Every week, The Spinning Lariat brings you Trent Zuberi’s notes and observations on the latest in TNA Impact Wrestling, and occasionally the larger world of American pro wrestling as a whole.
Phenomenal. The word that surrounded the entire Bound For Glory series and pay-per-view event embodied itself at the end of the main event this past Sunday night. From the opening bell to the grueling battle in-between to the triumphant ending, everything about the conclusion of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship match was simply Phenomenal.
The Phenomenal AJ Styles is the new reigning and defending TNA World Heavyweight Champion, having beaten the dominant Bully Ray. The culmination of this story took a year to reach, and what a ride it was. Many ups and downs and twists and turns over the last year left some to be desired, but at the end of the day, all knew the day would come when the franchise player of TNA Impact Wrestling would once again be world champion. He fought not only a very tough opponent, but also several external (kayfabe) factors which led to his “lone wolf” attitude. There was much doubt about whether or not he would even make it to the title hunt, but excellent storyboarding placed him perfectly and just at the right time to earn the shot.
The landscape of TNA is at a crossroads. The face of the company is once again a homegrown talent that is very proud and loyal to the company he helped build. This is TNA’s shot at redeeming years of fan abuse where the homegrown stars were put on the backburner to make way for WWE castoffs. This being said, Bully Ray was one of the greatest champions TNA has ever had. His complete career revitalization has been amazing, and he carried the company banner like none other, but it was time to bring the belt back home to an original. By this point, many fans have lost a lot of faith in TNA to do the right thing with their pushes, so with AJ leading up to the title for a year and finally winning it, proper storytelling could really push the company to the next level and give fans a completely fresh product to watch.
On the current roster, you have enough homegrown talent to give AJ programs for the next year to year and a half. Within this time, you have many deserving members of the roster that can be positioned to take the title off him and have their own run. The key here is proper buildups and payoffs for each, keeping everyone strong in the process. A new competitor can essentially be elevated to the main event every month for the next year if done right, leading up to his eventual successor.
This article usually strays away from comparisons between TNA and WWE, but in this one area we will dive in to make a few valid points. The WWE, despite how they end up booking said talent in the end, has thrown their focus on the young talent of the company to staggering success. Did they use tired veteran talent to help elevate the young guys? Absolutely, as did TNA, but the difference here was that they went all the way and really didn’t take focus away from the younger guys the company was trying to get over. One of the biggest arguments fans have against TNA is the Hogan factor and his level of involvement on the show. He had cut it down drastically in recent months, but the taste left in everyone’s mouth of how involved he was all this time never went away. You’d have four Hogan segments on a show and one with Austin Aries. It didn’t make sens,e but now we are seeing a shift. Credit given to WWE that they make sure the young talent gets the exposure they need to get over. AJ’s winning of the title hopefully marks the beginning of change that can take TNA higher.
All business talk aside, congratulations to AJ Styles for winning the championship and reclaiming his spot at the top of TNA. A new era has begun, and the feeling of change is in the air. A lot to close out the year with, thus begins the build to next year’s Bound For Glory. As his theme song says, get ready to fly!
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