05 March 2015

The Next Ten Years: Beyond the Originals

Breaking the 4th Wall: Over the next few weeks on Impact, we will be watching Samoa Joe with the BDC, knowing that his presence is limited. Sure, his last few months were not that desirable and we may have wished that they were more memorable, but it was all in the hands of the creative gods. Let us all enjoy the last few Joe episodes and let us all continue to endear those who are currently on the roster. While life is short, wrestling life is much shorter.

          Christopher Daniels remained perched on the top turnbuckle while Samoa Joe lined him up for his infamous muscle buster. Daniels was just about gone and his body teetered heavily. "Joe's gonna kill you... Joe's gonna kill you..." chanted the lively crowd. Daniels slowly gained consciousness, but could only make out a few of the fans who were throwing profanities at him. Joe proceeded to hug Daniels' head in tight, staging him for the finisher, but he heard an intense trampling on the mat. He spun around quickly and took a Frankie Kazarian chair to his wide back. Daniels opportunely leaped off of the turnbuckle and started to gain his equilibrium back. He turned to the crowd and gave them the back of his blacked-out hand, complete with his untapped middle finger. The heat coming off of the crowd could have singed the eyelashes of a lizard. Repeatedly, they stomped at Joe, banged him with chairs, and attempted to turn him into pulp. "Get ready to fly!" reverberated through the rafters and brought all in attendance to their tippy-toes. Running down the entrance ramp, red with anger was A.J. Styles. He leaped up onto the top rope and sprung off with ease, catching Kazarian with a gloved fist. Kazarian crashed to the mat and slowly rolled out to the floor. Daniels staggered towards him and launched a punch his way, but A.J. blocked it and threw one of his own. Daniels released another, and another, but Styles had a counter for each one. A wonky legged Christopher Daniels wobbled around, almost humorously. His legs crossed one another in the confusion. Styles put a boot into his stomach and laid him out with a Styles clash. Daniels went down and never recovered. Helping Samoa Joe back to his feet, A.J. Styles raised Joe's beefy hand, pointed at him, and pulled him in for one last hug. The crowd popped loudly and even Bad Influence will never forget what was chanted during their painful outro. "TNA... TNA... TNA..."

          At times, we sit and reflect upon the brilliant careers webbed by many of the TNA originals that once graced our boob tubes; Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, A.J. Styles, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Petey Williams, etc... TNA is still decorated with the likes of Storm, Young, Abyss, and Roode. However, as harsh as the reality is, they too will sing their swan song. As wrestling fans, we tend to invest a considerable amount of time in the product. In turn, we end up dedicating an equally great amount of time watching these brave performers take bumps for our viewing pleasure. This investment creates a rapport that can sting (pun not intended) once the relationship between the wrestler and the fan is severed. Unfortunately, we must accept that there are circumstances outside of our control such as age, disagreements, money, etc... All that we can do to support our favorite wrestlers is to tune in, buy merchandise, go to a live event, and so on. Memorable matches put forth from these individuals shall never escape the ring we gaze upon. It is a transparent layer that nests behind every match that we watch, every signing we attend, and every new athlete that laces his or her boots. We can either wish these relics well in all of their future endeavors, or we can curse them until their knees give out; nonetheless, wrestlers leave us - sometimes they return and sometimes they do not. Just like anything else that is seen as original, it may be subject to revamping, rehashing, rehabbing, and at times, the unfortunate replacement. Let's commit the organizational history to organizational memory, but also remember that the culture of TNA is still alive and well.

         - Looking forward, we see great things.

The Next Ten Years!

          The Destination America originals, aka DA DNA of TNA are the here and now. We were so open to the change of format, retrogress and/or evolution of the ring, the change of network, and the change of fan support. We can easily welcome the next round of individuals fighting to win our hearts, such as those who have done so in the past. Below you will find my humble insight as to who I believe may be passing the torch and who may be carrying the torch in what I would consider to be transitional years in TNA. We may be witnessing the development of the next set of originals if you will.

Looking to Pass the Torch:

Kurt Angle - Angle has a ton of wrestling knowledge to offer, not including his natural tendencies to coach, and to be a true locker room leader. He is a determined athlete that loves the sport of wrestling and understands the effort and dedication needed on a regular basis. With only a limited amount of ring time left, Kurt Angle should be used to push some of the younger talent like Bram and EC3. Subsequent to his wrestling tenure in TNA, he needs to be kept in a development capacity such as Al Snow. Spontaneous television appearances would also keep him and the brand concurrent.

Abyss - Chris Parks is a wrestling mind who can contribute plenty to creative. Personally, I do not consider him to be used to his fullest potential; however, he is at least working with the younger talent. What he does behind the scenes at this point of his career is unbeknownst to me, but I imagine that he is working with creative. At this point in time, TNA needs to harness his old monster persona and assign him to a manager who can work with both Parks and a future monster to take over his diabolical reign of terror.

James Storm - I absolutely love, and agree with, the direction of James Storm's character. What better way to foster the exposure of younger talent and to have them work directly with a true veteran? His next 10 years with the company will be extremely vital. Storm should continue to work for as long as his body holds up, and then take on a televised, heel manager role. This way his personality would still foster true, old-school heel interest and serve as a mentorship for upcoming "bad guys and gals".

Jeff Hardy - In my opinion, Jeff has been through a lot in his career and he may have learned valuable lessons along the way; good, bad, and indifferent. Some may say that he would be a poor leader due to the skeletons of his past, but I disagree. With arguably more road time and more in-ring experience than anyone on the current roster, Hardy is loaded with valuable information pertaining to the road, the locker room, and the ring. He should be used in combination with younger talent, such as with his brother against The Wolves and The BroMans. If he is to be taking serious bumps over the next several years, they need to be strategic as to with whom and how often.

Bobby Roode - Like Jeff Hardy, Roode may have another solid 5 years left in him, so his passing of the torch may be a little premature on my part; however, the process needs to start earlier than most booking agents realize. Once a veteran is noticeably old in the ring, it is usually too late to put over young talent with high amounts of credibility. Nonetheless, Roode, Hardy, Storm, Aries, and Eric Young (not to mention Lashley, MVP, Anderson, et al.) are the veterans of the promotion and they are the next in line to hang up their boots. What these players do over the next 5-10 years is crucial for the organization. Bobby Roode is one of TNA's greatest talents and he needs to be booked accordingly until the day he retires. When he is ready to move on, he would have built up enough credibility as the face of the organization to make passing his torch mean something monumental.

E.Y. - Integrity, time on the roster, and a lighter side to life makes Eric Young an asset to the company and a treat for the younger wrestlers. Every team needs a storyteller, a hype-man, and an older brother figure. Eric Young is all three rolled up into one. Although a bit premature, I would like to see TNA keep Eric Young on in any capacity once he is ready to retire.

Looking to Grab the Torch:

EC3 - He is by far, and large, the future of TNA at this point in time. EC3 is the quintessential professional wrestler of the modern era, the total package (no, not Lex), and the filet mignon of the roster. With superb mic skills, an excellent physique, and in-ring aptitude to hang with either the amazing Angle or the Hardcore Thomas Dreamboat, EC3 has cemented his place at the top of the food chain.

Bram - While EC3 is the filet mignon, Bram is the massive, porterhouse steak that is strewn with muscle and hard gristle. His gripping, barbaric promos and ruffian in-ring style compliment his look nicely. For such a young talent, Bram's in-ring awareness is that of a twenty year veteran.

T.J. Perkins - Whether he is suicide, manic, or just a disciple of Storm, T.J. Perkins is a phenomenal talent who may be the future of the X-Division. Quite frankly, he also works relatively well with the larger wrestlers.

Magnus - Some may say that Magnus has already had his time to shine. Well... sort of. Let's face it, he was not used to his highest potential. Convoluted by the release of Styles, his reign was diminished and it lacked the proper display. His current feud with Bram should help revitalize his career and it may even be able to cast him as one of the higher regarded faces in TNA. (I say faces since I personally feel that TNA has not yet signed the future "face" of the company to follow Roode, Hardy, Lashley, Angle, etc...)

Rockstar Spud - At times, Spud's talent may be overlooked by the shenanigans that surround the predicaments he is put in; EC3's little buddy, hair vs. hair matches, etc... He can fly with the best of the X-division stars, he is coming into his own on the mic, and he does well mixing it up with the larger competitors. I am sincerely looking forward to see what he can do amongst the roster.

Jessie Godderz - Jesse has arguably the best dropkick in the business and he sells in the ring, and out of the ring, tremendously. The BroMans are a gem and Jesse never fails to support the entertainment factor. Once he is given the opportunity to venture out into the singles circuit, and develop those mic skills a bit more (which are already decent), he could be a big player - booked as Mr. Pec-Tacular, Jessie Godderz.

Davey Richards - Eddie Edwards is great; trust me, he is my favorite of the two Wolves; however, regarding singles competition, I do believe that Davey Richards may be presented with greater opportunities in the future. If he can only tone down the dramatic facial expressions (just my peeve)! I can imagine watching Richards face off against just about anyone on the roster as he is quite versatile. Who wouldn't want to witness a title match consisting of Davey Richards and Austin Aries?

          TNA has a roster with diverse depth, great talent, and overall youth. We are looking directly into the eyes of TNA's future, the next set of originals, and the carryovers from the previous generation looking to hold on as long as possible. We are looking beyond the originals. We are getting a glimpse of the next ten years.

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