The major criticism hurled at TNA since it’s beginnings has been that the promotion relied too heavily on wrestlers who made their names in other promotions to be it’s stars. Names like Raven, Rhino, Christian Cage, Kurt Angle, Team 3D, Jeff Hardy and yes, Sting. All these stars were said to have been brought in to add firepower and ended up stifling the development of “homegrown” wrestlers like Monty Brown, AJ Styles and Samoa Joe.
However, what many smarks and wrestling reporters forgot was that TNA was trying to capture a bigger audience in order to allow it’s own stars to emerge and thrive. The signing of established names was a means to an end. Would the buy rate of Lockdown 2008 have been TNA’s most successful had Samoa Joe been facing Abyss rather than the world renowned Kurt Angle? Or would TNA even have been allowed a timeslot on national TV without some kind of “famous” name?
The talented roster of young wrestlers needed the experience of veterans to help them make it on a world stage with millions of eyes on them from week to week. The knowledge of someone like “The Icon” Sting must be invaluable to someone like Crimson who would maybe approach things differently without a guiding hand from a scholar of the sport. Getting the right reaction from fans makes or breaks a wrestler.
Fast forward to the present and things look a whole lot different in TNA. Gone is the spotlight on veterans such as RVD and Kurt Angle. The so called “homegrown” guys are well and truly taking centre stage. The World Heavyweight title now sits around the waist of the brilliant Austin Aries who has been an absolute sensation within TNA since his return just over a year ago. The self proclaimed moniker “The Greatest Man that Ever Lived” has added a likeable cockiness to his character and he has been embraced by the wrestling fans at home as well as in the Impact Zone. The man whom he took the belt from Sunday; Bobby Roode, is another success story for TNA, honing his heelish character to the point where fans completely lose themselves in loathing him.
The list of wrestlers now emerging within the organisation is growing by the week. People like Zema Ion and Jesse Sorensen who are reshaping the X Division for a new generation. So I put this to critics who downplay TNA’s push of young talent. James Storm, Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Sonjay Dutt. Homegrown enough for you?