On the eve of last year’s Bound For Glory event, TNA launched their hall of fame, where the Icon Sting was the inaugural inductee. At the time I thought it was to fuel the Aces and Eights angle, where it would lead to the return of Jeff Jarrett looking to seek revenge on Sting for firing him and beating him to be the first inductee.
Given that Slammiversary this year saw the expansion of the hall of fame, with the announcement that Kurt Angle would be joining Sting as the second inductee, it’s safe to establish that this isn’t going to be used to further storyline and is, in fact, TNA’s attempt at establishing an honest to God Hall Of Fame.
With this considered, now seems a good time to have a look at the legitimacy and logic behind it. The most obvious problem in my eyes is that TNA have chosen to go down the route of inducting active wrestlers into it. I can’t speak for MMA/Boxing Hall Of Fames, but I’m fairly certain that a pre-requisite to be inducted is that you must have retired from active competition. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve all the respect in the world for Sting and Kurt Angle, but surely if you’re using active competitors there are far more deserving candidates than the two of them.
For instance, if it’s terms of accolades won in TNA the two guys at the top of the list should be Jeff Jarrett and AJ Styles. Jarrett was one of the founders and has had multiple world title wins, while AJ Styles, was their first ever X-Division champion, first grand slam champion and also their first triple-crown winner. Sting and Angle both contributed a lot to the promotion: Angle’s inital program with Joe and his inventory of great matches has helped TNA a lot over the years, while Sting agreeing to work for the company did put it on the map to a degree.
The point that I’m laboriously trying to get to is that these guys are still contributing. The concept of a hall of fame is to recognise those guys who have moved on to other things, and the Hall Of Fame induction is an opportunity to say thank you for everything they’ve given to the company. I suspect TNA have gone down the route of inducting who they believe will garner the most attention (as well as being credible) as opposed to creating a true celebration of the companies past.
Of course, given that it was founded there only ten years after its’ formation you are going to have a major issue in creating a proper, legitimate HoF that is going to be taken seriously. I mean off the bad you could look at inducting guys who had been former world champions, but pickings are slim in who would actually be available to induct. Ron Killings (R-Truth) and Christian Cage are multiple TNA champions and probably the biggest names on the list of former champions who could perhaps be legitimate contenders, but of course given that they’re with WWE it’s a non-starter.
A couple of potential names that could be inducted in the future from yesteryear are guys like Ken Shamrock & Raven. Shamrock’s stint in TNA was short, but he was crowned their first TNA/NWA World Champion at their first event and, if it were a real hall of fame, should be a shoo in for the TNA HoF at some point in the future. However, given the format in having one inductee per year, this is never going to happen as there is simply not enough material to flesh out the rationale and story behind it to sell is it (obviously, the fact that he is their first champion should be enough).
In regards to Sting and Angle…of course they should be inducted. But if they had retired and then came back to the company for night only, for a celebration of everything they’d contributed to the company then the Hall Of Fame would be a much bigger deal than it is.
If TNA had held of til the 20th anniversary of the company’s foundation, or even the 15th, it would have been a bigger draw and probably a bigger money making entity. The WWE HoF would not be the draw it is if they inducted John Cena this year for instance. Who the hell would care? He’s on TV every week anyway, there’s nothing special about seeing him in a position like that. This years’ HoF attracted a lot of mainstream attention because Bruno Sammartino was inducted with Mick Foley as the two headline names. Sammartino hadn’t been seen in the WWE for decades, so when he was announced as going in there was a massive amount of interest in seeing it. Fans had been clamouring for Bruno to be inducted into the HoF, and when it happened people were delighted to have the opportunity to say thank you and show their appreciation.
Getting back to TNA, there wasn’t the same feeling for Sting last year and I’ll guarantee you there won’t be the same for Angle. Events like the HoF are built on nostalgia, and there’s no nostalgia in celebrating someone you see on TV on a weekly basis. If Sting had been retired for a few years before the initial announcement and they had hyped the first inductee and they played his music, the reaction would’ve been bigger than it was. The exact same with Angle this year too.
“Absence makes the heart grow stronger.” A cliché a I know, but the reason sayings become clichéd is because there is some sort of truth in there. Something TNA would do well to remember in the future.
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