Saturday 31 March 2012

Into the Abyss

Finally, after years of stalling, TNA have decided to do something new with the ancient Abyss character. Well, possibly…

Chris ‘Abyss’ Parks has been with TNA since 2003. For the hard of counting among you that’s nine years. It’s very difficult for a character to stay fresh in the wrestling business over such a lengthy period of time. Abyss has fared no better than anyone else. It doesn’t help that the character was conceived as an odd amalgamation of WWE’s Kane and Makind. He started out as a mute as did Kane. He even went through periods of being managed by The Sinister Minister, a nastier version of Paul Bearer.

His first memorable role was as a bodyguard for Kid Kash. That underwhelming part set the tone for the next several years. Mediocre feuds were intermingled with nonsensical face and heels turns, ludicrous storylines inspired by the Kane-Undertaker saga, and gibberish promos that you could, were you feeling particularly unkind, liken to the work of the Ultimate Warrior.

You may have picked up on the fact that I’m not a huge fan of the Abyss gimmick.

I’m not against Chris Parks. I think he’s a talented, hard-working wrestler who’s very nimble and athletic for a man of his size. While I’m not especially fond of modern garbage wrestling (I prefer to rely on old ECW footage for my needs in that department) I won’t deny that Parks has found his strength in such matches. If they’re spaced apart he can make an impression with his hardcore outings.

It’s the nonsense that the Abyss character seems to encourage that I’ve never been a fan of. Thankfully IMPACT has been free of that since the Genesis pay-per-view on January 8th. On that broadcast Bully Ray was shown wiping his hands in a business-like fashion (we were meant to presume he had disposed of Abyss in a nefarious manner). ‘Calf-zilla’ responded cagily to questions regarding Abyss’s whereabouts.

You see? Even when being written off television Abyss gets caught up in tosh.

Two months later Parks returned to TV under the name of Joseph Park. This man is, we are told, Chris ‘Abyss’ Parks’ brother. This new character is a welcome change from the ranting, snarling madman we’re used to Parks portraying. I hope he sticks around and we don’t see the mask return.

The artist formerly known as Abyss

This being wrestling (and not just wrestling but TNA) there are a few ways this could play out.

Probably the most likely option is that we’ll see a storyline develop in which Joseph gradually uncovers the truth as to what happened between Bully Ray and his brother before we’re hit with Russo-esque swerve reveal that Joseph has been Chris all along. That would ultimately achieve nothing beyond, possibly, a costume change for Abyss. We’d be stuck with the tired Bully Ray v Abyss feud again and TNA would have fumbled another potentially worthwhile plot.

Slightly less likely is that Joseph will find out what happened between Bully Ray and his brother and then disappear to make way for the return of Abyss, never to be seen again. It would be the same result, just without the silliness of Joseph and Chris being the same person.

Perhaps TNA will genuinely surprise us and produce a storyline which reveals Joseph Parks was actually responsible for paying Bully Ray to take out his brother for some sinister reason known only to him. Naturally he would feel compelled to share his motives in front of a television audience and would get into a dispute with a valiant babyface taking issue with his decision.

That would require Joseph Park (anyone else notice that Chris and Joseph have similar but different surnames?) to exhibit some wrestling skill but that’s a logic hole that can easily be overlooked. Far worse things have happened in the company’s history. Similar skills could be shown if TNA decided to have Joseph step into the ring with Bully Ray to avenge his brother.

It’s inevitable that if we wait long enough Abyss will return but hopefully the Joseph character will be given a chance to grow naturally and find a place on TNA programming. Abyss has run his course. TNA have tried something new, now all they have to do is stick with it.

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