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Saturday, August 18, 2012
Shadows of the Empire
Among the festivities at Slammiversary X was the announcement of the first inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame – "The Icon" Sting! Humbled by the honor, the Stinger was granted extra airtime on IMPACT Wrestling a few days later to express his thoughts on this latest accolade in his illustrious career, until suddenly..... A trio of masked assailants ambushed the legend in a gang-style beat down during the closing minutes of the live broadcast. No doubt this attack stirred up a buzz, with the viewing audience left pondering the two most pertinent questions – who and why? However, this was only a small taste of more dastardly things to come.
The mystery further manifested itself through a new Twitter account, created by a group referring to themselves as the Aces & Eights. From cryptic messages to ominous warnings, certain events unfolded exactly the way they were foretold at their designated times. The group resurfaced in TNA in greater numbers and picked apart General Manager Hulk Hogan and Sting, followed by a series of beat downs on several unsuspecting wrestlers in the ensuing weeks. And through it all, their actions continued to raise questions about both their identities and their motives for these seemingly random attacks.
Bobby Roode came forth with a startling accusation – the man behind the Aces & Eights was apparently none other than "Cowboy" James Storm! At first this seemed like mind games played by Roode against his former tag team partner turned nemesis, but suspicions escalated for weeks as the Aces & Eights repeatedly avoided contact with Storm at every turn. As it turned out, it was simply a red herring and Storm became just another victim. So, what is going on here? Let's try to examine some potential clues and theories to this mystery.
When it comes to TNA, Jeff Jarrett will forever be known as the man who started it all. He had a dream. The dream became a reality. The reality became a phenomenon. But today he is no longer part of that phenomenon, having been fired by then General Manager Sting after losing a high-stakes steel cage match against Jeff Hardy in December 2011.
Since Jarrett's exodus, TNA has flourished tremendously in different business areas across the United States and other parts of the world. Missing out on these significant milestones, topped off by his Hall of Fame snub, gives Jarrett the biggest motive to launch a methodical strike on largely the company's top brass, some of whom share quite a tumultuous history with the TNA Founder. It's a master plan fueled by revenge and the desire to reclaim his legacy. And Jarrett (being the sharp businessman that he is) has managed to entice some fairly large individuals to do his bidding. TNA is his world and he won't always settle for being on the outside looking in.
Amidst the chaos and controversy, one man has distanced himself from the situation and maintained his focus on the big picture. Samoa Joe entered the 2012 Bound For Glory Series as an unlikely favorite to win after his abysmal showing in the previous year's tournament, yet he ripped through the competition like a bag of Twinkies (Steiner: he's fat). When he's motivated, Joe is a freaking nightmare to deal with on any given night. Who can ever forget the infamous kidnapping in 2010? A reprogrammed Joe returned from that incident as a destructive force within the heavyweight ranks.
Now, Joe has seemingly become that guy once again. He's on the path to winning the BFG Series and competing for the World Heavyweight Championship, which of course is often pinpointed as the ultimate source of power in the company. It's been a long time coming, and perhaps history might be repeating itself albeit in a slightly different manner. For what it's worth, Joe has also changed his ring attire and still walks out to the same rap theme. "Why'd you do it? They never thought he could, but deep down inside he always knew he would."
Isaiah Cash, Chris Masters, Jay Bradley, Wes Brisco and Mike Knox
Ever since they first arrived on the scene, the number of masked/hooded figures has varied from three to nearly eleven guys. Lately, that number seems to have leveled at five. Whether or not those extra bodies were mercenaries hired for a job or two is immaterial, but the five guys that have been primarily involved in the recent attacks are likely the core members of the group. These five men are presumably Isaiah Cash, Chris Masters, Jay Bradley, Wes Brisco and Mike Knox.
What is the connection? Cash, Masters, Bradley, Brisco and Knox have all been vastly underrated by their previous employer up north. Each man seeks the opportunity to make their mark in the wrestling business. With Jeff Jarrett credited for handing out such opportunities to many unsigned wrestlers, especially during the early years in TNA, it's possible that they drank the Kool-Aid to restore their new leader to power. Their actions exemplify the old saying that the ends justify the means.
Could there be a surprise member joining the group? If so, look no further than Magnus. Based on his looks, charisma and ever improving skills; the young Brit is considered by many to be a future main event star in the making. Unfortunately, that compliment has been about as far as he's made it in TNA. In stark contrast, Magnus achieved his greatest singles success as a member of the RDX group in Ring Ka King. Magnus' frustrations as of late could eventually be his biggest temptation to join his GHC Tag Team Championship partner, Samoa Joe, and the Aces & Eights should he be recruited by "The Boss".
Jeff Jarrett would have potentially assembled a formidable group that could cover all the bases:
- Heavyweight: Samoa Joe
- Television: Magnus
- Tag Team: Isaiah Cash, Chris Masters and Jay Bradley (Freebird type trio)
- X Division: Wes Brisco
- Knockouts: Mickie James (Magnus' real-life girlfriend who could also be recruited)
[Notes: Jeff Jarrett as leader/occasional wrestler, Karen Jarrett as valet and Mike Knox as enforcer/backup]
For now the Aces & Eights will continue to make their presence felt from the shadows, and in due course their intentions will finally be revealed to the world. Whether or not their plans come to fruition.....only time will tell.
Posted By JSO
Shadows of the Empire