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 Bound For Glory 2013 (shouldn't they at least have the years attached to them?) now in the TNA archives, the natural progression of changes and application of those "new direction" rumors we've heard about for so long will begin. A new focus will hopefully bring about a renewed sense of belief in the product from fans, which will hopefully lead to a reinvestment into the product, ultimately ending with a renaissance in the overall image and reputation of the company.
Well, at least that's the plan, right?
After the beating TNA has taken in 2013 (We all know the story...), the company is in dire need of change. However, what kind of "change" has been the issue tossed around by many. We know change is needed, but what exactly does that “change” consist off?
An overwhelming desire by wrestling fans is the creation and building of new, homegrown stars on the IMPACT wrestling roster. Many believe the next generation for the company is upon us and it is time for the company to embrace it.
Magnus, Manik, or maybe even Ethan Carter III, are names that have been mentioned, discussed, and written about. Some believe TNA's next wave of wrestlers has yet to be signed to the company.
As always, the next generation is important. Very important, actually. However, much like the newly drafted backup quarterback or the highly touted baseball prospect, we all love the idea of the future. We all love the idea of looking ahead. We love the idea of hope. We're actually obsessed with it. And as TNA fans, with the light being very dark in the tunnel for the past couple of months, hope is a feeling that is almost tangible these days.
Yet, before we look to turn the page to a new era in TNA Wrestling with a new generation, TNA has some unfinished business with a generation of wrestlers who are owed the present. A generation of wrestlers who were once the future, and once the buzz around the scene. A generation of wrestlers who still have a lot to offer. A generation of wrestlers who the company can always rely on.
Of course, this generation of wrestlers includes: AJ Stlyes, James Storm, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, Abyss, Frankie Kazarian, Chris Sabin, Eric Young, and Gail Kim.
Wrestlers who have defined TNA Wrestling over the past eleven years. Wrestlers who one day will also be inducted into TNA's Hall of Fame. Wrestlers who have distinctly made their names in the wrestling business working under the banner of TNA Wrestling.
Before fans prepare to rid themselves of everything that is TNA and look to usher in a new clean slate with a cold, hard, reset, there are several reasons why the above special group of wrestlers, a rarity and special type of its kind, should be the "change" in TNA's new direction moving forward.
Father Time is Being Kind
We've come to the unfortunate point where some believe that this group either has A. done all that they have could for TNA; B. Have been damaged in reputation beyond repair and could use a change in location; or C. simply part of TNA's old generation - a time that is no longer coming back.
Most top tier wrestlers hit their prime in their late thirties and early forties. At this prime stage, they are not only established names, but they have characters, familiar quirks, signature sayings, and have built a loyal fan base. It is at this point where most wrestlers admit to understanding the nuances of the craft that include subtle things such as saving big spots for when it matters, the best way to work a crowd, and are at their max potential and comfort in regards to cutting promos and handling a microphone.
All of these things come, unfortunately, as the physical part begins to diminish. Nonetheless, it takes years to get to this point in the wrestling craft.
Shockingly for this special group, there is still plenty of time for them to max out on their potential. With an average age of 36.6 among them, quite shockingly, they are still far ahead of the curve. It’s a fact that if not stated with evident numbers, it would seem rather silly and far-fetched. For most of them, there is still at least five to seven years of high-quality wrestling remaining in their careers.
The time is perfect for each of them to solidify themselves as the future Hall of Famers they are, and will be. After eleven years of being "the future", TNA's change ought to be focused on making all of these homegrown talents - the founding fathers (and mother, I guess) - of TNA as big of a deal as possible. As grand as possible.
The time is right for the "change" in TNA to begin considering and establishing its core group of wrestlers as future Hall of Famers.
Owed and Earned
One of the complaints over the past few years has been the overall treatment of this group. You heard it referenced in AJ Styles' promo weeks ago (which may be have been for storyline purposes or very much true feelings) when he touched on Dixie Carter overlooking the men and women who helped make TNA a viable company and ignoring them for the "flavor of the month".
It's hard to argue with that stance as there have been numerous guys who have walked into a TNA locker room, and took the first opportunity out when it was available. Some would argue that the signings barely moved the needle in terms of interest and overall brand improvement. Many would argue the signings were a waste of money. All viable and reasonable opinions.
The truth still remains, every member of the group has made TNA their option. And those who left, such as Kazarian and Gail Kim, quickly returned and has been with TNA since.
TNA owes this group. Dixie Carter owes this group the honor, privilege, and opportunity to continue running with the ball they were handed before they were unceremoniously and inexplicably benched.
Think about the years which TNA moved away from relying on this group to cater toward those who came in for a holding pattern until they headed back to the WWE or as Styles stated, "came down to enjoy a paid vacation". Think about how much time was lost. There are years owed to this group for helping build and continuing to build the TNA brand. The fabric of TNA is made up of and includes the sweat from every single one of the members within this group.
With all of them in or entering their prime years, it's time to repay them, and repay them in a big way. Most importantly, it's time to give them back the ball, the ball they earned and never truly lost.
Being An Original Is Bad
It's also imperative that the careers and reputations of each and every one of these talents aren't simply just that of "TNA originals" and synonymous with "just being with TNA for a very longtime". Sometimes wrestling fans discuss this group as being a bunch of wrestlers who just happened to be lucky and good. As if they are only known because they were the better wrestlers among the many during the company’s upstart.
TNA needs this new change in focus to be geared toward elevating every one of these talents to the highest of proportions as possible. The next 5 to 11 years, depending on length of careers, needs to be the years which define their final legacy. These upcoming years must be the ones that solidify the path they created as individuals and as a group in the professional wrestling industry. For example, it would be an absolute travesty to think of Samoa Joe in 2020 and think his match with Kurt Angle in 2008 is what he is known for. Or even worse, his undefeated streak when he debuted.
The time is perfect for TNA to take this group from just being perceived by some as just being in the right place at the right time into a collection of wrestlers who are indeed special. A group not just known as being just "originals", but one which connects with every and any wrestling fan of being a true Hall of Famer. A TNA Hall of Famer.
This is especially imperative as TNA's Hall of Fame currently hosts two (maybe?) wrestlers who have contributed greatly to TNA's growth, but have made their career elsewhere. It feels like if Peyton Manning were to go into the Denver Broncos Hall of Fame.
It's a nice gesture, you're pretty big names, and thanks for helping, but we all know the truth in the situation.
We're waiting on the true Hall of Famers, which brings us to the next point...
Only One Time To Make A First Impression
I like the idea of the TNA Hall of Fame. And so far, the concept of one inductee a year makes it special. The Kurt Angle "decline" scenario is a bit perplexing, but for the most part, TNA's HOF has made two solid picks in its first two years.
However, Sting and Angle's inductions feel more like lifetime commemorative achievement awards. Not a knock, just the way it is.
Once the TNA-lifers begin to make their way in, will it truly begin to feel like a complete honor and celebration of a career in TNA. A scenario that will not happen until the likes of Jeff Jarrett, or someone else, from this heralded group receives the nod. Such a moment will all but guarantee a changing of the guard in the company.
This collection of Hall of Famers will forever be connected to setting the standard for the company moving forward while setting the bar for future TNA Hall of Famers to come.
TNA's foundation will be determined by the legacies and careers of each of these talents. To take it one step further, the company will forever be dictated by the direct and end-results of those who helped it in the beginning. As strong as this unit is at the end of their run, is as strong as TNA will be at that point when they are finally inducted.
Future Blast From The Past
And finally, this reason is more so for the overall credibility of the company and for enjoyment of the TNA fans. Wouldn't it be nice if TNA had their own legends and Hall of Famers for a change?
How often is TNA relying on legends and greats from other companies coming in to offer that nostalgic feel?
One of the clear and unmatched advantages to watching the WWE product is in fact reveling, celebrating, and remembering their vast and impressive history. The discussions of generations - Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, The Rock, or John Cena? It creates debates, adds excitement, and really gives the product a unique feel.
By solidifying this group as future Hall of Famers over the next few years, TNA is creating that foundation for their history. In a weird way, they are also investing in the future.
Solidifying this class of Hall of Famers would offer that same diatribe of generational debates for TNA fans; that proverbial child-like euphoria when an old great hits the ring for a special match; or even the rush of memories when a Hall of Famer goes through his signature movements, lines, and mannerisms.
What would it be like on an IMPACT in 2023 if "Get Ready to Fly" hits the loud speakers? Or how about the giddiness that would come over you when Bad Influence makes a surprise backstage appearance? How about the emotions that would be running high for an in-ring confrontation between James Storm and someone of the new generation? Or finally, just imagine the fun in debating and dreaming about generational matches?
But before we can get there, before we clamor for drastic change or fall into glorious imaginations about TNA Wrestling 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years from now, we have to focus on the here and now. For the "change" needed in TNA is not to move away from what happened in the past, or even to begin concentrating on the future, but merely looking to improve the present, and making it Hall of Fame worthy.
That present being AJ Stlyes, James Storm, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, Abyss, Frankie Kazarian, Chris Sabin, Eric Young and Gail Kim.
Change needs to begin with them. And I couldn't think of any better time to begin solidifying the future TNA Hall of Fame class of 20XX than after Bound For Glory.
After all, their overall success is inextricably bound with the success of TNA Wrestling.
Why do some wrestling "fans" and pundits dissect TNA storylines and occurrences as if they are part of a prosecution?
I’m not overly upset about IMPACT tapings being taken off the road, but doesn't it frustrate you when TNA changes, adds, drops, and forgets many of the ideas and aspects they mention in press releases?
Don't you just hope this time, things will be different?
Doesn't Bound For Glory seem more like a beginning than an end after this week's IMPACT?
And speaking of beginnings, didn't this week's IMPACT feel like a company looking to simply entertain?
Isn't Ethan Carter III the most polished, well-presented, and carefully packaged debuting wrestler TNA has had in a very, very, very long time?
How cool is EC3's entrance?
Angle/Roode continuing - who else is signing up for that with me?
Isn't it weird how in just a few minutes, TNA's tag division went from barely having a pulse to suddenly a viable division with multiple teams?
When will Dixie Carter get credit for truly embracing and doing some awesome work in her heel role?
This is a weekly occurring ponder for me, but how unbelievable awesome - and underrated - is Bully Ray at what he does?
Shouldn't Salt Lake City immediately be placed on a short list of places TNA needs to go to again.
How big league is AJ Styles right now?