Thinking things through: TNA style

The Hogan/Bischoff era of TNA has been going on for about five months now.  They claimed they would be taking TNA to the next level and everyone was on board the train to the top of the mountain.  Five months later, TNA is in worse shape than it started (ratings wise) thanks to an ill-thought out attempt to compete directly with the WWE on Monday nights which left them running back to Thursdays with their tails between their legs.

But ill-thought out plans are what TNA excels at.  It was the biggest problem with the company before Hogan and Bischoff came, and it’s only gotten worse since.  Let’s take a trip back through the early months and look at some of the things that TNA has done on Impact.

The Band Arrives – 1/4
What happened
Kevin Nash brought Scott Hall and Syxx-Pac with him to Impact and the three started making waves backstage, attacking both Rhino and Beer Money backstage.

What TNA was thinking
TNA remembered how far the nWo got WCW back in 1996 and tried to reestablish that effect. 

What went wrong
Unfortunately, not only could they not use the name New World Order (WWE owned) but the members are now 14 years older and in pretty bad shape.  What was supposed to redo the hottest story ever in wrestling ended up being a pitiful comedy act.  They are not seen as a viable threat in TNA and are largely ignored.

What came of it
The Band was referred to as a threat for a while as they spent months sneaking into Impact week after week.  They inexplicably turned on Kevin Nash, only to have him rejoin by turning on Eric Young, only for Eric Young to then turn and join himself.  They are the current tag team champions as of this writing.  Rhino has not been seen on Impact since.

Tomko revealed as the attacker – 1/15
What happened
After months of attacking A.J. Styles, the masked attacker finally revealed himself to be Tomko, former partner of A.J. Styles.

What TNA was thinking
TNA had plans to turn A.J. Styles heel and put him with Ric Flair, but after months of buildup they couldn’t simply let the masked attacker thing drop without a resolution. 

What went wrong
To solve the problem, they simply pushed fast forward and played the whole thing out in a single night.  A possible main event feud for Tomko fizzled out at that moment and he has been stuck in the midcard ever since. 

What came of it
TNA showed some pre-taped promos of Tomko complaining about Styles, then the two had a match in which Styles won.  The whole thing was done in one night.  Styles turned heel three nights later.

The Orlando Screwjob – 1/21
What happened
A night after losing a match with the stipulation that it would be Kurt Angle’s final title shot of 2010, Kurt Angle was given another title shot against A.J. Styles who had just turned heel.  A.J. Styles put Kurt Angle in his own ankle lock and referee Earl Hebner called for the bell without Angle tapping out.

What TNA was thinking
With WWE getting publicity for the return of Bret Hart, apparently TNA thought they could grab some of that attention by staging a reenactment of the 1997 event. 

What went wrong
Unfortunately, they got almost all of the details of the original match wrong.  The screwjob was done to get the title OFF of Bret Hart.  Angle was the challenger – why not simply have A.J. Styles get himself disqualified or counted out?  Second, TNA tried to pass off that it was all Earl Hebner who had been responsible for the original event, despite what pretty much every wrestling fan knows quite well.

What came of it
Kurt Angle doubted Hulk Hogan for a week then got over it.  Earl Hebner was “suspended” for about a month, then came back.

Bobby Lashley fired – 1/28
What happened
After a few weeks of demanding to be released, Bobby Lashley had an apparent change of heart and asked to stay in TNA.  After waiting a week, Eric Bischoff fired him.

What TNA was thinking
With Lashley wanting to leave the company, TNA probably wanted to embarass him on the way out.  If not, then I have no idea.

What went wrong
It made no sense that Lashley would suddenly want to stay with the company, only for Bischoff to suddenly want him out.  And by that point, no one really cared about him anyway.

What came of it
Absolutely nothing.

Hulk Hogan reveals that he’s not with the Band
What happened
During a beatdown of Kurt Angle at the hands of the Band, Hulk Hogan enters the ring area with the announcers convinced he’s with the Band.  Hogan turns on them and helps Angle clear the ring.

What TNA was thinking
After the months of keeping Hogan’s true motives vague, let’s show that he’s 100% behind TNA in sort of a reverse of Bash at the Beach 1996.

What went wrong
Hogan’s motives weren’t vague at all.  He was clearly a babyface at that point.  Had it been Eric Bischoff, it would have been a swerve.  There was no doubt whatsoever that Hogan wouldn’t be helping Angle.  Also, Hogan hadn’t been involved with the Band up to that point.  The whole thing came off as forced.

What came of it
Nothing.  Hogan and the Band never interacted again and Sting is currently still accusing Hogan of shady motives.

The Pope beats the odds – 2/14
What happened
An unlikely figure in D’Angelo Dinero defeated Mr. Anderson in a tournament final to become the #1 contender for the TNA Heavyweight Championship.

What TNA was thinking
The Pope, despite being a heel originally, was insanely popular with the crowd and quickly became a beloved babyface.  Seeing his talent and his charisma, they decided to fast track him to the main event.

What went wrong
Impact moved to Monday nights and TNA decided that the focus of the show should be Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair.  Hogan’s protege Abyss began feuding with Flair’s protege A.J. Styles over the championship, and the Pope’s title shot was pushed back an entire month.

What came of it
By the time Dinero got his title shot, Hogan v. Flair was pretty much everything on the show and Dinero became an afterthought, having been stuck in a poorly written feud with Desmond Wolfe in the meantime.  Dinero was injured during the title shot and was pushed out of the main event just before going on the shelf.

Hogan announces return to the ring – 2/26
What happened
Saving Abyss from a beatdown and getting beaten down himself, Hulk Hogan announced that he would be returning to the ring on the first Monday edition of Impact to face A.J. Styles and Ric Flair alongside Abyss.

What TNA was thinking
Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair are two of the most popular wrestlers ever.  Having them both return to the ring would make a great match to highlight the first Impact going head-to-head with Raw.

What went wrong
Two things, actually.  First, Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair is something fans had seen before many, many times.  Second, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair both retired for a reason – they’re old.  Hogan is 56 and Flair was 62 – both way past their primes.  And to make matters worse, the match was done twice to both open and close the show.

What came of it
A very long, very dull feud between Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair that sank TNA’s ratings lower than they had been in years.

Sting turns on Hulk Hogan – 3/8
What happened
During the match between Hogan/Abyss and Flair/Styles, the lights went out in the Impact Zone allowing Sting to appear suddenly.  Just as the good guys cheered, Sting beat them down and left.  Dixie Carter tried to get him to explain himself, but Sting simply threatened her.

What TNA was thinking
Hey, what if Sting turned heel?  Wouldn’t that be shocking?

What went wrong
No one thought about what would go on from there.  Here we are three months later and Sting still hasn’t explained why he turned.  He went flat out heel by joining up with Ric Flair, but then started saying that not all was what it seemed.  If nothing else, Sting simply doesn’t work as a heel since he seems to be unwilling (or unable) to deliver a heel promo to save his life.

What came of it
Sting has beaten up some good guys and speaks nonsense once in a while.  Fans stopped caring about him a long time ago.

Mick Foley shaves Eric Bischoff’s head – 3/15
What happened
In an effort to clean up Foley’s act, Bischoff promised to cut Foley’s hair and shave his beard in the ring.  Foley knocked out Bischoff and shaved his head.

What TNA was thinking
After these weeks of abuse by Eric Bischoff, isn’t it about time that Foley gets his comeuppance?

What went wrong
The whole heel thing on Bischoff’s part was revealed to be a scam during the Lethal Lockdown match between Team Hogan and Team Flair, so the whole Foley/Bischoff/Jarrett thing was dismissed as if it had never happened.

What came of it
After being hit in the head with a gee-tar, Bischoff put Foley and Jarrett in a match with the loser getting fired.  Foley lost and hasn’t been seen since, even though Bischoff was apparently a babyface the entire time.

Abyss slams A.J. Styles through the ring – 3/21
What happened
In his title match at Destination X, Abyss chokeslammed A.J. Styles so hard, he fell through the ring.  Unfortunately, the ref through the match out because of it.

What TNA was thinking
We need to have Abyss win without giving him the title, so let’s set this awesome spot up to make him look powerful!

What went wrong
Both Ric Flair and Desmond Wolfe came out and managed to get themselves blinded and trip over one another into the hole.  The slapstick routine was lamented by fans everywhere.

What came of it
Abyss left the title picture to lead Team Hogan into Lethal Lockdown.  Styles ended up looking even more weak than he had previously.

Matt Morgan injures Hernandez – 3/22
What happened
Though still tag team champions, Matt Morgan and Hernandez decided to settle their differences in the ring.  The match ends when Morgan delivers the Carbon Footprint to Hernandez against the steel ringpost, sending him out on a stretcher.

What TNA was thinking
We need to get Hernandez out for a while, but do so in a way that still pushes Matt Morgan.

What went wrong
Despite showing a camera angle that showed Morgan’s foot didn’t actually connect, it was a good angle and one that put Morgan on an interesting track of calling himself the champions and being forced to team with other tag team partners.  Unfortunately, this came to a grinding halt when the belts were inexplicably given to the Band just before a PPV match.

What came of it
The swerve ruined a feud between Matt Morgan and Ink, Inc. and ended Morgan’s gimmick.  TNA is trying to recover the lost momentum, but it may be a losing battle.

And we’ll go ahead and stop there.  We may go into April at a future date, but I’m guessing that these months have made my point quite well.

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