Why TNA is a better spot now than it was at any point during the Hogan Era.
Let’s just state about who I am. Am I a wrestling insider with a bunch of backstage connections, no. Am a pro wrestler myself, no. Who and what I am is a fan first and last. I started watching wrestling in the late 90’s with the nWo and WCW. Never have been a big WWE fan then, or now. When I first saw TNA it was still on the weekly PPV’s and have been a fan ever since. Their have been ups and downs the entire time but in recent months it seems like the door is closer to closing than it has ever been before, and I think that it is a shame because in terms of a product I feel they have already stepped up their game higher than any point in the Hulk Hogan Era.
Hulk and more so Eric Bischoff did bring great additions to the company. The biggest and most prevalent being the Bound for Glory Series. A great format that if handled correctly can build/end feuds and be used to see if a talent has what it takes to take the ball and be “the guy”. They also are the ones that brought the idea of “Option C”, which has propelled Austin Aries from an X division standout to a perennial main-eventer. Since they left the current TNA product is best it can be, but there is still a lot of room for improvement,
1. This can be seen as both a positive and a negative but its the biggest thing they are doing currently, and that is the Winter of Styles story. The biggest and easiest knock of this is the fact that it is a rehash of the CM Punk story WWE did a couple of years ago. Which, made it hard to swallow at first. Since then however they have taken the story WWE should have with Punk, allowing AJ to take and defend his title in AAA and in Japan. They are also giving updates about AJ perfectly, not through taking TNA cameras and just giving us a recap like they would for a house show. They make 30 second adds that are “paid for the friends of AJ Styles”, very similar to early nWo vignettes. To add to reality, to the ads being paid for by an outside source, every week we have seen Dixie going nuts after these are shown, first of all talking on cell phone, then to her producers and most recently to higher ups at Spike, all trying to get these adds to stop playing during her show.
2. Heel Dixie. After a rough start she is getting better with time, and honestly, her live in ring segments still need a lot of work. More importantly than her acting, though, she is getting more heel heat when she is out there, than anybody else outside of Bully Ray. Not just heat of people hating the segment and booing cause it is bad, but the heat they are wanting her character to get, which means that even through the acting, it is getting through to the audience. Then her backstage segments are amazing and can’t be much better than they currently are. The biggest problem is she seems to break her own kayfabe at times, like with the recent SI interview. Overall, a positive if she is given more time to get used to the character.
3. Ethan Carter the Third, EC3, has been easily the best thing TNA has done in a while. He was one of the highlights of Bound for Glory, and his program with the same two jobbers has been awesome. He has the look, the charisma, and the gimmick of being Dixie’s nephew that allows him to keep handpicking a bunch of nobody’s but acting like these wins are huge. Everything about EC3 just works and seems to just be building as he just defeated Shark Boy, and when he finally gets into a feud with a more established talent, for a PPV match, people will want to pay to finally see EC3 get his comeuppance.
4. The TNA title tournament. This has gone perfect so far. They had enough different stories going into it that it gave most of the competitors a shot . With the semi-finals set, it looks as though Roode should move on against Hardy. While the other side is anyone’s guess. The obvious choice is Angle with the feud building between him and Roode, and the, for lack of a better term, Survivor Series match with those two as captions set to main event next weeks Impact. Yet, they have been teasing Magnus getting a huge push for a year now, with the big push while they were in England just before Lockdown, the fast start to the BFG Series, and by beating Sting clean at Bound for Glory. Now with him going through Samoa Joe, another former mafia teammate, he has one last mafia member to beat to get to the finals.
5. Ending Aces & 8’s. While it looks like we will see Anderson and Bully continue their feud beyond this match, with the Aces & 8’s officially dead, it opens a lot more TV time for some others that have been neglected as of late.
There are a lot of things that TNA still needs to work on. Where have the X and Tag Team divisions been since Bound For Glory? How will Impact Zone V 2.0 do after taking Impact off of the road? If the company is truly for sale how will that effect the Dixie/EC3 stories? The era of Hulk Hogan is over for TNA, and things are looking good, but there are still some unanswered questions, and steps that need to be made before TNA has that completely behind them.