[Opinion] A Fistful Of Reality - Wrestling With Momentum
On the heels of TNA’s biggest Pay-Per-View of the year, Bound For Glory, and fresh off WWE’s first new main-event wrestler ascension since C.M. Punk, we take a look at how both events are strong positives for both companies.
For TNA, and the possible new eyes that may have invested their money in their signature show on Sunday night, Bound For Glory couldn’t have gone better. Months of positive changes within the organization had turned a once abysmal wrestling organization into a reason to get excited for TV every week. With the parting of company of Vince Russo; a slowing down of the pace of the wrestling programs and television writing for Impact; and a push of new wrestlers, TNA fans had reason to get by the company. With the show going live weekly, Thursday nights on Spike, it was just another reason to tune in to watch what the WWE had been unable to muster since going to three hours: a show that meant something. That was, until the Aces & Eights hit town.
With examples of biker gangs that didn’t move ratings in wrestling’s past (D.O.A.), were a group of masked men invading the Impact Zone weekly really how to continue to advance momentum? Ratings began to take a step back; more monotonous skits involving the unknown thugs were shown; and a once smooth road began to look bumpy again. That was, until Sunday night.
At Bound For Glory, things clicked on all ends. Bobby Roode and James Storm, whose yearlong feud had cooled in recent weeks, brought a perfect closure to the story line of betrayal between two former members of Beer Money. Weapons were used meaningfully, leading to the proper use of blood in an era when the WWE stops matches to fix cuts on its superstars. Austin Aries, a total package when it comes to what a headliner needs, put on a wrestling clinic with challenger Jeff Hardy. In the end, Hardy walked away with the title, but Aries had won over the crowd and should see an extended program with Jeff going forward.
Despite the excellent in-ring action, the most notable moment may have been the reveal of Aces & Eights’ leader being Devon. Where do they go from here now? Bully Ray, after months of showing he is officially one of the elite heels in the industry, may end up having to turn face to feud with a group that is against who he works for. Several possibilities are on the table. Additionally, putting the X-Division belt on Rob Van Dam, and the TNA Tag Titles on Hernandez and Chavo Guerrero Jr., may have done nothing to advance the youth movement that they had been pushing this year, but they may bring more eyes to the product which may mean a bigger audience to witness their youthful challengers in the future.
For WWE, who hasn’t had much good to speak of since Raw 1000 in July, the elevation of Ryback into a feud with C.M. Punk has been one of the few bright moments. It’s been so bright that sunglasses are a must. Just a few years ago, Ryback was a throwaway musclehead named Skip Sheffield in the Nexus stable. WWE threw on an RVD-styled singlet — airbrushed and all — lined up jobbers and jobbers to the stars, and strapped the rocket on his back. Now, a few months later, Goldberg II is ready to enter the cage at Hell in a Cell with Punk. Punk, returning to his heelish roots, and pairing up with Paul Heyman as his “Voice of the voice of the voiceless,” may have finally found the momentum to push him past John Cena as the number one performer on the roster. With the possibility of Brock Lesnar’s involvement with the match, Ryback may end up protected and Punk may end up retaining his title.
It’s refreshing when a new face is given a chance in the WWE, even if that new face is really an old face repackaged in another person’s former gimmick. Hell in a Cell seems a lot more interesting now; Cena is not involved with his 1000th match against Punk; and the possible outcomes to the title match are more intriguing. Now, if WWE can just find a way to elevate another five to ten wrestlers, then their company would be in much better shape.