Last Monday was a huge night for wrestling fans. The return of Bret Hart to WWE and the debut of Hulk Hogan in TNA made for great viewing. It was a monumental night for wrestling as two of the biggest names in the history of the business made their return to Monday night TV. Possibilities were limitless and speculation ran wild. And I missed it. Instead of being able to be a part of these great shows I was in bar in Cleveland playing shuffleboard on company dime with some coworkers and a client. Luckily, my wife recorded them and I was able to catch up. What I realized after watching these two shows was how much wrestling has changed?and how much it has not.
The Bret Hart-Shawn Michaels showdown was heartbreaking. What their words against each other really meant is up for debate as is if the hatchet is truly buried. However, seeing these two men in the ring standing face to face after twelve years, each with their grey hair and life’s battle scars, it was one of those great moments in wrestling where you truly didn?t want them to fight, but to shake hands and embrace. When they did, the weight was not only lifted off the back of these two legends, but also off the backs of wrestling fans all over. Finally, it’s over.
Or is it? Bringing Bret Hart back will make for interesting TV as his feud with McMahon continues over the next few months. Part of me worries that by having Hart say he doesn?t want his legacy to be Montreal that it will only become Montreal, especially if his entire time in WWE is going to be an angle over it. Still, Hart and McMahon will make for some great TV.
Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes threatening to kick Randy Orton out of Legacy was, well, priceless. Maryse and The Miz switching roles in their chasing of one another is golden. If this doesn?t lead to a Maryse baby face turn, I hope these two make a run as wrestling’s premier on-screen couple. Speaking of Miz, MVP getting back into the U.S title chase is a welcome change. Evan Bourne’s challenge to Sheamus gave him a chance to showcase himself against the world champion while showcasing Sheamus as a dominant champion.
Oh, TNA. How I so want to see you succeed but don?t know if it will happen. Monday’s Impact! had several great moments. It also showcased the debut/return of several big names. Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, and Jeff Hardy all appeared on Monday’s show. By having the card loaded with so many stars, TNA watered down the importance of these individuals appearing on their show. Having Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair debut on one show actually made Hardy, who was the top champions in the business a few months ago, seem like an opening act. While Flair was not involved in everything going on with Hogan and Bischoff and he helped build up the TNA title, he too felt like an afterthought on a show crowded with stars. On top of all of this, none of TNA’s current stars really had the chance to really showcase themselves except for Styles and Angle. Yet after their match, the camera went back to Hogan. For a guy who talks about pushing young stars, rebuilding the company, and not being a wrestler anymore, Hogan sure does seem to be the focal point of the show.
Hulk Hogan’s role in TNA is on a fence. What is so compelling is his insistence on building new stars but feuding with guys like Hall, Nash, and Jeff Jarrett. Hogan started off the evening as a baby face, but had us doubting him when he jabbed at Jeff Jarrett. Is this Hogan playing games and getting the fans to turn on Jarrett? Maybe, but my hope is that this will turn Hogan into a conflicted character trying to decide between passing the torch or siding with his old band. Right now it is in a perfect place with Hogan on a fence where his true motivations are under question. Hogan just may become the most interesting and deep character on the roster if TNA is actually building this on purpose.
The problem with Monday night, WWE included, is that the focus, the hype, the whole reason for watching was to see two stars, one retired for nearly ten years, and one past is prime in the early nineties, make their appearance on their perspective shows. Yes it was nice to see Bret Hart come full circle and yes it was nice to see Hogan in a change of scenery, but what is happening? Where is professional wrestling headed and what does it say when the only way for ratings to rev up is to put two older legends on TV instead of featuring their current rosters?
Who knows? Maybe I?m being too negative about all of this. It really is great to see Bret Hart back and it will be interesting to see where the whole Hogan-TNA thing goes. It’s just really frustrating to see wrestling in the shape it is where new stars are not being made. The worst part is that wrestling is a lot better now than it was back in the late 90s. Crash TV is done and more emphasis on in-ring ability is a welcome change from the days of catchphrases and three minute matches. Maybe that’s just the way the business is. Maybe it won?t get any better for some time. Perhaps the days of mega-stars are over. Then again, I look at John Cena and see how he has made it. Something, someone, somewhere there is hope for the future of wrestling. Who that hope is and when they will come is still unknown.
Thanks for reading.