Welcome to the return of Tuesdays at TNA, where we discuss the hottest topics in Dixieland (or Bischoff land or Hogan-land or whatever its called nowadays). I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas holiday and for those who are still digging themselves out of the snow, here's to some rapidly warming weather as we approach the new year.
Speaking of the new year, we're going to take a moment to discuss what I believe will happen in 2011. As we leave 2010 behind, TNA has had its share of ups (MCMG's finally winning the tag team championships) and downs (the Monday night debacle). That being said, TNA is looking up as we head into the new year, and we're going to look into some of the things we predict will happen in the next 12 months. If you like it, don't like it, or have a prediction of your own, feel free to have at it.
So without further ado, let's take a look at what we predict will happen to TNA:
10. Desmond Wolfe will become a TNA champion - Going into last year, a lot of people were hyped when the former Ring of Honor champion was immediately thrust into a feud with Kurt Angle upon his arrival in TNA. Although he came out on the short end of the feud, he showed that with his technical skills he can be a main event player. Since then, he has been floundering in mid-card feuds with Abyss and the Pope, coming out on the losing end and giving some people doubt as to whether or not he would get out of the TNA doghouse. In September, he and fellow Brit, Brutus Magnus, became a team known as "London Brawling" and looked to challenge the Motor City Machine Guns for the tag team gold when Wolfe had to be taken off TV due to undisclosed medical issues.
Now that he has been cleared for action, I think TNA will finally realize the talent they have in Wolfe and he will be able to capitalize on it in 2011. Not only will London Brawling finally win the TNA tag team titles, but I think that within 12 months he will have set himself up for individual success due to his great technical ability and mic skills.
9. Jeff Jarrett will fade into the sunset as a performer - JJ has been the face of TNA for years since he first started the promotion in the beginning of the decade. He has seen it go from weekly PPVs to Fox Sports Net on Fridays to prime-time spot on Spike TV. As a multi-time World Champion, he has sometimes been the ire of the Internet Wrestling Community for the perception that he hogs the spotlight. Although he has stayed in the background for the past couple of years, towards the end of 2010 he has re-invented himself after joining Immortal and doing an apparent MMA-submission gimmick.
I truly believe this will be his last major feud, as a returning Kurt Angle (more on him later) will find some loophole out of his "retirement" to finish what they started. JJ has put an emphasis on making sure the younger stars get their chance to mix it up with the veterans, and I think he will wind up in either more of a behind the scenes type of leader or as an eventual manager for an up-and-coming team in the next 12 months.
8. Awesome Kong will return to TNA - Call this a hunch, but I believe that with the Knockouts division beginning to regain some momentum (just look at the recent Mickie James-Tara match that headlined Impact) 2011 will be a great time to bring back the Awesome one to really take this division by storm once again. This is one of TNA's stronger divisions and with no Bubba the Love Sponge around to make stupid statements, I do think this reunion is possible. Now if only they could get Gail Kim back into the mix, but I don't see that happening.....
7. Someone will make the jump from ROH to TNA - Every year we see someone jump from the nation's biggest independent promotion to go to the "big two" of WWE or TNA (or in the minds of some people the big one and the little one in Orlando, but I digress). Often we see someone, such as the former Nigel McGuiness, go to TNA, or in last year's case, the Young Bucks (Generation Me), and wind up given the chance to showcase their talents.
My prediction for 2011 is that we will see yet another tag team go to TNA to make their mark, and I predict that it will be The Briscoes. Since Team 3D may (finally!) end their long storied careers as tag team specialists, it makes sense for a new era of teams to challenge their championship ranks. Also, imagine the following 4-way feud in 2011: Motor City Machine Guns vs. Beer Money vs. London Brawling vs. The Briscoes. You may all begin to salivate now.
6. The Pope will become a top tier heel in TNA - D'Angelo Dinero made the jump from WWE cast off to a major player in TNA in 2010, winning the Against All Odds tournament and getting a PPV World Title shot. Although he didn't win, his mic skills kept him at the top of the Immortal storyline and I believe that will continue in 2011.
However, that won't be all for the street preacher from Harlem. He is going to turn after the end of the Immortal storyline and become one of TNA's top heels within 12 months, having a major run with the TV title and eventually challenging once again for the top gold in the promotion.
5. Shelton Benjamin will make a run in TNA's X-Division - I'm going out on a limb here, considering it has been rumored that Shelton doesn't want to burn bridges with the WWE in the event of a return, but stranger things have happened (and in the world of wrestling they usually do). Although he has shown off his amazing skills down in Puerto Rico with another former WWE cast-off in Carlito Colon (who might go to TNA as well) I think he would be itching for a chance to finally let the world know what he is capable of doing.
One thing that held him back is his lack of mic skills, which isn't needed in TNA as much as it is in the WWE. He will come to TNA and instantly dominate the X-Division (cue the WWE cast-offs always winning in TNA comments), which is exactly what that division sorely needs right now. A feud between him, Jay Lethal and Kazarian would be gold!
4. TNA will reduce the number of PPVs to four - Buy rates have been down tremendously across the board. They have stopped going outside of Orlando for PPVs in a cost cutting measure. Also, in a recession that forces people to spend their discretionary income on WWE and UFC events, TNA easily gets lost in the mix and will need to do something quickly.
Reducing the number of PPVs will greatly help TNA in numerous ways. First, it is rumored that they will keep certain ones such as Genesis, Lockdown, Slammiversary, and Bound for Glory, so hopefully they can do that. It will enable them to actually take these events to other places in order to increase brand awareness. Also, they can create more marketing by re-creating the old "Clash of the Champions" events that the NWA used to do back in the day, always exciting events.
What TNA needs to realize that it is quality, not quantity that will raise their profile going forward.
3. AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy will be the feud of the year and the turning point for TNA - As soon as the Immortal-Fortune alliance was formed, people immediately realized that the only way for this super group to end was for their best wrestlers (Hardy and Styles) to eventually go at it.
The seeds have been planted for an AJ Styles face turn, and I believe it will culminate in a summer-long feud that will finally end at Bound for Glory. This will lead to the final prediction later in the column, and make Styles the company's top man once again. Of course this prediction will also have a lot to edit, should the charges that Hardy faces end up in jail time.
2. Kurt Angle will leave TNA - I don't think it's coincidence that Angle has been "retired" from TNA for the past month or so. He has done all that he can to help TNA while revitalizing his own personal career and that he wants one last run at the WWE before calling it a day.
I think he will go out in style, finishing off his feud with Jeff Jarrett and helping to create the number one prediction and leaving his mark as one of the greatest wrestlers who ever graced the Impact Zone. It will hurt to see him leave, but I do think that he has established a mark which few wrestlers have yet to reach in TNA.
1. The Immortal regime will come to an end in TNA - The Immortal storyline has done a great job of re-establishing the old school dominant heel stable in TNA, but the end is near, and will come to a head in 2011. I believe the principle players in this will be AJ Styles, Kurt Angle, Matt Morgan, Mr. Anderson, the Pope, the Motor City Machine Guns, and a recently re-signed Samoa Joe. I believe this will happen after Lockdown. The development will be slow, but the payoff will be grand.
Also, I think this will lead to the end of Hulk Hogan's presence in TNA. His back problems and recent marriage will have a lot to do with what happens with this decision, and I believe he will slowly back away from wrestling. As for Bischoff, he will remain because it will allow him to do what he does best: antagonize the faces like none other. Fourtune will become the dominant heel stable, but the "old guard" as we know it will cease to exist in TNA.