TNA 2012 Preview – Male RosterPosted on January 7, 2012 by Andrew Pearson TNA TelegraphShare On: Tweet So as we enter 2012 TNA are still bumping along playing second fiddle to the WWE as usual. There are quite a few people working for TNA these days so I thought I’d go through a list and make a few predictions and comments on who’s looking good this year and who should be keeping an eye on their options. A.J. Styles The phenomenal one, the original TNA star. He’s been relegated to more of a bit part player last year, brought in to cover injured main eventers and fill in when a card is looking a little sparse. I doubt 2012 is going to be kinder to him, he’s fighting against the likes of Pritchard and Russo who simply don’t value his ability over the fact he’s skinny compared to their usual fodder. That said he may well end up with a title run if required but I think his days as the highlight of the company are over. Abyss Another faithful employee who’s languishing propping up the lacklustre Immortal faction. the X division angle last year again sums up what the booking team think of him and once that was done he was placed in a will he/won’t he angle with his own stable. He’s never going to be back to the top whilst so many “big” stars are still on the roster. Whether or not you find that a shame I guess is down to personal interpretation. Alex Shelley Not my favourite out of MMC but a great worker, always reliable to put on a great show even if I find him a bit hit and miss on the mic. The injury is of course a major blow both to the tag team he’s in and his own singles ambitions. He looked set to be the leader of the X division but he’s got a job to unseat Aries as champ and whether one of the new guys actually makes an impact could also hamper his chances when he returns. He’s safe enough though and really the only worry is really for TNA if WWE decide that they really do want to bring back tag wrestling. Anarquia Relegated to OVW. Can’t see him lasting long and wouldn’t really be missed. Anthony Nese My personal favourite of the new guys added to the X division. I think he’s got a great toolbox to work with and he’s got a great look. Needs a good run, angle or gimmick to push him above the flippier guys. Could go either way for him depending on if he shakes the right hands and kisses the right ringpieces. Austin Aries They guy is special, he’s effortlessly evil and has no trouble in turning a crowd shouting his name against him. The longer he has the X division title the better both for him and the division because it’s going to make whoever is the chosen one to take it off him even more important. Bobby Roode Bobby is finally showing us all the promise he’s always had and he’s making a great fist of having to run as the heel straight off the bat. It’s a shame because had he been given the belt direct from Angle he’d be even better off. He was amazingly over as a face and really he was as an interesting a face as you can get these days and TNA dropped the ball big time in simply caving into Hogan and keeping the title on Angle. Still his 2012 is going to be a great one for him as long as he can keep on top of what must be a particularly turbid backstage political scene. Brian Kendrick Kendrick may have been saddled with an awful gimmick with his whole “out there” persona but at the end of the day the guy was given a massive push by going over Abyss and then failed to do anything interesting afterwards. To be fair I liked the guy when he was playing the oddball against Kazarian’s straight guy because the contrast was amusing so there was something there but whether it’s Brian not using it or creative simply giving up he’s gone from top of the pile to nowhere. 2012 will probably be cold comfort for him knowing he’s likely to be kept on but without any direction. Bully Ray Bully may have his detractors but he’s a solid and reliable guy who can cut a decent promo and is well versed in putting over his opponents. Whilst I had initially thought he was destined to be the leader of Immortal and therefore get a title run I think now that Hogan has pretty much gone and Bischoff is pushing his crotch spawn the whole Immortal ruling everything is gone and so he’s back to square one. However his job is as secure as anyones and who knows with the right injuries and suspensions he may find himself fighting for the big one this coming year. Chris Sabin May favourite out of the MCMG tag mates and again he too was clearly on for something big before his injury forced him out. Another reliable face to come back to the x division and may well prove to be what TNA are waiting for to challenge Aries. It’s difficult to predict for a guy who’s been out for 6 months but I can’t see him going anywhere or being that far out of the X division title picture. What may be more unsure is whether MCMG will be back anytime soon, if their respective layoffs don’t coincide then it could be that they go their separate ways. Christopher Daniels Daniels has been Mr Filler in TNA since his return. He fills in when someone needs a partner, he fills in when someone needs an opponent. What he’s not done is really carve out something for himself. Could be that he’s happy enough with the job and money and schedule these days and so it isn’t a problem for him. However he’s playing a fairly dangerous game by relying on the TNA booking team to keep giving him stuff to do, they’ve proven to be pretty fickle and happy to simply change their plans on a whim. He’s come and gone from TNA so he’s not got quite the goodwill guys like AJ have. Still the old war horse has plenty of talent and experience that should be passed on to the new guys and that alone would make him invaluable to a company like TNA. Crimson Crimson is a bit of a dividing force. I still don’t see him connecting with the audience or that he’s good enough in the ring to seem like a credible threat. The tag title run seems to me to be a stop gap whilst someone decides what they want to do with him whilst we play out Roode/Storm. Clearly he was meant to face Angle at some point but I’d be very worried about trusting him not to injure Kurt by accident. He’s got the look but no real substance and unless he can really make the leap from blue chipper to actual star he’ll end up TNA’s version of Jack Swagger. D’Angelo Dinero When The Pope looked all set to be leaving TNA there was massive surprise from most people that TNA weren’t or wouldn’t be able to keep him. Yet he did indeed stay and he got partnered with Devon and his boys for an angle that so far has gone seriously nowhere. Was he really ever going to go or was it simply a random rumour stirred up to get him a better deal? Who knows but Pope is still being criminally underused. He’s more charismatic than 90% of the TNA roster, he talks a great game on the mic and is no slouch in the ring either and yet he’s languished somewhat in the mid-card last year. This is one of the few cases where I think TNA might be the ones who end up losing a talent. Pope has more than one string to his bow and if TNA simply don’t give him what he wants he’s got a more than adequate career to fall back on. Devon I’m not really sure what Devon’s role or use is in TNA these days. They’ve clearly put their money behind Bully as the guy they really wanted from Team 3d and now find themselves stuck with a guy who gets good pops from the crowds but has been given very little to do. Personally I think he’s a waste of money as he must have been brought in on a fairly hefty paycheque and he’s not really doing anything for the program to justify it. By all accounts he’s great backstage and even a dab had at the old booking side so maybe time to move him to a different area where he can bring fresh perspective from a ring performer. Douglas Williams When you think the British Invasion were primed for a face run against Mexican America suddenly it’s all taken away and they get split up in the ridiculous tag team tournament. I think the fact that Magnus was the one to benefit from that little fiasco proves that Williams isn’t seen particularly highly by anyone in TNA. That’s a shame because very much like Regal in the WWE there’s not many technically better wrestlers out there. Sadly I don’t see him making any miraculous comebacks and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Brits split and we see Doug only fleetingly in cameos in the X division. Eric Young I like Eric Young. I think most people actually do in a guilty pleasure kind of way and that’s down to the fact he plays it brilliantly. He’s made the most out of what would be a totally limiting gimmick. Did I enjoy the whole Eric goes to Hollywood stuff? No, it was awful in the most part but I can forgive him those stupid scripted parts by what he improvises in ring and backstage. Can’t see him being shifted from his spot which is a good thing as TNA takes itself far too seriously most of the time. Garett Bischoff I can’t comment on how good or bad the guy is or whether he brings anything to the show but the mere fact they felt the best thing to do was make public the link to his Dad says to me they felt he had nothing else to bring to the table. Certainly on that basis alone I wouldn’t be upset to see his TV time go to someone who’s worked for it. Gunner I don’t think Gunner is as bad as he’s sometimes pilloried as being but he does need to step up and make himself “something” that stands out because the manic, head smacking persona is really done to death in pro-wrestling. He’s certainly no worse than Crimson for example and he’s been just fine in his spot as the muscle for Immortal. Still if he doesn’t break out his year then I can’t see a use for him on the roster. Hernandez I was never a fan of Mexican America because it was a such a limited gimmick and once you’d unfurled the Mexican flag on Impact a few times and had Anarquia ruin all their promos I was over it. Then again as a Brit maybe I was never going to. Hernandez is a big solid guy who definitely has a place on the roster but he’ll be reliant on booking to be good if he’s going to go any further. I doubt we’ll see him leave but simply the fact he could probably go back to a Mexican promotion when he chooses means he may simply choose to go himself. Hulk Hogan TNA is infinitely better without him controlling everything and hogging the main event spot but since he’s still technically on the roster then we have to assume he’s got a chance to come back again. TNA aren’t gaining anything from having him and he must cost the company more money than anyone else or possibly the x division combined. With any luck someone will have the balls to stand up and say that they may not be better for not having him but they won’t be worse and at least they will be financially better off every month. Sadly I think he’s embedded in the structure of the company and it won’t be all that long until he’s back on screen as well as messing things up backstage. James Storm Storm proves that getting a title run doesn’t always mean a good thing. Promptly promoted to what should have been Bobby Roode’s spot and then having it taken away and not even allowed to run with a Roode angle has made Storm look less like a main eventer than ever. However he must go on to win against Angle and then we can hope that the Beer Money feud we waited several months to see happen will actually take place and we’ll genuinely get to see both Roode and Storm excel at the top of the company. Fingers crossed at least. Jeff Hardy It would seem that Hardy is enjoying the privilege of being thought of as indispensable. Brought back from pretty much disgrace to immediately head towards a world title shot shows that TNA believe that Hardy is their money ticket. I’m sure Hardy has been told not to let this sort of thing happen again but given that it’s happened in one form or another several times both in TNA and WWE it seems to me that Hardy simply does not have to learn any lessons. He leaves the WWE for TNA and then is welcomed back to his biggest push ever. He abandons TNA for the WWE and then comes back to the main event, gets arrested very publicly for a very major criminal offence and manages to get away and come back with 2 weeks of on screen contrition to the top of the pile. So yeah, Jeff has nothing to worry about but I can’t say the same thing for TNA. Jeff Jarrett Jeff is running things with TNA’s new Indian wrestling show so who really knows what is in store for Double J. He could be out there longer working with Dutch Mantell and running the promotion or he may simply appear back on screen in a few months time. I can live without Jarrett for a while but for all the lameness of his general gimmick and terrible finisher he’s a great heel. I can’t imagine Jarrett will end up out of TNA one way or the other. Jesse Sorensen I find it incredibly hard to imagine after taking on all the new X division wrestlers that the booking team decided that their best bet was to push the most generic, most boring, least developed of their signings as the first challenger to Aries. We never got told anything about Sorensen when he started, the stupid monogram jacket and football made simply no sense because their significance was never explained. Jesse has no real place on the division roster as far as I can see and so I can’t imagine TNA sticking with him. Back to the Indies I’m afraid. Kazarian Burnt bright and now seems to have pretty much disappeared off the map. I rather enjoyed him and Kendrick backstage as a goofy duo but as a singles guy I find him slightly bland although he’s obviously a “big” guy in terms of the division he generally wrestles in. I can’t see a reason why TNA should feel the need to dump the guy but there’s very little to also keep him. Fortune is so rarely referenced and with Immortal becoming less of presence the need for two large factions has pretty much gone. On the flip of a coin I’ll say he stays. Kid Kash Kash has really been a revelation in TNA after bombing pretty badly in the WWE. His series with Aries has been great despite being Heel v Heel and that’s down to how good both men are in the ring. The trouble with Kash is really that I don’t have the confidence in the booking team to keep giving him decent stuff to do. He essentially came in to make Sorensen look good, which he did admirably. Now though he’s jumped in to fill the gap whilst they presumably push Zima Ion into Sorensen’s place. Once that’s done he’s back to mixing it up jobbing to whoever TNA decide to try out next. I’d like to see him tag with someone like Nesse where the youngster can show off his talent and get the rub of working with Kash and Kash doesn’t have to kill himself every match getting someone else over. Kurt Angle Speaking of people who’d kill themselves to get over or in this case back to the top of TNA we have prime suspect for the next person to die on a wrestling show; Kurt Angle. Kurt seems to have some kind of death wish in that he simply keeps on pushing and pushing his body to keep doing all the big spots and take the big bumps he did 10 years ago. Given that he was 30 when he made his debut in WWE he had some advantage of having not been injuring himself during his twenties but he’s made up for that now and he’s heading towards the wrong side of 44 and for every highlight he makes it costs him months out. The worst part is that no one really needs him to be doing these crazy things. He’s the last genuine wrestling star TNA have got, the audience still love the guy and respect him regardless. Magnus Gifted on the mic and good in the ring. I’m disappointed they pulled the plug on the Brits face turn because I’d really like to see Magnus try his hand working babyface for a while to see if he can. If so then he’s a massive asset, if not…. actually he’s still a great asset. TNA need good mic workers to make up for the fact they rarely give anyone enough TV time to get over conventionally in ring. To be honest he’d be worth WWE pinching to fill some gaps in their roster if he’s unsettled at TNA so I wouldn’t be surprised if he popped up on Smackdown this year. Mark Haskins Waste of space. I believe already heading down to OVW and I can’t see him coming back. Matt Morgan Morgan has at least proved that he had more in him than his run in WWE suggested and TNA have put more faith in him and been rewarded by his improvement. However I think there is still a question mark over him being able to make the leap from good to great. He’s perfected his moveset, even if the elbows in the corner spot looks a little girly, he just needs to bring his mic skills up from passable to good and he’d be another massive asset to TNA. The fact WWE have been rumoured to be consider taking him back speaks a lot for his ability these days but I think he’ll probably be still in TNA come the end of the year maybe even with a title reign under his belt. Mr. Anderson Kenny boy has really shown that the WWE missed out on very little when they let him go but he’s also probably the second most abused person booking wise behind Bobby Roode this last year. Failing to let him turn heel when clearly the moment was ripe for it and then nixing his heel turn after a few weeks has really made him damaged goods. The insistence on trying so desperately to get the “asshole” moniker to stick also hurt him. He was never going to get the Austin “Son of a Bitch” moment where he took the negative into a positive no matter how many “Asshole Section” signs TNA planted in the audience each week. Could he do something for TNA? I don’t see why not but he needs to first realise that trying to pretend he’s a big fish simply doesn’t work. He’s a medium fish swimming with a lot of sharks. If he can carve a new persona out of what booking gives him and perhaps learn that off the cuff promos work best when you work with your opponent instead of constantly trying to to be “edgy” or “shooty” and making everyone look like stuttering idiots then he’s a safe bet to be in the main event picture next year. If he stays injury free. Ric Flair I should pre-face the next prediction by saying that I think Flair really should have retired with some grace at least 5 years ago so the negative stuff is simply down to him pushing too hard to be on TV or in the ring. He worked well as an on screen character but every time he gets into the middle of an angle and ends up in the ring it’s cringeworthy. However some of his promo work, especially when he came back to TNA after his shoulder injury was some of the funniest work I’ve ever seen and when Flair is on it he’s untouchable but he’s been more and more patchy. He’s got a place if you limit his exposure so that he maintains a little respect as the legend he is. If they don’t cheapen him then he’s still a massive asset. Robbie E I don’t get it. It’s as bad as Vince and Twitter. People genuinely got sick of Jersey Shore a year ago but we’re still pushing Robbie E as the Bro you know, even suggesting some kind of on screen feud with a JS cast member. Very much like The Simposns the WWE have already done it with the most famous cast member so why bother. The guy himself seems ok but really the gimmick is going nowhere fast and so that makes me think he is as well. If he’s gone by the end of Spring I wouldn’t be surprised. Rob Terry You could do so much with Rob Terry, it’s more than possible to gloss over his obvious flaws because the guy is a freak body wise. The guy is also not just some random body, he’s plied his trade in small feds before this so he’s got a passion for the business and I’m sure is willing to learn as much as he can. The sheer raw potential in him means that if TNA play it right then he could be big. Sadly I don’t think TNA see it like that and now they’ve run out of good ideas for him they can’t seem to get him back on track. However a little welsh connection and maybe some tag team/faction with Mason Ryan could have potential if the WWE really thought about it, manage by Regal perhaps with Wade Barrett. However I can’t see that happening either so my prediction is Terry will be let go at some point this year back to his home country. Rob Van Dam Big name on a big salary but not really justifying it right now. However they guy pops the crowd and by god the Impact Zone is bad enough without having at least some people who can wake up the lazy smarks who want to chant smarky things for 2 hours. If he dropped his salary then he should stay, if not then I see no reason TNA need to keep him ahead of most other main event guys. He could stay, he could go, we simply don’t know. Samoa Joe Joe has been royally and utterly f*cked by TNA booking. Literally, they’ve screwed everything he’s ever been given. Joe doesn’t seem motivated and gets heavier and heavier each week. Sadly his shining moment has passed and I can’t really see WWE calling for him now so he’s stuck with the rock and hard place of potentially rebuilding his reputation outside of TNA or sticking with what has to be a good steady pay cheque and accepting this is as good as it’s going to get. Scott Steiner I love this man. There is no one I look forward to more on the stick than Scotty Steiner. I’ve genuinely wept at his promos in the Matt Morgan feud. It’s a shame they aren’t all intentional because he’d be a comic genius if they were. The crowd still love him and you’d have to say he can still do the spots he needs to get a crowd going even at this late stage in his career. Is he worth the money? The head says no but my heart and funny bone say yes! Shannon Moore Without Jesse Neal I can’t see much for Shannon in the future. Ink Inc may not ever have been the best tag team ever but they actually gelled as a team better than half the put together teams you see these days. I didn’t like his Punk Prince gimmick because having a mohawk and tattoos doesn’t make you punk anymore than owning a sparkly dress and a sister with a nice arse makes you Kate Middleton. Giv the guy something he could actually work with and maybe he’s got a future but otherwise despite his good in ring work he’s another flippy face in a sea of flippy faces in the X-division. Zema Ion I don’t see why TNA hired Zema Ion when they had Teddy Hart available to them during the lead up to Destination X. Hart and Ion do amazing flips and little else but Teddy at least does the best flips and has some personality and is over with the crowd. However they signed Zema and he’s getting some kind of push now but I can see him going the way of Sorensen and being fairly quickly dropped back down the pecking order and then out the door. To be honest despite his spots he’s not all that interesting, you see his moves being done in indy feds across the world. So that’s my take on the male roster. If you have any thoughts, agree or disagree then let me know in the comments section or on Talk Wrestling Online’s forum and tell me why. I’ll be taking a look at the female roster next to see who’s looking to have a good 2012 and who’s going to be doing porn with Chyna by Christmas.