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World beater?

February 12th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
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Living on a prayer: Divine intervention may be the Pope's only hope for stardom in TNA.

Two weeks ago, Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff were singing the praises of Pope D’Angelo Dinero, “the Pope,” saying he was in line for a big push in TNA. Unbelievably, they appeared to be living up to their word when, on the following episode of Impact, the Pope scored a clean pinfall victory over the World champion. If I had my druthers, there’s no way they would have beaten A.J. Styles so soon after taking on Flair as his manager. But if the purpose was to make Pope a star, they’ve already dropped the ball on the follow-up.

Last night’s Impact barely acknowledged the Pope’s win, which should have been treated as one of the biggest news items of the year—a relative upstart mid-carder upset the champion of the world! I’m not a big fan of three-way dances with the World strap at stake, but this is one situation that called for it: adding Pope to the main event with Styles and Joe in role of a dark-horse threat to take the belt at Sunday’s PPV. Even the theme of the event, “Against All Odds,” lends itself to an underdog challenger. Could have been a sure sign of positive change in TNA.

Instead, Pope is in the 8-Card Stud tournament to determine the number-one contender for the TNA title; however, wouldn’t that convincing win over the Champ on Impact already have earned him that spot? Even worse, the Pope (the former Elijah Burke in WWE) is matched in the first round against Desmond Wolfe…whom he already beat clean in the middle a few weeks ago on Impact. Yeah, yeah, it’s all a work, so it doesn’t matter, right? But to me, overlooking little details like this and disregarding logic annoy the hell out of me. If they truly want to elevate Pope to the next level, he’ll win the tournament Sunday, but that would make too much sense for this regime. I like Wolfe, but if he beats the Pope in the first round of the tourney, this will be another example of a start/stop push that hurts would-be rising stars. And nothing will be gained from having your World champion beaten by the guy.

Truthfully, I don’t think Pope is quite ready to headline, but he’s young, fresh, charismatic (and he does a mean version of Dusty’s “Flip-Flop-Fly”), so I’m all for giving a shot to run with the ball.

As for A.J., I guess maybe they’re booking Mr. Stylin’ and Profilin’ similar to how Flair was used by WCW and World Class all those years as NWA champ: dropping non-title matches, never scoring clean wins, and appearing weak in general. I think there would be more of a payoff six months later, with the storyline of the partying and living in the fast lane catching up with Styles and causing him to finally hit a losing streak. But why so soon after the adopting the cocky Champ persona? Let that ego build and build before crashing him down to earth.

Hogan and Bischoff don’t exactly have a great track record of creating new stars, as WCW was built around the Senior Tour and eventually faltered, in part (there were dozens of reasons, really), because younger guys couldn’t break through the old-timers clique. (And most of those former WCW stars in question, e.g, Austin, Jericho, Benoit, Guerrero, Mysterio, all went to superstardom in the WWF.) Frankly, it’s not a good sign that on the go-home show before a PPV that Hogan, Waltman and Hall are the focus as Impact closes—none of whom are even booked in a match Sunday. The more things change….

  1. Cleatus
    February 12th, 2010 at 13:30 | #1

    Just another example of how TNA is run by a bunch of complete idiots. Been an AJ mark for years. I think the Pope gimmick is the best thing to come out of wrestling in years (which isn’t a TNA gimmick. Burke was referring to himself as Pope on the day of his WWE release). Still, I can’t watch this crap. The only thing TNA has going for them is just how horrible their programming in. It’s like their plan for the future is saying, “Hey guys. Watch our show and see how bad it is. We all know how much you like train wrecks.” And it’s true; I love a good train wreck. It’s why I can’t not watch Jersey Shore, even though I find those people vile and disgusting. Still, I can’t bring myself to watch Impact. It’s THAT bad.

  2. Old School Sammy
    February 13th, 2010 at 12:27 | #2

    TNA drops the ball more than Adrian Peterson, it’s true, it’s damned true!

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