Eric Bischoff is still living in 2001! (Wikimedia Commons)
For as much as Eric Bischoff doth protest online that he has no creative input into TNA's storyline direction, it's strange how TNA's booking plans for the end of 2010 into early 2011 have copied Eric Bischoff's own booking blueprints for his ultimately short-lived attempt to resurrect the WCW brand in early 2001 when he attempted to buy the company with his investors Fusient Media Ventures. Before the deal fell apart due to new Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., chairman and CEO Jamie Kellner cancelling at short notice all WCW programming on their stations, Bischoff had already set the ball rolling for his masterplan to kickstart WCW for its new owners. In the last couple of month's of WCW's existence, Bischoff had a lead heel group quickly formed called The Magnificent Seven of Ric Flair, The Steiner Brothers, Jeff Jarrett, Lex Luger, Buff Bagwell and Road Warrior Animal to one by one run out the top babyfaces of the promotion first Bill Goldberg, then Kevin Nash through a couple of retirement stipulations. This was to eventually build to a big reset show where Goldberg and Nash would triumphantly return along with Bischoff and the injured Sting, but it wasn't to be. The sad thing is that ten year's later TNA have been copying aspects of this storyline with many of the same faces. We'll see how after the jump.
The night after Bound For Glory, TNA formed their own new lead heel group called Immortal featuring Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Jeff Hardy, Jeff Jarrett and Abyss and aligned them with Ric Flair's Fortune stable, which led to Kevin Nash and Sting walking out on the promotion, upset that Dixie Carter hadn't listened to their clues that she was going to get screwed by Hogan and Bischoff:
Dave Meltzer, in the October 18th Wrestling Observer Newsletter, speculated immediately after the angle was shot that despite Nash's and Sting's contracts coming up for renewal, this was still likely a storyline to build to their triumphant return in early 2011, not a way to write them out of the storylines permanently:
At press time we were told that Sting and Nash were both expected to be gone after this set of tapings. It should be noted that in 2001, Eric Bischoff had an angle that he wasn't able to do, where all the top stars would be taken off television for various reasons. The idea was to build for a new look company and then bring them all back. It's possible this could be that, but there is so much working of everyone going on right now that who knows.
As is usually the case, time seems to have proven Meltzer right, after TNA shot an angle last week where messenger boy The Amazing Red's brother Crimson (long story) choked out Abyss and told him in a mystery angle that "They're coming on February 3rd, Abyss, for each and every single member of Immortal":
Dave Meltzer has already spoilt the payoff to this storyline by revealing that "They" will be a reformation of the Main Event Mafia, which originally consisted of Kurt Angle, Booker T, Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, Sting and later Samoa Joe. Giving more credence to his report is that Scott Steiner has already returned to TNA at the January 12th Impact tapings in an angle where he cleared the ring of the heel stable Immortal with the help of a lead pipe after they had started ganging up on Angle and Crimson.
Of course, it didn't take long for the constantly in work mode Kevin Nash to deny the rumours that he's returning to TNA imminently by Twitter:
@gerweck glad you have so much info on me. I promise you I'm not signed. I'm retired, Jackass. Check your sources. Don't hold your breath!
Not going back to tna. I'm retired. Wasn't it leaked from tna office that I signed a month ago and I wasn't?I'll be at HBK's hof, if I'm not shooting a film in Costa Rica for 2 months. If I'm at the hof, I'll be at Mania. Check @DavidHerro for info
Unfortunately, in the real world Nash is indeed negotiating with TNA and has even admitted to it himself in a Costa Rican interview he likely didn't think would get picked up on by the wrestling dirt sites, like Jason Powell's prowrestling.net:
Kevin Nash told La Nacion that he is talking with TNA regarding a potential return. "I am currently negotiating a contract with them," Nash said. "Yes, there are many opportunities to return." ...
Nash, who was in Costa Rica for film work, claimed that he wouldn't return to until April, and added that it would only be a one-year contract. As first reported on the Dot Net Members' site on Wednesday, Nash is said to be among the big names returning to the company. I'll avoid going into additional details here since it's spoiler related, but I wouldn't be surprised if Nash and the other two big names return for the February 3 edition of Impact (taped on January 31) that TNA is heavily hyping.
One thing I will say about TNA management is that they do know how to hype a reset angle to pique lapsed fans interest for a short while, until they run them off again because they don't know how to follow through on a storyline and all the same creative flaws that made them lapsed fans in the first place largely still exist. With the reliance of this angle on overpriced, past their prime, long in the tooth, stale acts, the end result will likely be exactly the same once again. If only Dixie Carter started listening to Chris Jericho, then maybe she'd get a clue:
Everybody's got a certain shelf life. Some guy's shelf life is longer than others. That's why you always have to have young guys come in. You always have to have big drafts come in. And you can't keep guys on top just because they have name value. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life. You have to be able to entertain and you have to be able to provide the certain quality of work that they're you're always used to. Just because a certain somebody had name value in 1999 when wrestling was quote-unquote hot, doesn't mean they necessarily should be on top in 2010. It's a case-by-case basis. I remember Eric Bischoff saying when I was in WCW that you have to be on TV seven or eight years before you can really get over. Well, guess what, now 90 percent of the guys you have haven't been on TV seven or eight years. That's just a dumb thing to say anyways, because there were guys like the Ultimate Warrior and Bill Goldberg who were on TV for two months and got over huge. So everybody has to be judged individually. You can't have this blanket statement of "It has to be this" or "It has to be that." It's like, well, who's available at the time? What have we got to do with them? What can we do with them? And what do they bring to the table? And what are their strengths and what are their weaknesses? ...
I just think a company with that much talent should be doing better than they are. They've had the same ratings for the last three years. It's just unacceptable with the amount of talent they have there, just as a business. I run my own business as well. I run the business of "Fozzy." And if somebody's not performing and we're not getting bigger, than something has to change. So I just wish they would look at it that way, instead of relying on the same old things and the same old people. They've been trying different things and something isn't clicking. They've had the same million and a half viewers for the last three years. Just as an outsider looking in-as any business owner looking in-if you had the same return or the same results after three years, maybe you might want to try something different to make it grow.