Although we’re already three weeks into the new year, I wanted to share some thoughts with you on what I’d like to see in TNA Wrestling throughout the rest of 2011. And remember, this is being written from a fan’s perspective – nothing more, nothing less. 😉
More Storyline Continuity
Don’t destroy Fortune too quickly: We all know how wrestling writers typically work these programs – they put a group together, everyone has fun for a short time, in-fighting begins, and then there’s some type of civil war. What happened to the days of a long-term stable like the Four Horsemen? Or even the nWo to some extent? Here’s hoping that Fortune stays together for the long haul. It would do TNA Wrestling – and professional wrestling in general – some good.
Keep focusing on the long-term storylines with payoffs over a matter of months, not weeks: In a post-Bound for Glory 2010 interview, Eric Bischoff commented on how fans would need to get used to the old style of wrestling angles where the payoff didn’t come every few weeks at a pay-per-view, but rather after a few months worth of events. I like that approach because it takes less emphasis and urgency off of the “now” and puts it back in the entire promotion over a longer period of time. It would be great if Bischoff and the gang at TNA Wrestling kept that type of mindset throughout all of 2011 and led the promotion’s storylines to a raging finish at Bound for Glory in October.
Better (and More) Knockout Storylines
Tara and Mickie James: Who would have ever thought that the current version of the Knockouts division with no Awesome Kong, no ODB, no Gail Kim, no Traci Brooks, etc. would ever be able to main event iMPACT!? Further, who would have ever thought that two former Divas would be main eventing iMPACT! in a steel cage match? That’s an incredible accomplishment for the new Knockouts division and women’s professional wrestling as a whole. I’m hoping that 2011 brings more of Tara and Mickie James and an increased focus on the Knockout division.
The Beautiful People and Winter: There could be something really good in the works with The Beautiful People and Winter. As someone who hasn’t watched WWE’s creepy product consistently in over five years, I had no idea that this Winter person was formerly a Diva known as Katie Lea Burchill. Sure, I knew of the name (I do own three professional wrestling websites), but before Winter appeared in TNA Wrestling, I had no idea what this woman was about. So, for me, she’s not a former Diva transplant as much as she’s a new, original talent in the Knockout division. And I admit that I like this crazy, obsessive personality that the writers have her on. I’d like to see how this storyline plays out with the TNA Knockout Tag Team Champions over the course of 2011…
Continued Elevation of Original Talent
Fortune: Nothing makes me laugh harder or better realize the stupid blindness of certain wrestling fans than when they say that TNA Wrestling is nothing more than a bunch of washed up WWE wrestlers. Really? Other than Ric Flair as a manager of the group (a guy, by the way, who made his name in the NWA, not the WWE) – who, exactly, in Fortune is a washed up WWE guy? That’s what I thought. There’s a lot of potential with this super group and once they break free from Immortal I’m looking forward to seeing them run roughshod over TNA Wrestling!
Rob Terry: Here’s a guy who was in WWE’s developmental program and was let go as a cost cutting measure. Having never been a WWE “superstar,” I think that Terry is a great example of some homegrown talent that has the potential to pay big dividends in the future for TNA Wrestling. I hope there’s more focus on him as a monster in the promotion in 2011.
Jay Lethal: Up front, let me say that I’m biased in favor of Lethal because he’s a fellow Jersey guy. With that said, he’s one of the most entertaining performers in the industry today and I hope that the writers in TNA Wrestling give him some more high-level exposure this year.
Motor City Machine Guns: Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley are the best tag team in wrestling today, period. They’re exciting, fun to watch, and smooth in the ring. Personally, I like that quasi-geeky stance that they take during their interviews and the fact that they drop a ton of insider information whenever they’re in front of the microphone. I’m looking forward to some great matches and great feuds for this tag team in 2011!
Amazing Red & Crimson: I’m only lumping these two together because they’re “related” in the storyline. We all know how great Amazing Red is as a performer in the ring – he’s another story like you might find in the old ECW where a low-level performer wins over the fans and then breaks out. I’m hoping that he gets to continue to display his skills throughout the year. As for Crimson, the guy has the perfect wrestling appearance with the tattoos, the pissed off face, and the not-too-bulky build. I hope that he’s put to good use in TNA Wrestling – he looks to have a ton of potential.
The Beautiful People: Angelina Love and Velvet Sky (two non-Divas, by the way) are the trendsetters in women’s wrestling. In fact, they were so successful at being a tandem that the copycats in WWE stole the idea with some bizarrely named duo of Divas. At some point in 2011, I’d like to see them get back to their “mean girls” way of terrorizing the Knockout division. I get a kick out of that stuff!
Madison Rayne: For the most part, I think that Rayne is a great talent inside of the ring. She tries way too hard when it comes to talking and promoting herself, though, and I think she needs to get that under control. She’s constantly shrieking and it can sometimes create a problem. A perfect example was during Mickie James’ debut on iMPACT! when James announced that she would be “bound for glory” and Rayne shrieked out, “You’re bound for failure!” It didn’t come off well, it sounded stupid, and it generally lessened the feeling of the moment. Sometimes less is more and for Rayne – who has become a true superstar in the Knockouts division – she needs to use 2011 to learn to tone it down a bit with the constant yapping.
D’Angelo Dinero: Remember when this guy was in WWE? No? Don’t worry, no one else does either. Dinero is another one of the castaways from Titan Towers that is making a huge name for himself down in Dixieland. There’s a ton of potential in Dinero as both an athletic performer and as a character. They’re beginning to dig into this character a little bit in Dinero’s back and forth with Samoa Joe. Here’s hoping that keeps up throughout 2011!
Douglas Williams: What’s great about Williams is that he’s a consistent performer from the only market in the world where TNA Wrestling bests WWE – the United Kingdom. Along with Desmond Wolfe, Rob Terry, and Brutus Magnus, TNA Wrestling should do their best to continue to build the Williams’ character and allow him to showcase his skills on a frequent basis. There’s nothing wrong with being the #1 American wrestling promotion in the United Kingdom and this accolade allows TNA Wrestling to legitimately say that they’re beating WWE in a major market. I hope that Williams is allowed to help solidify that first place lead this year.
Robbie E.: Again, I admit that I’m biased when it comes to my fellow Jersey guys. With that said, there’s so much potential in Robbie E. as a performer and a character that I hope TNA Wrestling doesn’t write him off as a part-time guy. Whether MTV’s Jersey Shore is worth watching or not is besides the point. Robbie E. embodies the stereotype that most of my fellow New Jerseyans hate and that the rest of the country thinks is commonplace in our state. There is a great opportunity for real heel heat to be generated from this character in 2011.
A Move Out of the iMPACT! Zone
After the news that TNA Wrestling is taking iMPACT! on the road, it looks like this hope for the promotion has already been met. Along with this hope, though, is my desire to see a real crowd that is packed with real TNA wrestling fans. I don’t know how many fans can fit into the arena in Fayetteville, North Carolina, but I do hope that there is a significant showing. The iMPACT! Zone is just too small and too generic to ever give the impression that TNA Wrestling is a big-time player and the type of wrestling program that channel flippers should stop and watch on Thursday nights. Just my opinion.
At the same time, when I talk about hoping to see “real” wrestling fans at the iMPACT! tapings outside of Orlando, I’m talking about not having two specific audiences present at the event. First, there is the vocal, jaded minority of regulars that attend the Orlando tapings. These guys are just depressed on TNA Wrestling and find anyway they can to interrupt the program with random shouts and yells. These are the type of folks that read an internet wrestling website and then think they are better than the rest of the fans and not “marks” for the product (it’s actually the exact opposite).
The second group of “fans” that I don’t want to see at the iMPACT! tapings are the fake actors that are brought in to act a certain way. Want to know what I’m talking about here? Watch any episode of iMPACT! and listen for the shrieking girl who yells nonstop over and over again. That’s not a wrestling fan nor is it a real fan – you don’t get that high-pitched shrieking girl at any wrestling event, ever. I’ve been to major house shows for WWE, I’ve been to WWE pay-per-views, I’ve been to small house shows for TNA Wrestling, and I’ve even been to a TNA Wrestling pay-per-view in Trenton, New Jersey. On top of that, I’ve been to any number of house shows for local promotions and I even helped organize two wrestling shows back in college – at NONE of these events was there ever someone shrieking over and over and over again like that actress does each week on iMPACT!
So go ahead and listen for that, but be forewarned that once you hear that idiot shrieking, it’ll be all you hear each time you watch the show. It sucks.
Another thing that is just annoying about iMPACT! is the shaky camera angles and constant in-and-out of focus cameras. I like the approach that TNA Wrestling takes to the backstage footage – it’s cool, sort of like you’re spying on “real life.” I don’t know about you folks, though, but if I ever eavesdrop or sneak a peak at a meeting, my eyes don’t constantly go in and out of focus nor am I looking at someone’s head then down to their feet (out of focus) and then to their midsection and then to their hand and then back to their head.
It’s annoying. Stop it.
Renewal of Hulk Hogan’s and Eric Bischoff’s Contracts
And this one should go without saying. Back when Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff signed with TNA Wrestling, the interwebs reported that they had two year contracts. Since then, Hogan announced in an interview with Howard Stern that he’s got an ownership stake in the company (if my memory serves correctly). To say that these two have raised the company’s profile is an understatement.
Major change requires a major commitment and for TNA Wrestling, that means re-signing Hogan and Bischoff.
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