First and foremost, let me say that I enjoy TNA wrestling. From the moment I saw AMW come out with Gail Kim and wrestle a better match than anything I'd seen on WWE in the last few years, I knew that I had a new home for my TV viewing pleasure.
Now obviously, I've been watching for a while. Back then, Jeff Jarrett was an absolute tool; Joe was destroying people; AJ was a kid that could fly high; Abyss was a monster—and everything was right with the world. The show was pretty green—not a ton of pyro or grand montages like the "competition."
But they had something: A nice mix of up-and-coming talent that did things I'd never seen before and a group of solid veterans who made each week just a little more interesting to tune in to than the last.
So understand this—and understand that I'm not some doom-seller or naysayer that believes going up against the all-powerful WWE will mean the end for Dixie's upstart company. In fact, like many others, I believe that a healthy TNA is good for WWE and wrestling fans in general.
With that said, I think that a lot of fans might be left scratching their heads from many of the decisions made by Vince Russo, Bischoff, Hogan, and the still-relatively-new regime down in Orlando.
I'm curious to hear what TNA fans want out of TNA now—because I get the feeling that while the talent is certainly still there, the ideas packaged with a lot of that talent have been nothing short of abysmal for most involved lately.
This might take a while, but I'm going to go from top to bottom and tell you what I'd like to see out of my favorite wrestling company. I'm sure that you'll have your opinions— either about my thoughts or your own ideas to contribute—so feel free to share both!
I'll be honest, and I'm not going to pull any punches—the Abyss character is being destroyed right now. I've read rumors of Hogan and Co. wanting to repackage him—and while I was never a huge fan of "Abyss Foley" or "Dr. Stevie's patient," this new angle with Hogan's Hall of Fame ring is some of the worst mental diarrhea a wrestling booker's pen has put to page that I've seen since the '80s.
Look, Abyss has always been TNA's answer to Kane or The Undertaker. He's the psycho, the guy in the mask, the guy with the flames that shoot up during his ring entrance. He has the Black Hole Slam, the Shock Treatment, etc.
Why has he been turned into a whiny man-child who's so stupid and simple that he needs to derive power from a freakin' ring? He needs to be "The Monster" again. If that means pulling James Mitchell out of mothballs to be his manager, so be it.
Last week, The King of the Mountain, the former leader of Planet Jarrett, was wearing a hairnet and flipping burgers. Again, not pulling punches...but in what version of reality does this appear to be entertaining to people?
Look, I don't know if this is just Dixie's way of humiliating him for sleeping with Kurt Angle's wife—and I really don't care. This whole Bischoff/Jarrett story line is a waste for both of these guys.
Jarrett should be leading his own insurrection to get his company back. He should be the spiked hair, guitar-smashing A-hole that he's been so good at for years. It's a character that's tried and true—and it works for him. Give him a stable of underutilized "TNA guys" like Christopher Daniels and Beer Money.
Because I don't think that Jarrett should be feuding only with Bischoff—but rather all of TNA—I think Foley could definitely be utilized as an antagonist to Bischoff.
I could see this as something in which Foley announces that he did some digging and found out that his shares couldn't actually be liquidated, but he's now a minority shareholder who still has a voice in how things are run.
Bischoff keeps trying to outsmart Foley and get rid of him, but Foley keeps getting the better of Bischoff. This will, of course, culminate in a match in which Foley will beat him senseless—but it will lead to a bigger feud for control of the company. Maybe Foley goes through the roster, interviewing wrestlers to find people to help him take over.
You never know who could be in this faction, but one by one, they're revealed as being Rhino, Kaz, ODB, and Eric Young. I know, it's a bit of strange group, but are any of these wrestlers—individually—doing much of anything these days? No; I think their dance cards are open.
Hernandez and Homicide
Speaking of underutilized talents: Hernandez is one half of the tag team champions with Matt Morgan. I don't know if these two have a name yet, but I'd suggest something along the lines of "The Big Bland Guys" or just "Bland." What, you thought I'd say something like "Morgandez?"
It would appear that TNA simply doesn't know what to do with either of these guys—so sure, why not just throw them together? Well, for starters, Hernandez has a much better, much more complimentary tag partner whom the fans loved when they were together in Homicide.
Obviously Hernandez's push to main event status is on indefinite hold, so why not pair him back with a partner that worked well? Oh, and turn them heel while you're at it.
As for the blueprint or the DNA of TNA or whatever other lame nickname Mike Tenay's attributing to the tall guy with the awesome finishing move, I could see him go in one of two directions.
Either give him a Goldberg-like winning streak, complete with Terminator-style music, or put him with Big Rob Terry, who I honestly can't see getting over on his own or feuding with Brutus Magnus. They make a better "muscle tag team" then Morgandez anyway.
Speaking of the British invasion, it needs to end. Williams, when not doing his evil wrist adjustment signature motion, is a great wrestler with a fantastic finishing move. It's so simple: a combination of rolling the opponent followed by a German into a bridge—yet the motion of all of these together is just poetry.
This guy should absolutely be a fixture in the X Division for years to come. This is the guy that should be feuding with Magnus. Plus, it would be much easier to buy a Magnus/Williams feud than it's been watching Magnus try to berate a guy in Terry who looks like he could swallow Brutus whole.
I get that they're trying to build him up to be this big villain. They put Ric Flair next to him, give him a ho train, and now they're making him act like Flair. I'm sorry; I'm just not buying it.
AJ Styles is married. He plays Call of Duty . He's not some limo-riding, jet-flying...You get the picture. I could have easily seen Morgan in this prima donna role, seeing as how he's always being built up as this prototypical perfect athlete, but it just doesn't work at all with AJ.
The easy solution? Let AJ be AJ. Let him be the high-flying risk-taker that he's been for the last several years. Maybe try to "de-Southernize" his accent a little and give him a more serious and determined edge to him—in other words, no more turkey suits. But AJ as a wrestler and a character to me were just fine before he started wearing a legend's robe and yelling "whoo" all the time.
AJ has legend potential—and you don't get to be a legend by pretending to be another legend.
OK, this guy is just flat-out awesome to watch. His charisma is slowly developing, but he needs a feud—and quickly. It almost seems as though he started hot and now has no angle to work with.
TNA needs to keep adding to his character. Showcase his valet a little more and let her talk a bit. Have them interact with each other. Give him a behind-the-scenes story that's more than just him attacking Angle—which, of course, has been over with for a long time now.
I'll be completely honest about Wolfe. The sky's the limit on what this guy can achieve. He could be the next Bret Hart in terms of technical wrestlers. But he needs some catch phrases, and I'm going to say... a nice, long program with Samoa Joe.
Both guys seem to have a character that can go deep into the psycho well when determined enough. Anyone else curious to see how dark a feud like that could get?
One can only wonder where he was kidnapped and taken to. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that he was repeatedly tortured with reruns of Jersey Shore , only all of J-Woww's scenes were cut out.
In all seriousness, he needs a defined program. He seems to be feuding with AJ and Flair—but if that's the case, then why are Hogan and Abyss wrestling the Champ and the Nature Boy on the big Monday show?
Samoa Joe vs. Desmond Wolfe could be a show-stealer every single time they wrestle. I don't care how or why, but these two need to get into a long=term feud. I'm talking from now until the last pay-per-view of the year.
How about putting them on TV? I get the feeling that Hogan and Bischoff see guys like Generation Me and MCMG as sort of circus acts—you know, they run around a lot, do flips, and fall down. They're a novelty. They're like cruiserweights, right?
No. These guys are flat-out entertainment. They're fast and fun to watch—and they do things in the ring that 10 Hogans couldn't have done back when he was in his prime.
Yes, they're small, but Hogan or whoever is in charge of the booking decisions needs to stop taking the Vince McMahon attitude that if you're not 7 feet tall and built like a tank, you're not worth the push.
Why is it that no one on the booking side of wrestling ever thinks to sell the speed vs. power angle? A team like Generation Me against a powerful team that can wrestle, like Beer Money, would make for a great program. Plus, it would finally get both of these teams on TV—and that's a very good thing in my book.
Yes, I know they're the Motor City Machine Guns, or "The Guns," for short. But MCMG just runs off the tongue better. Please change? Thank you.
Like Generation Me, I think they have fantastic potential. Keep them together, but pair them in a feud that's actually worth something for once.
I honestly think that these guys need the tag team gold for a while. It would legitimize them again as a force in TNA—and it could put them in some very good matches with teams like LAX, Beer Money, or Generation Me. If the latter happens at that point, then we at least know that it's a speed vs. speed match for something that matters—and not just a carnival side show.
Another X Division guy that can flat-out bring it in every match that he wrestles, he seems to be getting shortchanged with the time—again, most likely because he's considered to be a part of the "cruiserweights."
Look, I'm not saying that he has the charisma—because right now he flat-out doesn't— but his talent and skills? He could easily be TNA's answer to Rey Mysterio. The only difference is Red hasn't fallen in to using the same sets of moves over and over yet—and he's big enough to not pretend like he's getting destroyed through three quarters of any given match.
Still, the guy needs a personality transplant. I'd actually like to see him in an angle in which he's just doing all of this for fun, but really he has a ton of money. He's a snotty little rich boy. He then hires Tomko—who hasn't had any angle of substance since Christian left, unless you include the one match he got out of attacking Styles for what felt like six months—to be his body guard.
He then wins the X Division title and basically runs and hides with it—only facing opponents when he absolutely has to, getting Tomko to interfere on his behalf, etc. This could later lead to a Red (whose name I'd absolutely change) and Tomko feud.
Lastly, that hair. Yeah, just shave his head and start over. Seriously, who puts the slits in their hair these days?
Just get rid of them. Case closed.
I'll fully admit this.: These guys have all been my favorite wrestlers since they were Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid, and Big Daddy Cool back in the old, old WWF. They were awesome in the NWO, and I still think that they can bring plenty of entertainment value to TNA.
So I'm still waiting for that moment when Nash turns on Eric Young and rejoins his compatriots on the "outside" of TNA. Maybe then we can have them fully align with Hogan and Bischoff to battle that "TNA only" insurrection faction that I was talking about with Jarrett, Daniels, and Beer Money.
Either way, I still think that there's mileage to get out of all of these guys—and if their names and faces are enough to bring over some disenfranchised WWE fans that are sick of watching Hornswaggle run around and eat paper or hump legs, then I'm all in favor of these guys sticking around for a while.
At least until the next TNA video game comes out, and I can relive my WCW/NWO Revenge hay day.
He walks to the ring, all angry and what not—yet his music is, what, a string quartet? Seems a bit odd. It also seems like he's never actually had an interview in TNA, and he has no angle whatsoever other than being angry and an opportunist.
Given his look, I think that I might pair him in a sort of "freak faction" with Raven and Jesse Neal, because even people with mohawks have to work for a living. They can't all exist in the '80s, kidnapping the president's daughter or starring in the first level of Streets of Rage .
Besides, aren't we a bit overdue for another freak faction? Call it a Raven's Flock Part 2— or Seratonin 2, whatever—but Raven, even if he can't wrestle as much anymore, is still great on the mic and can still do a lot to put over some younger guys like Kendrick and Neal. Maybe bring in a heavyweight from the indy scene to round out the group.
I'll be honest, again: I think that Jay Lethal is fantastic and is also in desperate need of a new gimmick. The Macho Man impression was funny about a year ago, but since then, much has happened. Sanjay Dutt is no longer in TNA. He's not in angle with SoCal Val. Britney seems to be normal again. The term cougar got overused to the point of not being funny anymore.
OK, cougars are still funny.
But yeah, Macho Man gimmick? Not so much. Creed, unfortunately, is also in need of a gimmick transplant. No one names their kid Consequences—and neither did Austin Watson's mom. Plus, Austin Watson is about a thousand times better than Consequences Creed as far as names go.
I'd rather see Austin Watson wrestle than a guy that looks like a bad Rocky reference. So yeah, if Watson wants to be a boxer, then make him a hard-core, hoodie-over-the- face-wearing bad ass of a boxer. Obviously, he wouldn't fight with gloves on or anything, but he'd have much more of a hard edge to him.
As for Lethal, I think that he can get by on his own talent and skill. Maybe he goes in to that faction that I was talking about with Jarrett—or maybe he goes the route of MCMG or Generation Me and finds a tag team partner that's quick enough to keep up with him.
Whatever he does, I just don't think that Lethal Consequences works anymore—but I could still see a bright future ahead for him, especially with the X Division strap around his waist.
I haven't mentioned any women yet, because I honestly think that they do a fantastic job. With the exception of Lacey Von Erich, I think that the women's division in TNA is outstanding.
The only problem? Well, see my other article...
Where have all of the ladies gone in TNA? No more Gail Kim, no more Kong, no more Salinas, no more Flash or Raisha, no more Kristal, no Roxxi, no Rhaka Kahn, no Sharmelle, no Sojourner Bolt, no Peyton Banks, no Leticia, no Jackie...
I haven't seen Taylor Wilde or Sarita in what feels like forever, so we're basically left with Angelina, Velvet, Tara, Madison, Lacey, ODB, and Daffney. That's it. A champion and tag titles and about seven women to battle for them each week. The solution is rather simple. Add some more talent, please!
I'm assuming that once Angelina vs. the Beautiful People runs its course, she'll turn on Tara and become champ again—which is fine. Angelina is a fantastic heel character, and she does an excellent job with it. But TNA really needs to find more quality female wrestlers than just the names mentioned above.
I love that Daffney is getting a push that she absolutely deserves, but the pickings in TNA right now are very slim in terms of who she can face if she becomes champ. My guess? Tara. That's about it.
I honestly don't know how much this guy has left in the tank, but he keeps putting on five-star matches like it's nothing. His feud with Ken Anderson is a bit unnecessary for both, though, as Kurt is a better heel than babyface and Anderson would be much better off feuding with a guy whom he could really pick on.
Angle seems to be doing a lot of putting over in terms of new talent like Wolfe and the aforementioned Anderson. Maybe he gets in to the title picture again? If not, I could see a great program in which he's the bad guy going against the Pope.
Is it just me, or does this guy need to get a bit more over before he starts headlining pay-per-views for the world title? He's great; don't get me wrong. I think his finishing move is one of the worst I've seen in wrestling since "The Bushwacker Battering Ram of Bald Butch-osity," but beyond that, he's got solid mic skills and some quality catch phrases already—and he wrestles a good, solid match.
But if you're really trying to get him over with people beyond the Impact Zone, wrestling another guy that apparently needs Flair to get over in Styles isn't going to get the job done.
And I'm just about done. I think that a lot of TNA's issues right now aren't so much with gimmicks—although Abyss, Lethal Consequences (individually), and Jarrett still stand out as some of the worst ideas on the show.
I think that TNA mainly just needs to be itself right now. Take what works and capitalize on it. Angle's a good babyface, but he's a great heel. Raven is a freaky lookin' dude who's always good at bringing lower-card freak wrestlers together and making them a little more relevant.
Also, let what's worked for the characters in the past keep working. Abyss doesn't need a magic red and yellow decoder ring. He's Abyss! Give him his old old costume back and a bag of tacks and let him go crazy.
I get that there has to be progress, but allowing all of these wrestlers to play to their strengths will only help this product as they go up against WWE. The best way to show the viewers out there that there's an alternative to Monday Night Swaggle is to have the best wrestlers out there at their best—looking cool, talking the talk, and wrestling great matches.
No one watching Raw (or Swaggle) on Monday, March 8, is going to start flipping channels, come across Spike TV, see a big dude in a mask going all Gollum over a ring and say to themselves "Oh! So this is TNA, awesome!" And then put the remote down and become hooked.
So that's where I'd take TNA. How about you? What do you think TNA needs to do to be even better going forward? In other words: What's your TNA?
Oh, one last thought: Bring back Petey Williams! That guy and his Canadian Destroyer could revitalize the X Division almost single-handedly!