A week ago on the live edition of TNA Impact we were introduced to professional wrestling's newest faction consisting of Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, Booker T, and "The Icon" Sting. This faction, which features some of the biggest names in the wrestling business today, is known as The Main Event Mafia (MEM).
The members of the MEM are well recognized by new and old wrestling fans. They were a major part of professional wrestling at its highest peak during the Attitude Era. These wrestling stars still continue to get the biggest crowd reactions of the show whether they are being cheered as faces or booed as heels, and they know exactly how to get the audience to react to them.
It's being reported that the reason this faction has been created was to put over some of the homegrown talent TNA has and take them to the next level, mainly A.J Styles and Samoa Joe.
According to reports, A.J and Joe, along with other wrestlers, will battle the MEM. They will try to gain the spotlight which currently lies on top of the veterans. TNA management is doing this to make these younger wrestlers (TNA Originals) household names.
The goal in mind is to make them wrestling superstars. This is necessary. Creating new stars is crucially important for the wrestling business to continue.
In order for TNA to be able to put these younger wrestlers over they need to somehow find a way to make the audience support them. They need to get the fans behind them which is not always as easy as it sounds.
Professional wrestling fans have become tougher and tougher as the years go by. During the early years of wrestling there were clear faces and heels. If a wrestler was meant to be a face the fans would cheer and if they were meant to be a heel they would get booed.
That changed during the Attitude Era. Fans started to decide on their own who they liked to cheer and who they liked to boo. This affected many superstars of that era including Bret Hart, The Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
A character like Austin would've gotten booed during the era of Hulkamania because he would have been seen as a "bad guy," but being a bad guy and a rebel is what made him the most liked character of the Attitude Era. He was the most popular superstar of the late '90s and early 2000s. Being a badass and breaking rules was seen as cool for the first time in pro wrestling.
Even though this might have been confusing for those in the wrestling business, at that time one thing was made very clear. Fans cheered the characters they could relate to. They cheered the characters they wanted to be like. The ones they admired.
Right now you have the MEM, which TNA wants to portray as heels. They're portrayed as the bad guys, so TNA's idea is for fans to go against them. But there seems to be one problem. They dress good, look good, talk good, have attitude, and have a good faction name.
Now, what wrestling fan doesn’t want to be part of that? In this day and age being part of a mafia is seen as something cool. After the influences from movies such as The Godfather, Scarface, and GoodFellas being part of a mafia or a mob is seen as nothing less than awesome. As sad as it sounds, it’s the truth. Mainstream wrestling fans will more than likely get behind the MEM.
TNA Originals will need to step it up. In order to gain the approval of the fans they are going to need more than the “I’ve been here since day one” gimmick. Unfortunately, that won’t be good enough.
They need to come across as something that wrestling fans admire. Something they want to be like. Something they won’t feel embarrassed cheering for. They have to be able to connect with the fans. Having all the in-ring wrestling talent just won't cut it. They need to be featured in a “pop culture cool” kind of way.
Most of these wrestlers already have the right look, but it will be their onscreen personas that will either get them over with the fans or get them buried in this angle.
TNA needs to be careful in how the book both sides of this angle. They will need to continue booking the MEM as strong as they are featured now so they can hold onto their credibility.
And also, they need to book the TNA Originals as something that fans will cheer for and get behind, ultimately coming out on top. If executed correctly this will be the angle to truly take TNA Wrestling to the next level.