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Posted in: The Crow's Nest
The Crow's Nest - Taking A Break
By TheCrow
Nov 18, 2011 - 9:35:41 PM



1) Taking A Break For Awhile





The title of this particular column is really quite misleading. Fear not loyal readers, I'm not taking a break from column writing, nor am I taking a break from watching TNA (sorry haters). Normally on a Thursday night or Friday morning I would be putting out my usual show review for that week's episode of iMPACT. I usually thoroughly enjoy doing those columns and they are likely most responsible for getting me noticed during my time in the Columns Forum, but lately I've found they're actually taking away from my ability to really enjoy the product, especially at a time like right now where I'm already less than positive about what's going on. So for the time being, I'm going to be halting those show reviews so I can enjoy the weekly shows again.

That being said, there's no way I'm going to stop writing about TNA. Writing about things like what I would do to improve the company might seem like a way to even further kill my fandom to some people, I find it actually helps me stay strangely positive. A little while back I wrote what was intended to be the first part of a series on things I would do to improve TNA, but unfortunately various circumstances kept me from being able to continue it. So today, in lieu of an iMPACT review, I'm going to fire off "part 2" of this series. Warning, this column is probably going to be longer than my usual stuff, so please stick with me.

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Very few things in the world of wrestling approach the level of importance of the company's roster. The superstars are directly responsible for making sure that we, the fans who spend our hard-earned money on everything from tickets to merchandise, are entertained and remain loyal to the company. The creative team may write the script, but in reality the execution of the script is significantly more important. Take for example a movie like The Hangover. If the script remained exactly the same but Zach Galifianakis was replaced by an actor like Christian Bale, I seriously doubt the movie would have been the success that it was. Wrestling scripts are no different.

But with all that being said, there is a certain aspect of any wrestling company that can make the difference between a wrestler and a superstar. What is that aspect you might be asking? Why, title belts of course. Not only do the title belts indicate who the company has faith in to represent them as the face of the company, they are a crucial part to making some feuds truly special. Like any sport, there needs to be a prize for the guys on the roster to fight over. Much like the NHL wouldn't be the same without the Stanley Cup, wrestling wouldn't be the same without their champions.

Unfortunately today's age of wrestling, at least in WWE and TNA, has seen a sharp decline in the prestige of their titles. Regardless of what you blame this decline on, the fact remains that it's an unfortunate situation for both the companies and the fans. Gone are the days where wrestlers who never won a World Championship can be considered just as legendary as the ones who did.

WWE is just as guilty of this as TNA is, but as this is a TNA column that's what I'm going to focus on. So for this part of the series of actions I would take to improve the company, I want to look at their title scene and offer my thoughts.

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The TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championships
Currently held by Gail Kim & Madison Rayne

Let me start off by saying that I'm 100% against these titles even existing. The Knockouts roster is not nearly large enough to warrant having 2 titles, no matter how talented the existing wrestlers on the roster are. Right now TNA is in a perfect position to get rid of these titles and have it mesh perfectly with a storyline. Gail Kim is being pushed to the moon right now as the most dominant female force in the industry today (deservedly so I might add) and she is currently in possession of both of TNA's titles available to the Knockouts. Given her alliance with Karen Jarrett, the VP of the Knockouts Division, she could very easily say that she wants the titles deactivated because no one deserves to be her partner in the ring simply because no one on the roster is on her level. Not only would that get her a lot of heat, it would get rid of a set of titles that have no business existing in a logical way.

Even if TNA increased the size of their Knockouts roster, there just simply isn't enough time in the 2 hour weekly show that TNA has to effectively use 6 titles. Maybe if they had 2 weekly shows that could be different, but right now it's just too much. The titles are rarely defended as it is, so really they're just meaningless props. They have never once been used to really get anyone over with the crowd, they've never been used by a Knockouts team to establish their dominance, and again there's just not enough Knockouts to warrant 2 different titles for them. I see no pros in these titles continuing to exist right now, so I would cut them. Now.

The TNA Knockouts Championship
Currently held by Gail Kim

Might as well continue my Knockouts rant with a discussion on their singles title.

The Knockouts Division used to be one of the best parts of TNA. Along with the X-Division, I would credit the Knockouts with getting TNA put on the map as a real alternative in the world of wrestling. If you wanted to see the best female performers that the industry had to offer on a fairly large stage, you had to tune into TNA to watch their Knockouts perform. Gail Kim was an integral part in getting that movement started, so having her back in the company is absolutely awesome.

In the past little while, the Knockouts title has been victim to the same decline in title prestige that every other title has been. It was rarely defended, and when it was it was usually in a title match that had little to no buildup, leading to a match that no one really cared about. That seems to be turning around now with Kim's return to the company. Previous champions like Winter and Madison Rayne certainly helped, but someone like Gail Kim is going to really bring the title some importance again because she also has name value in addition to her other skills. If there's one thing I would do with this championship, I would keep it around Kim's waist for the foreseeable future and have her be involved with a few solid feuds. Her alliance with Karen Jarrett is a nice start, but I'm looking forward to her feuding with people like Tara, Madison Rayne, Winter, and even Mickie James (which I'm going to get to see sooner than later by the looks of it). The groundwork is already laid for this title's return to glory, but the execution at this point is crucial.

The TNA Tag Team Championships
Currently held by Matt Morgan & Crimson

Where to start with these titles… I think the main thing hurting these titles in TNA right now, aside from the lack of real teams of course, is that TNA only has 2 hours of real TV time a week to showcase their superstars. It's almost impossible to establish an entire division in that short amount of time, especially with such a young roster as TNA has right now. I've always been a fan of tag team wrestling because it forces the wrestlers to establish an entirely different kind of in-ring psychology, and it allows younger wrestlers to establish a character for themselves with a partner.

If TNA really wants to make their tag division succeed, even with iMPACT as their only weekly show, they need to start pushing teams the crowd can get behind. That isn't to say that they need to bring in a bunch of indy-established tag teams however, because if WWE has shown us anything with "Air Boom" throwing a couple of seemingly random guys together can actually pay off. Unless of course that team is Crimson and Matt Morgan, but that's an entirely different column topic.

Right now there's only 3 real teams in TNA: Ink Inc., Mexican America, and The British Invasion. It's a good start, but not nearly enough. The Pope and Devon were rocking the scene for a while, but TNA seems to have forgotten about them, so I'd bring them back. When Chris Sabin returns from injury, the Motor City Machine Guns can reform and rock the scene again. That's 5 teams right there, not including Morgan/Crimson. Right now that's probably good enough for TNA until the division is brought back to a higher level. That being said, we need a set of champions who will actually benefit the division. The British Invasion are, in my opinion, the best tag team in TNA right now but they get nothing in the way of TV time. If I were in control, they would be my champions right now, and they'd be booked like the dominant force they should be portrayed as. The only thing that really needs to be done to improve the tag division is for TNA to push the right teams. It shouldn't be that difficult.

The TNA X-Division Championship
Currently held by Austin Aries

Like I mentioned earlier, I fully credit the X-Division with TNA being put on the map as a wrestling alternative. Like the Cruiserweight division of WWE, the X-Division showcased a higher flying style of wrestling that at times approached the level of too ridiculous, but almost never failed to entertain. Unfortunately TNA seemed to have forgotten the success of the X-Division and let it diminish in importance to the point where the championship was just another meaningless prop for TV. Over the past few months they've appeared to have made an effort to make the division matter again, thanks in large part to Aries' performance as champion, but there's still a lot that needs to be done.

Destination X this year did an amazing job of showcasing the X-Division in my opinion, and this needs to be an annual event. One or two X-Division matches on the card is nice, but it needs to be more than that. Most, if not all, of the card at Destination X every year needs to be X-Division matches. It's only one card out of the year that needs to do this, and there's more than enough talent on the roster to put on a good card. But due to the nature of multi-man matches, the amount of available wrestlers quickly diminishes. So what would I do to combat this? Almost exactly what TNA did this year. Bring in some guys from the indys and some guys from other promotions around the globe to compete on iMPACT to earn a spot on the card. It accomplishes a couple of things that way. It adds names to the card, it gives the fans a little bit of time to invest in relatively unknown talent, and it showcases what other promotions around the globe have to offer.

Throughout the other parts of the year, making the X-Division Championship matter again is as simple as showcasing the champion on a weekly basis. Aries is doing a magnificent job of this right now and always makes his time on iMPACT matter, whether it's in a promo, segment, or a match. If the champion is treated as a big deal, the fans will begin to care about the belt again. Of course the X-Division title is slightly different as it needs the division to be successful for the belt to truly mean anything. TNA should be putting on at least a match a week showcasing these guys, and the same goes for PPV events. If they put an X-Division match on every PPV card, even if it's not always for the title, that would do wonders for making it matter again. Making this title and division matter again is almost as important as making their top title matter again, so I would put a lot of focus on this particular aspect of their company.

The TNA Television Championship
Currently held by Robbie E.

The fact that this title has seen multiple names over the past few years is far from a good thing. It went from being the "Legends Championship" in the Main Event Mafia to being the "Global Championship", to the current "Television Championship". Add to that the fact that the title is rarely defended and even more rarely treated like an important part of a storyline and you have yourself the most meaningless prop in TNA today.

I would start by getting rid of this title completely. The damage to this title's credibility is so extensive that nothing short of a miracle could rescue it. I would start completely fresh by creating a new mid-card championship and giving it to a relatively high-caliber star who hasn't quite yet made it to the main event, maybe a guy like Crimson even?

The key part to this new title succeeding would be how TNA treats it (duh). This secondary title needs to be treated as the second best thing in the company, just like how the Intercontinental title was treated back in the old WWF days. Guys need to be fighting just for the CHANCE to win this title, not "defending" it in pre-recorded segments against Z-list celebrities like Scott Baio. Giving this new title to an already established mid-card name like Crimson or Matt Morgan instantly gives it a chance at credibility with the fans, but it's the initial feuds that are going to matter. Instead of just naming a champion right off the bat, hold a month long tournament that culminates at a PPV event where the winner is declared the new champion. After that, creating the prestige to make the new title a true success is in the hands of the champion. They need to treat it very much like The Miz treated the US title when he had it where they are openly proud to wear the belt and are determined to hang on to it. None of this crap that Eric Young pulled when he was the TV Champ. It absolutely needs to be seen as secondary only to the World Heavyweight Championship. Speaking of the WHC…

The TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Currently held by Bobby Roode

One of my biggest pet peeves of any wrestling title is when the title changes hands too frequently and for apparently no reason. Perfect example is the current scene in TNA. In the span of 2 weeks, we had 3 different World Champions: Kurt Angle, who lost it to James Storm, who lost it to Roode in his first defence. That is NOT how ANY World Championship should be treated, even in TNA. It wasn't that long ago that the champs actually held respectable title reigns. In the entire 4.5 year existence of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship (after its change from the NWA title) there have been a combined 19 title reigns amongst 10 different champions, and 8 of those reigns have occurred in 2011 alone. It was only 2 years ago that AJ Styles had his record-setting (in TNA that is) title reign of 211 days. The 2011 WHC scene looks like this:

- Mr. Anderson wins the title on January 9 at Genesis
- Jeff Hardy wins the title on February 13 at Against All Odds (35 day reign for Anderson)
- Sting wins the title on March 3 on iMPACT (18 day reign for Hardy)
- Mr. Anderson wins the title on June 12 at Slammiversary (101 day reign for Sting)
- Sting wins the title on July 14 on iMPACT (32 day reign for Anderson)
- Kurt Angle wins the title on August 7 at Hardcore Justice (24 day reign for Sting)
- James Storm wins the title on October 20 on iMPACT (74 day reign for Angle)
- Bobby Roode wins the title on November 3 on iMPACT (14 day reign for Storm)

8 total reigns, 6 different champions. Not exactly a stellar year for what is supposed to be the top prize in TNA. My first improvement to this title scene would be to increase the length of title reigns. Second, the only people who are going to win the title are those who have successfully gotten over with the crowd and have earned their spot in a nice long feud with the current champ. Throwing someone new into the title scene out of nowhere (such as with a briefcase that guarantees a title shot anytime, anywhere, even at random) does nothing to benefit anyone. Before anyone wins the World Championship, the fans should already be viewing them as potential champions.

But more than anything, TNA needs to learn how to pull the trigger at the appropriate time so they don't lose the fans' interest and support. Throughout 2007 and early 2008, the fans were SCREAMING for a Samoa Joe WHC run, but TNA delayed it to the point where when Joe finally DID win the title, no one seemed to really care. That and they handled the reign absolutely terribly. Joe went from being the most dominant force and one of the most over wrestlers in the company to being a flop as champion who looked like a bitch for most of the time. Even then though, he held the title for 182 days, landing him in 4th place for longest combined days as champion. Recently TNA did almost the same thing to Bobby Roode. The fans were 100% behind Roode going into Bound For Glory and were ready to see him finally become champion, but they were cheated out of that moment. Instead we see a pointless title change to James Storm, only to have him drop the title to Roode less than a month later. This not only makes the belt look cheap, it makes the champions look even worse.

So basically the belt needs longer reigns, more established names holding it, and to be treated with the respect it deserves. No World Championship should be treated like a meaningless prop. If TNA truly wants to establish themselves as any form of competition to WWE, their top belt needs to be seen with some level of prestige. Right now the best thing they can do is keep the belt on Roode for the foreseeable future until the right moment comes along to crown a new champ.

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So there we have it. The entire TNA title scene examined and tweaked in such a way that I believe would improve the TNA product. I really haven't suggested anything that difficult or extreme, which makes it even more clear that TNA should probably implement things along those lines. Or give me a job on the creative team, either way works for me.

So what do you fine folks think? Are my suggestions a potential cure for TNA? Or do you think I'm crazy? Let me know. Either way, I'll see you all again soon. Thanks for stopping by TheCrow's Nest.

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Soundtrack From the Nest



Not overly new to the scene, DevilDriver started to get some mainstream (in the metal scene at least) attention with their second album, titled The Fury of Our Maker's Hand in 2005. In my opinion they are one of those bands that improved with each successive album. Their latest album Beast, which is where this song is from, is easily my favourite to date. They're definitely not going to be everybody's cup of tea, but if you're into metal at all I highly recommend you check them out. I was crushed when I first found out they didn't actually write "Black Soul Choir", but when the cover version is this good it hardly matters, and I'm a guy who rarely prefers a cover to the original.

Other Songs of Note: Horn of Betrayal, Clouds Over California, Grin****ed, Hold Back the Day

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