The Crow's Nest - Recent TNA Departures: Do They Really Matter?
Jul 31, 2012 - 12:17:35 PM
1) Recent TNA Departures: Do They Really Matter? (31/07/12)
If you've been paying attention to TNA news over the past few months, I'm sure you've noticed there's been more than a few wrestler departures lately. Some of them were expected, others not so much, but what is undeniable is that they each sparked some measure of discussion amongst fans. Whether it's a simple "Who cares?" or an actual discussion about that wrestler's future, when someone is released from a wrestling company, people talk about it.
In case you haven't deduced it by now, today's column is going to take a look at some of these recent departures from TNA. Not all of them have been announced SUPER recently, but anything within the last few months is fair game. So let's take a look shall we?
I'll give you a moment to study that picture in case you're not sure exactly who I'm talking about here.
Tony Nese came to TNA during the company's revival of the X-Division last year as part of the X-Division tournament. He ended up staying with the company afterwards, appearing occasionally on TV, and near the end of his tenure he ended up having a series of solid matches with current X-Division Champion Zema Ion. Despite being used sparingly, Nese was able to actually get a decent reaction from the crowd. That might have had something to do with Ion being pretty universally hated, but I still count it as an accomplishment for a relatively unknown talent.
Physically, Nese clearly has the look. He reminds me a lot of Chris Masters in that way, minus Masters' ring skills. Don't get me wrong, Nese is no slouch in the ring. He uses his strength and size effectively. There's just really no "wow" factor. He didn't get on the mic enough to really judge his speaking ability so I can't offer much comment there. Overall, Nese is an above-average wrestler with a great look (no homo), and the only thing working against him there is that wrestlers like that are a dime a dozen.
Nese was released from his contract earlier this year after his request to appear on a Pro Wrestling Syndicate iPPV was denied, and he subsequently requested to leave TNA. TNA has a deal with their talent where they are free to appear for other promotions, as long as the show isn't going to be broadcast in any way. Nese knew this when he signed his contract. I get that he wanted to appear on another show, especially since TNA seemingly didn't know what to do with him, but I personally question his decision to leave over that. I do however commend TNA on granting the release instead of hanging on to a guy they weren't using, I couldn't see WWE doing the same in that situation.
Do I Care That He's Gone?: Yes and no. Nese is one of those guys that made me wonder what he could accomplish if they used him more, but because he didn't do much in TNA I didn't form a real attachment as a fan. If Nese tours some of the "bigger" indy circuits and is able to showcase more of what he can do, he might set the stage for a return down the road.
Should TNA Care That He's Gone?: That depends. If Nese ends up making a name for himself on the indy scene and becomes more well known, TNA has to face the reality that they let a potential star slip away. As it stands right now though, Nese is still relatively unknown. As an ex-TNA employee he's kind of a bigger deal than he was pre-TNA, but still. TNA shouldn't be that upset that they let him go, but they should keep an eye on him in case he wants to return later in his career.
I hate Shannon Moore. I really do. I think his look is ridiculous, his mic work is awful, and he had a "prime" that lasted about 15 minutes. The only good thing about his run in TNA as part of Ink Inc. was that if he appeared on screen, it usually meant the gorgeous Christina Von Eerie (Toxxin) was also going to be there. That's about the nicest thing I can say about Moore.
When he was Matt Hardy's disciple in WWE back in the day, he was amusing. As a cruiserweight, when that was still a thing, Moore had his place on the roster. There was enough talent on the roster that his shortcomings could be hidden, he wasn't being pushed especially hard, and his look was still normal. None of this 10 lbs. of makeup, stupid tattoos, and multicoloured mohawk "Prince of Punk, student of DILLIGAF" bull shit. WWE allowed him to KIND OF branch out as "The Reject" on ECW, but it wasn't until he went to TNA that it got out of hand.
In the ring, Moore is nothing special. I suppose you could call him a "spot monkey", but at least spot monkeys are usually exciting to watch. Moore wasn't a "great spot monkey" (the first time I've ever used those three words in the same sentence) and certainly wasn't a powerhouse or technical wizard, so where does he fall? Below average. On top of that, I don't think he has ever cut a promo that made me give any amount of shit about him. Moore is a classic example of "that guy" that tries to leech off of the success of their best friend (Jeff Hardy) by trying to copy everything about them, but failing at it in the process.
Do I Care That He's Gone?: Absolutely not. Shannon Moore being off my TV is great.
Should TNA Care That He's Gone?: No. Moore was never especially over with the crowd, and while he's a big enough name that some other company might (for some reason) want to employ him, he's said he wants to leave wrestling for a while to focus on other aspects of his professional life. So basically they've lost a sub-par talent that, while recognizable by name, has no interest in wrestling right now. Why should they care that he's gone? Exactly.
Angelina Love began her career in wrestling in 2000, working various indy promotions around Canada. Initially only performing as a valet, Love ended up training to become a wrestler, and in 2007 she was signed to TNA as a full-time talent. Not long after debuting, she was partnered with Velvet Sky and of course they became known as "The Beautiful People".
She quickly became a top draw for the Knockouts division, despite being a heel, and was very obviously one of the better in-ring female competitors in the company. She was released from TNA in 2009 due to issues with her work visa, but returned at the beginning of 2010, this time as a face. Love proved that she could be over with the crowd as a face as well, regaining the Knockouts Championship only a few months later. Of course, she eventually turned heel again as she was partnered with Winter (Katie-Lea Burchill) and would stay that way right up until she was granted her release.
For a while it seemed like TNA was going to eventually separate her from Winter and push her back to the top of the Knockouts division as their "franchise player" of sorts, but evidently that didn't happen. I think it's a real testament to Love's ability to connect with fans that even as Winter's slave, she still got among the biggest pops of any Knockout. At any moment in time, TNA could have put her back in the title hunt as a major player, and no one would bat an eyelash.
Do I Care That She's Gone?: Absolutely. Love is one of the top female talents in the industry, and as I've said a couple of times already, TNA could have very easily made her the focus of the Knockouts division. She's a big enough name that someone else is going to snatch her up quickly, and they will benefit from her talents. TNA was stupid to let her go, and I really hope WWE brings her back to give their Divas division some measure of credibility.
Should TNA Care That She's Gone?: 100% yes. It's not like Love is in the twilight of her career, and she still has plenty to offer whatever company she is with. They let one of their top stars go, and I really hope someone in management is kicking themselves in the ass for letting it happen.
Much of what I said about Angelina Love can be applied to Sky as well, with one major exception: Sky has never been the best in-ring competitor. She wasn't awful, but at best she was average. Sky's most redeeming qualities were that she was crazy over with the fans, she could actually cut a decent promo (which is more than I can say about a lot of other female wrestlers), and the fact that she's stupidly hot.
Sky really came into her own after Love's departure in 2009 when she took over as leader of The Beautiful People with Madison Rayne and Lacey Von Erich. Not that she wasn't over before, this just helped to make more people take notice. She became a staple of the Knockouts division, and eventually she became so over with the fans that a run as Knockouts Champion seemed inevitable. Sky was on top of the mountain, and when she finally did win the belt for the first time, it was kind of a big deal. I was sure that she would get a long reign with the title, and that the division would be built up again with her as the top face.
But of course, that didn't happen. Her reign was cut short at 28 days by a returning Gail Kim, and despite multiple chances to regain the belt, she became something of an afterthought. Reports began to surface that she was unhappy with her position in the company and, despite having just signed a long-term extension in 2010, was looking to leave TNA. As you might have guessed by her inclusion on my list here, Sky did end up leaving TNA.
Do I Care That She's Gone?: Again, 100% yes. While she wasn't the best wrestler out there, Sky was still the most over Knockout on the roster, and because of this her matches always had a higher energy atmosphere than most women's matches. And of course, I'm going to miss her for the obvious reason that she's hot. I couldn't believe that TNA let her go, especially since she was cheated out of a proper run with the Knockouts Championship, and I hope she finds success elsewhere and makes TNA sorry to have wronged her.
Should TNA Care That She's Gone?: Oh dear lord yes. TNA losing Velvet Sky now would be akin to WWE losing Trish Stratus in her prime. I really REALLY hope that WWE picks both her and Angelina Love up because they would be a fantastic addition to the roster, especially if they were teamed together in a Beautiful People reboot. I can't believe TNA let both of these women go, and I really hope that someone got fired over it.
If you asked me in 2005 if I thought Matt Morgan would ever be suited for anything more than a role as a bodyguard, I would have laughed you out of my office (assuming of course that we were in my office at the time). Even as recently as 2009 i would have never predicted he would amount to much more than a guy who might get a World Title run simply because of his size, but would eventually fade into mid-card obscurity as just another failed big man experiment.
It's funny how things change with time and opportunity though. Now if you ask most fans what they think of Matt Morgan, they'll say something along the lines of "I can't believe he hasn't already been World Champion".
When TNA announced their first "Bound For Glory Series" last year, many (including myself) predicted that it was finally his time to shine, and that he would leave Bound For Glory later that year as the TNA World Heavyweight Champion. The way that things went for a while, it seemed as though that was the inevitable outcome, but then tragedy struck. Morgan suffered a torn pectoral muscle and was forced to withdraw from the tournament. Bobby Roode ended up winning, and we all saw where that led. Roode, James Storm, and Bully Ray were all elevated to main event status, and Matt Morgan returned to doing not much of anything at all.
With the title scene kind of cluttered, Morgan needed to find something else to do. TNA seemed desperate to get Crimson over, but he had yet to connect with the fans in a meaningful way. Enter Matt Morgan. They became rivals, leading to a run as the Tag Team Champions, and eventually a singles feud. Most people, including myself, assumed that TNA would have Morgan be the one to FINALLY end Crimson's undefeated streak as a kind of "thank you" for being so cool about not winning the World Title yet. But TNA screwed Morgan again when, in what was billed as his and Crimson's final confrontation, he was attacked by Bully Ray and rendered unable to compete. Not long after that, reports began to come out that Morgan was extremely frustrated with TNA management and his place in the company, and that WWE might be interested in bringing him back.
Unlike the other names on this list, Morgan did not request his release from TNA. Like the class act that he appears to be, Morgan honoured all of his commitments to TNA, simply choosing to not renew his contract when it expired. After being passed over time and time again for the big push he so rightly deserved, Morgan had finally had enough. Now, Matt Morgan is arguably the hottest free agent on the market, and TNA missed out on the chance to have "The Blueprint" as a member of their company's future.
Do I Care That He's Gone?: This might surprise you given the tone of the rest of Morgan's entry here, but I only kind of care that he is no longer with TNA. That being said, I can't believe TNA would let him get away. I'm sure it wouldn't have taken much to get him to stay, just some appreciation. As much as I loved Roode's run on top, and now Aries' run on top, if putting Morgan back in the title hunt would mean he would have stayed, I'd take that option in a second. Morgan was possibly the most over superstar on the roster, and the fans were 100% ready to see him become World Champion. Now that Morgan is done with TNA, I really hope he ends up with WWE. WWE is in major need of a fresh face in the main event, and while guys like Dolph Ziggler are certainly going to be a part of the company's future, they need more than just him. Matt Morgan is ready to be WWE Champion, and I really hope that if/when WWE signs him, they use him properly and to his full potential. He's ready to set the wrestling world on fire.
Should TNA Care That He's Gone?: In the words of Daniel Bryan: YES! YES! YES! Letting Morgan get away is one of the worst mistakes TNA has made in a long time. He is easily the best "big man" wrestler in the industry today, is crazy over with the fans, and was always a great spokesperson for TNA. This isn't a case of TNA letting some no-name with potential go. This is a case of TNA letting an already established superstar go while he's in his prime when their main rival (WWE) has expressed interest in him on more than one occasion. I can't believe that TNA wouldn't do everything in their power to keep him happy, and if WWE has any brains they're going to make TNA pay the price for their retardation. TNA is lucky that they have other superstars to fall back on, because this is the kind of mistake that could have very well crippled a lesser company. Fucking TNA…
Of the five names on this list, only 3 of them fall under the category of "TNA Should Care They're Gone". That being said, each of them share one thing in common.
A deep frustration with TNA management
It's no surprise that TNA management is far from perfect since this is not even close to the first time that a TNA employee has expressed their anger. In less than 6 months, TNA lost 2 of their best female wrestlers and a guy who they should have been building up as their top face. This is a very worrying thing to realize, because unfortunately I doubt this is the end of things. Other frustrated TNA talents are going to see these top names leaving the company, and it's going to be even easier for them to work up the courage to request their own releases.
But more worrying than that is seeing how many releases TNA has granted prematurely recently. Losing Shannon Moore and Tony Nese might not be a big deal, especially if the splits were amicable, but granting the releases of two of your best female talents? Especially when one of them (Sky) just signed a long-term contract extension? It doesn't make business sense. Even if they just decided to keep them under contract so they wouldn't be scooped up by somebody else, that would have made more sense.
Dixie Carter needs to figure something out before things get really bad for the company. If this many talents, especially top name talents, are expressing such frustration with management, it's time for something to change. Something is obviously wrong, and TNA needs to figure out what that is before the shit really hits the fan.
Well that's it for now folks. I'll be back soon with another look at the history of TNA, I just wanted to offer my thoughts on this situation.
So what do you guys think about these releases? Do they matter? Should TNA be alarmed? Or is the company better off without these guys. Let me know what you think. Until next time, thanks for reading.
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