The romance between current World Heavyweight Champion Bully Ray and Hulk Hogan’s daughter Brooke has been a vital element of the Aces & Eights storyline. The on-screen relationship was the catalyst for the stable’s ultimate rise to power last March, when Bully won the belt and revealed his alliance with the club. Although many had foreseen the twist, the fans could not know for sure what was going on prior to the end of the Pay-Per-View. Why? Because the audience had no idea that the contender had interacted with The Aces & Eights in any way, which made for the powerful reaction the swerve drew at Lockdown.
It was following the big night that we were shown clips, in which Bully Ray revealed what we had not seen on TNA programming. The plan had not just been concealed from The Aces & Eights’ rivals, characters like Hogan and Jeff Hardy, but from the viewers as well. Over the months leading up to Lockdown, the cameras had been selective with the backstage footage to be showed on TV, for the sake of achieving the most emotional response when the time was right.
In contrast to the brilliant application of narrative selectivity in the build-up to Bully vs. Hardy, last night’s episode of Impact Wrestling failed to make use of that storytelling technique. The opening in-ring segment between Sting and the Hogans was interrupted by the World Champion, who confessed that he still loved Brooke and he would not take his ring off. His on-screen wife burst into tears as a result. Neither the fans in attendance, nor I could buy what Ray was saying, but the short encounter between the two still worked, because it raised questions.
Shortly afterwards we got backstage footage, in which The Aces & Eights sought the reason Ray had told Brooke that he loved her. His word-for-word response was, “Did you see the way she looked tonight?”, while also adding that he did not want to discuss his personal life with Devon. My problem with this segment was that it killed some of the initial interest that the show’s opening had ignited. While Ray never gave a straight answer as to whether he had feelings for Hulk’s daughter, we did learn one thing – the champion was acting on his own behalf, as he was not executing any plan by The Aces & Eights.
Considering that Devon will probably continue to seek explanation from his brother, it is crucial that TNA does not provide the audience with too much backstage information. Sometimes it is not about what is told, but about what is omitted. The best way to make the masses sympathize with the faces is by making them oblivious to the intents and motivations of the villains. This is getting more important now that the company has to build up to the storyline’s conclusion, with the “good guys” eventually ending the reign of The Aces & Eights. If the relationship between Bully and Brooke is currently planting the seeds for the stable’s demise, perhaps it is better if the majority of the process remains hidden from our eyes. If the shake-up within the club is only portrayed through subtle in-ring behavior, would make for compelling programming, which would be certainly more realistic than telling the story through the omniscient cameraman.
After all, where is the fun in watching a story unfold if we are fed the information the easy way?