Bully! Aces & 8s! Hulk! Brooke! Hardy! Styles!
nWo! Sting! The New! 90's! Getting It Right! TNA World Heavyweight Championship!
For the first time in a long time, I am legitimately excited for what TNA is offering.
Last week (March 21), Bully Ray took time out of his busy schedule as President of Aces & 8s and TNA World Heavyweight Champion to fully explain his entire plan. It involved rigging the Bound For Glory Series to get Bully into the finals, changing courses when he lost to Jeff Hardy, wooing Brooke Hogan, tricking Sting, gaining Hulk Hogan's trust, getting a title shot, and finally bringing in the gang to ensure that Hardy would go down for the three count.
It was probably the most comprehensive bit of tying loose ends found in pro wrestling.
And it was absolutely brilliant.
I'm still undecided whether this was the plan from the very beginning, or if TNA's writers had done a great job of reverse booking. It almost doesn't matter, though. Aces & 8s has a reason, a purpose, and a direction.
It's a beautiful thing, isn't it?
The fact that that everyone will call this a straight New World Order (nWo) ripoff doesn't even concern me. TNA has had an invading force every year for the past decade -- in fact, K. Sawyer Paul takes a great look at TNA's history with this issue. Most of them fall flat on their face, though, because the promotion can't help getting in its own way.
When the leaders of the "new" forces are consistently a bunch of old hacks, fans tend to tune out.
But this time could be different. Yes, the first nine months of Aces & 8s ranged from bad to excruciating to watch. As smart as the plan was in hindsight, it sucked pretty hard in the moment. There is no excuse for creating crappy television, even if the pay off worked out pretty well.
For as bad as the invasion started, though, things have seemed to turn around.
Bully Ray is the President. Not Hulk Hogan. Not Eric Bischoff. Not Jeff Jarrett. Not Buff Bagwell. Not Vince Russo -- I know he's not with the company anymore, but wouldn't that be the greatest Russian swerve? Not D-Lo Brown or Al Snow or some other over the hill cast off who was tired of making $50 for a signed autograph in bingo halls.
Instead we have a man who was killing it as a solo heel. A performer who destroyed his body for the sport we love. And now he is finally being recognized, not just with a brief championship reign, but as leader of what should be the most dominate force TNA has ever seen.
And I don't think there was a better choice out there.
With Bully as the leader of this band of bikers, we turn to who will usurp him from power. TNA's reduced pay-per-view (PPV) schedule actually gives the promotion a lot of freedom here. Instead of aiming for a challenger once a month, it can play with the schedule.
Jeff Hardy is set to challenge Bully on April 11 edition of Impact Wrestling. He should lose, of course, but could potentially get another rematch before Slammiversary XI goes down on June 2. Then we have four more months until Bound For Glory (Oct. 13). It does seem like a long stretch of time.
But the promotion's main event talent is actually surprisingly stacked.
TNA should pencil its best matchup for Slammiversary XI. Ideally that would be Kurt Angle with his name recognition and raw ability, but "The Cyborg" can't seem to stay connected at the joints. The next best option would be a tweener Austin Aries or Bobby Roode. Both have the mic and ring work to keep the fans entertained, and it would create a really fascinating TNA vs. ex-WWE dynamic.
Either one would be fine in my book.
That leaves plenty of time for the likes of either Angle, Aries, or Roode, plus Samoa Joe, Magnus, James Storm, Matt Morgan, and Christopher Daniels to fill in the empty time. Hell, I wouldn't even be mad if a Gut Check contestant was called up just to be jobbed out.
Although if I had my way, I really want to see Joseph Park get a title shot. Because that would be awesome.
Theoretically we could get a championship match every other week on Impact Wrestling, with maybe a break leading up to Slammiversary XI and Bound For Glory. I'm sure there is something to be said about over saturating the show with title matches, especially when the outcome is obvious.
But I saw screw it! I want to see that belt on the line, all the time!
The clear end to this story is Bully Ray vs. AJ Styles at Bound For Glory. Styles' one year ban -- which I hated at the time, but now looks to be a very intelligent bit of booking -- will have run its course. He would be TNA's last chance at salvation. The man who was always "up and coming" will finally have seen the summit.
AJ should go over Bully. AJ needs to go over Bully.
AJ Styles will go over Bully Ray to win back the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
nWo began with a bang and ended with a whimper. It will forever remain a black mark on Hulk Hogan's career, bringing him the scorn of pro wrestling fans far and wide. In all honesty, this could simply be a chance for him to try and redeem himself.
But I'm not going to concern myself with that. For the first time in a long time, I am witness a promotion execute a plan. There have been stumbles, yes.
But right now the future looks very, very exciting.
Everything Else! Bullet Points!
- Tonight is Open Fight Night on Impact Wrestling! That means any member of the roster can call out anyone else! It's a smart gimmick and usually ends up giving us some pretty good matches. We'll see if that holds true tonight.
- Taryn Terrell was fired as the Knockouts ref last week by Brooke Hogan, but was immediately hired as a Knockouts wrestler. This means she can tear Gail Kim up with no repercussions. I fully look forward to this.
- I miss Tara and Jessie Godderz. They aren't in any real angles since Tara dropped the Knockouts Championship to Velvet Sky, and that makes C.J. a very sad boy.
Hopefully this has prepared you for the night's festivities. Leave a comment below about what you are looking forward to, and please join the entire CSS Thursday night gang in the live blog TONIGHT!