So I’ve been reading lately that apparently AJ Styles’ contract is coming due soon and nothing has been agreed upon as of this writing, and yet he was just thrown into the big Main Event Mafia/Aces & Eights angle Thursday night, quite a prominent position for someone you don’t know how much longer he’s gonna be there.
I understand that TNA is having money issues & are trying to be more cost efficient & not just spending, spending, spending on guys who don’t make you anything back ratings-wise. I mean so far every time they’ve introduced someone or decided to do something that’s supposed to “change the industry”, they largely fall flat on their faces. Hogan and Bischoff were brought in to bring a higher level of recognition to the company and yet they continue to do about the same ratings as they did before they showed up. Then they insisted they needed to go to Monday nights to compete with WWE & were a complete non-factor to the point that they’re now back on Thursday nights in their original timeslot.
They keep trying different things like bringing in Rampage Jackson & Tito Ortiz because Spike & Bellator want their faces out there to try to promote their pay per view, only it does nothing but further water down the TNA product.
Devon was the member of the Aces & Eights that lost Thursday night to the Main Event Mafia and apparently his contract is about up with the company and he’s supposedly done with the company for the foreseeable future since he apparently is ready to take himself out of the ring to focus on training new talent & apparently there may be a deal in place for him to join Bill DeMott, Billy Gunn & Ricky Steamboat down at the new WWE training facility in Florida.
They also just released So Cal Val, which if ya ask me has been a long time coming since I can’t remember the last thing she really did for the company aside from sit ringside and take the wrestlers’ entrance gear away from the ring. I mean she’s real pretty & all, but if they’re cutting talent, trying to make some leeway to be able to bring in some fresh young talent, then you really need to start cutting the fat. I’m sure So Cal Val wasn’t making a ton, but it’s still a salary you’re paying out that if she wasn’t there, it wouldn’t make a big difference to the on-screen product.
Another big name now gone from TNA is Brooke Hogan. I’m not gonna argue that she brought anything to the show in any manner of speaking, but it sure is telling that they didn’t keep her around considering how much pull the Hulkster apparently had at one point. Which has to make you think that when his deal is up, he’s packing his bags as well. TNA currently does a live show one week and then the following week is usually taped the day after the live one and recently there has been a trend that Hogan has been at one and not the other and I can’t help but ask the question as to why this is? What else is he doing that he can’t be at the show the following night to do whatever it is that he does for that company? It’s just kinda ridiculous that every other week you get a graphic that next week, we’ll hear from the Hulkster. This guy’s supposed to be their on-screen General Manager or whatever their authority figure is called there and he’s not there on site, managing the show? It’s just absurd! Send him packing & use that money in other places!
All these releases go along with the ones I’ve previously noted: Bruce Pritchard, D’Lo Brown, DOC, Crimson, Doug Williams, RVD, Matt Morgan, Joey Ryan, Christian York, Tara & Taeler Hendrix.
Bruce Pritchard has largely been replaced by “Big” John Gaburick from WWE who it would seem is the one doing a lot of the trimming of the fat around TNA, running it more like the business it truly is, not overpaying anyone and not allowing the inmates run the asylum as WCW had been. From what I’ve been reading, it would appear that he has Dixie Carter’s ear & that’s a really good thing in terms of the future of the promotion and the financial aspect of all of this. They’re on the road all the time now & apparently don’t have the Impact Zone to retreat to as they kind of burned their bridge with Universal Studios on their way out of there, so they really need to make this work. They’re running smaller venues & not selling a whole lot of tickets, so cutbacks need to be made & they need to be made to not hurt the look of the overall product in a way that they look second rate on TV because the on-screen product does keep money coming in thru sponsors and from Spike TV, where they are still one of Spike’s top-rated shows.
I’m really surprised with how long Matt Morgan has been out on the open market and WWE has not come calling yet! The dude is big, has a good look and can go pretty well in the ring. His only downfall is that for some reason, with all of those tools…he still hasn’t gotten it all together and really found his spot yet. And I don’t know if that’s for a lack of a sustained push as TNA would have him on tv for a few weeks, then he’s not there, then he’s back & then gone again or what. But I’m thinking maybe that’s the reason WWE isn’t biting because despite looking like a monster, being able to talk and also go in the ring, he hasn’t hit it big anywhere…including WWE because they did have him before he went to TNA all those years ago.
Christian York is really a sad story as well, considering that when they brought him in for his Gut Check that his story was that he was around at the end of ECW, then came to TNA at the beginning, had good matches and was a good performer back then and after he was released by TNA, maybe worked some indys and how this was his last shot at national exposure and how he was gonna make the most of it because it was now or never, but now he’s released. So you have to wonder if he just said screw it & is trying to do something new with his life now outside of the business. He’s got a great look & can definitely have some terrific matches with just about anyone he works with, only problem is that it seems like nobody wants him & that’s really the sad part in all of this.
So to get back to where I started with AJ Styles, who knows what’s gonna happen between now & when his contract actually does expire. I mean they could reach a deal tomorrow and all of this is for naught, but if he does enter the open market and is available to WWE, that venture could go one of two ways…he could be the next CM Punk or Daniel Bryan and make his way up to main event Pay Per Views and work with John Cena, Randy Orton & the top echelon talent there — or, he could always end up as the next Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston or Sin Cara, which would really suck since he really does know how to work a good match now & isn’t all about high spots to fuel his matches. But he may not even be approached by WWE considering how they’ve dealt with a lot of the other ex-TNA talent recently. Plus there was the last time he spoke to WWE and they offered him to go to developmental, which he wasn’t interested in. He also may be looking for too much money & might price himself out of a contract with them, but who knows.
So as the landscape continues to keep changing in TNA as they continue to learn how to operate and function now more as a solvent business, who knows where this will lead them talent-wise. From everything I’ve read, they are definitely interested in finding new stars to bring in –and probably pay a fraction of what they pay their long-tenured talent– to freshen up the product. It should be interesting to see where the chips land when all is said & done. I know I’m gonna keep watching to see who goes where & what lies ahead for a company in the middle of a big transition. Only time will tell.