Friday 11 April 2014

Eric Young's Turn

How do you combat the most popular wrestler in WWE closing the year's biggest wrestling show as the world champion? Well, if you're TNA, you find someone who looks vaguely like Bryan and switch your own world title on to him at the first televised opportunity. The man deemed most suitable was long-time comedy performer and mid-card mid-roader Eric Young.

Eric Young is not a bad wrestler. Nor is he an especially good one. His sole previous foray into main events (as part of the heel World Elite faction) was utterly unmemorable and saw Young busted back down to his natural role as comedy face soon after it ended. It’s that role he's been known for throughout his TNA career. He’s the comedy guy who goes out and makes the punters laugh. He’s also, for the record, a former Knockouts tag team champion, hardly something you look for on the CV of a prospective world champ.

Eric Young is the TNA champion
The title change, which aired live on Thursday 10 April and has been made available through TNA’s YouTube account, came about after EY survived a Michinoku driver and a low blow and drilled Magnus with a piledriver. But really, how it came about is irrelevant. What matters is that a longstanding comedy performer has been awarded TNA’s top prize.

Eric Young does not have the aura of a world champion. Nor do I believe he has the ability to cut it as an underdog champion who flukes his way to successful title defences (a viable way of turning someone into a legitimate main event act over time). He has been promoted far too quickly to the role of champion and his win has harmed the prestige of the title and, by extension, the promotion.

The TNA championship is once again looking like something that everyone gets a turn with if they stay under contract long enough. That simply shouldn't be. A promotion’s world title should be its top prize, something only the elite win. It's not as important as it was in the days of kayfabe but a world title is still a significant part of a promotion's success. The champion’s credibility (or lack of it) will help to form people's opinions of the company as a whole (especially a smaller outfit like TNA). A meaningful championship is needed for a lead babyface to chase and hold. If the title means nothing then what has that top star (or anyone else) accomplished by winning it? Any athlete needs a prize worth competing for.

Bobby Roode or Austin Aries would have been a better choice for the role of relieving Magnus of his title. For starters both already have title reigns notched up, which would have avoided giving yet another member of the roster their go with the belt. More importantly they are both more credible than EY. They both look, talk, wrestle and carry themselves like main eventers and have histories at the top of the card. There was an obvious storyline to present in having a heel ally of Magnus gradually turn on him before taking the title from him, and either ‘A Double’ or ‘The It Factor’ would have been a perfect fit.

And let's spare a thought for Magnus. He had what should have been a career defining reign curtailed to reward a mid-carder's loyalty and-or to give the audience a Shock Moment™ (this more than anything else has convinced me that Vince Russo has indeed returned to TNA1). He is not the most talented man in TNA but he looked and acted the part, and was growing into the role of both champion and faction centrepiece. Of the talent at TNA's disposal he was one of their best choices for a fresh start champ. Perhaps he'll get the strap back in a few weeks. Perhaps he'll go on to have a longer, more impressive reign in the future. But the damage is done. He is now the man whose first reign ended at the hands of ‘Showtime’ Eric Young.

This is another example of TNA floundering around aimlessly, desperately searching for something that will click with viewers and ignite their popularity. It's not something that will cause the downfall of a company. At this point it barely registers above the background hum of absurdity they present on a weekly basis. When the story of TNA's downfall comes to be written this will simply be another point on the graph. But it’s one that could, and should, have been avoided.


1 I've defended him in the past and will defend him in the future but I disagree (as talked about above) with Russo’s belief that wrestling championships are simply props that embellish the drama of the stories he's telling. They can enhance the perception of a wrestler or feud and lend credibility to a company. Think of how Daniel Bryan’s recent journey to the top of WWE would have been affected if there were no meaningful championship for him to win in the main of WrestleMania.


  1. eric young wouldn't have been my 1st, 2nd or 5th choice to beat magnus for the world title. but let's not act like he's been built up to do so pretty well since his feud with abyss started.

    his comedy days feel so far behind after the past 2 months of build up for him. it's like how daniel bryan was in team hell no at one month, and then wrestling for the money in the bank all stars match the next one, only to beat cena at the main event of summerslam the month after it.

    this isn't EY's "daniel bryan's wrestlemania title win!", this is EY's "daniel bryan's summerslam title win." the one which we gave time (about 1/2 a year) before we accepted how it went.

    I think you're really underrating EY's abilities and talents if you don't even at least think he can cut it as an underdog champion who flukes his way to successful title defences...

    in fact, if the title has stayed in magnus's hands any longer past last night, it would've gotten even more devaluated than by EY, an upper mid-carder for TNA in the past 2 months, winning it. magnus should've lost to joe at lockdown clean inside the cage. and every show after the abyss coming from under the ring thing has been insufferable with magnus (who I love, personally, as a talent! but HATE how he was booked.)

    magnus won't be remembered for losing to EY. he'll be remembered for barely beating sting and AJ even with 10 men. for kissing dixie's ass (I mean on-screen, of course) all the time. for barely surviving joe only because of abyss's help. but he's 27 years old, and it can be forgotten. it's awful, but it happened, and now they can only try fixing it. they called an audable, and it resulted in happy-but-confused/surprised reactions from their fans so that this past IMPACT got almost 1.5 million viewers (their highest in a long while.) and if they pick up on this chance well, they can recover from the reign of magnus as much as possible and stop sinking down with their quality. they can now give the wolves the tag belts, keep trying hard with the knockouts, seriously give aries his rematch with sanada for the X-title already before pushing aries back in the main event scene while someone like kenny king chaces the X-title. they can slowly keep building EC3 and gunner to become credible main eventers. they can try to keep roode and storm relevant as main eventers and maybe even give them the chance to go at it next! (I wish for roode to beat EY at slammiversary, storm to win BFG and us to finally get that storm vs roode world title match as the main event of the biggest show of the year!!!)

    1. Even Bryan's SummerSlam victory had eighteen months of growing popularity behind it. He had also never been presented as a comedic career mid-carder (even when Michael Cole was burying him weekly). I brought up Bryan at 'Mania to highlight my Russo point and as an opening joke. The two things are otherwise worlds apart in terms of both success and meaning.

      Two months is not enough time to erase the feeling of EY being a comedy guy. Magnus would have been better keeping the belt and dropping it to someone with a greater chance at helping TNA in the future. Bobby Roode, for example.

      My main issue is that I don't EY can create and sustain enough interest in TNA to grow the audience. Roode didn't during his previous reign, but he has a better chance than Young because he looks the part more. As does Austin Aries.

    2. I sure wanted roode to turn face that one time he wanted nothing to do with dixie and chase magnus until he takes the belt at slammiversary. as I also were hoping that the feud building slowly between magnus and EC3 would result in EC3 winning the belt maybe, too (and I still hope they continue it and meet down the line. maybe in the finals or semi-finals of the BFG series.) aries's contract was coming up soon and it isn't safe to push him at least until resigning, so, he was out of picture. and joe was on fire during the UK tour that I really wanted him to win by lockdown before everything was royally ruined forever.

      but EY didn't really challenge for the belt over night.

      I believe there were 5 important points in turning EY from the comedy mid-carder role into the main eventer he’s been the past month or so in his way to the world championship:

      1. EY’s experiments on joseph park to uncover the mystery of abyss (so that bad influence would stop hurting him) which concluded with this abyss vs EY match:

      2. abyss showing up and still showing effects of his split in this segment:

      3. THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT: joe, EY and MVP having a war of words were EY lists his TNA career achievements and highlights and earns everybody’s respect and gets them behind him chasing the world title:

      4. the backstage interview with EY were he’s totally serious and sums the whole story up in 1 minute:

      5. everything that happened this week with him winning the gauntlent, asking for the shot at the title to be at the same night and MVP preventing magnus from cheating in any way possible for that match.

    3. It's been handled well enough in the short term but I still disagree that two months is not long enough to change someone's character. Young had been a comedy mid-card guy for YEARS. It takes longer than two months to change perception, particularly when that perception is so entrenched.

      It's a last ditch thing really. They're trying anything they can think of to entice people into watching. I don't think EY is it, because he doesn't have anything to attract mainstream interest or non- or casual fans.

    4. the thing is, no one does when it comes to TNA. nobody. no one is a "draw" in TNA. kurt angle? not really. jeff hardy? he sells merchandise but doesn't bring up ratings. hulk freakin' hogan? ratings dropped more than ever in his regime. TNA will always draw between 1 and 1.4 million. they'll always bring between 2 and 5 thousand people for their crowd when on the road (except for the few times in the UK or that one time lockdown broke the record with 10 thousand people in attendance). they never grow no matter who's on screen, because the writing and the matches are usually not good enough.

      it was clearly them calling an audible on magnus's paper champion reign, while also trying their luck with eric young. and EY's been the most over wrestler in TNA since AJ styles left, aries stopped showing around and joe was ruined on lockdown... in fact, people were booing joe and cheering EY when they faced each other a few weeks ago.

      EY always gets a nice reaction from the crowd. he's TNA's go-to guy for interviewes and TV-plugs since he also get all his other shows. EY always works a good match, and is never bad on the mic. he got this charm to him that no other talent in TNA has. and I'm willing to defend him in front of any non-believer yet until EY stops entertaining me as much as he does (and I really hope TNA doesn't screw him so fast...)

      from now going forward, though, you can have roode win his feud with bully and go after EY's world title while staying a heel instead of turning a face like he would've had to do to face magnus. but I really hope magnus doesn't retain his title from EY... magnus needs to be fixed after this paper champion thing has ended. he's already so damn good on the mic (as his role on commentary and promo on MVP this past thursday were fantastic) and improved much in the ring (his matches vs hardy (dixieland), gunner (in the UK), kai (in japan) and EY now have all been really good), but it'll take a long time to do so.