Beginning with TNA's Slammiversary pay-per-view, when Tommy Dreamer came out through the crowd during Brother Ray's match with Jesse Neal, Total Nonstop Action has been teasing an Extreme Revolution in Dixie Carter's company.
In the weeks that followed, we've seen Raven, Stevie Richards, and Rhino join Dreamer as the four crashed Impact! after Impact! to rousing "ECW" chants.
With no furthering of this plotline at TNA's July 11th Victory Road pay-per-view, fans were still left wondering not only who would join this burgeoning faction next, but also where exactly this plotline was going.
At the following Impact! on July 15th, fans finally started getting answers, as a massive brawl broke out between TNA wrestlers and ECW. But let's get a few things straight here:
First and foremost, this is NOT an invasion. The ECW wrestlers didn't arrive uninvited, as Dixie Carter herself stated that she "invited" them. What does that mean? We'll most likely find out this Thursday (perhaps).
But beyond the fact that this is not an invasion along those lines, one must also look at who was doing the "invading" to begin with, and how the sides stacked up against one another during the brawl that capped off Impact! last Thursday.
Before this angle began, TNA already had Rob Van Dam, Mick Foley, Team 3D, Al Snow, Raven, Rhino, and Stevie Richards under contract, even if the latter three were (I believe) on pay-per-appearance contracts.
Now, I've read rumors stating that New Jack will be at TNA's upcoming Hard Justice pay-per-view and that Jerry Lynn might also be involved in that event, but am I the only one who thinks this whole angle is a bit strange?
TNA basically added Tommy Dreamer, one guy, to its roster and then decided to take RVD, Foley, Team 3D, a backstage employee, and three guys who until recently couldn't buy their way on to Impact!, and now it's an invasion angle?
My issue isn't so much what's being done right now, as it would be kind of cool to see Sandman, Sabu and a few others again, but more or less with HOW it's being done.
It's almost as if the TNA B-team roster is invading TNA. Why not start with ECW guys who aren't in TNA? Maybe then I'd care a little more when Taz gets the third degree from Mike Tenay about his buddies.
Thus, I think that everyone would agree that this is not a long term solution for TNA.
It's the same issue that the WWE has with its Nexus angle. Sure, as a gang, the Nexus are relatively interesting to watch, but once they're broken down into singles competitions, is anyone going to buy a pay-per-view to see Chris Jericho versus Dave Otunga at this point? Probably not.
So why would TNA think that Raven, Tommy Dreamer, etc. are going to sell pay-per-views? Even if fans got to see New Jack, Sandman etc., are THOSE guys selling ppv's? I sincerely doubt it.
Sure, it's exciting right now because it's a big angle for TNA, and the potential of seeing a new face each week is somewhat enjoyable, but as Eric Bischoff learned way back when WCW was raiding the WWE's talent pool, that type of surprise only lasts so long before even it becomes stale.
Or rather, as Eric Bischoff learned again in TNA with...You get the idea.
So what do we make of this non-ECW (because of copyright restrictions) non-invasion (since Dixie invited what's basically her own roster plus Tommy Dreamer) in the short term, since it's plain to see that in the long run, most fans will likely be turned off by seeing young, quick, exciting wrestlers like Styles, Joe, Beer Money, etc. going up against old, slow, 90's-style, hardcore wrestlers?
In the short term, this angle provides some genuine intrigue and at worst, a brief nostalgia trip to one of the most brutal eras in professional wrestling. It's low risk, and you never know: Maybe a few of these guys who come in can entertain the crowd beyond being a member of this faction.
So there's certainly potential, especially if Paul Heyman (did anyone think we'd go an entire article about ECW without mentioning him?) decides to throw his hat in the ring and lead this group. At that point their legitimacy would go up drastically, and that type of power struggle, whether played out against Hogan/Bischoff or even Dixie herself, would make for months of interesting programming.
Though some might disagree, I personally hope that such an angle would combine with Heyman taking a prominent role backstage as well.
Most of all, I think that this angle has done a good job thus far at marginalizing Hogan and Bischoff in terms of on-air time. This might change as we go forward, but lately it seems as though TNA has finally received the message that fans don't actually want to see these two for 45 minutes a night.
While I might not be inclined to watch old ECW ex-patriots fight TNA six months from now, I see at least a few good reasons to keep this angle going for a while.
A few surprises here and there, some nostalgia, the possible return of Paul Heyman to the wrestling world, and the minimizing of air time for Hogan and Bischoff are all good enough reasons in the short term to make me look past the facts that this isn't really an invasion, it's not really coming from outside of TNA even in a kayfabe sort of way, and it could potentially lead to guys like Balls Mahoney taking screen time away from TNA's younger, faster, more talented core of wrestlers.
We'll see, but for now, in spite of a few flaws and some strange decisions out of the gate, I'm liking this angle, and I hope that TNA can really take this in a good direction. What do you think?