Home > Uncategorized > A world of difference? Rob Van Dam wins the TNA World title…but at what Sacrifice?

A world of difference? Rob Van Dam wins the TNA World title…but at what Sacrifice?

Print Friendly

Mr. Monday Night lived up to his name.

With WWE Creative desperately scrambling (more so than usual) to come up with a show, TNA delivered one hell of a TV moment April 19, with former WWE and ECW champion Rob Van Dam defeating A.J. Styles for the TNA World title in a live Monday broadcast on Spike. Of course, in typical Eric Bischoff/Vince Russo fashion, the angle was rushed and poorly promoted, so it meant little in the way of viewers, confirmed by the 1.0 rating for iMPACT reported earlier today. The show opened with Styles crowing about his PPV win over the Pope before he was interrupted by Van Dam, who desperately needed to cut the promo of his life. RVD failed in that sense, but the crowd was so hot that they rallied behind him when he questioned whether or not Styles was still the best wrestler in the company.  This barely coherent statement seemed to finally wake up Jeff Hardy, who joined the discussion. (You know a segment may be in trouble when Styles is the best promo guy in the ring.) Hardy looked more energetic (and chubbier) than I’ve seen in a while, as he finally stated his purpose for being in TNA months after signing: to complete his collection of World titles. Hulk Hogan hit the ring and he delivered a spiel about the importance of the World title and how his championship win changed his life. Hogan applauded Styles for his reign as well as RVD and Hardy for stepping up before setting up a number-one contender’s match between the two former WWE champions. Nope–not for PPV…or even next week on iMPACT…tonight. I was thinking, “Man, oh, man….they just can’t help themselves, can they?” Then came the announcement that the winner would get the shot at the title…tonight. Mike Tenay blurted out, “You gotta be kidding me!” I hear ya, Mike.

Hogan’s deal was effective, but you can’t expect one promo to make a difference in how the championship is perceived. The World title and its holder have to be built up over time, they have to be protected. Styles has been jobbed out on TV since Hogan/Bischoff took over, so the credibility of A.J.’s reign wasn’t what it should have been heading into this segment.

Yes, Hardy vs. RVD was a fantastic match to have in progress at the top of iMPACT’s second hour as RAW opened with one of those seemingly endless Triple H promos (which was actually somewhat entertaining, thanks to the angle with CM Punk and Rey Mysterio), but I hate the accelerated pace of how even TNA’s best angles unfold. If they were hell-bent on giving us such an intriguing matchup with no promotion beyond a Bischoff  teaser “tweet” earlier that afternoon, I would argue that RVD vs. Hardy should have at least ended inconclusively (e.g., double countout) forcing Hogan to schedule a “must be a winner” rematch the following week on iMPACT. Then they could have more time to promote this classic “fans’ dream matchup” and build up the heated-yet-friendly rivalry between the two former WWE champs looking for TNA gold. The winner of that bout faces Styles in a showdown for the World strap at the Sacrifice PPV, whetting the fans’ appetite to see two stars on a collision course for the belt.

Instead, two 5-star frog splashes within a span of 60 minutes later, and RVD’s “dramatic” chase of the World title is over before it begins.  A sacrifice indeed. Yes, it was an amazing scene with RVD and Hardy celebrating the title win in a sea of confetti (red and yellow, no less) with Hogan, but at what cost? Why couldn’t they have waited a few weeks before pulling the trigger? Once again, TNA starts an angle and gives you the payoff in the same show–it’s a ridiculous formula no matter how good the execution is. Ironically enough (given recent correspondence from TNA lawyers), I’ll paraphrase Jim Cornette’s explanation of Booking 101: You put two stars on trajectories by having them both win matches. Months (or in some cases, weeks) later, the bout between the two stars is  announced. The fans go crazy: They’re finally going to wrestle and settle it once and for all…”Who is the better man?” Sure, the game has changed today, and ratings do matter. But hotshotting angles without a least a week of buildup is insane and proved to be the death knell for WCW in the long run, despite some wonderful TV moments in the ’90s.

This shouldn’t be surprising–after all, Hogan and Bischoff were the creative forces who gave away what could have easily been one of the biggest PPV buy rates of the decade just to pop a Nitro rating, when Goldberg won the WCW championship from Hulk in 1998 with less than a week of promotion for the bout. Yes, the Georgia Dome–and fans watching Nitro–went crazy when Goldberg hit the jackhammer to pin Hogan clean in the middle, but that pop was drowned out by the sound of the millions of dollars WCW flushed down the toilet that night.

In his first promo with TNA, Bischoff vowed to the fans at the iMPACT ZONE that he’d learned from his mistakes running a wrestling company. Last night was further evidence that he hasn’t, despite the inspired choice of RVD as champion.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.