Thursday, March 17, 2016

Drew Galloway: the champion TNA needs, not the one it deserves

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The Dark Knight meme is strong as I look at the crowning of Drew Galloway as the new TNA World Heavyweight champion on this week's Impact Wrestling. As the first man to successfully cash in the World title Feast or Fired case, the former Mr. McIntyre finally ascended to the place he should have been at months ago in TNA: on the top of the card.

But in many ways, it feels like yet another hotshot move by TNA where they make the right call for ratings a little too late. Galloway has been left as something of a cipher in recent weeks, only inserted into segments when he's needed rather than naturally being involved in storylines. His matches with Kurt Angle were great, but Drew isn't a talent that needs the approval of an aging veteran to be a main event star. He should have been crowned champion months ago but instead had to step aside for a lackluster run by consummate midcarder Matt Hardy as the top star in the company.

This is far from the first time or the last time that TNA made a decision that seems designed to try and bring back viewers alienated by bad booking decisions of the past, but at this point in their company's history, it might be time to consider just booking in ways to make fans happy more often. I'm not saying the hero should always win by any means. EC3 had a great championship reign as a nefarious evildoer. But most fans taking the time to check out non-WWE brands have moved past a need to see WWE nostalgia acts at the top of the card.

That doesn't mean TNA fans don't love the Hardy Boyz together or individually. They are still a strong pair of wrestlers, but they are not the kind of figures TNA should ever bank on at the top of the card ever again. With their age, their wear and their history of drug abuse, TNA has enough rising stars, both home grown and from under-utilized WWE runs, to build a great roster.

It just needs to start doing that. Keep the focus on Galloway, EC3, Mike Bennett and other focal points like Tyrus, James Storm and Bobby Roode. Even Eric Young and Bram have something to offer. Use WWE talents that have passed their prime like Lashley and the Hardys as key figures on TV, but not as the major stars TV regularly focuses upon.

Ultimately, Impact Wrestling seems to slowly be righting their own path after disastrous years in 2014 and 2015. Here's hoping they can continue that route instead of miring themselves in the same old mistakes the company has made time and time again. But they need to show a lot of fans consistency in storytelling before they ever start attracting viewers. Programs like Lucha Underground and NJPW on AXS have proven niche marketing can work for professional wrestling. It is time that TNA stops trying to be WWE and find what it's best at it. And I suspect that is good old school wrestling stories in the Southern tradition. I can think of few stars that can fill that formula quite as well as Drew Galloway.

If all goes well, the future looks bright for TNA to finally #StandUp.

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