The Crow's Nest - Why I'm 100% Okay With Sting Getting a World Title Shot
May 3, 2013 - 11:59:59 PM
1) Why I'm 100% Okay With Sting Getting a World Title Shot (05/03/13)
Well well well, it's been some time since I've posted around these parts. I was quite busy getting ready to move, and I'm not just talking about a move to a different part of the same city. I'm currently driving across Canada, returning home to Ontario. It's certainly no small task, going from Vancouver all the way back East, but I've actually had a blast so far. I've met lots of interesting people along the way, and it's been great seeing that much more of my country.
But you're not here to hear about my road trip, so let's get on with the column. It's not going to be super long, because I'm exhausted and have to get back on the road early tomorrow, but it's a topic I want to address right now.
Ever since the last set of Impact spoilers came out, I've had more than a few people ask me about the exact same thing: "ZOMGZZZ HOW CAN TNA GIVE STING ANOTHER TITLE SHOT! DEY BURIED MORGAN!" Okay, maybe it was never asked quite like that, but after a while that's how it started to sound.
In case you missed the news, as of last night's episode of Impact, Sting is set to face Bully Ray for the World Heavyweight Championship at Slammiversary, having defeated Matt Morgan in a #1 Contender's match after making him "pass out from the pain" of a Scorpion Deathlock. Naturally this has caused the spread of an epidemic I like to refer to as "bitchy-itis" with loads of people crying out that TNA has once again screwed up by overlooking Matt Morgan yet again. It seems that many of you who are suffering from that disease I mentioned assumed I would jump onboard the "TNA dun goofed" train, but I'm here to tell you that you're wrong.
So, so wrong.
The simple fact is this: Sting is not going to win the title. Why is TNA bothering to give him a title shot then? How on Earth is this not a bad decision? I'm glad you asked.
First and foremost, it makes 100% storyline sense. Bully Ray is the current World Champion, but on top of that he also happens to be the leader of the group that has been a thorn in the side of TNA for quite some time now. Sting has been at the centre of the Aces & Eights storyline from the outset, and was Hogan's closest ally when it came to fighting the thugs. That is, until it was revealed that Bully Ray had fooled everybody, Sting included. Who took the brunt of the blame? Sting. Who seemed to be on a personal mission of redemption? Sting. Who has a very personal reason to want to beat Bully Ray? Sting. With TNA having such a limited PPV schedule, they have to make every big match count. Back when there were 12 PPVs a year, it wasn't a big deal to have short-term feuds over the belt, or even random challengers fighting for the belt while the champion was actually involved in a much bigger feud with somebody else. Now though, with a third as many PPVs as they once had, each title match needs to be more carefully thought out.
Sure, Sting might not be the draw he once was, but in a kayfabe sense, is there any bigger and more credible name on the active TNA roster? Regardless of his limited usage, Sting is a legend, and in the eyes of many of the fans, a big victory over him still means something. Maybe some of the "smart" marks will disagree, but they'd be in the minority. It makes perfect sense for Sting to seek revenge over Bully Ray, therefore it makes perfect sense for TNA to book him in the title match.
As I mentioned earlier, another primary concern of a lot of the people I've talked to is that TNA has once again brought Matt Morgan so close to the "big one", only to take it away and give it to somebody else. Sure, technically that's true. Morgan was inches away from getting a shot at the World Championship, and Sting did take it away from him. But when you look at the situation a little deeper, you see that it's really not so bad.
Had Morgan received the title shot, he would have lost and proceeded to fall into nothingness as he was overshadowed by Aces & Eights. The World Championship is almost secondary to Bully Ray and his gang of merry bikers, serving primarily as a symbol of how he screwed TNA. Because of that, it is, for the time being, an essential part of the storyline. Bully Ray really isn't that deep into his first World Title run, so at this point if he loses the belt, the whole Aces & Eights thing loses out a lot. Would Matt Morgan put on a better match with Ray than Sting will? Absolutely. But, and this is the important question to ask, would Morgan losing to Bully Ray hurt him? Yes, yes it would.
When Matt Morgan finally wins his first World Championship, the focus needs to be solely on him. If it was a bit further down the line and Morgan was a face again, I could see him taking down Bully Ray and becoming (at least temporarily) the "saviour" of TNA by toppling the group no one else has been able to touch. Right now though? Morgan is playing a very similar character to Bully Ray. He's mad that he's never gotten the push he feels he deserves, and is willing to do whatever it takes to make his point. If that means destroying beloved TNA personalities, then so be it.
As much as I'd love to see Morgan win that belt, it has to be done right. It shouldn't be at the expense of an entire storyline that has been in the making for damn close to a year now. Aces & Eights is clearly the main focus of TNA's booking right now, and until that starts to change (or until Morgan is in a better place to challenge Bully Ray) they need to be very careful with picking title contenders. Right now, Bully Ray needs that huge victory, and facing a ring veteran like Sting is going to be great for his reign.
Even though Morgan might not be getting his title shot next month at Slammiversary, he has managed to accomplish one very important thing. Matt Morgan is now closer than ever to winning "the big one", and more fans are believing it could happen. Despite not being the #1 Contender, Morgan has been booked as a legitimate threat to the World Championship. He came so close to beating Sting (who, like it or not, is one of the biggest names on the roster) and didn't get pinned or forced to submit. He "injured" himself in the match, and passed out from pain after being locked in a submission hold. You can dump on Sting all you want for being old and not as able as he used to be, but in a storyline sense? Morgan went the distance with one of the all time greats and managed to look great for most of the match, and only lost because of an "injury".
Do any of you really think that this is the last we're going to see of Morgan? He's going to come back with a vengeance, and he's going to want to take Sting out for screwing him out of what he felt was rightfully his. Maybe he'll even quietly disappear from TV until Slammiversary, only to return during Sting's match and cost him the victory. I know lots of people will groan at the thought of an actual feud between Morgan and Sting, but once again I have to go back to what I keep saying: beating Sting is a big deal. Putting Morgan into a program with a legend like that keeps him in the spotlight, which keeps him ready to pop into the title picture when some space frees up, and it allows Bully Ray to keep doing what he's doing. Aces & Eights isn't exactly known for winning matches cleanly, and this provides a perfectly logical way to have the match end.
Granted that is purely hypothetical, but my main point still stands. People are associating Matt Morgan with the World Title picture in a serious way, and that is an amazing thing. Rushing him into it right now does more harm than it would do good, so it really is better to wait a bit and find a way to keep him relevant until his time arrives.
My final point has less to do with Matt Morgan, but is closely related to the first point I made. Sure, I made a logical argument as to why Sting was the logical choice to face Bully Ray, but does that mean that nobody else would have worked? Let's take a look at the other potential contenders, shall we?
Jeff Hardy is a pretty regular figure in the World Title scene, and he certainly has reason to want to take down the Bully. Not long ago, Hardy was defeated in a title match against Bully Ray and had to be stretchered out of the arena, and we haven't seen him since. My reasoning behind him not facing off for the belt at the upcoming PPV is simple: he's going to be the one to take it off Bully eventually, but it's just too soon for that to happen. Let him take some time off to deal with his "injury", and he can come back to feud if/when Sting and Morgan start feuding. My hypothetical booking is starting to make a lot of sense now.
What about Bobby Roode or Austin Aries? Both are former World Champions, both would be ready to step back into the title picture at any time, so why not? Simple. Those two are getting ready to feud against each other, and right now the focus needs to be on the building tension between them. They're the best part of the tag division right now, perhaps second only to Bad Influence, and on top of the budding tension in that alliance, they're still seeking to regain the belts they lost to Chavo and Hernandez. It wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to pull them out just yet.
No other scenario makes as much sense as having Sting in that match. Sure, they might make SOME amount of sense, but that's not the same as 100%. None of the other potential names, aside from maybe Hogan himself, are as involved in this storyline as Sting, and while it may seem that this battle is over a championship, it's really about Aces & Eights. Like I said earlier, the belt is essentially a symbol of how Bully Ray screwed the company, and until the company is ready to have Bully Ray lead the group without the gold, any booking of contenders needs to be done carefully. Aces & Eights is not ready to stand alone without the World Champion on their side, and Bully Ray still needs to establish himself as a permanent main event guy. Beating Sting will be a huge step in the right direction, and for now that's the best decision TNA could have made.
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