Monday, 16 December 2013

TNA Analysed 31 - Bye bye AJ, don't make me cry


Although nothing has yet to be confirmed the wrestling rumour mill is pretty confident that the face of TNA AJ Styles will be finishing up with his long time employer next year, unless some kind of desperate last minute deal is made by TNA officials.

This isn't the first time we have heard of AJ leaving the company in fact his departure has been rumoured many times since 2010 when the initial money troubles for TNA started to appear.  2010 is also the year we started to see the marginalisation of the "TNA originals" which AJ was arguably the front man of ever since the companies debut.

The current rumours suggest that AJ has been asking for more money than TNA can offer and thus the deadlock.  Couple this with the fact that employee's will taking another round of pay cuts and his chances of signing are even smaller.  AJ has since started to take indie bookings and will likely do a decent amount from these alone considering he is asking for a minimum of $3000 per appearance.

What TNA plan to do about this is unknown if they haven't already exhausted all other options.  They have tentatively written him off the show with his unification match against Magnus set to broadcast soon.  Another indicator of his departure.  It's funny how the man who pretty much typified what TNA had to offer is leaving after giving more than a decade of his career to.  You would think TNA would try to keep a man of his talent and popularity around no matter the cost, hell WWF did it with Hogan because he was a draw back in the 80's, so why they are letting AJ walk is beyond me.

Of course there is the other mystery of Jeff Hardy who has also recently made a pre-taped episode departure from the show.  Whether this is to explain his absence from the UK tour set for next year or if he has legitimately left is unknown.  Considering the fact that a major Wrestlemania is just around the corner it would'nt be surprising to see Hardy turn up on WWE for a brief stint on 'Mania similar to RVD's recent run on Smackdown.  As much as I dislike Hardy he is still popular with WWE fans as much as TNA fans so his return would draw.

But back to the AJ situation.  His probable leaving does suggest once again that TNA are suffering financially if they can't hold onto their top talent.  Another question is who takes this coveted spot as the face of the company?  Magnus?  Although they are pushing him as champion, North American fans would never consider an English wrestler as the face of an American company so I imagine his title run will be short.  Sting and Angle are in the twilight of their careers now with Sting running a limited schedule and Angle being unreliable and injured regularly.

Bully Ray is a likely candidate since he was over as the leader of the biker ninja's, the other likely front runner is Bobby Roode if he turned face.  The main issue TNA are facing though is a limited talent roster.  A lack of new wrestlers is apparent with the latest being EC3 and that's it really.  Take away everyone over or close to 40 years old and it looks pretty empty there.

Like I have said numerous times here, TNA need new wrestlers to revitalise their roster and make things interesting again.  They need more wrestlers in their 20's who are hungry for the spotlight and want to wrestle the best matches they can on television, forget the gimmicks and the stipulations, just give them good matches.  The other issue they suffer with the current roster is booking.

Many of the more capable wrestlers are booked as losers or simply not booked at all.

  • Zema Ion - Runs a moronic DJ gimmick for a gimmicky tag team that struggles to be relevant.
  • Robbie E & Jessie Godderz - Both men run a pointless Jersey Shore gimmick even though the show is finished and it's popularity has fallen.  Nobody wants to see Jersey shore wrestlers and they aren't even close to being over.
  • Eric Young - booked as a mental who is naive and stupid, despite being over he is more over as comic relief rather than being a real contender for a belt.
  • Chris Sabin - Despite being a former champion, he was a transitional champ and never got a chance to shine as a world title holder.  Ever since he has been relegated to the douchey boyfriend role to forever feud over the X-Division title.
  • Austin Aries - A legit threat in the fans eyes yet is never given the opportunity to challenge for the belt.  Ever since his Christy Hemme incident he seems less interested in TNA and 
  • Chavo - One of TNA's ill advised signings.  He has never once been over with the fans and is regularly booed by crowds for his constant use of Eddie as a means to get over.  Since arriving in TNA he has done little and is too old to carry the company anyway.
  • Gunner - Although currently being used to feud with James Storm he just lacks the personality of a top face and will likely be used as midcard fodder until his eventual departure.  His gimmick being "big muscled man of dubious Scandinavian ancestry"  Yeah it's never going to work really.
  • Hernandez - Like Chavo he isn't going anywhere and has always been a tag performer.  He has also shown his readiness to jump back to Mexico when it suits him so he isn't exactly trustworthy.  His gimmick isn't mold breaking either as he is cast as a Mexican gang banger, how original.
  • Kenny King - He could have actually gone somewhere but was for unknown reasons dropped from the main card and scarcely makes any appearances on Impact.  His arrogant heel gimmick wasn't really anything special but at least he was capable of putting on a good match.

The company needs to find investment and fast to ensure a continued stream of new wrestlers and the ability to keep them signed.  Continuing the way they are will only result in a depleted and largely old roster of has been talent from WWE and poorly booked talent who never had a chance to shine.

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