TNA's Immortal: How Looking to the Past Might Save This Group's Future
If there's one thing that TNA fans know, it's that Total Nonstop Action loves looking to the past for inspiration. Their current title holder, Sting, is probably about ten years past his prime, even if he's still capable of putting on a decent enough match.
Meanwhile, Sting's greatest foe is none other than his biggest rival from the now decade-defunct WCW, Hulk Hogan. The more things change...
Of course, this time around, Sting is not combating Hollywood and a massive group of ex-WWE talent called the New World Order. Instead, he's battling Hogan, Eric Bischoff and, well, a sort of nebulous blob known as "Immortal."
This faction is honestly one of the most nonsensical grouping of talent that I've ever seen before in wrestling. It makes the Corporate Ministry of the Attitude Era, which saw vampires and dead men rubbing shoulders with suits, seem like a perfect mixture of peanut butter and jelly.
As currently structured, Immortal consists of Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Abyss, Jeff Jarrett (and Karen Jarrett), Jeff and Matt Hardy (though Jeff's presence in the group is now debatable), Rob Terry, Gunner and Murphy.
Given the amazing depth of talent that TNA has, can anyone honestly come up with a good reason why this oddball grouping should be seen as the dominant force in this company?
Do you think that Immortal, as currently comprised, is a viable wrestling stable?
Jeff Jarrett has been in a feud with Kurt Angle for the better part of a century now and while it seems to be coming to a head at Lockdown, who's to say this won't drag out until Bound For Glory? While that, in and of itself is slightly troubling, given how skeevy and off-putting this whole angle can be at times, the real issue is that it has absolutely nothing to do with Immortal at all.
In other words, Double J being in Immortal serves no one. It doesn't help him with his feud and him being in the group currently does nothing more than provide an extra body in the ring for when Bischoff is being slimy toward the crowd.
Abyss never got over with this angle, mainly because the whole "Abyssamania" gimmick and the dreaded "one ring" most likely soured fans to any type of connection he'd have with Hogan. At this point, he'd probably be better going off on his own. I would've loved to have seen him in a dark powerhouse style tag team with Rhino (managed by Daffney) but alas, neither of them are still employed by TNA.
This brings me to the three stooges: Gunner, Murphy and Rob Terry. Now, I actually like Gunner. He's got a great wrestling look and with a singles push, I think that he could really go places. Murphy's a bit more standard fair, while Rob Terry has been pushed several times to no avail.
The point remains though that none of these three guys belong in a dominant heel faction. The fact that Gunner and Murphy had to be used as a legit foe for Beer Money was a flat out joke.
So how does TNA reform this stable and make it a viable threat going forward? To me, it again revolves around the idea of looking to the past.
Hogan and Bischoff came in under the cover that they were trying to help the company succeed and get to the next level, only to take it over for themselves. It's essentially an invasion angle. A tried and true formula that Eric Bischoff used back in the WCW/NWO days.
Why not take this approach again? The NWO started off with a fairly large amount of main event talent that had come down to Ted Turner's company from up north. Currently, TNA has several former WWE talents on their roster, many of which have made the transition fairly recently:
Matt Morgan: Toiling away in what appears to be a stop gap feud with Hernandez, who seems to be getting his own faction, Morgan is main-event-talent that's wasting away in a mid-card battle that will ultimately get neither star any momentum.
The Pope: This guy was rising like a phoenix, only to have TNA creative turn him heel to feud with Samoa Joe. I don't mind the heel turn, but simply exposing him as a fraud now makes his gimmick more of a joke than anything else. He's a heel with no real heat, and the Impact zone crowd almost seems indifferent to him now.
Bully Ray: I don't know how much control Ray has over his character, but TNA seems to be moving him into Immortal already and it makes perfect sense. He's great at drawing heat, he's great on the mic and pulling him into a group with Hogan and Bischoff would only benefit both sides if done correctly.
Scott Steiner: Let's face it, as a good guy, Steiner is okay, but when he's a heel, he's much more in his element. Plus, he's great in a faction. He's proven that throughout the years. If he stays in TNA (not sure why he wouldn't) then both he and TNA would be better served if he were with a group, as he doesn't have nearly as much pop by himself. Plus his mini-feud with Rob Terry was abysmal, even if it was through no real fault of his own.
Brian Kendrick An odd choice? Perhaps, but TNA has been failing with Kendrick since the moment he stepped foot in a TNA ring. He's highly talented, but his strange stoner/guru gimmick (I can't even describe it) is just about as far from being over as I've seen. Let Hulk put a suit on th guy, have TNA turn him in to the corrupted, arrogant "pretty boy" type of champion and let him loose on the X Division.
Winter and Tara: Why? Because Immortal should want all the belts, and both of these ladies wrestled in the WWE, plus they've had semi-similar gimmicks in the past in being slightly dark, slightly disturbed women. A feud between these ladies and The Beautiful People could really raise the profile of the KO Tag Division, even if that's not exactly asking the impossible these days.
Kurt Angle: Last, but certainly not least, the Olympic gold medalist himself. The big swerve. Hogan gets his champion. Having Kurt Angle in this group could springboard this group into full fledged "Pro WWE/Anti TNA" faction. Even though Kurt is loved by the fans for his hard work, his crazy spots and his top notch ability to entertain, I'd almost rather see a more subdued Kurt Angle that only wrestles when he has to, doesn't take as many risks, and holds the title for over a year, rather than the guy that's trying to get rid of the bad guys.
Add Matt and Jeff Hardy to this group and THIS is a dominant, invading heel faction full of legit talent, capable of holding every belt. Plus it has a solid amount of talent with upward mobility. This is a group that could "destroy TNA" if left unchecked.
Some of you might be thinking that this group would be too big. To me, ten wrestlers plus Hogan and Bischoff is the perfect number. It's a big group, but not too big. Plus, every member of the group is well utilized and in it for a reason.
This is a real, legit faction that runs the company and as such, it should be big and imposing. It should have established names that all have a uniting theme to them, not just some hodge-podge collection of random talent that's thrown together for no good reason.
The real payoff comes from the fact that the more legit this group looks, the more legit their competition looks in going up against them. Beer Money looks better by going up against Immortal's tag team: The Hardys.
Other TNA original stars, the ones that TNA creative have never been able to get fully over beyond the hardcore fanbase would be better served going against this legit group. AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels (if he actually returns as himself), Motor City Machine Guns, Desmond Wolfe (if he ever returns at all), Kazarian, Angelina and Velvet, Generation Me, Jay Lethal, Sarita, Hernandez, the list goes on and on. All of these great TNA talents could have built in feuds with Immortal, adding heat to matches up and down the card.
Of course, not EVERY feud needs to be about Immortal, nor should they be. It doesn't all have to be about TNA originals versus the invading Immortal faction. Not by a long shot. But since TNA seems hell-bent on having an overarching feud or a dominant faction ala The Main Event Mafia or Immortal, I simply believe that they should do it well or don't do it at all.
At least in my version, theoretically, everyone benefits.
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