The Crow's Nest - Jumping Ship: Which TNA Talent GFW Should Go After
By The Crow
May 19, 2014 - 2:31:17 PM
1) Jumping Ship: Which TNA Talent GFW Should Go After (05/19/13)
A couple days ago an article came out reporting that multiple TNA wrestlers are regularly contacting other wrestling companies (specifically RoH and GFW) due to nervousness stemming from TNA not getting a new deal with Spike TV. No specific names were mentioned, but I can't say I'm surprised to hear that this kind of thing is happening. TNA's financial situation reportedly hasn't been great in some time, and losing their TV deal isn't going to help things, especially when there's no real prospects for a new one at this time.
The TNA roster has been slimming down lately as the company tries to cut costs, and some of the new contracts that they're offering are questionable at best (who wants a long-term employment deal with Gunner?). Veteran talents like Kazarian, Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles are being let go (or are just not having their contracts renewed) because of their money demands and the company is signing guys like Davey Richards and Bram, the former NXT wrestler Kenneth Cameron.
I get that TNA has to cut costs, I do, but I question whether they're on the right path to gaining profits again. Signing cheaper talents is fine, but if the overall product is garbage then it really doesn't matter because the fans won't spend money on tickets and merchandise. It wasn't that long ago that TNA's house shows, while relatively small compared to WWE shows, would sell a lot of tickets and receive great reviews. TNA has, in the past, been able to introduce new wrestlers and get them over fairly successfully. There's much bigger problems in the company right now than simple roster issues, and those problems are translating into a sub-par product.
But today's column isn't about dumping on the TNA product. I want to address the article I mentioned at the beginning of the column regarding TNA wrestlers contacting other companies regarding potentially jumping ship should TNA fold. Specifically I'm going to take a look at some of the talents that Jeff Jarrett and Global Force Wrestling should potentially take a look at as they build their debut roster. Keep in mind as you read this that I'm writing my points based on the idea that TNA is going to fold. I'm not saying I want it to happen, I'm just saying that if it did, these are the wrestlers I'd like to see GFW sign.
So without further delay, let's dive right into it.
Despite being almost 46 years old, Kurt Angle is still one of the best in-ring wrestlers in the industry. Obviously he's dealt with some pretty major injuries throughout his career, but for the most part that doesn't seem to have slowed him down much. As an established ring veteran with a well-documented history with Jarrett, he seems to be a logical fit for GFW as a new company because the promotion is going to have to give viewers a reason to tune in. It's all well and good to stock your roster with amazing wrestling talents from around the world, but if the average fan outside of the IWC has never heard of them, it's going to be harder to get off the ground. Angle is still healthy enough to have some time left in his career, and Jarrett would be wise to get whatever he can from Angle before Kurt decides to seek a Legends contract with WWE prior to retiring. Bring Angle in to help establish the new roster, even just for a year, and decide later if he's still needed after that. We wouldn't want him to overstay his welcome like some veterans have in the past.
Surprised? You shouldn't be. In the 10 years that he's been with TNA, Roode has steadily established himself as an extremely versatile wrestler. No matter what role Roode has been placed in, he's succeeded, from patriotic Canadian enforcer to the leader of his own faction. Roode's not exactly young anymore (he turned 37 this year) but has thankfully remained mostly injury free in his career, so there's no reason to think he doesn't have years left before he hangs up the boots for good. GFW needs a mixture of fresh talents and established superstars, and Roode is perfect for the latter. I know some of you are worried about GFW being just another promotion for Jarrett to stroke his own ego, but what if instead of holding the belt himself he gives it to a guy like Roode to run with while his new wrestlers establish themselves? Jarrett should absolutely still wrestle if he feels that he can, but I do think it would be wise to stay away from the title for now if only to keep people from saying things like "See? I told you so."
Another guy that's not exactly young (36) but absolutely still has a lot to offer whatever company he's working for. Whether he's on the mic cutting a promo or in the ring wrestling, Aries seems to be one of those wrestlers that just has "it". For a while it seemed like TNA was going to take advantage of this and use Aries to his full potential, but then he kind of stopped being relevant again as he took a back seat to everything else that was going on. To be fair it does seem like he's being used regularly again now, but not in a way that really allows him to stand out as the superstar he is. Should he sign with GFW, I think he could be a major player in the company's evolution. Whether or not he's got a title belt around his waist, Aries is unbelievably entertaining, and I believe he's a guy that the fans could really get behind. If he was a free agent and was interested in joining Jarrett's new promotion, GFW would be insane not to offer him a contract.
Should be easy enough to justify this pick. I pegged Magnus for a future superstar almost immediately after his debut in TNA. While the gladiator gimmick was a bit odd, his evolution as part of The British Invasion really cemented my opinion of him. It's really unfortunate that poor storyline writing tarnished his first run as TNA World Heavyweight Champion, because that really should have been a special time, both for him personally and for the company as they moved forward with a new, fresh superstar. I don't think that his true potential has come close to being reached yet, and with proper booking I see no reason why he couldn't be a major part of GFW's future. I've heard that Magnus is quite over when TNA tours overseas, and with GFW looking to incorporate international elements into the product, why not sign Magnus as one of your UK talents? He's solid in the ring and improving regularly on the mic, and given a proper shot I think he could be huge.
This will likely be one of the more "controversial" names on this list. The problem with goofy gimmicks like this one is that fans often overlook the actual talent of the wrestler behind the comedy. Robbie E. is actually quite a talented performer, both as an in-ring wrestler and as a character. While most of what he does is ridiculous, it works for him and has obviously gotten him over to some extent. I'd like to see what he could do as something other than comic relief, and a fresh start in GFW could be the perfect chance to do that. Have his fist-pumping music hit only for him to appear on stage in a suit. He could cut a promo saying that he's sick of nobody taking him seriously because of a gimmick he was forced into, never mentioning TNA directly, but certainly making it clear that that's exactly what he's talking about. From this day forward he is back to being Rob Eckos (his name pre-TNA) and that the "bro" is dead. Let him emerge as a serious mid-card wrestler and allow his natural talent and charisma to get him over instead of relying on a comedy gimmick. He's been in that role long enough, and I would love to see what he can do outside of that.
"The Wolves" Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards
I struggled with putting these two on the list, but in the end I had to include them. I'm a huge fan of tag team wrestling, and it's my hope that GFW puts at least some focus on their tag division. Part of getting that division off the ground is going to involve signing pre-established tag teams that have at least some exposure to a number of wrestling fans. Enter The Wolves. Personality issues aside, this is a team that has proven to some extent that they can build a relationship with the fans. While they're yet untested on a "major" stage, I think GFW should be willing to give them a shot. Have them sign a one-year contract and see how things go. If they suck, don't re-sign them. If they prove their value to the organization, bring them back to the negotiating table. With proper direction and boundaries, I think that The Wolves could add to the young GFW product, even if it's just to help get previously unknown teams off the ground and ready to run the division themselves.
For some reason I also had trouble including Samoa Joe on this list at first. Joe is another guy that, despite being insanely talented, never seemed to have reached his full potential in TNA. He's been successful, don't get me wrong, but he's never really broken into the main event as a permanent staple. Joe is one of those rare "big men" that can move around the ring like a much smaller wrestler, and with his legitimate martial arts training background he's a believable monster. I think Joe could be the perfect monster for GFW, at least for a while. If Jarrett can build Joe's credibility back up quickly, he's got an easy big-test opponent for his younger talent. Get him back to the point where a victory over Joe is treated as a huge deal and you've got an easy way to establish young wrestlers as future superstars. Joe also has a fairly loyal fan base, so you've got to imagine that at least a few people are going to check out GFW to see what he's up to.
Part of me thinks it's really sad that I only picked 8 names from the current roster, but another part of me wonders if even 8 might be too many. GFW needs to focus on the future, signing wrestlers from around the world that are going to help establish it as a successful wrestling promotion. Whether or not any of these names jump ship (or become free agents should TNA fold) is irrelevant. I've said it before and I'll say it again, GFW's success is, in large part, going to hinge on Jeff Jarrett introducing something new to mainstream wrestling fans. TNA in its early days was something new and exciting, introducing the X-Division and Knockouts as major attractions. GFW needs to capture that same kind of magic by giving fans more than just the same stuff we're used to seeing. While it makes sense to sign guys that are already known to fans, I think Jarrett really needs to focus on building new stars. Guys like AJ Styles definitely hold some immediate value, but they also come with a history that fans are unlikely to forget. Give me someone new to cheer for or to hate. That's how you build brand loyalty.
Once again, however, we'll have to wait and see. My optimism in Jarrett's new venture could very well come back to bite me in the ass in the form of ridicule from readers and fellow wrestling fans should the project fail, but I won't let that stop me from giving it a chance. I think that all of us should be rooting for Global Force Wrestling to succeed, whether or not you believe that it will, because it gives us an alternative product to watch. Will GFW ever be a true competitor to WWE? I doubt it. WWE is so ingrained in the minds of fans as the king of the industry that it's not likely to ever be toppled. But there's nothing wrong with being #2 or #3 if the product is worth watching. I love professional wrestling and I want to see it succeed, no matter what promotion.
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