In this edition, I wish to put forward my views on the current direction of TNA Wrestling.
I have so much to say about this, and a lot of it is negative unfortunately. It appears that TNA has regressed to a state of no direction, bad face/heel turns, and failing to live up to what has made TNA successful. Some fans might say they have been doing that for a long time, especially around 2010 with the arrival of Hogan/Bischoff, however this is on a much grander scale.
The beginning of the downfall was the stripping of the mentality of what made Total Nonstop Action. For many years, the company lived up to the name of Total Nonstop Action by delivering competitive wrestling matches on mass throughout their broadcasts. Promos were few and far between, and when any of the wrestlers did cut a promo, they made it to the point, it made sense, and it added to the feuds and current storylines.
Ironically, Vince Russo had a lot to do with the success of TNA. He wrote TNA as an alternative, not a copy of what the WWE was doing, but something different. I dare to say at one point, TNA had characteristics of the original ECW. TNA had the passion, the wrestlers had it, the fans had it, and at times you could feel this cult atmosphere. Some may laugh, but TNA was cool at one point in history. Crowds would chant “TNA” at WWE events during boring matches. Fans would talk about TNA in a positive light, admiring their X-Division, tag teams and Knockouts. We know what happened from there, Hogan & Bischoff came, Dixie decided to go in another direction, and the company has not been the same since.
Don’t get me wrong! Since 2010, there has been some memorable feuds and matches. TNA kept the TNA World Championship important. Emphasis on the the importance of the TNA World title has been apparent until just recently. Dare I say this, but the moment TNA began the current downward spiral was the moment Magnus defeated Jeff Hardy for the World title.
As a UK fan, it pains me to say that, as I am proud of Magnus, and I felt he did eventually deserve the title, however I feel like they put it on him too soon. Instead of TNA putting it on guys who were over, they put it on Magnus in a bid to get him over. That’s where people lose interest, because they don’t care whether he is champion or not, and instead are more interested in guys like Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, Sting, Kurt Angle, Roode, Bully Ray etc. It’s bad because the emphasis of the show always leans towards the top guys throughout, then the crowd lose interest during the main event. There’s a number of reasons why Magnus’ run as champion was damaging.
- Magnus was built up as a babyface, working hard during matches, winning fairly. He was respected as a solid worker who could have a decent match with anyone.
- Magnus fell short in the Bound for Glory series, but people didn’t care because they wanted AJ Styles to win.
- Magnus turned heel and won the title. TNA attempted to do a Bobby Roode/Bully Ray style heel turn, only problem is, Magnus doesn’t have the charisma to pull it off.
- They had Magnus defeat AJ Styles, which didn’t really help to get Magnus over, it disappointed fans to see AJ Styles lose in his last match with a stupid amount of interference.
- As TNA fans have seen this exact same storyline a million times before in the past four years, there is no wonder why people lose interest. How many wrestlers turned heel once they won the belt? Jeff Hardy (BFG 2010), Bobby Roode (Not long after BFG 2011) Bully Ray (Lockdown 2013).
- TNA often referred to Magnus as a paper champion, agreeing with the TNA fans, and booking him as such. They tried to play on it, and they tried to make it work by having Abyss be his bodyguard, but in the end they opted out.
Sometimes things change way too quickly, and they change without any logical explanation, and that’s exactly what TNA has done lately. Where’s Samoa Joe? Why is Austin Aries no longer a contender for anything? Where did the revamped X-Division go? Why are there only two tag teams left? What was the point in Abyss turning heel only to turn back face a month or so down the line?
So many questions, but does anyone have an answer? The only answer I can think of is that TNA are risking so much right now. They are desperate to make new stars to replace the stars that have lately left. This is where Eric Young comes in.
I love Eric Young. I think he has all the charisma in the world, he has a natural, relaxed demeanour that people can relate to. In the business today, you don’t come across many talents that can be a babyface throughout the majority of their career and still have the fans behind them. Eric Young is one of those guys who should have had a push a long time ago, and I think the timing of his current push was poorly executed.
I’m not going to say it was poorly executed because they so happened to put the title on him the same week WWE put the title on Daniel Bryan, because let’s face it, it’s only a beard. It was poorly executed because Eric Young had been nowhere near the main event for so many years, and after seeing him become TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion with ODB, it planted the idea into our minds that we can never take Eric Young that seriously. TNA needed to build Eric Young up in such a way that we could perceive him as a threat for the World Championship, instead of throwing him into the mix randomly because there was no one else they could think of putting the belt on.
TNA have names like Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, Jeff Hardy, Mr Anderson, Bully Ray, James Storm, Samoa Joe, all former World Champions who could have taken Magnus down, and have them hold it until Eric Young had been pushed sufficiently. I don’t understand why TNA continue to make these rash decisions and expect the fans to jump onboard with whatever they feel like doing for the week.
What happened on this week’s Impact Wrestling had me worried, for many different reasons:
- Bobby Roode and Eric Young cutting one hell of a hype promo, to the point that I was more interested in seeing the match for the second time more than the first time. It was not given to us. It was like handing someone an apple, only to steal it back and throw it away.
- Kurt Angle injured again. As TNA lack star power, having Angle back felt like a godsend, but with many wrestlers leaving the company as of late, it could have been his last appearance.
- Bully Ray as a face. Let me repeat. Bully Ray as a face. Why? Why? Why? I don’t understand. Can someone explain to me why TNA continues to have Bully Ray as a babyface when he can draw heat better than anyone on the roster. The silly office segments were just … bad. I love Rockstar Spud, but even he couldn’t salvage those segments. Just, no.
- Although the Ladder match was good, I seriously hope it’s the end of the feud between The Wolves and The Bromans. Don’t get me wrong, The Bromans have stepped it up in the ring, they work much better now than they ever have, but the tag team division needs more than two teams.
- The Menagerie. Ok the thing here is, I like Rob Terry’s look, if he came into TNA with that look, people might have taken him more seriously. Rebel, Crazy Steve, they are new and could surprise us, however the weak link of the stable is Knux. This stable is an attempt to get Knux over, the only problem is, nobody cares about Knux, and I can’t possibly fathom a way that TNA could do it. He has zero charisma, there’s nothing special about him. He is a solid worker, but I have seen much better wrestlers of his size with a real presence. Knux doesn’t have a presence, you don’t see Knux and leap out of your chair in excitement.
- No X-Division, enough said.
- The biggest shocker ever! MVP turns heel! Who didn’t see that coming? I mean, it’s not like TNA has ever done this storyline before. The thing is, and this is where my head begins to hurt … bare with me on this … Bully Ray screwed Bobby Roode and Dixie Carter at Lockdown, so Roode wouldn’t become another Dixie Carter, and instead, gave the wrestling operations to somebody who wouldn’t be another Dixie Carter. The only thing is, MVP comes in as a face authority figure, gets over with the crowd week by week, then suddenly changes heel so he can fight for a World Championship. Despite preaching fairplay and how nobody will get screwed while he’s around, he screws over Eric Young and any other wrestler who deserved a title shot by booking himself as the number one contender. So does Bully Ray continue to feud with Dixie, does Bully Ray go after MVP now?
Remember, before Bully Ray turned face, he was in this extremely strange gimmick, where he had shut himself off from the world, and I don’t know what it was meant to be, but it never got explained. He showed up at Lockdown and shocked the world by screwing Dixie over, but in reality, it didn’t matter who won the match, as someone was going to get screwed whether it was by Dixie, Roode, or MVP.