the dark times. Anyone remember WWE Confidential? It was kinda like a real interview show, where the host would get into the performers' heads about where the ideas for their personas came from, how they determined their finishers, and even little intimate bits and pieces like pets and hobbies. Apparently, Mike Tenay is going to host said show, which will also feature a review of the events from the last Impact broadcast AND various extra matches, footage, and the like. As for who fills his shoes on Impact? Former WWE commentator Josh Matthews, who signed recently, has been in the home base in Nashville, brushing up on TNA history and reacquainting himself with his former partner, Taz.

With everything moving at a fever pitch, it doesn't look like Destination America is sparing any expense in the fanfare...with a 10 hour TNA marathon highlighting the history of the company leading into their innaugural episode, which will air live. For the record, Spike NEVER aired a marathon of any kind. AND, if Destination America is successful in their play for Netflix, this will mark the biggest step forward in TNA's history. This is bigger than the secured deal with Spike from 2004 and the best move so far in terms of their ability to garner fan support. Now, how does the public forum grade success on the Netflix front? Stream count? If that's the case and if TNA decides to try and make a play to put a few of their best selling PPVs up, the 9.99 price tag for Netflix won't sound as funny as it did when WWE tried to secure subscribers to their exclusive channel.

So, who is going to make a play for Netflix if TNA finds their way there in addition to their already secured spot on Wednesdays AND their replay on the weekend AND Unlocked? Don't look at me, I've already got my subscription to Netflix and I already use it regularly.

Friday, December 12, 2014

NeXT?

No other show ever produced by WWE has been able to capture the raw talent (no pun intended) of the developmental roster like THIS YEAR'S NXT. Let's be more clear about that. NXT is what WWE SHOULD aspire to. NXT is now what TNA has been for YEARS, but with a bigger machine behind it. The Knockouts....I mean Divas in NXT are LIGHT YEARS ahead of anything on the main roster and the talent in the tag division is spotlighted in a meaningful way. In short, WWE's developmental program is outranking their main roster. Seriously, I am shaking my head at this because this SHOULD NOT BE.

Right now, the ONLY thing of note in the WWE main roster is the debut of Sting. Perhaps Dean Ambrose is in there somewhere, but there is an abysmal chasm between the life and energy in the developmental league and the main roster and right now, NXT is all people seem to be talking about, which speaks volumes about how upside down management in WWE is in terms of where emphasis is placed.

Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, Kevin Steen.....these are talents WWE is NOT known for scouring the countryside for. Okay, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, but in all fairness, Bryan has never been given his just desserts and Punk is gone; driven out by the machine that intentionally buried him. I despise WWE's philosophy of only utilizing their own creations when what makes men and women famous in the indies can't be capitalized on and ultimately trademarked. WWE would make out like thieves if they allowed certain performers to maintain their indy personas and simply transplant said talents from the indies and let them loose on a bigger stage. If necessary, they could turn the dial back a tick or two, but allow them to develop their own personas more fully and flesh out more detailed characters. In any case, I digress....

What baffles me is the fanaticism over NXT and those in their wheelhouse when TNA has been showcasing top indy talents for the past 10 years plus, creating brand new champions yearly and it's taken three talents NXT has plucked from the indies to turn their eyes from the main roster. I'm now, more than ever, convinced that it has very little to do with the TNA product as much as it is the WWE machine's fandom doing the work here. It's brand loyalty, pure and simple. I suppose to each their own, but this NXT rise is something to be proud of, while the main roster is decaying as this post is being written.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Playing With Fire....

So here's the current running story I've been hearing:

Netflix has been wanting for some time to feature a weekly running, syndicated program on their streaming service. That said, with the success of MOST of their first run programming ala Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, etc., Destination America approached representatives from Netflix with a pitch on a company to rival WWE, TNA (Impact Wrestling). With the new brand relaunch, I have no idea how TNA is going to be spelled out, which is exactly why I had problems the last time they played with the logo. Is TNA going to be dropped out of the name entirely? Is it Impact Wrestling now? With their new logo, as shown below, I have no clue what to tell you guys, but what IS important is that the reps over at Netflix are considering the request seriously, knowing full well that their platform is something special as it crosses a LOT of lines that before had been blocked by the network change. With more homes than ever before subscribing to Netflix on a monthly basis, it seems that TNA might finally be able to make up some much needed ground.



With that said, I see no reason to believe anything less than amazing things....I'm not talking about the kinds of things that turned out to be "Pacman" Jones or King Mo or even Rampage Jackson or Tito Ortiz. This is something that will actually matter in the long term and give their brand some actual visibility.

A deal like this gives fans from all over a better chance to get a hold of TNA programming as there are a great many fans who DON'T have cable, but DO have Netflix, whether through their cell phone carrier, web hotspot, or whatever the case may be. This factors in an entirely new market of people TNA is now able to impact for their cause, and yes, that was a pun on purpose.

In addition to giving more potential fans to the product, it also puts more money on the table for all parties involved. This means more potential funds to sign new performers for their roster, securing those currently ON the roster, and bonus potential for those on staff. This is HUGE, folks. Stand by on this, peeps, TNA getting this deal would take this thing up a few notches.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

All I Want For Christmas is.....

I realize I've been scarce of late, but work seemingly never sleeps, and as an added bonus, neither do I. In any case, I've been doing little but waiting for the news of late to blow over. CM Punk has signed with UFC for a multi-fight contract. Do I care? Not much, honestly. Some might call that a bit hypocritical, but I don't agree in the least. He was battered by a non-stop schedule by the machine and NOW, he's not, nor will he be in the training process for each of maybe 5 or 6 fights in a year long time span. Seriously, this isn't news to me, so I'm not outraged, as some seem to be.

No, that isn't what I'd like to talk about in this column. No, I have something else in mind. If I could have anything...and I mean ANYTHING for Christmas as it relates to TNA or GFW or any other promotion that doesn't have a McMahon at the helm, what would I ask for? Since I like to shoot for the moon, here's my short list. If I could have ANY of these things, I'll be happy. Let's jump in....

1. An announcement bringing TNA to Netflix in some form or fashion.

2. Bullet Club invading the Impact Zone, leading to a GFW/ TNA blended roster.

3. The signing of a Melina and John Morrison.

4. The return of AJ Styles.

5. King of the Mountain and the World X Cup

Exactly how possible are ANY of these things? Well, I happen to believe numbers 1-3 might be VERY possible. 4 and 5? I have my doubts. When AJ Styles left TNA last year, there were some hurt feelings, at least if the reports were anything to go by. As far as the King of the Mountain match? Who knows the reason for its disappearance, but whatever the case, it isn't out of the question, only unlikely and my guess to why has more to do with the creator of the match than the format itself. As I understand the idea, Jeff Jarrett crafted the match and was given the moniker to boot.

The return of AJ Styles at this point has less to do with him as the face of the company as it does with current headlines circulating that his finisher, the Styles Clash, has been the cause of a few injuries on the independent circuit. While some of the weight could certainly fall on him, after seeing footage of each case, I firmly believe that Styles is NOT to blame.

You wanna hear something interesting? Apparently, Destination America is in process of negotiating TNA into a streaming content agreement with Netflix. THIS, folks, is a game changer. With TNA partnering with Destination America AND Netflix, there is virtually no limit to how much exposure they could get. Could they stream live? I have no idea what the logistics would be, but could they stream the replays? Absolutely. For more reasons than I care to count, this is a big move for TNA and I can't be any more excited for the coming year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Immediate Reaction....Punk on Colt Cabana's "The Art of Wrestling"

The machine's head struck Phil Brooks. There's simply no other way to say it and, while I'm not a fanatical CM Punk shadow, I DO respect his contributions to the history books and I respect his candor in the interview. There were no punches pulled and shots very much were fired and the volley lands squarely in WWE's court for response.

Without diving deeply into the ocean of the interview, which was nearly 2 and a half hours long, I will put a couple of important bullet points up concerning what was said. I will post the interview so you can listen for yourself right below this column.

1. The double standard
2. The money payday loss from WWE Network for PPV
3. "Sucking it up"
4. WWE booking
5. The Shield = the Punk stable
6. Concussions and the Staph infection
7. Termination Day= Wedding Day

Seven points, seven deadly sins, seven dwarves....wait, what? What matters in it all is that most of what was said is in verbatim (words spoken through the eyes of those within the confines of the story)  isn't far from what I've been saying in general here the past few years. WWE caters to the masses, not the minority. For that reason, they have a sweeping approach to doing business, and this is nothing new to those of you who have been reading this blog longer than a minute.

When Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, and more of their top talents began leaving in droves, I began asking why. CM Punk's story is one I've seen somewhere before....without the added bells and whistles that would have been filled with drug abuse and the like. THIS is the reason why a lot of former WWE talents go to places like TNA or ROH or other promotions. WWE HAS no off season. TNA works less than half the year, which HAS to feel like vacation to most of the guys and gals who spent years on the WWE road rash schedule all but a couple of weeks during the year.

I've got sympathy for those guys and gals who take it on the chin and come in week after week when they're bruised and battered and have little left in the tank to give to the fans and the sport in general and still lace up the boots and put on a show. Seriously, my hats off to those of you in the number. I have much respect for that. Moving back into the Punk interview, he made some observations about booking and how the face and heel movement goes down that were very thought provoking. It helps for fans to take a breath and look past the glint and glitter that is on the fringe of every piece of WWE merch or video package and look at the characters themselves. Are they relatable? Do they make sense? Is there coherence with the running history this character has leading into the storylines? This is all stuff we, as fans can understand and get behind, but WWE's fans, by and large, are kids. Simple as that, so when he says that the heels have a smaller payday.....in WWE, that's the ever-loving truth of the matter.

As I've said before, TNA and other promotions work villains so well and in such a less contaminated environment, where it's okay to be fans of the bad guy. "It pays to be Roode" and this comes from "The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived".....you get the point. If you want to work as a heel, TNA is the single best place to start. If you want to be a face, TNA's heels will get you over enough to make that happen.

But in spite of everything spoken, a couple of things rang out, which echoes something I said all the way back in a column here called "Is it Fair?" This was back in 2012 in the months before Wrestlemania that year. Little did I know how true my comments were. Did Punk deserve the same amount in bonus pay as The Undertaker? Sure, he did. He worked his ass off and, if anyone on the roster deserved to put 'Taker's career to rest for good, it was either Shawn Michaels or him. No one else is believable. Even Randy or Cena didn't have the athleticism to make the feat work and stand up on the highlight reels without looking manufactured or canned.....maybe that's just me.

Was he the best on the roster at the time he was at his apex? I think there's a case to be made. Angle was gone, The Rock was gone, Austin was gone, Michaels was gone, Taker was all but gone, Hogan had been gone, and Cena was gone for a few months during the time.....so virtually every top tier star was out for the count when Punk filled his role. In the name of fairness, he was the only name on the card, not trying to put anyone down, but speaking in terms of name recognition, the casual fan would only have been able to name Punk off the card. On the other hand, as he correctly stated, each time he headlined the card, it did better than the year prior.

To fully wrap your minds around it all; the perspective of the guy who stood on the top of the summit; listen to the interview and gain some insight. In fairness, Vince McMahon shows up on Steve Austin's podcast, which emanates from the WWE channel, and not surprisingly, I might add; to rebuttal a few of his talking points, but from the stuff that was covered there was fringe in comparison to what WWE needed to cover in public on record. A simple apology and the promise of non-retaliation is laughable in light of what Punk covered this past week. Nice try, Vince, but you'll have to do better than that in order to put Punk's fans and converts back on your side of the line.

For the Punk interview, just copy and paste into the web browser:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxHRJnZsinQ&spfreload=10