22 January 2015

Stable Value

To my eternal shame, but mostly for my own personal amusement, I sometimes scroll down to the comments section of the official TNA uploads on Youtube.  Aside from the overwhelming sense of confusion I get from non-TNA fans taking the time to watch and comment (read: berate) on a TNA video, one thing I have noticed since #DestinationIMPACT is a lot of genuine commenters unhappy about TNA's continued use of stables.

Looking back at the latter days of the last two stables to hit the scrap-heap, the reincarnated Main Event Mafia and the Aces & Eights, I can't exactly blame them.

However, to completely write off the Beat Down Clan and The Revolution based on the failures of their predecessors I feel is a bit short-sighted at this stage.  There have been a lot of changes to TNA over the last couple of years, both on-screen and behind the camera, and I doubt the current creative team is in any rush to repeat the mistakes of the past.

I realise it is with the benefit of hindsight with which I say this, but the TNA roster was very different two years ago.  More bloated.  We had overpaid stars that could no longer deliver in the ring the same way they could in their heyday, TNA veterans that thought their spots were secured thanks to their years of service, MMA fighters brought in for cross-promotional purposes with a TV network, and a raft of midcarders that either lacked the talent to be involved in major storylines or didn't have the backing of those in charge to be given a shot.  Factor in all the talent that was being used and pushed in current storylines, and that's a lot of people to try to fit on two hours of television time each week.

One possible solution for giving a lot of these people airtime and making them earn their keep is to have them join a stable.  They needn't be taking up much screentime with regular matches, or saying or doing much of anything at all.  They are just there, making up the numbers and padding out a new bad-ass stable.

This is when stables suck.

When I look back at the Aces & Eights, it seemed less like a stable and more like an overly elaborate vehicle for Bully Ray's character.  What was DOC's role in the group? Or Knux, or Wes Brisco, Baby Bisch, D-Lo, Anderson, Devon... any of them apart from Bully Ray?  None of these people appeared to have any meaningful purpose in the group, or any kind of individual identity.  It was just an homogenous mass of black leather and faded denim, with nothing separating them from one another apart from the name tags they had stitched onto their jackets.

With today's current and streamlined roster, it no longer feels like the company is carrying the same deadwood that it did in the past.  The level of talent is so universally high across the board that each person on the roster deserves to be on television due to their merits and not just because they have a contract to fulfill.

Yes we have another two stables.  However, as with a lot of things in TNA right now, it feels like the company is determined to do things differently this time round.  Rather than being dumping grounds for wrestlers that have very little to offer, these two high profile stables are allowing TNA to showcase the wealth of talent they have to offer within the constraints of a weekly two hour show. People are not being added to the stable solely to elevate one individual, but rather to elevate the stable as a whole and their own characters to the next level.

The days of wrestlers being added to a stable, only to be subsumed the following week and becoming another nameless face in the crowd, are hopefully a thing of the past.  Although it is still fairly early days (especially with The Revolution only recently beginning a rise to prominence) I find it very promising that the writers are trying to give each stable member a unique voice and identity.

It is a bit early to say where Khoya, Low Ki and Samoa Joe will fit within their respective groups, but if I could breakdown the characters of the two stables it would be as follows:

The Revolution

James Storm:  The spiritual leader of The Revolution, whose journey to this point has been well documented on TNAMecca.  He claims he is not interested in titles, but rather blood and spreading his message of awakening throughout TNA.  Whether this is his true motivation, or he secretly covets the gold that has always been snatched away from him by others remains to be seen...

Sanada:  Storm's first success, and an exemplary student.  Silent and obedient, he shows nothing but the utmost respect to James Storm and follows his teachings without question.

Manik:  When Manik was abducted and taken to The Shed, James Storm told him "You will speak", and spoken he has.  With his new found voice, the cocksure Manik has so far gotten ahead of himself by taking it upon himself to befriend and recruit Mahabali Shera without Storm's permission.

Abyss:  It is not yet clear how Storm recruited Abyss to The Revolution, but I don't think that particularly matters to either men.  Ever since the death of Joseph Park, the actions of Abyss have seemed erratic and those of a man well and truly lost.  Abyss may not fully comprehend his place in The Revolution, but James Storm has given him a new purpose and a new direction.  Abyss is a weapon, and his target is whoever Storm points him towards.

The Beatdown Clan

MVP:  The master manipulator and voice of the BDC.  MVP has never been shy about his motivations; money and power.  On the surface he seems loyal to "his boys" and happy to share this money and power he craves, but would he screw his friends over to get a bigger piece of that pie?

Kenny King:  The hothead who enjoys the fruits of MVP's labours.  King acts on impulse, and you never quite know what will happen when he is around.  His mouth and quick fists have a tendency to throw a spanner in MVP's plans.

Lashley:  Before the beatdown, Lashley was the powerhouse of the group.  He didn't have a lot to say for himself, and instead let all of his actions in the ring do the talking.  MVP wanted money and power, and with the gold around Lashley's waist it didn't look like the BDC was going to lose it any time soon.

Although this is a very general breakdown of each group, and some characters appear stronger and more well defined than others at this stage, I have personally seen enough to feel confident that no one man will be left at the wayside.  I think that TNA have laid the foundations to give all members a unique identity within their groups, and provided they can continue to build upon and strengthen these traits then they have the potential to shake off the stigma associated with stables.

I don't begrudge anyone for taking a dim view on stables, but I would urge these people to have an open mind when it comes to The Revolution and The Beatdown Clan.  Judge them for what they achieve in the long-run instead of condemning them based on the failures of stables past.  This is a new era for TNA, and I feel that early indications are that this is a new era for the way that TNA handles stables.

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