VS. #22 – Raffi Shamir vs. Iain Burnside

Features, Top Story, VS.

A question is posed. Two Pulse Wrestling writers go head-to-head. But only one will move on to next week to the face off with another member of our staff. This is VS.

, and this week’s question is… How can TNA salvage the Main Event Mafia storyline to make it somewhat logical?

Raffi Shamir

Iain Burnside

Raffi: The question implies that the storyline actually can be salvaged and even if I have my doubts, I must play along. So, the MEM. Or mEm. With Kurt Angle and Sting fighting for control of the mEm, there’s only one thing left. A match between the two of them. They don’t even have to put the leadership on the line, just have a match. Angle wins the match and continues to beat up Sting until all the other members of the mEm arrive to separate them and the battle lines are drawn.

On one side we have the heels mEm Connecticut – Kurt Angle and Booker T. On the other side the faces mEm Atlanta – Sting, Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner. On the next Impact each side presents its colors – Connecticut will wear black and white and Atlanta black and red. Team 3D will join Connecticut, Jeff Jarrett will join Atlanta and the two mEm’s will feud with each other for a few months, rendering the rest of the TNA roster irrelevant. Six months later, the two factions will join again into one, throwing out Sting, Team 3D and Booker T. Angle & Nash will lead the once again all heel mEm which will get new t-shirts, this time black and silver. Six months later Mick Foley will finally beat Jeff Jarrett for control of TNA and his first order of business will be to disband the mEm only to form his own mEm faction three Impacts later. By then, no one will watch TNA anyway, so there will be no need to resolve this storyline.

Okay, that’s hilarious, but does it make the storyline logical (TNA Wrestling’s future notwithstanding)? I followed Raffi through the splitting up of the MEM into heel and face factions, but the more logical thing would be for the entire roster to choose sides, wouldn’t it? Following that line of thinking, you either put the heels over strong until the babyfaces add something to the mix (a returning wrestler, perhaps?) that gives them the eventual upper hand to end the feud once and for all. Foley bringing the MEM back makes no sense, and while TNA would go that route, one point of this question was to figure out what they SHOULD do.

Iain Burnside: There are some things in this world that are so far beyond hope and yet so expected that the only sane response is to shake your head and sigh “Oh, for f*ck’s sake.” This has become the standard reaction to more or less everything that has happened in TNA over the past three years. Now it seems that they managed to get things together in a cohesive, entertaining manner for a couple of weeks leading up to Lockdown only to piss the goodwill away almost immediately after the show. Bobby Lashley waves hello and goodbye… Shane Douglas returns, with added fat, yet the likes of Petey Williams are sent packing… Christopher Daniels returns with great momentum yet is stalled by an uninspired feud that does not elevate anyone involved… the world title goes from one outdated part-timer to another… Knockouts aside, the product is so horrible and so frustrating that it is hard to even know where to begin in trying to suggest improvements. Fact is, however, that there is no “Main Event Mafia storyline” anymore. The Frontline concept was a total failure on all fronts, just as the New Blood were in Vince Russo’s WCW back in the day. Apparently it takes a genius of failed wrestling booker proportions to not realise that the audience will get behind familiar stars who look cool, act cool and win gold rather than unestablished guys who dress down, bitch about not being successful superstars and continue to fail to win.

Now the Mafia has multiple storylines going on. Booker’s wife and Nash’s bit don’t get along, so there is tension between their men. Angle and Sting have a sort of competitive rivalry over the alpha-male position in the group, whilst also contending with Jarrett and Foley, who in turn have come to blows over their respective levels of control over the promotion. Steiner likes pogo sticks. Matt Morgan wants to join. Sting lost the title but regained the leadership, which led to him in some sense trying to make the Mafia a more respectful group. He is a babyface in charge of heels. The fans like the heels more than most of the non-Mafia babyfaces. My head hurts trying to keep a track of all this and I haven’t even gotten into A.J. and the Legends title or Joe and the Nation of Violence. These threads are only going to continue to grow and become more tangled unless there is a fixed end-point in sight, so let’s set Bound for Glory in October as the culmination of the Main Event Mafia no matter what and work backwards from there.

The initial approach of old ‘uns against young ‘uns failed. The conflicts between Jarrett and Foley indicate chaos in management that can only seep downwards and enable more of the wrestlers to do what they want, when they want, without repercussions. Joe is continuing to express his fondness for hitting people with blunt objects and draping towels over his head. Daniels can get away with playing at least two characters at once if he so desired. The British Invasion can steal LAX’s prized briefcases and nobody does anything about it. Eric Young freaks out about being overlooked and unappreciated and takes things into his own hands. 3-D decide to start their own little tournament. Chaos, chaos, chaos. So let’s roll with it, in it and out of it into a position where there is at least potential for a fresh start. Let’s do some War Games (no, not the NWA gimmick match but something along the lines of the Batman story).

Angle can regain control of the Mafia and kick Sting to the curb, which would hopefully enable them to become out-and-out heels. Sting can then establish his own group of people who the Mafia has infuriated over the past few months, perhaps with Jarrett, A.J. and Daniels involved. Joe can be protected whilst injured by actually adding members to the Nation, perhaps those with a hardcore edge to them such as Foley, Abyss and of course Taz. The tag teams and X Division guys can fall into these groups as is most appropriate, or even experience schisms of their own. Turn the Impact Zone into a war zone for the coming months and build towards winners-take-all matches in October, with whichever people the audience rallies behind the most going over as babyfaces. Ensure that whomever that person may be with regards to the world title is not Foley or Jarrett or Sting but someone along the lines of A.J. or Joe or Morgan. Write out Kurt Angle, if indeed he leaves the company, with one of those people destroying him. After that point the groups can be dissipated and we can put this whole sorry mess behind us to be infuriated and put off by a whole new batch of insipid booking. I said I would keep this under 300 words so I better just hush up… now.

Iain just took this, hands down. I still see faults – that is, while I’m a sucker for warring factions, SOMEone needs to represent “TNA” and that group has to eventually win, doesn’t it? As horribly-booked as was the WWF vs. WCW inVasion angle (WCW or at least the WCW/ECW Alliance should have gotten the heat early and often, with the WWF not winning the war until much, much later than it did), the right “team” (i.e., the home team!) went over in the end. TNA wants to be considered a major league? Then act like it and put your brand over, and stop having main event wrestlers – mafia members or otherwise – talk negatively about management, the promotion, etc. Also: Don West.

Winner of VS. #22: Iain Burnside

Do you agree with Raffi or Iain or would you do something else? Let us know in the comments section, below!

We’ll try to do this weekly, so stay tuned for another installment of VS. in seven…

Matthew Michaels is editor emeritus of Pulse Wrestling, and has been since the site launched.