October 23rd 2008 was supposed to be one of the biggest dates in TNA history. It was the first live TNA Impact, first time ever in HD, and the debut of the TNA Legends Championship; but the event that really made fans talk about TNA that day was Kurt Angle, Sting, Booker T and Kevin Nash all joining forces to form the Main Event Mafia. It’s really hard to believe that it was approximately just a year ago that wrestling fans all over were filled with optimism over this group thinking that this NWO type faction was just what TNA needed to get to the next level. Now with Booker T possibly done with TNA after this month and the possible departure of Kurt Angle it would seem this group is on its last legs. What is the lasting impact of this group on TNA and the performers who took part in it? You?re reading “Wrestling Rumblings.”
Sting- When this storyline started what really gave it teeth was that Sting who for the most part was a babyface his whole career was going to finally make a serious heel turn. Many fans would liken this to Hulk Hogan turning heel when the NWO was formed, however Sting never really turned heel in this storyline. He never participated in any gang attacks unless assaulted first and never resorted to rule breaking tactics to get heat on his character. Sting was the anti Hollywood Hogan, heck he was the world champion and wasn?t even the leader of the faction although initially that was believed to be the plan. Sting never went out of his way to embrace being a heel and in many ways that’s what hurt this group to begin with. A truly menacing and heel Sting could have given TNA and wrestling something it hasn?t really seen before and could have really helped carry this storyline. Instead Sting in my opinion did what was best for Sting and stood pandering to the fans and telegraphed what we already saw coming; his getting kicked out of the mafia and look at where that has left him now? While he has seemingly buried himself in the main event scene since leaving the group is there any other character in TNA who might seem more irrelevant at this point than Sting? It is to the point where fans are clamoring for his retirement. One surely must wonder how things may have been different if Sting truly embraced the dark side of the Main Event Mafia.
Kurt Angle- The man who some fans whether they like or respect him would say is the MVP of TNA. This was a chance to see Kurt take a break from the main event and maybe help give rubs to other guys on the roster. It was also a chance to build slowly to maybe a better Kurt Angle vs Sting program than we have seen in the past with Kurt possibly this time being the babyface. Instead the whole time that Sting was in the group TNA still found a way to focus the attention back on Kurt Angle with a meaningless feud with Jeff Jarrett and then Kurt forcing himself back into the main event scene eventually once again becoming TNA World Ch ampion. Kurt possibly had the chance to earn himself some credit by working with some of the younger guys but instead worked a horrible program with Mick Foley and lost to AJ Styles in a five way match and has yet to truly put him over as the rightful champion. Now with his contract nearing an end there are many who wonder if he will even be in TNA for long and if and when he does go that just may very well be the death knoll of this group.
Booker T- What happened to Booker? Just before this group started he had engaged in an interesting feud with Samoa Joe and seemingly got himself over as a character for the first time since he has been in TNA. He helped debut the Legends title which in hindsight felt like an excuse at the time to give Booker a singles title since TNA had no intentions on putting him back into the world title picture. Through really no fault of his own he has languished since losing that title as his wife has at times been presented better on TV than he has, as his tag team title reign with Scott Steiner has been a joke and instead of helping the company all it has done is hinder the growth of other younger homegrown tag teams such as The Motor City Machine Guns and Beer Money. Now after the events of this week it appears likely that he may be headed back to WWE in worse shape than when he left the company.
Kevin Nash- The common link between the NWO and Main Event Mafia has managed to somehow go over on everyone he has faced since the group started. Sure he did do a job for Samoa Joe but not before he beat him in one of the worst TNA PPV matches ever. You would think that this match would?ve cost him ground but instead ?Big Sexy? went on a roadkill tour beating everyone in sight from AJ Styles for the TNA Legends Championship (which if you ask me really hurt any momentum he may have had for later on becoming a meaningful world champion) to Mick Foley to Abyss. As much as fans dislike him he was in the perfect position to possibly set up someone to be a bigger star than they were before and he didn?t, whether that was because of TNA creative or his own preference is only known to them but one thing is for certain it certainly hasn?t helped him further his reputation in the wrestling business. Of course we all know that Nash is very much like his wrestling character and couldn?t care less as long as he is getting paid and anyone who has seen his last few matches can tell?this guy doesn?t care.
Scott Steiner- If you could have asked me a nyone to put in the initial Main Event Mafia this would have been my pick. Why? Well being a former world champion and holding multiple other titles he obviously had the credentials but even more important to me at the time was that I felt this group was going to need someone to do jobs for other people and well if you followed Scott Steiners history in TNA at that point he was a guy who mostly put people over. He had won exactly 2 one on one encounters in TNA up until that point despite being in the company for 2 years both against Petey Williams but because of his appearance, reputation and strong promo ability still had enough credibility left to be a guy in a position to elevate others in the company. Of course the company had to change that by booking him in his first week in the group to beat Samoa Joe who at the time was TNA’s biggest babyface. Still I suppose I should lighten up on Steiner after all out of everyone associated with the group he has probably done more jobs than anyone putting over Joe, Abyss, and others but the way his character was handled made those wins mean less than they did before he was with the group. Now he is stuck in this tag team with Booker T which looks to be ending soon and after that who knows? Rumors have been circulating for months now that he has not been happy in the Jeff Jarrettless TNA so maybe he could be the next to leave.
Samoa Joe- Joe was the big babyface when this storyline started and instead of booking him smartly and keeping him busy to potentially regain the title at Bound for Glory with renewed steam as a babyface TNA had him do jobs for almost everyone in the Main Event Mafia and then took him out of action for a few months. This would have been fine except TNA’s grand idea for a comeback was putting a horrible looking tattoo on Joe’s face and changing his look to make him an even more bootleg version of Taz circa 1996 than he had been previously. For obvious reasons that didn?t get over much and TNA in there glorious thinking decided that if you can beat them than maybe you shouldn?t and you should just join them and put Joe into the Mafia. If that wasn?t bad enough they gave him Tazz as a manager who came with the promise of bringing Joe to another level. Well that other level was Kurt Angles crony and an X Division Title that he had already held on 3 other occasions. Now by all indications he will be Bobby Lashleys latest victim and continue to decrease the stock that had so much value at one point.
Traci Brooks- You really have to feel bad for poor Traci as she was obviously hoping for more than what she has got as part of this group. Before all of this she was doing a hokey stint as Knockout Law which basically meant she was a referee, so she took and became ambitious and set her own deal up with Playboy to give herself some exposure and get her name out there. TNA saw it at the time and figured that if they gave Traci the big push that maybe it would help them get more mainstream exposure when the issue of Playboy featuring Traci came out. Of course that was not to be as Playboy changed their minds and instead put Traci’s shoot on their website which is really a nice way of saying ?We don?t think anyone will buy this magazine? and TNA responded by pushing her even less than before she was with the Mafia. I really feel bad for Traci at 34 years old she may not get another strong opportunity in any women’s division and this may have been her last shot.
AJ Styles- As far as non Main Event Mafia members go was there anyone who was more affected by this group than AJ Styles? When this group first premiered everyone surmised that AJ would be the guy to rise up and take them down and as usual when it comes to TNA what is logical and smart to everyone else is not what TNA does. Instead AJ became the very first guy to fall as he was immediately jobbed out to Sting (who oddly enough is his opponent for Bound for Glory instead of building=2 0AJ and Sting up for over a year they gave it to us exactly one year ago). TNA would keep AJ in the mix by trying to establish the poorly thought of Front Line with himself and Joe at the helm and through him in another main event match shot for the title with this match being a tag team match where if AJ’s team won he would win the title. So instead of giving him this ultra hot babyface push TNA made AJ seem weak and inferior to the Mafia where in order to win the title he was going to need everyone’s help to do so. TNA would attempt to correct that by having AJ be the first guy to really crack the Main Event Mafia armor by defeating Booker T for the TNA Legends Championship and market AJ as the first TNA Grand Slam Champion ever because you see marketing AJ as the first TNA triple crown ever lost meaning when Kurt Angle won every title in one match but I?m getting off topic. Of course all good things couldn?t last forever and AJ would almost immediately lose the title to Kevin Nash. Instead of having AJ build up momentum as the savior of the company and win matches TNA chose to give him a three month reign as champion in which the only challenger he had prior to losing the title was the man he beat for the title Booker T. What AJ did after this only made sense in a TNA world. AJ would go onto nothing as he was off the following PPV killing any momentum he may have had in his 3 month reign as Legends champion and then all of a sudden follow it up with a empty win in a five way match for the TNA World Title which he won with the help of the wrestler who beat him just almost a year ago Sting who apparently didn?t even care to win the title himself. This is your big hero for the Main Event Mafia angle? A guy who can?t beat 50 year old Kevin Nash and won a title due to the part that another 50 year old wrestler didn?t care to hold it again…great!
Beer Money Inc.- When the Main Event Mafia angle started these two men were without argument the hottest tag team in wrestling. There chemistry together was instant and fans were cheering them even though they were heels. In many ways they were the best heels in the company at the time. Of course there were other factors involved in the devolution of Beer Money and when I say other factors I am of course talking about Team 3D. You see just as it did with LAX long ago Team 3D couldn?t stand the fact that fans were taking to the other team in a feud that should have had fans cheering for them. So of course Team 3D had to beat them. That obviously slowed things down quite a bit and took the steam out of Beer Money, now that Team 3D solidified themselves in their own minds as the best tag team in TNA they put over the now babyface Beer Money tag team albeit with ou tside interference which not only helped Team 3D save face but now because Beer Money is a face kept the Main Event Mafia as the top heels in the company. Still fans initially were happy because at least Beer Money Inc. would have the titles and go on to a lengthy dominant title reign right? Well you would be wrong in that as Booker T. and Scott Steiner two singles wrestlers who were now a tag team because they had to get a push somewhere would go on to beat Beer Money the following month for the titles and leave Beer Money to play little buddy to Team 3D. Sure Beer Money may very well get the titles back at Bound for Glory but will it ever be the same for them again?
Team 3D- You got to hand it to these guys as they find a way to turn every situation into a positive for themselves and may be the only people outside of the Main Event Mafia to truly benefit all the way throughout the past year in TNA. Somehow they took a break from wrestling other tag teams to actually try main eventing on the babyface side. First they tried to spearhead the horribly thought concept otherwise known as the TNA Front Line and then they even got themselves a shot at the TNA world title in a fourway match. Somehow they transformed that into a program with Beer Money Inc. in which they would?ve helped the company greatly by putting over thi s great new tag team but instead as noted above they took the steam out of the tag team and somehow have finagled themselves a place at the top of the TNA tag team division.
Christopher Daniels- If there is a single person who has probably got hosed the most out of this whole angle it has to be Christopher Daniels. It seemed after being stuck playing Curry Man and pinch hitting for Frankie Kazarian as Suicide that Christopher Daniels was finally going to get that big push that always eluded him in TNA. Well instead of launching himself as a number two babyface in TNA he seemed to be the resident Jobber to the Stars of TNA. Christopher Daniels knows how many lights there are in that Impact Zone as he is constantly looking up at them having put over everyone and anyone in the company.
Matt Morgan- I will say this much if anyone has been elevated at all in this past year of the Main Event Mafia it has to be Matt Morgan who went from an odd couple tag team with Abyss to a Batista/Evolution type storyline that now has him facing Kurt Angle at Bound for Glory. The only problem with that is that when Batista faced off with HHH at Wrestlemania it was for the title and it meant something. Matt Morgan may very well beat Kurt Angle at Bound for Glory (although I wouldn?t count on it) and with a babyface champion in AJ Styles will find himself stuck in the mid card possibly looking at a feud of the year with Kevin Nash (In case you don?t realize it, that’s called sarcasm).
Bobby Lashley- I can?t really criticize Lashley for anything as he really has just arrived in TNA although the booking of him up until this point has made no sense. Think about it Lashley arrived and screwed the Main Event Mafia but instead of moving onto a feud with the Mafia he moved onto a feud with Rhyno who hasn?t won a meaningful match in months and instead of giving him someone with less of a upside in the Main Event Mafia like a Scott Steiner or a Kevin Nash they are sacrificing Samoa Joe to him and by the time anyone gets what they really want to see which is a Lashley vs Kurt Angle match up there may be no more Main Event Mafia.
This was the part where I wanted to mention maybe Mick Foley and Jeff Jarret but upon realizing the length of this column and the venom which would?ve been spewed would have gave Mr. V a run for his money in the longest column on Wrestleview this week. I?ll just end this subject on this20note; the Main Event Mafia could have been the story of 2009 if it had been done properly, if egos didn?t get in the way, if TNA would?ve pushed their own guys instead of wrestlers who WWE used up. Here we are a year later and really nothing to show for it. The Main Event Mafia in all likelihood won?t exist come Bound for Glory 2010 and what do we have to show for it? A colossal waste of time, money and talent. Does TNA even have any idea of where they go from here? I?ve always been of the mindset that WCW blew there load with the NWO in that once they were really done with the angle they had no clue in which direction to go next I feel TNA is sort of stuck in the same boat. The big difference is that at times the NWO was good and well the Main Event Mafia has been anything but that. This was TNA’s best shot and if that was there best shot I fear what we may see next.
On that note let’s wrap it up this week. As usual for those of you with questions, comments or otherwise you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and well that’s it for this week, next week I will try to do better and until then I am out.