Hurts So Good

Andrew’s going to be extra busy with other things for a little while, so you get a bit more of me instead. I have an appalling memory, so I won’t be introducing you to matches you may have missed or forgotten about. I’ll pick a random video from time to time and write some commentary on it. Feel free to tweet me videos I might be interested in. 

================= 

My mother always said I never did things the easy way. Call it stubbornness, but I always have to take the challenging option. There’s a reason I often feel that The Dixie Chicks’ The Long Way Around is my personal theme tune. And while we’re talking in clichés, I also firmly believe you don’t choose the people and past times you love.

Given all this, it’s no surprise that two of the things I love most in the world, pro wrestling and country music, regularly niggle at me. They often force me to question what I believe in. They both cause me to cringe as much as they make me swoon. Maybe I kind of like it that way. It’s a challenge.

I came across this TNA video while looking for CMA Fest material. You’d think that combining my two favourite things would leave me delirious, but it left me a little flat. There is nothing particularly wrong with the video. It features a lot of Mickie James, who is lovely. It showcases their charitable acts. Assuming it’s not overly generous editing, the crowds seem pleased to see them. TNA is based in Nashville, so it makes sense to tag on to the biggest festival of the year and prove they’re part of the community.

But just like when I wince at songs about having a beer with Jesus, or catch myself singing along to every word of Luke Bryan encouraging willing, panting country girls to shake their arses for woodland animals, so do I recoil a little at TNA.

The problem isn’t that I’m just not a fan of the product. There are choices within wrestling so that we all find something to hitch our wagons to. Nobody likes everything. The issue is that the despicable way they treat their roster always overshadows everything they do. I find it hard to congratulate them on their charity work when they don’t pay their own staff medical bills. It cheapens the fun stuff – rolling around town on a carnival float and joshing with D-List country music stars – when lying in the background is this unspoken dissatisfaction. The elephant never leaves the room.

The big difference between TNA and country music, though, is that country music is so ingrained in language and a particular lifestyle that to change it’s going to take time. And maybe if it changes it’s not country music anymore. Country culture, whether genuine or embellished by the music, is constantly in a state of flux and trying to strike a balance between being both current and traditional, carefree and politically correct. So much of what bothers me about the lyrics is objective.  I only experienced and grew to understand that Southern lifestyle for maybe 10 years.  To a point, I only look in on it from the outside. I love it or I leave it.

On this occasion and while talking about TNA, the issue is welfare. It’s about facts, not opinions. They can solve so many problems by starting to care about the people who make them money. Once they do that they’ll stop being the ridicule of so many, a thorn in my side, and maybe start looking like the company Dixie Carter sees in her mind’s eye.

Hurts so good, guys. Hurts so good.

RaeSignature

A Song for Whoever: Claudio Castagnoli/Antonio Cesaro & WWE/TNA/World Peace etc Edition

RAE: Whatever their wrestling background, when performers get called up to the WWE, a certain amount of ‘bedding in’ takes place. And it’s not exclusively reserved for the kids cherry-picked out of the thousands waving their arms in the air screaming ‘choose me!’. Even big fish in smaller ponds are expected to transition into the WWE style. And why not? There’s no point in having a global brand if you’re going to say ‘hey, just do whatever you like.’ Easy, tigers. I’m not saying everyone has to look and wrestle the same way; just that there have to be recognisable notes that pull all the individuality together.

When Bryan Danielson morphed into a the initial Daniel Bryan character, he spent a short spell in developmental before playing out a season on NXT. Danielson had such a genuine, indie geek-boy persona that WWE played it up rather than trying to turn him into an out of place bronzed adonis. It was a smart move. Although, I’m pretty sure he’s been dabbling with the Garnier Summer Body Creme lately and he definitely seems less of a quirky novelty than when he first arrived. He’s put his roots down.

Aww, bless.

In Bryan’s case, the tactic worked. Alberto Del Rio also managed the transition from Mexican hero to smooth talking WWE main eventer pretty easily. But for every success there are countless guys and girls who haven’t gelled with the WWE house style. Sin Cara was the exciting signing who’s stalled time and time again. I worry for my beloved Mason Ryan/Barri Griffiths who, despite bypassing NXT and jumping straight to the big leagues, seems to have dropped back into developmental. Maybe he needs a little more time.

There is, however, someone who seems to have gone from FCW to Smackdown with such ease it appears he was made for it: Claudio Castagnoli or, as he’s now known, Antonio Cesaro. Impossible to mention either name without rapidly fluttering my hand against my chest and exclaiming that my beating heart should be still.  Girly crushes aside, it’s bizarre how quickly Claudio seems to have become part of the furniture. Even during his first fleeting Smackdown appearance as Aksana’s rugby playing old pal, he seemed a natural WWE fit. Ah yes. Switzerland. That noble rugby playing nation. Hah! Still, you can’t deny he looks beefy enough to have chased the egg.

Poor ole Teddy

Claudio/Antonio’s match participation has been minimal so far, but those of us who followed his career before the magic phone call know his in-ring skills more than match his physical stature. And we know he pulls off a mean promo. That’s what makes his steady ascent so finger-tremblingly exciting. It’s like feeling the low rumble of an earthquake waiting for the right time to let rip.

The only question mark over Claudio’s move to the big time was whether his unmistakable presence would transfer to the much bigger WWE arenas. Maybe it’s difficult to separate giddy fan from logical thinker, but he certainly fills my screen every time he appears on it. So if it’s all the same with you, I’ll keep holding on to the walls. This one’s for you, ‘former rugby play’…

ANDREW: I’ve no doubt that it’s been prompted by the Avengers film, but I’m going through a comic phase at the moment. I don’t know if it works the same way for everyone but each of my more geeky interests seems to come and go in waves. Whether it’s wrestling, video games, comics… I’ll go for months showing hardly any interest then binge for weeks on end; endlessly devouring DVDs of obscure indie promotions, forcing myself to collect that one last memory fragment in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations or (as was the case this month) ploughing through Marvel’s expansive Civil War and Fear Itself storylines.

People much more knowledgable, intelligent and talented than me have written before about the glaringly obvious parallels between wrestling and comic books. Both looked on as lesser forms of entertainment. Both focussing for the main on interweaving, overly wordy storylines punctuated by periods of graphic violence. The masks… the starkly drawn good guys and bad guys… the improbable physiques… oh, and the ridiculously sexist costumes of course.

Another common factor is the distribution of power in both fields. Both the wrestling and comic book industries are essentially ruled (in the west at least) by two major companies, WWE/TNA and Marvel/DC respectively. Below them there are a number of smaller companies carving out their own share of the market. In wrestling you have the larger independents such as ROH, CHIKARA and PWG, while in comics you have companies such as Image and Wildstorm selling an edgier product to a smaller audience.

While these smaller companies are generally happy to share talent the big two in each field are usually more exclusive. Indie wrestlers are, for the most part, free to work in whichever promotion they like, and while they may change it slightly they are able to take their character with them. The same happens with smaller comic companies, where crossover events and guest stars from another companies line aren’t seen as a rarity. However, when it comes to Marvel (owner of the Avengers, Spider-Man and the X-Men to name a few) and DC (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman etc) this is a much less exected occurence, as indeed it is with the WWE and TNA…

Never say never…

…especially in wrestling

Yes, the big wrestling story this week was Christian’s appearance at TNA Slammiversary. Apparently a reciprocal deal for Ric Flair’s involvement in the 2012 Hall of Fame ceremony, the idea of a current WWE title holder being allowed to appear at a TNA PPV is quite amazing. As a fan it’s great to think that this is even possible, and the temptation is to wonder whether this could mean anything going forward? Will there be a new working relationship between the two companies? Will we see more TNA stars on WWE shows and vice versa? Will we finally see Sting recognised in the WWE Hall of Fame?

I know Dixie, they’re just “roomers” aren’t they?

Yep, that’s TNA’s official YouTube channel showing that they don’t listen to nasty roomers like that. In the long run this means nothing, but it happened, and we were there to see it. Well, when I say “we” I don’t mean Rae and myself. We’re not going to sit around watching TNA when there’s some paint drying in the south wing of the WrestleBunker. What do you think we are? Masochists?

Anyway, in the spirit of harmony and coexistence here’s to you TNA and WWE. It’s always nice (if disappointingly rare) to be surprised by wrestling, but the fact that the two of you could do something like this show’s a side of you that isn’t as petty and childish as we have come to expect. And that was a surprise…

Song for Whoever (Bonus Track): Daffney edition

I have something else in mind for my Song for Whoever this week, but I wanted to make quick mention of something that I read yesterday and this seems as good a place as any.

Other than the odd rant, we’re not generally a “serious” blog here at Wrestlegasm, but some things need to be said. We also try to refrain from swearing when possible, but I’m afraid this will be an exception: TNA are fucking awful. I know… I know… preaching to the converted. Big suprise, Andrew hates TNA! But rather than my general deep-seated loathing of a company that wastes amazing talent in favour of overpaying and overexposing ancient has-beens like some kind of Wrestling Antiques Roadshow, there is something specific that’s, frankly, appalled me this time.

Over at cagesideseats.com, a report has turned up describing some of the details behind the recent TNA release of Daffney and her treatment by the company prior to that.

“Yesterday my picture was taken down off of the TNA roster page. My contract expires today and TNA did not renew it. I do not know if it has anything to do with it, but I’ve filed a Workers Comp claim against them for injuries I’ve sustained in the ring and my lawyers said to not go into anymore details.”

This quote from Daffney’s Facebook and Twitter accounts is only the tip of the iceberg. The catch-all term of “injuries” covers a list that is pretty substantial (to quote from the article):

1. a serious concussion at Bound For Glory 2009 after she was chokeslammed from the ring apron by Abyss onto a barb-wire board
2. a deeply bruised sternum, a severe stinger and yet another concussion in the now infamous try-out, dark match for indie wrestler Miss Betsy
3. another concussion in her program with Tara after she got clobbered on the head with a toolbox

Concussions are scary enough, but in pro-wrestling today you would hope that the supposed Number Two company in the world would be especially aware of their consequences after the added media attention following the Benoit murders and the work done by ex-WWE wrestler Chris Nowinski at the Sports Legacy Institute but apparently not.

The first injury on the list, after being chokeslammed from the second rope to the floor through a barbed wire table, is probably the most shocking on first glance. Certainly it was a move that was arguably unnecessary at best, and positively manipulative at worse. According to the article (via a “long term employee” of TNA) Daffney was unsurprisingly hesitant to take the move, but was persuaded by Director of Talent Relations Terry Taylor that she would be taken care of and it was important for the storyline. Of course, the move happened and she was injured and taken to hopsital and billed for it. TNA then neglected to pay the bill, despite months of emails between the two parties, in the end denying they had any reponsibility to pay.

To literally add insult to injury; all this was for a spot that didn’t lead anywhere storyline-wise, was never allowed to be shown on TNA Impact as it breached the networks policy on violence towards women, and wasn’t even caught on camera live and was only shown on replay!

As for the second injury on that list, it’s probably pretty well know by now, but just in case: Miss Betsy was a very inexperienced trainee of Team 3D. In her tryout match she landed on Daffney’s chest, leading to sternum bruising – a move followed by a powerbomb which left Daffney with another concussion. As the article mentions, anybody else who injured a full time member of the roster in their tryout match would have been rightly run out of the building. But this is TNA, who have shown time and time again that they couldn’t care less about the welfare of their roster (especially, it seems, the Knockouts.) So of course they signed Miss Betsy (as Rosie Lottalove) to a contract, and actually showed the footage of the injury on Impact in an attempt to get her over.

I should point out that I (and I believe Daffney) aren’t about to start criticising Betsy/Rosie for the injury. It was another unfortunate example of ageing wrestlers politicking behind the scenes, in this case Bubba Ray Dudley. In fact, when TNA realised that even they couldn’t justify having her on the roster, Bubba Ray allegedly blamed Daffney and gave her the cold shoulder backstage. Oh, and it should probably go without saying that TNA didn’t pay Daffney’s medical bills for this one either.

The third injury, although it sounds almost innocuous up there in the list, is certainly the one which shows TNA at their most petty and heartless. TNA tape their shows in advance: rather than filming each week like WWE, they will film a block of episodes over a number of days to fill the upcoming month. In this case, it was Day 1 of a five day taping schedule when Daffney received yet another concussion. Daffney was told again by Terry Taylor that she should work the next two days (with a concussion remember) and she’ll be fine. After consideration Daffney quite rightly decided against wrestling and risking worsening her condition. This is where TNA’s petty side comes out, as they announced she would be unable to take part in a photoshoot that would have been useful income for her (given TNA’s notoriously low pay for female wrestlers) if she wasn’t prepared to wrestle.

Not only were TNA asking Daffney to wrestle with a concussion for a further two days (all while still refusing to pay her medical bills from the Rosie incident; this was all while they were happily running a concussion angle with Ken Anderson – to the point of going on air and singing the praises of the Sports Legacy Institute and constantly reminding the viewers that “Dixie Carter has always looked out for the welfare of her performers.” Hey kids! Can you spell “HYPOCRISY”?

So, Daffney, quite understandably, has had enough and contacted her lawyers. Shortly after TNA remove her from their website and allow her contract to expire. Reports are circling that she is not the only wrestler considering legal action against TNA for unpaid medical bills, and hopefully this is true. Strangely, I don’t want TNA to fail – I want another large wrestling company giving wrestlers international TV exposure. I want competition – without it the industry will stagnate and mainstream pro-wrestling will slowly become unwatchable. I hate TNA as it stands, but I genuinely hope they can turn things around and become a company that appreciates and respects some of the amazing talent they have, while ending their seeming obsession with re-enacting the final years of WCW.

As for Daffney, if even if only a third of the claims in that article are correct, that’s enough to justify my support. This songs for you, good luck!

The original article can be read at: http://www.cagesideseats.com/2011/4/21/2125160/the-sad-story-of-shannon-daffney-spruill and is well worth a read if you care about the wellbeing of wrestlers in anyway

Wrestlegasm Birthday Giveaway Posts: 1. Chis Sabin

When we had the idea for the birthday giveaway, Boss Lady Ray suggested that we offer the winner a special Wrestlegasm post about the wrestler of their choice. This sounded like a great idea at the time, but I have to admit to a certain amount of trepidation worrying about which wrestler would be chosen. Obviously my main fear was that the winner would choose Matt Hardy, and I always get in trouble when I write about Matt Hardy. Of course, I could have asked past guest writer Brandi to write about him, but that didn’t end too well last time either.

shudder...

Fortunately our winner was Sarah F, a reader of more refined tastes who (to my relief) was kind enough to inform me via twitter that she “pretty much hate[s] the Hardys.” Instead she picked a wrestler that I like, but don’t get as much chance to watch as I would like.

Yep, Sarah picked ex-TNA X Division and Tag Team Champion Chis Sabin. My feelings on TNA are pretty well documented, but to recap: the main reason I loathe them so much is that they have some really great wrestlers and misuse them. As such, I miss out on seeing these wrestlers because I find TNA frankly embarrassing to watch. Wrestlers such as Generation Me, Brian Kendrick, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Desmond Wolfe, Douglas Williams, Samoa Joe, Mickie James, Daffney (if they ever bring her back), Tara, Winter, Alex Shelley and of course Chis Sabin: all great wrestlers that you could easily build a great promotion around, if you weren’t too busy throwing money away on worn out has-beens and drug addled rednecks.

But I digress. For those of you who might not know him, Chis Sabin is one half of the Motor City Machine Guns tag team along with Alex Shelley (although, for what it’s worth, in my incredibly masculine and totally hetero opinion, Shelley is definitely the prettier of the two) This video below, despite the quite annoying music, should give you a quick idea what they’re about…

I have to confess to not knowing as much about Chis Sabin as I would like, so let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about him. Hmm… apparently he took his name from a Final Fantasy character, so he’s presumably a gamer. Also, he’s in a band with Alex Shelley, Petey Williams and A.N. Other non-wrestler bloke so he likes music. Erm… Ooh, he used to work at Subway! I knew I recognised this guy…

The other thing to note about Chis Sabin is that he seems inordinately fond of his right hand (please, feel free to insert your own smutty joke here). Seriously, every time you see him he points it out to the crowd. “Look at me! I have a right hand! Yippee!”

So, what have we learnt today. Well, we have learnt that Chis Sabin likes his hand, video games and music. We have learnt that he really likes mustard and that he’s a pretty great wrestler. We’ve also learnt that he was in CHIKARA King of Trios once upon a time back in 2007.

Perhaps most importantly for me, I’ve learnt that the Motor City Machine Guns had a great match against Dragon Gate Stars Masato Yoshino and Naruki Doi that is definitely a perfect way to end this slightly paltry post. Congratulations Sarah, hope you at least enjoy the video…

Bugger! Hang on… apparently it’s Chris, not Chis. Stupid TNA…

Guest Post: Wrestlemania Memories

As it’s both our blog birthday week and Wrestlemania week, we’re trying to lavish as many posts upon you as possible. Luckily for us, our favourite guest blogger Adam offered to write us a Wrestlemania themed post. How could we refuse? We defy you not to read it and get loads more excited for Wrestlemania. Whether you were there in person or watching on TV, why not tell us your own Wrestlemania memories in the comments box? We’d love to hear from you. Enjoy! – Ray

—————————

My love of pro wrestling really knows no bounds.  I’m at a point in my life that I don’t even hide it anymore.  Granted, I don’t yell “Suck it!” or wear old NWO berets (nor any wrestling merch other than a “Death Rey” shirt), but I don’t shy away from admitting that I usually watch Raw live, Smackdown on DVR, and will always buy the Rumble and Wrestlemania.  However, for my life long love of wrestling, I really haven’t seen too much live.  I remember going to a WCW house show with a friend in my hometown of Asbury Park, NJ, when I was 4 or 5, but it wasn’t my idea and I really didn’t know what was going on.  What I do remember though, is that we sat ringside, my friend loved Sting and looking up the time frame, I probably saw a Sting/Flair classic but I honestly can’t tell you. I remember I went to a WWF house show in 1995 at the Meadowlands and thought it was cool that a character that hadn’t debuted yet was working the house show (in this case it was Louis Spicoli’s “Rad Radford” character.  Owen and Yokozuna lost to Shawn and Diesel in the main event).  In college I went to the Smackdown after the 2004 Royal Rumble where Eddie Guerrero was named #1 contender for the WWE title and I went to Summerslam 2005 where Eddie Guerrero lost a ladder match for custody of Rey Mysterio’s son.  Oh, and this happened.  I went a taping of Raw at Madison Square Garden where Kofi jumped on Orton, Piper was awesome, but overall I hated it, as exhibited in this poorly written argument.  Finally, I just went to my first CHIKARA show, and well, that ruled.

Of course, I’m forgetting one live event.  The second live wrestling I ever attended and first I actually was aware of.  I attended Wrestlemania XI, live from the Hartford Civic Center.

Allow me to educate those who are not up on their Mania history.  Wrestlemania XI is on the short list of “Shitty Wrestlemanias.”  The main event involved former New York Giants Linebacker/NFL Hall of Fame/Crack addict/current registered sex offender Lawrence Taylor taking on Asbury Park, NJ native/current cadaver Bam Bam Bigelow. In addition to this bad idea, this Mania also should be held accountable for the crime of getting Steve “Mongo” McMichael interested in professional wrestling, as he was in LT’s  corner.

The setting is important as well.  The Hartford Civic Center, although the former home of one of my great loves, The Hartford Whalers, is a decrepit arena in a shopping mall.  It was also about a three hour drive from where I grew up.  Keep in mind that Wrestlemania X, in addition to being one of the better Manias, was only a 90 minute train ride from my house.  But who cares!?  I was 11 and this was Wrestlemania!  Surely my innocence and general wonder would make this a memorable trip!  Right?

Well, not exactly.  For starters, this trip was a weekend alone with my dad.  Now, I’m not going to get too deep into how I was raised, and rest assured I don’t have any specific issues with my father now, but it should be stated that even at that young age I was conditioned to know that one-on-one time with my dad was stressful.  We also don’t have any common interests and he has a habit of making us leave early whenever we go to sporting events/movies/school plays because he gets bored.  So here’s an entire weekend, in an awful city, dedicated strictly to professional wrestling.  The possibility for a problem was high.  And I remember a few.  Most occurred at the Fan Fest (screw AXXESS, it will always be WWF Fan Fest to me).  My dad admonished me for talking to a stranger randomly, even though it was in actuality Jim Cornette just walking the floor.  I also was frequently (all my adolescence actually) told to “fix my jacket” because I had an oversized New York Knicks Starter jacket that would hang off me because we were indoors and I was overheating.  And by “told” I mean “forcibly yanked at the collar and yelled at” because I looked like “(I) was in a gang.”  Keep in mind, 11 year old Adam looked like this.

But hey, I’m getting ahead of myself.  The earliest memory of Wrestlemania XI weekend was when we checked into our hotel and my dad made his first of many observations that adult actress Traci Lords (most famous for lying about her age to start her career early) was on our floor of the hotel.  My dad speculated that she may have been a celebrity guest of the event, but I’d counter that with it was far more likely that she was there to score some coke off Shawn Michaels.  I mean we weren’t at an ECW show, amIright?  After we checked in we went for lunch at some local spot and Captain Lou Albano walked in, which even my dad recognized from the Cyndi Lauper days.  After walking around for a bit we decided to retire for the night where it was stressed upon me to keep my voice down because we were in a hotel and people are sleeping.  Plus, we had to wake up at 7 am to for the Fan Fest!

Ok, here’s the thing about Fan Fest.  It gets packed and quickly.  It’s also huge.  So if you want autographs, you have to pick your target early and go in that line.  I learned that one the hard way on Day 1.  So basically I just walked around a bunch with my dad and took in all the sights.  From what I hear, AXXESS serves as a defacto WWE museum with some autograph sessions and games and such.  Fan fest did not have that.  It had an Undertaker set with the hearse, a ring you could jump around in (which I did, and that ruled), some kids games (one was a dunk tank that I was totally at when Todd Pentigal ran over during a taping of WWF Mania and dunked on Doink, so I was totes on TV!), and LOTS of merchandise booths.   I left with the following loot:

Shawn Michaels Tee Shirt- It was kind of sparkly and had his picture on it.  I wore it to the Fan Fest the next day and was one of the first people in line for his autograph.  He remarked “Nice shirt” to which I replied “Thank you.”  Later that summer some kid at camp called me gay for wearing a shirt with a man on it, and although I told him to shut up, I can’t recall wearing the shirt much after that.

WWF Pogs- I won these at a Pog Station.

Undertaker Pendent- It was a heavy, die cast metal pendent shaped like the Undertaker.  That became my bling for the remainder of 5th grade.

Lawrence Taylor Hat- My dad just bought this for me, despite how my feelings on the main event were conflicted.  Hey, gotta stick up for the hometown, right?  The hat did come in handy the next morning though, when bright and early we saw LT in our hotel lobby and he signed my program for me.  My dad was actual proud of how I let him finish a previous conversation and politely asked Mr. Taylor for a signature without any prompting. This encounter swung my favor to Mr. Taylor.  Seven years later I waited on Bam Bam Bigelow at the Applebees I was working at and told him the same anecdote.  He told me I made the right decision.

Various Autographs- I really don’t remember who I got except for Shawn and LT.

Something Tatanka related.

Foam Title Belt- This requires a bit of explanation.

Regardless of time period, I am fairly new to the internet.  My father was a computer programmer, but it also stressed him out enough that it made him sick.  As such, our home wasn’t wired for the internet until about 2001.  So there was no way I’d of been a smart, internet wrestling fan then.  I didn’t read the Apter mags or dirt sheets.  Christ, I didn’t even know WCW existed at the time.  I remember being in the hotel on Saturday night, my dad put on TBS because wrestling was on his channel surf, and I had NO IDEA who anyone was (yet oddly enough, I now remember it was a Four Horsemen promo I saw.  There must have been one of those green screen logo promos.)  Hell, I thought the Undertaker had some reality to him, even though I knew it was all scripted.  So yea, 11 year old Adam was not the discerning wrestling fan that I am today.  However, which foam title belt did I insist on buying?  Do I even have to say it?

Yes, I had a play Intercontinental title.  The “worker’s” belt.  Why root for Big Daddy Cool and The Undertaker when I can watch Jeff Jarrett and the 1-2-3 Kid?  And yet, I hate TNA now…

Oh, and I loved that foam belt.  It was probably my favorite thing ever for years after the fact.  But the smarkiness didn’t stop there.

For starters, I was a huge Owen Hart fan.  Always have been, going back to his days teaming with Koko B. Ware to form High Energy.  And I also found his heel turn in 1994 to be well reasoned, and needless to say, popped huge when he beat Bret at Wrestlemania X.  I also popped huge when he won the tag titles with a mystery partner (who I correctly guessed was Yokozuna.  I thought I was so smart, but looking back on it, they were practically slapping you in the face with the answer when they ran a bunch of Leslie Nielsen “Where’s Yoko?” spots.) So fine, that’s not unusual.  But I pretty much rooted for ALL heels.  We’ve already established I bought a Shawn Michaels shirt.  He was the heel in the world title match against Diesel.  Let’s look at the whole card and I’ll tell you my preferences.  Winners are listed first.

1) The Allied Powers (Lex Luger & the British Bulldog) vs Jakob and Eli Blue- Who cares?  I guess I liked Matilda, Davey Boy’s pet bulldog, so let’s give my pick to the faces.

2) Razor Ramon vs Jeff Jarrett (IC title)- I liked Double J’s country song “With My Baby Tonight”, and the woman next to me was a big Razor fan.  Since I have to be a combative little shit, my pick was J-E Double F, J- A- Double R- E- Double T.

3) Undertaker vs King Kong Bundy- My swag picked the Undertaker, but I did have an affinity for the Million Dollar Corporation (Dibiase is another favorite).

4) Owen/Yokozuna vs the Smoking Gunns (Tag Titles)- This match involved my favorite wrestler taking on Billy Gunn.  ‘Nuff said

5)    Bret Hart vs Bob Backlund (special guest referee Roddy Piper)(I Quit Match)- Not only did I root for Mr. Backlund in this, I brought a sign that said “BRET HART QUIT.”  Let me repeat that: I WAS 11 YEARS OLD AND ACTIVLY ROOTING FOR BRET HART TO QUIT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RING.  An adult actually gave me a snide comment before the show when he read the sign.  I remember being pissed that Backlund lost even though I never actually heard “I quit” out of the mic.  One of the few times I have questioned Roddy Piper’s judgment.

6) Diesel (with Pamela Anderson) vs Shawn Michaels (with Jenny McCarthy) (WWF Championship)- Well my pick is obvious, but to further elucidate what a little shit I was, I had some beef over the booking of this.  The prize for winning the 1995 Royal Rumble (in addition to the title match) was that Pamela Anderson would accompany you to the ring.  I don’t care how Cool Bid Daddy was, or how many Hearts the Kid Broke, Anderson was a prize fairly won by Mr. Michaels.  She should have accompanied him!  It’s in her contract!  Even if Jenny McCarthy is hotter!

7) Lawrence Taylor vs Bam Bam Bigelow- I was bribed into rooting for the face.

Final count: 4-3 heels (with bribery involved, so who’s really the heel in the main event?  Plus, he’s a sex offender!)

My love of the law didn’t stop there either.  R&B group Salt-N-Pepa were brought in to sing “Whatta Man” to LT on his way to the ring.  The band Fishbone was advertised to perform the “America the Beautiful” before hand.  I know this is true because there is no way I’d imagine that, especially at 11.  For whatever reason, they were replaced by Salt-N-Pepa.  In retrospect, this is the superior choice.  But I remember thinking that was bullshit.

Needless to say, the combination of wrestling and my insufferableness made my dad get bored and he went for a walk around the arena.  He returned about 20 minutes later.  But not empty handed.  No, he returned with a WWF Ice Cream bar.  I don’t think I need to explain that this is the most delicious food ever created.  I was perturbed I couldn’t find one all weekend.  I guess my dad walked around until he found the one stand that had it, which may be one of the nicest gestures anyone has ever done for me.

The night didn’t stop after the last bell either.  Walking back to our hotel there was one final prize.  Loitering in front of our hotel were some punk teens.  In the street was a private limo.  One of the teens took a pebble from a potted plant and threw it at the limo.  The limo stops short, two GIANT bodyguards come out, beat the crap out of one of the kids (smooshing his face in the plant), and then go back in the limo.  This took place over 20 seconds.  Probably the best action of the night.  My dad still tells that story.

I don’t have too many good memories of growing up.  That’s not to say I have all bad memories, but the memories of pure, unbridled happiness are few.  Maybe I was always just a contrarian little turd (read: BRET HART QUIT) or maybe it was something else.  That’s not for here or now.   Wrestlemania XI is a good memory.  I guess that’s the moral here; that even the worst Wrestlemanias are a pretty great time.  It’s corny to say, but Wrestlemania is special.  And not because the marketing machine says it is, or its four hours now, or the Hall of Fame.  It’s special because we want it to be.  Everyone wants it to be special, so we work hard to make it memorable.  I want more Wrestlemania memories, even if I never watch another day of professional wrestling again in my life.

The author tweets about dinosaurs and hockey over @adamrjones24.  Please pity him.

A Song For Whoever: Undertaker & TNA Edition

BOSS LADY RAY: Poor old Undertaker. First he finds himself beaten into a coma, then he finds out the person responsible was his brother, then the rest of the family turn on him, then he gets injured and has to go away for a while. Again. There’s also the whole ‘being dead’ thing. That’s gotta be rough. That’ll put a dampener on anyone’s week. Sure, he married McCool during his break, and a lovely couple they make too, but in the grand scheme of things he’s not having a wonderful time.

Taker goes away to repair whichever sinew he’s snapped this time. There’s this whole special build-up where he walks around a desolate shed out in the desert somewhere.  Johnny Cash husks and mumbles his way through “There ain’t no graaaaave……”. It’s all very Red Dead Redemption. Admittedly, when I realised 2-21-11 was an Undertaker return I was pretty meh about it. As the Sidekick commented, if you need to take six months off between matches, you’ve got some big life decisions to make. Still, they appeared to be making a big deal of his not-so-secret return. By the way, it’s 21-2-11! Silly America.

So it’s 21-2 and Taker starts making his lengthy march to the ring. The Fresno crowd are soaking up every second of the entrance. They’re so into it they can practically taste the damp earth from the grave that couldn’t hold his body down. FIRE! BRIMSTONE! EYELINER! SLOW HAT REMOVAL! EYES ROLLED BACK INTO HEAD! TIME TO PLAY GAME! Wait. What?

Yeah. HHH is back. Most blatant upstaging ever! Regardless of how uncool it is, I am a bit of a Triple H fan. I marked out pretty hard, even though Raw was spoilt for me once again and I knew he was back before watching it. Undertaker must have been well cheesed off though. It was an epic display of thunder stealing if ever I saw one. With this in mind there’s really only one song I can dedicate to the Undertaker. Actually, if wrestling were a musical, this is the song Taker would sing to Trips. And Andrew will vouch for me when I say, it’s a flippin’ miracle we’ve been running this segment for a month and this is the first showtune and/or Streisand track I’ve picked. It really was just a matter of time. Sing along if you know the words……..

SIDEKICK ANDREW: Soooooo…. after a few weeks featuring mysterious monochrome movies featuring a rain lashed hut in the middle of nowhere, an ominous figure in a long leather coat making his way through the rain, and no more information than a simple date to close – the WWE brought back the Undertaker.

Meanwhile, over on TNA, they show a mysterious monochrome movie featuring a rain lashed hut in the middle of nowhere, an ominous figure in a long leather coat making his way through the rain, and no more information than a simple date to close – now confirmed, due to ridiculous advance filming dates, to advertise the return of Sting.


I’m well aware that there’s nothing original in pro-wrestling, and that the industry is often described as “cyclical” for a reason, but there comes a point where “homage” or “parody” becomes “desperate clinging to coat tails”. We don’t cover TNA on this site much at all for one simple reason: it’s too painful to watch. When you have a company that employs a high percentage of great wrestlers as they do, you have to try really hard to make something as unwatchable as Impact! (their exclamation mark, not mine.)

The really silly thing about this is that it doesn’t benefit anyone. It’s not even as though the WWE want TNA to fail. Everyone seems to realise now that competition is a healthy thing, an opinion confirmed by Chris Jericho in a recent interview on The LAW with Dan Lovranski and Jason Agnew when he was asked about the 3 3 11 video:

“It drives me nuts and I’ll tell you the reason why. I am the biggest fan of TNA as a concept. I want them to be huge, Vince wants them to be huge because the more competition there is, it’s better for the business, it’s better for the boys, it’s better is for the fans. I don’t understand their obsession with copying the WWE I think it’s lame, I think its bush league and I don’t get it, they have some of the best talent, some great idea men. Why do they do this? Why do their guys go out there and say ‘When I was in the WWE I was left behind and I was held back’. If I was working for TNA I would project that it’s the greatest wrestling company in the world because if you’re not projecting it, why is anyone going to believe it?”

I’ve just realised this isn’t going to be a very funny episode of Song For Whoever, at least my half. For that I apologise, but TNA could and should be a great, fun to watch promotion. Employing Vince Russo, Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan (arguably the 3 men most responsible for WCW’s demise) was a ridiculous idea, and one which will probably help spell the end for them. Or at least it might, were they not bankrolled by daddy’s multi-million dollar company. Still, humour aside, there’s only song that seems fitting…

…and at least nobody can say we don’t give coverage to TNA now.

requiem for a dreamer

Some of you may remember, back in the dark and mysterious days before NXT, that I used to write recaps on here about ECW. Back then, as now, I wasn’t the most reliable recapper. A real life involving a full time job, 4 year old twins and a crippling Dandelion & Burdock addiction would often conspire to leave me without enough time to do the show justice. Also, with ECW being a shorter show than Raw or Smackdown, there was a higher wrestling to messing about ratio – and let’s face it, this blog is more concerned with the messing about part on the whole.

Towards the end of ECW’s run back in February, I did briefly address this in a blog about the announcement that ECW was being replaced with NXT. At the time, Taz was very dismissive and outspoken about the treatment that ECW had been given by Vince McMahon and the WWE. I was quite taken aback by Taz’s comments, especially since he was quite happy to admit that he defected from ECW to join WWE for the money, yet he was happy to criticise Vince McMahon for making money from the ECW initials.

Fast forward to this week, and Tommy Dreamer’s recent promo on TNA iMPACT! If you haven’t seen it (and quite frankly I hope most of you haven’t, as giving TNA viewing figures is only encouraging them) then you can view it via YouTube here:

Powerful and emotional stuff I’m sure you’ll agree. The incredibly masculine holding back of the tears… the supportive hands of Mick Foley… Dixie Carter offering full control of the PPV to Dreamer and the others… Except of course it isn’t. It’s bloody awful and Dreamer, Rhyno, Raven, Richards and Foley should be ashamed. For all the bluff posturing of the “ECW Originals” decrying Vince McMahon’s bastardisation of ECW – nothing he did once the weekly show started was anywhere near as disheartening and insulting as TNA’s constant toadying to wrestlers who may have been a big name “in the other company”.

It’s been a long list so far: ex-WWE guys who have been dragged out of retirement (or unemployment) by TNA and given top pushes or, even more disturbingly, positions of actual power. Jeff Hardy (twice! the second despite his highly publicised drugs arrest), Shannon Moore, Kevin Nash, Mick Foley, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, Brian Kendrick, Elijah Burke, Kurt Angle, Ken Anderson and more.

And now, TNA have moved on to pastures new – picking up ex-ECW wrestlers to put on HardCORE Justice (their annoying capitalisation, not mine) “a one-night-only celebration of hardcore wrestling featuring a never before seen reunion of legendary wrestling superstars” that is being billed as “The Last Stand”. OK, so – assuming that none of us have ever seen, or even heard of, the excellent original ECW One Night Stand PPV that the WWE put on, TNA are organising a “never before seen” reunion of ECW guys in a PPV environment, while coincidentally using the words “ONE NIGHT only” and “last STAND” on the official website.

Although of course, ECW One Night Stand wasn’t even the first reunion show for ECW guys. Two days before that there was the first show in a short series known as Hardcore Homecoming, featuring ECW talent in a series of hardcore, no holds barred matches. Still there’s no way TNA could have heard of these relatively obscure shows, not unless they happened to include current TNA talents like Mick Foley, Raven, Rhino and Team 3D. Oh, and of course, they would also need to have been booked and promoted by somebody heavily entrenched in TNA management such as… oh I don’t know… Jeremy Borash say. And while we’re stretching the bounds of possibility, lets be really outlandish and say that Borash would have had to also hypothetically film, edit and produce a documentary about the shows called Hardcore Forever…

Anyway, making fun of TNA and their unfathomable booking decisions is as easy as shooting Hardys in a barrel. The issue I have at the moment is the Tommy Dreamer promo. This is a guy that was first employed by the WWE back during the Invasion angle, was given 14 Hardcore Championship reigns, then a number of office jobs within the company, and eventually was given an ECW Championship run by the WWE that left him in the record books as the only person ever to hold the ECW Title in both “Original” ECW and “WWE” ECW. All this despite, lets be honest, him not being the best wrestler in the world. During the old ECW days that may not have been so important, but once he made the transition to the WWE style his shortcomings really began to show, and it became more and more apparent as a fan that he has was taking up roster space and TV time that could have been better utilised by other wrestlers.

It’s worth noting before we go on, Tommy’s first ECW Championship reign under Paul Heyman lasted a whole 30 minutes; whereas the terrible company that “punished” him and his friends gave him a 7 week Championship run. Oh yeah, the “punished” thing? That comes from TNA’s hardcorejustice.com site, where a quote attributed to Tommy states:

Dixie has allowed us to have a chance to finally thank the fans that have supported us for all of these years […] In the past, we’ve been lied to and we’ve been punished for being who we were and building what we did. Now we have a chance to get everyone back together for one last night.”

Now I like Tommy Dreamer as a person, he seems like a nice guy for the most part. His twitter feed has been consistently entertaining, and his appearance for independent companies such as Wrestlegasm favourites CHIKARA are good publicity. But I can’t figure out how I’m offended by this. I know I am offended, just not in which way. You see, I can look at the promo in one of two ways:

1. It’s a shoot.

Tommy genuinely believes that he, and all the other ex-ECW wrestlers, were treated badly by Vince. A statement that seem deluded at best, and genuinely ungrateful and petty at worst. As I’ve mentioned, Tommy wasn’t the best wrestler in the world, yet WWE kept him on far longer than they perhaps should, giving him a title reign and constantly referring to him as the “Heart and Soul of ECW” – a title which I am sure he took great delight in hearing each week.

2. It’s a work

Tommy doesn’t believe any of this, he realises how lucky he was to be a part of such a huge entity as the WWE. He knows that the exposure and publicity he received mean he can pick and choose appearances and independent bookings for as long as he wants, and that the WWE actually made more of a success of the ECW brand that people give them credit for. However, despite knowing all this, he is prepared to stand in the ring of the main competitor and run down WWE, and Vince in particular.

Either way, Tommy doesn’t exactly come out of this situation smelling of roses. But, it’s only fair that we look into this a little deeper. Tommy’s main complaint seems to be the way that some of the other guys were used and tossed aside by the WWE for being the same people they were in ECW. I’ve no doubt that there is some truth in this; however, you have to look at the kind of people we are talking about here. Let’s take a couple of the main ECW wrestlers who made the leap to WWE.

Rob Van Dam – Became the first ECW Champion in the new promotion, beat John Cena in a PPV main event match, becoming the first wrestler in history to hold both the WWE Championship and the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, and the only one ever to hold them at the same time. Managed to get himself suspended for a marijuana offence, but then came back to be given numerous title shots and a Wrestlemania payday. Even after leaving the company due to his wife’s illness, Van Dam came back to make a surprise appearance on both the Raw 15th Anniversary show and the 2009 Royal Rumble.

Sabu – Was released by TNA, and was given a World Heavyweight Title shot in his debut match for WWE shortly afterwards, against Rey Mysterio at One Night Stand. Two months later he won a Battle Royal and was given a PPV match against John Cena. Despite then being arrested for possession of drugs, Sabu was still given a title match against Big Show at Summerslam and a Wrestlemania payday.

Hardly being treated terribly, and the same goes for other ECW Originals such as Balls Mahoney and The Sandman – both of whom were given pushes and storylines far outweighing any actual wrestling ability.

On the flip side, WWE’s incarnation of ECW was arguably responsible for bringing up a new crop of Superstars and giving them space to learn to react to much larger crowds than they may have been used to previously; as well as reinvigorating the careers of established wrestlers such as William Regal and Christian.

People like CM Punk and Evan Bourne, both of whom had worked with great success on the independent scene, were given space and time to learn how to adapt their style to fit in with the WWE and it’s larger arenas – most notably with Punk fazing out the use of the Anaconda Vise as a finisher and focussing more on the Go To Sleep (a move which can be appreciated from a greater distance in the crowd.)

Less experienced wrestlers had the opportunity to use ECW as a training facility of sorts – people such as Seamus, Jack Swagger, Yoshi Tatsu and Zack Ryder all came into their own on ECW. After Joey Mercury had his face destroyed by the Hardy Curse, Johnny Nitro was floundering in singles competition until a transfer to ECW and “THE INCIDENT” gave him an unexpected title shot. Cue the transformation to John Morrison and a greater deal of success that anyone could have foreseen.

The trouble seems to be one of perception with ECW. People such as Tommy Dreamer, perhaps understandably, will only focus on the elements of ECW that they were involved in and that made them famous – the hardcore matches, the brawls throughout the ECW arena, the use of weapons… I would argue however, that the thing that made both forms of ECW great was instead the opportunity it gave wrestlers who didn’t necessarily fit the WWF/WCW mould. I’ve mentioned some of the people that the new ECW gave new life to, but the same happened with Heyman’s show.

Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Steve Austin, Lance Storm, Eddie Guerrero, Tajiri – all people that were overlooked or dismissed from the WWE or WCW and were given breaks on ECW. I said it last time and I stand by it now : both forms of ECW were great.

The original ECW wasn’t great because of any perceived anarchic outsider status (after all, they were bankrolled by Vince McMahon for some time)

It wasn’t great because of the weapons and bloodshed (after all, if there was such a demand for that style, CZW would be challenging TNA for viewers)

It was great because, in between the brawls, they showcased some amazing wrestling from some amazing wrestlers. This is what made the original ECW so enjoyable to watch – the variety, and it’s the true legacy of Paul Heyman’s work that was carried on through to the WWE version. Building a show around the hardcore elements of ECW was always a bad move, even when the wrestlers involved where in their heyday.

The original ECW themselves didn’t do this; their PPVs always offered a combination of brawling, weapon based matches and high-flying technical wrestling. WWE didn’t do this; go and look at the line-up for the first One Night Stand. As well as the incredible Masato Tanaka vs Mike Awesome match, and the main event fight between the Dudleys and Dreamer/Sandman – the PPV featured some great wrestling matches with Lance Storm vs Jericho and Mysterio vs Psychosis being the stand outs for me personally.

It remains to be seen just how much of the HardCORE Justice PPV is given over to the hardcore style matches – but it seems a pretty safe bet given TNAs over reliance on older names to push their shows that Dreamer will be in the main event, and that it will be weapon-based. It will also be interesting to see just who they manage to get involved. They’ve already exhausted the “top tier” of ECW wrestlers available to them, and have delved down to the levels of Simon Diamond.

I’m not going to deny Tommy Dreamer has contributed a great deal to the wrestling industry through his passion and commitment, and I would never deny anyone the right to pursue a pay day – but at some point the nostalgic rose-tinted view that some people have of certain elements of a company that once employed them, whether they had a right to be in a wrestling ring or not, had to stop. And the over reliance on washed-up, used-up and burnt out names to sell PPVs in 2010 is starting to verge on the pathetically hilarious.

I’ll leave you with another Dreamer quote from the TNA site. “TNA is the only place that this event could happen , […] There are no politics to worry about and no restrictions in place. The fans know that I have a lot of extremely close friends, so they can expect anything and everything to happen. I have some surprises for everyone. ”

Let’s hope he’s right, and we’re all pleasantly surprised…

GUEST POST WEEK: lucha lucy on tna

[Let’s face it, Wrestlegasm.com isn’t the place to come if you’re a TNA fan. Hard as we try, neither Andrew nor myself can face whole episode of iMPACT! especially since the old man took over. We realise this is doing you TNA fans a disservice, so we’ve invited Lucy to give you her opinion on how things have panned out in ‘the other franchise’. Make her feel welcome and enjoy reading. – Ray]

Despite what many people have to say about TNA, they’ve a lot going for them. Although they’ve so much going, they still leave fans scratching their heads sometimes.

TNA grabbed the bull by the horns and went head-to-head with RAW on Mondays, then they realized they were failing. They changed their plan to go head-to-head with RAW for only an hour. When that failed, they decided to move back to Thursdays. Then there was Bubba and some new ranking system, The Band and Dixie Carter tweeting all these cryptic messages about surprises in store for TNA.

My point? TNA HAS NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE DOING!

I hate to presume that I know more than this whole company, full of people who have been in the business for years, but they make me wonder sometimes.

With so much potential and ability, you’d think they’d have a great shot at, if not being able to compete on Mondays, at least getting wrestling fans to switch over to their show on Thursday, when there’s no other wrestling on. That hasn’t been the case though. Regardless of what ratings say, a lot of the fans, me included, are unhappy with things in TNA.

I find they’re notoriously hit-and-miss with show. It seems as though even when they’ve got something  great they just can’t follow it up.

Criticism is no good when it isn’t constructive, so these are a few things I see that can be reevaluated by TNA, in hopes of improving.

First off, get rid of those who’ve been wrestling for over 15 years, can barely walk and have no business still wrestling. I hate to see someone lose their job, but I think it’s fairly obvious that some wrestlers just shouldn’t be wrestling anymore.

Secondly, they need to stop with the random storylines that go absolutely nowhere. How long was Samoa Joe gone before they even made a mention of him? Unless I’ve missed it, they’ve yet to explain the story behind who/what/why Joe was Joe-napped. Didn’t they learn when someone was mysteriously attacking AJ Styles? We learned Tomko did it. They did nothing with it and now I don’t even know if Tomko still has a job with TNA. The trouble with a storyline they drop and don’t follow up on is that we don’t forget it. Just stop the random kidnappings and attacks. Please.

Wrestling fans are so very picky; we’re never quite satisfied with what we’re given.

We’re told we can’t have blood in one company, so TNA tries to deliver it whenever they can, but there’s no reason to have that amount of unnecessary blood on their shows. Maybe this is a personal pet-peeve of mine, but I don’t care to see Abyss and/or Ric Flair bleeding every week on iMPACT!.

These problems are all very manageable.

Men like Hogan and Nash, no matter how big a name they are, they don’t belong in the ring anymore. Hogan doesn’t really wrestle anymore, but he is on TV a lot. The show shouldn’t be written around him. As for Nash, he looks like he can barely make it to the ring. He’s one of the lucky ones who have something to fall back on, so perhaps it’s time to retire?

I’ve neglected to mention Ric Flair and that’s with good reason. Unlike Hogan, Flair’s been in the ring wrestling, but in the time that he’s been with TNA he’s already given back a lot. AJ is phenomenal, but the poor guy couldn’t cut a good promo to save his life before Flair and now, his promos are actually quite good. Flair has also done something that TNA’s failed to do in the last few years — get guys like Kazarian and Jay Lethal over with their newer fans.

The ridiculous storylines are just that. I think it’s pretty fair to say that fans are not looking for outlandish stories that end up going nowhere. When all else fails, stick with the classics – a face looking for redemption, a heel looking for vengeance. They work when they’re done right. As for the amount of blood that TNA uses, there’s really no excuse for it. It’s not necessary.

A big obstacle TNA is dealing with right now is the fact that not too long ago they prided themselves on their Knockouts, tag-team and X-Divisions. Finally, perhaps their biggest obstacle is keeping up with something that works for them.

Both the Knockouts and tag-team divisions were exceptional once upon a time. Instead of quality entertainment and matches with Angelina Love and Kong, we have Lacey Von Erich making-out with a midget. Instead of 3D showcasing tag-team wrestling with LAX and Beer Money, INC. we have teams thrown together because they share the same hair style.

The Knockouts have definitely lost out on the departures of Awesome Kong and Tara, but they’ve got other females like Love, Roxxi and Hamada, who should be given the chance to elevate the Knockouts to where they once were. They’ve no need to reduce their Knockouts to segments like that Von Erich’s. Let them wrestle and give them a chance to build stories and rivalries with each other.

As for the tag-teams, throwing guys together because they can isn’t how they’ll elevate the division or their company. Sometimes it can work for a while, but what’s happened to Generation Me and the Motor City Machine Guns? Both are great teams who are capable of delivering matches to remember. They’ve given the titles to a team of two men in their fifties! Why not give those other tag teams a shot? They’ve proven why they’re great, so give them a shot at reviving what’s becoming a lost form of wrestling.

In the early years of TNA, the X-Division was the crown jewel of the company. You can’t abandon what brought you to the dance in the first place. There are so many great wrestlers with huge potential, but are never utilized. The Guns, Amazing Red, Kendrick and Douglas Williams are used so little that fans either forget about them from one week to the next or even worse they just don’t care. There’s potential for exciting matches and stories in the X-Division; they’re more than capable of stealing the show when given the opportunity.

TNA’s biggest difficulty at the moment is that they can’t hold any momentum they’ve built. Matt Morgan’s program with Kurt Angle — hit. What did they do with the newfound momentum behind their rising star? They allowed him to fall off the radar a bit and brought him back into the tag-team scene with Hernandez. After the great program he had with Angle, they could’ve at least tried to follow up with another big feud to see how he’d do – miss. No matter how great one particular story or wrestler is, they’ve got to follow up on momentum or they’re end up back at square one every single time.

Although TNA clearly still has problems with their product, I do honestly think that they’ve taken steps in the right direction.

One thing that I’ve liked from the TNA writing staff is that they’re able to work a broad story and manipulate it to do the most good. If you know me, I’m sure you’ve heard me say this before, but please indulge me on this issue once more.

In the past, TNA has been able to take one idea and branch it out to make it five more. They did it with Sting and the Main Event Mafia and they’re doing it now with Flair, Styles, Abyss and Hogan.

They took this idea of Flair vs. Hogan and worked it to include Styles, Hardy, Dinero, Abyss, RVD, Beer Money and Wolfe. They let go of Hardy, let him do his own thing with Anderson, let Abyss and Wolfe do their own thing, brought in Sting and Jarrett to finish something they started a long time ago and also included Jay Lethal and Kazarian, letting them get their own deal with Styles and Flair.

Instead of a ‘start and end’ feud every couple of weeks, they’ve let it run and turn in other directions.

They’ve got the right mindset; it gives others the spotlight when they otherwise wouldn’t have it and continually changes the scope of their shows so that nothing becomes too stale.

Although easier said than done, TNA needs to let their Knockouts wrestle and showcase what was once a great assist to the company; they need to allow tag teams with the skill and popularity to elevate their division to do so and finally TNA needs to understand they can’t rely on another company’s past to help get them to the top. They have to risk going with something new, gambling on wrestlers they haven’t gambled on before.

Once they’ve build up a fresh product, made new stars and capitalized on what the WWE lacks, maybe they can go ahead and give that whole Monday Night Wars thing another shot.

Lucy has her own blog here. Check it out.