Sunday 27 November 2011

Thursday Night Delight

After seven years with WWE John Morrison is apparently TNA bound.

Considering the way WWE have used him for the past several years it’s not really a surprise. The company has seemed on the cusp of elevating him to the top of the card for years now but have always stopped at the last minute, unceremoniously dropping him back down to the mid-card.

Think back to 2006 when WWE made a deal with then-relevant Kevin Federline to appear on episodes of RAW and feud with John Cena. Morrison enjoyed an on-screen association with the outsider from the start and it seemed as though the company was preparing to use the association as a means of pushing him to the top of the card.

 The angle that ought to have elevated Morrison to the main event

That didn’t happen. The original plan was apparently to have the feud culminate in a singles match between Morrison and Cena, with Federline and Melina in Morrison’s corner. Instead Federline took on Cena in a singles bout with Morrison credited his Federline’s personal trainer. It was a blown opportunity and, with hindsight, signalled the beginning of WWE’s penchant of mainstream acceptance at the expense of their own talent.

At the time it was considered a poor move but people assumed Morrison would receive another push at a later date. He had tons of natural ability and the all-important “WWE Look”. His unpolished verbal skills were expected to improve over time. They did, and his already solid wrestling skills became more reliable too. He did get more pushes over the years but they were always halted before they’d run their course. As a result the soon-to-be ‘Thursday Night Delight’ never made it to the top.

Vince McMahon is said to dislike the idea of Morrison headlining WWE shows as champion because he doesn’t believe ‘The Guru of Greatness’ looks like someone who could “kick somebody’s ass.” Such things are important to Vince. Morrison’s relationship with Melina, a woman often rumoured to be involved in problem incidents backstage, likely didn’t help his case either.

The company’s view of Morrison was never more apparent than earlier this year. The former WWECW champion raced back from a neck injury he’d suffered in spring so that he would be healthy and on the roster for SummerSlam, held in his hometown of Los Angeles. WWE repaid this dedication by booking him in an enjoyable but forgettable six man tag opener at the show. Morrison risked his health for nothing.

A singles match between Morrison and R-Truth, the man credited with injuring Morrison months before, at SummerSlam would have been a better use of both men. Morrison would have been rewarded for his commitment, R-Truth’s still-on-the-rise heel character would have been well served with a meaningful singles match between someone he’d wronged, and viewers would have been treated to an enjoyable bout which the live audience would have come alive for (check the reaction to Morrison at SummerSlam – it was very healthy).

Morrison was lumbered with the dreaded losing streak gimmick shortly afterwards, something which makes every wrestler saddled with it look weak and out of their depth. Lasting several months it was a senseless waste of one of the few genuinely popular men under contract.

‘The Shaman of Sexy’s’ contract expired at the end of October but he signed a one month extension in order to appear at events WWE had advertised him for. I believe that says Morrison still has a passion for the business and for appearing in front of fans, but is tired of his treatment in McMahonland. It also shows that WWE doesn’t pay much attention to little details such as contracts when advertising talent for upcoming shows (but that’s another point for another time).

If rumours are to be believed Morrison will join TNA sometime in the next few months. Exactly when he will debut will occur is difficult to predict: WWE stars typically have a three-month no compete clause written into their contracts which prohibits them from appearing for another wrestling within ninety days of leaving WWE. With Morrison having signed a contract extension that countdown could begin either at the end of the extension or the date on which his original contract expired. It should really have begun in October but you can never be sure with WWE.

Whatever the case Morrison is unlikely to appear for TNA until late January at the earliest. He will supposedly be used in the X Division upon his debut. That’s a smart move by TNA. Morrison will add some much needed name value to the dilapidated division and ought to have great matches with current champion Austin Aries, with or without the title on the line.

Will X Division champ Austin Aries be Morrison's inaugural TNA feud?

If TNA are clever they can use Morrison’s signing to rejuvenate the X Division before moving him up the card to bigger and better feuds with the company’s headline stars. Matches with the likes of AJ Styles, Bobby Roode, James Storm and Jeff Hardy ought to be highly entertaining, as could a reunion with Melina. Whether or not that’s the path his career will take we’ll have to wait and see, but it’s how I’d use him.

I’d love to see Morrison in Ring of Honor, but that doesn’t appear likely. From the sounds of it the TNA move is pretty much a done deal. It may not be as rewarding an environment as ROH but TNA is a better financial choice for Morrison and should at least ensure he’s on television every week rather than once a month. If TNA use him correctly John Morrison could really help them expand as a group and entice some new viewers. Let’s hope they don’t mess up.

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