Friday, December 11, 2015

New Network= New Opportunities or The Same Problems?

I've stayed silent for all this time for two reasons and two reasons only:

1. I've been waiting for something of note to go down one way or another

AND

2. Quite frankly, I've gotten so sick lately of feeling like TNA is just stalling and have just stopped caring until now....

So now that a couple of things have come to a head, I'm here to vent and try to make some sense of it all. On the one hand, TNA has signed contract with POP TV, which has a farther reach than Destination America, who have completely washed their hands of the wrestling scene altogether, turning to whatever else makes sense for them, which would have been complicated were it not for POP coming in at the eleventh hour. On the other, a couple of top stars have made it clear that they are open to making WWE home again and may consider taking at least one top TNA star along for the ride.

Both Jeff Hardy and Matt have gone on record saying they'd be open to doing work for Vince again and now that Bully Ray is already in the camp and sharing a bed with TNA's most Googled face....Velvet Sky, she may be already in talks if she isn't waiting to debut in NXT alongside James Storm.

But wait....there's more.....Brooke Tessmacher and Austin Aries are also out. Seriously, this is some bad news...which leads me to ask: how much more can TNA lose without going under? I honestly have no idea, but if they can't either manufacture some new stars or poach some from without, their little network deal with POP is only as good as whoever they can beg to stick around.....

Friday, September 25, 2015

Drawing Boards....

I know I've had all of you who come to this blog wondering what has been going on.

"What's this dude's deal? He hasn't said anything in MONTHS!"

Yep. And you wanna know why? I've been waiting and watching for something of note to come down the pike. No, not Jeff Jarrett taking over the company again because we all know that was only a ploy to get him to sign over what precious little of the company he owned so that those votes for the direction of the company are back in the hands holding all the cards.

In fact, aside from all the negative press TNA has gotten in the past few months, I've actually enjoyed most of what I've seen on Impact. Sure, I would have changed the results of Lethal Lockdown to see the return of AJ Styles putting Dixie Carter's "you're lucky to have played on this stage" speech back in the awful mouth from whence it came, but all in all, I can't really complain.

The truth of the matter is....I'm just not 'wowed' anymore. Do I still watch? Whenever I can. Do I still root for TNA to make a rise? Absolutely. But do I see it coming from the lady running the show? Not anymore. The fact is, without a rebranding, the current stigma attached to TNA is toxic to anyone associated with it now. I'm almost ashamed to phrase it that way, but Dixie has spent far too much time and money on cards that simply won't ever win the game.

I've stayed silent to see if there is anything to be said that could change the landscape and the fact is, TNA is not doing enough to warrant the extension they seek from Destination America, to whom they gave either assurances or allowed them to believe that the audience would grow, but it simply hasn't, which isn't necessarily TNA's fault, but they've not done enough to garner the kind of trust the deal requires in order make a TV deal lucrative....hence being pulled from outside markets and channels.

Kurt Angle is leaving sometime after Bound for Glory, meaning a BIG hole apparent to anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the past decade. Combine that with the potential losses of the Hardys and you've got a big problem from which I've become skeptical that TNA can realistically recover from. Yeah, it's only 3 men, but these account for a GIANT piece of TNA's promotional material, not to mention merchandise sales. Jeff Hardy has been TNA's John Cena for nearly as long as Angle has been there and is, without any visible competitor, the biggest merch mover for the company.

I haven't sounded the death bells yet, just in case you're wondering. I have a few ideas of how they can pull something together WITHOUT using an invasion or another stable to garner heat.

1. Spend money on one former name.
2. Have this person calling members of the current roster.
3. Put together a kind of tournament that Dixie will HAVE to be present for.
4. Create a main event involving the entire roster like a Lumberjack Match.
5. Introduce this member right as the bell rings to start the main event. This little part HAS to be written out VERY clearly. This person orchestrates a walkout. Every member has a copy of their contracts, which they lay into a bin on their way out the door.

6. The member of this roster now becomes the sole voice of the workers who demand a rebirth of the product, something groundbreaking, something bigger and more important. TNA becomes something else, maybe even something as simple as Impact Wrestling and dropping the entire TNA name entirely.

This is just one idea, but it's entirely based on a shock factor that just isn't there anymore. Would anyone care enough to give it a watch?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

If There Was Ever a Time to be a Wrestling Fan......

For those who don't want anything to do with SPOILERS, this is your only warning.....turn back now, but for everyone else who has a vested interest in the direction TNA is heading, keep reading.....


When I woke up this morning, I checked my mailbox for anything good and positive for TNA's current status and honestly didn't expect to find anything of consequence, but what I found gave me goosebumps. In fact, the news coming down from a source I trust implicitly has given me the lowdown on some HUGE changes coming for TNA and they are HUGE.

A number of months ago, I wrote a column about Jeff Jarrett being a huge part of TNA's future moving forward. Little did I know that a few short months later, TNA and Jeff Jarrett would be sitting across from one another once more to discuss something monumental: a partnership and a potential merger.

A short time back, Papa Carter offered to allow Jarrett to buy the company with the condition of keeping Dixie as an on-air personality. When her character was taken out of continuity by Bully Ray, it seemed as though the wheels could finally begin to be put in motion. But GFW has a huge hurdle- no television contract. Enter the last 48 hours. Speculations are running rampant and it all stems from the rumor that Jeff Jarrett has bought all remaining shares of TNA Wrestling and if you look at the roster GFW has in tow, you'll see a couple of names that are hand in hand with TNA; Don West, Lance Hoyt, and Chris Sabin. Combine that with four names from the world renowned Bullet Club and you have something HUGE. Looking at the GFW roster, I am stunned. Shelton Benjamin, Chris Masters, Justin Gabriel, Rosita, Trent Baretta.....and even the potential of having a legendary commentator come back for an occasional match or two: Jim Ross.....I'm totally and completely speechless at this.

Think about it, folks...picture it: Bullet Club in TNA.

Imagine GFW being the new banner under which TNA flies.

What we're looking at right now is the added potential of a wrestling cooperative coming together in the coming months that could be a behemoth like nothing seen since WCW. Destination America already is expecting cooperation with Ring of Honor and that brings back Kazarian and Daniels, potentially.

So how does it go down?

A dream come true for me would be to see Jeff Jarrett to compete in his last Slammiversary King of the Mountain match and win for the World Heavyweight Title with the aid of the entire GFW roster, invading and leading into the greatest invasion story to ever happen. WWF's acquisition of WCW was done in one night, but GFW's would take a few months before TNA was finally annexed in the very first successful hostile takeover storyline that changed an entire organization's name outright. Excitement? No. Try absolutely out of my mind freaking out. There wouldn't be anything bigger on the wrestling landscape. Nothing.....well....

There is news coming out of the north that Dolph Ziggler's contract is coming up shortly and he's TNA bound. There is so much more to this than just the return of Jarrett to TNA and GFW and the like, which I will be covering at length in the coming days.......stay tuned.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Generous Champions.....

Okay, folks; here's the scenario:

This week, tweets from CM Punk have brought him back into the limelight. Apparently, JBL, calling a match on RAW recently, made a reference to putting young talents over. Punk responded thanking JBL and Edge, claiming they were the only guys willing to put over young talents on the roster back when he was on the roster. This got me thinking.....

At what point did CM Punk actually become relevant? More to the point, when did CM Punk rise into the top tier and actually look like a threat to anyone holding a title? Some would argue that it began when he won his first world title, but I would contend that it came a bit later. To illustrate my point, I say we go back to 2009 at the Extreme Rules PPV. Punk was on the rise at the time, but there were a few names he had to contend with who were already secure in their top spots; Edge, Randy Orton, John Cena, Triple H, and Jeff Hardy, who had just secured his second reign at the very same Extreme Rules PPV. Enter Punk with the briefcase to win his second reign with the title.

From the very next week in April all the way until August, Punk feuded with Hardy, creating a persona and solidifying his place in the upper echelons of the WWE. During that time, Hardy was beginning to sour on the schedule and his body needed time to recooperate, which the management didn't care for, leading to his return to TNA, where he remains to this day. Nevertheless, Punk's first long term feud that was worth the time to watch unfold happened with Jeff Hardy and THAT'S where I place a mark in the books that say Punk is going to be something special to watch moving forward and not just a fluke victory making him a placeholder for someone else.

From this humble perspective, I have a few favorite wrestlers who were notorious for putting talents over as they reached the twilight of their careers and never lost popularity.....

Rey Mysterio
Jeff Hardy
Christian
Edge
Eddie Guerrero
Shawn Michaels
Chris Jericho
Chris Benoit

These guys were all phenomenal talents and, in spite of that talent, they were very proactive in putting over younger guys to give them a spotlight and their own top spots. Without them, we wouldn't have had guys like Cena, Batista, JBL, or some of the rest. Eddie pitched the idea for JBL, leading to his first World Title reign. Benoit gave Randy Orton his first title reign. This doesn't just go for titles, but for outrageous worthwhile feuds that were all around great to see from beginning to end. Give Jericho vs. Michaels a watch or any feud with Edge AFTER the Matt and Lita eyesore.

The point to all this? Punk may have had an opinion, but history says something a bit different and that's the perspective I choose to take as well. I know there are others who aren't on the list above, but these are only examples of the many who were generous enough to either voice preferences or had no ego to bruise in giving young bucks a chance to shine.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The "TWO-FER" Experiment

Destination America is becoming a very different animal than I had initially expected them to be. Why? For starters, it seems they've given TNA something of an ultimatum, meaning that they are looking for a larger audience, something big....something more promising than what they've seen thusfar. While, some like me believe that the current ratings are more than could have been realistically expected beforehand, those in power want more. My guess is that they want something that can rival WWE on some level. Hence their power play. Destination has signed Ring of Honor. The first episode airs this week.

What does THIS show? Right now, the running belief is that they are expecting ROH and TNA to foster some kind of talent exchange and even some runover into each other's shows and perhaps even a special or two moving ahead. It's no secret that ROH has had some hard feelings due to some of their highest tier talents leaving for TNA in the past, and with New Japan on ROH's short list of foreign relations, TNA could use that pull if they want to have any chance of AJ Styles lacing up his boots for one last run in a TNA ring. Is it possible? Maybe. Heck, even Bad Influence aka. The Addiction with their added Chris Sabin ingredient could find themselves back in the TNA spotlight.

From a fan's perspective, this could be a dream come true and could spell something great on Wednesday nights in the land of prowrestling. From a booking and creative standpoint, this decision is dangerous. Why? Both organizations have their own top tiers and both have high standards to uphold and both want to showcase their best talents in a way that makes each look strong and makes their promotion look top notch. How this can be done is of UTMOST importance and creative heads will be beating together as the two organizations have had among the rockiest of histories between allies. This is going to be a tough road, but if both sets of creative forces can co-exist, we could be looking at the beginning of something extremely beneficial for everyone involved.....and could salvage what, right now, looks like a bit of a train-wreck.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Slumber....

How did this happen? Destination America has reportedly just pulled the plug on TNA's lifeline on their network and now, once more, TNA is homeless. After having brought in a new creative mind to aid in their product itself, we now have a very large problem.

When Spike TV let their contract go by and determined not to renew their relationship, I was both upset and yet still hopeful. Now that this has gone down, I have no clue what to feel about it. When Destination America decides that the cost of TNA's product is too high for the kind of ratings it's putting up, even if it leads the ranks of ANYTHING they have on tap for the moment, it makes me question the decision, but I digress. After all, the decision has been made.

So what now? Does the roster throw in their lot with GFW? After all, most of the current talents have contracts that move through the year. So what happens to that? Does this mean that TNA will fold after all this time? For real, guys...this is serious business. It was something of a minor miracle that TNA was able to find themselves a partner in the short term, but I expected MUCH longer than a half season's worth of programming and not this.

It also calls into question this blog, doesn't it? Do I continue to provide whatever passion still exists for the sport of wrestling but for another up and coming fed or do I toss in the towel? I have no clue whatsoever, hence the silence leading me to this point. I've been at this for nearly 6 years and have logged in over 1000 columns on the subject. I've been right and I've been wrong, but now.....I haven't any idea where to go from here and, though I'm sure the team in Nashville is doing everything they can to put together some kind of deal to last through the year and hope someone else picks them up, I can't begin to predict what that might look like.

I've fought hard and done my best to convince the masses that TNA is worth the price they bring to the table, but now.....the curtain falls on Destination America and another chapter may begin OR it may be the end of the war....I'll keep bringing news here as it becomes available, but once the final countdown has elapsed, I don't know what to do next.

What do you guys think? Do I hang it up? Do I throw in my lot with another fed and hope for the best? Do I walk back to WWE and rough it out? Toss in a comment below and let me know what you think?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

12 Hours to Speculate....

So right now, I sit up and read that a former World Heavyweight Champion will referee the title match on this week's live Impact and I wonder who that could be. Since this isn't the open ended "a former World Champion returns" type of deal that will only end in disappointments like Pac Man Jones, I have to believe this reveal will be something special, so I say we do some digging before we go any further......starting with schedules.....

AJ Styles, whom I would have wished for, will be busy for the next two days, in Piedmont, Alabama and working for NWA the following day, making him the first former World Heavyweight to cross of the possibilities list.

Chris Sabin now is under contract with Ring of Honor, crossing him off the list.

Sting is scheduled to be in Philidelphia, Pennsylvania for Wizard World's Comic Convention for an all day VIP event. This crosses the ICON off the list.

Before I go further with anything else on this.....I may have found the solution, provided that TNA sticks with TNA World Heavyweight Champions. Here's the math:

Since the TNA World Heavyweight Championship was first introduced on May 17th, 2007, there have been 16 different World Champions. Moving along the same thread, we've eliminated 3, leaving 13. From there, we can readily eliminate any who are currently on the TNA roster, that number being 10. That leaves 4. Among those in the number:

Samoa Joe, Rob Van Dam, Bully Ray, and Mick Foley

I've been hearing reports that Samoa Joe could be starting with WWE as soon as July and, if rumors hold true, that eliminates him. Leaving just 3.

According to Mick Foley's website, he's still offering a Wrestlemania dream vacation for one "lucky" fan, which all but excludes him from contention, simply from a conflict of interest standpoint and, with his history of frustration with TNA management, I would argue that he's not a viable option....even for a guest referee role. That leaves just TWO.

So we're down to Rob Van Dam and Bully Ray......now who makes sense? RVD left with the Hogan regime and Bully took Velvet Sky with him......who makes more sense to return? This one should be a no brainer......

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Oh Billy.....

So here's the goal of this column: I want to be optimistic about what's coming down the pike with a new head of creative at the helm of TNA's team. To that effect, I'm going to do some speculating about the kinds of things TNA could do to freshen things up....from a creative standpoint, anyway. In that spirit, here's how I would confront the challenge and how, I can see things moving.....

1. Factions.....Either go big or go home
We've gone around and around about this, but right now, there's two factions running with a third working the Tag Division. I say bring in more factions or give them a break altogether. TNA's faction history is exhaustive, but factions ARE familiar so regular fans are already used to them. This has two effects, though, it forces writers to come up with brand new debuts and it fills the ring with body clutter unless everyone has a role to fill. Also, TNA has never gone full bore with their factions as I've been asking for for years.

2. A brand new gimmick match.....it's about time
I had such high hopes for Eric Bischoff's creative direction, but was woefully disappointed when we weren't rewarded with a gimmick match the likes of the Elimination Chamber. TNA needs a new type of match they can call their own. The Survivor Series in a Cell a.k.a. Lethal Lockdown was innovative, but we can do better with more years under the belt.

3. Hardcore.....WWE ain't going there
Elements of the hardcore culture still are out there and TNA has done a FAR better job tapping into said culture and satiating their cravings for blood, sweat, and tears. Under Corgan, I see nothing but the same and even moreso.

4. Expansion.....meeting of the minds
With the Smashing Pumpkins as the "spokesband", so to speak, TNA is going to be able to find their way into arenas they weren't able to before, regardless of their previous history. Corgan has connections, make no mistake and I see grand possibilities as the promotion moves forward.

5. Fresh faces......they've never been here before
Whether it has been by hook or crook, TNA has always somehow managed to pick up some unexpected gems. EC3, Matt Hardy's return, character transformations from existing member of the roster, and all sorts of cameos and true signings, I see nothing to tell me the trend won't continue.

And this is just the beginning, folks. I have every reason to believe that TNA has it in them as well as Billy in him to make this contract something special.....

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

47...

TNA has been hit this year over and over again with unfortunate circumstances; from Eddie Edward's broken ankle to Taz's release to the losses of Velvet Sky, Bully Ray, and most recently, Hector Guerrero.....but the most recent hit could be disastrous unless the newly christened member of TNA's creative team is able to turn this into something profoundly amazing.

Jeff Hardy, in a motocross bike accident, has broken his leg. This puts TNA in yet another uncomfortable situation, having to remove the Tag Titles from the Hardy's just as they did from the Wolves, but without full disclosure, there's little more than speculation that can be done.

To add to the woes, an unnamed talent went to corporate and outright threatened to leave the promotion bound for GFW if his pay was ever late again.

Right now, TNA has 47 active wrestlers on their roster. Of those in that number, few hold the kind of sway with management it would take to have this issue resolved so quickly. It does, however, speak to a new issue in TNA's history......the first time that so many events have been taped in succession without having them aired. What most people skip out on when the issue of TNA's paid talents are concerned is that TNA is taping TONS of footage that won't be aired for some time. This means that first run paydays the network gives won't come into the TNA Treasury account until said footage airs and, in the case of many businesses around the globe, paychecks haven't gone out because they're waiting for money due. So what we have here is a unique problem TNA has never faced before.

WHAT?! Some might say...."What about when they taped months in advance during the reign of Hogan?!" Sure, TNA did tape their Impact broadcasts a month or even two ahead of the airings, but right now, it's not just Impact. They're doing Xplosion ahead, Impact, along with their monthly specials and all the promotional work the talents have been booked for......these things aren't free, people....they cost money. TNA is spending a great deal of money on production costs, most of which is coming out of pocket and from outside investment sources just to keep the doors open. This isn't a failure....far from it. In fact, this is a learning process that Vince McMahon had to deal with in his early days as well. In the early 90's, WWF taped their shows as well and the thing Vince never had to deal with, was the sheer volume of technology at his fingertips and the amount of first run programming today's fans are accustomed to having access to.

YouTube and all the rest of the other vehicles for putting the product on display are in full swing, which means that TNA HAS to stay ahead of the curve and keep people interested until the next broadcast, which means putting together vignettes and behind the scenes footage to be aired on YouTube and their own website. Keep in mind that each talent in said footage may get paid per appearance and each appearance MAY count as a separate appearance from Impact to behind the scenes segment. This kind of stuff adds up. This isn't any excuse because ALL PAYCHECKS SHOULD ARRIVE ON TIME. But this is a problem TNA officials CAN fix, provided they redouble their efforts to remain conservative in their spending on the fringe.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Whose news is Bigger?

Dixie Carter and Jeff Jarrett are squaring off in, quite possibly the worst way....ever. Within the past 48 hours, TNA announced the inclusion of Revolution Pro Wrestling visionary and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan as a member of their creative team. On Jeff Jarrett's GFW side of the fence, they've announced working with former WCW and TNA consultant Eric Bischoff. Whose news is bigger?

FACT: The inclusion of Billy Corgan means the likely returns of a couple of underutilized talents including Jay Bradley. Revolution Pro Wrestling was Corgan's baby; his promotion hand built and it had/ has a following still. In fact, the most current card has the most prominent former TNA alum in a face off for their World Title, AJ Styles.....

What is still managing to haunt TNA, and especially in the past few months has been cashflow. For whatever reason, whether it be faulty record-keeping or simply oversight, paychecks are not making it to certain on TNA's paid staff. This isn't just localized to production or any department, but across the board and even led to the departures of a few talents on the roster, not the least of which was the partner of Josh Matthews, Taz. While Taz was also running a profoundly successful podcast, his TNA paychecks were doing most of the work, but in more recent weeks, he has garnered a massive audience....enough to even rival Colt Cabana.

All of this begs the question of whether it's good business to take on more weight when it seems difficult for TNA to maintain what talent they have, but over the course of the past couple of weeks, paychecks have been coming to catch up. Whether those monies are coming from Panda Energy or from the TNA treasury, I have no clue, I only know that talents from every department are happy to finally be compensated for their efforts.

So what do YOU guys think? Is TNA making the best of what's available to them or is the Corgan move too bold and too soon? My opinion is simple: new minds help bring about new innovations and in Corgan's case, he brings a great perspective to the table. After all, you can't run a successful independant promotion without having at least SOME idea of how to progress a storyline. I say good luck and I wish TNA all the best in this current venture. As for GFW? Meh....you'll see what a mistake this is once you look in your bank account.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Press Release.....

It's not very often I get the chance to put something here involving TNA that makes me nearly overwhelmed with pride over being a TNA fan, but Destination America put out a press release that did just that today.

In their release today, they announced that they've had their best first quarter to date and that a huge part of that was the inclusion of TNA Impact Wrestling to their line up. Now I understand Destination America isn't as large as Spike, but already, DA has been a better partner and has lined up more ads for the product on more outlets than Spike ever did, even at TNA's apex on that network.

Keep in mind also that TNA has 3-4 hours of first run programming per week on Destination and is looking at closing in on perhaps airing Xplosion in that number, putting further emphasis on the product. Tack on the fact that ongoing negotiations are in progress with Netflix and you've got a recipe for success now that WWE has all but pulled out of the streaming service in favor of their own network.

Anyone could try and spin this by saying that the numbers are awful, but when you take into consideration that TNA now has the chance to run Impact twice in a week and gain higher numbers of first time viewing or ongoing viewing fans on the weekly, it is huge and the numbers are actually higher than I would have expected. We're talking an average of 75 % of their previous Spike numbers and for a network with right about half the reach. Not bad, if I do say so myself.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Chosen One....Sit Back Down, Jarrett

Drew Galloway, AKA The Chosen One. One or two moments of indiscretion made Vince's chosen one into a second rate jobber.....or did it? This isn't about the little incident that bought Drew his mid-card spot in WWE, but rather where he sits right now....

On the surface, Drew Galloway is just the new guy on TNA's block at the mid-card level, but underneath that....THAT'S something interesting. As of this post, he's holding the World Title for Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) and EVOLVE and holds the Open the Freedom Gate Championship with Dragon Gate USA. That's three top titles for three separate indy promotions, one of which HAD television ties in the southern tip of the US.

So why the sudden profile drop? To give you all the message: watch this guy and his rise. Drew Galloway has the makings of this year's newest first time champion on a major promotion in the western world. In spite of what ANYONE has to say about Destination America, they ARE good partners for TNA and have gotten decent ratings for their tenure thusfar, for a network nearly half as large as Spike, but without the maddening marketing entanglements that Spike imposed at nearly every turn. But the partnership with Destination America isn't what this is about, not exactly. What I AM trying to say is that in spite of the hiccup that was Spike's lack of enthusiasm for the brand, TNA is STILL the number two promotion in North America and has a massive footprint outside the United States to actually rival Vince.

This fact makes Drew Galloway very valuable as a pickup for TNA. We get to see TNA do what they do best; make something special out of what Vince had neither the patience nor the foresight to recognize. TNA made Christian a World Champion. TNA made a legitimate threat out of Matt Morgan, if not a world title holder. TNA made Bully Ray into a legitimate singles star. TNA created good, solid characters from what Vince determined to leave behind. And they're about to do it again with Galloway.

Despite WWE's success, and I will give them that word....SUCCESS with this Wrestlemania season, TNA is still gaining ground, having finally secured some more ground outside the US. I use the word FINALLY as it took some time to bring Canadian viewers back into the fold, but FIGHT Network picked up the ball and is running with it, bringing the three currently running shows from TNA to their programming audience beginning April 3rd.

The American market is still working on the incline, but with increases in viewers each year and TNA as Destination America's highest rated show at the moment, I see the trend of growth continuing as well it should with more characters debuting and Drew Galloway being just one in that number, but one who has his time coming.

Monday, March 30, 2015

WWE Hate? Close.

So I went to my old friends and demanded to see what I only read about yesterday: Triple H vs. Sting's match from last night. I stand by my statement that bringing in DX and the nWo was a colossal waste of time and did nothing to further the reign of The Authority. Sting was beaten, leaving Triple H as the ONLY party looking strong in the outing. I stand by my opinion and make no apologies for it.

But does this make me a WWE hater for my opinion on the Sting issue? Nope. True, I do hold a great deal of contempt for WWE for their candor on a number of controversial decisions they've made over the past decade, especially, but does that mean hatred HAS to be the only answer? I don't think so. I like to call it "thinking without blinders".

What about Bray Wyatt? Has anyone given ANY thought to HIS future? Okay, he sustained a pre-match injury, I get it.....but there ARE other options, I mean besides forcing Wyatt into a loss. Take another look at the card and look at the results.....

Sting lost via crook. Cena won with yet another out of nowhere vic. Bryan won without putting anything on the line, just as predicted. Is any of this getting through? What's to be gained by shutting down Wyatt's run as a rising heel? Who has something to gain by helping Wyatt win his match? I say we trade the crook strategy from Sting's match and give it to Wyatt instead.

So what does that make the storyline look like once the smoke has cleared? The Authority STILL has an axe to grind, Cena, Bryan, Rollins and all the rest get their just desserts, Sting's send-off (if that's what it was) remains a true nod of respect, and Wyatt continues to give WWE a proper villain, whilst not making Taker look weak. How is this not a good plan?


DX vs. The nWo....

Did it HAVE to play out like this? Sting goes down in his innaugural and, quite possibly, last WWE event and in front of a massive crowd. Is that unacceptable to ANYONE else? Sure, we get a face off between two pieces of history, but in the end, WWE rewrites history yet again and the last piece of WCW is put to bed.

Okay, Wrestlemania, all things considered, wasn't a total loss, but Sting's loss proves something important to me.....Vince and company has no respect for history and the fans' appreciation of it, which is a problem for me. Not to play this too heavy handed, but this match wasn't EVER about the factions of the two rival organizations, it was about Sting vs. The Authority. THAT'S what they promised, but that ISN'T what we got. No matter what anyone else says, there is no business as usual after this....not to my mind. When you include the old school factions, something new has been integrated that demands closure and I can almost guarantee no closure will come of this.

Sure, Trips and Steph were punished for it later, but they had the chance to give a Legend his day in the sun and he never got it....not in the way he deserved. Trips needed to be embarrassed, humiliated in the storyline.....having been had by a 56 year old man who played the game better. The fans deserved to see The Authority get a black eye from this with The Rock adding insult to injury, but they didn't get THAT either. Instead, Trips and Steph ride the night fantastic and are allowed to exist in a place where WCW was never a threat and Sting's influence on history can be dismissed as nothing more than an entertaining story from long ago in a land far, far away.

Does anyone remember that little piece of footage I posted here a number of years back where Sting talked about the Rock "burying" Booker T that one time? Seems to me that The Rock buried Sting from three segments away by giving Trips the embarrassment he had coming from the actual storyline instead of trying to bring back history to get more mileage out of it. That's it, Vince, keep beating the horse.....it may be dead already, but go ahead and keeping beating it.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Is There More to This?

With all the hoopla and stardust, no pun intended, I'm guessing no one has given any thought to the shell game taking place on the books for Wrestlemania weekend. Let's take a look at who's on the line, shall we?

Sting has gone on record stating that this Wrestlemania will be his last performance. There is no guarantee of another Undertaker performance at the grandest stage on Earth. But this column is about something far more important....the youth on the roster and more specifically, Daniel Bryan. The question on most people's minds when they read this will be something like this: Bryan? How can you say that? He's in the Ladder Match this Sunday, for crying out loud!

My response to that is simple. Watch the match very closely. Count the number of spots where he takes a serious risk of the Jeff Hardy variety or even that of Kurt Angle, to whom he has been compared to in years past. Sources backstage are legitimately concerned about Bryan's future as the method of rehabilitation he used to make his comeback early is being viewed as a band-aid on a bullet wound, meaning that his injuries will only mount if he's not allowed to properly heal. That said, WWE has a running history of riding injured horses until they can't carry the weight any longer and collapse under the strain. CM Punk, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Edge, and the list goes on of those who can legitimize the story.

So what makes Bryan so special? The answer to that has a number of parts. The first is himself. The man is a bonafide fan favorite, but he's also a favorite of the top dog calling the shots, Vince. Unlike his predecessor, CM Punk, Bryan doesn't complain about working hard to come back early, no matter how much it may cost in the long run. The next sore spot is his link to other divisions, namely the Divas Division. His Bella fixation may force his twin to make the same decision Beth Phoenix did when she left wrestling to be with her beau in his final surgery before leaving WWE. Edge never returned in a performing capacity again.

Is the picture getting clearer? Bryan is WWE's meal ticket here, folks and they want him for the long haul, so they have two options: they either give him more time away to heal, or they milk his run until they have no choice but to let him get away like Angle did. Vince wants him back in the hunt for the big belt again....mark my words. In fact, they wanted him even moreso than Roman Reigns...let that sink in for a bit.

Reigns is green....too green to be an effective foil for Lesnar, who has more years as the performer under his belt, but also less of a resume than that of Bryan. Bryan's story in a match versus Lesnar really is more compelling and, for my money, a better investment on the long term if built in such a way as to keep the stakes high and make the possibility of Lesnar losing seem legit. Put Bryan in the match, the rest of the card buys itself.

Sting isn't the story, neither is the Undertaker, people....the future of the company is at stake and the only future worth watching rests in the youth of the roster, at least from where I sit, which should tell you just a little bit about where this is all headed if they don't give him time.....just keep watching.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

And Then....

For weeks now, I've been silent. Why? As is the case for every break in the comms, the break is simply waiting. Waiting for news to break that things are changing for the better or for the worse, as hopefully will be the case for the former and not the latter. In any case, it seems that Wrestlemania fever is in full swing, which explains my bouts with acid reflux. I'm kidding, but to be completely honest, I just don't feel it this year either. I've stated vocally that Sting's best entrance point would have been Wrestlemania 19, but with the history being now irrelevant and useless, I suppose the only thing to do is simply digress the point.

That said, however, Triple H as yet still is as profoundly bland as an authority figure as I remember and his cronies are equally so. In fact, I can see no signs of life in the Authority stable as a whole and I would go so far as to say that Immortal had a more commanding sense of respect or at least fear than does WWE's reflective stable. It's truly pathetic. Never in my life have I more wished for the Aces and Eights to make a return than now.....if only, right?

You've got Bray Wyatt, whom I believe to be a decent showman, in spite of WWE's inability to showcase him in a way that makes him seem menacing, at least as menacing as the man he's facing. I must apologize, laughing at lightning striking a rocking chair just isn't enough for me, Vince. Give me a reason to care about Wyatt.

Hold up, just a minute....I sould like I've been watching the show. Nope. And do you know why? For every 5-10 minute segment of decency, I KNOW there's over 2 hours of absolutely nonsense to make up for it. I just can't deal with that ratio.

The Diva's Division is simply unsalvageable and the Tag Team Division has been once again relegated to the back burners. With possible exceptions being Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, the aformentioned Bray Wyatt, and even Damien Sandow to a small degree, there is simply no life to be found on their roster in its entirety. Before you call me a bigoted TNA mark and vehemently dismiss every word, let me put this into perspective. 10 years ago, who was leading the pack in terms of the top tier in WWE? Angle, Michaels, Triple H, The Undertaker, Edge, Rey Mysterio, Batista, Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Big Show, Booker T, RVD, John Cena, Guerrero, JBL, and the list goes on from there. NOW, of the names listed above, only a couple still wrestle for the promotion even on a part time basis. Brock and Big Show.

What ever happened to the uphill rise of MVP, Mr. Kennedy, and Bobby Lashley? Does anyone remember when Santino Marella was a model of a hometown hero and NOT a sideshow? Anyone remember the likes of Marquis Cor Von or Kevin Thorn? What about the "Gold Standard"? Anyone remember when Shelton Benjamin beat Triple H three times cleanly IN A ROW on RAW? No offense meant to the current men on the roster, but any ONE of these men of yesteryear could have taken the fight to the current top tier. Give the microphone to Monty Brown, the man can talk. Let Kennedy have his day with the mic.....he'll drop The Miz like a bad habit. Let MVP loose against Rollins.

What's the point in all of this? Simple. WWE's pursuit of lightning in a bottle hasn't rewarded them richly because they continue to dismiss all that isn't their idea, ESPECIALLY in regard to their indy talent they've raided from other promotions. If Samoa Joe makes the jump in April as is expected and they DON'T put him into a position of dominance IMMEDIATELY, they have no one to blame but themselves if he isn't received well and my point will resound from there.

Friday, March 13, 2015

So Let's Just Say.....

Okay, guys. With loud voices, you guys say to hold 'em. Fine. Let's have a look at a few things to varify the worthiness of the choice. Each of these members of the roster have been signed or resigned as of this post:

Matt Hardy
Taryn Tarrell
MVP
Jeff Hardy
Kurt Angle
Bobby Roode
Eric Young
Abyss
Spud
Tyrus
Angelina Love
Tigre Uno

You like so far? Good, then let's look at who is near a lock for the coming months. Two more signings look to be imminent and likely to debut within the May tapings block: Shane Helms and Pope D'Angelo Dinero. Can somebody toss me a glass of water? 'Cause I have a few things to say about this development.

First off, shame on TNA for letting Pope go in the first place. With one of the best microphone personas in the business today, Pope was on FIRE in his last tenure. That said, upon his re-emergence, I expect there to be some kind of run on the top tier. As for Shane Helms? Expect him to join up with the Hardys in their quest for the Tag Team belts....at least at first. Following that? I fully see him turning heel and running that way for a time.

With all of that said, there ARE reasons to be excited about the coming months, but I'm still holding out some strands of hope for Styles to make a comeback, even if just for a short 6 month long storyline.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

'Tis the Season.....

Okay, it's Wrestlemania season, I get it. Meh, I really don't care about this one. Make that 5 or 6 in a row, but I digress. What I really want to talk about is the question of hold or fold. This week, news broke in news circles that talents behind the scenes in TNA are getting nervous. Why? When officials had the chat with the cast and crew a number of weeks ago in the days before the reboot, they were given the best case scenario; meaning that the TV partnership would be even more lucrative than it's turning out to be. With locked audiences and no ready growth since the first couple of weeks, it seems that we're right back where we started....and what's worse, TNA has announced that no live events are on the horizon AND April tapings have been cancelled and May tapings have been put into place, which means an extra month of nothing. No paychecks issued, no work at all beyond the tapings schedule.

In spite of the fact that a few top talents have just signed new deals with the company, the vast majority won't be gaining anything from this month of void. So the question becomes whether or not officials are ready to break the news to the talents on the locker room or if they are going to try and put together some live events to try and fill the gap. Bob Ryder, one of TNA's highest ranked execs tweeted that a few live events are coming, but the issue is that those events may not come until June at the earliest. Will it be enough to bolster some local fan support or will this simply be a case of a day late and a dollar short?

News outlets the net over are asking whether or not it might be time to close the book on this chapter in wrestling history and let things run their course. Right now, the independent circuit is as healthy as it's ever been and with Joe, Styles, Kaz, and Daniels making decent money per indy show, they can potentially make a better payday than if they were in TNA right now, so is packing up and closing the doors the right thing to do? I honestly don't know about those on the TNA roster, but for the fans of wrestling, I don't think so. Wrestling needs some variety on TV. Television is key here and TNA is the only show in town with a decently sized following online OR on TV.

What do you guys think? Hold or fold?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Stepping.....

By show of hands, can anyone tell me why I would take week long breaks from time to time from writing here? Anyone? I'm going to let you all in on a little secret that isn't a secret. Ever since I went on a tirade of over a year straight, I was given some very sound advice from one of you....."write when you have the inspiration". Good stuff and I do thank you, for giving me that freedom or rather the advice to take that freedom to heart. Now, I take my own advice to you all, I watch the patterns and do a lot more analysis into motives and the 'why's' and all the rest of it. The climate of the wrestling business is changing into something we, as wrestling fans, have never seen before.

Lucha Underground, Ring of Honor, TNA, WWE....it's the single best mix of varied styles since the Monday Night Wars. If you like the glint and the money, chances are you're a WWE fanatic. If you prefer the familiarity of Attitude Era focus on Tag Teams, Women's wrestling, and new champions, you might consider TNA home. But if you like an indy style with some good commentary and some of the best technical prowess to be found, Ring of Honor and Lucha might be more your flavor. In times past, you had territories and such and those days were the golden age of the craft and it all led us into sharing of talents and finally consolidation into one entity that spanned the country and ultimately the world. Those days might be over, but the spirit of days past lives on in the guise of these independant entities that are gaining ground once more. NWA, CZW, GFW, NJPW, AAA.....every last one gains steam and rolls forward, in ways that years past haven't been able.

This is an new era, folks, and the craft is changing to bring audiences closer to the action. Despite my distain for the WWE product, they have done something I find valuable....they have brought their developmental product to the dance. NXT is the best decision they've made in the past decade in regards to giving a spotlight to young talents needing seasoning. This isn't saying that promotions like TNA or Lucha or ROH haven't had their own success, but it IS giving credit where credit is due and with WWE finally releasing Rey Mysterio from his contract, Lucha is about to get even more interesting as he has gone on record saying he's on his way eventually.

Seeing all of this come to fruition is truly something to behold and it does give me hope that WWE won't be the only show in town for much longer, not that I want to see them FAIL, but rather seeing the monopoly end. Wrestling is a marketplace and should always embrace variety and change and new ideas and a monopoly doesn't allow for that. One company cannot decide what is and isn't a legitimate champion, as WWE historically has failed at repeatedly. Saying Sting hasn't been around in 14 years denies all credibility and legitimacy due to TNA, even as an outside promotion. That doesn't respect variety, but rather promotes elitism....not cool.

No other organization does that, at least none with any sense of self respect or respect for the craft. I know, I'm harping on WWE again, but this point MUST be conceded. I love this pastime, I truly do and it simply does no favors for one organization to belittle the fans or other organizations because of their taste or reach. Simple as that. But as I've been saying all along, the days of one promotion ruling the world are in the process of coming to an end as even factions like Bullet Club are rippling to the surface. It's truly refreshing to see and I think it bodes well for the next generation and the health of the business as a whole moving forward.

So I come back to this page, continuing to encourage you all to take the advice, watch the patterns and be inspired by the newness of things in this business. It's something we may never see again in quite the same way.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Joe....

By now, some of you already know that Samoa Joe has broken fellowship with TNA. As for me, I've been mauling over how I really feel about the decision made by both. Joe was broken by Kurt Angle after their first meeting; the first in a long line of Goldberg streak curses. I blame writers for this loss. I blame bookers for this loss. I don't blame Kurt and I don't blame Joe for wanting to leave.

Joe creates a hole just like AJ created a hole just like Kazarian and Daniels created a hole. It's hard to see old favorites leave behind their legacy, but it's harder to keep creating things anew when the history is as scarred as the resolve to stay. So I don't blame TNA and Joe for coming to the conclusion they came to and I say good bye willingly, but I don't think it's forever and I don't think Joe belongs up north, despite what Trips might say.

If, however, Trips or anyone else decides to glance over his history as if he's been adrift for the past decade, I'll have PLENTY to say. Sting's history as stated by Trips was wrong and not just so, but was grossly negligent. Even Flair, as dense as I believe he can be, wasn't as forgiving of the mindless promo made by an egotistic elitist. If Sting wanted to be anywhere but owned by the machine, that's his business, no one elses and certainly not Hunter's. Yeah, I know it's scripted. Yeah, I know it isn't true to life, but some of the script bases itself in reality, where Vince and his cronies honestly believe themselves on an island where nothing else, nowhere else exists other than themselves.

So with this thought I leave this column where it sits, not looking back or even on the issue any longer.....Joe will always be on my short list of the best and brightest spots in TNA or anywhere else, for that matter. I wish you luck, champ. You'll wear the strap soon enough, wherever you land.

Monday, February 16, 2015

More, You Say?

Okay folks, I've covered returns for the men....and now for the ladies. Ahh the Knockouts. They truly are the jewel of televised women's divisions. As of yet, there are no comparisons. So for my wish list, I am going to make a few demands and state that there are a couple of gals on this list that were never given their place on the roster....shame on you TNA.

5. Taeler Hendrix

You had her and never did anything with her. Not a good thing, TNA. Let's get her back before her Rosebuds routine becomes commonplace.

4. Taylor Wilde

I know, I know....it's this thing with the multiple people with the same first name. Yesterday it was Jay, today it's Taylor (Taeler)....you get the idea.

3. Ivelise Valez

I'll never forgive this one as long as she is still floating around on the open market, Dixie. She won her match, she deserves her spot. PERIOD.

2. Salinas

I think I've mentioned her before, but when Shelly Martinez was released, I was LIVID. Seriously, I could not get myself calmed down and it all stemmed from a desperate need to have enough women in the Knockouts Division who could actually carry a match from beginning to end without messing things up and she could get it done in the ring. Bring her back, peeps.

1. Alissa Flash

I'm a fan. I never understood how they allowed her to get away without having won the big belt in the division in commanding fashion. She should have been to the Knockouts Division what Matt Morgan could have been to the World Title. There was no good, legitimate reason not to make this true.

SO, now that I have that out of my system, there's one more thing I'd like to discuss....a return that was NOT on my list, but a welcome one in my book. That return, is Crimson. For a time, I was hesitant about accepting this development, but the truth is, he was given some time and even got over with fans to an extent. I even think he could have been worked to the top eventually, but he got stuck in upward moving traffic. TNA had an order of their brand new champions to christen and he was further down the list than he was willing to wait for.

So where does he fit this time around? Alongside newcomer Drew Galloway, who could very well become champion here where Vince would never allow it in his company. Seriously, folks, TNA has made a business out of creating champions out of people Vince used and abused without giving out chances at the big time. Christian, Anderson, even Bully Ray and each were made into legitimate threats to the title scene once their reign was over. It could happen for Crimson OR Drew. It's kinda nice to have a title scene that keeps you guessing....isn't it?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Many Happy Returns.....

I do something like this each year and this year is no different. HOWEVER, you may be surprised as to who is and isn't on the list. I've selected 5 names of men and women from a pool of former TNA roster members I would love to see make a return and win the major title for their gender. Every name mentioned hust have been member of the roster at some point and to that end, the names are in order from low to high.

Men.

5. Jay Lethal

This name is near and dear as Jay was arguably the best part of TNA during the Immortal saga with his Ric Flair brush and "Woo" off. One of the funniest things in any era at any time in wrestling. In spite of the flattery, though, his time was cut short and it was a travesty that it was so. That said, I think a more serious, more focused Jay with a more razor minded edge. Face it, with a mind like that at the top, it wouldn't just be dangerous, it just might be Lethal.

4. Jay Bradley

No, this isn't "Jay" day. When Jay Bradley was put into the Impact roster, I expected far more than I got; than any of us got. That, friends, was the fault of management. I wanted to see TNA's Bradshaw put in a position where he could take the ball and run with it and so, I DEFINITELY think he has the chops, but it takes more than just the chops, it's also the faith from the brass.

3. Lance Hoyt

The first break from the Jay's, but also one of the first believable big man underdogs TNA has been able to build. Anyone remember the "Fight for Your Right" Tournament? In the finals of the preliminary Battle Royal, he faced of against Abyss and nearly won the right to bye into the finals, but when push came to shove, he wasn't given the chance to shine. Clearly he thought he'd get more accolades than he did when he left for WWE, but that's another already old story.

2. D'Angelo Dinero

I know, right? With the Beat Down Clan in full swing with no one to stand in the gap. I choose Pope, but then, I'm totally wanting him to change his finisher name. It fits his character and I've had this in my head for AGES. "The Altar Call" Just think about it. Let it sink in.

1. Monty Brown/ Matt Morgan

I've never been so conflicted in all my life than I was about this one choice. I wanted to put history right and give a couple of guys a shot for their top spot, but I couldn't just pick one....so I say bring back both and let them both have a run with the big belt.

WAIT! No Styles? No Daniels or Kazarian? No Double J? Why not? Truthfully, as much as I harped and harped and harped on TNA for not paying AJ or letting the contracts run out or not letting Jeff buy the company outright, life went on and right now, things in TNA aren't going badly. In fact, they're enjoying a great period of success building a network fanbase and that's something to be proud of and since each of the guys are satisfied doing what they love with the families they love working for, I see no reason to upset the apple cart for the sake of my personal taste in the matter.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

In-Faction-ated.....

Sports Entertainment Xtreme
LAX
Team Canada
Planet Jarrett
Main Event Mafia
Immortal
Aces and Eights
Frontline
Fortune
The New Church
XXX
The Beat Down Clan
The Menagerie
The Revolution

So above is just a sample of the factions TNA has featured in their 13 year history. This is just off the top of my head without drilling down deep and doing a top down Google search. TNA's fascination with factions, stables, or anything dealing with three or more people is unparalleled. Why? I feel so compelled to understand what this fascination stems from that I just can't help from asking the question.

On one front, it puts a ton of people into one storyline all at once. On another, all factions have little cracks in their armor; it's just how factions work, which makes the drama work well on a wrestling show. On yet another, factions get one heel character over. Just one. No more, no less. Don't even try to bring your Shield argument to me. The Shield wasn't about ANY of them. It was about who hired them. Who's the boss? THAT is the important part of a faction. The man in charge. That's who gets the credit for hiring some muscle to get your agenda across.

As for the downside....if overdone, it gets stale. There is a balance between action and revelation that must be maintained in a delicate up and down level in order for a faction story to run its course. If that balance is not well oiled and gone through, you get stagnant and the faction begins to lose the casual fans' interest....hence The Aces and Eights. So what hasn't been done? In regards to stables and factions? I can only think of a couple of scenarios that COULD work, if done well, slowly burning into an inferno.....

1. Interpromotional factions

The Bullet Club is the faction right now taking over the world. TNA had the chance to jump on board with this idea, but they waited when they should have capitalized. With members spanning from GFW to AAA to New Japan, The Bullet Club contains some of the best and brightest in the indy circuit. AJ Styles, The Young Bucks, Jeff Jarrett, the list grows longer and longer. Could this still grow to include TNA? I DO have a way to book that, but that's another column.

2. All out war

We've had two factions at any given time in TNA. No more have ever been allowed to run with their own agendas. Why not more? More is more, right? I get this suspicion from TNA management that a 3 or 4 faction roster war might confuse those watching everything unfold. My argument is very similar to that of watching Blade 2 for the first time: if you have to have it all spelled out for you in order to understand what's going on, you shouldn't be watching the second movie first to begin with. In like fashion, you have to expect people to be watching and play your cards as if you are playing off the deck so that no one knows what's coming next.

Let's say that World Elite had debuted at Lockdown during a Lethal Lockdown event featuring The Frontline and the Main Event Mafia. Or what if The Aces and Eights had attacked during the reign of Immortal and ushered in the reformation of the New Church?  The possibilities are virtually endless and that's just with three powers vying for the reins.

In my humble opinion, the only way to introduce this faction war is with the throttle wide open. Why? Because the faction has been done before and doing something new HAS to begin quick, with the first faction running completely over everything. If this is done well, the second faction to enter the fray won't be a surprise, but the THIRD and every faction thereafter will. We can tackle that again in another column as well. The point of it all is to either do this up like it hasn't been done before OR give it up altogether.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Idiocy Runs Rampant.....

In life, there are a number of things that can gain you the title of IDIOT. Arguing a case without facts,  bringing a knife to a gun fight.....and taking naked pictures of you and your girlfriend. Seth Rollins, YOU are an IDIOT. You stand at the precipice of having the upper crust eating out of your hand and your naked pics are now floating round the net and are getting passed around like a joint at a frat party. If that weren't bad enough, it isn't narrowed to you, but your girlfriend (or former girlfriend) has her pics out there too.

Okay, by show of hands, who out there takes naked pics of themselves or their significant others to keep on their phone? Okay, put your hands down. Now of those people who had their hands up, do you not realize that your phone isn't a safe place to house such pics? Further, if you were on a high profile stage like WWE, do you understand that yours will be the most highly sought after photo galleries to pilfer through? This is basic personal safeguarding 101. Unless you can develop your own pictures, your pics aren't safe on a device or computer.

So in spite of a lapse in judgment by Mr. Rollins, there will be no repercussions. Don't get me wrong, people, there have been dozens of wrestlers who have had pasts and futures in adult entertainment, but this kind of thing, in a PG environment, is unacceptable. When performers under the code of conduct written into their contracts breach said code, action has to be taken to minimize any kind of damage that might be caused by a performers' indiscretion. I have no problem with whatever people want to do in the privacy of their own homes, but when it becomes public, it becomes a problem, and problems like that, in particular, are not the kinds of problems WWE is going to want to have to perform damage control on. It was hard enough for WWE to deal with drugs, domestic disputes, and the current rule about dating within the company, but this is something they aren't accustomed to dealing with and with good reason.

People are going to make some mistakes in this life, true enough. People are going to make STUPID mistakes, true enough. None of this is a problem until it puts your place of work in a position where they have to take sides on an issue that they should never have to deal with to start. If my parents were to have a voice in this, they'd most likely tell me never to follow my cousin's instructions. For anyone wondering what that means, my cousin used to have a saying...."Don't do anything I wouldn't do, but if you do, take pictures."

Sunday, February 8, 2015

What Second Place REALLY Means....

If you understand second place the way the rest of the world does, you might believe that it's somehow less than. You might believe that second place means first loser. You might even believe that second place has little hope of success down the road. I get that. It makes sense. I've always looked at second place as an afterthought.....something that comes when the race is over.....once the dust has settled. Over the course of this blog, though, I've come to know that second place is a bit more like an alternative than a position in a race leading to one goal....at least is regards to business, and even moreso in terms of THIS business.

The machine is big, but it wasn't always. The machine is strong and has a wealth of resources, but hasn't always. The machine holds a loyal weekly fanbase, but they didn't always. You see where this is going, right? This really isn't about first place. First place is what you build towards and what you maintain once that title has been given without regards to the position on the field. Second place is simply put The Alternative and whatever the first place doesn't cover, THAT is what the second place promotion MUST cover.

SO....you have some of the brightest experienced wrestlers in the business in the first place promotion? Fantastic, the second place promotion has to pick up the younger, hungrier performers who just want to make a name for themselves. The first place promotion has a taste for beauty without much brawn for their women's division? Great, do the best you can to pick up the best tacticians and those who are willing to go the distance to become that. If you can strive for beauty as well, even better....that just puts the division over the top.

Eric Bischoff stated in The Monday Night War that "....I put together a list of all the ways we could possibly be different from WWE....they're taped, we'll go live. They have cartoony characters, ours will be more reality based." This is brilliant, folks. I don't care one bit what you think of Bischoff in his twilight WCW years, but in their inception, there was no one...NO ONE who had a better mind for differentiating the two brands than him.

No matter where you look, TNA's most vocal critics will say that they have no business to still be above board due to their mistakes over the years, but so did WCW. Think about this: WCW was founded in 1988 and went until 2001. TNA hasn't even hit their stride yet and sunk in their heels, which speaks volumes about their potential. Where WCW's mistakes came in their latter years, TNA's seem to have come earlier and hiccups in their decision making cost them. However, in their recovery period, they seem to have captured a kind of renaissance, making positive strides toward the next tier.

I believe if TNA can avoid the faction storyline once the Beat Down Clan has run its course for a while, life for them will only get better.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Upswing Continues...Doesn't It?

SPOILER ALERT: The next couple of paragraphs will contain at LEAST two spoilers. Though neither will reveal the parts each play in the coming weeks, their presence will be spoilers in and of themselves.

A couple of weeks ago, I responded to a post on yet another fan page. This particular post contained a photo of the former WWE Diva Mickie James. Why do I refer to her as the former Diva instead of the former Knockout? Because, as I predicted on this post, she's coming back, folks. When? During the tour....when will it show? Uh-uh, not telling.

As for the OTHER spoiler....now THAT, guys, is something interesting. Vince's "chosen one", Drew Mcintyre, is coming to TNA within the next couple of weeks. I'm of two minds on this. Why? His ex-wife is already on the roster. You'll know her as Taryn Tarrell, the current Knockouts Champion, but in another life, her character was named Tiffany and, in a very publicly recognized conflict, both Taryn and Drew were arrested and the entire event was put into a trial on the docket of the executives at WWE. In the end, Taryn was unceremoniously released, and Drew was never again put into any position of importance. So much for "chosen", huh?

In any case, while the indiscretions of both lapsed on that night, all debts were paid and the event should have been forgiven. After all, most of the WWE top tier has failed a wellness test, which is a far cry from a domestic dispute, but even so....BOTH were to blame.

Despite all of that, Mcintyre is a good, no, a great talent and his release comes as TNA's gain from a talent perspective. I hope his arrival, in no way, impedes that of his ex-wife's continuing success in the company.

With these spoliers, there is no revelation as to whom their alliances are, where their loyalties lie, or what part either play in the scheme of the currently running storylines....just as promised. I have hope for both in their roles coming in and returning respectively. Removing the governor from talents is always a good thing....it encourages creativity and sparks some truly wonderful moments in ring as well as out. To Drew I extend a welcome, while to Mickie, it's simply welcome home....

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ain't Life Beautiful?

Well, Velvet Sky's contract with TNA expires in a couple of days and the top brass hasn't offered a renewal. Why? I have no idea. These days, not much surprises me. Last year, AJ Styles was TNA's biggest loss without a doubt, side noted by Bad Influence in the Tag Team Division. This year, it's been Bully Ray and Velvet Sky. Could Velvet end up in WWE? Possibly. Do I think she'll be used well? I suppose that's entirely based upon how you view it. On the one side, she could be featured more prominently in stores as a calendar seller. On the other hand, that's probably as far as she'll get, to the page and rarely used in ring for anything other than "enhancement" talent. That's code for jobber.

As far as Ray goes, or should I say Bubba....he'll probably get the same kind of treatment that R-Truth got when he came back, or Christian.....which is to say he'll be put right back into th mid-card, never to headline a PPV again....or wear a big league singles title. Is that what he wanted? If so, I feel bad for him. I really do. In TNA, he was the top guy for a time and even now, without much thought, a top spot could be had within a week or two.

This spot is something interesting because WWE doesn't want former TNA talents in their top spots and that historically has been true across the board. Nevermind that Ron Killings was a TNA Heavyweight Champ or that Christian shared the same honor or even that Ray did as well, these guys were WWF guys first and a return home is merely the story of the prodigal son without the fanfare and celebration that they were dead and have come back to life. Christian had a single day's reign as a top tier champion.....a shallow victory. Killings never returned to the top. Bully Ray was eliminated from the Rumble in just over 5 minutes. WWE has no intention of putting a top tier guy coming back from TNA, into the top spot for any length of time that matters. Why? Because doing so would legitimize TNA's position that the players chosen deserved to be there in the first place. By Vince's estimation, Killings doesn't deserve a top spot, neither does Christian, but TNA made them top tier champions anyway and their reigns were fun to watch.

I really shouldn't be ranting about this, but when Bully Ray tells the fans thank you and says it feel good to be home, I take very little joy in his return....and not even from the perspective of a loyal TNA fan, but from a former WWE fan who has the knowledge that Ray won't get the kind of fanfare from Vince that he got from Dixie. Just saying.

I wish the best for Bully and Velvet, and I'm hoping the one-off appearance in WWE was just that and that he and she will end up right back in the ranks of TNA's roster, where they belong, but I am not holding my breath forever......


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

If You Ever Wonder.....

David John Macht,  this column is for you for a couple of reasons.

1. To restore a bit of hope in the TNA brand

AND

2. To give you some information, or food for thought, as to TNA's current strategy


Okay, to begin, let's look at some numbers. When TNA was on Spike TV, their numbers were ranging from 714,000 to almost a million people. Bear in mind that the total reach of that network is upwards of 1.5 million people give or take.

When TNA launched from Destination America, they brought in just over half of the final numbers they had on Spike with just over 400,000 viewers spread between two broadcasts of the same episode. Just this past week, numbers were released stating that TNA's viewership had grown to a WHOPPING 600,000 viewers. I'm no math major, but I'm pretty sure that's over 200,000 MORE than the first week and on a network with a reach of just over half that of Spike.

This is HUGE for TNA and you can bet those numbers WILL rise for TNA on the UK tour in the coming week. The numbers ALWAYS bode well when they're in the UK. Why? Because all you Brits and the like are total powerhouses in terms of delivering great reactions and it just makes the product look so much better. For my money, I say you guys deserve Bound for Glory there more than Japan did, not that those fans weren't as hot for the brand, but since you guys have been so supportive of the brand for much longer.

Still think TNA's the sinking ship? From MY perspective, this partnership, which goes until 2017 and has the option for a 3-5 year extension based upon growth of the brand, which has been doing AMAZINGLY for so short a time on the network AND the network itself is growing, finding more outlets and providers each year than the one prior.

Regarding their choice to not do much in the way of traveling: When Hogan and Bischoff were on board, they sped up the time frame for traveling far quicker than they were ready for and they paid dearly for it, having paid more out of pocket than they were bringing in via ticket and merchandise sales. Back in those days, I stated quite vehemently that they weren't ready, but when Panda Energy, the company that was backing emergency funds stepped in to help offset costs, it seemed to work and since Spike wasn't opposed, neither was I....at least at first. When talents started getting paid late, however, the weak points in the armor started to show more clearly. Traveling, exaggerated salaries from non-wrestling personalities, and not enough funds coming in to cover all the costs from TNA's bank account put a real pinch on their shrinking budget.

SO, when Spike pulled the plug and Destination America put their time and money to TNA's aid, a decision was made: "We need to just stick to the televised events and cut house shows altogether." I happen to believe it was the right choice and once they made the choice they did, they were better able to afford giving out yearly contracts again instead of running per appearance, as they had been in the twilight days on Spike.

PLUS, there is movement in terms of TNA's potential deal with Netflix as it relates to Destination America's pull on the streaming service. If a deal can be reached, streams could go online as soon as early spring. Did Spike EVER try to do anything like this for them? I say NO.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rumble Pack.....

Okay, we all know how the Royal Rumble turned out this year and since everyone and their brother is weighing in on "what a travesty it was not to have Ambrose or Daniel Bryan winning the match", I figured I'd throw in my two cents as well.

So Roman Reigns. Hmmm....from my perspective, this was a year in the making and regardless of how much time he spent on the injured reserve, Vince was inevitably going to push the beast despite the public outcry. From HIS perspective, if he's able to put something together to garner some face pops, he'll have vindicated himself as the man who knew all along. If not, he may just fire the talent...I wouldn't be a bit surprised. In any case, the other main event of the night is sure to have just as much intensity and can be seen from the highway. Brock Lesnar retained tonight, meaning that he'll likely go away long enough for the build up of Reigns vs. Lesnar for the title at Wrestlemania with a cash-in of the briefcase once the smoke has cleared on the night and both men are done from battle.

The sad part of it all is that it'll most likely mean than Ambrose will become the scapegoat here and will give Roman Reigns some real heel heat as Brock is supposedly going to be moving into Wrestlemania as a face on the card. I don't like it, but that's one of the things I can see coming down the pike and, unless Ambrose makes some friends at the top of the totem, he'll be relegated to the mid-card indefinitely.

As for Seth Rollins? I foresee him winning the title as Brock will undoubtedly head off into the sunset to follow CM Punk back into the octagon for another tenure with UFC. Brock doesn't need the money. He doesn't need the title to be seen as a credible threat to it at any given time and he's only signed on for a year and hasn't signed any sort of extension or renewal since.

And where does this leave Bryan? I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but I don't see him breaching the top tier again until AT LEAST Summer Slam. WWE will want to give their Rollins creation a cushy little reign before allowing him to rejoin the ranks of the mid-card once again.

Like I said, I hope I'm wrong, but I simply don't see Vince caving on this....

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Trips....There Are No Words....



*sigh*

Really.....where do I begin? Well, how about this: quite a while back, I posted some footage of Sting in an interview with Mike Tenay. In this interview, he told a story about how he thought Booker T had been verbally buried by The Rock in one of his early WWF bouts. If Booker T was buried by The Rock by him asking "Who are you?", Triple H used a freaking backhoe to verbally bury "the Icon" and I can't help but be a little bit upset by that.

I will say this, though...in the above interview, he claims never to make the same mistake twice, but then again, in two straight Wrestlemanias, he picks The Undertaker as his opponent and ultimately loses....twice. In fact, Trips has been on the receiving end of a Wrestlemania loss 3 times to the same man. But who am I to criticize?

What's worse, in Sting's innaugural appearance on RAW, his presence becomes an afterthought as Brock Lesnar is the one who finally ends out the show. Is WWE really so out of touch that they can be the bad guys on every side of their own acquisitions? When The Ascension was systematically dismantled by a ring full of old guys and Sting's debut was tarnished by not being given top billing to end out the show, how is anyone supposed to take either debut seriously? Sting may end up with a Hall of Fame induction in the coming year, but with a run like this in what may end up being his final wrestling hoorah, why not put him on the same tier as The Undertaker, I mean he WAS WCW's dark horse character....a brooding vigilante whose sense of justice is carried out with a baseball bat. Is it so hard for WWE to admit that Sting is a force to be reckoned with instead of crowding his RAW debut and letting HIS presence sell the broadcast for the night and put Brock on a backstage fallout segment?

Am I making more of a big deal of this than is necessary? I dunno, but I DO know that in the grand scheme of things, this interview was quite possibly the least truthful interview I have EVER seen WWE put out. When Triple H talks about having never seen Brock Lesnar as enraged and focused as he has been in the recent weeks, I have to believe he was either asleep or under the influence during Lesnar's entire first 6 months in WWE. When he's destroying TAG TEAMS who got more crowd pop in a mere shout out than Seth Rollins has been able to generate in his career thusfar AND putting legends to rest right and left AND putting on the single most bloody Hell in a Cell match to date with The Undertaker no less, and he's not been more focused than he has in the past couple of weeks? Right. Pull the other one, it plays "Jingle Bells".

The point I'm making here, if anything, is that WWE is not putting Sting onto the kind of tier I believe he deserves and, to put an even more aggressive point on it, I don't believe it'll happen even once Wrestlemania's card is compiled. Right now, Seth Rollins is being prepped for a run on the top tier, which means he has to contend with the likes of John Cena OR Brock Lesnar OR both.....conceivably or the possible feud with Ambrose or Reigns, which seems less likely at the moment. Compoundly, Sting will then have to battle The possible return of The Undertaker, who is being written as we speak, to face Bray Wyatt. So already, Sting falls into third place on the card and isn't likely to be put any higher than that. Second place, I can see, since his is the only top tier character left in WCW's wheelhouse who has never set a single foot into Vince's Candy Land. The sad part is, even Goldberg was given a better place on the card at Wrestlemania 20....or at least was given a more dominant role over the course of his short tenure.

Sting fills out a tier of maybe 7 or 8 guys from the old guard who will be remembered for their work in WCW forever. Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Randy Savage, Goldberg, and Sting....seriously, those are WCW's most decorated soldiers and Sting ranks in the top three movers of merchandise from those days. You had Hogan, nWo, and Sting with Sting trading places on a weekly basis for the top spot. He WAS justice, people! And THIS was his welcome to "the big time" as 'ol Trips stated.

This isn't funny, folks, but I get the feeling it was somehow intended to be.....

Monday, January 19, 2015

Royal Rumblings....

For the forth straight year, I'm not planning on watching anything but maybe the Royal Rumble match for WWE and maybe a handful of matches over the course of the year. Does that make me any less a Sting fan, now that he's thrown in his lot with them? I don't think so. I'll catch every segment he's in, but I'm simply not interested in yet another rehash storyline with Sting taking down the establishment and ESPECIALLY with Triple H as the ultimate foil.

And having said that, on RAW, just as I predicted, though in a different form, Sting appeared as a distraction; a troll of sorts to allow John Cena to get a victory over the Authority. A minute and a half long appearance from the Icon, but it was enough to be considered an appearance per his contract. Put on paint, spend 10 minutes on camera and then catch a lift back home. This is quite possibly the biggest waste of money I can think of behind The Undertaker working one day per year on a half a million dollar bonus paycheck. I seriously have no idea what the point is of having a man who was actually wrestling half the dates he appeared in TNA to only show up a few minutes on the other side of the fence. Hey Vince, you want your money's worth? Have Sting rush the ring from the crowd and take out the boss again, but this time on the sidelines as he's looking on the mismatch in the ring.

While I'm glad things didn't play out exactly the way I predicted, and instead ushered in the Ascension, this thing could have been done so much better and about 10 years ago, it would have been, but I digress on that point as the writers are a point much like beating a dead horse for not moving.

So having said that, TNA's news is far more interesting as Bobby Lashley is now working hurt and so much to that effect, he has pulled out of his upcoming MMA battle. Does that mean he'll drop the belt in the coming month or so during the UK tour? It might. What a treat it would be, however, to FINALLY see some kind of full on roster war with some brand new TNA-exclusive match type. With as many top tier players as they have, you would think that the brass would put something together, but with Lockdown in a couple of months and the tour ahead lasting until the end of the month, why would they make that kind of long term plan?

I'm hoping for BDC, The Revolution, and a brand new World Elite revamp with Eric Young at the helm, putting the clock back a ways....before the dark times, before the Empire of Immortal. I was saying it back when time allowed for it the last time and I'm still talking about it....put together a HUGE war. If you're already doing factions, you may as well. I mean, it hasn't been done before, at least not in the modern era.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

From NYC to UK by way of JFK.....

For those of you who don't know or have forgotten, once the last of the currently taped and on file episodes of Impact are given their time and have been seen by the masses, TNA will be off to the land of tea time and intense fanhood, the United Kingdom. I say it every year to my fellow TNA fan brethren, but you in the UK make the roster of TNA look like everything we, over here across the pond, want to see in a promotion.

Moving past the gushing over the events to come, I just got word that Jeff Hardy, Manik, Kenny King, Gail Kim, Kong, and British Bootcamp winner Mark Andrews have all signed brand new or renewed contracts with TNA. On a related note, TNA officials are looking to bring back Mickie James AND more former Knockouts to bolster their Knockouts ranks and put the division back in order and even, perhaps, devote more time to the division than ever before as fans continue to be vocal during women's bouts. I'd call that a nasty case of good customer service, but maybe that's just me.

Another thing that is news, but not in a way that is anything close to original, WWE's annual RAW Legends reunion is set to take place Monday. Anyone want a spoiler alert? I don't have to even look at my sources to let you all in on how this all goes down. Sting will be backstage Monday and his presence will go to tease his match with Triple H. I would guess that since almost every Legend in attendance will have faced "the Icon" at some point in their careers and, in virtually every case, lost in some extreme fashion. Nash, Hall, Flair, Hogan, Simmons, all have been defeated by Sting. In fact, only Shawn Michaels has yet to face off against the painted one. If I HAD to guess how it plays out, the Authority flexes their will to the extreme Monday throughout the show, all the while being warned by a Legend or two that Trips only saw the beginning of what Sting is capable of.

Could they make a play for Sting to participate in whatever the NO WAY OUT PPV equivalent is? I admit, I don't bother keeping track of the names of WWE PPVs as they change them virtually every year. It isn't like it was 5-10 years ago, when I could name out every PPV by name each month, but that is another column ENTIRELY. Suffice it to say, WWE's February PPV, whatever that might be, could be Sting's "lead-in" PPV, building to this year's Wrestlemania. While I can't express my distaste for Sting vs. Triple H enough, as it turns Sting into the EXACT replication of his TNA persona, or the justice-bringer. He's been injected to put the wrongs of the Authority right, by making the voice of the face portion of the roster heard and delivering a beatdown to Trips in the end.

So this year, TNA's divisions will be getting a facelift while Sting will remain the same on the WWE brand, by my estimation. Who wins the day? Well, Wrestlemania will garner a minor boost from Sting's presence and the potential end of the Authority, but beyond that, I doubt we'll see anything of consequence from WWE. TNA, on the other hand, will see the kind of resurgence in fan support likened to their 2006 swell when Kurt Angle joined up. And, with them putting so much effort into differentiating themselves from the E, I can see nothing but positives to this.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Silent Night.....

Wait just a second....this isn't Christmas...is it? No, the season is over, but there is something I would like to cover before getting too deep with anything else. With the exception of NoDQ dot com as the naysayers with Jay's Ways in the lead post and my personal favorite fansites on Facebook; EHWF (Extreme Hardcore Wrestling Fans) and The Wrestling Newsgroup in the affirmative, no other wrestling website columnists are giving TNA any coverage at all. In fact, I haven't seen anything in nearly 2 months, ever since the deal with Destination America was announced. It's as if the IWC gave up entirely on TNA when Spike dropped the ball...saying in no short terms "Since Spike didn't want them, TNA is basically dead in the water as Destination America is a nobody station with such a low viewer base it isn't even worth following."

It's a dismal picture, but one that I can't help but notice as a true blue TNA fan and loyalist. I won't deny I had my doubts, especially in the wake of the Hogan debacle and subsequent backlash, but I have always had some hope that TNA would be able to right the wrongs of their history and ultimately steer their ship into clear waters. So I suppose this is me, I guess, sending out a couple of questions to the IWC at large, and you who visit this little blog on the edge of infinity. Is TNA, in the grand scheme of all things wrestling, worth all this hoopla and defense in the face of people who either watched and walked away or those who have never watched and simply hurl insults at the brand in a display of high brow WWE fanboy-ism? Truthfully, I'd like to think this blog and the columns therein, are just a taste of a growing culture of people who are just sick of being force fed the flavor of the day and would rather pick for themselves who they prefer to cheer for.

And this all goes well beneath John Cena hate, though his character I have covered in great detail as to how TNA could help if they snapped up his contract before he could re-sign with WWE in the next expiration. It goes beyond the glint and glitter and shiny lights and such that the WWE has hidden behind, clad in celebrity and window dressing and long winded promos by the "Walking Tall" elite....and you all know who I'm referring to, giving you a "Rundown" of what's hot in the land of the "Fast and the Furious".  I'm not hating on the man who coined Wayne Gretzky's moniker as "The Great One", but I would argue there has to be more to offer the casual wrestling fan than just nostalgia about how to book out an Attitude Era vs. modern era feud.

*sigh*

In the news I want to cover in this column, it's been reported on the major wrestling outlets that TNA has had their eyes on Alberto Del Rio to make a debut and sign a deal, but ANOTHER name TNA has been working on trying to acquire is no longer a wrestler, but someone who could serve as the new face of authority as Kurt Angle has vacated that role. Former WWE wrestler and camp Hall of Famer Edge has been on the receiving end of courting by the TNA governing elite to fill the role left vacant by the TNA Hall of Famer.

Is this a good idea? Christian came over, and he made himself a main event player to boot, but could Edge make a difference as the voice of authority? In my view, Edge could do the job about as well as Kurt as he has the chops to deliver the lines and with the airs necessary to put on the show. That said, would he be more of a help or hinderance? THAT, is something that relies heavily on his character role, whether it be heel or face AND storyline surrounding the beginning of that role. A strong storyline to bring in Copeland as the new manager COULD be a great stride for TNA as it would mark every player from the best tag teams of the Attitude Era having set foot on enemy territory at some point in their career, whether in gear or suit.

Is it a good idea? I say let's give it a try.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

And there was Eric Young....

So in the spirit of celebrating a successful first episode once more, I'd like to speculate on the scruffy one, who made his heel turn this week. Is this a permanent turn on the road to something bigger or was this just a jealous spell designed to get back at the guy who has had more chances in the main event than he has? From a backstage standpoint,  the only thing standing in the way of this being a long term feud for Bobby Roode is the potential end date on Roode's contract.

But is this a good turn? Well, I suppose that depends upon which Eric Young we're going to get. Are we looking at the "going along for the trip" Team Canada Eric Young or are we getting the ruthless leader of World Elite who is just biding his time to take over the BDC (Beat Down Clan)? Either way, we're not looking at the man who was married to ODB in the middle of last year. I, for one, am hoping for a bit more World Elite and a bit less Team Canada.

None of what I have said thusfar has been a spoiler of any kind....until the next few sentences, which I promise, will not reveal who the champ is in the coming weeks. Battle will be waged and it will be intense the next few weeks, but there is nothing to indicate how long this thing will last. All I WILL say is to enjoy the fights and the twists and turns as they come around the bend.

Another part of the caper that has no indication as to where Bobby Lashley fits into the stratus of the Beat Down Clan OR the rest of the men vying for the World Heavyweight Championship as he has become something outside of ALL of it. And being the champion in spite of it is something truly interesting and it makes him a far more credible character to hold said belt. Notice how I never said how long he's going to hold the belt. Why? I don't want to spoil it for ANYONE.

If anyone is looking for a complex storyline where just about anyone could fit into it and it wouldn't look out of place.....TNA is the place to look. I am not making this up....John Cena could show up on Impact and I wouldn't be a bit surprised. Chris Jericho, Sting, heck even Triple H could show up in TNA right now and there IS a way to put him in as there is plenty of room to weave his character both into AND out of it.

I don't care about ratings, but for those who do....chew on this. With no outside help from Spike TV in the last few weeks to promote the move and with limited finances put forth by TNA to buy promotional time to put hype on their arrival, TNA was able to put up 400,000 viewers out of the nearly 750,000 they had been getting on Spike between two outings on their inaugural episode. This means that either people liked the show enough to watch it TWICE or it was enough to bring a new crop of viewers in for their first shot after the initial show was put out.

My response? Well done, folks. Both fans and officials alike. TNA, you've done well.

The Rise of Robbie....and Jessie?

Just by the title, I can see a couple of you rolling your eyes. Never fear, though, I've got your back on this one. Anyone know why, by show of hands, this one is an easy one to book out? One of two reasons....the Menagerie and the Revolution. Both little stables provide the kind of crazy Robbie requires.  There was a time when that was not the case and the break between Big Rob would have been the best chance of a rise, but since those days are gone, these two provide the best chance of success.

Step 1. Capturing the Tag Team Titles

This part of the rise is CRITICAL. Why? Because it can be done as soon as possible as The Revolution holds the belt as of this post. If, in the build, The Revolution were to capture 'ol Robbie and indoctrinate him before getting him back to Jessie, we could see an old fashioned tag partner turn once the belts were captured. James Storm gains credibility from the heel turn and potentially moves up the ladder as well.

Step 2. Turn a partner into a rival

Does this always work? Absolutely not. However, this will do something interesting, I think, as it will force Jessie to step up his game and either choose another partner once the smoke has cleared or build him into a future contender for the World Title as well. If this turn is played similar to the way Edge turned on Chris Benoit in 2004, we could see a decent feud even as bloody as Storm vs. Roode was.

Step 3. Choose a launching pad

As of this point, Robbie will still be looked at as an underdog no matter where he turns with some growing heat from his heel turn, but if he is able to garner some momentum from a top player or two, this turns him into something bigger. I would also play out Jessie's storyline in such a way that he hasn't forgotten the loss and has been working with a trainer to put him back into the thick of things, just so he's not lost in the shuffle AND to build to a possible bout to finish off the era. For Robbie, I would pick Abyss. Why him? Because he'll give Robbie a match that doesn't make him look so soft and would give him a more edgy persona. For Jessie I pick Kurt Angle. Jessie will get firsthand training from the best in the business and he'll pick up a finisher worthy of his character. Give him a final send off match to launch his single's success and you've got a winner.

Step 4. Pick a battleground

During this entire time, James Storm has been working back towards the World Title. In that time, Robbie has beaten Abyss and in turn replaced him as a member of the Revolution. Why? I think, as I've said before, it's time for Abyss to wind down his career and start looking at ways to put the next generation over and onto the top tier. That, however, is another column for another time. In the meantime, James Storm wins the day over whoever and becomes the World Title holder. With the belt in hand, he is celebrating when Robbie asks for a title shot. This begins a path where you have mentor vs. student and Storm goes into a rant over how he picked him out of his place and put him in the limelight and now he's forgotten his place. Just like that, Storm continues his heel path, while Robbie is put into a face-ish role. As this whole series unfolds, we see Jessie come back into the picture as his presence costs Robbie the title. This brings even more bad blood as now Robbie is invested on two fronts. With things escalating each week, whoever the authoritarian is HAS to make the World Title match a Triple Threat and, just like that, you've got Jessie AND Robbie E. in the main event.

Keep in mind that the build up opponent could be different for either Robbie OR Jessie and the feud could weave and wind every bit as long as Bobby Roode and James Storm's did, but the result MUST have all three in the same place at the same time. The moment Storm nabs Robbie, Jessie has a claim to stake on Storm as well. This results in the most explosive boom on the big stage between three guys the crowd hasn't been behind as much. New faces in new places is the name of the game and if you build it in such a way as to give every member a reason to be there in addition to the title, it makes for an even more compelling story to be told on the stage and in the ring.