When describing his strategy in regards to competing with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) as a chief executive at World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the 90s, Eric Bischoff pushed the mantra "better than, less than, different than." He knew WCW couldn't possibly be better than the WWF and they certainly didn't want to be less than their competition, so they had to be different.
That was the inspiration behind the edgier storylines the Atlanta based promotion utilized that helped lead into the so-called Attitude Era in professional wrestling. Whereas the WWF was still stuck in the cartoon days, WCW was running more realistic angles that the audience could relate to.
Eventually, the pieces were put into place to run the invasion angle with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, who would come to be known as The Outsiders and, later, the New World Order (nWo). Bischoff, the creative force behind it, played it to perfection and made buku bucks in the process.
Which is why it's so damn confusing that Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling has now completely bungled the Aces and 8s angle.
Really, the stable was always destined to fail. The biggest reason the nWo worked was star power. Hall and Nash were coming over from the WWF as former champions who were featured heavily for years. When they added a freshly turned heel Hulk Hogan to the mix, it was a veritable supergroup.
Aces and 8s? They're a band of misfits under masks because TNA never bothered to flesh out who would ultimately be revealed as the leader before running the program and green lighting the "invasion" of the Impact Wrestling Zone in Orlando, Florida.
The problem from jump street is the fanbase is conditioned to think the reveal won't be worth the time invested in it, which is almost always true in the pro wrestling business. But the bigger issue is there is no one TNA could reveal as the leader of the group that wouldn't be a major disappointment. It's certainly no one from WWE coming over and anyone on the current roster wouldn't make for much of a surprise.
Still, they pushed on and ran various stock angles with the stable showing up and randomly attacking wrestlers to create a feeling of chaos and disarray. There never seemed to be any rhyme or reason to it, but everyone understands a basic invasion and this was standard operating procedure. It would have helped if they had a stated purpose beyond just wrecking shop but that part could certainly be fleshed out later.
Eventually, Hogan, the General Manager of TNA, would grow tired of the groups repeated attacks and simply "locked down" the Impact Zone. So the Aces and 8s kidnapped Joseph Park and held him hostage. If this wasn't bad enough, they waited for Hogan to bargain to get Park back and then kidnapped Hogan and Sting, who had returned from a few weeks off to help Hogan get Park back safely.
Shark = jumped.
Last night's (Sept. 27) episode of Impact saw Hogan and Sting get tricked by an anonymous female, get sprayed in the eyes with an unknown substance, have hoods placed over their heads, and be thrown in a van as kidnap victims taken to some warehouse where the Aces and 8s make their home.
Park, the hostage Hogan and Sting hoped to retrieve, was tied up on a table and being threatened bodily harm in one of two ways: getting burned or getting sliced with a machete. Seriously.
Meanwhile, Hogan was left to play his role as the extremely pissed off hero who has been bested by the bad guys and must find his way out of this undesirable situation. He said he wanted to fight right then and there but Aces and 8s were more cerebral about it and offered a deal, seeing as both sides have something the other wants.
The deal was that Aces and 8s would get two of its best guys to take on two of the best guys Hogan could find and if Aces and 8s won, they would once again receive full access to the Impact Zone. If Hogan's team won, the Aces and 8s will disappear forever.
Eventually, the deal was agreed to and Aces and 8s said they would be keeping Park as an insurance policy until the match actually takes place, which is likely going to be at Bound for Glory.
Words cannot describe how mind-numbingly stupid this whole thing was. It was terribly campy, low rent, poorly acted, unbelievable, and impossible to get into. Pro wrestling only works when those involved in it remember to work within the construct of the pro wrestling world. Kidnapping and holding guys hostage is no way to book a match.
When the Outsiders came to WCW, they said they were taking over and demanded a match against the best WCW had to offer to prove they were superior. Simple and effective.
They didn't kidnap Randy Savage and hold him hostage until later kidnapping Bischoff to demand a match against Lex Luger and Sting for some ridiculous reason like wanting access to the arena WCW was holding shows at. That would have never worked in a million years because pro wrestling fans don't tune into pro wrestling shows to watch shitty horror or thriller movie genre knockoffs.
They tune in to watch pro wrestling.
Had Aces and 8s showed up, said they wanted to take on the best TNA had to offer and made their point by putting random guys through tables until they got their way, that would have worked just fine. Simple, effective, and believable within the pro wrestling construct.
But kidnapping and holding guys hostage while basically threatening murder? No thanks.
Now, they've gone and screwed the payoff, if there ever was one. Because after all this, who the hell is going to care when it's revealed Bischoff was the guy behind the group all along?