Disclaimer: This week I will be extrapolating on something that Talon and some of the commenters said in his “It’s a New Day” Column. There will even be some Crossfire fantasy booking in this week’s blog. I will talk about the potential Bound For Glory Card as well.I am Sorry Talon
I would like to apologize to Talon for inadvertently hijacking his “It’s a new Day” column last Sunday. It turned into a Russo debate that I started as opposed to talking about the merits of what TNA is now and what Talon said in his column was mostly disregarded after I made my post. All I wanted was to say that Russo deserves credit for increasing ratings to TNA when the new regime showed us it’s not as easy as it looks and it morphed into a ferocious Pro Russo/Con Russo debate.
You Can Call It Long-Term Storytelling But I Call It a Stall Job
TNA is being praised for its long-term storytelling ability these days and not to be a negative Nancy (if you are reading this and your name is Nancy, I apologize) but I don’t get why. Lagana and Pritchard are ATTEMPTING to tell long term stories but they are failing at it. They are falling into the trap I talked about in the 3rd installment of the “Insanity of the IWC” last October and that is their timetables for telling these stories are off. They don’t seem to have had these stories mapped out to well as storylines are peaking too early and/or storylines have become mundane because they keep trying to delay the inevitable.
The Aces and Eights Storyline reached its fevered pitch in late-August/early September and for the past few weeks that story is stuck on auto-pilot since there has been no advancement on that story in weeks. TNA has devoted 4 months to this storyline since just after Slammivarsary and it’s a month too long. This story would’ve been racing to the finish line (and that is a good thing) if TNA made the finish line No Surrender but they have since crawled to the Bound For Glory finish line by needlessly delaying it. Joey Ryan first showed up in TNA in May and is it really necessary to have Joey Ryan’s story wait 5 months to pay it off at BFG in a match that is an afterthought at this point in a match against Al freaking Snow (which would be Al’s first match in TNA I think). I shudder to think how much more this regime had planned with the Claire Lynch stuff if the actress didn’t quit and forced a quick wrap up to the story (which was so stupid, it was great. If I lose to you Daniels, I raise the kid. If I win, I get a paternity test)
The most egregious delay in storytelling is the James Storm/ Bobby Roode story. TNA had the right story planned if they ended it at Slammivarsary X and had Storm win the belt there. This would not stop TNA from getting us to Roode vs. Storm at BFG for the World Title which I will explain how we get there momentarily (Time for Crossfire booking time to coincide with TNA booking). Here is what TNA booked: Roode cheats Storm out of the title in November. Storm spends 6 months working to get his title match and his date with destiny/revenge with Roode at Lockdown in his hometown all while Roode keeps finding a way to keep his beloved TNA World Title. Roode has nowhere to run at Lockdown but wins squarely because of LUCK (that finish at Lockdown 2012 was beautiful). Storm loses his smile and disappears for awhile. This is where TNA lost its way.
Storm should’ve come back after Sacrifice and get one final shot at Roode at Slammivarsary X. Two TNA Originals (one who started with the company the day the company started), a blood feud, one final match at TNA’s anniversary show (think the same match conditions Aries and Roode had at Hardcore Justice). Just imagine how all-time great Slammivarsary X would’ve been if it was headlined by Roode vs. Storm as opposed to Roode vs. Sting. James Storm wins the title and now Roode is lost and completely out of the title picture or so it would seem. However the BFG Series is starting that Thursday night after Slammivarsary and due to a technicality in the rules (the previous BFG Series winner must be included in the current BFG Series tournament if the previous BFG Series winner is NOT TNA World Champion) Roode gets in the Series. Now the roles are reversed from when this feud started and Roode has to work his way to getting his hands on Storm (who can take shots at Bobby Roode every now and then) and the TNA World Title. The feud gets revitalized as the roles are reversed. Roode gets the ultimate rub by winning the first two BFG Series tournaments and he gets Storm again at BFG in a match that is dubbed “The End”. James Storm vs. Robert Roode main events BFG, a culmination of their year-long feud in a match where either man could get the win since Roode has climbed back to get to this point and Storm has enjoyed a 4 month title reign so he has had a worthy title reign already.
Instead of doing something like that which would’ve been long-term storytelling since the two would’ve been intertwined for a year basically, it seemed that TNA originally had Storm overcoming Roode at BFG for the belt but unforeseen things happen and Storm won’t get that World title moment anytime in 2012. They delayed it by 4 months seemingly for no other reason than ………….. I don’t know why they didn’t do it Slammivarsary, I really don’t. Oh and credit Dave Meltzer as he guessed this one right way back when in April when he said this will end at Bound For Glory. When you push things off, other variables enter the picture and Austin Aries got WHITE-HOT so he got the belt off of Roode. James Storm got screwed over his big-time moment because TNA creative just wanted to put it off longer just to say they did. I hope Aries gets his big-time moment at Bound For Glory to make this all worth it somewhat.
Long-term storytelling is great if you can plan the end to it correctly and plan the end at the right time (something Russo didn’t really do either) but this Lagana and Pritchard haven’t done it yet.
You Can Think Long Term But Don’t Forget About The Present
This is something Mic Skills brought up in Talon’s column and it is something that coincides with what I talked about in the above portion of the blog. One of the problems with Impact right now in Crossfire’s eyes (and in Mic Skills eyes it would seem) is that not enough is happening on an episode of Impact that entices viewers to watch the following week’s show. Things need to happen on a show to keep the viewers happy and Impact is lacking that a lot these days which is terrible when you consider that we are 14 days away from TNA's biggest ppv of the year. I am not saying the shows are bad because from a wrestling standpoint, they are usually good episodes of Impact. However from an episodic TV viewpoint (and that is relevant), you need more than just straight-up wrestling to gain an audience. The last show with a great hook was the episode that followed the one where Aries got his arm broken as the show came to an end. That episode was almost a month ago and I am not even sure what the last great cliffhanger ending to an Impact episode before Aries arm getting broken was. TNA doesn’t have a can’t miss an episode of Impact vibe to it even though the show is LIVE now. (I really wish we could've gotten Russo booked Impact when Impact is Live)
It doesn’t help when so many of TNA’s storylines keep getting extended week after week after week all because TNA wants it to end at a specific time. One top Aces and Eights guy should’ve been unmasked on an episode of Impact by now in order to show the viewers things will happen on Impact and having one guy get unmasked wouldnt kill the storyline. The last “Holy shit” moment on Impact was probably Aries getting his arm broken. TNA needs more than just matches to entice viewers to watch their shows. People like me will watch Impact regardless of what else is on (only the NY Jets on Thursday Night Football or the NY Knicks/NY Rangers playing a Game 7 on a Thursday night will keep me from watching Impact) but it will not get people like my sister who is a casual wrestling fan to watch Impact if there isn’t anything really “Must-See” happenings on the show. My sister started watching Impact with me last Thursday Night but walked out around 45 minutes into the show because Impact bored her.
The Bound For Glory PPV CardIn Crossfire’s opinion, the forecasted Bound For Glory card is stellar. Hardy vs. Aries, Roode vs. Storm, Joe vs. Magnus, the 3-way tag title match (hopefully in a gimmick ladder match), Tara vs. Tessmacher, Aces and Eights representatives vs. Sting and probably Bully Ray, Al Snow vs. Joey Ryan (it didn’t need 5 months of build but it won’t be terrible) and an X-Division match presumably King vs. Ion vs. Dutt is a very good card. This to me is a worthy “Wrestlemania” type of card. No matter how lackluster the buildup has been, nothing can take away from the greatness I expect Bound For Glory to be. See this is what I was talking about in Talon’s column Sunday as well, the male portion of the TNA roster is SO STRONG right now that you can have lackluster buildups on TV and still deliver top-notch ppvs. If the TV product can get to the level the ppvs have been at and will continue to be at, then TNA will reach WWF 2000’s level of greatness.