The Future of the TNA Television Title - Is there one?

As many of Devon's Twitter followers may have noticed today, the veteran has parted ways with TNA after his contract negotiations failed to reach an agreement, leaving his Television Championship up for grabs. While I thought his title reign was misplaced and hurt the division more often than not, I'm glad he had this run at "the top" as a singles star. He deserves our respect and I applaud his hard work. However, the big question is - what comes next?

The Television Title has long been neglected by TNA. They occasionally make noise about it being defended weekly on Impact Wrestling and even stick to their guns for a couple of months at a time. But due to whatever reason, they miss a week. That leads to missing another week. And another. Until we haven't seen our Television Champion for just as many weeks as he was defending it. There was a quiet mention of the weekly defense being suspended during the Bound for Glory series, but this put the division right back where it was at the start of the year - showing up solely on pay-per-view against an unannounced opponent. This makes the Championship a chore, not a sought-after accomplishment.

With the news of Devon failing to re-sign and return to defend his title, I suggest a short period of reflection for TNA. The easy way out would be for them to hot-shot a match tonight on Impact Wrestling, making people aware of the situation and putting the title belt onto another indistinguishable midcarder. However, I would implore them to wait a few weeks and think about their next move. As far as the average viewer is concerned, the Television Title is off-air at the moment for a reason. As long as the Bound for Glory series is running, this is a moot situation. Take the two weeks before No Surrender to formulate an honest to god plan for the division and that first show back after the pay-per-view we can begin in earnest.

As for who could possibly take up the mantle of Television Champion, the task is daunting to say the least. Anyone selected for the challenge must be worth putting on television each and every week, guaranteed. Another Devon or Robbie E and the Championship may as well not come back. We'll be right back to where we are now, with the title MIA and treated like dirt when it finally reappears.Whoever steps up has to anchor the division and show the viewers it's worth a damn.

My first candidate would be our current World Heavyweight Champion, Austin Aries. After the events of last week's Impact Wrestling, I have no doubt in my mind that TNA are in the process of stripping Aries of the World Title. It's the exact same play they used back in 2010, when they needed to take the belt off Rob Van Dam. But instead of an outright loss, they came up with some bull about Abyss butchering him with a nailed board. TNA clearly value Austin Aries to a similar degree, but he doesn't fit into their plans for the big pay-per-view coming up, enter Aces & Eight's brutal attack leaving A Double with a "broken arm". Obviously, this angle would require Aries to spend a little while off the air to sell the severity. However, when he returns, I could seriously see the Greatest Man Who Ever Lived holding down the Television Championship for months on end, giving the division the respect it deserves. Aries got where he is today by letting his skill in the ring speak for itself, so what better showcase than guaranteeing him a high profile title match on each and every Impact Wrestling. He became the star of the show doing much the same thing for the X Division, why not the Television Championship.

My second candidate would be, ironically enough, Devon's former tag team partner, Bully Ray. Assuming that Ray hasn't left TNA in the same contract dispute that cost us our current Television Champion, the Bully from Hell's Kitchen would be an obvious choice. For well over a year now, Ray has been producing the best work of his career. It's not a particularly high-brow act, but he's become the quintessential heel of the wrestling business and his effort deserves a reward. Whether he's working with Austin Aries, AJ Styles, Bobby Roode or Abyss, there's little the man can't do. In working as stiff as he does, he seems to bring the best out of every opponent, as they're immediately forced to raise their game and bring the intensity to match. Now imagine that each and every week, as he reigns over an entire division, all to himself. It'd add a whole new air of self-rightiousness to a man that opens every promo with "Do you know who I am?". If the Television Title is suitable for the lesser Dudley, it sure as hell couldn't hurt on the superior.

These are two shining examples of just how easily the division could be turned around under the right man, and it doesn't end there. I could come up with equally plausible reasoning behind Kurt Angle, Ken Anderson, Jeff Hardy, etc. Even if TNA were determined to keep it lower down the proverbial ladder, shock the wrestling world by bringing in Joey Ryan. Have him get the Title on a technicality, all the agents backstage wanting to get rid of him and yet the 87% prevailing in the end. It's that easy. So why aren't TNA making more of this Championship?


Ringside Report: NBW Southside Wrestling: Supremacy (19/08/12)

Back in January the Maximum Impact IV tour inspired me; I have been a wrestling fan for many years but before my venture to the Capital FM Arena, I had only previously been to two wrestling live events, both held by the WWE and both over 10 years ago; but watching the likes of A.J. Styles and Austin Aries in person made me want more. Last month I attended Leicester Championship Wrestling's 'Summertime' event and now I had a front row ticket for Southside's 'Supremecy' event in which the main attraction was to see Ring Of Honor's Davey Richards in person as he is regarded as one of the best in the world.

Arriving at the venue I wasn't sure what to expect, the LCW show I attended was good but had a crowd made up of kids; but walking into the bar waiting area I could tell this would be different, a large array of different people but only a small number of children to be seen and a variety of wrestling t shirts ranging from the everyday WWE CM Punk shirts to the rarity of ROH merchandise. 

After a lengthy delay, presumably down to the Q&A session taking place we were allowed into the arena, we were sat on top of a bowling green, but I guess finding  places to hold events is tough and once I was seated I was in a wrestling arena rather than anywhere else.

Seated at ringside, right in front of the corner of the ring near to the wrestlers entrance way and sound desk, it was worth the extra fiver not to have anybody in front of me to have the perfect view, only spoilt on occasion by the camera men trying to make their living. 

The show kicked off and the ring announcer 'Diamond Dale Mills' made his way to the ring to a chorus of boo's, but only from the side of the crowd that I was in! Having not read up on the history I was a little taken aback, but on the introduction of Harvey Dale it became clear there was a divide between Southside and the House of Pain which are two promotions (but seemed more like factions such like the WWE Invasion angle) and the crowd behind me was made up of HOP trainees. The two in the ring had a good back on forth on the mic and set the tone of the rest of the show and then introduced the opening bout of Lionheart vs. Ego Dragon, Harvey was then sent packing to the back and DDM took a spot on the commentary table. The match was a solid opener and I was familiar with Lionheart having seen some of his matches on the internet, but the crowd heat died off from the opening promo and the in ring action suffered slightly from it, Ego Dragon picked up the win which continued his undefeated streak    

The second match on the card was a treat as it was unscheduled, Gresham and MK Mkinnon took on the 'LDRS of the New School'  Marty Scurll and Zack Sabre Jr in tag team action. LDRS are regarded as the best British tag team and from this showing its easy to see why, once the novelty of referring to 'Party' Marty as that guy from ITV's Take Me Out has worn off. The match built from comedy moments at the start including lots of hugging and 'wrestling friends' to a hard fought, hard hitting bout which showcased the talents of all involved including some great technical wrestling and excellent selling by ZSJ who spent a large period of the match looking out of it right by my feet. LDRS picked up the win and Zack challenged Marty for a shot at his Speed King Title for later on this evening. 

The entrance of Rockstar Spud
The next 'match' segment brought out HOP's Max Angelus with Harvey Dale to face Rockstar Spud; who coming to the ring to the whole of Living On A Prayer rivalled any Wrestlemania entrance in length; Spud grabbed a mic and said he didn't want to be there so tried to strike a deal with Dale to make Max lie down for him, this went back and forth with Max initially refusing and riled up the crowd giving back and forth opinions with the HOP side yelling for him to do it and the rest telling him to stand up for himself. After a period of time Max hesitantly got on his back while Spud instructed the camera man and referee to do exactly what he wanted, after the two count though Angelus reveresed the pin and rolled up Spud for the three count. Dale was angry at Max clearly setting up a further angle between the two. 
During the segment I have to say how great Spud was on the mic, his entrance gave him a sleazy feel but his mic work made him despised, especially as he talked down to audience members and bossed around the employees, but he played his part elevating this segment. 

The next contest was a six man tag splitting the audience as it was House of Pain (The Predators and SC Supreme) vs. Team SWE (Martin Kirby, Robbie X and Mad Man Manson). The match showcased everybody's abilities and having read about Mad Man in Fighting Spirit Magazine was amused to see his act in person, with drawn on ring boots, straight jacket and random moves such as nipple twists which added to the match making sure it didn't go too much in one direction.

Noam Dar - Future Superstar
Noam Dar came out next which meant it was time for Davey Richards, going into the event this was the match I was most excited for and it delivered! From stiff looking kicks to hard hitting knocks in and out of the ring this was an excellent match up. Davey picked up the victory but Dar came out looking like the winner, going toe to toe with one of the best in the world, a few more matches like this and it wouldn't surprise me if he was called up to one of the big American companies.
After the match Davey grabbed the mic and put Dar over, then it was time for the interval where Richards stayed in the ring for photo's while selling a very serious limp, whilst Lionheart was selling merchandise in which I quizzed him over a number of things and am hopefully looking forward to seeing him on the Maximum Impact Tour next January.

Richards - Best In The World

After the break it was time for the Speed King title match between LDRS members Marty Scurll and Zack Sabre Jr. The match started slowly between the two friends and tag partners with holds taking part between jokes and reversals being more a 'you can do it, I can do it' mentality but this built into another excellent match with each willing to do anything to become the victor. The crowd were a little flat during this match but I think it was mainly down to not knowing which man to cheer for!  Scrull retained his title in the end after hitting a tombstone and ZSJ was upset with the loss and almost went straight to the back, but Marty won him over and the two embraced to send Zack off on his tour of Japan, with a promise of a rematch in the future to whet out appetites.

The Main Event was to crown a SWE Heavyweight Championship and started with Stixx coming to the ring in street clothes as no opponent had been named for him. After another two and fro between Harvey Dale and 'DDM' the HOP side of the crowd were demanding Stixx just be awarded the strap, but then Mark Haskins was announced as his opponent and the match was a NO DQ match! The match was wild and spilt into the crowd on multiple occasions, the crowd were all on their feet lifting the roof off the venue with the noise being made as the two athletes threw everything at one another, well mostly chairs! HOP got involved in the match but SWE members came to chase them to the back, duelling referees played their part and eventually Stixx picked up the victory, after Harvey Dale took a super-kick off the apron.
The HOP side of the crowd went mental for Stixx winning and he made his way to celebrate with them as Haskins pulled himself together in the ring as stated this wouldn't be the end between them. The crowd continued to be at war with one another with the HOP rubbing the title win in the faces of the rest of the crowd. Once the excitement had died down a little Stixx and co went backstage to draw an end to a fantastic show.

I can only recommend that if you see a promotion close to you holding a show then you should give it a try and if you can make it to a Southside show then what's stopping you! From reports I may have been lucky and caught one of the best independent shows ever in this country but it shows that with quality talent and booking this was from top to bottom an excellent card and definitely worth the price of admission with the only down point to the show was that Juvi Guerrera pulling, but the talent on show and getting to meet most of the card afterwards more than made up for it!
I saw Stixx open the LCW show I attended before this and little could I have predicted he would have been beating a TNA superstar the next event, it just goes to show that you never know what to expect!

Written and Photos by: @Robbie_G_CH


Why I'm NOT paying attention to Impact Wrestling

In the past month or so, I've grown increasingly disenchanted with the booking of Impact Wrestling. To the point that I'm not fussed whether I miss it or not. Don't get me wrong, I still tune in every week. But it's by habit and not by choice. More often than not, I'll give them about half an hour to grab me. I'll see if the opening segment shows any promise, hang around for the first match and then if nothing is ringing any bells, I'll totally zone out and wander off. You can blame my short attention span (wait, what was I saying...), but in recent weeks there simply hasn't been anything to hold my interest. Top to bottom, the stories have sucked. I'll address a handful of them in this article, but don't think there aren't more.

Aces & Eights

In what was meant to be TNA's big summer angle that catches everyone's interest, the Icon Sting was attacked during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech. The culprits were a group of masked men, their number ever increasing, their identities remaining unknown to this day. They followed up this bold statement by taking out the Immortal, Hulk Hogan (never mind that he was scheduled for surgery that week anyway). Subsequently, they've attacked random members of the roster, from people as high as the World Heavyweight Champion to others as low as the latest Gut Check chump. This is the bread and butter of Impact Wrestling for the foreseeable future...only it's not working. While the idea of a masked faction adds a level of intrigue to the angle, the fans have had nothing to grab onto. There's no figurehead, no motive, no meaning, no nothing. Also, it doesn't help that the recognisable members of this faction, even through the masks, are jobbers through and through. If there's a high profile name among them, I'll be shocked. At best, we'll get a bitter Jeff Jarrett revealed as the mastermind and he'll boss around his legion of jobbers for a few months. Where's the upside of this angle? Where's the excitement? This is no NWO. Hell, they aren't even the likes of Immortal or Fortune. This group were D.O.A.

Clare Lynch

I could somewhat understand an angle whereby Christopher Daniels was trying to insinuate AJ Styles was having an affair with Dixie Carter to get ahead in the business (even if he hasn't been in the World Title picture for months), and as bizarre as the payoff was, I could somewhat understand the reveal that they were simply helping a family friend. But that's where it should've ended. The angle was bombing even back then and people were wishing it'd end. Inexplicably, TNA decided to continue. Clare has pulled a pseudo heel-turn and is now claiming AJ cheated on his wife to father their love child. How the hell does anyone benefit from this angle? AJ Styles is a wholesome family hero, who they're dragging through the mud with no redemption in sight. He can't even feud with the villain of the piece, as she's a pregnant woman! What's the payoff? A handicap match of AJ vs Clare and the illegitimate baby? No, it'll be Match 1,000,000 with Christopher Daniels. I'm sure AJ will get his triumphant moment, where it's revealed he never slept with Clare, that she merely took pictures of him whilst passed out, and that Daniels is the real father of the baby. But what sort of reward is that? I borderline expect another Mae Young giving birth to a hand debacle.

Where's Joey Ryan?

This is a double edged sword. I absolutely love what they're doing with Joey Ryan. They're just not doing enough with him. TNA have a certifiable phenomenon on their hands with his 87% gimmick. Fans are taking 87% signs to WWE shows for christ sake! I just can't believe they're moving at such a snail's pace with him. Assuming there's one Gut Check segment a month, you MIGHT catch a glimpse of Hollywood's own in the Impact Zone's audience, that one single time, but there's no guarantee. This angle has almost entirely been off the grid, in the realms of Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. I've never known a promotion (in Joey's own words) leave money on the table like this. They really need to pull the trigger on this and have him regularly appear on Impact Wrestling. Giving this the appearance of a legitimate shoot situation may work in the short term, but you don't draw a gate by telling the crowd who WON'T be on the show. Joey Ryan has all the potential to be this year's Austin Aries and look how that turned out. It's a no brainer, make it happen.

The Booking of Austin Aries as Champion

Speaking of our World Heavyweight Champion, I have a bone to pick. The booking of his title reign has been ridiculous to say the least. I can see how A Double's rise to stardom may have caught TNA by surprise. He didn't get to the main event through a story or a promo, he got there through the fans recognising his talent in the ring. Whether it be Bully Ray, Samoa Joe or Bobby Roode, Aries has let his skills do the talking. As such, I imagine the booking committee flat out don't know what to do with him. They can count on him to carry a PPV all on his lonesome, but to give him scripted content? You can hear them scratching their heads from here. Despite having one of the biggest feel-good moments of TNA's ten year history in his World Title victory at Destination X, Aries has spent the past month lost in the shuffle. Aces & Eights take all the focus, then James Storm and Bully Ray, maybe some Bobby Roode after that, but what does our Champion have to say about all of this? We don't really know, because they keep putting him back with X Division guys. Either he's stuck in a room deciding who gets a shot at Ion next or he's tagging with Kenny King. He broke through the glass ceiling of that division months ago, but they're still treating him as though that's where he's meant to be. Aries got to the top through blood, sweat and tears, don't let that all be for nothing because you simply don't know how to capitalise on it.

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen, two outright disasters and two "why the hell aren't they doing more with these guys?". Impact Wrestling can very easily be a good show and essential viewing, but they need to take the focus off the crap and put it where it belongs. It's an eerily similar problem to what happens in the WWE. You're TOLD what to like, not come to your own decision and request more of something you DO like.


TNA Hardcore Justice 2012 PPV Predictions

In a matter of hours, TNA's best and brightest will go to war at the pay-per-view special, Hardcore Justice. While not quite the celebration of all things hardcore, as previous years were, the tradition is still alive and well. This year taking the form of three brutal Bound for Glory series matches involving all twelve of the title contenders. Who will walk out of the Impact Zone with those precious points. More importantly, who will walk out, at all...

TNA X Division Championship
Zema Ion (C) vs Kenny King

The X-Division seems to have floundered in the wake of losing their crown jewel, Austin Aries, to the main event scene. Zema Ion, while being the next obvious choice for champion, still hasn't displayed a natural ability for the role. Infact, he's pretty much been coasting on the fact he broke Jesse Sorensen's neck back in February and that was a horrible accident! Kenny King, on the other hand, I've been rather impressed by. He has a certain charm and charisma that I think could benefit the division hugely. Also, after his very public firing by Ring of Honor after appearing on an episode of Impact Wrestling, his profile is sky high. While I'd prefer for TNA to try King out as X Division Champion, that'll probably have to wait a few months. In my opinion, Ion will keep the title until Jesse Sorensen is ready to come back. Look for the hairspray to come into play.

Prediction - Zema Ion defeats Kenny King via pinfall to retain the X Division Championship.

Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez vs Kid Kash & Gunner

I'm astounded by the hype TNA are putting Chavo's way. You'd genuinely think having him on the roster was a big deal. I know he comes from the prestigious Guerrero wrestling family, but no matter the company, whether it be WCW or WWE, Chavo has been a midcarder through and through. Hell, even in TNA's own Ring Ka King sister promotion, Chavo was merely a Tag Team Champion. Unfortunately, ever since the passing of the late, great Eddie Guerrero, bookers have grown confused and treat Chavo as if he's the second coming, which he is clearly not. Don't get me wrong, Chavo has a lot to offer and will put on awesome matches, but a draw he is not. This match shouldn't be a long affair, it's mostly about feeding Gunner and Kash to the new Guerrero in town. Hernandez is there...just because.

Prediction - Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez defeat Kid Kash & Gunner via pinfall.

TNA Knockouts Championship
Miss Tessmacher (C) vs Madison Rayne

Usually, you can predict a victor through observing either competitor's momentum going into the match, but this one has me stumped. TNA have been putting serious work into making Miss Tessmacher (never call her Brooke, because two Brooke's on the same roster would blow our minds or...you know...we'd deal with it) the new face of the Knockouts division (while the real face, Velvet Sky, gets quietly released). However, Madison Rayne has been the centre of almost every Knockouts segment in the past month. She's been inexplicably partnered with referee, Earl Hebner, resulting in her winning matches where her shoulders were clearly pinned to the mat for the three count. While I prefer Madison as a legitimate champion, this current gimmick of hers with Earl is so counter to logical thought, it hurts my brain. I don't think TNA are quite done with Miss Tessmacher as Knockouts Champion, so she'll get the nod. Earl is sure to get a post-match tongue-lashing for his ineptitude.

Prediction - Miss Tessmacher defeats Madison Rayne via pinfall to retain the Knockouts Championship.

Falls Count Anywhere
Rob Van Dam vs Mr Anderson vs The Pope vs Magnus

The first of three random Bound for Glory series matches. None of the competitors have a grudge against each other and the stipulation doesn't really make much sense either. The easy bet would be Rob Van Dam for the win. He's the highest profile competitor in the match and it'd make perfect sense for him to walk away with the points. Which is exactly why he doesn't need them in the first place. Same goes for Mr Anderson to an extent. Considering this is the least of the three BFG gimmick matches tonight, I say surprise everyone and have Magnus walk away the victor. He's never been truly validated on the Impact Wrestling roster (Ring Ka King Championship reign not withstanding), so maybe it's time to put him over. It'd be a talking point for a match that doesn't have many.

Prediction - Magnus defeats Rob Van Dam, Mr Anderson and The Pope via pinfall.

Tables Match
Jeff Hardy vs James Storm vs Bully Ray vs Robbie E

A big step up from the initial BFG series match, as this one features arguably TNA's biggest star, Jeff Hardy, and the current main feud of Impact Wrestling, James Storm vs Bully Ray. We'll just pretend Robbie E isn't also in the ring, as I'm sure the other competitors will too. This match will very quickly come down to two classes - the feud and the spot monkeys. The majority will focus upon the tremendous work of Storm and Ray, who I'm sure will work stiff as a board and take literal strips off each other. Meanwhile, Jeff and Robbie will be bouncing all over the place taking a series of ridiculous bumps, never really threatening to win the match though. I suspect this feud between Storm and Ray is far from over and the conclusion certainly won't come tonight as they're sharing the ring with two other men. Look for a surprise fluke win from Bully Ray, leaving Storm pissed off and baying for his blood.

Prediction - Bully Ray puts James Storm through a table to win the match.

Ladder Match
Kurt Angle vs AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels vs Samoa Joe

In what is sure to be the final BFG series match of the night, the four most memorable stars in TNA's ten year history have been thrown together and I fully expect this to be match of the night, if not the year. If you wonder why, consider that Styles, Daniels and Joe have had several candidates for this honour in past years and they've just thrown the best wrestler in the world, Kurt Angle, into the mix. When these guys go all-out, we'll be picking our jaws up off the floor for the next week thinking about it. Pretend you know absolutely nothing about Clare Lynch and the "who's your baby's daddy?" dreck, this will come down to pure athleticism. Frankly, any one of these four men could win the match and I would be perfectly happy. Personally, I see Joe picking up the points. He's had an amazing start to this year's BFG series and is often vying for the lead. I don't know whether he'll be topping that leader board come No Surrender, but the fact he's in contention works wonders for re-establishing his credibility. Simply...enjoy.

Prediction - Samoa Joe climbs the ladder and grabs...something...to win the match.

TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Austin Aries (C) vs Bobby Roode

A rematch from last month's Destination X pay-per-view. While I'm a huge Austin Aries fan and want to see him carrying that World Heavyweight Championship for years to come, I think it's the end of the line for this particular title reign. Last month's win was more about establishing the credibility of the Destination X title-shot and capitalising on Aries' phenomenal popularity. However, in the month since then, he hasn't been given much of anything to do. For the most part, he's been placed in segments with several larger names and gotten lost in the shuffle. Most tellingly was the week where he was placed in a room with the rest of the X Division for an entire show. It was almost as if TNA were saying "you can't cut it with the big guys, so here, go back where you belong". This isn't any fault on Aries part, it's more to do with TNA not knowing what the hell to do with him. He got this far on popularity and workrate, it was never to do with a story he'd been given. As such, I think the booking committee will look at his short reign as a nod to the smart fans, make the quick switch back to Bobby Roode as Champion and continue on as if the last month never happened.

Prediction - Bobby Roode defeats Austin Aries via pinfall to become the NEW World Heavyweight Champion.