February 07, 2012
Enough already, Eric Young
From this moment on, every time Eric Young tries to lock up with the referee during his matches, I am going to drive to the animal shelter, adopt a whole bunch of cute, adorable puppies, put those puppies in a big box, drive to the nearest freeway and hurl the box into oncoming traffic.
iMPACT WRESTLING is a better show without the Jarretts
There, I said it. I'm not discounting Jeff's role in starting the company in the first place and I'm not denying that Karen gets a lot of heat, but that doesn't change anything about this. IMO, the product had reached a point where Jeff's continued presence was beginning to hold it back. He constantly seemed to get more TV time than he needed, he often seemed very reluctant to help build or put over new stars, and for me, he had become a living reminder of a creative era in TNA that I was trying really hard to forget. Look at all the up-and-coming young talents that have been getting more opportunity to flourish on the show since Jeff was "fired" by Sting. Do you think that's a coincidence? Partially, sure, but make no mistake, the extra screen time freed up by Jeff being gone is one of the big reasons why this is happening.
And Karen? Please. Do I even need to elaborate? When the writers create a new on-air role for this woman that does nothing but drag the entire Knockout division down just for the sake of giving her more screen time, that's when you know something is horribly wrong. Karen as the Knockouts VP was a noose around that division's neck. It constantly ruined matches due to Karen's unnecessary involvement, it didn't generate any interesting storylines -- certainly none intended to put over anyone not named Karen Jarrett -- and the only thing that resulted from it was Karen getting pushed ahead of every Knockout on the show put together. That is hardly what I wanted to see when Gail Kim returned to the company a few months ago. Since Karen has been gone, the Knockout division has gone back to focusing on the Knockouts, as it should.
All due respect to both of them, but Jeff, Karen, please stay backstage from now on. No offense, but this show requires your absence to move forward, not your presence. Focus on Ring Ka King, Jeff; from what we've seen, it looks like a slam dunk. You can be a vital component of Ring Ka King; iMPACT WRESTLING has outgrown you. You're still under the TNA umbrella, Jeff. Just go with it.
Alex Shelley should be the man to win the X-division title from Austin Aries
If their promo segment the night Shelley returned to TV didn't convince you of this, then I don't know what I can say that will. With all the other X-division stalwarts either still injured or doing other things now, the options are Shelley and a bunch of new talents who haven't really proven themselves yet. Also Kid Kash, but he's better utilized in putting over people like Jesse Sorensen than in leading the division.
Ordinarily, you might see the writers simply put the title on one of these new guys as a way to get them over, but this would be a mistake IMO. Since he won the title at No Surrender, Austin Aries has effortlessly accomplished what Kazarian and Brian Kendrick (who seems to have completely dropped off the map) tried and failed to do last year -- he's made the X-division interesting and the title relevant again. He's been one of the most consistently entertaining and effective heels in the company, not to mention outstanding in the ring. You can't have him lose the title to just anybody, and at the same time, you have to give him an opponent that can present him with a believable challenge or else his title reign is going to stall no matter how talented he is. Not only was Shelley really the only option for this, he was almost surely the best option.
Sure, Jesse Sorensen has acquitted himself very well these past few months, but I don't see him being ready for the championship yet, certainly not after Aries has brought prestige back to it. Zema Ion is more ready in my estimation, but Ion's character seems tailored to a heel role, at least right now. Tony Nese hasn't been established yet, Mark Haskins only just resurfaced and Brian Kendrick as the champion last year didn't really work out. This being the case, it's kind of puzzling why they waited so long to put Shelley back in the mix to begin with.
Shelley is one of the best workers the company has to offer, he's got the personality and mic skills to match Aries and, as a former champion, he's got the credentials so that Aries dropping the belt to him wouldn't diminish Aries in any way like I feel it would if he lost it to Sorensen. If Aries is going to lose the title to anyone, Shelley is the guy.
Part of me wonders if their name dropping of Chris Sabin is to set up a feud between Sabin/Shelley upon his return from his knee injury. While I wouldn't be against a friendly short-term rivalry between the two to help legitimize Shelley a little bit more, the writers have to know how much the tag team division needs them to stay together. I may write a separate column about this, so that's all I'm going to say about that for now.
Zema Ion needs a push
It doesn't have to be towards the X-division title just yet, but he needs a storyline because he is too entertaining to be kept off TV. In just a scant few appearances, Ion has already distinguished himself with a personality and a character -- something Jesse Sorensen is still working on. I don't know if this is something the writers gave him or if he came up with it himself, but he's been tremendous. He's a lot like Austin Aries in the sense that I always look forward to seeing him, not just in the ring, but also as a character because his personality shines through so well in whatever he does.
And what's more, he's funny! I don't know if he's even trying to be funny; he just is. That's a refreshing change from a guy like Eric Young, who tries way, way, WAY too hard to be funny, and as a result, isn't. The way Ion reacts to things with his vain pretty boy character is just priceless. In his match with Alex Shelley, when Shelley had him in the corner, the camera man zoomed in, and Ion looked into it, going, "Cut away! Don't film this!" -- not only did I laugh out loud at this, it was the moment when I made up my mind that management needs to get behind this guy. Jesse Sorensen seems to be their favorite of the new X-division talents they signed last year, but Ion is the one with the real breakout star potential in that group IMHO.
Crimson's win streak needs to end
It was interesting when he started gaining momentum in the summer and fall of 2011, but it peaked the night he wrestled Kurt Angle, it stalled after he was taken out of the Bound For Glory Series, and now it's becoming more of a hindrance than anything else. The streak itself is a storyline, but once they started putting Crimson in angles with Samoa Joe and Matt Morgan, it lost its relevance. I don't see the point of Crimson remaining undefeated if he's working in a tag team now. In fact, it hurts him because it's hard for his opponents (in this case, Joe & Magnus) to get over on him with anything other than post-match and backstage attacks.
We know Crimson's streak probably isn't going to end in a tag team feud, and if we don't think there's a chance he might lose, then his matches have little intrigue or drama. With him being undefeated for over a year at this point, he should be in storylines facing people who are actively trying to be the guy to end his streak, but instead the streak is rarely mentioned and he's focused on the tag team titles. Plus, the streak really hasn't gotten over the same way Samoa Joe's streak did several years ago. I appreciate what they were trying to do, but it doesn't seem to have been terribly effective.
I would remedy this problem by having Joe & Magnus win the tag team titles, thus causing Morgan & Crimson to turn on each other, have Morgan be the man to end the streak and then use that first loss to turn Crimson heel.
I'm about 95% convinced that the reason why Crimson hasn't completely caught on as a babyface is because there's a monster heel in this guy just begging to come out, and the more I see of him, the more convinced I am. He looks like a heel, he acts like a heel, especially in his promos... Frankly, I'm kind of surprised this hasn't happened already. If they could repackage him as a badass killing machine who gets off on breaking people in half -- similar to Samoa Joe back in the day -- I think it might be exactly what Crimson needs.