Across the Line: There is a reason – turn, turn, turn

Across the Line

Across the Line

There is a reason – turn, turn, turn

By Richard Jennings

It will not have escaped any regular viewer of TNA that inside the last month there have been four wrestlers turned. A month ago Matt Morgan turned face, betraying Fortune and gaining a title shot at Turning Point in the process. Two weeks ago we were treated to two swerves: first we saw Rhino betray EV2.0 and align himself with Immortal and then we witnessed Brother Ray bookending Team 3D’s current run by attacking Brother Devon. This week’s turn came in the form of Doug Williams’ attack on his own Fortune stablemates whilst they were trying to assist their leader. If we also take into account the multiple swerves that occurred at Bound For Glory – Hogan, Jarrett, Bischoff and Hardy all turned heel whilst Sting and Nash became de facto faces – then that makes for no fewer than ten, that’s right ten, turns within the last two months. Moreover the only one of these turns not connected with Fortune or Immortal in some way is Brother Ray’s. These facts pose two important questions. Firstly if Immortal/Fortune, the new regime in TNA, is meant to have any legitimacy then surely there should be some consistency in the composition of it? Secondly does having so many quick turns in such a short space of time not dilute Kayfabe somewhat?

The first question is easier to answer. Most of the recent turns have been of wrestlers aligning themselves with Fortune and/or Immortal. The numerous swerves at Bound For Glory were necessary to set up the whole storyline in the first place. Rhino’s turn is obviously meant to contribute to the imminent demise of EV2.0 and is welcome as it gives one of that stables’ better wrestlers a chance to shine as well as someone for the remaining members to feud with now that the feud with Fortune has run its course. The whole concept of a company-running stable like Immortal/Fortune is that it is meant to suck in other wrestlers and corrupt them with promises of power and glory. As such wrestlers wanting to join them is not a problem so long as they don’t take it too far as they did with the original nWo in WCW, which consisted of over twenty people at one point.

Doug Williams and Matt Morgan – the two wrestlers that have left Fortune – are also welcome turns. Matt Morgan was confined to a largely non-wrestling role when he was in Fortune which was a terrible waste of someone with great potential. While his current main event run has been a bit laboured it will take him time to readjust to working at the top of the card, especially as he was deprived of a singles match for most of the last few months. Doug Williams’ turn (which, unlike most of the ones discussed here, had been teased for a few weeks) will be interesting. Any exposure for a wrestler of Williams’ talent is good and it will be very intriguing to see how he works as a face. Will he align himself with Morgan or any of the other wrestlers battling elements of Immortal/Fortune, or will he inhabit more of a tweener role by justifying his betrayal of Fortune selfishly?

But do their departures undermine the concept of Immortal/Fortune? The answer is no. Both of their turns have been booked in such a way so that they are convincing rather than in a swerve-for-swerve’s-sake way, which is an easy trap to fall into when developing a “big picture” storyline such as this one. The same can be said for Rhino’s turn the opposite way. In the same way that such stables attract wrestlers they will alienate others. Although having said this the booking of any more turns relating to Immortal/Fortune before the next PPV may seem more attention-grabbing than anything else.

This point also answers the second question posed: do so many quick turns undermine Kayfabe? Regarding the Immortal/Fortune situation the answer has to again be no, for all the reasons listed above. Moreover the turns have actively benefitted the wrestlers’ performances. Hardy is occupying his heel persona really well, as are Jarrett and Bischoff, and Morgan is great as a face. The only really questionable recent turn is Brother Ray’s, the only one not connected with Immortal or Fortune. Whether or not we need to see Ray and Devon feud at the moment is debateable, but in reality it will only be a harmless, transitory storyline to establish the fact that Team 3D is, at least for now, over with.

The face/heel turn is one of the most powerful tools of any professional wrestling booker; it can give an older wrestler a new lease of life as it did with Hogan when he joined the nWo back in 1996 or it can establish a newer star as it did with Stone Cold at Wrestlemania 13. However when overused it becomes worthless, undermining the legitimacy of individual wrestlers and confusing fans, as it did in the later days of the nWo’s first run and the WWE’s Invasion angle in 2001. At the moment TNA is walking on the right side of a fine line, but only just. The recent heel turns have established Immortal and Fortune and the face turns have put in place the potential kernel of resistance to the new regime. If TNA maintain some consistency in the storyline from now on them we can expect it to run strongly into next year.

 

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About Ray Mullan
Ray Mullan is a longtime wrestling fan and Owner/Editor of TNA UK . Also a contributing writer to a number of other online wrestling media including 1Wrestling.com, Wrestle Zone UK & Lords of Pain.

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