Wednesday 15 January 2014

Stormy Road to Nowhere

America's Most Wanted. Beer Money (Inc). Two of the most celebrated teams, original or otherwise, in TNA history. A commonality between them is James Storm. That could indicate that Storm's niche is tag wrestling. But it would be unfair to simply leap to that conclusion.

A little over two years ago TNA's creative team took the decision to split Storm from his Beer Money teammate Bobby Roode. That was nothing new for either man. Storm had been through a high profile tag split when he and Chris Harris stopped being AMW. Roode had been through a quieter version of the dividing process when Team Canada was wrenched apart.

The Beer Money break up was different. The TNA world title was to be involved and both men were to be elevated to main event status. It was an ambitious thing to attempt for a company as set in its ways and unimaginative as TNA. It would prove worthwhile. Fans responded well to the tale of betrayal and the freshness the two men's promotion brought to programming.

The TNA championship's prestige gained a boost from the plot. Bobby Roode benefited greatly too. He proved such a hit that he became the longest reigning TNA champion ever was, for a short while, was presented as the company's top act, morphing into ‘The It Factor’ and proving he could do well at the top. The split was well judged and well handled.

As good as it was the benefits for TNA and its fans weren't as great as they could have been. For the first half of 2012 TNA appeared to have finally grasped what they needed to do to satisfy disgruntled viewers: move new and deserving acts to the top of the card and grant them sustained pushes with logical storylines and rivalries. That sense was created largely by the Roode v Storm feud, although the progression of Austin Aries played a significant part too. Shortly after Destination X it became apparent that it had all been happy coincidence. 'A Double' was flipped senselessly back to the bad guy role shortly before losing the title to old hand Jeff Hardy at around the same time that Roode's standing slipped.

That had already happened to Storm, of course. His headline exploits were shown to be over at Slammiversary X. At that event he returned to TV after an extended break (which he'd been put on to show how gutted he was about not being world champ) and ended Crimson's (dubious) undefeated streak. It was a meaningless accomplishment which did nothing for either man.

Note the lack of sartorial elegance
Since then the only thing of note that 'The Cowboy' has done is form a team with Gunner and capture the tag titles. That he went from an invigorating headline feud that fans bought into back to working in the understocked doubles department is a disappointment. Had TNA stuck with him Storm could have amounted to more. This is true with most wrestlers: everyone needs time to get over at the top, no matter how long they've been around. Stardom isn't achieved overnight.

At one time the splitting of Gunner and Storm could have been taken as a sign that TNA knew they’d been wasting Storm and that they were going to rectify the situation. That’s not the case now. Turning Storm heel at the expense of the vacuous punch-kick machine that is Gunner indicates a lack of a long term plan. That the two have not only split but started feuding is further evidence of this. And that Storm and Roode teamed up on the January 2nd Impact has come as close to rendering the singles pushes of Beer Money pointless as is realistically possible.

Then again I don't have access to all of TNA's facts and figures. Perhaps they have concrete proof from TV ratings and merchandise numbers that people are not willing to support Storm and Roode in any meaningful sense. Maybe a mid-card tag team is the best place for them. I’d disagree regarding Roode. He made significant changes to his character, look and wrestling style when flying solo.

Storm did not. He still wears those awful plastic hats and leather coats. He still sports long hair and a physique that's soft around the edges. It all screams mid-card. It's entirely plausible that TNA has their numerical proof, and if that's the case I don't blame them for not doing more with Storm.

No comments:

Post a Comment