How TNA Did Eric Young a Disservice with Daniel Bryan-Inspired Storyline

I was wrong about Daniel Bryan. Everyone doesn’t love him. There are very strong opinions against him. “Vanilla midget”. “Flash in the pan”. All that. No matter what your thoughts are, you can’t deny that the Yes Movement has transcended wrestling and beyond. TNA has certainly been following the movement and the red hot angle, the compelling storyline that saw an underdog finally rise up after nearly a year of being held down by the Authority. It was written all over the two-week program that culminated on the most recent episode of Impact.

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I saw it coming and it broke my heart. Guess it was the new power that be, MVP, who decided that there would be a 10-man battle royal to determine a new number one contender for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. I’m going into this knowing Samoa Joe isn’t involved, so I’m thinking maybe they’ll give it to Gunner, maybe Bobby Lashley. Good stuff overall. But when I noticed Eric Young was one of the last three or four guys in the ring, it all hit me like a ton of bricks and my heart sank. I knew the booking team had treachery up their uncreative sleeve.

The main event rise of Eric Young was approximately two weeks in the making. He got his first ever title shot in a fatal fourway one week – a losing effort – and the very next week, received another title opportunity in the battle royal. Okay. I can dig this. EY is a solid wrestler. We all know that. He sold the determination well. Fired up about being a company guy and donning every monkey suit of a gimmick TNA asked him to put on for all these years. I was gamed for an Eric Young run at the title but it happened too darn fast. I didn’t want to see it all unfold in one night.

Miraculously it seemed, EY won the battle royal. The plan was to face World Champion Magnus at the Sacrifice PPV, but he was so pumped, he demanded the match for “tonight”. You probably know the story. He went on to best Magnus in a hard fought battle and won the title. The impact crowd was happy, but shocked. I was stoked and stunned my darn self. It was really was a great moment. EY’s first world title win. But while I’m sitting there happy for a man who’s worked so hard, I can’t help but feel he deserves better.

Although he disappears every now and then, Young has been on the TNA roster for the better part of ten years. His character has evolved quite a bit, but for the most part, he’s played the role of comedy relief. If you’re not familiar with his work, think a goofier Santino with the ability to flick a switch and become a great wrestler. In between on all the whacky gimmicks, EY’s potential shined through. As the leader of shortlived stable World Elite and member of the even shorter lived Band with the Outsiders, you saw a dude with talent beyond hilarity. I was actually a fan of the recent feud with Abyss, which highlighted a determined EY on a mission to tame the monster he recreated. But the ironic catapult to the top of the mountain, right on the heels of the biggest wrestling event of year … yeah, it’s more than fishy in the smell department.

The TNA title angle shares far too many similarities with the Daniel Bryan program for me. Here are a few:

  • Intense rivalry with former partner who performed in a suit for months; the same wrestler who’s already alleged to be a ripoff of a certain “Corporate Monster”.
  • Fought his way into the title match by winning a qualifying match the same night.
  • Won the title from a largely boring champion who was more over and interesting before he got the belt
  • Small wrestler with a weird beard.
  • Oh … did it all with a bum shoulder.

TNA marks can say all they want but there’s no defending this. Maybe EY does deserve a run with the title. I think he deserved a better build and a viable run to being a main event player first. Even then, this wouldn’t have been as big a deal had it not occurred four days out from Wrestlemania, with so many emotions still running high. Maybe that’s what they were banking on. The crazy guys from creative, you know. Generate some buzz behind a guy of similar build, beard, and struggle in being an underdog who’s constantly been held back. For me, the timing was horrible. And because of that, everything else about it felt cheap, lazy, and desperate.

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One of the biggest problems fans have with TNA is the lack of originality, coming off as a cheap imitation instead of a fresh alternative. I don’t go that far because I really do think they put on a quality product. I mean wrestling is cheesy in general, and no one lays on more cheese than the WWE. On that note, it’s hard to defend anything TNA does when they continually outsmart themselves and draw the wrong type of attention to their brand.

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