Well, one of the last pieces of the puzzle finally fell into place for TNA. Thursday, October 4th is the debut of the new two-hour TNA Impact. What exactly does this mean for the wrestling community? More competition for the WWE? Obviously. A true alternative? Maybe? Depends on how this new hour is used.
In my opinion, the wrestling world needs some new stars badly. Not that the current crop are not cutting the mustard but wrestling on the whole seems to be getting kicked around by the MMA community. And why is that? Because the MMA shows have done a fantastic job of developing guys nobody had a clue about into megastars. Guys like Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell are commonplace in the wrestling world but you donít get to see the true personalities come out because every thing wrestling is so over the top.
Am I saying thereís no room for over-the-top characters? No absolutely not, thereís always a place -- but guys with innate charisma and ability need to let it be used.
Why is a guy like Samoa Joe such a hot commodity? Because his character isnít a stretch, itís pretty much who he is. A.J. Styles? John Cena? Steve Austin? All guys who didnít have to stretch to be great characters.
And what about rivalries? Is there anyone else out there who remembers when the Top 10s meant something? In the UFC and MMA companies, it means something to earn a number one contender spot. That seems to be a lost art or idea in wrestling. Now you get a title shot only if you attack the champ and or beat up his family. Shouldnít you have to pass some other challenges before hand? Isnít that the way itís supposed to be?
Well I, for one, hope thatís the way it becomes again. With a more meaningful run up to title shots, characters would be more inclined to mean something to the people watching at home. Everyone loves a Rey Mysterio fighting his way through the monsters to finally get his shot at the title. There should be more of that. Every title would become that much more valuable -- and that would be something given that one of the big debates of the wrestling community is "too may titles." Well meaningful competitors would help to alleviate that problem and make new stars all at once. In the old days of the territories guys would fight tooth and nail to be the top guy in the territory to get a chance to show his stuff against champions like Nick Bockwinkel, Ric Flair and Harley Race when they came through town. World Champions were just that. Sure there were multiple ones in different companies but the aura and respect were the same.
I had a show ask me recently what I thought of John Cena being champ for over a year and if it helped or hurt the title. This is an excellent question in that there is no right or wrong answer, only differing opinions. In my opinion it helps a lot because it makes a strong star out of Cena and the fact that he has beaten all comers a big thing in a day when title sometimes change within days. Now when the guy comes along who finally unseats the champ he (whomever he may be) will be looked upon as a major star in his own right for beating Cena. I hope this trend continues. But who knows.
With Kurt Angle as a dominant champion in TNA it becomes the same scenario, whomever unseats Angle is immediately made a huge star. A lot of the next few weeks of TV for TNA will be spent building the Bound For Glory pay per view on October 14th, during which time some faces that have until now not received a lot of TV time. Some new stars should be on the rise, and this is a great thing for TNA. The top ones to watch in the next few weeks in my opinion are Frankie Kazarian or Kaz and Judas Mesias (although he recently suffered a pretty serious injury so who knows). Both of these guys to me are canít miss.
Speaking of new stars, for those of you Canadians lucky enough to get The Fight Network, starting on September 25th, the new Wrestling Reality TV show shows a behind-the-scenes look at a company from the Maritimes and the tour they ran this spring. Some great Canadian talent will get to showcase a bit on the show and personally knowing some of these guys quite well, I can say you will enjoy every minute of the show. Guys like "Wildman" Gary Williams or Peter "Kingman" Smith, Trash Canyon or "Hangman" Mike Hughes are ALL very entertaining and worth a watch. So if you have The Fight Network make sure you check it out.
* * *
As always questions, concerns, queries or quandaries or booking questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Support your local indies and check out the two new shows coming up in the next few weeks. Hope you all had a good summer and have a great fall. Good times on the wrestling front.
In the meantime and in between time thatís it, another edition of Devine Intervention.
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Hotshot" Johnny Devine's column will run whenever he delivers on SLAM! Wrestling. Be sure to visit every day to see if he's come through!
For more on Devine's career, see his biography in our Canadian Hall of Fame.