DR. TNA: Who are “they?”

First, let me start with an apology.  It’s only my second column and I had to ask the fine folks at Inside Pulse Wrestling to grant me a few extra days.  Bad form, I know.  I had a family event that prevented me from being able to watch Thursday’s episode until Monday night, and I did not want to simply pump out a column that was not relevant to the episode.  So I apologize and ask you, the readers, for a pass this time, as well.

However, even while asking for a pass from all of you, I find myself unwilling to give TNA a pass for this week’s episode.  Honestly, I found it a bit underwhelming and it pains me to say that.  Last week I wrote about why I feel you should be watching TNA, so you hopefully know I don’t base my second column on criticisms, without feeling strongly about the need to address reservations I have with what appears to be a major story line change.

The episode largely centered on the apparent heel turn of Abyss.  If you didn’t see it, here is footage from last week when Abyss attacked Mr. Anderson and Jeff Hardy.

This week’s episode opened with Hogan trying to get answers from Abyss.  Abyss then proceeded to go on a rant explaining that “they told him to do it” and “they told him he doesn’t need Hogan.”  Hogan then tries to find out who “they are” and Abyss attacked Hogan.  Below is a recap of that attack.

Now, I want to be clear that I do not take exception with the heel turn.  In fact, I absolutely applaud it.  What gives me pause is the way it is happening.  Please, please, TNA, do not make this about voices in his head.  The crazy angle doesn’t make me want to cheer or boo, but simply makes me feel awkward and want to change the channel.  Please do have this tied to the emergence of some new coalition, or better yet, the entrance into TNA of a big name or two (and I’m not sure Raven, who was in the stands Thursday, qualifies).

I grant you that criticizing a storyline, on the basis of where you fear the storyline might be headed is somewhat like folding a Texas Hold’em hand, pre-flop.  However, those of you who are poker fans know very well that if your pocket cards suck, that is exactly what you need to do.  Let’s just say when I watched this show I felt like I was looking down at two pretty low cards, they might have been suited, but they were still pretty low.

To be fair to TNA creative, I think Abyss would be a difficult character for whom one could write a compelling storyline.  The border line crazy angle is difficult once a microphone enters the picture.  To draw a parallel to the old WWF, Kane’s character worked, at least in my opinion, because he was the silent monster.  I fear Abyss is in that same category.  When he talks his character is crazy enough that at best you feel sympathetic and at worst you feel uncomfortable.  That doesn’t drive crowd involvement.

Given this, my hope is that perhaps we see a convergence of story lines between Sting, Abyss and couple new wrestlers (or even some good existing ones) in an anti-Hogan/Bischoff alliance.  Ric Flair would not be my first choice for this role – simply because I feel he’s involved in a quality separate story line (go Jay Lethal!).  However, I could also see a good scenario where Abyss fits into the “Fortune” group Flair is supposed to be creating in the vein of the Four Horsemen.  Finally, you could pull this off without Sting or Flair, but you would need someone well known to do the mic work, letting Abyss just be the monster that is destroying opponents.

If something along these lines happens, I’ll still view this episode as subpar – there just wasn’t much to classify as memorable.  However, I will believe it did an ok job of laying the ground work.   If TNA makes this some sort of mental breakdown or has Abyss and Raven begin trying to out crazy each other, I fear they’ve simply added a segment each week that would allow me to surf channels for several minutes, a goal which I doubt tops TNA’s wish list.

Only time will tell.  For now, here’s hoping TNA creative turns up a flush on the river, because I fear the flop dealt Thursday didn’t improve their hand.

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