May 28, 2013

Looking to the Future

Heroes & Martyrs
The following iMPACT opens with Sting and Matt Morgan. Sting's left leg is in a cast and he needs crutches to walk. Mogan takes a mic and explains his actions, but anyone who's been watching the product for the last 8 months or so will know why Morgan would choose to support Sting. The thing of it is, however, that the man who came to Sting's aid could have been one of several people. You could have plugged someone like James Storm or Austin Aries or Magnus into that spot and it still would have made sense -- it just had to be someone with reason to side with Sting before Hogan. I chose Morgan mainly to show a more effective way of using Sting to give Morgan a rub than what TNA chose to do a few weeks ago.

Anyway, Morgan says that over the last year he'd realized that he was never going to have the opportunity to reach his full potential in TNA as long as the current regime stayed in charge of things. He admits that while he and Sting may have very different reasons for opposing Hogan, their end goal is the same; they both want Hogan removed from power.

Sting says that Morgan stepped up to help when he needed it the most. Sting may not be able to wrestle for the foreseeable future, but luckily he's not in this alone anymore. He puts his support behind the Blueprint and delivers a message to everyone in the company that Matt Morgan is the next TNA world champion.

Morgan starts the domino effect that spreads through the whole roster. After this episode everyone starts picking sides. And this is where character development becomes very important because every decision made to side with either Sting or Hogan would have to be motivated by character. Magnus, for example, who we know looks up to Sting, who said recently that Sting took him under his wing a few years ago when he was green as grass, would obviously side with Sting, while someone like Velvet Sky would side with Hogan out of loyalty to Brooke, under whose direction of the women's division Velvet became Knockouts champion. Austin Aries, who harbors a grudge against Hogan for how he supposedly threw Aries under the bus in favor of Jeff Hardy last year, would side with Sting, whereas Petey Williams might still have some lingering resentment toward Sting dating back to the days of the Main Event Mafia and would side with Hogan. And so on, and so on...

This would be our story-telling engine for the short-term. Simple character-driven angles like these about which team each wrestler is going to join would make up the majority of the show over the next couple months. It would be a good way to make use of the entire roster and it would practically write itself because it would essentially be the same angle told in a different way with every character.

You could even take it a step further and involve new talent as well. One such example could have Brooke Hogan making the decision to sign Ivelisse Velez, thinking it would be a quick and easy way to get another Knockout on Hogan's team, only for Ivelisse to tell Brooke to piss off as soon as the ink is dry. Velez could say that the way TNA is currently run lead to her getting tossed aside after her Gutcheck tryout and the woman she defeated getting a contract instead. The only reason Brooke is bringing her in now is because her dad needs support, but Velez tells Brooke to blow that support out her ass and throws her lot in with Sting.

By the time Genesis rolls around you've got the makings of a civil war type of angle with half the roster on Team Sting, the other half on Team Hogan, with an equal number of faces and heels on each side. With Sting and Hogan both unable to wrestle due to injuries and doctor's orders respectively, they assume roles similar to that of generals, giving the marching orders from backstage, but allowing the young talent to handle what goes on in the ring.

This continues for a while until every member of the roster has decided to back one team or the other... every member except one. From the beginning of the angle, Sting and Hogan have both been trying to convince AJ Styles to join them. He is now the last member of the roster who hasn't chosen a side and staunchly refuses to do so. While he doesn't like what Hogan is doing, if it weren't for Sting, AJ would still be the world champion, and after what he went through to win the title back at BFG, that's not something he's going to stop being angry about any time soon. AJ refuses to join either of them and says he's going to go his own way.

[SIDE NOTE #1: Yes, this is not dissimilar from what they're doing with AJ right now, but who's to say his unwillingness to pick sides and preferring to stay a loner couldn't continue post-BFG?]

Following Genesis the battle lines have now been drawn. It will be important that there's something actually at stake here, so other than them fighting for the moral high ground the story can be that each team is trying to control all the championships in the company because (aside from who has the support of the roster) whoever can do that will have the leverage they need to accomplish what they want. For Hogan, it would be to assert his control over the company and convince Sting to abandon this campaign, or so be believes. For Sting, it would give him the pull he needs with Dixie Carter to have Hogan removed from the GM position or at least to convince her to give Hogan the reality check Sting thinks he needs.

This is what drives the storylines until Lockdown, with Hogan and Sting's camps now aggressively trying to acquire all the championships. Along the way titles would change hands, Matt Morgan could become the world champion, side stories could be told with shifting allegiances as assorted people defect from one side to the other, which could be the basis for various heel/face turns. The title hunt in each division would intensify as the importance of each championship drastically increases due to both sides needing them all, making every title match a huge deal as the winner could potentially shift the whole balance of power and new stars could be created out of the people vying for them as a result. But through it all, the sides prove to be too evenly matched with neither being able to gain enough of an advantage over the other to accomplish their goals.

The general belief among everyone is that AJ Styles would be the difference-maker if he were to pick a side, but he remains a loner. And ironically this is what ends up hurting him. AJ proves to be unbeatable in most instances but is unable to regain the world title simply because he has no allies while Sting and Hogan's chosen contenders have literally half the roster backing them up. His lack of upward momentum is impeded only by his lack of support. This would culminate at Lockdown where AJ gets pinned in a triple threat main event against representatives from Sting and Hogan's teams.

By this point in the story each side would have held the world championship at different times, but not AJ. In a post-show interview after the PPV we're given the impression that AJ has realized he can't do this alone and he's come to a decision about something.

The following Thursday a tournament begins to determine who gets the world title shot at Slammiversary. AJ finds himself in a first round match-up with someone from Hogan's team. As this feud has intensified, the guards Hogan appointed have begun making allowances for Hogan's guys -- letting them get away with things they shouldn't, being more unfair to Sting's people (and since he won't pick a side, AJ as well), etc. As a result, Hogan's man has a strong advantage over AJ in this match, doing underhanded stuff for which the guards are looking the other way.

AJ looks to be close to losing when suddenly three men jump out of the crowd: Crimson, Gunner and Jay Bradley. They take out the ringside guards. Hogan's man is distracted, AJ capitalizes and wins the match. The announcers are confused, no one knows what to make of this. The three men enter the ring and raise AJ's hand as the show ends.

[SIDE NOTE #2: This was written before Gunner returned to TV. Just go with it. 

SIDE NOTE #3: This is assuming a few things: 1) That Crimson has not also returned to TV by this point, and 2) that Bradley has not been called up to the main roster full-time yet. The point isn't who they are necessarily, just that AJ Styles went outside the main roster, looking for people who weren't affiliated with Sting or Hogan, and found himself some powerful allies.]

To be continued...

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