Somewhere around a month ago I released the first column in what was supposed to be a series of columns touching on things I would do if I were in charge of TNA in order to improve their overall product. For various reasons it has taken me longer than anticipated to release all the columns I wanted to, but I've been happy with the results nonetheless.
In case you missed the previous columns, I've now taken a look at names I would release from the company as well as what I would do with their title scene. Because I'm such a nice guy, here's a bit of a refresher on what you've missed:
-Christy Hemme (Though I also suggested she could stay if she took a pay cut)
-Hernandez & Anarquia
-Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff
There are most certainly a few more names I would add to that list, but for now that will have to do. Taking a look at what I have, that's 12 names in total with 7 of them being active wrestlers. That being said, cutting the non-wrestling names alone would save the company an insane amount of money that would be better spent on other things. For instance, adding some names to the roster that might actually contribute in a positive way towards TNA getting some kind of real success.
If you haven't yet guessed what I'm going to be basing today's column on, there might just be something wrong with you. I'm going to take a look at some names that I would hire on to the roster to improve the direction of the company, and there's a couple of rules I'm going to follow. I'm allowing myself to steal names from WWE, but ONLY if they're likely to be facing a release in the next year or so. That means that no matter how much I might want them on the roster, I'm not going to be using names like John Cena in this exercise. Names from smaller companies and the indy scene however are fair game. I also won't be allowing myself to use guys that have said that they will only ever sign with WWE, so guys like Chris Jericho and Batista are off limits as well. The same rules apply to non-wrestling talent. Pretty simple set of rules right? So with that being said, let's get started.
First up, we have a man who has been all over the TNA news scene lately due to his contract with WWE expiring soon, John Morrison. This pick isn't exactly a long shot in terms of predictions because TNA has already made it known that they're interested in bringing him in. I can't say I blame them because I believe he would be a massive asset for the X-Division thanks to his high-action wrestling style. He's billed at 224 pounds (according to Wikipedia) and therefore fits in the weight limit for the X-Division, which is a definite plus, and he's a big enough name that he could definitely bring some name value to the company. I was never one of those guys that believed John Morrison was "the next Shawn Michaels", but some time in TNA could work wonders for him (much like it did for Christian). I would bring him in as a face at first simply because the X-Division is already being dominated by arguably one of the best heels in the company, Austin Aries. Second to Aries you have Kid Kash, another heel. The only real face that's getting TV time in the X-Division is Jesse Sorensen, and as much as I like the kid's work there really needs to be some fresh blood. Morrison could easily come in and feud with Aries for a while, and it could end up being something special to watch. Morrison may not be the second coming of Christ, but he would still be a nice addition to TNA's X-Division, and maybe someday their main event scene.
It wouldn't seem right to follow him with anybody else, so next on my list I present to you none other than Melina. I've never been her biggest fan, but it's impossible to deny her talent in the ring. The Knockouts Division seems to be becoming a bigger part of the TNA product again and adding another legitimately talented name to the roster would only be beneficial. The feuds Melina could have with names like Gail Kim, Tara, and Winter could absolutely help bring the Knockouts Division back to its former glory. I've seen some people suggest that she be brought in as a heel, but I think it would be foolish to do so if Morrison is being brought in as a face. Melina might be more effective as a bitch heel character, but the Knockouts Division is so heel heavy right now it doesn't make sense to me. The face side of things need an injection of fresh blood, and a relatively big name like Melina could give it just the boost it needs. Before bringing her in though, I would make it perfectly clear that her backstage bullshit would not be tolerated. Her reputation for being a real life bitch is well documented and as talented as she may be, the last thing TNA needs is another stupid ego backstage. So if she kept her mouth shut and performed as she was expected to, there would be no issues.
I took out a tag team in my first round of cuts, so it only makes sense to bring in a new one. These guys worked ridiculously well together in WWE and despite their shortcomings in the charisma department, their abilities as a tag team are undeniable. I am referring of course to Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas. I would immediately pair them with a leader of sorts who could handle the talking for them, and who better than their former mentor in WWE, Kurt Angle. It's pretty clear that TNA has no intention of getting rid of Angle any time soon, and it's also pretty clear that as long as he's around he'll at least be sniffing around the main event scene. So by creating this mini-faction you not only give Haas and Benjamin a guy to handle most of the talking for them, but I've also replaced a faction that I released and given Angle something to do other than chase the World Championship. I've made it no secret that I'm a massive fan of tag team wrestling, and I've also made it no secret that I believe TNA's tag scene is in pretty bad shape. The talent is there, but the wrong teams are being pushed. I would immediately have these guys feuding with The British Invasion because, much like I said for Morrison/Aries, I think it could be something special. The thing that made me choose Haas and Benjamin over other teams on the wrestling scene is their versatility. Both men can wrestle as a tag team, both men could easily transition to the X-Division, and both men could easily hold mid-card titles down the road. They're also well known enough that they could bring a respectable amount of name recognition to the company (you may have noticed already that this is a common theme amongst my picks to this point). WWE is starting to pay attention to their tag division a little more nowadays, and it's about time TNA does the same. Scoop up one of the better teams on the scene today before it's no longer an option.
One tag team just isn't enough, so I'm going to go ahead and add one more. Depending on how often you venture to wrestling companies NOT run by a McMahon or a Carter, you may or may not have heard of these guys, and I have to admit that I am only a relatively recent fan of theirs as I've been YouTubing some of their matches for the past couple of years. Presenting to you, Jay & Mark Briscoe. I'm not going to sit here and bullshit you by acting like I'm a life-long fan of the team because I would more than likely end up looking like an idiot who has no idea what he's talking about. That being said, I do know a couple of things about their history. They are currently the record holders for most reigns as ROH World Tag Team Champions (6), most combined days as champions (590), and until a few years ago they held the record for longest single reign as champions (275 days) before they were beat by the Kings of Wrestling. That record alone speaks for itself. On top of that, both men are more than capable between the ropes and any match I've seen of theirs usually ends up entertaining me considerably. TNA needs to bring in a bigger audience, and bringing in a team with the kind of history and following that the Briscoes have would be a fantastic move. On top of that, like I said earlier they need to rebuild their tag team division. TWGTT is a great start, but this signing would be like the cherry on top. I'd like to see what they could do in a bigger company, even if it's only TNA.
My next two picks are likely to shock a few people and I'd be surprised if many other people would include them on a list like this. I would bring in Kevin Fertig and Shelly Martinez, aka Kevin Thorn (or Mordecai) and Ariel while they were in WWE. I always thought Fertig was unappreciated as a wrestler in WWE and he really could have accomplished a lot more if he had been given the chance. I'd bring him in as a darker character, though definitely not as a vampire, and Martinez would serve as his valet, much like she did in ECW. I would even push Christopher Daniels as his partner/mentor by returning him to his darker Fallen Angel gimmick. They could easily serve as either another team in the tag division, or both as singles competitors who happen to be allied with each other. Fertig's a big enough dude that he could appear as a legitimate threat to just about anybody on the roster, and he's young enough (34) that his best years aren't yet behind him. As far as I know he is still active on the indy scene (as is Martinez), so it's not like ring rust would be much of a worry. He might not have the same name recognition as other picks I've made here, but this is an example of where it might be best to let his talent speak for itself. I know I'm not alone in being a fan of his work, so people might tune in to TNA just out of curiosity. Plus, Martinez is sexy as hell. I'd probably keep her away from the Knockouts Division for a while and use her mostly to get Fertig over, but that could change down the line. With the right build, I'm sure that he could be a solid enough World Champion for TNA.
Up next is another name that a lot of people might not include on a list like this, but I think that thinking about it just a little will cause it to make sense. I was always a big fan of Paul London during his time in WWE, and I would most definitely bring him in to TNA. He's not the most charismatic wrestler of all time, but I think he can handle his business on the mic. On top of that, he's certainly talented in the ring. He may never be a main event level wrestler (at least not in one of the bigger wrestling companies on this continent), but he could be a great addition to either TNA's mid-card or X-Division, particularly the latter. He's another guy who could work fairly well as either a face or a heel, so that versatility is a definite asset. And of course you have name recognition, which I've established is important to me in choosing most of these names. I wouldn't exactly say he's a household name or anything, but wrestling fans are likely to know who he is, especially since I imagine he'd be able to keep the "Paul London" wrestling name, given that it's his real name. London has already spent some time in TNA in the past, but not long enough to really accomplish anything major. He also said that, at that time anyways, he wanted to use TNA as a stepping stone to better things. Given that he's not exactly WWE's favourite ex-employee, working for TNA might be his best option at this point. TNA has been known to let their wrestlers explore smaller indy companies as long as it doesn't interfere with their commitment to TNA, so it's not like he'd be really limited in what he could do. I'd definitely bring him in.
So at this point I've added 9 names back to the roster to fill some of the 12 spots I cut in that first round. Also up to this point, with the exception of Shelly Martinez, I've only chosen names of active wrestlers without taking a look at any non-wrestling personalities. This wasn't done by accident as I only have one name that I even considered bringing in to run the behind the scenes aspect of TNA. If any of you are surprised by this upcoming pick you clearly have no clue about my tastes as a wrestling fan. Ladies (lol who am I kidding, there's no ladies reading this) and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you my final pick of the day and the man who I would be placing in charge of my creative team in TNA…
Paul Heyman. Heyman is considered by more than a few people to be one of the absolute best wrestling minds around today. This isn't the first time his name has been included in a TNA discussion as not long ago there were rumours that he was headed to TNA as part of the creative team, but for whatever reason that never happened. The popular rumour as to why it didn't work out is that Heyman wanted pretty much complete control over the creative side of things and TNA wasn't willing to give it up. To that I say, are you serious bro? If I were in charge I would pay Heyman a respectable salary and give him virtually all the power he wanted, of course keeping him having to answer to me for final say. Put him at the head of a creative team so that more than one man's ideas are at least heard and you have yourself wrestling gold right there. Heyman more than anybody knows how to get talent over and he would be a crucial part of my TNA's future. I know a lot of people are bandwagon Heyman fans or just throw his name around because it's the popular thing to do, but I assure you my intentions are slightly more pure than that. Heyman is the key to my TNA's future and I would do whatever it took to get him in my company. With the egos of Hogan, Flair, and Bischoff out of the company thanks to my first round of cuts, Heyman would not have to worry about a constant power struggle. Easy. Make him the man in charge and the improvements to the product will not be far behind.
So to sum it up, I added 10 names back to the TNA roster over the course of this column:
- John Morrison
- Jay and Mark Briscoe
- Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas
- Kevin Fertig and Shelly Martinez
- Paul London
- Paul Heyman
8 active wrestlers, a valet, and a head of creative. Not a bad list if I do say so myself. You'll notice that the names I picked aren't exactly main event level names, but I also did that on purpose. The main event scene in TNA is solid enough in terms of potential and there's more than a couple of names I would push before anybody else would be added. TNA is already on the right track with the pushes of guys like James Storm and Bobby Roode, and that needs to continue for the time being. For TNA to truly succeed they need more than just a strong main event scene. They need a strong tag division, a strong Knockouts division, and of course a strong X-Division. None of those rosters are as strong as they could be right now (although the Knockouts are getting close) which is why I chose to focus on them as I made my picks today.
So what do you guys think? Any names you would replace on my list? Am I crazy for choosing any of the names that I did? Feel free to let me know what you're thinking. Until next time though, thanks for stopping by.
Soundtrack From the Nest
I've been in a bit of a metal mood lately, so naturally Pantera is getting a lot of play on my iPod. Walk is one of my all time favourite songs by these guys and I've covered it a few times in the past. I was either going to use this or Cowboys From Hell in the column today, but Walk ended up winning out. If you've somehow never heard of these guys before, do yourself a favour and YouTube that shit.