Protect ya' neck: What to expect from Rampage Jackson as a TNA Impact wrestler

Noel Vasquez

What kind of pro wrestler will Quinton Jackson be? It may not matter on TNA Impact, where brittle legends like Hulk Hogan and Sting can still be major players without a significant contribution inside the squared circle. That's the blueprint for "Rampage," assuming Spike TV advises him to follow it.

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton Jackson is now a part of the Viacom family (details here), where he's expected to join the ranks of Bellator MMA, as well as the gang down at TNA Impact Wrestling.

It's probably not what you think.

Jackson turns 35 this month and by the time he's done filming his new reality show, which will precede his much-ballyhooed debut inside the Bellator cage, he's likely to be closer to 36. He's no stranger to testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and has been on the wrong end of knee injuries for the second half of his career.

Not exactly a prime candidate for entering the world of professional wrestling.

You can bet that every person who put pen to paper on today's blockbuster deal is aware of that, Jackson included. I don't think it's any secret, at least on this side of the glass, that the only thing "fake" about pro wrestling is the outcomes, predetermined by a creative think tank -- or one egomaniac -- to try to elicit a desired response from the audience.

Both short and long term.

When I worked in Manhattan, just a few doors down from WWE's failed midtown restaurant, I had the sort of neighborhood clout that afforded me special privileges, like running the ropes during my lunch break, or taking stiff clotheslines from developmental talent, back when "The World" still had the Sunday Night HEAT ring.

Running the ropes is not like bouncing off a trampoline.

It more closely resembles getting flogged by an elevator cable. Once was enough for me and getting dumped on my keister by a man in tights was cool for about 15 seconds. Then I had to hobble out of the ring and wonder when my vertebrae would forgive me.

I don't expect Jackson to be any different.

The good news is, he doesn't have to be. Sure, there will be sporadic appearances inside the ring, but this idea that "Rampage" will be jumping from the top rope, or flying onto the announce table after getting ambushed by Aces and 8s is just silly. He's more of an enforcer type, or an in-ring personality with recurring run-ins.

If and when Jackson does work, it's going to be 1984 all over again.

The formula consists of power punches, body slams, headbutts ... maybe even a snap mare! Even if he was turning 25 instead of 35, the last thing Viacom wants, is to see its biggest investment tear his quads trying to execute something of moderate difficulty. I'm sure he'll get plenty of airtime (and plenty of eyeballs), but still remain protected in his (and everyone else's) comfort zone.

How safe would you feel as a TNA wrestler, letting Jackson work you, after just a few months of on-the-job training?

Though he was an outstanding high school wrestler and his body of work in MMA has spun more than a few highlight reels, pro wrestling is about more than just athleticism and hard work. The core of THIS BUSINESS is choreography, timing, psychology and spatial awareness.

Just ask Dolph Ziggler.

For all intents and purposes, "Rampage" is now a wrestler for TNA, in addition to a fighter for Bellator, in a deal that mimics the one inked by Muhammed Lawal over one year ago. But why haven't we seen "King Mo" do anything meaningful inside the ring after 13 months under contract?

Probably because he had to start over, thanks to a fade-away bitch slap from Emanuel Newton (GIF).

It's hard to sell a fighter as a legitimate badass -- even in the land of make believe -- when fans' last memory of him is the fetal position. Brock Lesnar, who previously held the WWE world title before his MMA experiment, is the exception, not the rule.

And having Paul Heyman is like grading on a curve.

To that end, Jackson's upcoming reality show is a branding exercise, likely designed to combat the image of three consecutive UFC losses before exiting stage left. Similar to our beloved Steve Austin (the astronaut, not the Rattlesnake), we can rebuild him.

And I don't know what the final number was, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that "Rampage" was Spike TV's six-million dollar man.

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