Across the Line: Hope springs Immortal – reasons to be positive about “Them”

Across the Line

Across the Line

Hope springs Immortal – reasons to be positive about “Them”

By Richard Jennings

When, to the surprise of almost no one whatsoever, Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff were revealed to be “Them” at Bound For Glory it was obvious that TNA was going to be subjected to some significant criticism. Not only is the kernel of the story – top faces and authority figures taking over the company from the inside – far from original, but many of the personnel involved have already been in a celebrated incarnation of the storyline in the form of the nWo. In fact you couldn’t blame any fan who watched WCW in the 1990s for assuming, at first glance, that TNA were engaged in little more than a direct re-run of that angle – Hogan and Bischoff reliving their glory days at the expense of TNA and its fans. They might quip that the only thing immortal about it is Hogan and Bischoff’s nostalgia for the days of WCW.

This criticisms are somewhat flawed though. They fail to take into account two important factors in the way this angle has been booked: the heel turn of Jeff Hardy and the way that TNA’s faces have been booked in the month since Bound For Glory.

Superficially Jeff Hardy’s heel turn seems like little more than the requisite shocker that goes hand in hand with these kinds of swerves, but it actually shows an element of creativity and courage on the part of TNA’s bookers. Jeff Hardy is an archetypal fan favourite; he shifts merchandise, sells tickets and elicits huge pops from the crowd. He has been a face almost without a break since he and his brother made it big through in the WWE tag team division ten years ago. He will have brought new fans to TNA. He certainly wasn’t the obvious choice for a heel turn, especially when you consider the legal problems he is facing along with his drawing power. Taking that into account some would say that giving him a title run as a heel is more foolhardy than courageous.

Despite these factors, though, the risk seems to be paying off. Although it is early days for the storyline Hardy himself seems to be thriving as a heel. His mic work and promos are more animated than they have been in a long time, and he finally has some direction in the company after spending most of the year in a sort of holding pattern, the company seemingly too apprehensive about his future to commit him to anything long-term. If his in-ring work is also enhanced by his new role and as long as he can get over as a heel then we are in for some vintage Hardy with good, heat-filled feuds with RVD and Mr Anderson to look forward to.

As for TNA’s faces, the way they are being booked is hugely promising. In short they are being booked as if they are in disarray, struggling to deal both collectively and individually with the numerous double-crosses and beatings they’ve suffered at the hands of Immortal and Fourtune. This is a great way of putting over the new regime without making the faces look totally weak. Of course they are being defeated and injured at the hands of Immortal/Fourtune on a weekly basis, but that’s because they are failing to work together as each is pursuing their own vendetta against a member of Immortal/Fourtune in the aftermath of Bound For Glory. Against those odds a single wrestler has no chance.

This extends to EV2.0 as well as RVD’s paranoia and claims of a mole in the group are utterly undermining their cohesion, and therefore their role as the only force in TNA capable of standing up to Immortal/Fourtune. If rumours are to be believed and EV2.0 is coming to an end after Turning Point then Immortal/Fourtune’s dominance is going to be manifest to everyone. Moreover the fans are in for a treat when the faces finally manage to rally, possibly around Anderson and Morgan, and begin the fight back.

Hogan and Bischoff’s influence on TNA in the last year is difficult to ascertain, although many fans have been willing to put the blame on those two and Vince Russo for every poor decision since January. Those are the fans that will very quickly write off this storyline as the hackneyed machinations of old-timers with over-inflated egos and too much power. However a more subtle interpretation sees that the angle is in extreme infancy and contains many interesting threads to be picked up and built upon. Whether they will or not remains to be seen but fans have every reason to be positive. Either way expect Immortal/Fourtune to dominate at Turning Point and for the storyline to begin in earnest afterwards.

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About Richard Jennings
A fan of professional wrestling since his early years, Richard Jennings writes the "Across the Line" column for TNA UK.

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