TNA has undergone a lot of changes lately, it seems. Over the past two months, younger talent has started to rise to the forefront, highlighted by AJ Styles winning the World Championship.
The Main Event Mafia has quietly fallen off the landscape. Desmond Wolfe has made an impactful debut in his matches with Kurt Angle.
Whether or not you like him, you have to admit that Vince Russo has been doing a better job of late with the use of the talent on the TNA roster.
Deserving young stars are getting more airtime and being more involved. While I don’t agree with everything he’s done, the product has shown improvement lately.
It’s also worth noting that people within the WWE took notice of the Turning Point PPV event. The notes at PWRShow.com mentioned that those within TNA and WWE were “raving” about it.
One WWE source was quoted as saying “how could the WWE let Desmond Wolfe slip through our hands?” Taz called it “the best PPV event I’ve ever witnessed live.”
The next major change was the signing of Hulk Hogan, which was without a doubt the largest publicity splash for the company to date.
Articles and commentary flew up all over the IWC (Internet Wrestling Community), and media outlets picked up on it immediately. TNA’s name became just that much larger, all in one moment.
Coupling together a worldwide-known name like Hulk Hogan with the improving creative direction being provided seemingly sets the stage for big things from TNA. People in the industry have been taking notice and actually hoping for good things as a result.
A quote from Chris Jericho in an interview at expressnightout.com said that he “hopes (TNA gets) a real big boost from it” and that the competition would help the WWE get better.
But I have to ask: will it be a matter of time before we start to see Hogan's "friends" infiltrating the TNA roster, and perhaps its spotlight?
On Nov. 13, a story was released in the New York Times that stated Hogan’s wish to sign stars like Brian Knobbs, Randy Savage, Rob Van Dam, and Steve Austin to the TNA roster.
From a name recognition standpoint, it’s quite a list. The problem is that aside from one name on that list, there isn’t anyone who is truly a long-term quality talent acquisition for TNA.
Brian Knobbs’ last match within the WWE was a reunion of the “Nasty Boys” tag team for a Smackdown! taping in Tampa.
The match was reported to be “horrendous” and the two of them worked very unprofessionally stiff with their opponents. Knobbs was also never known as a standout singles competitor.
Randy Savage, now 57, had a career within the WWE worthy of Hall of Fame consideration, and many have called for his induction. He even had a short stint within TNA in 2004 and 2005 that ended over a creative disagreement involving the NWA World Title.
But at 57, I don’t suspect “the Mach” is able to put on quality matches any longer, at least not over a long period of time.
The IWC knows Steve Austin’s resume, which needs no introduction. While Austin’s name would bring ratings, injuries during his WWE career have left him unable to physically compete.
He also clearly stated his desire to move on from wrestling at his Hall of Fame induction. Barring a miracle, this signing is just not going to happen.
Rob Van Dam is the one talent that would be a great acquisition on Hogan’s “wish list” because he is still very capable in the ring. RVD has great athleticism that lends itself to TNA’s X-Division style perfectly yet he can also compete with the heavyweights.
He also has a tremendous following of fans that would bring ratings. Signing RVD would be a very smart move for TNA, and is one that fans have clamored to see.
While not a name on Hogan’s wish list, rumors are now circulating on a number of sites that Sid Vicious may be joining the TNA roster.
A posting on his promotion’s website read that Sid “warned the WWE this would happen” and to “stay tuned.” Some have said that Sid’s initial refusal to go to TNA has been swayed by Hogan’s recent signing.
Sid Vicious truthfully never was “the best” in terms of wrestling. He was a power-move type of wrestler with a limited move set. Now 49, chances are good that Sid has lost whatever ability he had and his best days are easily a decade behind him.
With all this talent speculation, it is my opinion that TNA could be reaching “Turning Point 2” if these men are signed.
With Hulk Hogan on the scene now, the possibility certainly exists. If not handled properly, these signings could be a hindrance to TNA’s recent progress.
I am not against the signing of big names to the TNA roster in principle. In limited doses, big names can be helpful in bringing recognition to the product from more casual wrestling fans.
They may not have heard of AJ Styles, but they know Randy Savage, so they tune in and they discover what AJ and others can do.
Admittedly, many of the younger talents still have work to do. They are still green in some respects, but if the recent product is any indication, they are working hard and the product is beginning to show improvement.
Big name signings of guys that have “been there and done that” can help bring the greener young talents along to improve the product as a whole also.
Given the progress TNA has begun to show, they would be wise to pay attention if they were to execute the signings of Hogan’s wish list.
If not kept in check, ego and politics could quickly derail their progressive youth movement and put them in the same situation they were in several months ago, or worse.
Ego can play a large role in how these men are used. Are these guys willing to take a back seat? Will they help put over a younger, lesser known wrestler?
For example, we all know Sid’s past and we know about his ego; will he put it aside to mentor or to put over a guy like Matt Morgan?
Politics also factors into where these guys would end up, if signed. Reminiscing back to the last years of WCW, we can recall a lot of backstage politics that involved some of the very same players that are on the TNA scene now.
How much will “being Hulk’s friend” mean in order to be in the title picture, or a main event picture?
It is appropriate that the most recent pay per view event was called “Turning Point” because I see TNA coming up to another one as we head into the end of 2009.
They are showing progress with their young talent, yet Hulk Hogan will wield some influence and may indeed get his wish list filled by Dixie Carter.
A proper blending of these two sides could yield great results, but it must be done wisely. If not, this wish list could turn into a recipe for disaster within TNA.