Disclaimer time: I’m a fan of the former “American” Wolves. They were my favorite indy tag team, right next to the Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer). They are a modern day tag team of Dean Malenko (Davey Richards) and Chris Benoit (Eddie Edwards) in terms of ring presence and attitude. I’m very happy they’re in my favorite promotion, but I cannot lie and say they were debuted in a way that made them look good.
The above video is their official TNA debut, so lets look at what worked and what didn’t.
What Worked: ….ummmm……
What Didn’t: 1) A tag team that has a “HUGE FOLLOWING” being brought in to “try out” – Dixie showed her lack of intelligence by bringing in a tag team she knows has a huge fan following and only offering them a tryout. Dixie is supposed to be a SMART heel, not a ditsy one. Who are you going to offer tryout’s to next? The Rock? Chris Jericho? AJ Styles?
2) The way they were tied into the horribly planned “investor” angle – It’s one thing for an investor to apparently buy stakes in a company that the head of knows nothing about (SO F–KING STUPID!!!!!!), it’s another for two talents who she wasn’t even that infatuated with to begin with to be the ones to tell her about it. She, the woman who is in charge of TNA’s day to day on TV hears about a person buying their way into her company from two people WHO JUST GOT SIGNED? Remember the whole “need to make Dixie look smart” rationale?
3) Putting the “tryout” line as a dig to the WWE – Listen, we get it, Dixie is back on that whole “Take shots at Vince” thing. Har Har Har. We get it. It worked for Christian, it worked for Angle, it worked for Booker, it worked for Foley. It doesn’t work for a tag team, who is no better than John Cena, Samoa Joe, CM Punk or Daniel Bryan, all of whom had tryout matches for the WWE (Joe opted not to sign his deal and Bryan was later released in 2001), so to try and take a dig at a reasonable thing that companies do all the time (TNA made Colt Cabana and TJ Perkins try out….they have no room to talk) is pathetic and makes TNA look weak. It’s one thing to point out glaring flaws in the McMahon Family, but another to knock a practice that you (TNA), yourself take part of.
4) They put a tag team known best for their wrestling in a speaking segment. – Think about this logic, lets pretend that you get picked up by the USA Track and Field team for the Olympics. You’re a great shot put thrower and you can make a lot of noise in a quest for a medal. However you get signed and told that you’re going to be competing in the long jump competition, and that you’re expected to medal. Of course you’re going to try, as it’s your dream to be an Olympic athlete. You go on to fail though, and the shot put throwers perform terribly; which means both groups failed to win any medals. But whose fault is it? Yours, for not being great at long jumping? Or those in charge for putting you there in the first place?
That is exactly what TNA did, they took two stars who are KNOWN FOR THEIR WRESTLING and put them in a speaking situation, something they’re really not ready for, especially with Dixie, who herself needs to be carried most times, and looked awful. The Wolves ended up looking bush league and uninteresting thanks to Dixie needing to be involved in their debut. It’s the same reason why she had to be the one to announce their arrival the day before; ego.
Now I’ve bashed practically everything that happened in that segment except the way they dressed; by the way, nice of them to look like they were on their way to Homecoming….ok now I’ve bashed everything, but the question is, “how would I have done it”? GREAT QUESTION.
Move Sting’s match with EC3 to the start of the show and keep Angle’s cage match with Roode as the main event. During the main event, Magnus, Bad Influence, EC3, Spud and whoever else can run down and start trying to take the cage door off the structure. This brings in Samoa Joe, Sting, Storm and Gunner to help, but they end up getting beaten back. As Roode is getting ready to put the final killing blow on Angle, the lights go out, a howl echos across the loudspeakers, the lights come on, and Richards and Edwards kick Roodes legs out, dropping him to his knees, allowing the Wolves to pummel him with kicks to his chest and back. After hitting some wild double team move on Roode, the Wolves then join the fray outside of the cage, helping beat back the heels. Angle wins, and celebrates with the faces. Dixie can come out, because she thinks she’s a draw, and blab on and on and on about how the Wolves aren’t contracted to wrestle, about how they’re not even with the company, then Davey and Eddie can get intense, yell and roar about how they were signed by the investor (if it’s going to happen, it might as well be fun and stupid and not just stupid and boring) and that they were brought in to clean up TNA and blah blah blah. This also gives a chance for Angle to put over how great the Wolves are, for Roode to sell the beating he took at their hands (which in turn puts the Wolves over as a big deal, even to the fans who don’t know them) and gives Sting the chance to set up the next week’s Impact match with Magnus for the World title.
You avoid putting them in a realm where they’ve been given little, to no guidance (talking segments), and you put them over as a big deal.
But that’s too smart.
Think about the big debuts in the past. The Outsiders debut on TNA’s first pay per view, rocking Hardy with dual guitars. Christian Cage debuts on a major ppv and stands up to Jeff Jarrett’s regime. Sting, a month later, scares Jarrett and Monty Brown by sending them a message with a bat and coat, then shows up another month later and beats their asses. Angle debuted in a well kept secret hype package and then debuted to headbutt Samoa Joe, Booker T debuted as Sting’s opponent in a World Title match, Mick Foley as a new……investor (sigh), Desmond Wolfe by smashing Kurt Angle’s skull in, RVD by beating Sting, Jeff Hardy by jumping out of the crowd on Impact (and by being AJ Styes mystery opponent), Mr. Anderson by beating up Abyss, Team 3D by beating up AMW and Jarrett, and Hogan to a lot of pomp and circumstance.
The Wolves? They talked to Dixie. Talk about an under-fucking-whelming debut.