Thursday 19 April 2012

Mere Mortality

Immortal was once a pretty formidable heel stable. When they formed in 2010 members included ‘Hollywood’ Hulk Hogan, Jeff Hardy, Jeff Jarrett and Eric Bischoff. Those are some pretty big names. Just over a year earlier Hardy had been the number one babyface in North America (and arguably the world) in WWE, and upon the group’s formation he won the TNA world title, meaning that the faction had the most prestigious belt in the organisation from the start. Meanwhile Bischoff was (and is) one of the most successful wrestling bookers in the industry’s history and Jarrett brought more credibility as a former WCW and (more significantly) TNA world champion. Hulk Hogan is Hulk Hogan: one of the biggest names the wrestling business will ever know.

Not a bad start for a heel group then.

Based around Hogan’s longstanding ‘Immortal’ moniker it would have been easy for him to become the sole focal point of the gang. Surprisingly he didn’t. Jeff Hardy was allowed to shine as Immortal’s most important member and did some pretty solid work as a heel. Immortal dominated TNA for close to a year before cracks began to appear. Unfortunately they were big cracks.

Back when it was built around Jeff Hardy Immortal wasn't half bad

Security guards had been introduced as Immortal’s personal enforcers. That was as a good way of packing the group’s matches with heat garnering interference. But then someone had the idea of letting the security guys (Gunner and Murphy) start wrestling. That was a poor move. Not because the men couldn’t wrestle but because Immortal was meant to represent the pro wrestling elite. How elite can a group be if security personnel are allowed to become full-fledged members?

Matt Hardy joined TNA and became associated with the group. Then Ric Flair swerve turned on Fourtune and jumped ship to Immortal. It was a blur of nonsense as Immortal began gobbling up anyone in TNA without a storyline. Flair joining was fine: he’s regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers ever. But Matt Hardy? His biggest claim to fame at that point (and now) was his rampant lunacy on YouTube and Twitter. Oh, and being Jeff Hardy’s brother.

What harmed Immortal as an entity more than anything else was Jeff Hardy falling off the wagon in March of last year. He had to be written off of television quickly and sent home to get himself together. It was an embarrassment for TNA and a blow to Immortal. Both lost their biggest star.

With Hardy gone Mr Anderson was hastily added to the faction only to be written out again a few weeks later to advance his lacklustre feud with Bully Ray (and Immortal at large). Since then the group has been treading water, based around Ric Flair (a man in his 60s who wrestles only very occasionally), Eric Bischoff (a man best known for booking WCW in the mid- to late-nineties), and Gunner (a wrestler who has improved a lot since his debut but isn’t exactly a big star). Their chief rival at the moment is Bischoff’s son Garrett who was introduced to TNA as a pro-Immortal referee who has since seen the error of his ways and become a wrestler.

These two men do not epitomize the term "heel stable"

While Bully Ray, one of the best acts TNA currently has, is still technically a member he is barely ever shown with the group these days and is off with storylines of his own. That their most prominent active member is Gunner is not good. The TNA writing team need to accept that Immortal has had its time. The group had a good run but it’s time for a fresh idea and some new heels on top.

The bottom line here is that the group is very much Mortal.

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