KELLER'S TAKE KELLER: The pros and cons of Austin Aries walking out of Bound for Glory as TNA Hvt. champion Sunday night
Oct 14, 2012 - 4:04:11 PM
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO BOOKMARK US & VISIT US DAILY
By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
By the end of the night, either Austin Aries will walk out of Bound for Glory as Impact Wrestling Champion or Jeff Hardy will. Which is the right decision?
AUSTIN ARIES: PRO
Aries's character has been all over the place in recent weeks since winning the title. He won over fans with his confident/cocky "I don't care" anti-authority gimmick. The fans essentially turned him. Then, he turned on his own fans. A couple episodes ago on Impact he said if a fan touched him, he'd punch them, just as Bully Ray had just threatened to do. He also referred to his future fans as lemmings blindly following him. While saying he wanted the type of popularity worldwide that Jeff Hardy has, he also insulted them by saying Hardy's fans blindly follow him like lemmings and he wanted the same thing. It was a mixed message from one week to the next whether this unusually self-confident, uninhibited champion was so cool you had to cheer him or so full of himself you couldn't stand him.
Then the last five minutes of Impact happened last Thursday. Aries came out and cleared it all up. He said since he became champion, TNA management had been trying to mold him in their vision, giving him talking points, telling him how to act to best represent the company. He said, without saying it explicity, that that's why he's been all over the place in recent weeks. He said on Thursday he's done with all of that and he's just going to be himself.
It was an interesting promo and made me curious to see where he landed as an act. Yes, Thursday's promo was a C.M. Punk rip-off in a way, doing the anti-management break-from-script schtick that can so easily get tiresome. Yet, like with Punk, if not more so, that is who Austin Aries is. He really is difficult to deal with behind the scenes. His colleagues find his arrogance and excess of self-confidence off-putting, and sometimes they wonder if it's overcompensation for insecurities or just a bone-headed sense of social manners. In any case, it's worked against him in multiple promotions. Perhaps more than Punk, he is someone who doesn't want to take instructions or directions and does believe he's best in the world.
As difficult as that can be to work with, maybe there's something there yet to be fully realized, and only by sticking with him as champion will TNA find out the potential of that act.
If they stick with him, he's a fresh act that hasn't been dumbed down or defined down by years of doing jobs or overexposure. He also virtually guarantees a very good to great main event for TNA if matched against a good opponent. That might not be the case with other top options, and it wasn't the case with the capable but hardly dazzling Robert Roode.
AUSTIN ARIES: CON
Well, look above. He's hard to work with and unpredictable. His character has been all over the place, and it's only a hunch on my part that it might have been part of a master plan. If Aries was trying to get himself over a babyface by ripping on the fans who might choose to cheer for him, maybe his wrestling IQ is just too low to be relied upon to be a strong solid face or heel. Is he willing to do what's necessary to either be likable and admirable as a babyface (that can be achieved without compromising whatever integrity he insists on having as an act) or be consistently despicable and jeer-worthy as a heel, rather than the ironic heel who is really feeding off of being cheered against his caste? If Aries can't pick one role or the other in the tried and true pro wrestling formula and find a way to be original within one role or the other, then he's probably not worth featuring as a centerpiece act.
Also, I hate to say this, but Aries might just be too short. I thought he was an excellent X Division champion, the type of centerpiece act to build the division around. As soon as he gained any traction, though, he got elevated in a surprise win over Roode for the World Heavyweight Title. In the Heavyweight division, Aries just might seem even to the open-minded fan a little too small to be believable in that role, given his personality. He carries himself like a mix of Steve Austin and C.M. Punk with a touch of Randy Orton's self-centered arrogance. That doesn't work as an undersized wrestler in a heavyweight division.
Aries is small enough to be a sympathetic underdog babyface, but he's not sympathetic and he will never carry himself like a humble underdog. Aries isn't big enough to be a brash cocky bully heel, either, so if he manages to hold his own against larger heavyweights, he becomes sympathetic for battling against the odds. Yet his personality isn't the type that makes you want to cheer him for that reason. So his act is the exact worse fit for being undersized. That's why he's best left in the X Division being a cocky heel beating up people his size.
(Wade Keller founded Pro Wrestling Torch 25 years ago as a print newsletter, which is still published weekly and distributed worldwide today to thousands of fans. Send your thoughts on this to firstname.lastname@example.org or react on the website in the reader comment area below.)
THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
REACHING 1 MILLION+ UNIQUE USERS PER MONTH
500 MILLION CLICKS & LISTENS PER YEAR
MILLIONS OF PWTORCH NEWSLETTERS SOLD
PWTorch offers a VIP membership for $10 a month (or less with an annual sub). It includes nearly 25 years worth of archives from our coverage of pro wrestling dating back to PWTorch Newsletters from the late-'80s filled with insider secrets from every era that are available to VIPers in digital PDF format and Keller's radio show from the early 1990s.
Also, new exclusive top-shelf content every day including a new VIP-exclusive weekly 16 page digital magazine-style (PC and iPad compatible) PDF newsletter packed with exclusive articles and news.
The following features come with a VIP membership which tens of thousands of fans worldwide have enjoyed for many years...
-New Digital PWTorch Newsletter every week
-3 New Digital PDF Back Issues from 5, 10, 20 years ago
-Over 60 new VIP Audio Shows each week
-Ad-free access to all PWTorch.com free articles
-VIP Forum access with daily interaction with PWTorch staff and well-informed fellow wrestling fans
-Tons of archived audio and text articles
-Decades of Torch Talk insider interviews in transcript and audio formats with big name stars. **SIGN UP FOR VIP ACCESS HERE**