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.