Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic

After placing their entire promotion and all their gold on the shoulders of former WWE superstar Kurt Angle, TNA had a unique opportunity to push a young up-and-comer to the moon by making him Angle’s world championship tag team partner, but instead they chose to go with the very last man on the roster who needs any sort of help establishing himself, the icon himself, the one and only Sting.

TODAY’S ISSUE: Why Sting instead of a young gun who needs the rub?

As the sole holder of both TNA World Tag Team Championship belts, Kurt Angle needed a partner. After all, he’s also the TNA World Heavyweight Champion/IWGP Heavyweight Champion and the X Division Champion. The time had come for him to defend the tag titles in a proper match, and that means two-on-two. So Jim Cornette ordered a four-way showdown to determine who would hold the other half of the tag team championships with Angle and defend them at No Surrender alongside the former Olympic gold medallist.

A few of my top choices to earn the other tag strap and team up with Angle were Christopher Daniels, Kaz, Wildcat Chris Harris, and “Black Machismo” Jay Lethal. Each man could have benefited greatly from being elevated into the top story in TNA – The Angle Family versus the world.

Christopher Daniels had a very short flirtation with the main event during his apparently aborted mentorship under Sting himself, but Vince Russo’s short attention span and Crash TV booking style forced the Fallen Angel back into the XXX stable. Although XXX is always good for entertaining mid-card wrestling matches, many fans would like to have seen Daniels climb the ladder to the next level. His failure to be considered as Angle’s new partner is the second time in recent months TNA has wasted a great opportunity to elevate this phenomenal performer who connects with the fans and provides intensity, aggression, and innovation whenever he’s in the six-sided ring.

After discovering the will to break away from Raven’s Serotonin, Kaz seemed poised to springboard into bigger and better things. Somehow a mini-feud with lame-duck heel Robert Roode, whose new character was ruined by his feud with Showtime Eric Young, seems a less than spectacular follow-up chapter for the former two-time X Division Champion. Kaz could bring an excitement and high-flying appeal which, combined with Angle’s grappling acumen, would lead to some unique matches as the two defend their gold against TNA’s deep tag team roster.

The Wildcat has been working hard to find that breakthrough moment to become a true main-eventer after years of solid effort as one half of America’s Most Wanted, a premier tag team in TNA’s history. He’s got everything going for him: size, agility, wrestling skill, a marketable look, and the ability to put together a coherent promo on the stick. He just needs that one big blast to crash through the glass ceiling, and while he’s been close to doing so, he hasn’t “arrived” just yet. Winning a grueling match to become a tag champ with a highly decorated partner like Angle, then going on to help him successfully defend those belts might have been that extra little kick Harris needs to truly break out.

Jay Lethal has done everything TNA could have asked of him. He routinely puts on great matches; as the youngest member of the roster he’s perhaps the most likely to have issues backstage, but I’ve never heard anything about his attitude. And his embracing of the Black Machismo gimmick has been nothing short of making the most of what you’re given. His X Division title reign was cut extremely short, in fact his two-day run ties as the shortest in the history of the “no limits” championship. Now would be a great time to give the kid a boost by allowing him to hob-knob with the main-eventers and legends in TNA, and Lethal would bring some explosive energy, youth, and excitement to title matches featuring veterans of the squared circle such as Team 3D, the Voodoo Kin Mafia, and the Steiner Brothers.

Kurt Angle has the Ric Flair quality of being able to elevate those around him, and make opponents look good, even in defeat. Imagine what he could do if he were kayfabe forced to protect a young partner to the point where he decides to teach the kid how to keep up with him, just to ensure Angle never loses his last piece of gold due to his partner getting pinned or being forced to tap out. That could lead to some very interesting storyline developments.

To really make the most of this opportunity, Angle and his younger partner could have retained the tag gold at No Surrender while Angle lost his two singles titles, intensifying Kurt’s desire to hang on to the only championship he has left, leading to a long title reign together, with Angle mentoring the young man to ensure they remain champions. What would it mean to have Kurt Angle helping a young performer improve his game? We might even witness the younger grappler utilizing some of Angle’s signature moves, such as the ankle lock, pop-up superplex, and Angle Slam.

The inevitable feud between Angle and his young protégé resulting from their eventual loss of the titles and the friction that naturally develops in a student/teacher relationship would truly catapult the young gun into the stratosphere. This is how you use an established star to “make” a new big-time player. You do it while the veteran still possesses the skill, celebrity, and a character the fans care about enough to transfer heat onto somebody else and truly “give them the rub”.

Instead, TNA has eschewed this opportunity and placed Sting in the role of Angle’s championship partner. This is a waste because Sting could be doing the very thing I mentioned above for another young performer while my proposed Angle tag team storyline creates another main-eventer. In fact, Sting never got the chance to elevate Christopher Daniels as it seemed he was guaranteed to do just a few months ago. Now, two opportunities for the big names to reach down and pull up a worthy wrestler to their level have been tossed out the window.

These opportunities don’t come around very often, since the promotion needs the right combination of established star and young lion plus the right set of circumstances to allow the anointing of a new main-eventer. The Rock was made by the Undertaker and Mankind early in his career, and was later cemented by none other than Hulk Hogan. Mick Foley also made HHH in a brutal series of matches culminating in his retirement from the ring (for a while). Stone Cold Steve Austin became the highest grossing performer ever in wrestling via his feuds with Bret the Hitman Hart and the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels, and Sting himself owes a great deal of his career success to the Nature Boy Ric Flair.

The TNA roster is chock full of young studs ready to reach up and grab the brass ring, and superstars like Angle, Sting, Kevin Nash, Christian Cage, The Steiners, Team 3-D, VKM, and even Dustin Rhodes could all help bring any of them to the next level if TNA wanted that to happen. You can’t sit back and wait for the next big superstar to present himself – you have to “make” him by design. I hope TNA’s creative team gets that through their heads before it’s too late.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – “The ink of a scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.” – Mohammed

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