TNA upped its game to a whole new level last night, in one of the best Impact episodes of all time.
The big news out of last night was undoubtedly, the crowning of a new World Champion.
Rob Van Dam defeated Jeff Hardy in a No. 1 contender match set up by Hulk Hogan at the beginning of the night. Not too long after that, against AJ Styles in his fourth match in 48 hours, Van Dam ended Styles’ reign as the longest reigning TNA World Champion, in style.
Is RVD’s first TNA title win a good thing for TNA?
Well, let’s start with the positives.
RVD Is a Star
Rob Van Dam is recognisable, marketable wrestling star. He’s been a fan favourite in both WWE and ECW, and both companies pushed him right to the top.
Casual fans will take to Van Dam, they always have. Even when RVD was just a midcarder in WWE, he would always get one of the biggest crowd pops of the night. Lots of ECW Champions have made the move to WWE and not become a real superstar. Van Dam isn’t one of them.
TNA is trying to gain a footing on Monday nights, and they seem to be aiming for the 18-and-older demographic, which is important for the Spike network.
Van Dam will have a better chance of appealing to those fans as champion, having been around longer. Of course, quality of programming will ultimately determine if he can compel those fans to “cross the line,” as it were, but if yesterday’s show is an indication of TNA’s direction, his chances have improved.
RVD Equals Exciting Matchups
If you watched Impact last night, it would have reminded you that Rob Van Dam wrestles a style that isn’t found elsewhere in the wrestling spectrum. He’s a unique high flyer and brings a whole different energy to his matches.
Van Dam’s already wrestled Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles in TNA and both matches were highly entertaining, in spite of time constraints.
Imagine if RVD was allowed to main event PPVs without time limitations?
Styles and Hardy are just two names. The list of TNA wrestlers with whom Rob Van Dam can put on high class title matches include Samoa Joe, the Pope, Desmond Wolfe, Mr. Anderson, not to mention Kurt Angle.
Unlike AJ, who had already wrestled half the people on that list more than once, RVD comes into his title reign with a lot more possibilities in terms of match ups.
Is Rob Van Dam a Reliable Champion?
RVD’s been a World Champion before. Back in July 2006, Van Dam became both WWE and ECW champion, beating John Cena at ECW One Night Stand.
And he messed it up.
Just a month later Van Dam was arrested for drug possession, and the WWE responded by suspending him and stripping him of both titles.
Van Dam did not get another chance to hold a World Title, until now. Has TNA taken too big a risk?
From my point of view, it’s a risk worth taking. TNA doesn't usually come under pressure to suspend wrestlers for offences committed outside the ring. If they do face pressure, they certainly aren't acting on it.
Last year, when Kurt Angle was the World Champion he was accused of stalking an ex-girlfriend, also a fellow TNA employee. TNA stuck by Angle the entire time, and he overcame the charges. The title was only lost much later, in unrelated circumstances.
Even right now, Jeff Hardy is awaiting trial in court for drug trafficking charges. It hasn’t stopped TNA from using him on TV, though that may have played into TNA making RVD, and not Hardy, their World Champion.
Van Dam Just Got Here, and he’s Already Beaten AJ
RVD has been in TNA Wrestling for less than two months. TNA has been accused before of focusing more on ex-WWE and WCW stars rather their own homemade stars, which includes AJ Styles.
By allowing Van Dam to take the title away from AJ, has TNA hurt AJ’s credibility?
I don’t think so.
AJ lost last night, but his performance didn't resemble that of a loser’s performance. Furthermore, AJ has had a very long reign as champion, not to mention the Phenomenal One has Ric Flair by his side.
He’s improved as a heel, and there is no reason why he shouldn't be able to keep his place as a legitimate main eventer in TNA, as long as he doesn't disappear completely following this loss. AJ Styles solidified his main event status a long time ago when he beat Sting and Kurt Angle back-to-back, and one loss to Rob Van Dam isn’t going to change that.
There are a few more micro-details left to analyze whether Rob Van Dam being TNA World Champion is a good thing. Microphone skills, age, how he compares to up-and-coming TNA stars and so on, all come into play. However, I don’t want to go over every gritty detail, not so soon into his reign.
Tell me, and everyone else reading what you think. Were you happy to see Rob Van Dam become champion? Did you want AJ Styles’ reign to last longer? Is it too soon to give it to RVD? Let us all know in the comments section. Thanks for reading.
Image Credit: Bill Otten and TNAWrestling.com