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The Katz Files – Arnie Katz

My TNA Respect War Journal

The Kingfish Arnie Katz examines every facet of the biggest angle in TNA history, including both good and bad points as well as suggestions for the future.

The war between the Main Event Mafia and the TNA Frontline is just about the biggest angle that TNA has attempted in its six-year history. While the execution hasn’t been perfect and trouble certainly looms, the Respect War has a chance to be TNA’s most successful angle as well.

The original concept drew on the tradition of groups like The Four Horsemen and the nWo, but it had some fresh elements, too. The best, which TNA has now utterly abandoned, was that neither side was babyface or heel. Individual members had their own orientation, but the groups as a whole were neutral.

TNA achieved this by giving each faction a tenable position with regard to the relative status of established stars versus rising stars. There’s a kernel of truth in this idea, which is what made it fly in the first place. The young guys want to move up and the big-money guys want to keep their spots.

Unfortunately, the bookers felt they needed something more than this clear-cut difference of opinion and threw in a bunch of bull about “respect,” the most over-used word in the lexicon of professional wrestling. Here’s a newsflash for the business: Everyone wants to be respected.

The establishment of the Main Event Mafia addressed an on-going TNA problem: nothing distinguished its stars from the solid ranks of mid-carders. Formation of the MEM immediately raised Kurt Angle, Booker T, Kevin Nash and Sting to a level above the rest of the roster. This proved fairly easy to accomplish, because they actually are on another level, but TNA had allowed its booking to pull them back down to the pack by dimming their star power.

Adding Scott Steiner didn’t hurt the group or help it that much, either. Scott’s injuries have taken their toll. They’ve given him the mic a few times, with mixed results.

Within the last couple of weeks, the Main Event Mafia has gone totally heel and fan reaction has acknowledged the change.

So much for originality, eh?

Sting doesn’t seem comfortable with his heel role, though, and something may have to be done about that. They can’t have him just stand there and watch his comrades do outrageous things. Perhaps the best thing would be for Sting to have “second thoughts” and either switch sides or opt out of the War entirely. He just isn’t going to make it as a villain.

The formation of the TNA Originals, now known as the TNA Frontline, was not as well planned and has not gone as smoothly as the promotion may have hoped. They didn’t define the group as clearly and it had too many members.

Admittedly, not all the problems are TNA’s fault. Christian Cage was obviously slated to play a pivotal part, but now looks to be bound for WWE. Putting Rhino in his empty slot gave the babyfaces a little more presence, but Rhino’s character is so different than he can’t play the part planned for Cage.

The Motor City Machine Guns subplot is nice – or would have been if TNA hadn’t almost turned them a couple of weeks earlier. The Guns seem to be on a much lower level than the members of MEM, so having them defect to that group is not a terrific option, even if Sabin and Shelley had that veteran star status.

The inclusion of Team 3D in the Frontline faction generates great interviews and, down the road, good matches, but it seems a strange fit. Beer Money isn’t a good fit for the MEM, because Storm and Rood are far from established long-time stars, but TNA may make them at least allies of the Main Event Mafia so that Team 3D can beat them on behalf of the Frontline.

The teams are a problem, because there’s no ideal solution about what to do with them. The best of what’s available, I think, would be to have the Machine Guns defect to the MEM and have Team 3D quickly dispose of them at the first available pay per view. Then MEM would call on Veer Money to set up a big confrontation with Brother Ray and Brother Devon.

The next TNA pay per view is Final Resolution. Somehow, though, I don’t think that it will be the final resolution of the respect feud. Some of the biggest potential matches, such as Jarrett versus Angle, will come at Genesis and other, even more distant, events.

That’s all for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of the Internets fastest-rising daily pro wrestling column. I hope you’ll join me then – and, please, bring your friends.

— Arnie Katz
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