May 14, 2012
The Chopping Block
In my last column I mentioned how the monthly Gutcheck angle would be providing TNA with an infusion of new talent, something the company sorely needs. This is a double-edged sword, however, as there's only so much space in the locker room. Naturally, I don't expect every single Gutcheck contestant to earn a contract, but this does point to company officials actively looking to freshen up the roster with new faces, which means some current roster members may end up getting cut to accommodate these people. In the past, Dixie Carter has been hesitant when it comes to letting wrestlers go, but things seem to have changed with Bruce Prichard now running creative as well as the departure of Vince Russo.
As a writer, Russo tried to fit as many people into storylines as possible. Prichard has taken the opposite approach, focusing on a fewer number of talents, so as to devote more quality screen time and attention to developing them, and Prichard, like anyone else, has his favorites. Inevitably, this means that certain wrestlers have been thrust to the forefront while others have fallen by the wayside. And with these Gutcheck people coming in and the company presumably getting more aggressive with hiring potential new stars, any wrestler who's not staying relevant may be in danger of getting cut.
Looking at the roster page, I think there are a number of people who should be worried right now. The new creative regime seems to have little to no use for them, and if new talent is indeed on the way in, they're almost certainly the ones most likely to be replaced.
-Angelina Love- I'm not saying Angelina isn't talented, but IMO, the chances of her sticking around much longer are slim to nil. She's barely been glimpsed on television since the new writers took over 7 months ago and, like the now-departed Traci Brooks, Angelina is a wrestler who seems to have just run her course. Multiple tag title reigns, more singles title reigns than any other Knockout and she's had programs with almost every one of them at this point.
With most fresh storyline possibilities for her exhausted, the only interesting avenue left to her that I can think of would be a Beautiful People reunion, and with the creative team apparently so in love with the idea of Velvet Sky as a singles star these days, that seems unlikely. If new Knockouts start coming in through the Gutcheck program, I expect Angelina will be one of, if not the first to be replaced.
This is a case that I don't understand for the life of me. The Pope is a strong performer, popular with the fans (when his character isn't being butchered beyond all recognition), charismatic as hell and still pretty young, and yet for some reason, management seems to have soured on him in a big way. Maybe it's his attitude backstage, maybe it's something else. But whatever the reason is, the Pope has apparently become persona non grata in TNA. It would be a huge waste of potential, but something tells me we won't be seeing him again. And sadly, with the way his character was ruined by the previous creative regime, I doubt many people will even care one way or the other.
It's become clear by now that, while LAX disguised his weaknesses, Hernandez lacks the skills and the charisma to be a successful singles competitor, and unless his partner was Homicide, tag teaming has been a disaster for him too. Add that to his seeming inability to work safely in the ring and I think it's high time TNA cut their losses with this guy. Unfortunately, they just seem unwilling to give up on him completely. Thankfully, he hasn't won a match or even been featured that much since the writers threw up their hands and gave up on Mexican America working out, so the bloom appears to be off the rose at least. I suspect we'll have to be satisfied with that.
While still with the company, Moore has been taking time off from the ring for the last several months, which certainly doesn't help his standing, not that it was very good before he left. Unless Jesse Neal returns and their tag team gets back together, I doubt Shannon Moore will resurface. Frankly, with him seeming to want to focus on his tattoo parlors right now, I wouldn't be surprised if he asks to be let out of his contract.
Aside from a brief run against Gail Kim earlier in the year, Tara has done nothing of consequence in 2012, and with partner Brooke Tessmacher starting to break out as a singles star, it leaves her without much of a purpose. Much like Kid Kash, Tara doesn't seem to fit well into TNA's changing landscape. With the company moving in a more youthful direction, her time with them may be coming to an end. They appear to think highly enough of her that I don't think they'd cut her unceremoniously like they did Traci, but her days are probably numbered at this point.