Pruett's Blog: Aces and Eights, Scum, and why I want to believe in a person over an entity
By Will Pruett
Faction warfare is the name of the game in TNA and ROH right now. The Aces and Eights and Scum have run roughshod over their chosen promotions, brought back names from WWE's roster in 2009, and been established as the lead antagonists in their chosen stories. They have both either held, or currently hold their promotion's chosen World Championship. The issue is not with the antagonists in this situation, it is with the protagonists.
Who are they? In both instances, the force the factions seem to be driving against is the promotion, not actual wrestlers. The antagonists are pushing against letters, businesses, and authority figures. They are fighting random wrestlers that stand up for their chosen promotions in the ring, but the whole idea of the feuds are about "power" and "authority" which are held by the promotion.
At Supercard of Honor VII, Ring of Honor crowned a new ROH World Champion in a shocking and spectacular moment slightly ruined by Nigel McGuinness and Kevin Kelly's commentary. As much as I loved this moment, the moments leading up to it had nothing to do with Jay Briscoe. The commentary, the story in the ring, and everything happening were about ROH getting over. Briscoe could have been anyone. The idea behind the match was a major victory for Ring of Honor, not Jay.
Look at TNA's weekly show. Every week, we hear about Aces and Eights wanting to tilt the balance of power, take over the promotion, and ruin TNA. Every week we see them beat up different, interchangeable midcard stars, with Jeff Hardy occasionally coming into the scene. The man promoted as the lead babyface champion in TNA isn't Jeff Hardy, it's the General Manager, Hulk Hogan. Being the General Manager is the prize that really matters. The World Championship (as described by Hogan himself) is all about the balance of power.
These feuds, instead of pushing specific babyfaces against specific heels, seem to be pushing an entity as the babyface against a group of heels trying to ruin it (although, logically if the heel group succeeded and shut down the promotion, there would be nowhere for them to work). Are these feuds actually meant to make people cheer on a chosen wrestling promotion?
Where did this concept begin? In the territory days, it was common for fans to be proud of their hometown promotions. People took great pride in the hometown wrestlers and often believed their hometown guy could beat anyone else in the world. Promotional pride is not a new thing. It was brought to a whole new level in the mid-90's with ECW. Promotional pride suddenly became a huge factor. The promotion was counter-culture and loving it made fans feel like they were a part of a revolution.
TNA tried to make fans feel that way too, in their early days. They encouraged chants of TNA whenever a big moment or semi-high spot would occur. Ring of Honor did the same thing. Both companies enjoyed the idea of fans chanting for their entity instead of specific stars.
This leads us to one logical solution with the Aces and Eights and Scum. These groups are the antagonists. The actual promotions they exist in are the protagonists. If this seems like a weak choice to you, that's because it is. Who wants to support the odd subsidiary of Panda Energy? Who wants to support the pet project of an executive at a cable company?
I want to support a person. I want to support a living, breathing human being that has gone through trials and tribulations and come out better. I want to support a person that is somehow like the person I want to be. Have wrestling companies forgotten how important people are?
Jay Briscoe's victory was a major moment because of who he is and the connection fans have with him. No one believed in the idea of him "bringing the title back to ROH" because the title never left ROH. No one believes Bully Ray exists in a world outside of TNA. He is a product of TNA.
Factions based on taking down a wrestling promotion are a passé callback to the one time when the idea actually worked.
Let's do some good old fashioned talking about this blog, TNA, and ROH! Feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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