The Total Nonstop Action wrestling company changed in a huge way in 2010. Two big names joined the TNA company in Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Wrestling fan or not, you know who Hogan is. Most know Bischoff. He is a former President of World Championship Wrestling, the chief competition to World Wrestling Entertainment. After WCW folded 10 years ago, Bischoff briefly appeared for WWE.
[Click here to see a small blog I posted in 2009 after their signing was announced]
We are currently headed toward TNA's biggest event of the year, Bound For Glory. It is their version of WrestleMania. All of the big angles and stories build for a year and culminate at BFG. This year's event features Kurt Angle defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Bobby Roode and - in a rematch from one of WCW's biggest matches ever - Sting versus Hulk Hogan. If Hogan loses, his Immortal group will give ownership of TNA back to Dixie Carter.
If you don't keep up with TNA, you're probably saying to yourself, "What? His Immortal group will give ownership of TNA back to Dixie Carter? What is Immortal? Who is Dixie Carter? Is 57-year-old Hulk Hogan really wrestling 52-year-old Sting?"
Immortal is the group led by Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Immortal formed at last year's Bound For Glory event, held on October 10, 2010. Or, as the booming voiceover guy would exclaim - "Ten! Ten! Ten!"
It appears as though we're coming up to the culmination of the Immortal angle. I'm going to look at the last year of TNA programming and see how this Immortal storyline has progressed, if it's made any sense, and who it has helped or hurt. The first part will focus on the build and formation of Immortal.
Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff debuted in TNA in January of 2010. In an additional surprise, 16-time World Champion Ric Flair also debuted on the same day. Hogan and Bischoff initially debuted as "tweeners," meaning we weren't sure if they were good guys (faces) or bad guys (heels). They eventually settled into a face role. Flair came in as a heel and - in a pretty big surprise - turned TNA's biggest face AJ Styles heel with him.
The story told itself - Ric Flair hasn't liked Hulk Hogan for decades. He still doesn't like him. He assembled a collection of wrestlers to take Hogan out of TNA. This continued throughout 2010. The group came to be known as "Fortune," a play on Flair's previous group the Four Horsemen. The initial group consisted of AJ Styles, Bobby Roode, James Storm, Frankie Kazarian, Matt Morgan, and Doug Williams.
Hogan formed a bond with a wrestler named Abyss. He was originally a brooding, evil, amalgamation of Kane and Mankind. He eventually became more human-like and his partnership with Hogan made him one of the top faces in the company.
Other faces in TNA: "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero, Samoa Joe, Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam
Other heels in TNA: Sting, Kevin Nash, Ken Anderson
Dixie Carter is the real-life owner of TNA. She is not a wrestling character and had no wrestling background. Until 2010 she was never mentioned as an on-screen character. People knew she existed; she just wasn't a part of the show. In an effort to "shoot," to appear more "real," she made a couple appearances and, as the build to the 10-10-10 Bound For Glory approaches, became a recurring character.
For most of the year, Rob Van Dam had been the World Heavyweight Champion. As summer turned to fall, we found RVD attacked backstage with some serious injuries. He had to be stripped of the title. A series of tournament matches would be held over the next couple months, with the finals culminating at Bound For Glory.
In a shocking twist, Abyss turned on Hulk Hogan and was revealed as the culprit behind the RVD attack. When asked why, he said that "They" told him to. Who are they? He won't say, but noted that They would reveal themselves on a certain date - "Tennnn! Tennnn! Tennnn!" That was the date of Bound For Glory, October 10, 2010.
Jeff Jarrett had formed a bond with Samoa Joe. They were involved in a months-long feud with Sting and Kevin Nash. In an interesting twist, Sting & Nash recruited D'Angelo Dinero to their side. They claimed to be fighting for the good of the company. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, they claimed, were a cancer to TNA. Joe & Jarrett didn't see that and had to be taken care of as well.
Hulk Hogan had been seen only sporadically on TNA programming the last few months. He had been having back problems and had several surgeries throughout the year. Sting, Nash, and Dinero challenged Joe, Jarrett, and Hogan to a match at Bound For Glory. A few weeks before the event, it came out that Hogan would not be able to compete and it was instead a 2-on-3 match.
Abyss had been wreaking havoc on TNA, even assaulting Dixie Carter. She asked Bischoff for help. He handed her some papers to sign so that they could file charges against Abyss. She signed them without looking at them.
Tensions build throughout the night. In the first twist of the night, Jeff Jarrett walks out on Samoa Joe during his match with Sting, Nash, and Dinero.
The main event comes. It is a 3-way match between Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, and Ken Anderson. At this point, Anderson had become a face. So, there were 3 faces in this match for the vacant world championship.
Near the end of the match, Eric Bischoff comes out and looks like he's turning heel. Only one man can stop him - Hulk Hogan hobbles out on crutches and enters the ring. As the two face off, Ken Anderson and Kurt Angle are on the ground. Jeff Hardy stands up and looks at them. Hogan hands him a crutch. Hardy hits Anderson and pins him for the TNA Championship.
Abyss and Jeff Jarrett come out as well. They are "They." Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Jeff Hardy, Jeff Jarrett, and Abyss stand tall to end the biggest night of the year.
The group is dubbed "Immortal" at the next episode of TNA Impact. In addition to having the TNA Championship, Immortal also has control of TNA. Turns out those papers Dixie Carter signed without reading first gave them control of the company.
Their celebration is cut short, however, as Ric Flair and Fortune come to the ring. It looks like we have a new group to counteract Immortal. Not so fast, though. Flair extends his arms. Hogan embraces him. These enemies who have feuded for the last year are on the same page now. Immortal and Fortune have joined forces.
Dixie Carter is seen backstage trying to reason with Sting and Kevin Nash. They appear to be leaving the building. She apologizes for not believing them about Hogan and Bischoff. They tell her that it's too late for apologies and they are done.
Who can stop Immortal and help Dixie Carter regain her company? In the next entry, we'll take a look at Immortal's reign of terror.