(TN)A Modest Response

Expect another A Modest Response on Monday.

TNA has gone and pissed me off, yet again. This company has gone to the very brink of creating a new star so many times, yet each time stops short, sending their own talent back to either midcard or comedic hell, or worse, both. It has become painfully apparent that TNA has no clue how to use their talent. The storylines are bad and the show is cluttered, but for now, let’s focus on the talent and how it is being used, or rather misused. What follows is alphabetically going over every man on the roster, what has been done with them, and how to fix the problems with their usage. We’ll take tag teams by their team name. Just for fun, let’s rate each man’s usage out of 10.

Abyss – Abyss was made to mix the best elements of Mankind and The Undertaker. He is a big badass who can do all the dangerous stunts, wrestle and get hugely over as a monster. Unsurprisingly, this has gotten over, given Abyss’s talent as a performer, but nowhere near to the extent it should. Abyss, winning the title on a DQ call, might be the weakest champion in recent wrestling history, no higher than seventh or so on the roster. The title win did nothing but make obvious his weakness. Abyss has been completely devastated as a monster that can headline cards. His limit is entertaining abuse in the midcard. This is due to how many losses he has taken. For an inhuman monster it’s unbelievable how much he’s gotten his ass kicked. There might be no solution to this since the damage is done, but on Impact it was revealed he is ready to unmask. The best they can do is reveal this to be a tease and, if they are serious about a push, have Abyss rededicate himself as a monster, destroying the rest of the waste on the roster and establishing himself as a nigh unbeatable beast. If the push is not to come, and it should come, then keeping the mask and letting the hardcore division continue is the best bet, though without the hokey father style storylines since there is an absolute audience for this type of wrestling that should be catered to.

3/10 – Abyss is being used in hokey angles and unmasked, diametrically opposed to either being a monster or headlining the hardcore division, both of which he is tailor made for.

AJ Styles – AJ can be said to be TNA’s success story. He is their golden boy and has won every title they have numerous times. He’s also yet to get a sustained main event push and even when he had the title, he was Vince Russo’s lackey in a poorly conceived angle. Currently, all of his credibility is being squashed in another lackey role, this time a comedic one for Kurt Angle. This tosses away years of character development. AJ is talented enough to be entertaining even in this role, but considering his talent, is this really an appropriate use? Unfortunately for AJ, the time, for now at least, to be a top face has gone. He has gotten over in his lackey role and an about face is merely more of the inconsistent booking that makes TNA such a chore to follow. As a lackey he is entertaining, and sadly, thanks to some bad decision making and his own talent, that is how he should stay.

7/10 – It was a poor gimmick at first, but AJ has made it work and his role can be filled by someone later on the list.

Black Reign – This dark, non-homosexual Goldust is completely devoid of charm. It’s actually purely corny. Everything from the gimmick to the in ring work to the mouse and weapon make this some of the worst television I’ve ever come across. Black Reign should be destroyed by Abyss to never reappear again. I know it’s common to put Dustin into a horrible gimmick, but really, the time for that has passed. Let him become the serious son of a legend, put him in a regular team, and let him work. He’s not flashy, but he’s good when not saddled with a terrible gimmick and his name has credibility. As a member of a mid-card tag team he could be an asset towards putting over the younger members of the roster in matches that aren’t cringe inducing. If that isn’t an option for Dustin, then simply bid him adieu, as he is entirely useless otherwise at this point.

1/10 – This gimmick takes away even Dustin’s name value, putting him in terrible matches with a worse gimmick.

Booker T – Booker T came over as a surprise partner for Sting, had a brief flirtation with the upper card and now is being used in the mid-card to elevate Robert Roode. I’m not a fan of Roode’s but the feud is well-built with clear motivation for the face and heel. This is more or less exactly the type of thing Booker should be doing.

10/10 – Booker is putting over the new generation perfectly.

Christian Cage – Christian is probably the best smarmy heel in the states besides his old partner Edge. He’s a natural sneaky mastermind who can get win after win while infuriating the audience and making a face more beloved. See his raising up of Kaz and rehabilitative work on Joe for examples of this. Of course, currently in TNA he’s a face, feuding with his former lackeys. Why is he a face? His lackeys would rather work with Kurt Angle. He’s still entirely unsympathetic and despite being good in the ring, is wasted as a good face when he is an exceptional heel. As a heel, he is comfortably in the upper card where he can talk his way into feuds with or without the title.

3/10 – Cage is the perfect heel; why is he a face? At least the matches are still good.

Curry Man – Chris Daniels was almost elevated. A feud with Sting was begun that could have finally allowed Sting to make a new star as promised by TNA since he joined them. Instead, the plug was pulled and Daniels, among the best talkers on the roster, plus more than competent in the ring, was totally wasted… again. Triple X was reformed, only to do nothing of note. Daniels, wasted for months, finally was given new life as Curry Man. The comedy gimmick is spectacular, but unfortunately TNA runs so much comedy that he is again lost in the shuffle. It’s a shame since this gimmick is so much fun.

5/10 – After so much wasted potential, this gimmick is a ton of fun, but unfairly lost amidst the terrible comedy in nearly every TNA segment.

Elix Skipper – Also brought back for Triple X, among the most over TNA teams ever, he was soon left without a role after they were summarily disbanded. Elix is a solid worker, who deserves more than his current role – complete and utter jobber.

1/10 – Why bring Elix back to job to Shark Boy?

Eric Young – Showtime was once a cute, innocent gimmick that got over and was endearing. Now Eric is an idiot who is horribly overexposed and really should be shot out of a canon. He isn’t entertaining anymore and he isn’t any good in the ring or on the mic; Eric Young is a one note joke who was ruined by over and poor usage, like a teenager who begins to say NOT at the end of every sentence.

1/10 – Eric is completely without the charm that once made him work. Why do I want to root for a complete moron?

The James Gang – Kip James (Billy Gun) and BG James (Road Dogg) are terrible wrestlers working the same stale gimmick for a decade. I have no clue why they are on television.

1/10 – The worst act currently on TV.

James Storm – When a badass tough guy heel as he first began this run, James Storm had the makings of a top card talent. Of course, as soon as he developed a persona fans truly hated, he was put into heatless feuds with other midcarders and his momentum whittled away. He’s now in yet another go nowhere feud with Rhino as both guys are clearly filler, despite Storm’s killer gimmick and very good work in the ring.

3/10 – A great gimmick on a good worker and they just will not let the push develop any lasting momentum. Wasting something potentially good keeps this score down.

Jay Lethal – Lethal was a good worker, nearly made a star when he almost took Jarrett’s title. Nothing was done with this. He later beat Angle, the World Champion, for the X-Title cleanly, seemingly setting up a major push. He never even got a title shot. Now he runs a fake Macho Man gimmick, which he somehow got over, and in the ring plays the perfect underdog face. He has become excellent at that role and hopefully will get even more of a push as time passes and the Macho Man gimmick continues to fade.

9/10 – He’s great in the ring and getting a push. The Macho Man gimmick is fading and he can become a major player. I can finally see why Gabe pushed him for so long.

Jeff Jarrett – The focal point of TNA from its inception, he monopolized the belt, not allowing anyone to fully reach his level. A solid mic worker and ring worker, he was the king of the overbooked nonsense and is a major cause TNA has been so bad for so long. He’s been off television. Hopefully he retires.

5/10 – He’s off TV. That’s a 10. He’s still writing. That’s a 1. We’ll split the difference.

Johnny Devine – Devine is the worst wrestler in the X Division. He works like a heavyweight with a little bit of flash. He’s an okay heel, but really, to have him as X-Champion, even for an angle, is ridiculous. He got the rub from 3-D and now hopefully will go away again.

3/10 – A weak wrestler, but at least a good heel.

Judas Mesias – Yet another terrible monster gimmick. Mesias is simply too tiny and not good enough to be a monster. I consider him the Viscera of TNA with all the negative implications that implies. It’s totally ridiculous that on Impact he recently dominated number 1 contender Christian Cage. Abyss needs to kill him and he needs to go away.

1/10 – Bad gimmick on a bad wrestler who is far too high on the card.

Kaz – Kaz is in AJ Styles old spot. He’s a very talented wrestler who will get over and succeed on pure skill. He should be pushed to an upset title win and keep in the heavyweight picture as champ for about 6 months to put him in the Bret Hart role of fighting champion, something TNA has never done. Instead, after great matches with Cage and Angle, he’s feuding with total waste Black Reign. At least he’s still prominent, though being prominent in Rat on a Pole matches might be worse…

3/10 – He could have been a contender! Push him like Bret and watch him rise to the occasion. Is he that good? No, but he will be with the right push.

Kevin Nash – Nash nearly got Sabin hugely over, did get Shelley hugely over, then walked out. He returned to bury the X-Division and accidentally helped get Lethal over. He then became the highest paid comedy relief in wrestling with Angle, only to end up following Joe around for no readily apparent reason doing nothing of note. He should replace West on commentary or TNA should save the money they spend on him. He is adding nothing in either of his most recent roles.

1/10 – He follows Joe around. Is that supposed to add credibility? It’s really rather a waste as Joe is already credible and that’s some mighty expensive credibility.

Kurt Angle – Angle is the comedic champion. Oh wait, that doesn’t work. How about the manipulative champion? That’s a load better, but 1. Cage is better at it and 2. It doesn’t work when he’s comedy the other half of the time. Not helping matters is that he’s billed as an incredible athlete who spectacularly fails at great matches more often than not lately. What exactly is he offering besides name value right now?

6/10 – An illogical character, but he has flashes of in ring greatness and a lot of name value.

LAX – Homicide and Hernandez were majorly over as the hottest heels in the company when they debuted. They were eventually beaten and forgotten about. Then they were over as faces and the same problem occurred. They are a great power and speed combination who are impressive against everyone. They seem to have a real issue and could be pushed to the moon in the title scene. They’re barely even on Impact now, despite real gravitas to their characters and the work to back it up.

1/10 – Among the most talented and unique teams in the world, they get over every time they are pushed at all, yet they are barely on Impact. There’s no justice.

Matt Morgan – He’s huge and he can work. He’s very good in the enforcer role for the Commissioner. Morgan has yet to be in the ring, but despite that, he has managed to get over and is quite good on the mic. If Joe vs. Morgan happens, it might be great, though Morgan should begin as the monster heel with someone he can dominate.

6/10 – Very good in the enforcer role, but he can be so much more than just a bodyguard.

Murder City Machine Guns – Shelley got hugely over as Nash’s lackey and Sabin as Nash’s rival. Nothing was done with either and they languished until they decided to team up. Now they’re the next step in the Rockers, Hardyz evolutionary scheme, with amazing speed, double teams and style. They also sell a ton of merchandise. They should get the tag titles and go on a Briscoesque run of classics.

7/10 – They looked terrible for much of their recent feud, but went over. They need the tag belts. They vs. AJ and Tomko will be fantastic with time and no nonsense.

Petey Williams – Petey is a good wrestler who is currently pretending to be Scott Steiner for a silly get the case for a title shot angle. He should be in the mid-card of the X-Division in regular good matches, but is wasted against a guy who can’t sell for him or take his big move and is also too high on the card in a different division for him. Mixing the divisions just makes the X look weak.

3/10 – In the wrong division right now, with the wrong opponent, in too high profile of a spot.

Raven – Raven is the best talker in TNA and one of the best minds for the business around. He was wildly over, had the title for a minute and sacrificed at the alter of Jarrett. He then did hardcore stuff for a long while and was successful. Now he’s off TV, despite being made for color commentary and writing. TNA reportedly released him.

1/10 – The best talent on the mic and with the book, not used even a bit.

Rellik – The former Johnny the Bull is another random monster who accomplishes nothing. Abyss should eat him.

1/10 – Bad wrestler, can’t talk, silly gimmick… next.

Rhino – Rhino, when ECW re-debuted, was a passionate, angry and over man. The crowd treated him like a god and he pulled it off. Twenty go nowhere feuds later and he’s fighting over alcoholism again in bad stipulation matches. He might be one of the best brawlers of this generation, but we’ll never know for sure.

1/10 – Should be in the title scene somewhere or at worst a long term mid-card champion. What does he do wrong?

Robert Roode – Roode is an old school heel with a great look and good, if dull, mic skills. He’s getting a good heel push now that the nonsense with Traci Brooks is mostly behind him and the feud with Booker should elevate him. Is he the guy to elevate? Well, we’ll see.

7/10 – Until he shows more to earn the push I can’t give more than a good, even though the push is the best executed on the roster since Tomko’s was botched.

Rock and Rave Infection – Hoyt was supposed to be the next big thing because he’s big and fast, but it wasn’t noted that big and fast doesn’t mean that he can use either effectively. He’s a fine power guy in a team and might be who I’d have team with Dustin Rhodes in a perfect world. Rave is a very, very good heel and very good wrestler who would be perfect as the anti-flier X-Division wrestler. As a team, they have terrible Guitar Hero gimmicks and would be the worst thing on any reasonable show stupid enough to let them appear.

1/10 – Annoying and they don’t work together.

Samoa Joe – Joe is, at this point unconditionally, the best wrestler on the TNA roster. He has been the most over face for years and is one hell of a promo. He’s a fantastic badass and seems constantly stuck in other people’s angles. Currently he is portraying a retard who won’t take a huge raise for a new contract he’s agreed to sign and has Nash following him. He finally feels important again, but at this rate it won’t last. He needs the title long term badly and really should transition it to Kaz within 5-6 months.

4/10 – Not a champion, not allowed in long, great matches, but at least he’s regaining his aura and is pushed at the top of the card.

Scott Steiner – Still mucking about in the X-Division despite having a title shot, Scott is capable of a good match with the right opponent and doesn’t demand spots at the top of the card. Despite my distaste for Scott as a person, he’s more than capable for his role and is just the kind of big name TNA should have, even if he must be removed from the X-Division posthaste.

8/10 – Get him out of the X-Division and all is right with Steiner.

Shark Boy – Running a fake Stone Cold gimmick could work and be amusing, but it pisses off as many as it pleases, meaning Shark Boy is essentially screwed. With less comedy on the show, this would fare far better.

3/10 – Too much comedy for this to stand out and work.

Sonjay Dutt – He doesn’t do a lot, but show up and flip around. The perfect role for Dutt. Let the flash speak for him when he’s around but he doesn’t need anything special. Ditch the guru nonsense though.

8/10 – Ditch the guru and let him flip around.

Sting – Sting shows up in Spring to feud with the top heel and take the top spot at Bound for Glory. He then hibernates away the winter. What a waste of money. He does nothing for the future and helps a company lose slightly less money. If he’s coming back again he NEEDS to make Joe, Tomko or Kaz, otherwise just stay retired.

2/10 – Some decent matches and he does nothing for anyone on the roster but himself.

Team 3-d – They hate the X-Division and squashed them, despite losing the finale. It’s give and take with them. The promos are great, but the matches are hit or miss. They can work too stiff, but have credibility and use still, even if it is to put over teams like LAX and MCMG.

5/10 – If their egos remain under control they can make a new generation of teams.

Tomko – Tomko’s serious, wry, out for himself persona was pure gold. Everyone who watched him in that role interacting with others saw it. Anyone who saw him wrestle realized he has come to the point of being at worst near Batista in the ring. He is a star waiting to be birthed along with Joe, Kaz, and Morgan, is the true future of the company. He might be the next big thing, but will spend awhile more at least as Angle’s bitch. What a waste.

1/10 – The next big thing would have been a 10 two weeks ago. Stupid TNA.

That’s all, come back Monday for A Modest Response: This is NOT Extreme, but it isn’t bad either

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