The People’s Column: Main Event Mafia: A Year in Review

Ladies and gentlemen, Bound for Glory has come and gone.  Sting was defeated for the first time at this event and Matt Morgan was made to look like a star.  Mick Foley showed why he should not be allowed near a wrestling ring (even a six sided one) anymore and Bobby Lashley showed that he sucks out loud.  Perhaps the most significant development to come from TNA’s annual spectacular was the disbanding of the Main Event Mafia.

This group was formed a year before, on the Impact episode following Bound for Glory IV (Quick side note: numbers make a show look major league.  TNA was dumb to drop the number so soon).  The group consisted of men who have had world titles in other companies.  This, in and of itself was an error.  For a company that claims to be the future of the business, making the world championships of the past your biggest stars was not smart.  These former champions were Booker T, Kevin Nash, Sting, Scott Steiner and Kurt Angle.  Angle assumed the role of leader of this new force.

As these five men began to dominate the TNA scene, a new force rose up.  It consisted of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and many other TNA wrestlers who were pretty much interchangeable at this point in the program.  They were called the TNA frontline.  They were supposed to be the counter force to the MEM.

Sadly, that never happened and the Frontline was never really a force to begin with.  On top of that, they were disbanded without ever getting any sort of major victory.  This led to a strong heel stable with plenty of face opponents, but no united force to combat it.  Quite awkwardly, this storyline which seemed destined to play out in TNA’s annual Lethal Lockdown match, was over long before then.

This article however is not about the history of the MEM vs Frontline/Originals/Foley and Jarrett.  It is about the effects of the Main Event Mafia story arc on individuals on the TNA roster.

Kurt Angle: He was the biggest star in the company before the Mafia, and he left it in the same position.  The MEM only served to make him a bigger star.

Sting: This was an interesting phase in his career.  He was never really a heel in this heel stable.  He was all about respect and honor.  Although sometimes his championship was retained by questionable means, in his mind it was all for the greater good.  This was really the only time in his career where he has been a heel (late era WCW doesn’t count because everyone turned on a weekly basis).  Sting benefitted from being able to play a different character than what has been his standard for the last ten years.  He also had one of the longest world championship reigns of his career.

Booker T: He was made slightly relevant in this storyline.  He introduced his own championship (The Legends Title) and held it for a long while.  He was given plenty of promo time, which means accent time in his world.  He was relegated to the lower card feuds of the Mafia since he does not have the star power of Angle or Sting.  He also became a tag team champion as a part of this story.  However he went from main events before this to multiple man tag matches after.  This seems like a demotion, but that could have had more to do with his attitude than his position.

Scott Steiner: Scott Steiner is basically in the same position before and after this story.  Along the way, he picked up a tag team title reign and had quite possibly the last standout moments of his career.

Kevin Nash: Another wrestler who seems unchanged.  He was over going into the MEM and he is very over coming out of it.  He was given a rivalry with Mick Foley in that time.  His one great chance at an awesome rivalry in Samoa Joe was wasted and plagued by injury.  His character kind of branched out on his own at the end and has a nice direction going forward as a hired gun.

Mick Foley: From his TNA debut, he was involved in this story.  He was given the chance to shine in this company and did this as best he could.  However any time he stepped into the ring, it was clear that he was holding down younger, better, more able athletes.  It was those same athletes that he claimed, in storyline, to be there to help. He gained a world title that he did not deserve and a long list of main events that should have never happened.

Samoa Joe: Coming off of the most mishandled world championship reign (and the most delayed) in recent memory, he had nowhere to go but up.  It seemed like Joe was getting back to his bad ass roots at the beginning.  However, things only got worse.  Somehow he gained a giant knife and some face paint.  This wouldn’t have been too big of a deal, but then he joined the Mafia for some unexplained reason and gave up another World Championship in the process.  He never seemed to fit in with the Mafia and his career now seems in flux.  Despite being in the main event of the next Pay Per View, his career has a long way to go to recover from the last year.

AJ Styles: He was supposed to be the leader of the Frontline, and looked like a legitimate contender for the first time in a long time.  After losing multiple world title matches at the beginning of the story line he seemed to always be feuding with someone in the Mafia, but did not really make it to the main event until the very end.  AJ may have come out looking strong, but he was made to look very weak in the middle.  The recovery of his character is underway, but it took a long way to get there.

Jeff Jarrett: In this time, he got his big comeback, became the lead babyface of his own promotion, had some great matches, got to lead a faction and had sex with Kurt Angle’s wife.  Good work Jeff.

Christopher Daniels: The good news: He returned under his own name and original gimmick.  The bad news: he was relegated back to X Division spot-fests after main eventing only once.  He deserved better.

Matt Morgan: After a drawn out and complicated rivalry with Kurt Angle and the Mafia, he had a legitimate star making moment that factored heavily into the end of the MEM.  He was made to look good by this story.

The big winners in this story were Jarrett, Morgan and Angle.  Some others may have left with a few positives, but overall they are not better for the experience.  The whole point of this storyline (as stated by the members of the MEM in outside interviews) was to help the young guns get over as top performers by grouping most of the top men together.  For the most part, TNA just brought in other top stars to feud with the MEM (Foley and Jarrett) instead of doing the hard work of building them.

As a final point, the MEM storyline may have slightly elevated the ratings of TNA’s weekly program, but it did nothing to help their dismal Pay Per View buyrates.  They may have generated more interest in their product, but could not turn that interest into Pay Per View buys.  By all accounts, buyrates even fell during this time.  TNA’s biggest story to date did nothing to get their overall numbers and overall business up.

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