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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. iPPV
  • Marcus G.

    Great article Chad. Also great idea for how the Wolves should have debuted. There was nothing main event about EC3 vs. Sting. The entire show was all talk with little action. Really disappointing after last week’s show. Looking forward to seeing how they rebound with the second part of Genesis.

    • LOEWrestling

      Thanks Marcus. And I agree totally, while I was interested in Sting/EC3, even in Sting’s prime that match isn’t a main event, just because of where EC3 is right now.

      Ending the show with an impactful debut with the Wolves sets the tone for a “new era” and not the one we’ve been living in since 2011.

  • themosayat

    first things first, I think davey is more like benoit while eddie (HI EDDIE!) is more like malenko.

    but anyways, nice article you got there. the way you suggested for them to debut was the same thing I was wishing for. although I would’ve prefered it without a huge brawl at the end, but just angle being outnumbered by the 3 EGO members and then helped to win by the wolves, setting up the wolves vs bad influence for the future (which I hope gets months of build up at least between lockdown and slammivesary. maybe they can have a best out of 3 series as usuall where their matches all have different stipulations to be uniqe and are always held at PPV-themed IMPACTs to look important, while they fight with one on one combitations or with other teams, have promos or video packages and all between each match, with their final match being at slammiversary. until lockdown, though, I’m looking for a nice and fun bro-mans vs the wolves feud where I hope the wolves win the belts in the UK tour and defend them at lockdown.

    honestly, I wasn’t bothered by this segment at all. they looked nice, talked good and this investor angle interested me. in fact, since (sadly) dixie has become the most important person on IMPACT, having them debut by talking with her and getting involved in the main storyline of the show immediately is a more interesting idea to me than a match, although I would’ve prefered instead of all this we just got video packages of them for these 2 weeks and then they debut at the UK tour. I don’t think their debut here was anything under “good” but nothing too “memorable” or “great”. I don’t blame you one bit for feeling like how you’re feeling, though, after that disappointing IMPACT edition that was nothing different from the past despite being advertised as a PPV-THEMED SHOW and hyped as a NEW BEGINNING and all. but please, let’s not argue about this one paragraph in praticular and just agree to disagree, ok? :)

    I hope their eventual debut in the UK tour is met by thunderous ovations as you and me assume they got HUUUUUUGE FOLLOWINGS that are pissed at this now, but still excited about seeing them there in the future. also, I hope TNA allows them to go at it in the ring for a long enough time and let’s them be themselves and not tone them down.

    • LOEWrestling

      Eddie is taller, younger, uses more suplexes and comes off the top more often than than Davey, aka, what Benoit used to do. Eddie usually wears long trunks.

      Richards is shorter, older, uses more submissions and mat based moves more often than Eddie, aka what Malenko used to do. Davey is more prone to wearing short trunks.

      They even have the same hair styles as each other. Eddie has longer, more combed hair, like Benoit, and Davey has shorter hair, like Malenko.

      Both wrestled in Japan, but the caveat, Richards, like Malenko is a well respected trainer, while Edwards is often given the nod, like Benoit was, as the more exciting worker.

      The Wolves vs. Bad Influence will not be built up, because Bad Influence is a notch higher than Norv and Dewey on the tag team ladder. The dysfunctional team of Storm/Gunner would be built up higher than Bad Influence. They’ll be dispatched by the Wolves before we even get back from London. Because Lockdown or Slammiversary will be The Wolves vs. Bro-Mans for the tag team titles, with Bro-Mans still very much the champs, as they should be.

      You can like the segment all you want, but if you don’t portray a widely popular tag team, which Dixie herself inferred they were, in the best light to suit THEM as a team, then it CAN’T be classified as good. The Wolves are already being misused. That’s not even debatable. They’re not guys you use to carry pointless and stupid segments, they’re guys to get the crowd fired up.

      And I ask again, how does the head of a wrestling company NOT know someone is investing? Is TNA so fucked up as a company that they don’t even vet or do background checks on potential investors?

      • themosayat

        oh, nice comparrisions!

        also, I agree about the rest of your points.

        one thing, though. what I was hoping is that we also get one more team to build up bad influence for facing the wolves after they get done with the bro-mans while also that new team gets relevant again by being featured in a nice little feud with bad influence. many rumors about manik & kenny king for that role, but I find it an odd pairing that I can come up with many better ones than it for TNA’s tag division using stars that are sidelined now, or bringing back some cheap names from TNA’s history that could fit forming a tag team with some of those unused talent or just signing one guy from the indies to team him up with another one of those unused talents easily.

        I don’t know if I disqussed this scenario with you before, but here goes nothing. while the wolves are feuding with the bromans, we also get this new tag team who forms not randomly but via getting involved in some beat downs or trash talking from bad influence or the rest of dixie’s team (for a simple example, manik getting beaten down by zema ion in a match and by the bro-mans post match, and then the same thing happening for this newly signed extreme/ultimate tiger guy.) so, they team up to counter them but then shift to feud with bad influence to get the fans to know them a little better while also building up bad influence when they ultimately win the feud.

        the point is, as you said, TNA is now building up their tag division from zero and should concentrate on it well. EC3 and a partner of his choosing are due to a shot in it in the future as well.

        my only fear is that TNA wants to continue this abyss storyline and bringing back the TV title maybe despite it hurting bad influence, despite not being enough time for another title in the company and despite the fans’ disinterest in it and how much time it wasted…

        • LOEWrestling

          A Manik/Ultimate Tiger pair up reminds me of Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera tagging up in WCW, so I’m in favor of that. And whoever is spreading rumors about Manik/King being a tag team is delusional. That’s the idea of unhappy fan-boys who don’t get see Slightly More Than Average Kenny King on t.v.

          The WWE was able to have 7 titles in 3 hours of t.v. back in the 90’s, there’s no reason why TNA can’t have 5 in two. TNA just needs to stop booking Dixie Carter in 30 minutes of their show each week.

          • themosayat

            the manik/kenny king rumors were replied to on twitter by both guys AND by bad influence (probably all talents just messing with the fans or playing to them) so, that’s why it got big.

            honestly, I would be so excited for a team of kenny king with the returning d’angelo dinero, the pope. I thought he was very good in TNA in the past, but then, got into bad feuds and got misused before being released…

            I agree that if it were up to any of us that we could’ve fit all titles in TNA in the show and featured many feuds that would be equally important and not just one big take-over angle like TNA has been doing for years…

          • LOEWrestling

            Pope was never over in TNA, he’ll most likely never be brought back. Fans just don’t relate to him.