wrestling / Columns

411 Fact or Fiction Wrestling: All TNA Edition – Lashley Losing Momentum?

February 13, 2015 | Posted by Larry Csonka

Welcome back to the latest edition of 411 Fact or Fiction, Wrestling Edition! Stuff happened, people loved/hated it and let everyone else know. I pick through the interesting/not so interesting tidbits and then make 411 staff members discuss them for your pleasure. Battling this week: First up is Dino Zee! He battles Jericho Ricardi!

  • Today is a special all TNA edition. We may do specialized editions of the column from time to time if the response is good.

     photo Locldown_zpsmtfi7t75.jpg

    1. TNA Lockdown was a solid, but unspectacular show.

    Dino Zee: FACT – This was literally the break down I gave to my buddy the day after when he came over to watch it. “It was good, but there was nothing incredible. But nothing sucked, either.” It just feels like the two hours keeps them from hitting that fifth gear. And again, I dug the show. I thought the tag team title match was fun. I thought Havok vs. Kong was fun. I dug Eric Young against Bobby Roode. Tyrus destroying Spud and Mandrews was decent enough. I thought Lethal Lockdown was fun, too. But like I said, not one of the matches felt epic. And no, not every match has to feel epic, but as a fan, I still hold out that expectation come a “big” show like Lockdown should be. If I could boil it down, I just wish that each match could have had 5-10 more minutes, and I think each could have hit that next level. I’d still recommend Lockdown to anyone who didn’t see it with no qualms about it.

    Jericho Ricardi: FACT – I felt like Lockdown was a good cap-off to the latest run of NYC tapings, ending a number of feuds and giving us a solid PPV-quality show. However, it was missing that classic match (or two) needed to be something truly spectacular. EY/Roode and Kong/Havok, in particular, could have both been classic matches had they been given more time. Instead, neither really had a chance to develop. The ending of Roode/EY was excellent, but Roode’s anguished slaying of his friend would have been even more memorable had it been the end of a lengthy all-out match. Spud/Tyrus could have been a great David Vs. Goliath showdown, with Spud defeating Goro to move on to the final boss just in time for the UK shows. Instead we got a bizarre handicap match with Tyrus overcoming the “odds” and pinning Spud.

    While Lockdown was arguably better than the last few WWE PPVs, the fact is that NXT has significantly raised the bar for how TV specials are judged by the mainstream audience. Lockdown was TNA’s opportunity to deliver an NXT-type showcase event and ring in the new network, but it fell short of the potential it had.

     photo Lashley_zpsnbgcjcyu.png

    2. Following a great return in 2014, Lashley has lost steam since his face turn and separation from MVP.

    Dino Zee: FACT – I’d agree with this, but I don’t consider him a lost cause or anything like that. I mean, he is the World Champion. Still, losing the title to Bobby Roode- followed by the shady way that he won the title back- had already docked a bit of his “destroyer” cred. Watching him get a little cowardly with Kurt Angle and not wanting to join the team didn’t do him any favors, either. Of course, the flip side is that he eventually came around, joined the match, and smashed the MVP and Friends Stable. On top of that, now that he’s made a choice, we can unleash an MVP vs. Lashley feud for a month or two, and see where that takes us. He’s lost a little momentum for the time being, sure, but I think this is all pretty salvageable.

    Jericho Ricardi: FACT – Though not through any fault of Lashley. He has done a superb job. I think he was 2014’s most-improved wrestler in any major American company, as well as the most well-booked champion in years…aside from perhaps Brock Lesnar, but Lashley is actually around and competing on a weekly basis. Because of that, consistently booking him so well is an achievement. Unfortunately, Lashley isn’t a good talker. He needed a manager, and once he separated from MVP it left him without one. He’s still looking strong, but he isn’t the flawless badass he was when he had MVP speaking for him. MVP is one of the best talkers in the company, but perhaps they can find someone equally skilled with words (and Lawful Good in alignment) to speak for the new Lashley.

     photo TNA TV_zpsbigozyvp.jpg

    3. You do not care how far ahead TNA tapes their TV as long as they put out quality programming.

    Dino Zee: FACT – At its heart, this is absolutely a fact. That’s not to say there aren’t things that bother me about the weeks-long taping schedule of TNA. I try my best to avoid spoilers, but most fans act like it’s some sort of crime to not openly talk about what’s happened on a show that hasn’t aired yet. So, constantly having TNA spoiled can kinda suck. And no, it’s not from reading news reports. It’s from talks with friends who just drop that info in like it’s matter of fact. So yeah, that kinda annoys me about the schedule. But back to the actual point, if the wrestling is good, then I’m going to watch, whether it’s being taped as I watched, or was taped 7 weeks ago. And honestly, I’ll still watch even when I know all of the spoilers. I know we like to make our 1993 WCW jokes about their tapings, but as long as the show is good, everything else is a distant second in terms of importance to me as a fan. Tape 6 months if you want, as long as they’re all good episodes.

    Jericho Ricardi: FICTION – They’ll always be viewed as second-rate if they keep taping weeks or months in advance. WWF did that in 1996 (as well as taping in small TNA-like venues) and it worked okay for them financially, but in the internet age it sucks a lot of momentum out of the product. It isn’t a good look when people can easily find out the trajectory of an entire story arc before it even gets going on TV. I’m fine with the one week live / one week taped schedule (which WWF used in 1998 and some of 1999, when they were doing well), but TNA’s current methods are overkill. There’s no possibility of any huge surprises when a sizable portion of the audience already knows the outcome of the UK tapings.

    Another issue with advance tapings done in excess is that they leave the live audience lost as to storyline developments. One week live / one week taped means that the audience is fully up to speed (as they see the live show before the taped show). On the other hand, doing tapings five or six nights in a row means that the fans in attendance on any particular night often find themselves completely lost as to what exactly is going on. This hurts audience reaction to the shows themselves – case in point, the live audiences having no idea who Mahabali Shera / Koya is because they hadn’t been seeing the weeks of vignettes that’d be introducing him leading up to that point on-air.


     photo Gunner_zpsiu5bg6jb.jpg

    4. Gunner has been the most wasted/misused talent on the TNA roster over the last 12 months.

    Jericho Ricardi: FICTION – Tigre Uno takes the crown here. TNA’s usage of Tigre Uno has been pretty disgraceful. I’ve gone into this in the 4Rs quite a bit; Tigre is their one pure luchadore, so why not market and push him as a star? Give him some big wins and some underdog storylines. Let him be an entertaining part of the show. Instead, they trot him out with no fanfare when they need a jobber to Bram or Koya, guys twice Tigre’s size. It gives the impression that Tigre Uno is the bottom rung of the roster, something for newer guys to go through and nothing more.

    With all of that being said, Gunner takes second-place. Some may scoff at this and say he can’t wrestle or whatever, but he’s a talented beast with a good look who actually connects with live audiences. In person I watched him single-handedly win over the Manhattan Center crowd, one of the toughest crowds on Earth to impress.

    Gunner was going places a year ago, nearly capturing the world title at one point. He also won a violent, bloody, Attitude Era type feud with James Storm, but then his ascent just sorta halted as he got mired in the Sam Shaw feud and then disappeared. He certainly has his doubters and I’d like to see him have a real opportunity to prove them wrong. On the bright side, the company is starting to use him a bit better as of late by involving him with the main event level BDC conflict. Still, it’s possible that he’ll end up going the way of Matt Morgan as a beast who should have won the world title eventually but always ended up in the runner-up category instead. I hope not.

    Dino Zee: FICTION – Gunner is a good candidate, this is for sure. He’s good in the ring, has a good build, and they’ve definitely stopped and started with his push a few times. However, I have a different choice for the most misused (and not necessarily wasted) talent in TNA, and that’s MY BOY, Ethan Carter III, EC3 to his friends. Please, allow me to explain. EC3 clearly has “it”, and is one of the more engaging personalities in TNA. He’s been positioned (solely by allegiance) as a top level heel that you don’t mess with. He rarely loses matches. And for all that, he’s in a feud with Rock Star Spud and friggin Mandrews, and is usually allowing Tyrus to do all the work. Why hasn’t EC3 held any gold yet? Why hasn’t EC3 recorded any meaningful win without super fluky conditions? Why isn’t this guy being fitted for a massive rocket? Why isn’t answering my questions?? Maybe I’m rushing it, and maybe my expectations are just stupid high. Either way, I’m sticking with my choice. At least Gunner is kept in high profile feuds and matches. EC3 just gets the old “he’s on TV!” treatment, followed by a feud that isn’t that important in the overall scheme, regardless of how entertaining it is.

     photo BDS_zpsy2qhxlfd.jpg

    5. While they are close friends outside of the ring, the “Beat Down Clan” feels like every other “new heel stable that tries to takeover” that TNA seems to always run with.

    Jericho Ricardi: FICTION – While TNA is weirdly addicted to heel stables, I think BDC is different from the usual. Unless I missed something (entirely possible) they’re not trying to “take over the company” the way Aces and Eights, Immortal, Planet Jarrett, and the Main Event Mafia did. They simply believe that they’re entitled to possess the world title – their sole focus – and are willing to use gang warfare to get their way. If anyone is trying to take over TNA itself, it’s The Revolution. James Storm wants to recruit the whole roster into his army, little by little. Regardless, does BDC feel like another heel stable retread? Yeah, kinda. But their motivations and overall personality are different from anything else that has come down the pike in a while. Sorta Four Horsemen Meets Wu-Tang Clan.

    Dino Zee: FICTION – I love this question, because I know how some fans will deny this, and point out that heel stables have existed everywhere. The difference is, at least to me, that TNA seems to stick all the important heels together, and have been doing this since the days of Planet Jarrett. I actually like that they stick to their guns with this idea, whether it’s Immortal, or Dixieland, or the Beat Down Clan. But, while I agree that TNA absolutely does these monster heel stables far too often, I’m actually going to say Fiction on this question, because it doesn’t exactly feel like every other time this has been done. MVP and Kenny King were already running together, so that makes sense. Samoa Joe is slowly becoming TNA’s version of Big Show with how often he turns, so at the very least, it shouldn’t have been a huge shock. Low Ki wasn’t doing much, and now he has something to do. Joe and Low Ki had also spent the closing months of 2014 building up the respect that they have for one another in their X Division Championship matches, so seeing them join up together made sense. That’s actually the big thing here for me – the group makes sense. This isn’t Monty Brown joining Planet Jarrett because, umm, he’s a heel? This isn’t Jeff Hardy joining Immortal because, umm, swerve? Or Magnus joining with Dixieland because, umm, we need a marquee name for this group? You have guys who have been friendly with each other forming a group in the name of taking out the guys they hate. It’s similar to other stables, sure, but I wouldn’t say that it “feels like every other” heel stable we’ve seen.

     photo EC3_zpsh5p7ltnl.jpg

    6. Ethan Carter III will be the TNA World Champion by the end of 2015.

    Jericho Ricardi: FACTIEST FACT – He has been undefeated for a year and a half; exudes more star power than any young talent has demonstrated in TNA since the days of Pope and Desmond Wolfe; has a personality and wrestling style that bring to mind The Rock circa early 1998; …and has a highly-punchable face. What more do you need in a top-level heel? While he isn’t at “world title level” yet, his slow ascent has been well-planned and well-executed, and you can count me in on the EC3 bandwagon.

    Unfortunately, he has been a bit derailed by an injury, but to their credit the company has kept him on television in a mostly non-wrestling capacity. When it comes to can’t-miss prospects, EC3 is at the top of a short list for TNA. When and how they give him his first world title – and whether or not the crowd organically turns him face by then – is going to be very interesting to see.

    Dino Zee: FACT – Yeah, I’ve had this pegged as a “call” since about halfway through last year, and I’m not budging. EC3 will be (or, at least, will have held) the TNA World Championship by the time the year is over. I’d like to think this is a slam dunk, and I can’t wait for the moment to arrive. Sure, I just got finished saying he has been the most misused talent in TNA, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. I have a feeling that when he finally gets tired of beating up the Boot Camp Graduates, he’ll focus on some gold, and it will be easily acquired.