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.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Wow....That Was Fast....

So do you all remember when I mentioned that Kong wouldn't be the last recognizeable face to grace TNA's door before the quarter's up? This just came out today that Maria Kanellis and her squeeze Mike Bennett are sending feelers out to TNA officials about joining up now that their Ring of Honor committments have run their course. Seriously, can anyone else see Maria as the newest member of the Knockouts Division? From WWE's Diva Search so many years ago now, TNA has picked up quite a few former Divas who have turned out to be quite entertaining performers and even champions. That said, Maria has undergone quite the transformation since leaving the big E and has blossomed into a decent wrestler in Ring of Honor.

Just think about it, peeps


Not to beam even more, but did anyone else enjoy the freaking heck out of Impact's new format? I have to say that I was very skeptical of how things would work, but from opening brawl to closing beatdown I was hooked line and sinker. The opening and the climate of the brawl as it spread out into the crowd was brilliant and WWE could not hope to match it....and this for two reasons.

1. WWE has far too much at stake if a child were to be injured in the spillover. TNA's audience runs older anyway, so the chances of injury occurring are pretty much nil. Additionally, TNA was able to position the brawl in such a way as to minimize full on contact with fans in their aisles. Fans were able to be close enough to the action to see things, but not so close as to be injured by them.

2. WWE's roster is so massive, a brawl like that would put great strain on production's ability to reign everything back in for sake of the show. Since TNA's roster is less than half, much of the problem is eased.

Combine all of that with the invisible barrier WWE puts in front of their fans, narrowing the interaction to the fan interaction events and signings and limiting the interaction at their televised and live shows and you have a full picture of how the climate is different.

While TNA's viewership isn't anything to write home about NOW, I fully expect those numbers to change as Destination America grows as a network. HOWEVER, even with a completely different audience and a new network, TNA's rating was VERY respectable. When you consider the fact that the availability of the network is half what it was on Spike, the numbers still showed half, which in my mind is very impressive. I say share the blog, share the network, give the YouTube channel views,....anything you can do to show TNA you're behind their direction and we'll see some huge bumps in the ratings yet.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Do I Say It?

Alberto Del Rio to put a certain something back into the World Title picture? No. Awesome Kong returning to put the Knockouts Division over the top by putting her and Havok in the same ring? Yes and then some. I'll be the first one to admit I was stunned. In fact, to some degree I still am. I could never have called it.

When Kong stated on record that her TNA chapter was over just last year, it seemed like it was really true, but when WWE dropped her like a bad habit when she took a leave of absence for maternity, life took on something else. You could call it kharma, I mean, WWE did. Welcome back, Kong. Nice job of keeping the lid on this surprise, TNA.

I also would like to state for the record, that this little mini faction isn't what it seems. TNA isn't trying to put the factions back on the storyline roadmap. Sure, it may look like it, but in the coming weeks, it will dissolve. Trust me on this. This little alliance has more to do with shaking up the title picture than it does with putting together the next MEM.

This year's first quarter is going to be full of little-moderate surprises and big returns, provided fans are putting their viewing habits where their mouths are and paying attention to their website hits and YouTube channel views. Destination America is a good move for TNA and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the channel grows just on TNA's presence alone.

I've decided that I have a couple of predictions to make based off of what this week's episode brought to us, the fans.

1. Kong won't be the last Knockout to return OR to debut.

This one is an easy one to make. I'd venture Ivelisse, Veda Scott, Taeler Hendrix, The Blossom Twins, or other names entirely, but you will recognize them when they arrive.

2. We will see at least one brand new World Champion in the first three months.

The question is going to be WHO? Sam Shaw? Robbie E.? A new challenger from another promotion? A fair question that will answer itself in the coming months.

3. A couple more Tag Teams will join the fray and light it up in that division once more.

Could we see another renaissance like we had in the mid 2000's? I believe that to be absolutely possible. With WWE working on their roster, I think it only fair to believe TNA is going to follow suit, though not with the same strategy.

There are more predictions waiting in the wings, but for now, suffice it to say that this year's UK Tour is going to be a stacked ride, filled with wonder and awe and with good reason as a new day dawns for the little promotion that could.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Power Ballads....I mean Couples....

With all of the most memorable couples in kayfabe and real life who happen to be a part of the wrestling business I have had a heck of a time just trying to think of how best to put this column together. Mixed tag match tourney? That said, I think I may have just the thing. Each of the participants must have been married or affianced within the past 5 years in real life. No storylines, no kayfabe, strictly the real mccoy. So here's the list......

Taryn Tarrell and Drew Mcintyre
CM Punk and AJ Lee
Stephanie McMahon and Triple H
Tyson Kidd and Natalya
Brock Lesnar and Sable
Matt Hardy and Reby Skye
Magnus and Mickie James
Kristal and Bobby Lashley
The Undertaker and Michelle McCool
Booker T and Sharmell

Now that the pairs are set, let's do something interesting.....I'm not going to worry about TNA vs. WWE faceoffs at all in this bracket, it's going to be as random as I can make them. I'm going to simply run from top to bottom and pair off from there. SO match one is....

Taryn Tarrell/ Drew vs. Punk/ Lee

This one seems pretty evenly matched. With Taryn downright pulling rank over Lee, in my book, I think it comes down to Punk vs. Drew, which in my view is a rather unfair battle. From a purely performance standpoint, I don't view Punk as anything bigger or better than Drew. Don't get me wrong, Punk straight up outclasses Drew on the microphone, but when it comes to wrestling in ring, I don't have any negative views about either performer, which makes this about how they would work as a tandem. Since Taryn and Drew are no longer a team anyway, I give the win to Punk Lee.

Stephanie McMahon/ Triple H vs. Tyson Kidd/ Natalya

I'm going to make this short and sweet. Why? Because Steph may have had matches in WWE, her performances were never anything worth a second watch. That said, between Kidd and Trips, I put Kidd above H on sheer work volume alone. PLUS, since both Tyson and Natalya have been put through the Stu Hart wrestling school, the victory is sealed.

Brock Lesnar/ Sable vs. Matt Hardy/ Reby Skye

Barring the fact that Reby is pregnant and Sable is well beyond her prime, I'll simply place both women in their prime and go from there. In my view, Sable was never much more than eye candy, making the women's match up barely worth mentioning with Reby Skye overhauling and putting down the Diva outright. Lesnar and Hardy would be a good match nowadays, but if it comes down to a brawl, Brock has the edge. SO, victory goes to the pairing who have the better chemistry. Knowing what I do about them on the indies and ROH, I'm going with Hardy and Skye.

Magnus/ Mickie James vs. Kristal/ Bobby Lashley

This is going to be virtually identical to the last pairing as Kristal is not known for her technical wrestling prowess and Mickie James practically wrote the book in terms of being a modern day legend. Magnus, by my estimation, is going to be a tough sell to outclass Lashley, but when push comes to shove, the balance must be in place between pairs and Magnus and Mickie just manage to pull out a W in the win/loss column.

The Undertaker/ Michelle McCool vs. Booker T/ Sharmell

This one goes to a no contest with Taker and McCool winning with barely a contest.

That leaves some interesting pairings.

CM Punk/ AJ Lee vs. Tyson Kidd/ Natalya

This would be epic. With each competitor in their prime, it would be a match I would sell a card around, but here, I HAVE to go with balance once again and give the match to chemistry, that X Factor that changes so many matches on every card. Natalya and Tyson take it.

Uneven brackets help this one along. I'll give Magnus and Mickie a bye this round as it really makes no difference where the fall happens, Taker and McCool leave here. Magnus and Mickie OR Hardy and Skye are better pairs than Taker and McCool. Simple as that.

SO....In the semi-final round, we have.....

Magnus/ Mickie vs. Hardy/ Skye

On paper, I REALLY want to see this match. Seriously. I'm a fan of all four performers, BUT leaving my preferences on the table, I have to think of which match goes best on the top, alongside Natalya and Tyson Kidd. Truth be told, I want to see all three duke it out, but since I also want to remain a true tourney, I will simply flip a coin. Magnus and Mickie win.

That leads us to the final match.

Magnus and Mickie James vs. Tyson Kidd and Natalya

I love this match up. It tells some good history between Natalya and Mickie and it gives some decent variety in Tyson vs. Magnus. This isn't an easy match to call for me. Magnus has a William Regal quality to him while Tyson is both a high flyer and mat tactician. When it comes to working, Tyson Kidd has the edge. On the women's side of things, this could go either way. Since I can't decide the outcome, I'll leave it to you guys.....

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hold Up....I Just Paused It....

Okay, before I go any further with this blog, I'd like to make a few observations. First up, I'd love to address any and all columnists that have been saying this year is TNA's last. Anyone else laughing but me on this one? If TNA were to have gone under, it would have been before they secured their deal with Destination America, but with consistent numbers and a fast growing network home that is building their base with TNA as their cornerstone, I simply don't see that to be the case.

Next, there is this peculiar notion that NXT, Lucha Underground, or even GFW is going to secure the second place spot on the list of top North American wrestling promotions to watch. I defy that assessment and submit that if Destination America continues their growth trend as they have the past couple of years, I see no reason to believe anyone else even has a shot, regardless of who GFW eventually signs a TV deal under. This falls under the assumption that the television market isn't already being flooded with first run programming. If TNA's schedule contains 4 to 6 hours of programming per week and we already know WWE has well over 10, what network would be in their  right mind to try and compete with that?

On the third tier of things that I'd like to discuss is something that MUST be addressed before the first live Impact on their new home. TNA upper management has been scrambling to try and throw large amounts of money at a top free agent talent to announce as their newest acquisition. I've already mentioned a few names. AJ Styles has refused the offer, Alberto Del Rio is getting offers from all around the countryside, and the rest are either busy or not inclined to join up as of yet. Is this a bad sign? To my mind, the answer is both yes and no. On the one hand, they are able to line up a pretty killer debut card as things stand right now. On the other, they could use some fresh faces on their roster as it is beginning to look a bit thin. As of this post, 8 members have renewed deals with TNA and the rest are a lock at least until 2016 sometime.

So where does this leave TNA moving towards the inaugural Impact Wrestling broadcast this Thursday? From my perspective, they're in good hands with the third and I daresay final match between the Bobbys; Lashley and Roode and The Hardys vs. The Wolves. It can be reasonably assumed that there will be some kind of tourney or battle royale or something to determine the next Number One Contender to face off for the World Title and I would guess Taryn Tarrell will be defending her Knockouts belt as well. Beyond that, Kurt Angle's return will undoubtedly bring about some kind of storyline tie-in and I have a hunch that Bully Ray will re-sign before game time. In addition, I have no doubt TNA will secure at least one big surprise for the show that won't disappoint anyone watching.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Next Chapter.....Power Couples and Newbies.....

Now that the first hurdle on this blog has been breached....1000 columns, I've decided to go ahead and go the distance. So that means a few new ideas and fantasy match-ups and topics I've never covered here. We're talking mixed tag match-up between the best couples in the game today or at least the best over the course of the past few years. But before I jump into those teams, I say we tackle the newbies bracket and instead of doing a WWE vs. TNA type of face-off, which I have simply done to death, I'd like to put together a sort of Gauntlet style match.

In the last column, I threw out the names of the entries. Now granted, a couple of names are now missing from TNA's roster page, but that doesn't mean they can't serve as entries. They've shown up in one offs before and have been quite successful as a result. Anyway, I would start things off with Bray Wyatt and James Storm.

Between these two guys, I can't help but see Storm as the more durable of the two, and to that end, I expect a decent albeit short match with Storm winning the bout. Facing off against Storm in the aftermath, I'd love to see Seth Rollins come into things next. In my eyes, Storm would be dethroned here, leaving Rollins to move ahead.

With Rollins having dispatched James Storm, I'd put Magnus into the fray. While I know he is a talented performer, I still have to give the edge to Rollins, now clearing two men from the table. He, however, would not stand against Chris Sabin, being a fresher and high spotting performer, which is not normally in Rollins wheelhouse in WWE. I see Sabin coming out of that match up on top. I don't see his reign to last beyond there as Rusev would probably dominate early and chuck his chances of going the distance.

Rusev is NOT my pick to move further down the line as I see Austin Aries putting down some high intensity moves and laying him to rest. Aries is my pick to go toe to toe with WWE's golden boy Roman Reigns. As much as WWE favors the guy, I don't and to that end, he falls to Aries, in my book. I, for one, LOVE the last three guys and I think I'm in the masses here when I say that my final two on the night would come down to my favorite two performers on the lists.....Bully Ray and Dean Ambrose.

On straight wrestling prowess alone, I see Ambrose being the more talented, but on the coattails of experience, I give the advantage to Ray. So where's the tie breaker? I say to go to the allies and evaluate from there. Ray's friends are few and far between while Ambrose's allies are more readily accessible.

In the end, I pick Dean Ambrose as my sole survivor. Surprised? From the WWE main roster, there is no single performer who is more TNA-esque than Dean Ambrose. He's one part Bully Ray, one part Mr. Anderson, one part Abyss, and one part Austin Aries. Athletic, charismatic, well built from a booking standpoint, and he's got a character full of untapped depth yet to explore. In my opinion, his best years would be spent in TNA and not in the shadow of anyone on WWE's roster.

In the next column, I'd like to put together some of the best power couples and see what happens. I'll feature couplings like:

Triple H/ Steph
CM Punk/ AJ Lee
Magnus/ Mickie James
John Morrison/ Melina
Matt Hardy/ Reby Sky
Chris Sabin/ Velvet Sky
Tyson Kidd/ Natalya

That's quite a few, but I think it should prove interesting to see what kinds of things could happen between couples if the circumstances placed them all on even footing. Who comes out on top? I think it's worth exploring.....

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The 1000....Part 3: Last Dance

Is this the end? Nah. If anything, this could be a new beginning. And after reading yet another doomsayer calling for TNA's demise, it gives me some renewed vigor from which to put together the final few dance partners in this legendary card. SO, with no further ado, I'll jump right in....

The Beautiful People vs. Trish Stratus and Lita

To use the term "beautiful people" in a match like this is truly odd as ALL are as lovely as each promotion could ever hope to ask for. While I have no doubt this has a victor firmly locked on the WWF side, if given time and sufficient build, this could be one of the best matches on the card. Not one is a slouch and they all have a great deal at stake, but if Madison Rayne or Lacey Von Erich showed up to become X Factors in this match on TBP's behalf as former members themselves, this could be a different match altogether.

Magnus vs. William Regal

I really hesitated putting this matchup together. Why? Because it seemed so cliche`. Battle of the Brits again? So why did I manage to put this one on the card? One reason. A World Title. If TNA's World Title were on the line, it MIGHT be the only way a deserving legend like Regal would be able to capture a reign of his own. Yeah, this is a bit of a rant, but one I doubt many would dispute. I think Regal has earned his keep and put together a repetoire worthy of templating, even emulating. If Magnus and Regal ever faced off, this would be a treat.

Mankind vs. Abyss

Okay, before ANYONE jumps on my case about Foley's little stint in TNA, let me remind you that MANKIND is a character who has never appeared in any company other than WWF. This is the character, not the person behind the mask. I loved the psycological persona of Mankind, but I also love the Abyss character as it was in the Father Mitchell era. Bring back that era and you'll have made a bunch of old school fans very happy.

This is list was short. Why? Because of the exodus. When Christian, Rhino, The Dudleys, The Hardys, Kurt Angle, and a host of others found themselves on the short end of the deal with WWE, they bailed and found themselves another ship to jump to in TNA and as a result, they disqualified themselves from singles performances here in this column. HOWEVER, with the passage of time, a new crop of WWE talents has arisen and to that end, I'd love to put them to the test next against a few of TNA's first timers.

WWE's new crop:
Bray Wyatt
Roman Reigns
Seth Rollins
Dean Ambrose
Rusev

TNA
Chris Sabin
Magnus
Bully Ray
Austin Aries
James Storm