For almost an entire year, TNA wrestling has been creating compelling television with the Aces and Eights storyline. “Invasion” angles, when done properly can effectively blur the lines between kayfabe and reality. A group of disgruntled workers banding together to initiate sea change in their organization and right perceived wrongs is a tried and true plot device that has, more often than not, lead to increased viewership and financial success (at least in the short term) for the promotion utilizing it. In this modern age of the intelligent wrestling fan, thanks largely to instantaneous streams of information, it is always refreshing when we are granted the rare opportunity to suspend disbelief and think, just maybe, these guys have had enough and are taking over the company. That feeling was achieved with the NWO, Degeneration-X, and, currently, The Shield. Unfortunately, thanks to one seemingly miniscule, but significantly detrimental reason, I do not get that same feeling from Aces and Eights.
In general, I’m a big fan of the angle. I don’t have a problem with the slow building, long-term storyline. As much as I hate forced cliffhangers, I didn’t mind them dragging out member reveals over several episodes. I think it’s great that they are in possession of 2 of the 3 major singles belts, and wouldn’t mind seeing them dominate TNA further, holding every single belt in the company. These types of storylines create a clear demarcation line between the heels and faces in a company, where previously certain characters’ alignments may have become vague. Characters without direction are given better focus and a more prominent position in the storylines (Mr. Anderson). Other characters that may have been overexposed early on can take a backseat to the more established personalities in the group while maintaining their dominance in a more passive role (Garrett Bischoff). Additionally, the payoff is going to be huge for whoever finally gives the group their comeuppance. I think the storyline was executed perfectly, quite frankly. What I have a problem with is the use of one single word in their promo work: “frickin.”
TNA is trying to separate itself from WWE by being an edgier product. The women wear less, the action is more brutal, the storylines are more adult, and the language is coarser. Appropriately, IMPACT Wrestling is given a TV-14 rating for their efforts. I’m a firm supporter of the “PG Era,” but I also think having a grittier alternative is awesome. Aces and Eights should be the defining angle that cements TNA’s position as the racier program of the 2 major promotions. Instead, we get… “frickin.” No group of thugs in the history of the world has run roughshod over an organization while managing to watch their language so impeccably. It would not have been hard to censor the Aces and Eights members with a delay so that the angle came across as more believable. If the concern was over the children in the live audience being exposed to such foul language, simple: censor the word “frickin” on TV anyway so that it seems like the members are saying the dirtier word.
It is too late to fix this problem. The angle still works and the results will surely be the same. It just feels to me like TNA missed another major opportunity to distinguish itself from the WWE and once again feels like the also-ran so many people are quick to dismiss it as.
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