Posted by Christopher Bell
Jeff Hardy made his TNA debut on June 23, 2004. This show was called the Second Anniversary Show. In his debut, Jeff Hardy turned out to be the mystery opponent for AJ Styles. The two faced each other in a match for the X Division Championship. The match stopped when Kid Kash and Dallas interfered. Hardy challenged for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on November 7, 2004 at Victory Road. Jeff Hardy was defeated by Jeff Jarrett. Hardy would then go to feud with Abyss and Raven. In these days, Hardy was most known for no-showing events. Jeff Hardy returned to TNA Wrestling on January 4, 2010. He came from the crowd during the Steel Asylum Match. Hardy was attacked by Homicide. Hardy hit Homicide with a steel chair before performing the Twist of Fate on the ramp. Jeff Hardy would move on to eventually become TNA World Heavyweight Champion and one of the main faces of TNA.
Christian Cage came to TNA Wrestling at Genesis November 13, 2005. Ever since Cage came to TNA, he had his sights set on the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. At the time, Jeff Jarrett was the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. When Christian debuted, Team Canada made Cage an offer to join their team. Scott D’Amore gave Christian a Team Canada shirt and told him to think about it. After a six-man tag team match, as Team Canada, America’s Most Wanted and Jeff Jarrett were beating down Rhino and Team 3D, Cage quickly came out to the ring. He took off his jacket showing that he was wearing the Team Canada shirt. Scott D’Amore celebrated just before Cage nailed him with an Unprettier. Cage took off his Team Canada shirt to show that he was wearing a TNA shirt underneath. Cage, Rhino and Team 3D put Jeff Jarrett through a table. Soon, Cage went on to become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
Sting made a few appearances in TNA before 2006. He returned to TNA at Final Resolution on January 15, 2006. This is the match that had him teaming with Christian Cage facing Jeff Jarrett and Monty Brown. In the first few years of TNA, Sting was electric. You could just feel the energy. The Stinger was back! Not only was he back, but he was back in great shape. He could still wrestle just as well as he used to. The fans chanted “welcome back” and “you’ve still got it.” Now he was feuding with Jeff Jarrett would then go on to feud with Abyss.
At TNA’s No Surrender Pay-Per-View on September 24, 2006, Dixie Carter announced to the world that TNA Wrestling had signed Kurt Angle. There was a huge rumor going around that WWE would not help him with his pain killer problem and that TNA would. WWE was seen as the villain and TNA as the hero. The long-awaited and dreamed about feud of Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe happened immediately. Samoa Joe was being forced to give the title back to Jeff Jarrett when Angle made his debut. Kurt Angle came down to the ring with Samoa Joe in his sights. Joe put the title down in front of him as a sign for Angle to come take it from him. Angle stood across from him and gave the “head butt heard ’round the world.” He then gave Joe the Olympic Slam. As he celebrated, Samoa Joe came up behind him. Joe turned Angle around and did a jumping kick to Angle. He was about to have Angle in the rear naked choke when Angle reversed it and a brawl would ensue. Jeff Jarrett would come in to the ring and retrieve his stolen championship. After this, Joe and Angle would continue to feud. Kurt Angle defeated Samoa Joe, breaking Joe’s undefeated streak. Afterward, Angle decided to give Joe a rematch and Joe defeated Kurt Angle. Before the match, Angle said it would be the last time that they would face each other whether Angle won or lost. Angle went on a tirade, lashing out at the wrestlers and officials as he was very angry that Samoa Joe now would not give him a rematch. They finally faced each other again for a third time in an Iron Man Match, which Kurt Angle barely won. After their feud, Kurt Angle went on to become the face of TNA. There were many mixed reactions from the internet wrestling community. Some loved that Angle was in TNA and some thought that TNA now stood for Total Nonstop Angle.
Rob Van Dam made his debut for TNA on March 8, 2010. On this night, Sting was returning to action against a mystery opponent. Moments before the mystery was revealed, the “RVD” chants filled the Impact Zone. Once RVD’s music hit, and everyone knew who it was, the fans went crazy. Everyone was on their feet and cheering. The fans ate it up. RVD came in through the crowd and climbed the top turnbuckle. Sting had his bat in hand waiting for him. Sting finally turned around when Van Dam jumped off of the turnbuckle and hits Sting with a flying thrust kick. Once Van Dam saw that Sting was down, he ran to the ropes and did his famous rolling thunder. Van Dam quickly pinned Sting in a match that lasted ten seconds. After the match, Sting took it upon himself to brutally attack RVD with his baseball bat. Not long afterward, Rob Van Dam went on to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against AJ Styles and become one of the major faces of TNA with Jeff Hardy.
I mention these five names because they are, in my opinion, the five biggest names that have come to TNA from somewhere else. All five of these men have made a huge impact in TNA Wrestling. In this way, I believe that TNA relates to WCW. WCW is famous for taking big names from WWF and making them be main-eventers. The biggest stars in WCW were Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Ric Flair, and Sting. The first four stars were all from WWF. I will talk about Sting later on. WCW brought in major names from another wrestling company just like TNA. Although this comparison might not even be fair. TNA seems worse at doing this.
WCW made these superstars the faces of their company.It seemed that WCW was more concerned with putting the stars from WWF as the stars of their company than growing its own talent. I loved WCW. It was my favorite out of the two brands. But my favorite wrestlers were Ultimo Dragon and Chris Jericho. There was no doubt that Diamond Dallas Page could have been more than what he was. There was no doubt that Chris Jericho could have been more than what he was. There was no doubt that Rey Mysterio, Jr. could have been more than what he was.
My feeling of this is that WCW wanted to make sure to give the legends the spotlight and main event. Even though they weren’t the most talented, they were the most recognizable and that is what Eric Bischoff thought would make ratings. It is the same way with TNA Wrestling. TNA will bring in any wrestler that WWE throws away. Whether you agree with the statement or not, there is a reason that WWE fans call TNA a retirement home for WWE castoffs. TNA seems possessed with the idea of taking stars from WWE and having them be the star of TNA. For the past few years, it seems that TNA has been about Bully Ray, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Sting, and Kurt Angle. Even look at TNA’s Pay-Per-View posters. Who does TNA put on the poster to excite the fans with? Who does TNA put in the main event?
I know many who will point out the push that Bobby Roode received. And it is true. He received a great push. This is what TNA should be doing more of. TNA’s true gems are Austin Aries, E.G.O., AJ Styles, and Kenny King. These stars are who TNA should be focusing on. If you center TNA around this talent, TNA can only go up. It is no wonder that the fans go crazy every time Austin Aries cuts a promo. It is no wonder that when Austin Aries wins a championship, the crowd goes crazy and TNA instantly has a fresh feel to it. It is almost the same with Bobby Roode. Having a TNA Original to be a champion has a special sort of feeling than someone from another company. RVD winning the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in no way compares to AJ Styles winning the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
The constant cry of the internet wrestling community is to bring the Attitude Era back. What made the Attitude Era special was the superstars. WWF was pushing the right superstars to the spotlight and giving them the right character. It was very smart of the WWF to take people who had been in WCW (Stone Cold, Kane, Undertaker) and give them characters that lets them shine. Also, The Rock and Mick Foley shined. The Rock was only 25 as of 1997. Steve Austin was 32. The Undertaker was 32. Kane was 30. Triple H was 28. Shawn Michaels was 32. All of these stars were under the age of 35.
For the last few years, TNA has been pushing Mick Foley, Sting, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, and Bully Ray to the main event. Mick Foley was 45 when he won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in 2009 at Lockdown by defeating Sting. Just two years ago, at the age of 52, Sting won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. At Bound For Glory in 2010, Jeff Hardy won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at the age of 33. On May 16, 2010 Rob Van Dam won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at the age of 39. Bully Ray won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship on March 10 at Lockdown.
Monday Night War
In the late 1990s, WCW and WWF were at a ratings war. The pro wrestling business was booming. WWF was on a downhill. It was too cartoonish. WCW capitalized on this by creating the nWo. They were innovative. They were ruthless. They took many risks. WCW brought in stars such as Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Gene Okerlund, and Bret “The Hitman” Hart from WWF. With the nWo and Hulk Hogan as the leader, WCW made it cool to be bad. They had an edgier show by far than WWF. As one of WCW’s risks, they would come on the air before WWF and announce the results of WWF Raw.
WCW Nitro succeeded so well that it beat out WWF Raw 84 weeks in a row. For a while, Tuesday mornings were a thrill for Eric Bischoff. He would get up and look at the Nielson ratings and see that WCW beat out WWF Raw. Over time, it got old seeing the ratings. It lost its excitement because it became normal for WCW to be on top.
In counter to WCW’s edgier product, WWF Raw brought in the Attitude Era. There are many out there who say that Vince McMahon is the genius behind the Attitude Era. I, for one, disagree with this statement. The same Vince McMahon that was in charge is the same Vince McMahon that ran WWF before the Attitude Era. I believe that the Attitude Era was more a product of Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara. They looked at WCW. They saw how cutting edge it was. They enjoyed watching WCW more than WWF. Right when Vince Russo saw Hulk Hogan turn heel as the leader of the nWo, he knew they were screwed. WCW was so far ahead of WWF at the time and they knew it.
The WWF Attitude Era was headlined by D-Generation X, Kane, The Undertaker, The Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Over time, WWF’s product became more of a thrill to watch. When you would watch Raw, you would be on your toes knowing that anything could happen any time. It was unpredictable. All of the right stars were given the right push with the right gimmick. After a while, WWF was able to beat out WCW.
Eric Bischoff came to TNA in 2009 and officially made his debut on January 4, 2010. This was the night that TNA went live on Monday night. TNA went head to head against WWE Raw for the first time. In Eric Bischoff’s mind, he has the blueprint for beating World Wrestling Entertainment. He has beaten them before for 84 weeks in a row. If anyone would know how to beat WWE, it is Easy E. If you watched January 4, then you would know that Eric Bischoff was behind it. They did everything they used to do in WCW. They brought in old stars from WWE. Jeff Hardy made his return to TNA. Kevin Nash had a lengthy interview backstage. Ric Flair came to TNA. Rob Van Dam came to TNA. Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, and Kevin Nash talked to Hulk Hogan in the middle of the ring about old times. Then Eric Bischoff came out. It was a WCW nWo reunion. Afterwards, we saw Sting looking down from the rafters. Val Venis played strip poker with The Beautiful People backstage. Hulk brought his friends Bubba the Love Sponge, Orlando Jordan, and the Nasty Boys. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff made it clear that the past didn’t matter and every wrestler was going to have to prove themselves. And of course, there was a star-filled main event with AJ Styles defending his championship against Kurt Angle.
Here is where things were wrong in the game plan. Back in the late 1990s, WCW was on the rise. It was on the rise because it was with the times. WCW noticed the culture change and wanted to make professional wrestling be a reflection of the culture. When Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan came to TNA, there focus was no longer on making professional wrestling coincide with the culture or even being innovative. Their focus was on making everything just like the way that it used to be. You can’t run business like that. If you run business trying to stay with the old, time will pass you by. You will go out of business. You must change. You must adapt. What do I mean?
Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan tried to make AJ Styles like Ric Flair. They tried to make “The Monster” Abyss like Hulk Hogan. They brought in Rob Van Dam to defeat Sting in ten seconds. The problem is that it didn’t lead to anywhere. It was just something to grab attention for that one night. It is the same with Jeff Hardy. Jeff and Homicide were brawling on the outside before Hardy hit the Twist of Fate on the ramp. What did Homicide do the next week? He didn’t do anything. It was like it never happened. We had an nWo reunion and Sting in the rafters. The last time we saw this was over ten years ago. TNA was now trying to copy the 1990s culture by bringing in the porn star Val Venis. What’s the problem? No one cared about him. We all know that he can’t bring anything to the product. What was wrong with bringing in Orlando Jordan is that his character was bisexual. That is all that we knew about the character. He would come out with tape wrapped around him. Bischoff says that controversy creates cash and that is what he was trying to do. The problem is that we couldn’t get behind him or against him. We just didn’t care about the gimmick. No one cared about The Nasty Boys because we all knew that they were past their time and they were only there because they are friends with Hogan. Jeff Jarrett came out and was told by Hulk Hogan that he had to earn his spot like everyone else. The problem with this is that Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff cared nothing about the stars that made TNA what it was. Hogan and Bischoff seem to care much more about the stars that have come from other companies. They care much more about Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy, Sting, and Bully Ray.
At TNA Genesis 2010, TNA revealed a new four sided ring. The fans were instantly displeased. They chanted, “We want six sides!” Hulk Hogan said, “You know, I’ve got one thing to say about six sides. You had it and it only got you so far. Now we’re taking you all the way, jack. No more eight sides. No more six sides. No more stinking play pin rings. This is where professional wrestling was meant to be done. This is where we shed our blood sweats and tears. And we’re changing it whether you like it or not because this is where professional wrestling was born.” Initially, I very much was against the four sided ring. I was with all of the fans at the iMPACT Zone. How could anyone not be? TNA had a six sided ring since 2004. It is what they were known for. It also can be noted that it was an asset to the X Division stars. The six sided ring helped out with the fast paced action that TNA wanted. Now, I do not care as much whether the ring is four sides or six sides. It is like Sean Prem said. Watching the show for the ring is like watching porn for the plot.
On January 4, the nWo (Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Syxx-Pac) were now known as The Band. At Genesis, Scott Hall and Pac played rock paper scissors to see who would team up with Kevin Nash against Beer Money. On iMPACT, Hulk Hogan ordered them to leave the company after their disrespectful actions at the Pay-Per-View. The problem with this is that no one wants to see people who used to be huge in the late 1990s now trying to invade a show in 2010. The Band even invited Eric Young into the group. In hindsight, bringing the Band back together was a very bad idea.
In WCW, there were three commentators. There was Larry Zbyszko, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, and Tony Schiavone. Larry played the face while Bobby was a heel. Shiavone seemed as someone in the middle. In TNA, this same situation was brought about when Taz turned heel. Now we had Taz as heel, Mike Tenay as face, and Todd Keneley as a middle man. You could call Keneley a face but it seemed as if he never took sides between the two. This seems just like WCW. Now if we can only get the crowd to chant for Taz and Taz to take a bow for the crowd.
The crowd in the iMPACT Zone got stale. It is something that is not TNA’s fault. Whenever you have something happening in front of the same people for years, they get tired of seeing it. They take it for granted. The same people come every week and aren’t that excited anymore. The electricity in the air fades away. When TNA went on the road, everything changed. The electricity was back. The fans were going crazy. It was always said that TNA was a great product but the fans make it look worse. Now, the fans were making it look as it was. They were actually glad and overjoyed to see TNA Wrestling. The crowd reminds me of WCW. It looks almost just like it. The differences between the two is that TNA doesn’t have as many fans as WCW and TNA’s crowd isn’t filled with signs. The production of iMPACT has gotten dramatically better. This is where we must give Eric Bischoff all of the credit in the world. Without him, I don’t know how the product can look as good as it does now. Even though I don’t like WWE, I always have to admit that they have the best production. Now, TNA is getting much better production and it is making the overall product better.
Aces and Eights
One thing about Eric Bischoff is that he loves factions. You cannot see Eric Bischoff run any sort of a business and factions not be involved. There were factions when he was the General Manager of WWE Raw and many factions with him now in charge of TNA. The one that I want to talk about is Aces and Eights. Aces and Eights appeared as a biker gang that was taking over TNA. It very much resembled nWo. It was edgy. It made you want to see what would happen with them next. But as soon as the masks started being taken off of the group one by one, the group started losing its appeal. Now, it was no longer a gang of tough biker thugs taking over the building. It was no longer a mystery of who these guys are. That is what made the group so special. We now know exactly who they are. They are a group of WWE castoffs. The only ones that aren’t really from the WWE are Garrett Bischoff and Wes Brisco. Aces and Eights are much different from nWo and Evolution as that only the leader of the group got a belt. No other members went for the Tag Team Championships. No other members went for the TV or X Division titles. If you think the nWo was all about Hulk Hogan, then you apparently have not seen the Aces and Eights.
Hulk Hogan says that he loves Abyss and AJ Styles. The irony of this is that it seems that he doesn’t know how to use the stars that he wants to rise to the top. It has been said that the only character that Hogan knows how to write for is himself. Who knows if all of the blame for AJ Styles is to be put on Eric Bischoff or Hulk Hogan. What I am talking about is the story with AJ Styles and Dixie Carter. The story was that AJ Styles had an affair with the president of the company Dixie Carter. In the story, it was alleged that he slept his way to the top to be the face of the company. The accusation eventually turned to Styles not having an affair with Carter but being the father of Claire Lynch’s baby. Claire Lynch was an addicted pregnant woman that Dixie Carter and AJ Styles were helping. A month later, it was revealed that she was not actually pregnant. Three months later at Turning Point, AJ Styles lost a match that made him not be able to receive another opportunity for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship until Bound For Glory 2013. I bring this up to say that TNA buried AJ Styles. You couldn’t walk around and openly say that you were an AJ Styles fan. It was like walking around saying that you were a Colts fan the year before the Colts drafted Andrew Luck. TNA made you feel ashamed to be an AJ Styles fan.
Over time, I have had an extreme dislike for Hulk Hogan in TNA Wrestling. My position has been that Hogan can be backstage. He can promote TNA wherever he goes. On television, Hulk Hogan has become the face of TNA Wrestling. This is a problem because of Hogan’s long promos. He comes out and talks for at least ten minutes about something. His promo skills are very outdated as he always gives a cheap pop mentioning the crowd. When Hogan is on TV, he seems to involve himself in every story that is going on. If you thought that after Angle came to TNA that TNA now stood for Total Nonstop Angle, you obviously have not seen Hulk Hogan in TNA.
In the early days of TNA Wrestling, the X Division was the spot light of the company. The X Division displayed the image that TNA Wrestling wanted their company to look like. TNA wanted to be known for the X Division more than anything. On the second show in TNA’s history, AJ Styles won the X Division Championship by defeating Jerry Lynn, Low Ki, and Psychosis in a Round Robin Match.
The X Division stood for fast paced action. It was called the X Division because there was no weight limits. That is something that TNA apparently missed. On March 21, 2013 new rules were made for the X Division. These include a 230 pound weight limit, every match being contested as a triple threat match, and whoever gets pinned or is made to submit in a championship match would be ineligible for the next championship match. The one who did not would challenge for the next X Division match. This turned the X Division into a gimmick. For one thing, with every match being a triple threat match, it took out the need for stories to progress. There were no more intense feuds with the X Division. You would be lucky to see someone dislike someone else in the division. This is the whole reason why Chris Jericho left the WCW. There weren’t any exciting stories for the cruiserweights. The X Division essentially became the new Television Championship. It was being defended regularly on television. The X Division turned into a spot fest. To make matters worse, starting April 18th, we would now have an X Cam. The X Cam was on the referee’s head to give us an up close and personal look at all of the fast paced and high flying action. Needless to say, it was badly used. The moments that the camera was used was horrible. When you think about all of the changes that happened to division so fast, with every match being a triple threat match with a referee having a camera on his head, it made it look like a joke. It made it look very much like a circus. It did not seem legitimate. At the beginning of TNA’s history, there was the X Division. The X Division was what TNA was about more than anything else. Now, it had been very much degraded. It lost what made it originally unique and special. It was watered down.
Let me give you a shocking statement. It seems that professional wrestling is at its best when it only features stars who are between the ages of 20 and 34. When you are 35 and over, you are considered a legend. It is this way in every sport and there is good reason for it. TNA, like WCW, hangs on to superstars for far too long. Let me explain.
In the past years, TNA has had numerous stars which I talked about earlier as main-eventers. Bully Ray is most to blame. He is forty two years old and still the TNA World Heavyweight Champion. People love to see Shawn Michaels return. People love to see The Undertaker make a return. There are even fans that love to see Sting. We know what all of these people have done for the company as a whole and we appreciate them for it. We all love to see a legend return to the business for a night or two. Some of us don’t mind seeing Triple H on Raw every week because of how much of a name in pro wrestling he is. The problem is when a legend is written into a story on TV or is called to have a match. The thought goes through my mind, “He’s going to wrestle again? It’s time to hang it up.”
I often hear that legends can be around but they must put over the younger stars. This does not work. If you want proof, watch what happened when Sting came out to confront Magnus. When Sting came out, fans chanted his name. It’s hard not to like Sting for the simple fact of how long he has been in the business. But when he said that he will face Magnus at Bound For Glory, not a voice in arena could be heard. Everything got dead silent. The fans started to sigh. Inside, you knew they were dreading seeing him inside of a wrestling ring again. Magnus does need to have a match against a well-established star in TNA Wrestling. This is why it would have been perfect for him to match up against Bobby Roode. Bobby Roode is still not too old and he can put on top quality matches. He is a legend in TNA for how long he has been around. He has held the TNA World Heavyweight Championship longer than anyone else. Sting, at age 54, is not the right person to put Magnus over.
AJ Styles had an interview with Brady Hicks last year hyping up TNA’s Lockdown Pay-Per-View. As AJ Styles said in the interview, “”They’re … WE are definitely in a better place. If we’re making new stars, that’s what we need to do. We gotta build that foundation, and it starts by making new stars. You can’t rely on Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy and guys like that who have been around for awhile …. or even AJ Styles for that matter. You have to continue to build new stars to rely on and to keep it fresh.”
Gut Check and Open Fight Night
I loved Gut Check. It gave a fresh feeling. I was excited to see new stars debut in TNA Wrestling. TNA showed video packages that introduced us to the new stars. We now got a chance to see some new talent wrestle. We would think about who they could feud with and what they could do in TNA.
Many reality shows such as the X Factor, America’s Got Talent, American Idol and The Voice have contestants. The contestants come on to the show with a certain skill, singing in most competitions, and there are 3-4 judges judging on who makes the cut. It was smart for TNA to take advantage of this. The idea of Gut Check was a great one but executed badly. There were many who I thought should have gotten the contract that didn’t and many that I thought that should not that did.
Joey Ryan is one that got voted no. Everyone that knows Joey Ryan from Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerilla knows that the man has potential. He has charisma. He can put on a show. Wes Brisco got through. Everyone who has seen him since hasn’t seen much of him. We have only seen him be a minor figure in the Aces and Eights stable. He was recently removed from the Aces and Eights and television. I do not see what is special about him to give him the spot on the TNA roster. I haven’t seen the charisma. I have not seen the wrestling skills. Also, I thought that both Magno and Adam Pearce should have been given contracts. The match was very sloppy, but Adam Pearce’s promo skills were high quality. If you have ever seen Magno wrestle, he has potential. It just did not make sense who went through and who did not.
Another thing about Gut Check is that when you were given a contract, you weren’t ever seen again. If you were, it wasn’t for a very long time. We have barely seen Sam Shaw and Alex Silva. Taelor Hendrix looked like the Knockout of the future but was cut for “financial reasons.” To be honest, whenever someone says that they were cut by money, it’s just the company making an excuse. The company tried to push Christian York as much as they could. He got many opportunities. He had a great gimmick. We all instantly fell for his rocker character. The only problem is his wrestling skills. They didn’t seem up to par. At least not that good to be on TNA Wrestling.
Open Fight Night was also a very exciting addition. It brought a new aspect to the show. It brought even more of a reality feel. You didn’t know who would be called out to a match. Also, a champion could be called out and would have to defend his title. Sometimes, it was predictable. Such as when Jeff Hardy had a feud with someone, he would announce that Open Fight Night is next week and he is calling them out. Open Fight Night served to further stories for the wrestlers.
Bound For Glory Series
When the Bound For Glory series started, my first thought was, “Okay, TNA. You can do whatever you want with this. Just make AJ win.” Ever since it started, it seemed that the whole point of the Bound For Glory Series was to make AJ Styles win. He lost at Turning Point which made it not possible for him to go after the World Heavyweight Championship until Bound For Glory. He was buried last year and now has been pushed as a main event talent with his new lone wolf gimmick. Technically, as we have now seen with AJ Styles saying, “Joe is going to kill you” AJ is all for himself and his band of brothers. The band of brothers are the stars that made TNA what it is such as Low Ki, Jerry Lynn, Alex Shelley, Jay Lethal, and Petey Williams. One would most certainly also put Jeff Jarrett and James Storm in the conversation.
The Bound For Glory Series did not make sense. I will admit that the matches were entertaining. It just did not make sense as it felt that some superstars got more matches than others. The point system made things confusing to the fans. For example, a submission gets you ten points while a pinfall gets you seven points. A countout receives five points. No longer can the saying be said, “Just win baby.” Now more than just winning, it matters how you win. You can’t do your finisher on your opponent on the announcer’s table outside of the ring and win by count out. It would only get you five points compared to the seven or ten points you could have had. For this reason, it seems that every wrestler would go for a submission. For people like Samoa Joe and AJ Styles to not always go for the submission is insane. Even Bobby Roode could make up a submission hold to do after his finisher. The difference is three points and as you know, if you follow Nascar, every point counts.
One major thing that I did not like about the Bound For Glory Series is that all other stories faded away. We no longer had any of the same stories we did before. The show was dominated by the Aces and Eights and the BFG Series. There was no week to week set up to where you knew what feud was going on and what would most likely happen the next week. What I mean is that this past week on iMPACT, we knew that Bully Ray was going to get revenge against AJ Styles and Dixie would give a speech or do something following Hulk Hogan’s departure. With the Bound For Glory Series, the focus was not on the stories anymore. It seemed the stories didn’t matter. The focus was on all of the matches. The matches were great. I just think the Bound For Glory Series hurt the company.
The BFG Series lasted too long for my liking. It lasted several months. During these months, you would have to keep track of who was in the lead and who didn’t stand a chance. After a while, it seemed that Bobby Roode stood no chance. Then came the gimmick matches for 20 points each. These gimmick matches were ladder and tables matches. The high flying stars competed in a ladder match while the powerhouses competed in the table match. This made no sense. While it made for great matches, now the person in last place in the Bound For Glory Series has a chance of making it into the final four. Another reason the Bound For Glory Series was a failure in my eyes, was that it seemed that only people in the Series could face each other. So every week we would have people in the Series facing each other. It was a long drawn out playoff system. You have heard the saying to not complain about something if you do not have a solution for it. Here is what TNA should have done.
Lately, I’ve been watching more and more of Ring of Honor. I have been getting hooked. It has top notch wrestling without all of the lights and production that WWE has. These wrestlers in ROH are top wrestlers. If you can get your character over to the fans in Ring of Honor, you can make your character be over anywhere you go. Ring of Honor has been holding a tournament to decide their new ROH World Heavyweight Champion. What I like about this tournament is that it reminds me of the Ultimate Fighter. The UFC is largely known for its series The Ultimate Fighter, where unknowns come onto the show to fight for a UFC six figure contract. The coaches are two well-established names such as Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock. In the Ultimate Fighter, you are introduced to many of the fighters. You start to know all about them. You know their fighting history, their family, their work ethic, their morals and their values. On the show, there are many stories involving the fighters. One is if a fighter will make weight. Another is an unofficial fight happening outside the gym. There are many different stories with every fighter. What the Ultimate Fighter is great at is being easy to follow. There is a simple tournament and if you win, you’re in. You continue. If you lose, you’re out. There are no second chances. It’s one and done. It is a phenomenal way to introduce new young talent to the UFC. This is what TNA needs desperately. TNA is desperate for any way to recruit and showcase new talent. Just look at the winners of the Ultimate Fighter and how they’ve become big names. Diego Sanchez and Forrest Griffin won the first season. Kenny “Ken Flo” Florian and Stephan Bonnar were runner ups. Joe “Daddy” Stevenson and Rashad Evans won the second season. Kendall Grove and Michael Bisping won the third season. Matt Serara won the fourth season. Nate Diaz won the fifth. Mac Danzig won the sixth and Amir Sadollah won the seventh, with CB Dollaway as runner up. Ryan Bader and Efrain Escudero won the eighth. I could go on and on. These are top fighters in the UFC now. Who, being a UFC fan, has not heard of Diego “The Dream” Sanchez? Who has not heard of Michael “The Count” Bisping? Who has not heard of Matt Serra or Nate Diaz? If TNA brought in a system like the Ultimate Fighter, it could introduce us to many wrestlers who could be the future face of the company.
Whether it comes through Gut Check or a tournament such as The Ultimate Fighter, TNA needs to recruit new talent. They have hit and miss. They have made many mistakes with the Gut Check talent. But let us not forget that TNA also brought in Generation Me, Brian Kendrick, Joey Ryan, D’Angelo Dinero, Sarita, Hamada, and Shannon Moore. If a superstar has competed before in the WWE or Ring of Honor, we could mention that when we are introducing them to the public, but they would still need to go through the Ultimate Fighter style system. In this way, we do not give WWE or ROH more credibility than we do our own wrestlers. WWE has been great at this. If you were in ROH or TNA, you don’t instantly come into the company at the top. You start out at NXT or you might start small such as Christian did in his return. In recent years, TNA has been honoring WWE too much. It seems that they have given WWE more credit than they do their own company. If they have been at WWE before, they will mention it on air as if it qualifies them to be pushed more than anyone else on their roster. Since they had been in WWE, now they are automatically going to get a title shot. It is bizarre but true. TNA needs to start honoring TNA more than anything else. Back in WCW, Eric Bischoff would take chances. He took risks to try to get ahead of WWE in the ratings war. He had the WWF Women’s Champion come on WCW and throw away the belt. That is cutting edge. In TNA, it seems as if we willingly submit to WWE as the top dog.
In actuality, a WWE star coming to TNA and getting an instant title shot seems like a great set up for a story. A WWE star such as Jeff Hardy comes and there is a big welcome and a contract signing in his debut. Next week, when he has a match for the championship, a TNA established star such as Bobby Roode or Austin Aries comes out and attacks him. It reminds me of when Christian Cage first came to TNA and Monty Brown reminded him that he isn’t up north anymore. Now he is in the Serengeti. Maybe a young wrestler can come in with an established legend as his mentor. The story can be the wrestler’s father died and as the young wrestler worked his way up trying to make it in the big leagues, the legend took him under his wing. Of course, the legend wouldn’t be able to do much anymore or wrestle that much. I envision the legend being someone as Kevin Nash or Sting. The two would repeatedly go for the tag team championships unsuccessfully until after some months go by, the wrestler turns on his mentor and becomes a heel.
Who TNA Should Hire
TNA should hire Generation Me. Generation Me impressed me from their debut against the Motor City Machine Guns. These guys were just as fast as the Motor City Machine Guns. With TNA meaning Total Nonstop Action, these men fit the bill perfectly. In their debut, these men made the crowd repeatedly chant, “TNA! TNA! TNA!” They were filled with potential. They actually defeated the Motor City Machine Guns. When Paul Heyman was on the MMA Hour, he said that he would have the January 4th show centered around the main event being the Motor City Machien Guns vs Beer Money. This would be the main event to show off the TNA’s original and young talent. To go with Paul Heyman’s thinking, Generation Me vs the Motor City Machine Guns for the TNA Tag Team Championships is an easy main event. These men would be very entertaining in a thirty minute match. Their chemistry and fast paced action wow the audience. They are easily fan favorites. The crowd is always kept on their feet wondering what will come next. They have the crowd in the palm of their hands and the crowd loves it. If there was any way to watch Generation Me on TV, I would never miss a show.
Who TNA Should Fire
TNA should fire Abyss. This might come as a shock to everyone who has grown up on TNA. I have watched TNA Wrestling for many years and used to be a fan of the Abyss character. The fact is that this Abyss character has taken on to many roles. In 2009, Abyss was shown in video packages as an inmate in an asylum. He came back with a white asylum uniform with his number and Parks on the back. He ended up being in a tag team with Matt Morgan. Later that year, he had a therapist as Dr. Stevie. When Eric Bischoff came, he was turned into Hulk Hogan’s number one fan. He came out with the red and yellow attire and would taunt like Hogan. This is one thing that will always make the true Abyss fans shake their head. How can a monster suddenly act like Hulk Hogan? They are two completely different characters. Later on, he was in Immortal. Now, since March 8 of 2012, Abyss has been appearing as Joseph Park. The angle has been for Joseph Park to eventually turn back to Abyss. The Joseph Park character is a comedy act, much like Eric Young is usually portrayed. The Joseph Park character has gone on for far too long. How many times is Park going to see his own blood and snap before there is mention of Joseph Park being Abyss? At first, this seems like it could have worked. Maybe if it would have went on for a few months or half of a year, it would have worked. This is a very poorly executed angle. Nevertheless, Abyss needs to retire because he reminds me of Kane. Both of them were monsters at one time but then have been through so many changes that it makes you shake your head in disbelief. Both of them have turned into comedy acts. The last time Abyss came back on television, his Black Hole Slam did not look as devastating as it used to. He is not who he used to be. It is time to hang it up. He should hang it up for all of the reasons mentioned, and for the fact that he is forty years old.
Every week I will show my roster of TNA after adding who TNA should hire and removing who TNA should fire. Here is the roster:
Hulk Hogan (he is still on TNA’s official roster)
Jeremy (Generation Me)
Max (Generation Me)
If you have questions or topics that you would like for me to address in my column, you can ask me at ask.fm/chrisinmac
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