It is a rare occurrence in our current day and age when plans for a wrestling storyline are set for months ahead. It is safe to assume that plans for WrestleMania, which should be the most carefully constructed wrestling event of the year, are yet to change numerous times in the next two weeks. TNA, on the other hand, has shown some impressive attention to detail, which became evident on the most recent episode of Impact Wrestling, particularly Bully Ray’s recap of the Aces & Eights’ takeover.
Shortly after the end of this year’s Lockdown I published an article on the predictability of the Bully Ray swerve. I was left with mixed feelings at the end of Pay-Per-View. I like surprises as much as the next wrestling fan, yet I felt revealing Ray as a member of the stable was the only reasonable direction the creative team could take. Many expected it, but according to last Thursday’s show, perhaps few had thought about it as much as they should have.
Among other little touches, Ray’s recap from Thursday night reminded us of the time James Storm was framed for the Aces & Eights’ deeds. It turns out it was all planned as a stepping stone for Ray to rise in the Bound For Glory rankings. Has creative been building this up intentionally, knowing where the product would be months later, or have the elements gradually fallen in place as the storyline has progressed? It does not matter, because it still makes sense.
Wrestling fans are used to having their intelligence insulted. When it comes to swerves, the shock effect often comes at the expense of credibility. Both WWE and TNA have a history of ignoring past outcomes or angles for the sake of present creative decisions. Enter The Aces & Eights, along with a lengthy build-up for a revelation which certainly does not feel contrived. On the contrary, Bully Ray’s recap from several days ago plays out like a logical narrative with a consistency rarely observed in wrestling.
What if it was not all intentional? What if Bully Ray and the Aces & Eights were not originally meant to cross paths? Then it would mean that over the last few months someone took the time to study past television and come up with a payoff that fits the picture.
If you expected it, TNA wants you to feel bad for not expecting it more.