03 November 2014

TNA Offers People A Second Chance To Make A First Impression

Disclaimer: After my inaugural TNAMecca writeup two weeks ago, I had no idea what my next writeup would be about. I had the topics for two writeups set up but I need to wait until TNA announces something before I post them so I needed something to write in the interim. Then in the Saturday Night Chat last week, I asked a simple question on which of these three TNA wrestlers has impressed you (The TNAMecca Community) most on camera and off camera in 2014 and I realized that is something I can talk about in a blog form in greater detail so let's get to it.

Ex-WWE Wrestlers Aren't Rejects, They Are Wrestlers In Need Of A Fresh Start

      The WWE Reject argument is a topic I had broken down in the past to prove that it was a bullshit narrative made up by idiots to just bash TNA and due to the retarded nature of this argument, it wasn't that hard a thesis to prove. However lost in the bullshit narrative is the fact that a part of the identity of TNA Impact Wrestling is that TNA Impact Wrestling gives wrestlers a second chance to make a good impression on wrestling fans. Not all the wrestlers in TNA are in need of a second chance of course as many of them are talents whose first big break in wrestling came in TNA like an Eric Young or a Bobby Roode  (That's your current TNA World Champion Bobby Roode) etc. but there have been many talented wrestlers who have come to TNA in hopes of a fresh start and to change their image in the eyes of wrestling fans. Whether it was to shed their image of being a midcarder for life at most (Christian Cage) or it was someone looking to shed their image of being injury prone and a guy who will never reach his potential (Mr. Anderson) and the most common image they want to shed: The image of them that is defined by how how shittily the WWE booked them. I would be remiss to mention that there are other reasons as well which I will highlight below. Now not every person TNA signed from WWE used this opportunity to help themselves improve their image and help TNA in the process and that endless list of people  (From Booker T to RVD to Mick Foley to Ric Flair to Hulk Hogan to Kevin Nash to Chavo Guerrero and the list can go on and on and on) is a pretty big reason why TNA hasn't reached it's potential yet. The wrestlers I am going to highlight below are the ones that came to TNA hungry, motivated and eager to help themselves and help TNA in the process.

Bully Ray

     He came to TNA in 2005 along with his brother from another mother Devon (Who lost the apostrophe and added an "e" to his name upon his debut in TNA) with minimal buzz and without their trademark last name. After all we hadn't seen either man on a televised wrestling program in about a year outside of one stand alone match and appearance at the 2005 ECW One Night Stand PPV Event and both men had been stale as fuck before they disappeared from WWE TV in late 2004 anyway. The duo came in and meandered around the tag team ranks for a few years with the quality of their work really depending on who they were working with outside of a pretty random inclusion in the world title picture for a month in early 2009. In late 2010, the Motor City Machine Guns beat Team 3D into retirement. If they left TNA at that point, Bully Ray wouldn't be included in this write up today however TNA gave Bully Ray something he has never had a before: a chance to enter singles competition as a heel. Like CM Punk who said during his pipebomb promo in 2011, all Bully Ray ever wanted was a chance to be given the ball to run as a singles competitor. With that chance he was given, Bully Ray got his butt in shape and climbed the ranks as a heel singles star fairly quickly. In February 2009, Brother Ray was in a World Title match he had no business being in. Fast forward three years to February 2012 and Bully Ray was the rising star who BELONGED in the World Title picture (A title he eventually won twice in 2013). From 2011 through 2014: Bully Ray was a singles star in TNA and if his run in TNA is over then Bully Ray is leaving TNA in an infinitely better place in his career then he was at when he began his run in TNA.

Bobby Lashley (That's Now Your Former World Champion Bobby Lashley)

      Talk about coming back to professional wrestling with a vengeance. In the years of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 Bobby Lashley was a non-entity in the world of Pro Wrestling. No one talked about him, no one thought about him and on the super rare occasion people brought up the name Bobby Lashley, it was met with laughter as people would say "Oh yeah the guy WWE inexplicably pushed in 2007". When he came back at Lockdown 2014, I know I was happy to see him back. Unfortunately I was one of the only ones as I got into huge arguments with TNA fans who were mad that TNA would waste their money on a guy like that. Fast forward two months and Lashley was just meandering around not doing anything and the people I was arguing with about Lashley's place in TNA were being proven right. That all changed when Bobby Lashley turned heel for I believe the second time in TNA when he aligned with MVP (What does the initials MVP stand for in TNA anyway?) and Kenny King and became "The Destroyer". Chris Jericho once said (Sure he is a guy on WWE payroll who won't exactly praise TNA until he is free from McMahon but he is a very wise man when it comes to what works in wrestling that he only uses as it pertains to the WWE but I will use it here) that you will get the most out of a performer when you put that person in a role that just fits them like a glove and "The Destroyer" persona fits Lashley like a glove. MVP does the talking, Kenny King does the trash talking and Lashley just destroys people without saying many words. The collective dynamic of those three men (who all just happen to be black) just works so well. Unlike in 2009, Lashley isn't going through the motions here. Rather he is working his ass off and it has led to numerous good matches on television and dare I say some Match of the Year Candidate matches. As we near the end of 2014 and enter 2015: Bobby Lashley is no longer a non-entity in pro wrestling. Instead Bobby Lashley is the Comeback Wrestler of the Year and he is a major player in TNA going forward. That notion is a far cry from the old narrative that Bobby Lashley used to have when he was just the "oh my god what was WWE thinking when they pushed that guy" narrative. Everything with Lashley has worked out for the best in TNA and he proved me right which I feel is always a bonus.

Matt Hardy

      You might see that name and say Hardy already got his second chance in ROH so his inclusion here is a cheat but considering I can't watch ROH on TV despite living in the largest city in the US (I don't live in Manhattan but I am right there so I get the shows that Manhattan-ites get so if I don't have it, they don't have it) so his run there really is irrelevant to me and many many many other wrestling fans. Like Bobby Lashley, Hardy coming back to TNA really wasn't met with a resounding ovation as he had his fair of doubters (I was not one of them as you all know I am a mark for the Hardy Boys) who didn't want TNA wasting to much time on Matt. Fast forward five months and three Match of the Year candidates at least (And THE match of the year as well as far as I am concerned) Hardy has a definite place in TNA going forward. Not to mention all the promoting of the TNA brand Matt is doing on twitter, in interviews and any other outlet Matt has to promote TNA. This certainly is a complete 180 (Or as George Costanza would stupidly say "a complete 360") then Matt's TNA run in 2011 where the only thing he had going for him really was that he didn't clearly show up to a ppv stoned/pilled/drunk out of his mind like his brother Jeff did. I also still can't believe they gave Matt the awesome Jeff Hardy song for his singles theme and they have Jeff's singles theme song be the god awful Time and Fate song.

Davey Richards

       Unlike with Bobby Lashley and Matt Hardy, I did not want TNA to go near Davey Richards with a ten foot pole. I was 1000% against signing him because of his attitude and how if he didn't get his way, he would become a locker room cancer. Of course Davey has been a great citizen within TNA, has had many stellar matches throughout the year and has spoken about how great a time he has been having in TNA to anyone that asks him about his time in TNA so far. I would go on but I had dedicated an entire write up basically earlier this year about how wrong I was about this man so I will stop here but I will reiterate that Davey has certainly improved his reputation with open minded wrestling fans.

     While I can name many other guys and gals who has had their career's saved, revived or extended by coming to TNA as you can make a case for people like Sting, Kurt Angle, Gail Kim, EC3 (Who will be getting an entire column dedicated to him at a later point this month), Scott Steiner, Taryn Terrell etc. the young King Leonidas sounding Bram will be the final man I talk about in this piece specifically.

Thomas Latimer aka Bram

     This guy is unlike the others I named above as he came to TNA as a complete unknown to the point that TNA re-packaged the guy completely. He was no longer playing a faux vampire/werewolf or whatever the people in "The Ascension" are supposed to be and he was trying to revive a career he nearly pissed away when he had a run in with a cop in Florida back in 2012. On May 1st, the TNA audience was introduced to the hooliganish crazy buddy of our former TNA World Champion Magnus. Bram debuted as an empty canvas and Bram was going to go as far as a former blue chip prospect in WWE Development was going to take him. Fast forward six months and Bram has already surpassed Magnus on the totem pole in TNA it would seem. He has already created himself the niche role as the "hardcore wrestler" of the promotion, he has been signed to a long term deal (I believe the terms were 3 years but I could be mistaken) and he is on course to make it into the TNA main event picture at some point in 2015. The guy went from irrelevant WWE castoff working a bit in the UK to being one of the biggest break out stars of TNA Wrestling in 2014.

I Don't Have a Subject Title Here To End This Blog Up But I Need To Separate This Portion From The Bram Portion

      TNA Wrestling has been a little bit of everything for so many wrestling fans but more importantly for wrestlers themselves. They give wrestlers a place to work, they give wrestlers a place to revitalize their careers and most importantly they give wrestlers a second chance to make the right impression on wrestling fans. This is one of the best contributions TNA has made to the wrestling business in the last 12 years and it is such a shame that this contribution is thrown aside in favor of the ever popular "WWE Reject" argument. It's one of the many reasons why the people who openly want TNA to die off are so off base and are downright terrible wrestling fans.    

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