And the New TNA Champion is…?
Whoever is pulling the strings in TNA figured out Magnus was going to be world champion six months ago. It's why he almost won the Bound for Glory tournament. They wanted Magnus to be the world champion, but maybe they didn't figure he was big enough to beat Bully Ray. Maybe they didn't figure he was big enough to sell their only remaining PPV. Maybe AJ Styles had a contract expiring, and they needed a way to keep him around.
In a way, Magnus winning the gold is incredibly smart. I said three months ago TNA should put the title on him before the UK tour to make him look like a big deal. I also said they'd give it to AJ Styles instead, because A) they're in panic mode, and B) they're still not ready to fully commit to the future.
In my opinion, and this is just one guy's opinion, what they did was take the easy way out. When you bring up a babyface the natural way, and I mean all the way from rookie to main eventer, you take a big risk hoping the audience will connect with them. Getting heels over is easy. Insult the fans, spit in the face of a few legends, forget what town you're in – being bad isn't hard. Being a GOOD heel is a totally different story. Bully Ray and Bobby Roode are among the last two truly good heels I can recall in the past few years, outside of CM Punk. Magnus has some truly big shoes to fill, and I don't see that happening when he's got to share a spotlight with Dixie Carter.
Here's another question: does TNA actually remember how to book babyface champions anymore? AJ Styles had the title for one episode before leaving. Chris Sabin was a flash in the pan if I ever saw one. Who was the last real babyface champion? Jeff Hardy? He was off television for over a month because he can't leave the country, and overshadowed by Hulk Hogan, Bully Ray and the voice inside his head that cut all his promos (ugh).
Magnus is heel because booking babyface champions is hard. Austin Aries, Bully Ray, Bobby Roode – anybody that comes close to that title must sell their soul to the devil to make it happen. Magnus could have broken that trend. Fans liked him. He could have been a HERO during the UK tour. He's one of the rare TNA stars that can handle himself on the mic without over-acting.
I'm happy for Magnus. He's a great talent. He deserves the world title, and he has all the natural ability to carry the company, given some time to evolve. I'm disappointed this is the path they decided to go down. I'm not looking forward to sitting through more Dixie Carter promos to watch him progress.