May 10, 2012
Follow-up is crucial
Perhaps even more important than the Gutcheck angle with Alex Silva will be what happens to him afterward. While he may have succeeded in earning himself a contract, the process by which Silva got a spot on the roster was pretty flawed. TNA did him no favors by having him get squashed by a no-talent idiot like Robbie E in 2 minutes; nobody takes Robbie seriously and, unless you were familiar with his work beforehand, you most likely didn't take Silva seriously after that match. He did manage to make a better impression on the audience when he sold himself to Ric Flair the following week, but that's not going to be the end of it by a long shot.
With Silva being the first independent talent signed through this Gutcheck angle, what happens to him is going to be the biggest indicator of whether or not it's worthwhile, because if he fails, no one will take the Gutcheck process seriously.
Now that we know someone like Ric Flair sees something in Alex Silva, TNA need to help us learn more about him. I'm not saying they need to put him in the ring immediately, but they could start with some video packages or backstage segments to keep him in the audience's mind -- enough so that he doesn't fade from the fan consciousness while creative figures out what to do with him. A lot of eyes are going to be on Alex Silva now, and if TNA pull a Tony Nese with him (sign him only to do nothing with him) there will have been little point to the Gutcheck concept (at least the on-air version).
The roster cuts may not be over
Almost every year around this time there are roster cuts made; one year it was Christopher Daniels, another year, Jay Lethal, etc. While it's not fun to see people losing their jobs (in most cases anyway), it is necessary to trim the fat and replace it with new talent in order to keep the product fresh. This year the cuts have been more drastic as we've thus far seen the departures of Traci Brooks, Scott Steiner and Anarquia. None of these were unexpected IMO -- not much of a case could be made for any of them at this point.
That being said, I doubt the cuts are over just yet. With the inception of the monthly Gutcheck angle, management may be looking to revamp the roster more heavily than many of us thought. And with new talent coming in, more people may have to be let go to make room for them and anyone not keeping themselves relevant could be in danger.
After a quick glance at the roster page, my guess is Shannon Moore, Winter and Angelina Love are probably next in line for the chopping block, with Tony Nese and Mark Haskins not far behind them. Ideally, Hernandez would be the next to go, but somehow I doubt it. Him apparently being one of Dixie Carter's favorites has saved him far more times than he deserves.
The JoeDaddies are the new Beer Money
Yeah, I'm still calling them the JoeDaddies. Deal with it.
If there was lingering doubt in anyone's mind that Samoa Joe & Magnus have taken the spot in the tag team division once held by James Storm & Bobby Roode, they were probably erased after the recent iMPACT episode when they were given a clean win over Jeff Hardy & Ken Anderson. Hardy & Anderson are Hogan's boys, and as such are often protected even when they shouldn't be. A clean win over them, regardless of whether it was to put over their rivalry or not, speaks volumes about how much support the Joe/Magnus pairing has in the company.
I, for one, couldn't happier about this. After management was forced to hit the reset button on the tag team division (fuck you very much, Mexican America), finding a team that could conceivably take over for the now-defunct Beer Money was priority #1. It may have come together in a pretty unlikely manner, but that doesn't mean it hasn't worked, and it's been great to see Joe & Magnus finally get a chance to run with the ball after being mishandled for so long. Magnus is now in a position to start living up to the potential he was too inexperienced to capitalize on when he was first signed and Samoa Joe is now the most relevant he's been probably since his world title reign.
Now with the Motor City Machine Guns finally healthy again, the pairing of Daniels/Kaz, possible strong new additions like TMDK (Shane Haste & Mikey Nicolls) and the end of the cancer that was Mexican America, TNA's rebooted tag team division is showing real signs of becoming prosperous again. It may be a while before they can rightfully claim to have the best tag team division in the world like they used to, but it doesn't seem like a pipe dream anymore.
Brooke Tessmacher should be the next Knockouts champion
Brooke has shown a tremendous amount of improvement in the last year and a half. And while I don't necessarily think she's ready to be the Knockout singles champion just yet, I say this under the assumption that she is one of 2 options the writers seem to be considering for dethroning Gail Kim. And if it's a choice between Brooke and Velvet Sky, I think the choice should be obvious for several reasons.
#1) She is the superior in-ring performer
This was perhaps not the case when she first started wrestling for TNA, but a lot has changed in the last 18 months or so. She has been steadily improving her wrestling skills while Velvet is essentially the same worker she was when she debuted in 2007. Brooke continues to break out new moves, doing things we haven't seen from her before, whereas Velvet pretty much does the same thing in every match with little to no variation.
#2) Her character hasn't been ruined by bad writing
I have never, not for one second, bought into Velvet Sky as a babyface. A lot of it has to do with the fact that she's so much more natural at playing a heel and her face promos sound completely insincere and forced. But the nail in that coffin came last summer, when the writers took this woman who had spent several years playing a cocky, mean-spirited, stuck-up bitch, changed her character into a sympathetic (cough) former bullying victim and then proceeded to shove her down our throats for months in an effort to make her more popular. This wasn't just totally inorganic and inconsistent with her previous characterization, it was, quite frankly, complete bullshit. And for me, it destroyed any chance I might have had of taking Velvet Sky seriously as a babyface, making her look like more of a hypocrite than anything else.
Brooke on the other hand is a clean slate. She's a rookie who started at the bottom, worked hard to improve, became a tag team champion and is now breaking out as a single competitor. There's not much to it, but that also means there's a lot further to go with her and more room to build a character that hasn't been completely screwed up by lazy writing, unlike with Velvet.
#3) She has more potential feuds
Brooke being the newer, fresher character, she has more story possibilities open to her that haven't been explored. If she were to win the title, there would be a number of things she could do with it and a lot of potential new feuds open to her because she really hasn't done that much yet. The same cannot be said for Velvet who, by this point, has feuded with every single Knockout on the roster (except Brooke ironically) at least once.
Suppose Velvet did win the title from Gail. Then what? What could she do next that would be new and interesting? Who could she feud with that she hasn't feuded with already? There are no new opponents left for her except Brooke, and that wouldn't work unless one of them turned heel.
One option I can see pleasing people in both camps would be Brooke winning the title in a triple threat match with Gail and Velvet, then Velvet turning heel on her, bitter that Brooke won the title that she felt was hers. That way the better worker would get the championship and Velvet could stay in the title picture while getting the last fresh feud available to her. Granted, the matches probably wouldn't be stellar, but creatively it wouldn't be the worst direction they could go in.
Rob Van Dam is an unlikeable douche bag
If TNA are going to push Rob Van Dam as a top babyface against Bobby Roode while James Storm heals up from injuries, they need to either give him less freedom to talk on the mic or script his promos more carefully so that he doesn't come off like an egotistical ass. It baffles me that people still cheer for this guy when he is one of the worst babyfaces in wrestling period. His recent promo on iMPACT where he was supposed to be selling his title match with Roode at Sacrifice but instead talked about how great he thought he was was counterproductive to say the least.
Then there was the Before the Bell video the production team put together in which Van Dam was just as arrogant, if not more so, than Roode. In my mind, they were both acting like heels; the only difference is that Roode was up front about it, whereas Van Dam is the guy we're supposed to root for. I honestly came away from that video thinking Roode was the more likable of the two. He was making no bones about all the bad things he'd done and the people he'd beaten, but at least he sounded focused and serious about their upcoming match. On the other side of things, Van Dam was acting nonchalant, underselling his opponent, couldn't even remember Roode's name at one point and only seemed to want the title to feed his already-massive ego because, in his own words, him being the world champion again is "what the entire wrestling business needs". Fuck you, Rob Van Dam.
The best possible outcome for the Sacrifice main event would be Bobby Roode beating Rob Van Dam 100% clean. The story would be perfect with Roode capitalizing on Van Dam's overconfidence, forcing the self-proclaimed rock star to realize that he made a critical mistake in underestimating Roode. But do I think it will happen that way? No, I don't. I expect Roode to walk away with the title, but I highly doubt it will be done in any way that helps him, and Van Dam will most likely be completely protected like he always is. Such booking benefits no one at this point, but Hogan just seems to love this joker too much to ever allow him to look weak for any reason, even if that's what needs to happen.