On last week’s edition of TNA: Impact, bearded underdog Eric Young fought in, and won, a battle royale early in the show to gain a World title shot later on that night.
Valiantly braving through injuries, Young then went on to defeat title-holder Magnus to win the TNA World Championship in a big upset victory.
Well, it does bear a striking resemblance to the ending of WrestleMania XXX, which took place just a few days earlier, with bearded underdog babyface Daniel Bryan defeating Triple H and going on to win the WWE title later on in the show, despite being injured.
Many fans and commentators reacted scathingly to the victory, with some even flat out accusing TNA of ripping off WWE:
If TNA thinks Eric Young is their Daniel Bryan, they're wrong.— Mark Madden (@MarkMaddenX) April 11, 2014
TNA is so second rate it's not even funny. Really, slapping the world title on Eric Young just because he looks like Daniel Bryan?— Trademark629 (@Trademark629) April 11, 2014
Catching up with what is happening in TNA.... They have completely stolen the Daniel Bryan storyline! If TNA needs to be a lot more orginal!— WDS (@WDSWWE) April 18, 2014
Unsurprisingly, people in WWE have taken note of the angle as well. Though, per Bryan Alvarez in this week’s (subscribers only) F4W Newsletter, they aren’t upset. In fact, everyone there seems to be faintly bemused by the turn of events:
As you'd expect, everyone in WWE is incredibly amused by TNA putting the title on Eric Young in a knock-off of Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania. Nobody has any problem with Eric Young as a worker or a person as much as they think the booking is ridiculous.
The last few months haven’t been kind to TNA, putting it mildly. Mediocre ratings, sales rumors and various departures have given the strong whiff of a sinking ship.
Former TNA wrestler Jesse Neal’s recent admission on Twitter that he makes “way more” money working the night shift at Wal-Mart than he ever did wrestling regularly for America’s No. 2 promotion also raises questions about just how seriously anyone in the industry should take the company.
OK, so TNA was never ever going to usurp WWE's position in the marketplace. But at least before it came off as a (somewhat) respectable No. 2 and a big-league company. That's not the case anymore.
In fairness to the company, they should be praised for giving someone new like Young a chance.
Certainly, Young is a solid wrestler. He has decent mic skills, too. He’s an unlikely champion, sure, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be an awful one.
It’s just too bad the circumstances around his win seem to have already upstaged his reign.