Culture

The Spinning Lariat: The Chase

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Every week in The Spinning Lariat, Trent Zuberi talks the latest in TNA Impact Wrestling, and occasionally in American independent wrestling as a whole. 

It’s an age-old saying that the chase is better than the catch. That the build to the climax is always better than the climax itself, but why is that? What is it about the chase that overrides the catch? I always wondered why the journey meant more than the destination when the ultimate endgame is to reach the destination and build the story from that point forward. After thinking about it for some time, I came to realize that the thrill for that journey is caused by the route you take to reach the goal. I know what the goal is, or in the case of a story or external event I know what I want it to be, but the twists and turns my life or the character I am watching encounters is what I don’t know from minute to minute. The joy one feels comes from the not knowing. The thrill we feel comes from the fact that we know what or where we are going to end up, but we’ll be damned if we can predict what could possibly happen along the way. No other form of art depicts this roller coaster of emotions better than professional wrestling.

The current TNA World Heavyweight Championship match for the biggest show of the year, Bound for Glory, is set to have champion Bully Ray defending against challenger AJ Styles. A year in the making. Plain and simple, this story has been a year in the making. The commitment shown to building this story has been amazing. When AJ Styles took his ball and went home last year after a string of setbacks and disappointments, the thought on some fans’ minds was that it could be leading to a character overhaul for the guy. At that point AJ was in dire need of something to revitalize his career, but as the months went on and the new character was built, we weren’t really sure how they would get him to where he needed to be in order to regain the spark he once had.

We all knew that the endgame had to be the World Heavyweight Championship. No other storyline could give the magnitude of a rub like winning the big belt. However, how would they get him there? He came back as a rebel loner that wanted nothing to do with anyone. He was darker and more aggressive than ever before. He entered the BFG series in order to win his way to a title shot, but hovered way out of the top spot for a while. For AJ fans waiting for this resurgence, the entire summer was built around how TNA was going to get him to the top spot. That chase was the thrill. We knew that he just had to win the tournament and get a title shot, but the entire time it didn’t look promising so we weren’t sure. They fed and fed and fed the story until the last possible week when AJ qualified in to gain a shot, which he eventually won and is now the contender in the main event of the pay-per-view.

That build was done in such a way that the fans never lost interest. The audience reaction in every town they visit shows how successful this storyline has been thus far. AJ is more popular with the general public than ever before, and every TNA fan is anticipating this match. They have built the story, the subplot, and the beyond well enough that the only piece missing from this puzzle is the title itself.

At this Sunday’s Bound for Glory event, the title has to change, plain and simple. AJ Styles needs to win the championship in order to give credibility to a year’s worth of build, and hey, it’ll be nice to see him as champ again. However, the question lies whether or not the post-win bliss will continue to ride the wave of success or will it stagnate? The catch needs to be equally as interesting, if not better than, the chase. TNA has done a great job in setting up what can be several great stories if AJ does win the title, so the potential of the catch having equally great momentum as the chase is there. All the roads that have led to Bound for Glory are coming to a close, and it’s showtime this Sunday.

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