First of all let me introduce myself to all you readers. My name is Scott Booth and I’m brand new to the world of TNAStars.com. I have recently finished my degree in English with Creative Writing at Exeter University so decided to combine two of my favourite pastimes: writing and TNA wrestling. Hope you enjoy my column.
January 2010 saw a new dawn in TNA when Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff joined the company to shake up the wrestling world. The addition of Hogan and Bischoff to TNA saw an influx of new and old faces to the company with Ric Flair, Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy and Mr Anderson (formerly Kennedy) all coming onboard. Each of these men played a big part in shaping TNA’s direction heading from early 2010 to the present day, especially former fan favourite Hardy who of course “sold his soul to the devil” and joined the heelish Immortal super faction.
The man who made the biggest impression in my opinion however was the irrepressible ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair who hand- picked the guys he saw as the future of wrestling and created a new group in the guise of the famous Four Horsemen. Those men were TNA’s franchise player AJ Styles, arguably the greatest tag team of the modern age Beer Money and pretty boy, high flyer Kazarian (Desmond Wolfe, Matt Morgan and Doug William would also be associated with the group at various stages). The group would be called “Fortune”.
When Fortune officially formed on the June 17th 2010 episode of Impact, Flair described his new proteges as the “backbone” and “workhorses” of TNA, promising that a “new era in this business” had begun with Fortune looking to dominate the wrestling world. Flair sold his boys as legitimate threats to the rest of TNA’s roster with his speech and solidified their position at the forefront of all that occurred within the company. In short with one fell swoop Flair had elevated Fortune into major stars in the eyes of the fans at home.
Despite many people’s concerns on forums throughout the IWC, AJ Styles’ transformation into a “mini Flair”- wearing garish robes to the ring; using dirty tactics etc- actually provided a basis for the ‘Phenomenal One’ to get back into the main event scene in TNA, winning the Television Title and proving once more why he is one of the greatest performers on the wrestling world stage. It also provided a great back-story to the current friction between Fortune and their former mentor, which I will address later.
The remainder of 2010 saw Fortune brutally attack the EV2 faction -consisting of former ECW wrestlers- who Dixie Carter had invited to the company and even given an entire PPV- “Hardcore Justice”- to showcase their violent matches one last time. By having Fortune destroy EV2 with their own violent methods was a stroke of genius as it sent a message to fans that Fortune could match anyone, no matter what their history or wrestling style. The beat down led to a decent feud between the two factions that culminated in Fortune defeating EV2 in a ten man tag at Turning Point in November and getting Sabu fired, which ultimately led to EV2 disbanding shortly after. Another notable contribution during 2010 was Beer Money’s fantastic “Best of 5” series against fellow tandem Motor City Machine Guns; a series that Beer Money would unfortunately lose only to capture the Tag Team Championships against the Guns at this year’s Genesis PPV.
In October last year, on the Impact following the Bound For Glory event in which Immortal (Hogan, Bischoff, Hardy, Abyss, Jeff Jarrett) was formed, fans expected Fortune to declare war on the new group to set up a dream feud between two of the hottest heel factions in wrestling. However, much to the surprise of many Ric Flair put years of hatred between him and Hogan aside and aligned his group with Immortal. TNA was theirs for the taking, especially as Bischoff had duped Dixie Carter into signing her company over to Hulk Hogan. But just as Immortal seemed to be firmly in the driving seat with nearly all of the major championships within their grasp, friction began to surface at January’s Genesis when AJ Styles declared he was injured and couldn’t compete against Doug Williams for the TV Championship. Eric Bischoff told AJ he was useless, leaving the ‘Phenomenal One’ clearly fuming, especially after weeks of Bischoff questioning his ability on Impact.
The tension finally came to a head on the February 3rd Impact when, after rumours of a new “They” had been circulating for weeks, Fortune- minus the absent Flair- turned on Immortal during Jeff Hardy’s match with Mr Anderson. AJ delivered a Styles Clash to Hardy before ripping into Immortal and Eric Bischoff on the mic in a blistering promo that had fans firmly behind Fortune. Styles was once again the face of TNA. Despite Fortune’s decision to turn on Immortal, Ric Flair was clearly not happy with his protégés choice and screwed AJ in his match against Immortal’s Matt Hardy the following week when he returned to TNA. Flair was all about the power and money whereas Fortune was unwilling to “take a backseat to anybody” and sought to rid TNA of the poison that is Immortal. Styles’ position as a “mini Flair” adds further fire to this feud as evidenced by his bloody beating of Flair on the 24/2 Impact and in Beer Money’s crowd pleasing promo against Flair at last Thursday’s on-the-road Impact from Fayetteville, N.C.
The fan reaction to Fortune- especially AJ and Beer Money- must be very pleasing to TNA’s decision makers and has proven that despite many negative comments by the IWC, TNA is able to build home-grown stars and, most importantly, get them “over”. The future is bright. The future is Fortune.