Monday 29 July 2013

Slaying reDRagon

Last Saturday's TV taping saw a significant development in Ring of Honor's tag team division. As Matchmaker extraordinaire Nigel McGuinness stood in the ring talking about bringing in outside talent and making the doubles scene truly world class he was interrupted by reigning champions reDRagon.

Fish and O'Reilly, presumably wanting to prove that they're the best tag team out there, requested that their scheduled non-title match against the Forever Hooligans be turned into a championship defence. Agreeing that it would improve the show and that the Hooligans were worthy challengers Nigel granted the request.

And so it was that in the main event of the evening's first episode (which will air this coming Saturday) the Forever Hooligans beat reDRagon for the belts. It was a win that marked Alex Koslov's first title win in the promotion. For Rocky Romero it's a third. He's previously worn ROH tag gold alongside Ricky Reyes, as the Rottweilers, and Davey Richards, as members of the No Remorse Corps.

The win also makes the Hooligans double champions. They were already the NJPW junior heavyweight tag champs. It's an impressive feat for both men, and one that elevates their reputation as a duo.
The Forever Hooligans with their hardware
reDRagon's contributions over the last five months shouldn't be overlooked. The team deserves credit for their reign. Fish and O'Reilly treated the titles as though they meant something. That's always a good trait for champions. They wrestled exciting defences against the American Wolves, the C&C Wrestle Factory and the men who'd eventually terminate their run, the Forever Hooligans. They even made Cheeseburger look competitive at A Night of Hoopla. That's not something they had to do, but doing it made the match far more enjoyable than it would have been had they buried or mocked him for twenty minutes.

Both improved their characters throughout the reign. Just because ROH emphasises sportsmanship and match quality doesn't mean interesting characters have to become obsolete. O'Reilly in particular has improved greatly this year. He appears much more confident and has developed a confident persona that meshes nicely with his ring style. Teaming with Fish has been of benefit to him. I hope they continue to be used well and excel as a team.

reDRagon were going to defend the straps against the American Wolves at All Star Extravaganza V. That won't even happen as a non-title affair now, apparently: Fish and O'Reilly have announced via YouTube that as they're no longer the champions they won't be attending the show. They were omitted from the last swing into Canada too. I'm beginning to think Bobby Fish has some sort of legal difficulty crossing the border (O'Reilly won't be the issue: he's Canadian).

Instead Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards will be wrestling the new champions for the belts. I'm sure it will be a very exciting match, although I wish the Wolves v reDRagon match had remained on the card. That would have left Romero and Koslov free to defend against the Young Bucks. As the Bucks are the current Dragon Gate USA tag team champions it could have been something of a dream match, albeit one in which the champions versus champions, best versus best aspect would have been overlooked on commentary. ROH are unlikely to acknowledge Dragon Gate anytime soon. In that regard they're like the WWF used to be with WCW.

As it is the Bucks will take on Adrenaline RUSH and the C&C Wrestle Factory in a match that will be every high spot lover's dream. I can live with the omission of reDRagon with quality like this on the card.

I don't expect the Forever Hooligans to have a long reign. They're over in Japan far too often to be convenient for Ring of Honor to book. Them winning the titles feels like a way of shaking the division up a little and making things a little less predictable. Which, by the way, is fine with me: wrestling promotions should try to surprise fans more often. It's possible that the change is also a way of switching the titles onto the American Wolves without reDRagon losing straight to them, so as to prolong that feud. If that's the case the Hooligans are credible interim champs but I hope they get longer than a week with the gold. They deserve at least a couple of months. Hopefully they'll get that.

However long their reign lasts, whoever they defend against and eventually lose to, I'm pleased the Forever Hooligans' names have been added to the list of ROH tag team champions. It shakes up the division and puts a talented, entertaining and hard-working team at its head. You can't ask for more than that, can you?

Sunday 28 July 2013

Ask Dixie... Sort Of

Early last week TNA President Dixie Carter announced that she would be answering questions on Twitter. It was nothing particularly unusual. It’s something she’s done many times before. But this time was different. This time it was spurred to combat the rumours of TNA’s uncertain which had sprung up as a result of wrestlers being released and paid late. The Twitter Q&A was intended to be a way for Dixie to assure fans that TNA has a bright and prosperous future ahead of it and that it’s still very much a company worth supporting.

In typical TNA fashion things went wrong. The Ask Dixie hashtag fans were encouraged to use was flooded with questions, both genuine and not. Matters were made worse when Dixie didn’t answer anything, even the ones that were clearly real. An announcement was made later that she would get around to answering them but no timescale was given.

It’s left TNA looking amateurish. Again. So I thought I’d step in. I’ve wanted to do a Twitter Q&A of my own for a while but, well, I’m not sure I’d get enough responses. This seems like a good alternative.

Compiling questions wasn’t easy. #AskDixie has deteriorated into a seemingly endless stream of jokes at TNA’s, Hulk Hogan’s, and Dixie’s expense. I’ve trawled through and found some genuine questions. They’re reproduced here complete with poor grammar and spelling mistakes, along with the listed name of the asker (Twitter address in brackets). No permission has been sought or given from the original posters or anyone else.

So let’s begin!

Rob_WWEchamp (@WWE_ApexFella)
#AskDixie Why have Gutcheck if you've released several Gutcheck contestants in the past?

I don’t think there’s any reason for TNA to continue with Gut Check either. The segment has not seen ratings increase or produced any new stars for the promotion. The closest it came was Joey Ryan, and he famously didn’t win Gut Check. He was given an alternate storyline route on to the roster that could have seen him become a star for the company. A combination of his own shortcomings and TNA not having a clear idea of what they wanted to achieve with the master of the moustache ride meant that he fizzled out quickly.

For almost its entire run Gut Check has existed to fill air time. That’s not the approach TNA should be taking with their weekly show. I imagine they’ve stuck with it through a combination of habit and having no idea of what to replace it with.

The question specifically makes reference to Gut Check’s future with regard to previous contestants having been released. I don’t think the releases are reason enough to cancel Gut Check: the format could conceivably still produce a bankable star. But I don’t think it will and that’s the reason it should be cancelled.

Shawn Alexander Cage (@Legend_SAC)
#AskDixie When is Alex Shelley coming back as a heel to battle it out against Chris Sabin?

Alex Shelley returning to TNA is a long shot.

Since leaving the company last year Shelley has returned to New Japan where he’s formed a team called Time Splitters with Kushida. They had a six month reign as junior heavyweight tag champs and won the company’s second Super Junior tag tournament. As a singles wrestler Shelley has also had his first shot at the promotion’s junior heavyweight strap, held by Prince Devitt, arguably New Japan’s top junior star. These accomplishments actually mean something in Japan.
Alex Shelley's doing fine without TNA
In the States Shelley can work for any number of small indies and also fronts a rock band, so he’s not short of work. If he were going to sign up with a US outfit at this point both WWE and ROH look like better options for Shelley, for financial security and booking freedom respectively.

If Shelley were to return to TNA I think it would be to team with Sabin as the Motor City Machine Guns rather than challenge him for the title. Shelley v Sabin does not feel like a world title programme or match TNA would promote. It’s also not something that would benefit Sabin. If he’s to succeed in the champion role he needs to be booked against established names and defeat them convincingly. Shelley would return with the mid-card aura he left with, so all Sabin would be doing in beating him would be defeating a mid-carder, albeit one he teamed with several years ago. Hardly an accomplishment for a world champion

This brings me to…

W. Parks (@W__D__P) 
#AskDixie Why is Chris Sabin booked as world champion? You do know you have some of the greatest wrestlers in Angle, AA, AJ, Bobby, etc...

I agree with the sentiment here. Sabin does not come across as a convincing world champion. His victory was presented as a fluke and he’s already been overshadowed by both Bully Ray and the Main Event Mafia. At a time when TNA’s public perception is that of a company on its last legs they should be keeping the world title on guys who are proven to do well in the role (such as Styles, Roode, and Aries) or be doing a better job of building new guys up. That means not presenting title wins as flukes or chucking their top prize, completely out of the blue, on someone who’s been a mid-carder for years.

As far as the “greatest wrestlers in the world” line goes: Sabin is a good enough wrestler to be the TNA world champion. He just doesn’t look or talk the part. There’s more to being a world champ than in-ring skills.

Rave (@RaveHound)
#AskDixie Why is ODB restricted to refereeing and not wrestling? Certainly the division needs everyone now since people are getting fired...

ODB being the Knockouts official is a holdover from TNA’s attempt to rejig the division last year. Taryn Terrell was promoted to active wrestler when a feud and spot were found for her and I imagine the same will happen to ODB. I don’t think TNA will stick to having a dedicated ref for female matches when they’re making cuts. ODB is of more value as a wrestler.

Rave (@RaveHound)
#AskDixie Why do the Knockouts need a separate authority figure? Can't one person oversee the entire roster?

They don’t need a separate authority figure. But TNA does need an excuse to have Brooke Hogan on TV because she’s still “married” to Bully Ray. She’s locked into storylines for a while. I expect she’ll remain the Knockouts GM until she leaves the company or swerve turns and reunites with Bully, whichever comes first. When she vacates the role it’ll probably be dropped.

Sam Coolsome (@CoolsomeXD)
Could Lex Luthor slam Yokozuna? #AskDixie

I don’t think so but Dixie would say yes. She’s a massive Lex mark.

Glenn V Iseghem (@GlennVIseghem)
@TNADixie Will you sign Sting for another Year ? #AskDixie

This is a question I’m interested in too. Sting’s contract usually expires in the latter months of the year, which brings about the now traditional rumours of him jumping to WWE (which usually includes a mention of the Dream Match™ he could have with The Undertaker). Rumour-wise, this year will be no different because ‘The Stinger’ only ever commits to one year with TNA at a time.

I’ve written before that I think TNA should cut their losses and let Sting move on or retire. He doesn’t attract the ratings they need and is past his prime physically. He’s also a massive drain on their budgets, which are well known to be getting looked at right now (although it’s possible that Spike covers, completely or partially, Sting’s wages, which makes this point less of a concern).

There’s no reason to keep the guy around. But they will if they can. TNA has always been keen to have Sting around as a former employee of one of The Big Two. It makes them feel like they’re in WCW’s league.
I don't think he's going anywhere
Turbo (@JTurbo_420)
I can't stand #JosephPark & can't understand why #TNA is still goin w it. It's the worst gimmick in wrestling. A joke. #AskDixie @TNADixie

Joseph Park has proven to be a popular character and given the man who plays him, Chris Parks, something fresh to do. It also makes use of his impressive verbal skills, something the Abyss character wasn’t good for. Overall, Joseph Park has more to offer TNA in his comedy role than Abyss does in any role he could conceivably be brought back in.

As for the worst gimmick in wrestling: no. It’s not even the worst gimmick in TNA. Taz gets that award.

JMS (@OGTslay1974)
#AskDixie @njpw1972 now works with both @ringofhonor and @nwawrestling isn't this a mistake for@IMPACTWRESTLING 4 allowing this to happen

Strange phrasing aside, this is a good point. TNA should have been trying harder to establish working relationships with other promotions. They actually had an agreement with NJPW years ago but it just sort of fell apart.

Having a Japanese federation to send wrestlers to would be great for TNA. It would help their wrestlers to improve and grant them access to foreign workers. Those workers may not have name value to the majority of US wrestling fans (on whom TNA rely for TV ratings and pay-per-view buys) but that’s the case with any wrestler that gets brought in. If they were treated as important stars they’d be perceived as such. Using foreign talent is something that WWE doesn’t do. That alone makes it a good idea for TNA as it helps them to create their on product.

They could try getting something together with New Japan again. Failing that they could try NOAH or All Japan, both of which are having a hard time of things by all accounts. I’m sure they’d welcome access to TNA wrestlers, and TNA’s roster would gain an instant and much-needed boost. Working with any Japanese promotion could help them get a TV deal in the country, which would bring in some much needed cash.

Striking up working relationships with indies closer to home would be good too. It’s what should have been done instead of using OVW as the developmental system. TNA isn’t big enough to warrant a dedicated satellite federation, it’s another example of the company feeling it has to ape WWE in order to succeed. OVW a drain on resources that could be put to better use elsewhere. Allowing well respected independent promotions access to TNA’s bigger stars in exchange for regularly booking guys in need of improvement (basically the wrestlers currently posted to OVW) would be better for all involved.

Thomas Montgomery (@thomas_d_m)
#AskDixie Can we have no more Taz and keep Jeremy Borash on commentary?

How about no more of either and bringing back Don West?

Two J’s and 1 F (@jimmyyadig)
King Mo and Rampage Jackson, you signed them to TNA for what but you release Matt Morgan #AskDixie

Again, look past the strange phrasing and you’ll see that Two J’s and 1 F brings up a good point. For good measure he also tosses in a second completely unrelated one. Matt Morgan’s release and the hiring of King Mo and Rampage Jackson are completely separate issues with no bearing on one another.

King Mo and Rampage Jackson could work out well for TNA in my opinion. People against their signings will point out that they’re not trained wrestlers and that the money paid to them could instead have been used on the likes of the Young Bucks and-or retaining the services of people who’ve been released over the last month. Good points that are I don’t want to argue against, but I think they’re just outweighed by the potential for crossover.

If the wrestling matches of Mo and Rampage are promoted correctly they could attract a portion of the MMA audience both are known to. If Bellator, an MMA organisation that also has a show on Spike, advertised these wrestling matches on Impact then that would obviously help as well. Trying to attract a fresh audience to increase their viewing figures is what TNA should be doing, and one way of going about it is dipping into the MMA fan pool (because the sports are similar). King and Mo and Rampage Jackson stand a better chance of attracting new fans than the Young Bucks.

As for Matt Morgan…

Ed Kidney (@edk86)
@TNADixie any comment on @BPmattmorgan leaving TNA? He was great for you guys and patient but never got rewarded #AskDixie

His most recent run as the bodyguard of Joey Ryan didn’t make the best use of him but Matt Morgan had received plenty of chances to get over as a headliner in TNA before being released from his contract on July 9th. He never quite managed to do it. Which is a shame because if they’d given him a sustained push Morgan could’ve been great for TNA.

The release will allow him to head back to a mid-card spot in WWE or try his luck in Japan. Either is preferable to doing nothing in TNA.

Travis Hayes (@wrasslinfan2009)
@TNADixie any chance of you rebuilding the KO division? as there's only 6 girls there. #AskDixie

Throw a random question mark into the middle of a sentence and the finish with a full stop! Rock ‘n’ roll! Apologies if you’re reading this, Travis. It’s a good question.

TNA should have never stopped making the Knockouts a priority. But they did, around the time that Hogan and Bischoff came in. As Travis points out, their female roster is depleted at the moment. They could bring in new wrestlers from SHIMMER and SHINE but introducing them to the roster and turning them into recognisable faces would take time. If TNA decided on a batch of four or five new Knockouts now they could probably have the division looking pretty good within four months. Sadly the slashed budgets make a Knockouts revival unlikely any time soon.

Stacy Tyler (@bleedthefreak)
#AskDixie also push x division more and maybe bring jarrett back find a balance of old school tna with new ideas you can do it Dixie

You can do it, Dixie! That’s the spirit, Stacy. Never give up.

The X Division is about the only thing TNA has ever done that WWE doesn’t have a direct equivalent of. They had their cruiserweight division for a few years, but that was mainly there to give Rey Mysterio a surrounding in which he could shine. Once he was promoted up the card it quickly fell apart. Having a thriving X Division would allow TNA to present matches that WWE doesn’t. The XD can allow TNA to present themselves as a genuine alternative to WWE.

A Jarrett return isn’t something I’m desperate to see but it could freshen TNA up a little. He’s been gone for so long that he could come back as either a face or a heel. There are a handful of new matches waiting for him and even the tried and tested bouts with the likes of Joe, Angle and Styles would be things we’ve not seen in years. I’m surprised ‘Double J’s’ not been brought back to tangle with Aces and Eights. As a company founder he’s the natural choice to face off with them. There’s still time though…

Dylan Vickers (@dylan_217)
Is @August1Warning Low Ki. Sure sounds and looks like him. #AskDixie 

He’s done some voiceover work over the years so it’s not impossible that he’s been used to provide the voice here. That’s the sort of swerve Eric Bischoff loves. More likely though is that the speech has been put through a modulator to disguise who its owner is.

Who’s behind the videos? It could be Low Ki. It could be Jeff Jarrett. It could be anyone really. There are no obvious big names available right now. Everyone that’s not Ki or Jarrett that could create a stir is working elsewhere. So basically I think it’s going to be an underwhelming reveal. As usual.

Pro Wrestling Addicts (@prowrestlingsit)
@TNADixie are you a Jim Cornette girl #AsklDixie 

I think she’s more of an Eric Bischoff girl.

Blacktus Jack (Blacktus Jack)
Do you think a Cyber Sunday-esque PPV would be a good idea for TNA? Or would it end up like #AskDixie?

#AskDixie hasn’t been a complete failure for TNA. At least people are talking about them!

I think this could be a great idea. If promoted heavily as a night that would allow fans to “take control of TNA” it could net an above average viewing figure. Matches or options would need to be announced in advance for it to work and fans would need to be convinced that it would be a meaningful and memorable show but there’s nothing to stop TNA there.

Of course, it would need to be a live broadcast too (because everyone would expect it to be done via Twitter these days) and TNA has stopped those (Impact is now broadcast on a minimum delay of two hours). It’s worth noting that WWE stopped doing Cyber Sunday and Taboo Tuesday (the same interactive gimmick… but on a Tuesday!) after only a couple of years and never really attracted a massive audience, so perhaps it wouldn’t be as good an idea as I think.

The key is advertising really, as opposed to promoting a gimmick. Any episode of Impact could be loaded with big matches and be a success if promoted heavily enough. As TNA has trouble doing that I think the interactive idea would probably fail.

David Rooney (@TheRoonMeister)
Are you satisfied your company has made zero progress in a stale industry since bischoff and hogan joined? #AskDixie

The answer that Dixie would give to this would obviously be no. How could she be satisfied with TNA’s lack of progress?

Dixie has probably convinced herself that Hogan and Bischoff are still the best option she has. She likely has advisors and family members that say the same thing, and obviously the men themselves would tell her they know exactly how to sort TNA out.

Both men trade on past glories. Bischoff signed big names to big contracts when he was running WCW and had a hand in creating two phenomenally successful properties: the nWo and Goldberg. Hogan was the biggest star of the WWF for seven years, which made him the first of the industry. While his star has dimmed considerably over the years he is still a household name. That’s attractive to a promotion in TNA’s position.

In truth it’s obvious that neither has a clue how to make TNA successful. If they did they’d have done so by now. They’re there for paycheques. In Hogan’s case he’s also there to stay relevant.

Alexandre Lopez (@AlexandLopez)
#Ask Dixie @TNADixie @ShotimeEY Can we please give all titles to Eric Young and bring back @TheLethalJay

Yeaaaaaaaaah… this is here for the Jay Lethal part of the question. I don’t think I need to talk about why putting “all” of TNA’s titles on EY would be a bad move.
World championship material? I think not
Jay Lethal is under contract to Ring of Honor. He couldn’t return to TNA even if he wanted to. His spot in that company is better than the one he had in TNA, so I doubt he’s desperate to return. Money-wise he’s probably about as secure in either promotion. He’s not the sort of wrestler who gets paid megabucks. Lethal would be a boon to a reconfigured X Division but it’s not going to happen anytime soon. If TNA survives long enough maybe he’ll be back there one day.

Hunter Todd (@floowombat)
#AskDixie @TNADixie is there a chance that you would try to bring @FightSteenFight to Impact Wrestling. #killsteenkill

It’s the same deal here as with Jay Lethal: Kevin Steen is under contract to ROH. Personally I think Steen has the right mix of charisma, look and wrestling ability to be a star in TNA. That they’ve had the chance to bring him in before and never have makes me think the good people of TNA management disagree with me. His weight is almost certainly the issue. Steen himself has said that’s what he’d need to fix if he wanted to get a WWE contract. It will be that that’s holding him back from a TNA spot too.

That and TNA’s finances. It’s entirely possible ‘Mr Wrestling’ can earn more where he is than he would in TNA. And he may prefer the freedom.

Steen doesn’t need a move to TNA though. He’s fine in ROH and PWG.

Dillon Wilson (@DillonWilson13)
@TNADixie After Y'all Get Rid of those Thugs @TheAcesand8s Are Y'all Planning on Invading @ringofhonor . If So That Would Be Epic #AskDixie

A cross promotional storyline with ROH could work. Both companies have weekly TV shows and are based in the United States. Logistically it’s a sound idea. The time TNA stars Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, among others, spent working for ROH could create some interesting scenarios in a TNA v Ring of Honor programme. Kurt Angle would probably mesh very nicely with the ROH roster too. In theory it’s a fine idea.

In practice it simply wouldn’t work. Both ROH and TNA are struggling to redefine themselves right now. ROH has culled its internet pay-per-views and TNA has cut its number of big shows from twelve to four. Both are public signs of downsizing, which is never a good sign for a wrestling company being in a position to work with outsiders.

On top of that it just seems unfeasible. The companies have very different approaches in presentation. ROH focuses on the sport of pro wrestling while TNA is happy knocking off WWE’s sports entertainment vibe and mixing in hefty dollops of reality TV. The matches we could see would be great, but the two companies wouldn’t mesh.

It’s not going to happen.

Mr Rab (@iTzRaBx)
#AskDixie why is Hogan still the GM?

Because he’s under contract and they’re desperate to keep him on TV, brother!

Clint Bracey (@CJB01_CHIKARA)
@TNADixie #AskDixie Why didn't you do shit with @JoeyRyanOnline? He was the next big star but I guess Hogan was jealous of the Stache

Joey Ryan got a good introduction thanks to his Gut Check-inspired feud with TNA personnel. It lasted three months and culminated with a contract-bestowing win for the moustachioed one at Bound For Glory 2012. The match was basic and a win over Snow didn’t exactly get him off to the best start but TNA did the best with what they had.

Sadly it all fell apart for Ryan after he got a contract. He slipped down the card and wound up forming a partnership with Matt Morgan that went absolutely nowhere. It’s true they didn’t make the best use of him but they didn’t have a reason to. Had fans been clamouring to see Ryan after his initial programme ran its course TNA would have used him. Ryan’s lack of exposure was for a reason.

I can’t say whether or not they were right to release him. He could have been a solid mid-card act under the right conditions but if they needed to save money he was an obvious candidate to go. As far as being the next big star goes that was never the case.

I cannot comment on Hogan’s feelings towards Ryan’s facial hair.

C├Ęzar Punker (@PunksBarrage)
who is biggest talent in tna ? #AskDixie 

Dixie wouldn’t touch this question. If she acknowledged it she’d say that the entire roster is talented. But I’m not Dixie and it’s a decent question.

This is something I touched on when I wrote about AJ Styles not being TNA’s leading man. There’s no obvious “right” answer. It’s a subjective question. If you think of the biggest talent in terms of name value then Hulk Hogan is the man I’d point to. As I mentioned earlier he’s still a household name and the face of the industry to an entire generation.

If you think in terms of wrestling ability alone then there are lots of people on the roster who could be the biggest talent. Bobby Roode, AJ Styles, Austin Aries, Kurt Angle, Chris Sabin, Chris Daniels, and Samoa Joe are all good enough to be considered the promotion’s best wrestler. But in-ring ability alone doesn’t make a star. Nor does TNA’s central criteria for roster additions: past employment in WWE. If it did then the answer would be a choice between Jeff Hardy, Bully Ray and Mr Anderson.

There is no one name that stands out when looking at the TNA roster. That the company has done such an appalling job of building up its own batch of stars (and it’s had more than enough to pick from despite the plethora of former WWE talent hired over the years) is the reason for that. In WWE the biggest talent is John Cena. He has no equivalent in TNA.

Rob Butler (@robbutler1984)
#AskDixie why was heyman not brought into the company when the big announcement was made. He could have made tna great.

I’m not sure which big announcement Rob is referring to. There have been a lot over the years and they’ve never really delivered on the hype.

I think this probably refers to the period in 2009 when it looked as though Heyman was going to be working in TNA. Although the subject of him working there has come up several times over the years it’s then that the two parties seemed the closest. Heyman wanted complete autonomy with regards to creative content. He wanted to be the guy the buck stopped with and he wanted to have input into all other areas, such as marketing, television deals, and expansion. I believe he also wanted to have TNA leave the Impact Zone and go on the road although I may be wrong there.

During the same period people at TNA were also talking with Hogan and Bischoff. It was those two who wound up getting the TNA gig, at which point Heyman pulled out because he had no interest in working with them. Presumably he believed that if they were involved he would not have had the creative freedom and lack of interference that he sought. If so he was probably right.

Think Heyman’s requirements sound unreasonable? I don’t think they do. Having worked in WCW and WWE, and having run his own promotion, Heyman would understood that what TNA needed (and, in fact, still needs) was one clear person in charge. That WWE has always had one man (Vince) in charge has to be one of the reasons the promotion has been so successful. It’s one man’s vision carried out as he wants. Heyman sought the same arrangement in TNA because he realised that a wrestling company cannot be booked or managed by a committee.

Could Heyman in TNA have worked out, then or at any other point? It’s impossible to say for sure but I think he’d have been in with a good chance of making it work. Free of the constraints of trying to manage everything, as had been the case in ECW, Heyman would have been able to focus more on the creative direction. As ECW closed down because of a combination of poor financial management and a failure to secure a new television deal, rather than bland or uninteresting creative content, I think the setup would have worked. Heyman would have had his say in the promotion’s financial decisions but there would have been a team to manage the minutia for him.

He could have made TNA great.

Saturday 27 July 2013

Mizsion Impossible

To paraphrase Snitsky, it’s not Miz’s fault.

Two years ago The Miz was one of WWE’s top heels. At that point he’d been a bad guy for five years, most of that time spent in a reasonably prominent position on the card. Coupled with the strong push to the top he’d received as the winner of a Money in the Bank briefcase in 2010 and the promotion’s distinct lack of decent headline talent this led to ‘The Awesome One’s’ popularity getting a serious boost.

Miz’s selection of catchphrases helped him too. Wrestling fans are usually partial to a promo they can contribute to. It’s a large part of what initially made The Rock such a success.

Had the “Miz is awesome!” chants persuaded WWE to make the man in question a babyface in the summer of 2011 the apathy he’s generally greeted with these days would be understandable. Fans would have grown bored with his act across two years and would be desirous of the bad guy again.

As it is the apathy is understandable for a completely different reason. Miz’s jump to the forces of good was postponed too long. When it finally rolled around last November (in particularly underwhelming fashion) he was no longer the hot heel act crowds were desperate to cheer for. He was instead a man who’d lost momentum and slipped down the card.

The optimum time for the Miz face turn had been and gone. By November 2012 ‘The Most Must-See WWE Superstar’ was of little consequence no matter which side of the heel-face divide he was on. Heel to face turns work best when crowds want to see it. That tends to happen after a heel has been booked at the top for a while, either dominating everyone placed in front of them or displaying such confidence as to encourage support. Waiting too long just creates a missed opportunity.
The Miz listening to a pin drop during his entrance
In a way Miz is a victim of the megastar push CM Punk received in the second half of 2011. ‘The Second City Saint’s’ famous worked shoot promo came at a time that would have been ideal for a Miz face turn. Switching two main event heels at the same time would have been a poor move. Miz had to wait because Punk was deemed to have a better chance at cracking the big time (and in fairness, that’s turned out to have been a shrewd move). It’s that more than anything else that caused Miz’s face turn to be postponed, and so it’s that which caused Miz’s popularity to cool off.

This is not to say that The Miz is wasted in his current role. I think he’s well suited to playing a middle of the card good guy. He can be depended on for satisfactory, TV-quality matches and has been around long enough for crowds to rally behind.

A heel turn is not the answer to the tepid reactions Miz gets these days. People just need to lower their expectations of what Miz can achieve in his current spot. With CM Punk, John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Rob Van Dam and a host of others above him in the pecking order it’s natural for audiences to be less into him. Audiences have a lot of choice for whom to support.

The answer would be to give Miz more to do. But right now there is nothing for him to do. He is, as I’ve said, fine where he is. He had his try at the top of the card and it didn’t work out. He could be put back on top in an emergency but ultimately I think Miz’s place is in the upper mid-card. And for an upper mid-carder his reactions are perfectly adequate.

Had he been turned while he was still floating around near the main event maybe he’d have been able to do enough to stay there. We’ll never know for sure though.

Friday 26 July 2013

To Be 'The Man'

AJ Styles has been with TNA since their very first show. He's been there through all the trials and tribulations. He was there during the weekly pay-per-view era. He was there for the Panda Energy bail out cum buyout. He was there for Vince Russo's reign of error. He was there during the hot period in 2005 and 2006 when it looked like TNA might actually become a self-sustaining worthy number two promotion. He was there when Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff came promising to revolutionise the way TNA worked. And he was there during TNA’s attempt to recreate the horror of Katie Vick with Claire Lynch.

During all of this Styles has been given every chance to succeed. He's one of the few non-former WWE employees who has been consistently presented as a star by the league. Along with Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels he was a part of what is acknowledged to be the greatest feud and match(es) in company history. The NWA world championship and its replacement TNA world championship have both been his. So have the tag team title and the X Division title. For that matter he was one of the earliest stars of the X Division and one of the men who made it stand out as something special.

He's played heel and he's played face. He's played the underdog, the villainous braggart and the charismatic loner. He's wrestled everyone of note to have ever worked for the company. TNA could not have given AJ Styles more chances to make something of himself.

And he hasn't.

Amongst TNA fans he is acknowledged as one of the best on the roster. Even someone watching TNA for the first time would be able to see how talented and skilled the guy is. As a complete package wrestler the only area that lets him down is his promo ability, and that can be overlooked because he's passable with them and so good at everything else.
As good as he is, he's not the star that TNA needs
Something that very few, if any, first time viewers of TNA programming would say about AJ is that he's ‘The Man’. I suspect such viewers, if asked to pick out TNA's main guy, would point to Bully Ray or Sting or perhaps Jeff Hardy. It’s possible that even on-screen boss man Hulk Hogan would get a nod. Styles doesn't look or carry himself like ‘The Man’. He doesn’t seem poised to take that spot either.

This is nobody's fault. Over the last decade TNA have done an admirable job at trying to present AJ as their biggest home-grown star. For his part Styles has performed everything asked of him to the best of his ability. Neither party could have done more in the pursuit of this goal. The truth is that not everybody can be a singles main event wrestler.

But what else can AJ do? A return to ROH could be creatively rewarding but would come with a pay cut and a drop in profile. That's not an option for 'The Phenomenal One' who has a family to support.

Pursuing a career with WWE could lead to big money, but at his age (36) and wrestling his style the odds would not be in his favour. The move would also come with a mandatory relocation to NXT. That would do Styles' confidence no favours. It would also lengthen the odds of him becoming a success on the main roster.

The best thing for him is to stick with TNA, where he's guaranteed a spot for as long as he wants one and is destined for a spot in their Hall of Fame (if they can survive long enough to induct him). Right now the best thing for AJ would be to return to the X Division to try and give it a boost by association. It's the one area of TNA programming WWE doesn't have an equivalent for. The company should be doing far more to spotlight it. Involving one of their biggest stars would certainly do that.

Thursday 25 July 2013

One More Round

Yesterday I wrote about The Rock wrestling at WrestleMania XXX. The basic gist was that I believe 'The Great One' being in a match is as close to a certainty as you can get in wrestling. But what about the other major star from the Attitude Era? What about 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin?

A significant number of fans have been clamouring for the return of 'The Texas Rattlesnake' for years. His most recent match took place in 2003 at WrestleMania XIX. On that show 'The Great One' finally beat his greatest rival on the biggest stage WWE has to offer. The next evening on RAW Eric Bischoff announced that Austin could no longer compete because of neck problems (which had been a problem for Austin for years by that point). Just like that one of the greatest wrestlers ever retired. He went on to work as an authority figure on RAW before moving on to acting and presenting.

The thing about an Austin return is that the man doesn't need it. He went out on top. He had a spectacular match with one of his greatest opponents at WWE's flagship event. Only Edge, who won his last match and retired as the World Heavyweight champion, can boast a better send off. Austin's 'Mania XIX outing was on par with the retirement match of Shawn Michaels and the official retirement bout of Ric Flair.

'Stone Cold' looks as good as ever and always says in interviews that he feels better than he did when wrestling. I'm sure if he wanted to Austin could work a final match.

But why would he want to? Having returned from numerous lengthy layoffs throughout his career Austin knows as well as anyone that it can take time to shake off ring rust. He may be in great condition but he's also nearing fifty. Would Austin really want to jeopardise his health and his legacy by having one last match? I can't see it. The danger that the match could be a disappointment is probably enough to dissuade Austin. He took great pride in his work when he was an active wrestler. That trait wouldn't have changed.
A return seems unlikely, and that's the bottom line...
The difference between Austin and The Rock, because the parallels are obvious and people are bound to point out Rocky made a comeback, is that Rock is a huge movie star. It was probably just as much WWE reaching out to Rock wanting mainstream appeal as much as it was Rock wanting to cap off his wrestling career in a suitably meaningful fashion. Prior to tagging with and then facing Cena 'The Brahma Bull's' most recent outing had been a handicap match tagging with Mick Foley against Evolution. A star of Rock's standing deserved a better final match and he knew it (although the guy's such a class act he'd never acknowledge it). Austin, as mentioned, was not in that position.

"But what about a dream match with CM Punk?" you cry. What about it? Yes, Punk would be the obvious choice to pit Austin against if he wrestled again, just as Cena was Rock's obvious foe. The promos the two could have against one another could be magical, some of the best the business has ever seen.

This doesn't change anything. Austin's not in the position of a Hogan or Flair, forced to keep trotting himself out in front of increasingly apathetic audiences, suffering from the law of diminishing returns. Austin v Punk being a dream match doesn't change anything. There are plenty of dream matches we've never seen and never will see. Austin v Punk, at this point, looks destined to join that list.

The same goes for Austin v Lesnar, Austin v Ryback and Austin challenging The Streak. These are matches that Austin simply doesn’t need to participate in. He went out on top and has made a very healthy post-wrestling career.

Austin's fans (and I'm one of them) should forget about him returning to the ring and concentrate on the body of work he left behind. 'The Bionic Redneck' was, by anyone's standards, one of the biggest names ever in WWE or wrestling in general. I don't need a comeback to remember how good he was. And I’ve no desire to see him risking a subpar performance which would tarnish his career.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

He Will Rock You

Here's a simple question: will The Rock wrestle at WrestleMania XXX?

Wrestling fans seem to be split on this topic. Some are of the opinion that Rock will wrestle on the show while others believe he won't be involved at all. I think the latter group are being naive. For Rock to have nothing at all to do with WrestleMania after appearing at the last three and wrestling at the last two strikes me as incredibly unlikely.

Whether or not ‘The Great One’ will wrestle is another question entirely. I think it’s likely he’ll wrestle but it’s not a certainty.  

There are a number of things that convince me 'The Brahma Bull' will wrestle at WM30. Firstly, a star of The Rock's importance, and he has been among the five most important stars to the company ever, deserves a big send off and retirement match. He can't get that without wrestling again, and if he's going to wrestle again it will be at WrestleMania. Maybe he'll retire next year, or maybe it will be the year after. But he'll keep doing an annual 'Mania match until his final outing rolls around.
The Rock will be back. And hopefully he'll be dressed like this
He's also a crossover dream for WWE. Being one of Hollywood's biggest name leading men means Rock's never more than a few months from a film release. Something like that is important to WWE. They like to try and reach new fans.

Oh, and The Rock's already been announced as the cover star of WWE 2K14. Would WWE really want a man who's skipping their biggest annual show on the cover of their games until next autumn? I can't see that. Rock being on that cover is practically a press release from WWE announcing Rock's working 'Mania.

I'm sure Michael Bay and others invested in the Hollywood cabal would rather Rock leave wrestling behind. I don't think Rock would ever return to the wrestling business over acting. He's made that decision before and our world ended up staring at the lights. But Rock’s from a wrestling family. The wrestling business has always been a part of his life and I don't think he'd ever cut it out completely just to act. I think it's going to be a careful balancing act and well planned schedule until he retires.

A more interesting topic is potential opponents at WrestleMania. Cena is (hopefully) out. I didn't hate their matches as much as some but even their biggest fans would have to admit there's little fresh ground that could be covered in a third instalment of that feud. The biggest matches Rocky could have are challenging The Streak or taking on Brock Lesnar.

The latter was said to be the original long term plan after 'Mania XXIX. 'The Beast' was to attack The Rock on the April 8th RAW to start the programme but didn't happen because The Rock was injured. I think it still has to be the favourite option for both men. A Hollyood megastar wrestling an MMA fighter? That’s not the sort of thing WWE turns down.

Whatever he does and whoever he faces, wherever he is on the card, Rock will be on the card at WrestleMania XXX. As the man himself might say, I guaran-damn-tee it.

Sunday 21 July 2013

Destination X 2013 review

Until last year Destination X was one of TNA’s twelve annual pay-per-views. The move to four annual pay-per-views this year has resulted in the event being demoted to the status of TV special. As the name suggests it traditionally focused on the X Division and its competitors. In practice that had been something of a problem for TNA for a few years, thanks to the general inability of the company to keep the X roster sufficiently stocked.

The answer to this, as far as TNA’s concerned, is to bring in outsiders for Destination X. If the sole aim is to put on a decent show featuring X Division matches then that’s a fine answer. But in actually it’s a course of action that overlooks the fact that TNA has to attract an audience for their weekly television show and market pay-per-views.

Bringing in outside talent does not help in these areas. Very few people are going to buy a pay-per-view or tune in to a television special to watch a bunch of guys that they don’t know. The ones that do tune in are going to be disappointed when they watch the next episode of Impact and discover that most of the X Division guys will be appearing.

The answer is obvious: sign new talent to be a part of a rejuvenated X Division. That’s easier said than done, of course. TNA is going through some pretty public financial difficulties right now, which makes signing new talent unlikely.

TNA management have nobody to blame but themselves. Instead of concentrating on big names like Sting and Hogan they should have spent their money on enlarging the roster, allowing them to create their own names. It’s now reached the point where the TNA roster is comprised almost exclusively of men and women who have been with the promotion for years, making fresh matches impossible to come by, which in turn leads to an uninspiring product that uncontracted wrestlers don’t want to be associated with, which means TNA can’t bring in sufficient new talent and so the problem becomes worse.

It’s a vicious circle. Right now it looks like the problems are too far gone to be fixed. TNA should have acted years ago. I hope they survive and can become a worthwhile number two promotion but I can’t see it happening.

Anyway, last Thursday’s Impact was this year’s Destination X. It featured the return of Homicide, Sonjay Dutt, Petey Williams, and Rubix, as well as Boot Camp victor Rockstar Spud. The former Trent Barreta also made his first TNA appearance, wrestling under his real name of Greg Marasciulo.

I’m sure all or most of these wrestlers combined would work for the same amount of money as Sting or Hulk Hogan. They’d be better for the product too. But TNA would rather have the former WCW names, doing the same things they’ve been doing for years and being incapable of offering anything to the future of the company.

The show opened with a shot of the men who would be wrestling in triple threat X Division matches during the night. Chris Sabin was then shown preparing for his main event match with Bully Ray (more on that below) in what appeared to be a bathroom. That’s how you make talent look like stars!

TNA champion Bully Ray kicked the night off with an in-ring promo. It was standard stuff. ‘Calfzilla’ belittled Chris Sabin, said he’d leave with the title, and assured us that Aces and Eights would be destroying the reformed Main Event Mafia very soon. He also referred to himself as the most hated man in wrestling. He’s not at the top of the list but I’d say he’s pretty close.

Bully called out Brooke. She came tottering out and told him that she’s moving on with her life. She brandished the ring she was given by NFL hunk Phil Costa to drive her point home. For those unaware Brooke and Bully are married in TNA storylines and Brooke is engaged in real life to the aforementioned NFL player. This uneasy marring of storyline and real life is a standard move from TNA.

Hogan came out and told Bully that he’d raped and pillaged TNA and his family for long enough. I thought the use of rape was a little strong but it came from the same guy who called Aces and Eights terrorists and pussies at Slammiversary. ‘The Hulkster’ is not the sort of man to tone things down.

Anyway, Hogan said the raping and pillaging is over because enough is enough. Someone needed to remind him that’s not how pro wrestling works: things get sorted in matches, dammit! Luckily Kurt Angle and the MEM were watching things from backstage and took this moment to pipe up. Appearing on the big screen ‘The Cyborg’ told Bully he’d lose the TNA title in a fair fight and there was nothing he could do about it. Powerful stuff, right?

Mike Tenay and JB (who was on commentary because nobody knew where Taz was, which could be a shoot or work considering how chaotic TNA is) hyped the Bully Ray v Chris Sabin main event and then showed Austin Aries victory over Bobby Roode from last year’s show. From there we saw Roode walking down a corridor saying he was going to get his first few points in the BFG series later in the evening.

Gail Kim was shown watching a TV and playing around on her phone. She was live tweeting the show apparently. I’m sure that was a barrel of laughs.

Roode v Aries was the first match of the night. At first I wasn’t keen on Roode, a guy with no ties to the X Division, appearing on the show. But then I remembered two things. First of all, this is TNA and there are for bigger things wrong. Secondly, it was a rematch from the previous year’s show so it made sense.

Yep, he's a good guy again

‘A Double’ played face in a fast, intense bout. They crammed in a bundle of pinfall attempts, signature moves and finishers. It made for a lively match. Aries eventually went over clean with a brainbuster. The crowd were very into him.

Afterwards ‘The It Factor’ lobbed a few chairs about to illustrate his frustration. I think that could be a great gimmick for Roode: the man who takes his losses out on chairs.

Backstage Hernandez and Homicide caught up. Chavo showed up and the conversation stopped. It was super-awks. Homicide wandered off and Chavo told ‘SuperMex’ that they’d face off at next year’s DX as the X and world champions. I think that’s a bit optimistic, and not just because the chances of either man winning a singles belt are slim: there’s every chance TNA won’t be around to promote a Destination X show next year.

Mr Anderson rallied the Aces and Eights troops, asking if everyone knew what they had to do. They did. That’s hardly surprising when Aces’ plan was basically to wander to ringside and watch the main event. This segment existed simply to let viewers know that DOC’s left A&E and TNA.

The first X match of the night was Petey Williams v Homicide v Sonjay Dutt. Because none of the men are regulars on TV Tenay had to resort to referring to an online feud between Dutt and Williams. Had they been under contract that dispute could have been built up with some high quality wrestling matches. I thought that was supposed to “matter” in TNA. Has that slogan outlived its usefulness now?

Petey got hit with a Gringo Killer but Dutt made the save and nailed ‘cide with his moonsault into a double stomp for the victory. The match was pretty cool but nothing special.

After a break Kenny King and Chavo Guerrero were both in the ring awaiting the third man in their match. That was Manik. Formerly Suicide. Formerly TJ Perkins. The Suicide name has been consigned to history and TJP is now wrestling in the same suit under the Manik name. The point of this is known to no one. Perkins would be far more likely to get over if he wasn’t hampered by absurd gimmicks.

This match wasn’t quite as good as the one before it but it did feature a nice spot: Manik applied an Indian death lock on King and hit a Northern Lights suplex on Chavo. After that the commentary team started putting Chavo over as a singles guy, referencing his cruiserweight title wins in WCW and WWE, the last of which occurred in 2007. If TNA did what I suggested and concentrated on building up their own name talent they wouldn’t need to stoop to embarrassingly referencing accomplishments achieved in other companies.

Manik went over with a double underhook into a gutbuster. It was an impressive move. Definitely believable as a finisher.

In the back the MEM had a pep talk. Rampage said he was going to knock somebody out. That’s to show how manly and unpredictable he is, kids.

That was followed by another pep talk, this one being delivered by Hulk Hogan to Chris Sabin. ‘The Hulkster’ said he’d had no idea that the injuries and the setbacks suffered by Sabin had been setups for greatness. Sabin was told to make the fans remember him and bring the world championship back to TNA. Sabin’s one line in this segment was “Thank you.” That told us all we needed to know about who the star was.

The Main Event Mafia came to the ring. Four of them were wearing sunglasses, indoors and at night. They looked like idiots. Rampage Jackson (he of MMA fame) was wearing a T-shirt, army fatigues and a big chain, so he looked out of place. I appreciate what TNA are trying to do resurrecting MEM but they’ve made a mistake by having two headline guys in the group. The focus should be on boosting younger talent. At this point they should embrace the inanity of the faction and bring Scott Steiner back to cut all the promos.

The gang talked about how they’re going to rid TNA of Aces and Eights. I find it hard to care about this programme anymore. It’s been going for a year and hasn’t made a single new star or given us any truly excellent matches. I just want it to end and for a new lead storyline to be thought up.

Mr Anderson appeared on the big screen to say Aces were conserving their energy for a party later in the night. Joe took the mic to say that he and the Mafia were going to head to the back and drink the heels’ beer. And that’s what they did.

The segment ended after all the Mafia members bar Angle were locked in a room with Aces and Eights. Bully and Devon threw Angle into the back of a track and he was driven out of the arena.

The final triple threat match saw Greg Marasciulo beat Rubix and Rockstar Spud. It was a decent enough match, but again it was nothing amazing. Triple threats are hard to pull off for wrestlers. They’re equally hard for audiences to watch when there’s no legitimate reason for them to happen.
A rare appearance for Rockstar Spud. Why they don't use him every week I've no idea
We got a shot of Bully Ray chatting to someone on the phone. He put over how great his plan was and told the mystery person on the other end of the line that Angle was being taken to the location discussed to be made an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Hilariously, the next shot was of Angle driving back into the arena without any explanation as to how he’d escaped his predicament. We didn’t see him again until the main event and no mention was made of MEM having been stuck in a room backstage. Presumably Angle let them out. But it is possible they escaped by magic.

Out in the ring knockouts champion Mickie James talked about the great Knockouts division moment she'd had the week before. The footage she had played revealed that she was talking about her singing at a bar and being part of a parade. Until that footage played the fans had been cheering her. They booed her after that.

Mickie talked herself up until Gail Kim came striding out. She told Mickie the only thing people were talking about was her win in a ladder match the week before. Mickie tried to slap Gail but Gail ducked and struck first. They tussled but referees broke them up. Mickie's great as a self-absorbed heel. Gail's promising as a babyface who doesn’t back down.

Backstage Austin Aries told Chris Sabin he was the reason Chris is getting a title shot. Not because of the cash-in clause (more on that below) but because Aries tested him and drove him to improve in their recent match. Acting like a true babyface Austin said he'd be rooting for Sabin. Sabin didn’t say anything. He did not come across as a star.

Borash did the in-ring introductions for the main event. If TNA want to save themselves some dosh they should release JB. Don't feel sorry for him. He could get work on a shopping channel, no trouble.

So… this match came about because Chris Sabin was the X Division champion. A ruling was introduced last year that allows X Division champions to turn in their title for a shot at the world championship. This process has been referred to several times as “cashing in”, which makes the obvious Money in the Bank rip-off even more obvious.

Nabbing the MITB concept is not, in and of itself, a bad idea. The trouble is that it’s just one of many instances of TNA emulating WWE as opposed to trying to forge their own identity and creating fresh ideas. It also serves to devalue the X Division championship. The belt now comes across as trinket that’s traded throughout the year in order to get a more important prize come July. As the X Division is the one thing that sets TNA apart from WWE that’s a real problem.

For the first several minutes of the match champion and challenger exchanged strikes, kicks and chops. Sabin pelted Bully’s ribs while Bully targeted Sabin’s knees, which had been the cause of him missing two years of action. It was a sensible story to tell.

Sabin rolled out on to the entrance ramp after a particularly vicious elbow was driven into his knee. Aces and Eight sauntered out on to the ramp which predictably brought out the Main Event Mafia. The two gangs surrounded the ring as Sabin was chucked back in by Bully.

Bully continued focusing on Sabin's knees, stopping occasionally to shout at the MEM. Bully tugged down Sabin's knee pad for extra damage (whadda heel!). The crowd started a "Bully sucks!" chant as the champ mocked Hulk Hogan's ear cupping pose but it quickly petered out when Sabin showed no signs of making a valiant comeback. He’d tried a few times but got put down every time with an attack on his knees.

Bully hit a suplex from the middle rope. Sabin kicked out. The champ pulled the challenger up and went for a Bully bomb but Sabin escaped and kicked him in the head. The challenger made it to the top rope and scored with a missile drop kick. Unfortunately the referee was caught by that too, so the subsequent cover didn't get counted.

A brawl between the factions kicked off when Anderson passed the trusty rubber hammer to Bully. A&E and MEM all headed backstage, leaving Bully and Sabin in the ring. Bully tried to use the hammer, which has put down such names as Sting and Jeff Hardy, but Sabin saved himself by kicking him in the gut.

Bully responded with a low blow and went for a power bomb but Sabin managed to reverse into a pin for the three count. Yep, just like that Chris Sabin won the TNA world heavyweight championship. The crowd reaction was not as animated as I’d expected. It could be that that result came from nowhere (a swift exchange of big moves and near falls would have been a good idea) or it could have been shock that Sabin had actually won. Maybe a combination of the two.
I don't think many people predicted this outcome
Bully feigned unconsciousness as Sabin celebrated, even though he hadn't been struck with anything that would knock him out. Perhaps the result had stunned him into fainting?

I don’t think the result is a good idea. Sabin does not have the star power to get over as a headliner in TNA. The way he won the title won’t help him there either, his victory was presented as a fluke. He’s going to be overshadowed by the Main Event Mafia and the storyline with Bully. It also seems pretty clear that the title change occurred in order to keep Bully busy until Bound For Glory. He’ll regain the gold and work against the BFG series winner in October. Sabin will have a short reign and be bumped back down into the X Division. It will look like he was out of his depth at the top.

I’m all for TNA trying new things and giving guys that deserve it a run on top. But the trouble is that Sabin didn’t deserve it. He was fine as an X Division guy. There was no call from anyone for him to become a world champion. It could work out. I’d love to be wrong and for this to be something that helps TNA turn things around. But it’s not going to happen.

Overall, Destination X was a decent show. It was an above average episode of Impact but it paled in comparison to previous instalments. That’s about what I’d expected, to be honest.