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13 September 2014

The Curious Case of Magnus


Wandering around the cage I stumble upon something. Something I haven't looked at in a long time, I almost forgot about it. It's a picture, now crumpled up and torn, the faded image is of Magnus carrying the TNA World title. It's funny that only a mere five months ago this man was World Champion, it feels like a lifetime ago, a distant memory. The man was once the golden boy of TNA and seemed to be the chosen one so to speak. It seemed like TNA had big plans for the big handsome Brit as he moved slowly but surely through the card, starting out as a gladiator, then moving into the tag division (with several partners) and finally getting the big singles push at the end of 2013, capturing the TNA World Championship. His reign was met with little fanfare before losing the title to Eric Young in May. Earlier this year, Magnus seemed poised to be the leader of TNA's new generation, so why does he seem like such an afterthought now? He has the look, the personality and the talent to be a main event player. Then why is it that when I watch Impact recently, I see Magnus in the mid card playing what seems to be second fiddle to newcomer Bram? And while the TNA faithful are online "Bramming" it seems like we've forgotten all about our beloved Magnus. Well, I haven't and I want to know what's up. Since there really isn't much to do in the cage these days except cleaning up the mess left by the apocalypse of trolls; I'm going to go through the "Curious Case Files" and look at where things may have gone wrong with my man here. Who's fault (if anyone's) was it? Creative? Magnus? The fans? Or was he a victim of bad timing? We'll try our best to break this down as we look at The Curious Case of Magnus.


When things go wrong in pro wrestling, most fans will point to creative. After all, you can have the best talent in the world but if you don't know how to use them properly nothing will work. Let's face it, creative did Magnus no favors during his title run. First, being presented as a "paper champion" may have been a good way to get fans to chant something at him, but the viewers tuned out as Magnus had no credibility. He never won a match without help from the outside. Who could forgot the god awful ending to his match with Samoa Joe at Lockdown when Abyss came out of the ring. It's one thing to win matches as a heel by cheating but damn there were a lot of run ins during the Magnus reign.  At least Jeff Jarrett hit people with a guitar by himself. Unlike heel champions in TNA like Bobby Roode (who was given the longest title run in TNA history and always put over for his technical prowess), and heat magnet Bully Ray (who was always presented as a bad ass), no one believed that Magnus could beat anybody. There's nothing wrong with a "chicken sh*t heel" but when a wrestler isn't given a way to look at least tough, he loses credibility with the audience. Compare this to how Bobby Lashley is being presented as champion currently.  The other problem with the creative during Magnus' run was all the focus on Dixie Carter. I can remember the complaint from a lot of TNA fans was there was way too much Dixie on Impact every week. She was the one with the spotlight, not Magnus. This made things worse as he was now a bit player on the Dixie Carter Show as opposed to being the focus of Impact. How could anyone expect Magnus to succeed as champion when he was given so much that worked against him? 

This now begs another question: shouldn't Magnus have been able to overcome the bad creative? We've seen some World Champions in wrestling who have been booked terribly and still managed to stay strong. This usually came from the wrestler having a personality that still draws in the fans. Unfortunately, Magnus is not that kind of performer, at least not yet. He also hasn't had a chance to build that kind of rapport with the fans. Magnus is still young and may not have enough main event experience, he wasn't even really on TV a lot during 2010-2011. Were the fans ready to take him as champion? When you compare him to the previous TNA champions of the time like Bully Ray and Jeff Hardy (and to extent AJ Styles), who have really dynamic personalities and followings, Magnus may have come across as bland. Those guys also have a rapport with the fans that they have built up for years, Magnus was still seen as  a "new guy" or "unknown". Plus, think about the other performers Magnus was put with: Rockstar Spud and EC3. These two guys are easily the break out performers of this year and both have dynamic personalities that outshined Magnus and frankly, a lot of the roster. There was more buzz on the antics of Spud and the dastardly deeds of Ethan Carter III than on any of Magnus' title defenses. But as much as creative can be blamed for this, should Magnus have done anything to make himself stand out? It wasn't like his performance was bad, Magnus is articulate, he has great delivery and poise out there, but I remember thinking to myself: "Say something cool or bad!" I think I felt this way because I know he is capable of this. His promos mostly contained him going for the cheap heat, so he came across as just a generic pro wrestling heel. We saw some glimpses of what he could be now and again with some snarky remarks here and there, but overall, Magnus just didn't pop as a champion should, especially as a guy who is supposed to be the leader of the "new generation". 

Speaking of the "new generation", that seemed to be the buzz word at the time when you talked to TNA fans. A lot of established stars had left; names like Hulk Hogan, AJ Styles and Sting carried a lot of weight with them and when they left, so did some fans. Ratings did drop over time and while most would point the finger of blame at Dixie Carter for hogging so much TV time, Magnus was the one carrying the title. Talk about bad timing. I don't know if anybody holding the belt could've kept the interest of the fans that stopped watching because of the lack of star power. The match between AJ and Magnus was clearly presented as if AJ was supposed to return for a rematch, but when Styles popped up in Ring of Honor, it made Magnus look like a chump who couldn't beat the guy from the other promotion. So the "real" world champ wrestles somewhere else? Damn! Couple that with the paper champion gimmick, Magnus really didn't have a chance. Perhaps he would've had more success if he was given this big push in let's say, 2010 when TNA was full of star power, or in 2009 when they were doing some of their highest ratings. But, then again, that may have been way too soon to give him that sort of position. Could they have waited longer? Maybe Magnus needed more time to build a rapport with the fans as a main eventer. Timing can be everything, some performers are ahead of their time, some are behind the times, some are in the right place at the right time, Magnus may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So where do we go from here? Currently Magnus seems to be saddled as the guy that comes out with Bram. It doesn't seem like he is on his way  back into the world title picture anytime soon. This isn't a knock on Magnus' talents, if I didn't like the guy I wouldn't be dedicating a column to him. I really thought he was going to be TNA's new "IT" guy (no offense to Bobby Roode). I believed he had the look, the skills and youth on his side, plus being from the U.K where TNA has a strong following, he'd be perfect to lead TNA into a new era. The advantage is that Magnus still has youth on his side and hasn't quite reached his prime, so the future could still be bright for everybody's favorite "Paper Champion". Maybe I'm crazy for thinking that. Sometimes things look good on paper and don't work out in practice. Right now, I look at the paper and see what I thought Magnus' title reign could've been, I need to fold it up and put it away back into the Curious Case Files under "M" for Magnus or for what "MIGHT" have been and wait until next time I get to rattle some cages.

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