Monday, 2 September 2013

TNA Analysed 21 - Aces and Eights

Someone must have been a big fan of Son's of Anarchy because biker gangs are in when it comes to wrestling, well at least as far as TNA are concerned.  Aces and Eights have been the main heel group of the company now for some time, completely overshadowing any other heels like Bobby Roode, Kazarian, Christopher Daniels, Robbie E, Jessie Godderz and until recently Ausin Aries.

The thing is I actually sort of liked the Aces and Eights way back when.  The group was well introduced, they had all the answers to any problem thrown their way and the faces had real trouble keeping them at bay.  The masks were a bit gimmicky and the name and theme of the group doesn't exactly bring to mind the kind of fan following the NWO had but they at least got shit done.  But these days the group has gone from Machiavellian schemers to three ring circus in a relatively short space of time.

The group was way better and more entertaining when they had what seemed like an army of willing recruits stepping up to thwart Sting and Hogan's plans.  Backstage staff, camera operators you name it, all of them wanted in on the Aces and Eights.  This made the group seem huge and imposing and the massive brawls TNA staged at the end of a few impact tapings certainly gave the show a "us or them" feel.  I would have taken it a step further by splitting the entire company between the two groups and have a massive war for supremacy, at least that way everyone would have been involved and gotten some screen time.  It would have been a great place to have heels on the side of TNA and faces joining the Aces and Eights for personal reasons rather than ideological ones.

It was sort of fun watching each week to see what the next trick was going to be or how they would further weaken the management of TNA.  The mysterious boss who I originally thought was Eric Bischoff, the identity of the members, abducting Joseph Park and generally kicking the crap out of both heels and faces alike really gave the group an edge as nobody was safe from their attacks.  It made them stand out as a group who didn't subscribe to the stale, beard stroking villain or square jawed face approach, but just a anarchic group who had designs on the heavyweight title.

Again this was another missed opportunity to really open up the story and have both heels and faces teaming up to face this seemingly unstoppable biker horde from taking over.  Forcing former enemies to team up would have made for some good viewing as you would always be trying to call a backstab whenever they faced the aces.

Bully Ray I feel was a bad choice for leader of the group also.  He isn't too bad on the mic but he is better as the muscle of a group, always ready to put people in the hospital.  As the voice of a group he isn't terribly interesting and ends up being more boring than interesting.  His in ring style also walks the line between comedy and intense heel.  One minute he looks like he is going to kill you, the other he sells shots from Despicable me plush toys like death.  It's hard to take him seriously sometimes and he doesn't exactly come across as the great schemer that the story puts him across as.  In the past he has been characterised as a brute who prefers violence over discussion or at least thinking before acting. 

But as always with TNA writing they reveal the leader, out the rest of the group and then they become like any other faction in a wrestling company, especially a heel one.  The previously unbreakable bond between these men suddenly disintegrates within weeks and the group becomes totally inept at achieving even simple tasks, despite being able to hoodwink an entire company, recruit large numbers of followers and generally come out on top just a few months prior.  This is a major weakness of wrestling writing these days.  Companies are terrified of giving the bad guy groups any real power or chance of winning in case children become traumatised by it. 

TNA regularly promote their heels to the top of the company only to have them become totally inept in their role.  Immortal dominated until they achieve their goals and suddenly become incapable of winning matches even though they controlled the company.  Bobby Roode was near unstoppable on his way to winning the title, but soon after becomes a pussy who backs down from fights every time a match is offered.  Aces and Eights fool everyone in the company and now fight over minor shit or at this point look like they are going to fracture due to Bully Ray ignoring his own rules.

I know the heel groups eventually have to lose and the faces beat the odds but why does that have to happen so soon?  Why can't the heels fight a tough fight and just lose without breaking apart internally?  Doesn't that say that the only reason the faces won was because the heels were too busy backstabbing each other or planning to leave anyway.  The current financial trouble that TNA finds itself in hasn't exactly helped the group since D.O.C and Devon have both been dropped as money saving measures, diluting the group even further, shit I don't count Wes and Garret as legit members anyway because they are so fucking terrible at everything they do in that company.

The other major issue with Aces and Eights is the fact that after all of the masks, sneak attacks, abductions and double crosses the entire story boils down to Bully feuding with Hulk.  It was all about getting Hogan more time in the spotlight as a focal point of the story.  Not a young wrestler like Joe or Magnus but Hulk Hogan.  The story now is just about Bully taunting Hogan week in week out while Hogan attempts to defeat Bully.  I wasn't surprised when this turned out to be the case as it has now become the default setting for all TNA storylines.  Heel group turns up, Hogan challenges them, Hogan hogs spotlight, other faces do the actual wrestling, heel group lose, Hogan moves on to the next group or individual.

In closing the Aces and Eights as my brother said recently are a biker gang who gave up their bikes, because they are going literally nowhere.


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