The Hall Of Fame… An event to vindicate the career of a superstar for their years of service. It has been introduced into the wrestling world, with the WWE. WWE having acquired the rights of the wrestling libraries of the old other wrestling companies such as WCW, they had the platform to b able to induct superstars into a hall of fame. Vince McMahon jr had delivered a concept in celebrating the careers of established wrestling superstars of the past, who had some affiliation with WWE along with the other companies. The Hall of Fame is an annual event that is scheduled around the biggest event in the wrestling calendar. This helps to capture the essence of the wrestling event of paying respect to the stars of the past at the same time as the stars of the present and future continue to deliver wrestling, with the period all cultivating into wrestling history. For example, when I was at New York for the Wrestlemania 29 week, WWE put in a lot of effort not only for the current wrestling roster, but they celebrated the legacy of previous stars such as the legendary Bruno Samantino, and the much loved Mick Foley.
WWE is a company that has been around for over half a century. They have the ability to associate themselves with a range of wrestling associations in their history. WWE is a company that primarily focuses on the business aspect as discussed in a previous article (last 1 about shield& aces). On the other side of the spectrum, we have TNA who portray the priority of pleasing the wrestling fans first, as discussed in a previous article. This isn’t just my opinion, this is pointed out by RVD, who agrees with many critics that WWE’s promo of RVD did him more publicising than his 3 year stint with TNA. Surely us wrestling fans are well aware of RVD being screwed over from the world title during the build up of the Immortal saga, and was a great X Division champion. But that WWE promo evoked the ECW-esqe aura that he’s most notorious for amongst fans.
Despite having wrestlers with a variety of associations to the wrestling world, TNA like to perceive themselves as a separate entity. A company since first formed, aiming to revolutionise the world of wrestling as stated in a previous article. TNA has gone through a lot of hardship, in keeping the company operable. With an array of new, exciting talent, with a lot from the indies scene, particularly Ring of Honor, TNA tackled wrestling by implementing wrestling divisions that had become incorrectly prehistoric in WWE as discussed in a previous article. The wrestling that had stolen the show at many WWE events, the tag team and the cruiserweight divisions, were giving a chance. The Phenomenal one, Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian amongst others were drawing attention to the rebranded cruiserweight division, the X division, as noted in a previous article. Also the tag team division had an array of talent like James Storm and Hernandez who I’ve reviewed in a previous article, which helped to bring thrilling entertainment. It helped to build the platform for the recognised career of Bully Ray when ‘Team 3D’ arrived, as discussed in an article reviewing Bully Ray. Without any doubt, these were the essential aspects for TNA surviving. So much so, that when Kurt Angle arrived, he challenged the X Division champion, and not the World champion, as discussed in a previous article.
While these divisions were prospering, their counterpart, the Heavyweight division, was failing in comparison. Although there were headline names of Sting and Jeff Jarrett, the outcome was always repetitive with Jeff doing a HHH in stealing a victory, or always defeating an one off appearance of ex WWE stars like Dustin Rhodes, as discussed in a previous article. However, it must be noted, just their mere presence, was good enough for a new company. TNA had to have some wrestling names to help draw in the attendance.
The majority will state what I’ve just said, that its the X division and tag team division that helped to elevate TNA. Using that concept, I have a hard time to comprehend the decision for the TNA Hall of Fame inductees. The first hall of fame event, has to set an example and be eye catching. It must let the fans follow the event like a trend, just like WWE’s version. To correlate it with the 10th anniversary of Slammiversary, TNA intended to celebrate a proud achievement of being around for 10 years, with a range of events. To make the hall of fame intriguing, Dixie Carter went for the most suitable wrestler, whose entire wrestling career embodies the spirit of ‘hall of fame’. Inaddition, a wrestler who hasn’t been inducted by WWE or has no relation with WWE, to legitimise their unique version. Ofcourse, the first inductee was Sting. For a longtime, Sting was billed as the ‘Icon’, to help the cause. As noted, he’s been with TNA for a number of years, being their first major attraction employed to beat WWE during the initial years of TNA.
It seems to be the right decision, however, for a general wrestling hall of fame. TNA is a separate entity from wrestling, aiming to revolutionise wrestling, as noted in a previous article. Also, in a period where TNA were celebrating their existence against all of the critics’ beliefs, Slammiversary X, needed to have an inductee to signify the celebration of the birth of TNA. Yes Sting has been present for a long time, but he didn’t come at the very start. Sting wasn’t the one who started this courageous journey. You’ve figured it out, I’m talking about, the co-founder of TNA, along with his dad, Jeff Jarrett. Jeff Jarrett, the king of the mountain, began TNA, by rebuilding the NWA brand, due to an intense hatred symbiotically shared with the wrestling world tyrant, Vince McMahon jr, as noted in a previous article. For a company whose celebrating their existence, and for a company that was heavily reliant on the reputation of Jeff Jarrett, its unfortunate that he was neglected of such an honour, nevermind being consecutively ignored. Sting is an icon indeed, but he wasn’t around to start off TNA. Jeff had to lure the other stars, to help keep the flagship rolling, in its most vital period, when the odds of failure outweighed success more greatly than throughout its tenure. Whether or not the Heavyweight division provided breathtaking brawls, Jeff Jarrett’s reputation along with other established stars coming mainly due to Jarrett’s negotiating skills and their status with Jeff Jarrett, helped to lure the fans. Ofcourse these wrestlers also wanted to glorify their respectable careers with a title shot and a possible World Title reign, but they could of went to the indies instead. Jeff Jarrett has been mistreated unjustly, like by his previous managing individuals of WWF and WCW.
A lot of this is to do with Jeff Jarrett’s fractious relationship with Dixie Carter. This is a real shame, and another negative of a wrestling figure that I’ve reviewed in a previous article. The big difference between Vince McMahon jr and Dixie Carter is while Vince is a tyrant in the wrestling business, he knows when to put his feelings aside and do the better thing for business. There are many examples to establish this point like how he worked to manage to lure back Bret Hart. Also how he worked with ex fierce competitors Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff, and ofcourse how he finally realised the potential of a personal favourite of mine, CM Punk, despite not seeing him as the hercules-like wrestling figure he likes, Vince pushed CM Punk’s status to rival that of John Cena. At the other end of the spectrum there’s Dixie Carter. A loveable character is portrayed by her, who embodies a boss who wants to endure a friendly working environment, which is exemplified with the long serving reigns of side characters, Jeremy Borash and Socal Val, unlike WWE who recently released the much talented, long serving Matt Striker. But if she has a grudge with someone, it is hard to resolve the issue, like the scorn of an angry person. Even if its the right thing for business, it is difficult to work things out. This is definitely a major factor leading to Jeff Jarrett being neglected. This goes against the values of TNA of aiming to revolutionise wrestling, and instead just emulates WWE. As big as Sting is, there have been bigger WWE stars such as Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair.
This year the hall of fame event was continued for a consecutive year. TNA had to follow up the occasion of selecting another wrestler star, that is easily recognisable. Not affording the luxury of a long history to be able to possess a glittering list of wrestlers that have contributed immensely to their company, to help legitimise the hall of fame event, TNA needed something close to it. The obvious choice is Hulk Hogan, but with him already being inducted by WWE, TNA wanted to go for someone to validate their own. Since TNA select one individual each time, it had to be a wrestler that stands out. Someone who has contributed vastly to the progression of TNA. It was announced at Slammiversary XI, that Kurt Angle will be inducted. Indeed, Kurt Angle’s arrival created a storm in the wrestling world, leading to an initially thrilling rivalry with Samoa Joe that had every fan’s attention, as noted in a previous article. Kurt Angle is widely recognised as one of the best performers of all time, with some believing he’s the best, or those neglecting the obvious choice of Brett Hart or Shawn Michaels, as noted in a previous article. He has transferred his high calibre wrestling from WWE to TNA, to help show that TNA were not an indies company but willing to compete with WWE. Along with a range of exhilarating matches, Kurt Angle has reached the top of the company by winning the world championship, along with other titles. In addition, he has helped the company to have an more stimulating show by being involved in feuds not to do with the title, such as his rivalry with the Aces & Eights when he was building up Brisco and Bischoff, or his tag team championship rivalry with AJ Styles against other teams such as Chavo and Hernandez as discussed in a previous article. This is a vital characteristic to have, to show that the athlete doesn’t need the world championship to have the focus of the audience.
The decision to induct Kurt Angle is a way to celebrate his current accomplishments since he hasn’t retired. To thank him for his contribution, ever since his revelation as a new member of the active roster with the quote “It’s Real, It’s Damn Real”. But again, this is going against what TNA embodies, aiming to revolutionise wrestling as stated in a previous article (and my repetitiveness of previous articles maybe as irritating as the continuous ‘UK’ tour advert that TNA airs numerously on each Impact in the UK). A wrestler has been selected based on factors out of TNA, such as his heroic 1996 Olympic victory to earn the gold medal with a broken neck, or his stint at WWE which was the catalyst of him being perceived as one of the best performing athletes in the wrestling business. Slammiversary XI, is about celebrating the anniversary of TNA’s birth, in continuing to rebranding wrestling. I strongly believe, and I’m sure many would agree, that Kurt’s opponent that night deserved the honour more. Some could argue that it may not play into the storyline well of how AJ Styles identifies himself as an outsider, as ‘the one’, but the creative team could of worked around it. I have criticised their choices like with Jeff Hardy and Bully Ray, which co-incidentally witnessed TNA doing some of the improvements, but this is another blow. At this very moment, AJ Styles had become the focus of TNA with Aces & Eight and TNA, as noted in a previous article regarding Aces & Eights. AJ Styles had endured a catastrophic wrestling year, with a calamity after another. This has lead him to his current role, with people wanting his allegiance. This could of been something done by TNA to help not only lure AJ Styles as part of the storyline, but also to truly distinguish the exceptional talents of an athlete whose been discriminated upon for a very long, along with other X Division talents like Christopher Daniels, as noted in a previous article. AJ Styles is a TNA original and was fighting for their cause, while Kurt Angle was in WWF/E enjoying feuds with The Rock, Steve Austin, Chris Benoit, Edge and etc. This was even one of the basis of the well constructed storyline between the Main Event Mafia and TNA Originals, a group Sting and Kurt Angle have just brought back. For a number of years, AJ Styles earned himself the nickname ‘The Phenomenal One’, breaking all sorts of records. While Sting was the big name to rival Jeff Jarrett all those years ago, AJ Styles became the name to rival Jeff Jarrett. AJ Styles from being a jobber in WWF and WCW, as discussed in a previous article discussing another jobber Hernandez, AJ Styles became the number 1 wrestler in TNA, by winning the world championship. He did it with ‘style’ and also became the first ‘triple crown winner’. For a number of years, he’s been voted as the best wrestler in the world, and I know he is the best wrestler in TNA, when the management wants him to be. The popular trend is to either vindicate Kurt Angle or the intense Austin Aries as the best in TNA. But lets be honest, AJ Styles, is the superior athlete, who gained the self appraisal tag of being phenomenal, before Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle and Austin Aries tried to bask on the spotlight of the revolutionary and amazing CM Punk, a personal favourite of mine. AJ Styles should consider himself in the running for next year’s hall of fame, because as I predicted a long time ago, and in my blogs, he will win Bound For Glory 2013 series, and become the champion at Bound For Glory, in essence of John Cena’s 2013 of overcoming a hard year of 2012. Just c’mon, no title shot for an entire year till Bound For Glory 2013? Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter may as well drew a pictogram:
In hindsight, the hall of fame whilst commemorating the distinguished careers of two colossal figures in the wrestling world, as failed to exemplify TNA itself. In a wrestling world, where TNA want to become a competitor to WWE, they are shifting their ways of operation. Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter, along with the others in control of management, want to build the business of the company. However, at the cost of what TNA personifies, the management team have just replicated the WWE hall of fame, into their own.
Extra Side note:
I’m speechless regarding the ending of last week’s Raw. A dream match is around the corner. I despise spoilers, like how the McMahons do, so I was never aware that it was a strong possibility for two amazing talents to clash. A clash of two generations. A clash involving one competitor who was hired as a one off along with Mr Anderson, to greet the astounding ‘Next Big Thing’ Brock Lesnar, on a Smackdown in 2003. Brock Lesnar and CM Punk have climbed to the very top, whilst not being puppets of the McMahon mould. They have a strong link with a guy, many hardcore wrestling fans appreciate, Paul Heyman. It’s amazing, and I can’t actually construct how thrilled I truly am. Can’t wait for tonight’s Raw, also I am intrigued into how Sting will build the Main Event Mafia with Kurt Angle. I hope there will be some original members back, with Steiner and Nash apologising for their rants against TNA. Otherwise, its just the same duo who were outclassed by the Aces & Eights, but under a different name.
By Sean Prem