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TNA's 'Final Deletion' Series a Blueprint for a New Era of Storytelling in WWE

Alfred Konuwa@@ThisIsNastyFeatured ColumnistOctober 28, 2016

Credit: TNAWrestling.com

In an era of pro wrestling that often blends reality with fictional storylines, the element of the freakshow has become an uninvited—and, at times, refreshing—guest.

TNA Bound for Glory, which may or may not represent the promotion's last stand on pay-per-view as lawsuits continue to pile up, per Mike Johnson of PWInsider, was highlighted by "The Great War." This supernatural, pro wrestling thriller featured Matt and Jeff Hardy as they battled fellow freaks The Decay.

The superpowers, cheesy special effects, witchcraft and shape-shifting made for all the ingredients of a failed Dungeon of Doom storyline. But with a little self-awareness and commitment to the absurd, this was a crowd-pleasing, guilty pleasure.

TNA's venture into this dark brand of creepy backyard wrestling has set the tone for what the future of pro wrestling can be.  

Amid all the negative headlines surrounding TNA, one thing the promotion is finally excelling in is becoming a true alternative to WWE.  By offering bold, alternative storylines like "Final Deletion"—which drew TNA's highest Tuesday audience since March, per James Caldwell of PWTorch—TNA is following in the footsteps of its critically acclaimed 2008 storyline from TNA Lockdown. That build culminated in a unique matchup between Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle that incorporated aspects of mixed martial arts.

Since then, TNA has spent far too much time attempting to replicate WWE by signing several of the promotion's castoffs and trying to mirror the success they once had with the top wrestling company. But in 2016, the rise of former WWE Superstar Matt Hardy in TNA has been more of a rebirth than a ripoff.

Hardy completely retooled his character from the ground up and eventually created an alternate universe of anti-wrestling. The risk has become so successful it has basically spawned an entire division of supernatural wrestlers—which now includes The Decay—who embrace never-before-seen concepts of hardcore wrestling, campy D-list theatrics and athleticism.

With talk of an entire "Total Nonstop Deletion" Impact special, per Johnson of PWInsider, TNA is all-in on supernatural storytelling, and WWE is certainly paying attention.

WWE's Potential Freakshow Roster
WWE Superstar(s)BrandFreaky Score (1 - 10)
Bray WyattSmackDown10—Rocking chair, a compound and a feud with The Undertaker, he's the leader of the freakshow generation.
SanityNXT10—They're basically NXT's version of The Decay.
The AscensionSmackDown10—Their gimmick is based on The Illuminati, enough said.
Baron CorbinSmackDown6—He exists just fine in the WWE Universe, but his dark, lone wolf gimmick lends itself to a lot of creativity.
Braun StrowmanRaw7—Former Wyatt Family member.
Luke HarperSmackDown9—Current Wyatt Family member.
Erick RowanSmackDown9—Aligned with Bray Wyatt before recent injury.
KaneSmackDown10—Hellfire and brimstone.
WWE.com

Despite having no threats in the pro wrestling industry, WWE seems more intent on world domination than ever before. WWE has signed several high-profile stars on the independent and international scene, from AJ Styles to Kevin Owens to Finn Balor. All three of these veterans have been, or currently are, a world champion. In addition to these signings, WWE has willingly acknowledged accomplishments of these individuals outside of the WWE bubble. WWE has its finger on the pulse of the entire industry now more than ever, so it was only a matter of time before the promotion tried to recreate "Final Deletion" on Raw.

WWE did its best to mimic the raw production value and backyard brawling of "Final Deletion" as The New Day battled The Wyatts at their compound just days after the success of "Final Deletion." The segment was met with scathing reviews and criticism.

Jason Powell of Prowrestling.net said "JBL actually said he’d never seen anything like it. Apparently, he didn’t watch Impact last week. It was far from identical, but it was surely inspired by what Broken Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy have been doing."

Jon Mezzera of PWTorch noted he "absolutely hated" this segment, calling it "cheesy" and "unbelievable." Mezzera went on to ask unnecessary questions about the segment, like "why were there several camera operators on the Wyatt Family compound to film this?"

The fact that anybody would ask such a question demonstrates that people weren't willing to suspend their disbelief for a Wyatt-New Day brawl the way they do for the Hardys vs. The Decay. At one point in "The Great War," Matt Hardy shot fire from his hands. And people are asking about cameras?"

That's because The New Day—a fun-loving trio who champions a message of positivity—is relatable to everyday people. Broken Matt Hardy, Obsolete Jeff Hardy and The Decays are not.

WWE is making the same mistake with the current Randy Orton-Bray Wyatt feud. Here's what happens when one asks Twitter about this feud:

Zachary @zathomas1930

The problem with Bray Wyatt vs Randy Orton is that there isn't a clear goal. What are they trying to do? #SDLive

Onset @KokasgeThekage

@dwellstherock There was some things that bored me when I watched Smackdown like the main event Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt.. also the damn

Manny Sousa @manuelsj

I think this Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt feud could be… aaaaand I got bored in the middle of that sentence.

Orton may not be the most relatable person in the world, but he represents the prototypical pro wrestler, from his chiseled look to his classic gear. As a result, he is a fish out of water in Wyatt's world. His presence prohibits this feud becoming the over-the-top spectacle it should be. With Orton comes questions that demand the same type of logic and reason that falls by the wayside at the Hardy compound.

If WWE wants to capitalize on the zany fun of an alternate universe, it needs to overcommit. Every character should be demonic and unfit for normal society. Wyatt's compound shouldn't be a destination, it should be a mandatory prison for acts like The Ascension, Kane—who recently entered the feud—and Sanity, whose current development in NXT is further proof that WWE indeed sees the value of freakshows in the future.

                       

Alfred Konuwa is a Featured Columnist and on-air host for Bleacher Report and Forbes. Like him on Facebook.

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