Drawing off real life criticisms – particularly the AJ Styles contract situation, TNA President Dixie Carter underwent a heel turn on this week’s Impact broadcast, taped from St. Louis, MO. Ahead of the show Hulk Hogan called it a game changer on Twitter …
“Can’t wait for Dixie Carter to go face to face with AJ Styles,the next T A IMPACT will be a game changer brother. Spike9pmestThurs HH”
The storyline was set in to motion on the August 29th Impact, when AJ Styles cut a pipe bomb style promo on Carter, saying he deserved more from the company after being taken for granted and used as the “go to guy” for 11 years, while “the next big thing” is always given the spotlight, but ultimately fails.
He would go on to win the Bound for Glory series, earning a shot at Bully Ray on the October PPV, continuing his World title redemption. In his post match promo he said that this was “Dixie Carter’s wake up call.” …
“I got a lot of response from what I said a couple of weeks ago. But in particular one person, I didn’t get a call. I didn’t get a text. I didn’t get a Tweet. And Dixie Carter, we all know how you like to Tweet.”
On this week’s broadcast the show built to another “worked shoot” promo where Styles claimed he’s no longer under contract, will win the World title, and can say what he wants.
Directing his anger at Dixie, he claimed to have worked his ass off since day one at the Asylum in Nashville trying to put TNA on the map, and that he and other great names like Jerry Lynn, Low Ki, Alex Shelly, Jay Lethal, Petey Williams and others made the promotion stand out with the X-Division.
…That was until “Dixe Carter’s daddy bought her a ‘wrasslin’ company”, and broke up the chemistry that made it special. AJ accused Dixie of not paying her dues and having no experience. He said she destroyed what made TNA special, trading in the great names of the X-Division to bring in MMA stars and people that need a paid vacation before they head back up north.
He pledged to win the title at Bound For Glory for his “band of brothers” and then make Carter get on her knees and pay for what she’s done!
Feigning tears a timid looking Dixie entered the ring to apologize but it was all a ruse to put AJ in his place. In truth she was only sorry that she’s put up with AJ’s “crap” for so long. She said he would have been nothing without her, and that she made him. She bitterly claimed that the Phenomenal name was nothing more than a marketing slogan, and that she can’t remember the last time Styles actually had a 5 star match. “You’re so sub-par we should rename you the marginal one,” she screeched.
“Without my daddy’s paycheck you’d still be in the trailer!”
Before cutting AJ’s microphone she told him he was lucky to be here!
It would appear creative have decided to try and deflect some of the real life criticisms over budget cuts and contract expirations, by working Carter back in to the program as an on air bad guy. And boy did they lay a lot out there!
This would also suggest that Styles and TNA are on good terms and rumors of a contract extension through 2013 are true.
There are a number of ways to look at this situation. Obviously the authority figure turning heel formula dates back at least as far as Vince McMahon and the “Montreal Screwjob” with Bret Hart. Carter’s heel turn obviously wasn’t as effective as that, but it certainly blurred the lines between reality and fiction, something that is usually a winner in wrestling, and which definitely succeeded in revitalizing the Styles storyline and making Carter a believable on air character. After all a lot of fans – at least on the internet – are souring on her for the way she’s running the company. Her non-response to criticisms and releasing of good talent, while keeping the likes of Bischoff and Hogan around is creating a situation where we do want to boo her.
However there is also a fine line between wrestling character driven heat, and “we really dislike your actions, please sort your damn company out”. Turning her heel because fans believe the company is being mismanaged, is not an honest way of addressing those fans and their criticisms. It will be many weeks before those concerns are alleviated.
There is also the fact that Carter isn’t a wrestler and doesn’t necessarily have the on-air presence or delivery to pull this off. She isn’t Vince McMahon or Stephanie. Tonight she did good, but it might not always be that way. It would perhaps make more sense if Hulk Hogan turned heel with her, though the Hulkster’s contract is expiring in October.
Better yet Eric Bischoff could be brought back to share speaking roles. Fans love to hate Bischoff. In my opinion dislike of Dixie is partly down to sympathy with the fact that she’s in over her head, rather than pure hatred. That being said her “I’m sorry” swerve shows she’s more than happy to take it on the chin and throw herself in to the role fully. It takes guts to stand on a stage and be hated, especially when reality is involved.
Comparisons are naturally going to be drawn with WWE and their “best for business” storyline, which you could argue is not something a fledgling alternative should be doing. The whole point of being an alternative is to be different, not to come across as a weak imitation. Going head to head with the same kind of storylines will never work, no matter how intriguing they are. When Styles said a few weeks back that he’s “better than the Best in the World,” he forced fans to compare him and his “pipe bomb” with CM Punk. And unfortunately Styles is no CM Punk!
In conclusion I was surprised how well Dixie pulled this off, and how much realism was allowed to seep through. If Hulk is indeed on the way out then replacing his on air role with a heel Dixie, though nothing ground breaking, at least feels authentic. Hogan is just not likeable anymore because he’s been so exposed in the media as a deluded egomaniac. Dixie has embraced her criticisms and is going with the flow, though it would be nice of her to actually address the fans in real life.
– The Extraordinary Gentlemen’s Organization attack Magnus backstage, who is coming to terms with losing the Bound For Glory series. Roode says he has nobody to blame but himself, before his pals jump Magnus from behind. Everybody is ticked off that Styles got the win.
– Jeff Hardy def. X-Division Champion Manik in a Non-Title Match.
– After the match Chris Sabin turned heel and attacked him.
– DOB def. Mickie James to win the Knockouts Championship. Mickie’s contract is up, so this writes her out of the storylines.
– The BroMans interrupt the celebration and Robbie E winds up in a match with Eric Young.
– Eric Young defeated Robbie E.
– They then turn their attention to “fat bastard” Joseph Park, who snaps and also has a match with Robbie E.
– After seeing his own blood Joseph Park defeated Robbie E.
– Gunner def. Hernandez.
– The Extraordinary Gentlemen’s Organization (Bobby Roode, Christopher Daniels, and Kazarian) defeated The Main Event Mafia (Sting, Samoa Joe, and Magnus).
– Dixie Carter turned on AJ Styles.