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Pondering with Plumtree - Is Pro Wrestling Ready For Its First Steroid Character

Pondering with Plumtree is a column on the popular blog, TNAsylum, that is written by yours truly. The blog is focused towards being a fan site for TNA Wrestling fans where they can get news, rumors, opinions, and any and everything else, TNA Wrestling. Known as "The Haven for TNA Wrestling Fans", I'm hoping to bring some of my thoughts to an already impressive roster of columnist for as long as the site will have me. You can read the latest column here, or in the text below.

As a fan, it's pretty difficult to not get wrapped up and immersed in the recent AJ Styles vs. #TeamDixie story line that is blossoming on IMPACT as of late. The story has such a bend toward truth and realism that it presents a high quality of entertainment and intrigue, all while offering a dynamic direction to the product. Authentic scenarios in pro wrestling usually do. And if they aren't taken directly from reality, those based on reality work just as well.

Examples of this are littered throughout pro wrestling history. From stories taken directly from backstage happenings to others that mimic real life, it is usually these inspirations that create the best drama forwarding the progression of the product, and at times a character, for a pro wrestling company.

TNA has had it's share of these situations in the past. From Sports Entertainment Xtreme, all the way to Kurt Angle, Jeff Jarrett, and Karen Jarrett turning their personal situation into an on-air storyline. Other real life situations or scenarios taken from reality have included love triangles, the boss vs. employee dynamic, sexism, racism, homosexuality, divorce, child custody issues, terrorism, nepotism, the oppressed underdog, the aggressive corporate management, the cheating boyfriend/girlfriend, and even the pregnancy angle.

A solid, authentic, relative story is rarely ever a bad thing. After all, drama should go hand in hand with pro wrestling.

Yet, even after all of those situations that have taken place, pro wrestling has yet to go down the road of a storyline or character involving steroids or performance enhancing drugs. It's quite fascinating to think about, especially when some storylines as controversial as Muhammad Hassan's play on terrorism on an episode of Smackdown years ago were given the green light.

As far as the Hassan situation pushed the envelope, the issue remains, that one topic of steroids and PEDs seems completely off-limits. Or maybe, it's just a touchy one. Possibly, its neither, and wrestling as an industry just isn't there yet.

But maybe, just maybe, TNA can break that ice by going where most companies don't want to go. Maybe it's a risk that could possibly be worth the reward if pulled off correctly.

What if TNA were to have wrestling's first steroid/PED-using character?

Now, I'm sure, many of you reading this right now might be saying to yourselves, "Plumtree, are you crazy?" Maybe so. But hear me out.

The wrestling industry has long had a reputation of being an industry connected to you know, the "s" word. That is no secret.Yet, since those days, steroids have become a large enough issue around the world, in the Olympics and various sports leagues, to which it is no longer a wrestling-only topic. It's no longer like the early 90's where it was a sort-of taboo topic. You knew about it, but simply didn't say anything.

Steroids and PED-related stories fill our news headlines almost everyday, and are among some of the most interesting topics to banter about. The world is educated and connected enough to where the (shhhh!) "S" word is no longer a secret to those in shady illuminated locker rooms across the nation. It's a topic real enough to lend from. Controversial enough to take from. And noticeable enough to profit from.

Of course, this only works for TNA Wrestling if the company is legitimately drug free. And that is the biggest hurdle. If it is as clean as we hope, and as they tell us, then why not? Really, in some sick, twisted, reverse-psychology logic, the acknowledgement of such a storyline works as a public declaration to the public that TNA is comfortable enough with the issue to make it a part of their on-air story lines.

And let's be honest, the days of looking like an enormous muscle-headed freak in pro wrestling are behind us. But of course, I'm not that naive to believe the industry is completely drug free in regards to PEDs.

Now of course, the other end of the spectrum would be how the media and public will perceive this? The ironic part here is that for the many who go out of their way to tell wrestling fans at every awaken opportunity, "you know it's fake, right?" as if we weren't aware of it being predetermined, they will in fact be the group to become hooked on such a story line. The thought of whether it is legit or not would probably frustrate them a bit into viewing. I'm sure a few outlets would pick up the story as something real. Or maybe it is controversial enough to cover due to the irony of the situation - "Pro Wrestler playing steroid using character?". The media can be quirky and confusing like that when it comes to pro wrestling. Look no further than the news outlets that thought Vince McMahon really died in a limousine to end RAW years ago.

Nonetheless, the tightrope on the already blurred line regarding this topic could and would be something intriguing and controversial enough to really launch a major story line for a company, in this case, TNA Wrestling. Much of the thought and modeling can be derived from the Alex Rodriguez and Lance Armstrong situations, with a little bit of Ivan Drago from Rocky IV sprinkled in. Because let's face it, the world is learning to really hate cheaters, PEDs, and liars. Especially, when they lie and still prosper from it.

If done right, TNA could pull off something that has never been done before in the industry, all while making a promising wrestler into a household name for the company through such a story line. I believe it is a concept fresh (and risky) enough to garner attention and intrigue.

I don't have any experience booking or writing for a creative team, but I thought a little breakdown of an example of how I envision this being executed would be helpful. I'm sure all of you will be able to adjust, expand, or downright improve on this idea. And I hope you do in the comments below. Either way, here we go:

Stage 1: TNA needs to find themselves a freakishly athletic and talented wrestler. 

A wrestler they are absolutely sure about, and one they can trust to invest in. They do not need to have the "Rob Terry physique" as it would seem like too much, but the wrestler should have an obvious build that expresses the idea of them being a tremendous athlete.

- Debut this new talent and have them win a couple of matches convincingly. Most likely squash matches. Possibly a referee stoppage or two. Have Mike Tenay and Taz really put him over as one of the best young talents they've seen in their time in the industry.

Stage 2: Create Random Goals/Records to accentuate the wrestler's recent wins.

- Something along the lines of "most wins by a rookie in a month", or even give him the note of holding the fastest pin in TNA history. Nothing too crazy, but substantial enough to really build his worth, his dominance, and his feel of being a once-in-generation wrestler.

Stage 3: After a few weeks (possibly months), have him defeat a top talent.

- A big win over someone in the upper-mid card to really get the fans behind him. To really set up the turn, what if he beat Kurt Angle, Mr. Integrity himself, fair and square?

- Have Tenay and Taz really put over the win, and of course, emphasize his age, his early success, and future projection.

Stage 4: Begin to show "caught" footage of wrestler doing shady things hinting at Steroid/PED usage.

- Possibly even have him snap into a rage following a recent tag team match loss, where he destroys his tag team partner backstage.

- Keep it all ambiguous. Have Tenay and Taz not look at each other with serious concern, but not address it verbally leaving it to the viewer to dissect.

- After a few times, maybe a subtle, "Is that what I think it is?" by Tenay. Taz can follow up in a mellow tone with his experience and insight as a former wrestler by responding along the lines of, "If it is, there is no place for that. I've been in a lot of locker rooms. I've seen a lot of things. But that's not accepted in any locker room in this business"

Stage 5: Positive Test

- After weeks of babyface build up, have Wrestler X win a gauntlet battle royal for a Title opportunity. Maybe a surprise World title shot, preferably against a heel champion who has been trying to dodge the up and coming youngster. Al Snow opens IMPACT on the night of his big opportunity by meeting him at the door as he walks in and says, "we have to talk, immediately!"

- As the night goes on, we are let in on his meeting as Snow reveals that Wrestler X will NOT receive his World Title shot that night due to failing the standardized championship match drug test. Snow reveals that he tested positive (No need to mention specifics).

- You can have the night built around controversy and an "up in the air" situation.

- Finally you can have JB catch up with Wrestler X who is leave the building. He is nonchalant about it the news. Claims he's "100% innocent" and plans on filing a lawsuit against TNA Wrestling.

Stage 6: Legal Action

- Wrestler X appeals decision, and continues to win. Important that he wins clean in each decision. Somehow, you can even have Joseph Park tied into this situation.

Stage 7: Wins Championship

- Backstage cut scenes still show Wrestler X in same controversial scenes hinting at steroid usage once in a while.

- Wrestler X eventually wins World Title and is dominant in run. Not in typical heel fashion of cheating and interference, but continues to win clean. The dominant heel is so rare in wrestling it should add to the character. Plus, the fact that he's winning in the ring fair and square, yet still "cheating" is the foundation that his character should be based off of.

- In the long run, you can have him built up to finally have him lose to the conquering hero to close the storyline arc.

It is important that the character of the wrestler is not one that is your typical cowardly, pompous heel. He should be someone that believes he's innocent, will lie even if backed into a corner, and has very little ethics about his integrity. A mixture of subtle cockiness and arrogance with a brush of believing he's a victim would probably be ideal.

Obviously, to completely build and develop this character would take a few months. Maybe even a year. However, with reality and truth-based scenarios often creating the best television, having a story line steroid/PED user is a concept that could develop the company a unique, dominating, big-time heel that is rare today, in a story line that has never been done before, around a topic that is just controversial enough to bring in strange eye balls on Thursday nights.

A steroid character in pro wrestling is one of the few "haven't-been-done-yet" ideas in pro wrestling. I believe TNA could not only pull it off, but highly benefit from the concept.

Yet, the question still remains, is pro wrestling ready for it's first steroid wrestling character?

What do you think?

Random Rhetoric

Is it just me, or has Bound For Glory seem more "blahhh" than the "biggest event of the year" that it's supposed to be?

And really, doesn't Slammiversary naturally have that built in aura more so than BFG?

Wasn't the mention of the last man standing match from a few years ago a nice touch in building the AJ Styles/Bully Ray promo?

If Anderson truly did resign, how great of a feud does TNA have waiting between him and Bully Ray?

And honestly, couldn't the case be made that Bully Ray is one of the most underrated wrestlers of our generation?

Isn't it a bit weird Austin Aries and Jeff Hardy made a match for the X-Division championship without even getting approval from Manik?

And isn't it even weirder after the last two weeks of Kenny King being involved in this situation (and not Jeff Hardy), he's the one left out of the match?

Didn't the gauntlet match really help connect Magnus' finishers and signature moves?

Doesn't Magnus' deflated spirit help put over the importance of the BFG series?

And wasn't that a cool moment between Sting and Magnus to set up their match at BFG?

How funny was the Ego segment? Are you off the chain?

Isn't it nice to see TNA build and debut a wrestler with an established character?

Speaking of build, how great was the video on Gunner?

Isn't southern belle, silver spoon, heel Dixie a deeper character than just plain ol' TNA President Dixie Carter.

Did you also laugh out loud at the phrase, "take a ride on the Dixie train"?

And finally...

Isn't it a bit weird to think that might have been the last time we see Hulk Hogan on IMPACT?



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