TNA Wrestling: Bizarro Booking
Those loyal to TNA Wrestling (now apparently being re-branded as Impact Wrestling) seem to be blaming “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff for the downward spiral of the promotion since 2010. Six sided ring or not, the creative direction of TNA has always been flawed. I will use the “Main Event Mafia” heel faction as an example of such disjointed booking. It was the biggest angle in TNA prior to the arrival of Hulk and Bischoff, which started at Bound For Glory 2008 with Samoa Joe losing the TNA World Heavyweight Championship to “The Icon” Sting. Kevin Nash, who had been Joe’s mentor, betrayed Joe by striking him with Sting’s signature black baseball bat. Later that week on TNA Impact! (emanating from Las Vegas), Sting and Nash joined with Kurt Angle and Booker T. Collectively, they would be known as the Main Event Mafia. “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner joined the group a couple of weeks later.
TNA, like WCW, has come across at times as far more interested in marketing former WWE talent as appose to any home grown stars. The die hard TNA fans all love the X-Division, but the promotion was already losing interest in the likes of “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels long before Hulk Hogan and Erich Bischoff showed up.
Booker T introduced the TNA Legends Championship, which I thought was a brilliant idea initially. Now all the former WWE and WCW competitors could contend for that title while all the X-Division athletes could be upgraded to fighting for the world title. However, the exact opposite is what occurred. “The Phenomenal” A.J. Styles won the TNA Legends Championship around the same Mick Foley, the hardcore legend, won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. It should have been the other way around. Maybe this is how they book professional wrestling in the “bizarro” universe?
A face group was eventually formed to combat the M.E.M., called “The Front Line.” Another concept which looked good on paper, but this group was short-lived and scored virtually no major victories. Samoa Joe never avenged himself upon the M.E.M. either, instead he joined them, which really made him look weak. Sting was then ousted from the group, which made some sense given how poorly he had been portrayed since the angle began. Even though Sting was the world champion, Kurt Angle was billed as the leader of the group. A world champion who takes orders from others? “Nature Boy” Ric Flair was NWA Champion and the leader of “The Four Horsemen.” “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan was WCW Champion and the leader of the “nWo.” World champions shouldn’t be taking orders from anyone. It devalues their status in the eyes of the fans.
Sting was a heel, who often checked on the condition of the wrestlers beat down by his cohorts. That is so lame. Sting never once effectively portrayed the villain. Some will argue that this was intentional, so to set up his face turn. But why bother turning him heel for eight months if you’re going to spend seven of those months explaining that he isn’t really a heel?
When the main event of Bound for Glory 2009 rolled around, the one year anniversary of the M.E.M., it was A.J. Styles defending the TNA Championship against Sting, who was no longer part of the M.E.M.. The only match on the card which was related to this group was Kurt Angle vs. Matt Morgan. Morgan offered his services to the M.E.M., but was turned down. A year of valuable TV time builds up to Matt Morgan asking to join the heels and being told “no thanks.” What the hell? What about Samoa Joe? They guy they originally screwed over? Is he getting some kind of payback? No, he was being used as a doormat for Bobby Lashley, making the past year a complete waste of time.
Not much as changed since Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff arrived in TNA. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been over three years. Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, The Dudley Boyz, and a few other WWE alumnae were pushed to a certain level while A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe continued to flounder. I’m not saying that WWE is perfect. I’m as sick of John Cena “overcoming the odds” as the next guy. It was so difficult for superstars like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan to break through the glass ceiling in WWE, but I’m not sure there is an upper echelon to aspire to in TNA. So many aborted pushes makes the effort seem futile. Robert Roode and Austin Aries taking a backseat to Bubba-Brother-Bully Ray as the world champion?
Some will say that I’m some WWE elitist who won’t give TNA a chance, but I watched TNA Impact! from 2005-2012 and ordered several of their Pay-Per-Views, so you can’t say that I didn’t give the promotion a fair chance. There was a time that The Beautiful People (Angelina Love & Velvet Sky) were the only reason to watch TNA. Some say that WWE should’ve been embarrassed that TNA had such a better women’s division, but I say it is TNA that should’ve been embarrassed that it’s women’s division made for much more compelling television then it’s men’s division.
Posted on June 6, 2013, in Pro Wrestling, TNA and tagged AJ Styles, Booker T, Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, Impact Wrestling, Kevin Nash, Kurt Angle, Matt Morgan, Samoa Joe, Scott Steiner, Sting, TNA Wrestling. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.