Thursday, September 29, 2016

20 talents that WWE needs to keep if they buy TNA

If you believe the wrestling news websites, it's a very real possibility that TNA will soon be just another option in the vault that is the WWE Network.

Should WWE purchase TNA, my hope would be that they'd have learned from their prior mistakes when they purchased WCW and ECW. They should definitely do the stellar invasion angle they owe us after they so royally messed up the first go around.

That means keeping the TNA roster as is (at least until their TV contract runs out). That means letting them invade Smackdown (let's be honest: McMahon wouldn't let a TNA invasion go over successfully on Raw). That means using former WWE cast-offs, like Gail Kim, Ethan Carter III and Drew Galloway. That means actually invest into TNA with effort and money.

Yeah ... we all know that won't happen, so that leads us to this blog. WWE will inevitably retain a few of TNA's current stars for their rosters, get rid of the rest of them and then send TNA off into the WWE Network and a "Rise and Fall of TNA" 3-disc DVD set.

So, who do they keep? I've got a few suggestions. 20 of them to be exact. Seems like that's the entire TNA roster, right? They actually have a little over 50 on-air performers. It's doubtful that WWE will keep even half of them, but here's to hoping these 19 remain employed:

The Wolves
Okay, these guys do lack some charisma. However, what they lack in mic skills, they make up for with athleticism, a good gimmick, in-ring chemistry and some sick tattoos. They're smaller in size, but if they don't suit Vince McMahon's taste, then they'd at least be a great fit for the NXT audience.

 As more and more NXT teams make their way up through the ranks and onto WWE's big stage, The Wolves could be steady hands as a fixture in NXT's tag team division.

Tigre Uno
This guy is crazy athletic. Crazy talented! He's also way too similar to Kalisto (at least in WWE's eyes, I'm sure).

 He wears a mask and he flips around the ring. 'We already have one of those,' would probably be WWE's response. They're missing the boat, though.

 He's already shown that he can be great babyface. Tigre could be a great addition to their new cruiserweight division. Kalisto is the best luchador in a post-Rey Mysterio time, but Tigre Uno could be a great heel against him.

Drew Galloway
He's just not the most exciting wrestler in the world (or I probably would've placed him higher on this list). He's alright (and much better than when he was in WWE), but he's still got some growing to do.

 That being said, a return to WWE (with a fresh gimmick) might be just what he needs to get to that next level.

Galloway has some OK moves, but I think it's really the gimmick and the mic skills --- the overall package -- that's missing.  It's just a little fine-tuning that he needs in order to be a solid mid-to-upper card member of the WWE roster.

Rosemary and Craazy Steve
These two are fun. I'd throw Abyss in here as well, but WWE signing Abyss (assuming they purchase TNA and assuming they let the company fall apart) isn't likely to happen. So, let's stick with Rosemary and Steve. Rosemary is not your typical Diva.

 But, then again, the women of WWE aren't Divas anymore, are they?

 Rosemary, with her crazy chick gimmick, is unlike any other woman in wrestling. I think she'd be highly entertaining in an NXT feud with Ember Moon.

 Rosemary could cut some fun promos on Ember, while Ember lets her ring work speak for her. Rosemary is fun, but without Steve, it's not quite the same. Harley Quinn needs The Joker (even if it's a creepy, try-too-hard Joker in Jared Leto) and Rosemary needs Steve.

I've always been a little torn on DJ Z. Mr. Zema Ion is an incredible high-flyer, who could have fit right into WWE's recent Cruiserweight Classic. 

However, he never got me emotionally invested into his characters. 

He was simply a solid X-division wrestler. Then he was the completely annoying member of the BroMans. He's got the skills and the charisma. I think he needs a fresh start though.

Jessie Godderz
Despite the fact that he's a dude who spells is name the wrong way (I hate it when people try to add an 'I' to my name ... it's 'I' for gals and no 'I' for guys), Jessie Godderz is a good wrestler.

 He's The Miz of TNA in my opinion. A former reality TV star who did better than anyone expected when it comes to in-ring performance.

Godderz started off as Tara's muscle head boyfriend, but he transitioned into a decent wrestler during his time tagging with Robbie E.

His Lex Luger-like narcissist run last year didn't do him any favors. It was too much of a one-dimensional role. Thankfully, I think he's capable of doing a lot more in terms of character growth. I think he can continue to grow as a wrestler, too, just like The Miz. Who would've thought, back in 2006, when Miz was fumbling through hosting the Diva Search, that The Miz would have had some of the best matches of 2016.

The Pope De'Angelo D'niro
The former Elijah Burke isn't an active competitor, but he'd be a great addition to the commentary team. It may seem unlikely, but he could easily replace David Otunga, who is incredibly boring to listen to. Pope is fun and lively and seems excited when he's watching the product.

You gotta' give him credit: wwatching the TNA product over the past few years and being excited isn't an easy thing to do.

It's probably not going to happen, since David Otunga gives WWE the ever-so-important connection to Hollywood that they want through Otunga's relationship to Jennifer Hudson. That's part of the problem with WWE, but I've got to hold out a little faith that they'd focus on talent for a change instead of being publicity whores.

Rockstar Spud
If WWE wants a talented, yet humorous wrestler to fill the void of Santino Marella, then Spud is it. He can bring a different aspect to the cruiserweight division.

 T.J. Perkins may be an incredible wrestler, but as he showed with his promo before his match against Brian Kendrick at Clash of the Champions, he's going to need a lot of improvement to be the total entertaining package.

 Spud goes 100% into his character and never fails to entertain, no matter how minimal his role is or how little TV time he gets.

Gail Kim
Man, oh man, is it ever a disappointment that WWE finally decided it was time for a women's evolution when Gail Kim was in TNA. Her feuds with Awesome Kong and Taryn Terrell showed that women's wrestling could be a draw during a time that WWE wasn't investing in it.

Gail always struggled with speaking on the microphone in WWE, especially in her first run in the early 2000's. She was OK, but she was more wooden and less natural than she needed to be. Then she made her second return to WWE (after a stint in TNA).

She brought with her an entirely new set of polished wrestling skills and she probably could've been a total package, but WWE didn't give her even half a chance. She got time to wrestle quality matches on shows like Superstars and Main Event, but no such luck when she (rarely) went out to compete on Raw and/or Smackdown.

Gail is going to be inducted as the first and only woman into TNA's Hall of Fame this Sunday at Bound For Glory. Through two tenures in WWE and TNA, she's become one of the best women wrestlers in her generation, hands down. Now, with WWE actually focusing on women's wrestling, a third run with WWE might actually give her the chance she deserves --- and maybe, one day, a spot in WWE's Hall of Fame.

Robbie E
He's not as muscular as Jessie Godderz and he's probably not as big as Vince McMahon would like, but Robbie is entertaining. He started off in TNA as a Jersey Shore rip-off. Remember that fad of a TV show? Jersey Shore?

 Yeah, Robbie E. outlasted that fad. Granted he's still somewhat the same character, but he evolved into a more confident, more serious and more capable performer.

He's absolutely ready for the big-time. A quick run in NXT to get a bit of a character down and I think he'd be suited for Raw or Smackdown.

This girl needs to be a little stiffer in her wrestling, but she's as athletic as any woman in WWE right now. She's got a great look, she's got a variety of moves, and she can compete in just about any style there is.

 High-flying? She can do a twisting corkscrew moonsault without breaking a sweat. Technical wrestling? She's not Natalya, but she can hold her own. Brawling? Ground and pound? She's tough. She can do that, too.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure if she's the kind of female athlete that Vince McMahon would prefer to see in his ring.

 With Triple H and Stephanie having more and more influence, it's possible Jade could get signed. She's just as good of a wrestler as Billie Kay, Daria, Peyton Royce or Nikki Cross --- some of the more talented NXT women. When it comes to looks, Jade is captivating, different and sexy.

I'm hoping WWE feels the same way.

Cody and Brandi Rhodes
If TNA really does go out of business, then it's probably Cody and Brandi Rhodes who get screwed over more than anyone. Cody debuts in TNA and just a few days later (if it happens), WWE buys TNA.

 So much for having a rebirth and being appreciated for the immense amount of talent WWE overlooked for years, huh?

Meanwhile Brandi is looking to compete. WWE seemed content to have her do ring announcing. I think WWE would sign Cody if WWE purchased TNA. I also think they'd be willing to bring Brandi in as his valet. The positive is that Cody could keep the Rhodes name, too.

The negative is that he'll probably be right back in the mid-card situation he left behind several months ago.

It's tough for wrestlers to switch companies and make a name for themselves --- to make fans forget about their previous persona. A handful of them can do it though. EC3 was one of them. When I look at him I don't see Derrick Bateman. I see EC3 -- Dixie Carter's nephew.

Granted, I don't know if being connected to Dixie Carter is the legacy one wants to leave in the pro wrestling business. He's done a great job of embracing what was possibly a very gimmicky character and making it his own. EC3 went from heel to face and did well in both roles.

He's got all the ability in the world and just needs a little more seasoning. Bringing EC3 into the WWE fold again would work out well I think.

Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis-Bennett
This duo was apparently almost signed a couple of years back, when Total Divas first began, but rumor was that The Bellas nixed that idea.

I don't know how true that was, but, after a public back-and-forth, Maria put her differences with Nikki Bella aside and made nice.

 It'll probably pay off since WWE would probably be anxious to sign this team.

Maria is WWE-made. She's grown as a performer, despite not being a good wrestler. You look at her cutting a promo in TNA and it's hard to remember that she was once the naive, wide-eyed, bimbo interviewer. Meanwhile, her husband, Bennett is a solid in-ring competitor. I think he still has room to grow -- to hit his peak -- but he could easily find a spot mid-card. Whether or not he goes higher than that would be up to him.

Aron Rex
WWE shouldn't have ever let this guy go, so they should definitely sign him up again. Let's hope that the social media backlash and dismay they received when they released him earlier this year will make them realize the error of their ways.

 I'd be thrilled to see Damien Sandow return, even if Aron Rex doesn't get the chance to get off the ground.

He'll probably end up in the mid-card again seeing as how WWE would probably prefer to push their NXT guys over a perceived fail WWE project.

 However, I guess that's better than being out of work entirely. And, I think he'll get a push initially. If he can make that work (which he, no doubt, will), then maybe they'll let him move up the ladder a bit.

Jeff Hardy
It probably seems like an obvious choice to include Jeff Hardy on this list, but he's one of the most recognizable names in the business. Between WWE and TNA (and WWE again, and TNA again), he's built a brand for himself that is hard to compete with. Now that he's drug-free and clear-headed, he could definitely offer a few years and some main events to WWE before Swanton-ing off into the sunset.

The face paint, the very abstract character -- it'd be new to WWE. Yet, Jeff Hardy would be familiar to the WWE Universe. It'd be a win-win. A fresh and healthy Jeff Hardy wouldn't be a bad thing for WWE.

I would've included the likes of Matt Hardy, Allie, Madison Rayne, Lashley and few others, but I don't know that they're as valuable as those listed above --- assuming that WWE doesn't run TNA as it's own brand. After all, when companies merge or others are bought out, there are always casualties.

Madison Rayne (highly entertaining on the mic, but lackluster in the ring), Matt Hardy (at 42, there's only so much he can offer WWE), and Lashley (good wrestler, but bland) are probably a few of those casualties.

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