There is a pattern in wrestling where once a wrestler becomes a bad guy they are no longer able to win a match on their own. It’s as if that capability just vanishes along with their virtuous character upon their entrance to the heel ranks. While it makes little sense, it is a natural progression/regression of a character once they become a heel. Cheating to win gives you a reason to boo them and the believability that the good guy could have won the match, but did not for reasons beyond their control. With the believability that the hero attains comes crowd sympathy and the audience’s longing for their hero’s vengeance. Champions have an alternative to cheating should they lack the capacity successfully defend their title. They get themselves disqualified or counted out. This way the champion keeps the title even if the hero gets the win. This builds up for a rematch down the line where it becomes do or die for both competitors. It all seems very reasonable and builds to a natural climax.
Every now and then comes a shocking defeat of a champion in some type of nontitle match. Be it a tag team match where the champion is pinned or a straight up one on one nontitle bout, the victor gains instant credibility as an uncrowned champion and is deserving of a rematch for the gold. TNA pulled off a brilliant move some weeks back when the Pope defeated champion AJ Styles in a nontitle match. That credibility was bestowed upon Pope and amplified when he won the 8 card stud tournament at Against All Odds last month. With some time to go before Lockdown where Pope would get his title shot, TNA had a number of weeks to build a title match with a legitimate contender chasing a credible champion.
Fast forward a few weeks to March 8th when Hulk Hogan and Abyss squared off against AJ and Ric Flair. With the rub of having legends as their tag team partners, Abyss and Styles also had the potential for a rub by having either Abyss defeat Flair, or Styles pinning Hogan. Can you imagine if Styles had pinned Hogan? There would have been no better way for TNA to say to fans tuning in than saying ?Look at our world champion; he just conquered the biggest star in the history of the sport.? With the faces slated to win the fight, Abyss could have gained a pinfall over Ric Flair. As many times as he has lost in his career, a pinfall over the Nature Boy still means a lot. If Abyss had pinned a legend like Flair, it would have built him up nicely for this Sunday’s Destination X title match with Styles. Yet TNA decided that having one of their current main event talents pinning one of two men who have not wrestled a full-time schedule in years and are way past their prime was not the way to go. Instead they had Abyss pin Styles. So Abyss has pinned the champion, who has now suffered two nontitle losses within a month.
Questionable booking? Yes. With Pope built up for a match with Styles for the title, Abyss now steals that thunder and Styles looks less like he had someone get lucky over him and more like an undeserving champion. Sure with Styles as a heel you want him to look undeserving compared to the baby faces, but you want to do that because Styles is bad guy, not because he’s a bad wrestler. With that loss Styles now had two losses to separate men. While he had looked like an undeserving champion, he now begins to lose credibility as a performer.
Last Monday on Impact Styles was booked in a nontitle match with Jeff Hardy. Hardy has been off a full schedule for quite some time and is in legal trouble. Still, it would fit well as a main event for Impact with the company trying to make a splash on Monday nights. Some wanted this fight to wait for pay per view, but the match could be cut short or had interference to make fans want more down the line on a pay per view show. Also, with Styles just days way from a title defense against Abyss, a win over Hardy, even if it was tainted, would be good for the champion. That went out the window on Monday when Jeff Hardy became the third man in less than two months to pin AJ Styles.
Why on earth would a company book its champion to lose on the show before a pay per view? Besides that, the guy who beat him isn?t even getting the title shot on Sunday. Jeff Hardy isn?t even booked in a match for Destination X. Jeff Hardy may go to prison and here is pinning the world champion on television a few days away from a pay per view title defense against someone else.. Even if you are not a ?belt mark? you have to be disappointed with TNA’s handling if its main championship. From a character standpoint, everyone is in the company to win the championship. It says that you are better than everyone else. Why should anyone turn on Impact and buy into Styles as a main event talent when he is being buried along with the title? Trying to give the man a rub by pairing him with Ric Flair has already hurt him enough because they try to make him look like the next Flair instead of the first Styles. He’s out there every week getting upstaged by a guy throwing his own blood at the crowd. It gets only worse when he loses on TV week after week when he is the champion of the company. Not only does Styles deserve a break, the powers within TNA owe it to themselves to put on quality shows and book a reasonable wrestling program, especially when it comes to the main event talent.
Last Week’s Answers
Cactus / Jack
CLUE: Maxx Payne’s old partner
Jack / Victory
CLUE: ECW pal of Steve Corino
Victory / Road
CLUE: Event where Kevin Nash won his second Legends title
Road (to) Wrestlemania
CLUE: We?re on it now?
Wrestlemania / Four
CLUE: where Macho won the gold tourney
Four / Horsemen
CLUE: Flair’s posse
Big Bubba Rogers
CLUE: Jim Cornette’s body guard
CLUE: Part of the second installment of Hollywood Blondes
CLUE: of Fantastics fame
And now onto this week’s trivia?
Brothers Don?t Shake Hands?Brothers Gotta Hug
This week’s trivia revolves around ?brothers? tag teams. Some of them really are brothers; some were only brothers in the ring. All answers this week are pairs of brothers. Enjoy!
Question 1. Can you name two tag teams that split up, with one man from each team going on to wear the WCW title, while the other floundered in the mid car, but still made more money than Ric Flair.?
Question 2. What team has had one of the most dramatic love/hate relationships in wrestling history, one half of which likes dead chicks?
Question 3. This tag team worked for the WWF for two years in the early 1990s. They fought for the tag team titles and had a pay per view title shot against the Natural Disasters, but never attained gold. By the end of their run they were used mostly to ?put over? other tag teams. Who is this team?
Question 4. What is the only team to hold ECW, WWE, WCW and TNA tag team gold?
Question 5. What tag team has shares a last name with two legends and are arguably the greatest tag team today who hasn?t signed with WWE?
Answers will be posted next week. Thanks for reading!