The Crow's Nest - Improving TNA: The Series (Part 1 - Roster Cuts)
Oct 21, 2011 - 7:56:42 PM
1) Just When I Thought It Couldn't Get Worse... 2) Improving TNA: The Series (Part 1 - Roster Cuts)
1) Just When I Thought It Couldn't Get Worse...
I started off my last column by stating that I believe I'm a pretty forgiving person when it comes to the world of wrestling. Hell if I had a dollar for every time I was disappointed by something a wrestling company has done I would be pretty damn rich. But there's only so much I can take folks. I can only put up with so much bullshit before I start to seriously ask myself "Why on earth am I even watching this anymore."
I received a comment on my last column regarding this very issue. I was asked if there was anything that TNA could do to make me stop watching, and at first I said no. TNA has so much potential that even with the lows (and Lord knows there's a lot of them) I always remained optimistic that something good would happen. I hoped that somehow I would be rewarded by the gods of wrestling for my years of loyalty to the company that so many others just write off as garbage.
But the gods of wrestling are kind of a mean bunch and they decided it was prime time to kick me in the nuts.
Over the past couple of months I've praised TNA for how they've turned Bobby Roode into a true main event level talent. I was always a big fan of his, but to the fans at large I think he was still "just a tag team guy". So when he won the Bound For Glory Series and was on his way to facing Kurt Angle for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, I was beyond happy. This must be the reward I've been waiting upon for all my years of being a loyal TNA fan. In my mind there was absolutely no way that TNA would spend so much time and effort in pushing Roode to the top only to have him lose. So I tuned into Bound For Glory, ready to see one of my favourites finally obtain the level of success I felt he deserved. And of course, because the gods of wrestling are dicks, Roode didn't win. I've already ranted enough in a previous column about how I felt upon hearing the news that Hulk Hogan was the guy to hold down Roode's push so I won't go into too much more detail on that topic.
But you know what? I was fully ready to accept that Roode would get a rematch at the next PPV. Sure it wouldn't be the same as having a "Bound For Glory Moment", but at least I figured he would still get the belt soon. So I tune into iMPACT this week, ready to see the seeds planted for a rematch. But what do I get instead? News that Roode won't be getting another shot at Angle's title because of some stupid clause in their contract. Instead, James Storm would be getting the title match THAT NIGHT.
That's right folks. The guy who hasn't won a singles match in over 2 months and lost his last two matches to Kurt Angle and Bobby Roode got a title match. No build up, no real explanation, and no paying of proper dues. Just "hey bro, want a title shot?"
Don't get me wrong though folks, I'm a huge fan of James Storm's as well. I've praised his work on more than one occasion, and I've even stated before that I think he deserved to be a World Champion at some point before the end of 2012. He's easily one of the most talented and over stars on the TNA roster. So why is it then that I'm so frustrated with how his title shot and subsequent victory went down? Well in keeping with the last column's format about a similar topic, let's go over a few points shall we?
James Storm's Losing Streak
As I mentioned above, James Storm has not won a match in over 2 months. His last real victory was at Hardcore Justice on August 7 when Beer Money defended the Tag Team Championships against Mexican America. Then, two weeks later, they lost the belts to the same team. Granted it was Roode that took the pin, but my point still stands. How on earth are we as fans supposed to buy that a guy who has gone that long without a victory is at all deserving of a shot at the company's top prize? As talented and over as he may be, that's no excuse to do away with the concept of earning your way to the top. Bobby Roode was built up as a main event wrestler for roughly the same amount of time that Storm was losing constantly, and you know what that accomplished? It made the fans buy into him as a legitimate threat to Angle's title. Pretty simple concept isn't it?
The Match Was WAY Too Short
This week's episode of iMPACT saw less than 7 minutes of wrestling combined between 3 matches. Just thinking about that makes me want to vomit. To make matters worse the World Title match was less than a third of that time figure, 1:19 to be exact. No you didn't misread that. A match for the top prize TNA has to offer went less than 2 minutes, and the title switched hands. If the match itself was exciting (which is damn hard to accomplish in such a short time period) I might excuse PART of it. But it wasn't, the match sucked. It consisted of Storm getting the piss knocked out of him before surprising Angle with a super kick for the win. Meanwhile, Roode gave it his all less than a week before this and Angle had to cheat to beat him. This leads into my next point…
It Destroyed Bobby Roode's Credibility
If Roode took Angle to the limit and only lost because his opponent cheated, and a couple weeks before that we saw Roode defeat James Storm, would it not make sense to think that Storm wouldn't be able to dethrone Kurt Angle? Apparently TNA has no sense of logic because not only did Storm defeat Angle, he did it after getting the shit kicked out of him and pulled it off by simply hitting his signature move. What does that say about Roode? TNA did a magnificent job of building Roode up, but in 1:19 he became an afterthought. The fact that Storm pulled off that victory with such ease just makes Roode look absolutely terrible, and I would argue that Roode has been buried to some extent. The simple rebuttal to this argument is that this sets up a nice program between Roode and Storm over the title, but my response to that is just as simple. The feud would have worked just as well, if not better, had Roode won the title at Bound For Glory. There were already seeds of tension planted between him and Storm so the writing would have been easy. Storm gets jealous of Roode's success, turns heel and demands a title match at the next PPV to prove he is the superior member of Beer Money. It's so simple I'm pretty sure even a retarded monkey with half a brain and his head shoved firmly up his ass (or Vince Russo) could pull it off. But no, TNA decides to go with the option of making Roode look like an absolute fool.
It Happened on FREE TV With No Build Up
Like I said earlier, I have no issue with the idea of Storm as the champion. My issue is with HOW it happened. James Storm deserves to be a World Champion as much as Bobby Roode does, but he also deserves to look just as strong as Roode has over the past couple of months. What does Storm gain by winning the title from Angle on a free episode of iMPACT in less than 2 minutes? Nothing, that's what. No prestige from winning the title on a PPV in a long match, no real televised celebration, and no time for the fans to get emotionally invested in the storyline. James Storm has now been robbed of what is rightfully his. By having his first ever World Championship come about like this, no one is going to remember his moment down the road. This should have been the biggest moment in his career, but now it's a shit stain on an even shittier episode of iMPACT.
Using TNA Referee Logic, Roode Should Have Gotten a Rematch
When iMPACT opened and Sting announced that Roode would be getting a rematch that night, Angle quickly stated that the match would not be happening because it stated in his contract that Roode only got the one shot. Kurt had indeed beaten Roode a few nights ago, but he had to cheat to accomplish it. It's not a foreign thing in TNA for a referee to reverse the decision of a match or restart the match at a later time because the heel did something wrong, and it often happens in matches that really don't matter. So with this precedent in mind, wouldn't it make sense for them to implement this policy for a match of that magnitude that ended with shenanigans? As much as I despise when this kind of thing happens, I hate inconsistency even more. If TNA wants to enable their referees to have that kind of power, they should have it all the time. Hell, Sting should have done something about it since he's really the man in charge now. It just makes no sense to me.
James Storm is our new TNA World Heavyweight Champion, and at any other time I would probably be ecstatic. But not now. For the reasons listed above (and probably a few more) I am furious with how this all went down.
I mentioned earlier that I was asked if there was anything that TNA could do that would make me stop watching. After really thinking about the state of TNA today, I have to wonder if maybe I'm getting close to breaking point. As forgiving as I like to think I am, there's only so much I can put up with. As much as it hurts me to say this, and as much as some of you haters may judge me for saying this, I think TNA is really on their last chance with me. I may be "the most loyal TNA fan around these parts" but my loyalty is not infinite. There is a definite end to how much I will take.
So basically what I'm trying to say is smarten the hell up TNA. If a fan as loyal as I am is losing this much faith in your company it should send a pretty clear message. Do yourselves a favour and get rid of Hulk Hogan, because if he really has enough pull backstage to completely derail the push that was over 2 months in the making and stop someone from winning a World Title mere HOURS before the match is to occur, he's a dangerous force and needs to be stopped immediately.
I don't want to stop watching, but I can't keep being let down like this. TNA right now is like that ex-girlfriend you can't quite get over, and every now and then she makes it seem like you're going to get back together and that things will be okay only to rip out your soul and make you want to give up on dating altogether. It's time for TNA to change in a massive way, and this kind of crap is not the way to do it. Get it together TNA.
Soundtrack From the Nest
Another Canadian band? Why the hell not. These guys kind of came out of nowhere, but once they signed with Roadrunner Records they got some solid exposure. I've seen them live a couple of times and they put on a good show, but I'm still waiting for the "wow factor" to really show. If you like this tune, check out their song Sixteen Hours.
2) Improving TNA: The Series (Part 1 - Roster Cuts)
I received an email in response to my last column that, as I predicted would happen, was from a hater that was down on me for all my negativity towards TNA. But amongst the poor use of English and proper grammatical structure there was actually a good point. For the sake of all you fine folks reading this column, I'll paraphrase the point that was made.
"Crow, if you're so down on the TNA product, why don't you make some suggestions about how it could be improved?"
So you know what anonymous hater? I'm going to do just that. Over the next week I'll be posting a series of columns about things I would change about the current TNA product in order to make it better. It's going to range from who I would cut from the roster, who I would hire, changes to titles, and anything else that I decide would make TNA better overall. You asked for a couple of suggestions? Well here you go. You're getting your wish.
Doing this is going to be somewhat therapeutic for me because truth be told I am really down on the TNA product right now, and thinking about how things could be better will be a nice change of pace. So for today I'm going to take a look at who I would cut from the TNA roster. This is going to include both on and off-screen characters, and no one is safe from my wrath. So watch out TNA roster, it's about to get serious.
Really, this shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anybody who has followed my columns in the past. Abyss can't wrestle, he can't talk, and the only character he's ever been able to pull off successfully is stale now. He served his role during TNA's formative years and provided the "monster heel" that is always useful in a wrestling company, but really what does he do now? His last real stint in the company was one of the more annoying characters in some time as he really wasn't convincing as the deep "student of Sun Tzu". If TNA really wants to sell the idea that "wrestling matters" they need to do away with cartoony characters like Abyss. This is not as personal as some of you might think it is and most of my reasoning behind this choice is for "professional" reasons. Sorry Abyss, you're the first to go.
Mark who? That's what I thought. He had a match against Douglas Williams at Destination X earlier this year and another match on iMPACT on August 18 where he made a couple eliminations in a gauntlet match before losing. He's bland in the ring, bland to look at, and gets absolutely no reaction from the crowd. The kid's only 23 years old so it's not like he has to be in a rush when it comes to his career. Let him go tour the indys and gain a following, and maybe if he's improved in a couple of years take another look at him. Right now he's just taking up space and money and nothing will change so long as he remains off TV.
I liked her in WWF/E, and she was a decent addition to TNA during her first stint. That being said it's time to let her go. For 47 years old she's still in great shape but TNA really needs to focus on their younger talent. The Knockouts Division is loaded with some phenomenal talent and they really don't need any veterans around at this point in time. The only justification I can think of for keeping her on the roster is in a backstage role as a trainer for the Knockouts. She's got the experience and she's got the skills, but overall I think it's time for her to go.
** Christy Hemme
The reason I put an asterisk beside her name is because there is something I would rather have happen than her release. If the reports are to be believed, she makes somewhere around $150,000 per year while the other Knockouts earn far less and on a per appearance basis. Name recognition aside, Hemme does not deserve near that amount of money. She's a ring announcer and ONLY appears on TV tapings, not touring with the company for live events. She maybe deserves half of what she makes, and even that is being pretty generous. I would cut her salary in half and if she had a problem with it she could GTFO. No one is tuning into iMPACT to see her, and as hot as she is she's easily replaced. SoCal Val is still with the company, give her a raise and have her take over if Hemme leaves. She's just as hot as Hemme is in my opinion. But at the end of the day, a ring announcer should not be making more money than the majority of the roster. So take the pay cut, or take the pink slip. Your choice Christy.
Hernandez & Anarquia
This is probably going to be the biggest shocker of any name on the list for the pure fact that I've made it known I'm a fan of Hernandez. That being said, I can't help but agree with the reports about TNA management not being high on Hernandez due to his lack of improvement. He's been with the company for over 7 years now and his improvement has been minuscule. As part of LAX it was less noticeable because he had a strong partner to back him up and he could serve his role as more of an enforcer. Unfortunately Anarquia isn't nearly as strong a wrestler as Homicide so he can't mask Hernandez' weaknesses as well. Without Hernandez, Anarquia wouldn't last long on the roster so I would get rid of both of them. Hernandez has received more than enough chances and he's now just taking up space that could be better utilized by a younger talent. They're 38 and 36 respectively, so there's still a few years left on their careers. I'm sure they could still do fairly well in Mexico, but I think their time is done in TNA.
This was a hard pick to make and there was a lot of debating going on between my head and my heart. I love Flair and as a wrestling fan I will never forget his contributions to the industry, but it's time for Flair to ride away into the sunset. He can't wrestle anymore (at least not at a level that should be televised) and with the power in TNA shifted back to the "good guys", he no longer has any pull as an on-air authority figure. Flair should be doing autograph tours and maybe writing another autobiography that starts where his last one ended. Hell, he could even rejoin WWE in some sort of backstage role to end his career. But he's just not worth the money for TNA anymore. Sorry Naitch, you're cut.
Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff
If you're at all surprised by these picks you clearly haven't read any of my columns before. When it was initially announced that they were being brought into the company in an effort to boost ratings, I was both excited and nervous. For a while I thought maybe they would actually be able to help TNA out, but when they began to dominate the show as on-screen authority figures AND used their backstage pull to get their own way I knew that the "Hogan & Bischoff" experiment was a failure. I can't even say that either of them would be useful backstage, but for separate reasons. Hogan is far too egotistical and will let his own opinions become more important than what's best for the company, as seen by him killing Roode's push. Bischoff on the other hand just isn't a hot commodity anymore. Without someone strong to censor his bad ideas he's every bit as dangerous as Hogan is and therefore needs to go. If they had demonstrated they were able to improve the TNA product in any way I would say they could still have some use, but realistically TNA is stuck in the same spot they were 2 years ago. They are getting paid FAR too much money to justify keeping them when they've done nothing to help the product, so they both get cut.
Even though he's reportedly been demoted to a role of "contributing writer", I still don't think he deserves what he has. Russo has already passed his peak as a valuable member of the wrestling industry and, much like Hogan/Bischoff, has done nothing to really help the TNA product since he took over as head of Creative in July 2009. Over 2 years with no real improvement? No way he deserves that paycheque. Time to pack your things Vinny boy, you're outta here.
Another hard choice because I am a fan of Steiner's work, but I finally decided it was his time to go. There will always be a spot on any wrestling roster for veteran talent, but those names that stick around should still be convincing as potential champions. Out of all the veterans currently on the TNA roster, I buy Steiner as a World Champion the least. As entertaining as his promos (and by that I mean amusing but senseless screaming rants) are, it's pretty obvious that his body just can't take the abuse it used to. He's slowed down a lot in the ring and in the rare appearances he makes in a match he usually needs his opponent to carry the majority of the workload. So as much as it pains me, you've gotta go Scott.
I lied, this is absolutely the pick that will shock my loyal readers more than any other. I've made it no secret I'm a big fan of Anderson's, but I'm as fair with my wrath as I am with my praise. Anderson only ever seems to really bring it when he's in pursuit of the World Championship. As champion he appears complacent and lazy, and when he's not anywhere near the title picture he just really doesn't seem to put in the right kind of effort. Potential can only take you so far in this industry and there comes a time when you really have to step your game up and take yourself to that next level. I don't think Anderson ever quite got over his release from WWE and that kind of resentment is going to permanently keep him from ever becoming a true big time player in the wrestling business. I want to think that Anderson could resign with WWE and become a nice addition to the mid card, but I really don't know if he would fit into the current scene. So as much as it pains me to do it (even though I'm sure most of you will 100% agree with this pick), Anderson gets cut.
So there you have it folks. To kick off a series of columns on how I would improve the TNA product I've cut 12 names from the roster. There were certainly more names that I considered, but I think 12 is a good enough start, and given the price tag attached to some of those names I've already saved the company a boat load of cash. Are there any names you'd add to the list? Any names you'd take off my list? Well fortunately for you there's a couple of ways you can let me know: through my email at firstname.lastname@example.org, through the Facebook feed on this column, or as a PM over in the forums.
But I'm done for now folks. I'll be back soon with part 2, so keep your eyes peeled for that. But until then, have a good night my friends.
A good buddy of mine is starting up an iOS gaming company and his first app is getting ready to be released. It's a zombie-based "Choose Your Own Adventure" style game and he's currently running through a round of gameplay on the company's Facebook page. I'll be working with him on future releases so keep your eyes out for those. If you guys could head on over to the Facebook page and like it I would definitely appreciate it. If we can get it up to 100 likes by November 22 I'll hold a special contest where the winner will receive a copy of WWE '12 courtesy of yours truly. More details to come if the "likes" add up, so spread the word people.
Red Flag Development
Also, shoot me a friend request on Facebook so I can tell when you've liked the page. If you want to be entered into the contest, those are pretty much the only requirements. Friend me on Facebook, like the page. That's it. Simple right?
TheCrow on Facebook
Soundtrack From the Nest
Far from a new song, but still one that gets respectable play on my iPod. Skillet has not just one, but TWO hot rocker chicks in the band, so immediately that gets respect from me. The song itself is a fun one to rock out to as a lot of Skillet songs are. Similar sound to bands like Three Days Grace, but with a more noticeable edge to it. I'm sure you've heard this song before, but give it a listen anyways. I know I will.