Can TNA move on from Eric Bischoff & Hulk Hogan?
TNA likes to say that Bound For Glory is where careers are made & defined in the company’s history. In October of 2013, it is Bound For Glory that will determine the future of TNA as an organization. A successful event will help the company rebound for a 2014 campaign. If the event is a failure, it will bring a financially-impacted organization one step closer to collapse.
On paper, the matches on the card are pretty damn respectable. I’ve never had a problem trusting the TNA wrestlers doing their thing when management gets out of the way. However, the whole story on TNA’s history has been all about management screwing over wrestlers. You don’t need a Heel Authority character on television to screw over the talent.
I watched Thursday’s Impact show from the mindset of a first-time viewer. So, there’s a PPV on Sunday in San Diego. The main event is AJ Styles vs. Bully Ray for the TNA title. Dixie Carter wants to be the central heel character on television. Why? I’m not sure. She wants to get rid of AJ Styles. Why? I’m not sure. What I am sure of is Styles is the top babyface and Ray is the top heel. At least that makes sense. They have many options as far as an outcome, although most of them aren’t very good. And apparently writing Dixie Carter out of the limelight is off the table, given that her “nephew” Ethan Carter III is now going to be a regular on the TNA roster. You see, he wants to make “Aunt D” proud.
So, with Dixie hanging around, it would seem to make the most sense that she screws over Styles to help Ray keep his title. Or Styles wins the belt, tries to “make her pay” and ends up getting punked by her version of a golden boy, which could be Ethan Carter III. For Dixie Carter, the joy ride continues but how she handles the main event really will be a telling sign about the future of TNA as a wrestling company. It means that much.
The promo work between Styles & Ray on the go-home show was fascinating. I’m not sure if I would call it great but definitely a nice change of pace from all the unimaginative scripted BS we see on wrestling TV shows today. Ray respects wrestling history & is a mark for it. So is AJ Styles. I’ll take genuine but flawed promo work over perfect but soulless any day of the week for a traditional wrestling feud. Although I have to say that it was a little weird seeing AJ Styles take Dixie’s briefcase with $50,000 dollars in it and chuck the money at her while pointing at Bully Ray’s TNA title and stating, “That’s going to put food on my kid’s table.” Stealing Dixie’s $50,000 would do the same, too.
The semi-main event will feature Sting, the veteran, trying to put over his understudy, Magnus. I guess Magnus is getting the reverse Kazuchika Okada treatment here. Okada was viewed as New Japan’s can’t-miss project and TNA views Magnus the same way, only as a babyface. Will it work? This is another match where the finish has to be delicately booked or else a lot of time will have been wasted trying to prop up a new star only to take the legs out from underneath him. It’s not Sting’s wisdom that I question in this match but rather management’s wisdom to do the right thing. On Thursday’s TV show, the company attempted to combine the top two Bound for Glory storylines by having Magnus vs. Bully Ray with Sting’s interference backfiring.
Kurt Angle, returning from a stint in rehab, will face off against Bobby Roode. Angle even gave Roode a visual submission on the go-home Impact show when they confronted each other. Again, another PPV match where how the finish is booked will mean a lot to TNA’s future in 2014. They need to push Roode and push him hard. However, that’s not the short-term feel good moment and it doesn’t feel like that is going to happen here. The easy path is to put Angle over after and get that feel-good applause from the San Diego crowd.
There’s an “All Star” 5-way spot-fest X Division match involving Manik, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, Jeff Hardy, and Chris Sabin. First’s thing first — this match will deliver. The fans will love it. The wrestlers will all work hard. The correct move would involve Aries going over and getting a revitalized push. I don’t know if that will happen. Again, another match that looks great on paper where booking the outcome really will be important.
One thing that should be duly noted — the last three months for Chris Sabin has been a hell of a deal. To go from wrestling Austin Aries in a classic match to winning the TNA title from Bully Ray to dropping it a month later in a steel cage match to now basically being a comedy chicken heel in a mid-card match must be horribly frustrating. If you want the poster boy for schizophrenic TNA booking, Chris Sabin is your guy. Sabin should be a top leader in the company but he’s not.
To round out the PPV card, there will be a three-way women’s match between ODB, Gail Kim, and Brooke Tessmacher. James Storm & Gunner will defend the TNA tag titles against a mystery team to be announced on the pre-game Bound for Glory show on Spike TV. When will new-age bookers learn that promising ‘surprises’ for low or mid-card PPV matches never draws a buy and only goes against what you’re trying to accomplish?
The biggest takeaway from Thursday’s go-home Impact show is that the talent is still there on the roster to really do some good things. There’s still a chance for resuscitation of TNA in 2014. However, the owner is too busy watching RAW and copying what she sees on WWE TV weekly in order to imitate it on her own show while she’s reportedly financially losing a lot of money. TNA should be the alternative to WWE, not an upgraded version of NXT. It is so vitally important to have a second major wrestling company in the American industry. When WCW and WWE were battling each other, there were over 12 million wrestling fans watching either or both leagues each week. When WCW collapsed and WWE took over the assets, over 75% of that audience faded away and WWE was left with 3 million viewers a week. When there are less organizations, the size of the wrestling audience contracts. TNA still has a chance to represent what’s good about being an alternative to WWE. The problem? They have to start acting like grown ups and management is seemingly incapable of it. This Sunday’s Bound for Glory card is truly a make-or-break moment for TNA as a company. On paper, everything is set up to succeed. Will TNA grasp defeat from the jaws of possible victory again?
“Creating opportunities and making people rich, that, that is what I do best.”
You can’t make others rich forever, Dixie, if you aren’t in business and making a profit.