Pondering with Plumtree is a column on the popular blog, TNAsylum, that is written by yours truly. The blog is focused towards being a fan site for TNA Wrestling fans where they can get news, rumors, opinions, and any and everything else, TNA Wrestling. Known as "The Haven for TNA Wrestling Fans", I'm hoping to bring some of my thoughts to an already impressive roster of columnist for as long as the site will have me. You can read the latest column here, or in the text below.
I still remember the call like it was yesterday - "Kurt Angle just headbutted Samoa Joe...OLYMPIC SLAM!! OLYMPIC SLAM!...by Angle on Samoa Joe!" Still, my very favorite moment ever in the history of TNA Wrestling.
There is just something poetic about that moment which describes the fabric of the company as a whole. The homegrown talent being the center of attention. The best wrestler in the world (at the time) wanting to come to TNA to face said talent. The small intimate Impact Zone going absolutely bonkers. Jeff Jarrett sneaking in the ring to grab the title in the background of the segment (always makes me laugh). And of course, Don West and Mike Tenay calling the happenings by screaming to the top of their lungs as if they were fans sitting in the bleachers. Ahhh...the good ole' days.
It's safe to say, yes, as a TNA fan, you, who reads this column right now, is in fact very familiar with Kurt Angle. We are all very familiar with his history (and synonymous moments) in TNA, his ability inside of a wrestling ring, and overall, what he brings to the table overall as a talent.
Very often as wrestling fans, especially in today's microwave culture, we become jaded really quickly, sometimes even distorting the past, reality, and the overall bigger picture by focusing on the current minute situation at hand. As Kurt Angle's contract was rumored to be expiring this past Fall, especially with the then unknown future of the company, it was a bit jarring to hear so many fans already moving on without Kurt Angle in their TNA. Simply tossing the Olympic Gold medalist aside as if those moments, those epic matches, and as if the fabric and history of TNA isn't worth it.
"I like Angle, but TNA needs to move forward with younger talent and not guys like Kurt Angle." - The Internet 10/3/14
As evident from the recent airing of the "Best of TNA" edition of IMPACT, there is a lot of history within TNA. Plenty of history and moments that the company rarely ever embraces, and when they do, they don't do it enough. Yes, it's a shortcoming of the company (add it to your list if you keep one), but of all the names who have indeed graced a TNA Wrestling ring (there is a lot, make a list if you need to), Kurt Angle has been arguably the most loyal, the most supportive, and the most patient in regards to the growth of the company.
Simply put, Kurt Angle has always been there. He gave the prime years of his career towards the company. There is definitely value in preserving that as a brand looking to grow towards the future while using it's past to help present the product.
Simply letting him go is pretty much allowing more of your history to walk out of the door. You just don't let cornerstones of your company walk away. And dare I say, you just don't let a Kurt Angle walk away.
"Kurt can go! He's already packed it in and has been looking for a deal from the WWE when his contract is up!" - The Internet 10/3/14
I'm sorry, but so what? It's still a business. Kobe Bryant once discussed a contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. Angle has a right to angle (no pun intended...or intention to use his name as a verb, thought it works out really well) himself for the best possible deal. Especially, when this deal might just be the last of his career. Praising WWE doesn't always mean disrespecting TNA. Just saying...
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. But Angle has done all there is in TNA. There isn't anything else left for him to do! "- The Internet 11/14/14
Stripping away the here and now of the moment, sometimes it is remarkable to realize and process that Kurt Angle is in TNA. At one point in time, TNA had the VERY BEST overall wrestler on the planet on their roster. And again, there is value to that. Has he lost a step? Sure. Is he banged up? Absolutely. But the thought and argument of him not being able to offer anything to a wrestling program is insane. Actually, to be very transparent and honest, I find the statement to be absurd. There is a lot of knowledge, a lot of know-how, and plenty of intangibles that come with an all-time great that can contribute to a product, especially when said talent isn't much of an ego to handle. A rarity in itself.
"LOL at all of you. Kurt is done! WWE will never sign him as he can't pass their physical or hold up to their schedule." - The Internet 9/19/14
As we head into TNA's brand new era on Destination America, Kurt Angle is signed, sealed, and delivered for the near future in TNA Wrestling. I'm not sure what the plans are for Angle moving forward, but I suggest something slightly radical and sacrilegious to the TNA diehard fan - taking a page out of the WWE playbook.
"#TNALOL, copying WWE again!" - The Internet...everyday since 2002
How about simply making Kurt Angle a part-time wrestler and a main attraction who only graces the ring a few times a year. We're not talking Brock Lesnar-level-of-disappearance, but simply a schedule that makes Angle feel as special and as celebrated as he should be while also preserving his ability and most importantly, health, as a performer. The only TNA Hall of Famer on the active roster. One of the greatest wrestlers of all-time. Part of the fabric of TNA Wrestling.
There are plenty of big fight-feel matches that are still out there for Angle which the company can exploit and fans can go crazy over. Angle vs. Aries. Angle vs. either of The Wolves. Angle vs. Roode. Angle vs. EC3. Angle vs. Lashley. Angle vs. Low Ki. Heck, even another Angle vs. Joe bout.
All in all, with the new modern penthouse that seems to be Destination America, you cannot forget the TNA heirloom that is Kurt Angle, which adds value, depth, and substance to the new place. Of course, when enjoyed in moderation.
Last Minute Shopping List
Also, similar to last year, with the Holiday season in session, I'd like to hand out some gifts to those in the wrestling world...
Kurt Angle - The Gift of Renewed Health and Spirit
Well, why not? This column was focused around Angle, so why not start with him? With several months to rest up and to ignite that incomparable passion for the industry, here is to hoping Angle is completely healthy and in the right frame of mind to come back to contribute in the new era of TNA Wrestling.
Abyss - Gift of Refresh-ness
I'm not sure what it is, but "The Monster" has taken a step back over the past few years. It might be the look (Not a fan of the new mask) or possibly the burn out of the character, but TNA could use a monster big man, and a refreshed Abyss as part of the Revolution could produce some great results.
Garrett Bischoff - Gift of Clarity
Is he still on the roster? Like, no more joking around. For real, is he still employed?
Nevertheless, if he is, I've always thought the sheer fact of being Eric Bischoff's son in the wrestling business could produce an interesting enough character to hate. Ehh, maybe just me.
Ethan Carter III - Gift of Continued Development...and Health
It's safe to say EC3 is one of the best things to happen to TNA this year. The slow build of the character has been absolutely fantastic, and is part of the beauty of the rise of EC3. And of course, hopefully, he stays healthy enough to continue do so.
Mike Tenay - Gift of Comfort
After twelve years of calling the action for TNA Wrestling, Tenay now moves into a role where he seems like a natural fit in hosting a magazine-style show in IMPACT: Unlocked. It's safe to say we all expect Tenay to be at home in this role which should show off his vast knowledge of pro wrestling. But just to be sure, we'll throw the gift of comfort his way as well.
Magnus - Gift of a Comeback
The year was quite the tale of two halves for Magnus. From world champion to being the sidekick to one of the company's promising talent. Needless to say, for whatever reason, Magnus' balloon deflated in 2014. Yet, he still has all of the tools needed to be a star, and is still one of TNA's best talents. Here is to hoping in 2015 we see the rise of Magnus once again.
Robbie E and Brooke - Gift of Evolution
No, we're not talking teaming up with Triple H and company, but being able to take their exposure from The Amazing Race and translate and transform it into what they do within the wrestling world. Hopefully, this leads to a new evolution of their characters and careers. Especially for Robbie E, who I think has been slowly outgrowing the Jersey shore shtick, and into a new phase that hasn't been completely defined as of yet.
TNA Wrestling - Gift of Peace
Talk about a whirlwind of a 2014 for TNA Wrestling. With a new TV deal in place, a future to now plan for, and a blank canvas to work with, I just hope that Dixie Carter and the rest of the TNA Wrestling staff can be at peace (finally) with their new home and the current status of the company.
I'm not sure how many people tuned in, or of course, what those mighty and crucial ratings were like, but wasn't the "Best of" edition of IMPACT a good way to relive some of the fun times the company produced?
Who else forgot how hilarious the Jay Lethal/Ric Flair "woo-off" was?
And how much props should be given to the guys in the ring who stayed in character and didn't do as much as crack a smile?
With the recent announcement of Josh Matthews as lead announcer, how funny is it to read comments from the now many Mike Tenay "fans?"
Or are they simply, "against whatever TNA does" fans?
Anyone already ponder if new title belts will be part of this new launch?
Adam Foster wrote a very thought provoking piece back in October on the topic of an off-season for wrestling - doesn't this break essentially feel that way? Especially with the leakage of news and new announcements every so often?