TNA: Restructuring the Gut Check Concept

Charlie GSenior Writer IOctober 24, 2012

Way back in April of this year, Hulk Hogan had some big announcements to make.

One of them was that the TNA Television Championship would be defended on a weekly basis. Cool.

Another one was a new concept called, “Open Fight Night." Wrestlers would call each other out and they must fight. It seemed confusing at first, but as we saw, the concept was kind of cool too.

Hogan’s final idea was this concept called, “Gut Check." Gut Check has been a TNA concept for years, but it would finally make its television debut. Gut Check is the platform in which up-and-coming unsigned talent are given the chance to showcase their skills to the world.

Of those three new concepts, Gut Check admittedly interested me most. C’mon, Devon was TV champ at the time. I can’t be too excited about that!

Since April, Gut Check has been met with mixed reviews. As of this writing, there have been six Gut Checks. Only one wrestlers from it is featured on IMPACT to this day. That one person, Joey Ryan, didn’t even pass his Gut Check the first time!

Many people thought that Gut Check would’ve been an awesome way for wrestlers to make their debut and dive head first into TNA. As time progressed, we learned that was not the case.

Just about every Gut Check winner we saw has vanished. They’re getting just as much exposure as those who failed their Gut Check.

The winners of Gut Check would actually receive a TNA developmental contract for Ohio Valley Wrestling, not a TNA roster spot as stated.

That little piece of news irked fans and some called Gut Check a waste from then on. Some even believe that Gut Check should be held solely in OVW if the winners are just going to end up getting an OVW contract. That’s not too bad of an idea, but I’ve come up with one of my own.

I’ve come up with a little plan that I think could help bring relevancy and meaning back to Gut Check.

First off, I’d keep it on IMPACT. If it’s not on IMPACT, it’s not for the world to see. OVW has a limited audience, but TNA is broadcasted worldwide. That’ll get these Gut Check contestants more exposure.

Secondly, I’d keep a similar concept, but I’d tweak it a bit. Instead of having the Gut Check contestant go one-on-one with a TNA wrestler, they’d go one-on-one with another hungry, unsigned talent.

It’ll feature two unsigned talents per month fighting for a contract. To keep things on an even playing field, male participants will compete one month, females the next and the cycle goes on like that.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

January: Male Gut Check participants

February: Female Gut Check Participants


March: Male Gut Check

April: Female Gut Check

May: Male Gut Check

June: Female

July: Male

August: Female

September: Male

October: Female

November: Male

December: Female

As I said above, two unsigned wrestlers will face off each month in hopes of landing a spot on the TNA roster.

Those 12 who win their matches throughout the year will earn a contract. It’ll be a one-night-only contract, and that “one night only” will be the biggest night on TNA’s calendar; Bound For Glory.

For weeks leading into BFG, TNA could air some short video packages of each contestant up until that point. Footage from the indies, footage from their match on IMPACT or even have some TV matches among the batch of Gut Check participants prior to BFG.

During the week before TNA’s biggest show, maybe all the Gut Check winners could be in the live audience. They could re-introduce themselves or give a brief interview with JB. Nothing too crazy.

At BFG, the six male Gut Check participants would face off in a six-man elimination match with the winner becoming an official member of the TNA roster. The same would be done with the female participants.

Both matches would take place on SPIKE TV’s (or’s) free airing of the Bound For Glory pre-show.

The winners (male and female) of said elimination match will pass their final Gut Check and become winners of the year-long contest.

(As an example, winners of the November and December 2012 Gut Check matches would be qualified for BFG in 2013. Then the winners of the 2013 months will also qualify for BFG. Having the greener contestants, Alex Silva for example, compete in November or December would give them one year to hone their craft and prepare for BFG. The more experienced wrestlers, Joey Ryan per say, would compete in September or October since he’s already had years of experience under his belt.)

If one of the Gut Check participants gets injured at an Indy show on the road to BFG, TNA could just double up on Gut Check matches in one month or feature a tag match where both winners advance to BFG.

If all of that reading confused you, I’ll try to break it down to simpler terms:

Step 1: In January, two unsigned talents face off. For example, Alex Silva vs. Sam Shaw. The following month, February, the women get their Gut Check. Let’s say it’s Taeler Hendrix vs. Heidi Lovelace.

Step 2: The winner of those matches, let’s say Silva and Lovelace, advance to their respective elimination match at the Bound For Glory pre-show in October. Until BFG, they’re still free to accept any bookings—anything to keep them active until Bound For Glory.

Step 3: Weeks before BFG, gradually re-introduce all 12 Gut Check participants who have qualified for the event (six men and six women) through video packages and interviews, and show them in the live crowd.

Step 4: It’s the Countdown to Bound For Glory pre-show. The two elimination matches go down between the participants who made it this far. All of the following are OVW stars just to use as an example:

GUT CHECK Six-man Elimination Match: Alex Silva vs. Jason Wayne vs. Brandon Espinosa vs. Chris Silvio vs. Rudy Switchblade vs. Johnny Spade


GUT CHECK Six-woman Elimination Match: Jesse Belle vs. Heidi Lovelace vs. Hannah Blossom vs. Holly Blossom vs. Josette Bynum vs. Epiphany

Step 5: The winners of those matches, Alex Silva and Heidi Lovelace for example, have passed their Gut Check and are the newest additions to the TNA roster.

Step 6: Actually feature the winners on IMPACT!

The losers in could either return to the Indy scene, or TNA could sneakily sign them to OVW contracts since the Gut Check winners will be on IMPACT.


Well, that’s my whole idea. To sum it up, I think Gut Check should be one big tournament among unsigned talent. Win, advance to BFG pre-show with five other participants, win the six-person elimination match and be awarded a TNA contract.

I do think that this would put more emphasis on Gut Check and add a lot more interest to the concept.

Rather than giving OVW contracts to wrestlers based on what three judges think of their in-ring work, look and charisma, why not have a tournament between the participants? I think that would be a hell of a lot better than what TNA is currently doing with Gut Check


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