Heading into Sunday’s TNA Victory Road PPV, there was concern that Dixie Carter’s latest hotshot angle–re-signing aging star Sting after a strong rumor went viral (thanks to some overzealous bloggers) that Steve Borden was heading home to Atlanta for a WrestleMania dream match with the Undertaker–would backfire.
After all, Dixie not only re-upped the contract on the broken-down, 52-year-old Stinger but also made him TNA champion in his first appearance back on iMPACT! as a desperate attempt to spike a TV (lame pun intended) rating and mimic WWE TV once again, copying their 2-21-11 vignette designed for the return of the Undertaker.
With Sting reportedly not even a shell of his former self in recent months due to nagging career injuries, it was expected that he would be forced to rely on the recently married Jeff Hardy, who clearly has his priorities in line after committing to a life of matrimony, to have a PPV-worthy title bout at TNA’s Victory Road.
Yes, some were speculating that Sting’s career had come full circle and would need Hardy to carry him to greatness much like Ric Flair did during the infamous NWA World title title bout (a 45-Broadway) at Clash of the Champions that made Borden a star in the late ’80s. At the very least, Hardy would have to excel in the recent role of the Miz, making it appear that 61-year-old challenger Jerry Lawler still had the ability to beat the top titleholder in the company.
And when the finish went down Sunday night, with Sting beating Hardy in a little over a minute with the scorpion death drop, even the most astute wrestling observers initially figured they were protecting Sting. Turns out they were–but were for completely different reasons. Alas, it appears that Hardy was allegedly heavily under the influence, in no shape to perform Sunday, so they jobbed him out quickly before he could injure himself or Sting. (Hardy’s makeup, however, looked outstanding.)
They say in today’s wrestling, the personal feelings that made us all willingly to suspend disbelief back in the kayfabe era is lacking because everything is so scripted to fault. One has to look no further than the disgusted look on Sting’s face in the aftermath to see his disdain with Hardy–a guy who will probably be given another yet another chance–that is, if he’s cleared of his current legal woes.
While he’s certainly made more money than his ’80s/’90s heartthrob counterparts, Hardy would be wise to look at the cautionary tales of former stars Buddy Landel, Eddie Gilbert, Brian Lawler and Tommy Rich. He’s teetering on that same dangerous edge now.
Monday morning update: Some are speculating this might all be a work to create a “Charlie Sheen-type controversy” (#winning) to garner some attention for Hardy and the company. If there’s any shred of truth to that, years from now, people will point to this moment as the death-knell for the promotion much like WCW’s finger-point title changes with Hulk Hogan vs. Kevin Nash and, again, with Jeff Jarrett. Surely, they aren’t that desperate…are they? Either way, the main event last night was a debacle and has to a morale killer for the remaining professionals in the promotion who worked have worked damn hard in the past to build the company.