I look at Daniels and see a Swiss Army knife. He can wrestle the luchadores, and he can wrestle the monsters. His persona is malleable enough that you can believably pit him in a feud or stick him in a tag team with just about anyone on the roster. At an age when most wrestlers are slowing down, he’s still able to put on great X-Division matches. I honestly can’t fathom how the creative team could assess the talent available and decide that The Nasty Boys and Bubba the Love Sponge required screen time, while Daniels should have multiple weeks off.
Regardless, TNA is apparently comfortable paying a lot of guys on their roster who haven’t seen the light of day in a few weeks (there’s an all-points bulletin out on Shark Boy, for example). Since Daniels, who was (literally) a main eventer just a few months ago, received a full release, one is forced to assume that he specifically asked for one. It’s no secret that Daniels was frustrated with the diminution of his onscreen role – we’d been reading reports of that as early as November. But I was hoping that this was just symptomatic of the sort of tension you’d expect when a new creative team takes over. By March, Daniels and Bischoff appeared to have reached détente. Daniels even made a rare appearance on Impact last month (losing by clean pin to new X-Division champ Doug Williams, but at least they were using him again).
Then two weeks later, Daniels pulls a Keyser Soze, and he’s off to ROH. I know it sounds like I’m pinning all the blame here on TNA – to be fair, I don’t know the whole story. Maybe Daniels was the one making unreasonable demands backstage (though this would be out of character based on what I know about his history). But no matter how the story plays out, Bischoff and Hogan’s inability to keep the Fallen Angel around leaves me legitimately worried. Is this emblematic of more serious backstage problems? Is there the possibility that the new brain trust values other mainstays just as poorly? If this is the start of an exodus of Originals, then make no mistake about it – the New Monday Night Wars will not be won by recent WWE castoffs alone.
TNA needs to use the Scott Halls of the world to convince new people to watch their programming. But they need all the Samoa Joes, AJ Styles, and yes, Christopher Daniels they can get their hands on in order to make us stay. I wish Daniels the best of luck in ROH – I’m sure he’ll prove to be a great pickup for their organization. And to Bischoff and Hogan, allow me to leave you with a short chant that I learned in Philadelphia…
You f*cked up! You f*cked up!
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