It’s always fun to see the endgame. Whether it’s in a movie, television show, a gripping novel, the big sporting event, or yes, even in professional wrestling. “Where is all of this leading?” is always fun, but getting what I like to call “The Big Reveal” is the key to something being successful or being what the kids like to call an epic fail.
See, I’m hip!
Now this past week, we had two fairly big mysteries to resolve – one from each of the big wrestling companies in the countries. In the WWE, it was a matter of who would WWE Champion CM Punk face at Hell In A Cell, the choices being between the probably-too-injured-to-go John Cena and largely-untested-on-the-big-stage Ryback. There was whole segment at the beginning of Raw to set up the announcement at the end of the show, and although the delivery was a bit odd, what with Cena basically taking himself out of the equasion and touting Ryback as the challenger (including leading a “Feed Me More” chant that took a biiiiiiit too long to take hold), we got what I think everyone was hoping for.
Now granted, there’s probably an even number of people who wanted Ryback to challenge Punk because it’s a new fresh matchup with the chance to create a new main eventer and people who wanted to see the potential train wreck that could occur with an unproven commodity whose ability to both get over and perform in a PPV main event are pretty up in the air.
The second big mystery seeking a resolution revolved around TNA’s Bound For Glory pay-per-view and the Aces & Eights storyline. I have heard a few folks complaining about how long this has been dragged out now and how the payoff can’t possibly live up to the build at this point. I can see both sides of this argument.
The unmasking of Devon was actually pretty good. Devon was pretty much written off as headed to the WWE by most, and his appearance also had a personal note with his past with Bully Ray. And he’s not the mastermind behind Aces & Eights, so the drama continues.
Here’s where I think they dropped the ball. On Thursday’s Impact, they should have unmasked someone else. It didn’t have to be the leader, just one more piece in the puzzle. Even if it was just Brian Kendrick or Sonjay Dutt or someone. Eventually, they could start unmasking bigger names, whoever it is they plan to have in the group, whether it’s D-Lo Brown, Luke Gallows, Matt Hardy…it doesn’t matter as long as the big guns (or big gun) is worth the wait.
Which comes to the problem as I see it: It won’t be worth the wait. Outside of Shane McMahon himself, there’s no one out there in the free agent market that would make this pay off. The general consensus is that Jeff Jarrett is the mastermind, and that makes sense on some level. It’s just not a shocker. Could it be Vince Russo, Eric Bischoff, Ric Flair? Maybe so. At this point, I’m not expecting a shock. I just want the follow-up to make sense and be entertaining. Think Hogan being revealed as the third man in the NWO. Once the secret is out, then build a storyline around that. That’s all I’m asking.
Here’s my idea. Devon is revealed and he blames Bully Ray for abandoning him or whatever, so he’s got issues. Who else can present a similar argument. Flair can still have a grudge against Hogan, as he can say Hogan used his political power to marginalize Flair’s legacy or whatever. Jarrett can argue that “his” company was stolen from him. What about Sting? I say bring in Lex Luger. Sure Luger was all buddy-buddy with Sting at the Hall of Fame, but deep down, Luger harbors resentment against the Stinger, and now he’s out for revenge. Hell, bring in any of the old WCW guys that can still deliver in the ring if you like. DDP, Kidman, Raven, hell, Sean O’Hare, I don’t care. Be sure to include some new faces in the mix and just have them run roughshod over TNA just like the NWO did. That was like 15 years ago now. It’s been long enough that Jim Cornette’s “7-year rule” is being honored. Hell, make Cornette the mouthpiece for the group.
It’s too bad Paul Heyman isn’t available…Or is he? That would be a real dick move on TNA’s part if Heyman isn’t under any kind of contract, and I would love it.
These kind of “massive takeover/invasion” storylines have been around forever. The Nexus, the WCW/ECW Alliance angle, the aforementioned NWO, and even Sports Entertainment Extreme in TNA’s early days are some recent examples. But I’ve been watching wrestling for a long time.
Back in the late 80s, there was a heel stable called The Commission that had a year-long reign of terror in the Memphis area. The group included Robert Fuller, Jimmy Golden, Brickhouse Brown, Rip Rogers, Dutch Mantell, Big Bubba (Tugboat/Typhoon, not Big Bossman), and a bunch of others. Back in the old Global Wrestling Federation, a fun promotion that tried to fill Bill Watts’ UWF sand Fritz Von Erich’s World Class void in the early 1990s, ran an angle where “The Cartel” was being fronted by a mysterious benefactor. That was another great mish-mosh of heels, led by General Skandor Ackbar, with Cactus Jack, Gary Young, a pre-Raven Scotty the Body, and Mahkan “Trucker Norm” Singh, and a few others. In what was then considered a major swerve, it was revealed that the GWF commissioner (whose name escapes me) was actually the leader. This angle led to the rise of The Patriot as a pretty big name and put him on a run that would lead to a run in the WCW and later WWF.
No matter how TNA decides to play this out, as long as they don’t go all “Higher Power” on us, I’ll be fine. And as long as I’m throwing ideas out, I tell you who I’d like to see pulling the strings of the Aces & Eights. Actually, I’ve been watching a lot of wrestling on Netflix lately, and inspired by it, I’m going to throw two names…
Terry Funk – Terry was a part of one of my all-time storylines. At the end of the classic Flair-Steamboat trilogy in which Flair regained the NWA title from the Dragon, Funk came into the ring to congratulate Flair. Terry had been one of the ringside judges in the event that the match went to a draw, and most considered him pretty much retired (in 1989! Ha!). Anyway, he seemingly jokingly asked the new champ for a title match, only to have Flair likewise jokingly brush him off. Well, that pissed Funk off to no end, resulting in a vicious attack on Flair that included a pair of piledrivers and an instant face turn for the Nature Boy. Although their series of matches never resulted in a second title reign for Funk (he had been champ for two years back in the 70s), the angle and story were red hot and it eventually led to Sting taking over as the NWA/WCW top guy.
So, first off, the Aces & Eights have sort of a western/outlaw vibe about them. That fits right in with Terry’s basic gimmick. Funk can also play the role of quiet calculating-but-crazy ringleader. Second, Terry is still crazy enough to work a match and take bumps, so he can get physically involved if he needs to. I like Funk as the leader, but Id prefer, and stick with me here…
Kevin Sullivan – Sadly most fans know Kevin, if they know him at all, as the ex-husband of Nancy Benoit. But I was watching a great wrestling documentary the other night called “Card Subject to Change” on Netflix. It’s a few years old now, but there was some cool Indy fed stuff on there. It also chronicled the sad story of Trent Acid, a promising worker who died of an overdose despite a lot of talent, nice runs in CZW and ROH, and a decent following.
But Sullivan was one of the featured subjects, still working the independent scene in 2010. The guy is pushing 60 by now probably, but he’s still a great talker and bringing him into the TNA fold even in only a creative capacity would be a great move. Sullivan takes a lot of flack for how he handled WCW after Russo and Ferrerra were canned over the Goldberg/Hart/Tank Abbott mess that saw the departure of Benoit, Malenko, Eddy, and Saturn and pretty much signaled the end of WCW’s ability to compete with the WWF during the height of the Attitude Era. But before that, Sullivan was always coming up with creative stuff, though not always a success admittedly. He, very much like Jake Roberts, used psychology to push peoples’ buttons, including angles like brainwashing and taking out bounties on opponents. Back in the day he had fans in Florida convinced he was the Devil himself. And he has issues with Hogan going back to 1995, so there’s history there. In fact, have him bring out a host of Hulk’s former friends to attack him. Get Brian Knobbs, get Brutus Beefcake, get Roddy Piper, get Zeus…I know this business is really supposed to be about creating new stars, but fans like the old guys, and again, as long as you involve the younger talent in the angle, it serves that purpose as well.
And speaking of new stars, now that it appears that we are looking at CM Punk vs. Ryback, what can we expect? Speculation has been made here on this site and elsewhere, and we’ve got a plethora of ideas. Ryback could win the belt. Not likely in my opinion, but if they do it needs to be a massive squash, and I don’t really like that idea. I am a sucker for title changes, but this is one I don’t want to see. I’d rather see Punk take a beating but figure out a way to keep the belt.
Which leads to the most likely scenario: The shmozz. It would take some creativity with the nature of the cell match, but I’m sure someone can think of something. Maybe Brock Lesnar interference, maybe Cena, who knows. The Rock? Either way, again, as long as it’s entertaining, I won’t complain.
Or maybe Punk wins outright, through nefarious means or otherwise? As long as Ryback can still look strong, it shouldn’t hurt him too badly. I mean, he can wrestle, right? Right?
That wasn’t too bad. Yeah, it’s just a 5-minute match, but Ryback got around pretty good and worked well as a power guy. He showed he can sell. He’s agile, and has at least in theory the capacity to put on a longer match. In fact at one point, he did a sort of strut-walk-into-a-splash thing that had me wondering how close he came to being the Funkasausus. And honestly, that would have been better than “Skip Sheffield.” I mean, what the crap, WWE? Skip Sheffield, Husky Harris, Michael McGillicuty, Kofi Kingston? I can’t believe they never signed Lash LaRoux and Lenny Lane. Where do they get their names, comic books?
Anyway, we will just have to wait and see how it all plays out. Thanks for reading.