I had the opportunity to watch TNA’s “iMPACT!” program this evening from start to finish. While I was entertained, earlier reading here at B/R was rolling around in the back of my mind during the show.
Two other men earlier authored pieces that specifically pointed out a recent rumor that Booker T may go back to the WWE when his TNA contract expires in November. One article went on to elaborate about the possibility that Scott Steiner will also step away at the end of his contract. I won’t rehash their work as it stands for itself.
What if these rumors come true? Does this open one more opportunity for Dixie Carter’s “youth movement” to progress?
Before I play "what if..?", let me note that in their primes, Booker T and Scott Steiner were very good in the ring and on the mic and this is not intended to be critical of either man. When they were added to the TNA roster, they were assets both from a name recognition standpoint and for their skills. Since then, age and injury have taken their toll and their physical skills have diminished. They are not what they once were.
At this point, all the IWC can do is wait for the future of these men to be confirmed by their decisions and actions. Even still, I couldn’t help but ask myself the question “what if…?” while watching iMPACT! tonight. What opportunities could come forth if these rumors hold true? Enter the opening of this evening’s program.
Eric Young has become the figurehead and mouthpiece of the “World Elite” faction. For those not familiar, The World Elite is composed of primarily up and coming young wrestlers of TNA, all with some sort of international background. Eric stated tonight that The World Elite has become the dominant faction in TNA, and not the Main Event Mafia.
He may be right. If not, he could be very soon. This is where I began to play "what if" in my mind. First, just a few tidbits on the whole of the Mafia storyline.
It has been approximately one year since the Main Event Mafia was formed. Many will agree that the storyline of the Mafia has played on for too long now. The “Frontline” faction, a group of young superstars with the guidance of Team 3D and Rhyno has fallen from the landscape already and those stars have all moved on to other feuds.
The initial cause that brought them together – seeking respect from young talent – appears to have faded, yet the Mafia hangs on. With the possibility that two Mafia members could soon leave the TNA organization, it opens up the opportunity for more young talent to rise in the organization.
One specific case in point regarding individual talent that immediately leaps off the page to me involves the Motor City Machine Guns. Suppose for a moment that at Bound for Glory, or at an iMPACT! taping, the rumors start to become reality. Booker and Steiner drop the tag belts and later decide to step away from TNA. A prime opportunity has just arisen to elevate the MCMG back into the picture.
Shelley and Sabin are a young, athletic team that has only held gold one time outside of the independent circuit – the IWGP Junior Tag Titles. Lately, it seems they have been reduced to some minor TV spots with very little wrestling action. This team deserves to be wrestling on TV more often rather than doing their odd spots for video games and music videos. With their charisma and mic skill as well as their athletic talent in the ring, it would be a plus for TNA to bring them back into their tag team picture more regularly.
Another obvious point that comes to mind is the continuing decline of TV time for the "old men" of TNA, putting the spotlight back on their own talent. Recent iMPACT! shows have been improving in this department. Some of this is attributed to a change in booking and direction off-screen and the removal of Jeff Jarrett as a key player in the process.
Please don't misunderstand my point with this though. I think bringing people in like Kurt Angle, Scott Steiner, and Booker T served a purpose and will for as long as those guys are able or choose to perform with TNA. It brought names onto the roster that were more easily recognizable to the casual fan and drew some of them in to watch the product. But as far as the Mafia storyline is concerned, it took too much attention off of their own talent and put it squarely on aging stars instead.
One other point came to mind also. When you think about it, what drew a lot of people to TNA at first was its X-Division. The division was loaded with young, high-flying athletic guys that carried decent matches. It wasn't all about the prototypical 250 pound bodybuilder look-alike anymore. It was different because it was a fast-paced, high flying group that the WWE had gotten away from (in fact they vacated their Cruiserweight title in 2007 and it hasn't been seen since).
Many of those men are still around, but the division has been deemphasized during 2007 and throughout much of 2009 in favor of the Mafia storyline. If indeed the Mafia is phased out by these possible departures, then an emphasis on that division and its talent can return.
I've had a little fun playing the "what if...?" game with these rumors, so take this as the opinion it is intended to be. That said, if rumors surrounding these two men become reality, it could lead to some great possibilities to let some of TNA's own talent base shine forth more regularly. It will all depend on how well TNA handles the booking aspect, as well as any other future talent acquisitions.
As always, the B/R community’s thoughts, opinions, and feedback are always welcome.