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Shades Of Gray #4

TNA Lockdown

Tonight’s event gives me the first opportunity to preview a pay per-view in a Shades of Gray column, and this particular show certainly has its strong and weak points. Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe should be the best match of the night and it has been the best promoted match as well. The stipulation for the match is Angle’s title against Joe’s career, which seems to give away Joe winning as the finish.

Knowing TNA’s writing however, a nonsensical swerve could be booked - but here’s hoping they go with the predictable because Joe deserves a run with the heavyweight championship.

The Lethal Lockdown match should be a good one as well, but looking at the guys on Team Cage (Cage, Sting, Nash, Rhino, Matt Morgan) made me realize that TNA is in dire need of some fresh “faces” (pun intended) in the main event scene. With the exception of Morgan, all of them have had their shot, two of them for over 15 years. Morgan is a new face, but it’s probably too early for him to be a major player. The lack of top-level babyfaces makes me wonder why they decided to have Tomko turn heel and join Team Angle, after he had gathered momentum as a fan favourite. Perhaps A.J Styles is primed for a babyface run in a feud with Kurt Angle, if Angle drops the belt to Joe.

A constant criticism of TNA is that they have too much of the same thing: fighting within groups, women valets, and comedy characters are frequent on “iMPACT!”. Not to mention, Rellik, Petey Williams (or Lil’ Petey Pump - yep, that’s his new name), and Awesome Kong all wear Roman gladiator-esque gimmicks.

Having too many multi-person matches is another criticism of TNA, and Lockdown is full of them. Lethal Lockdown: 10 wrestlers; X Championship Xscape Match: 6 wrestlers; Cuffed in the Cage: 12 wrestlers; Queen of the Cage: 8 wrestlers. Can you say, clusterf@ck? For whatever reason, TNA feels the need to fit everyone from the roster onto every PPV. I, for one, wouldn’t be disappointed if the likes of the Rock N’ Rave Infection and Rhaka Khan missed a PPV or two. Unbelievably, there’s only two singles matches on the entire 8-match card: Angle vs. Joe and B.G. James vs. Kip James.

Speaking of the James Gang, their match has been promoted very well. As D.J.B. has said in “Tha iMPACT! Playback” several times, the Rough Cuts segments have been some of the strongest that TNA has produced in some time. Unfortunately, the match won’t live up to the hype - and I see this as the last major program of either man’s career.

Robert Roode and Payton Banks vs. Booker T and Sharmell is another match that should deliver. Admittedly, having Roode and Sharmell in the same ring adds some interest to the match: will Roode place his hands on Sharmell again? Or will Sharmell gain a measure of revenge with a slap to the face? But the same interest could have been achieved in a singles match, with the respective valets at ringside. Still, with the exception of Joe-Angle, this feud has the most heat of any in the company, and has cemented Roode’s status as a future world champion.

WWE’s Concussion Management Program

Sports Legacy Institute (of which former WWE Superstar Chris Nowinski is a part) released a statement on Friday which announced that WWE superstars will now be tested twice a year for “such things as memory, cognitive skills and reaction time.” In addition, wrestlers will be “re-tested after suspected concussions to help determine when it is safe to return to in-ring action.”

On the surface, this program appears like a major step in the right direction for the biggest wrestling company in the world. Concussions need to be considered major injuries and many (including those at Sports Legacy Institute) believe that dozens of undiagnosed concussions are at least in part to blame for the Benoit murder-suicide.

However, we should be cautious about this statement for numerous reasons. For one, the WWE has not yet made any official announcements about the program - Nowinski’s statement is based on anonymous reports from WWE wrestlers. For two, the Wellness Policy was introduced amidst much optimism and was soon exposed as a joke of a program, particularly when it was revealed that Benoit, a steroid abuser, was able to pass several tests. Improvements have since been made to the policy but it still has its flaws - come on, we all know Cena’s and Batista’s piss is not clean.

For three, concussions will still go undetected. Most workers do not want to get off the road - it means no house show money, no TV money and no PPV money. As such, many still won’t report suspected concussions even to the detriment of their health. Even if damage is detected 6 months later in a neuropsychological test, that still leaves plenty of time for even more damage to have been inflicted.

With that being said, this program is an obvious positive measure; the fed needs to show more care toward its talent. There is no professional sports league that demands more commitment from its performers, both physically and mentally, than the WWE. But we need to be careful about getting overly optimistic because Sports Legacy Institute’s statement suggests there are still flaws with the program.

CM Punk as MITB winner

For years, smarts have been calling for the Straight Edge Superstar to get his shot at a major championship in the WWE, and after winning the MITB at WrestleMania XXIV, it finally appears as if he’ll get that chance. Truthfully, Punk’s popularity has grown beyond the internet community and he is now one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster. Hopefully, this win will be used to propel him to another brand- he’s done all there is to do on ECW.

Many are suspecting that the 3-hour edition of “Raw” on April 21 will include the annual Draft, and if it is, I suspect he’ll be moved to “Raw” or “SmackDown!”. Just like the main event scene in TNA, the top babyface contingent on Raw is getting stale as well - Cena, Triple H and Shawn Michaels have been in the mix for many years, and adding Punk to the mix would not only be interesting, but also a major step forward in Punk’s career.

I doubt Punk would ever be able to trump Triple H on “Raw”, though, due to the heat between the two, so a move to “SmackDown!” would be the best for Punk. He’d fit in nicely behind Undertaker and Batista as the #3 babyface on the brand. I expect a long reign for Taker, but I could see Punk eventually cashing in his briefcase against Edge, or possibly even against MVP (now that would make Tha Black Prophet “O!”).

Here’s where the bad part comes in: I highly doubt Punk will ever win the WWE Championship or World Heavyweight Championship, even though history suggests otherwise as far as past briefcase holders are concerned. Backstage politics and Punk’s lack of size will always work against him, particularly if his well-known bad (i.e., arrogant) attitude never subsides. On the plus side, he’ll likely end up in the (co-)main event of a PPV challenging for a major championship, but a reign with the title is another matter entirely.

4 comments: on "Shades Of Gray #4"

D.J.B. said...

As far as Punk goes, Triple Hayche may not like him, but the REAL McMahon's do. Vinny Mac and Steph absolutely love CM Punk, so I don't think a run with the top strap is out of reach. I do agree however in that I don't think he'll ever pin Hayche in the ring, but topping Orton, JBL or Michaels is very possible.

Look for Joe to lose at Lockdown because he said in a conference call promoting Lockdown that while he still hadn't signed a contract he wasn't leaving, but a storyline absence wasn't out of the question. He may have just been feeding the internet there, but like you said, in TNA would it really surprise anyone?

TNA's deal with the multi-person is two things. I still think their talent only gets paid per appearance on TV not backstage, and they want their nonstop action to be nonstop action.

Anonymous said...

dope joe won

Anonymous said...

Triple Ego will have to get use to the fact that his wrestling "family" love Punk and he will be pushed far like he deserves to be and if he doesn't acknowledge that who's to say that he ends up in the doghouse which is long overdue!

Andrew Gray said...

Lockdown was pretty good overall, but my call on the clusterf@cks was accurate - especially concerning lethal lockdown and cuffed in the cage (ugh).

Joe finally won the big one - it's supposed to be Joe-Steiner at Sacrifice, which is a rather lacklustre main event in my opinion.

anonymous - Triple H in the doghouse? Not going to happen.