AJ Styles Takes Title To Mexico
TNA World Champion AJ Styles – who is out of contract in storyline and is ‘taking the title to the people’ – will be defending it on Sunday’s AAA TV taping in Mexico against Judas Mesias, who had a brief run in TNA in 2007/8 and the TNA World Cup One Night Only PPV.
Having Styles as a traveling champion is a move that has not really been heard of since the days of the NWA, when the champ would tour the territories putting the belt on the line against the local star, and sometimes internationally. The format aimed to keep the territories relevant, while staying true to concept of a “World” champion.
In the era of the national expansion (WWF, WCW and those that failed) and later when TV became the driving force behind wrestling, World titles somewhat lost their prestige. In fact today’s crop of world titles are not world titles at all. To begin with WWE essentially has two versions – how do you have two main event champions? – and they only defend them in-house. There are also thousands of independent promotions around the world and they almost all lay claim to some kind of world champion. The concept is completely diluted.
Could A Permanent Traveling Champion Work?
Though the storyline with AJ Styles is that he’s rebelling against Dixie Carter, TNA may have stumbled on to a concept that could set them apart from WWE and the independents. Why not make the traveling champion a long term element of the product, even after AJ loses the belt or returns to TNA?
The announcers could then hype the fact that they have “a real world champion, who isn’t afraid of any competition”. Cameras could be sent to the matches to include clips on Impact or even the full bouts if they’re particularly good. It also meshes well with the new Action Never Ends concept.
Of course a logical argument against this would be why give other promotions publicity? I say why not? Other than WWE and to a degree ROH, there is no other promotion with nationally available TV programming, and promotions in Japan, Mexico and Europe cannot be considered direct competition.
If anything having TNA’s top star appear in other promotions with the TNA title and having blow away matches is an advertisement for TNA. It says look at us! Our guy is a star!
Currently the company are not doing well on the road and are headed back to Universal Studios in Orlando. If the promotion can’t tour, there’s no reason why the champion can’t. It takes away the cost of touring while still giving TNA exposure. It also allows them to showcase new talent without even having to pay them.
All this being said considering TNA don’t even allow their talent to have outside bookings when the promotion in question is filming the event, this probably isn’t something they’d want to do. Deluded Indy promoters may also feel that one day they could reach TNA’s level and wouldn’t want to bow down to them in what could be viewed as an unfair agreement. However as a fan it’s something old that is new again, and I’d thoroughly enjoy a full blown traveling champion.