Sunday, May 4, 2014

Unfinished Works: Raven's Redemption

In 2012, I was looking for something to write about. I was thinking about professional wrestling and had noticed that the quality of TNA Impact Wrestling had improved dramatically. While looking to point out the positives, I thought long and hard about the negatives that the then-fledgling promotion had made over the years.

I came up with a list that I considered to be the 5 biggest mistakes in TNA's history. Throughout the summer, I wrote posts about four of the mistakes, but never got around to the final one. The four posts I did write are below:

Number 5 was going to look at the abrupt end of the "Raven's Redemption" angle. What I have written in the picture above is below. Then I'll explain things.

Raven's Redemption

- Raven's history
     * ECW, WCW, WWE
- TNA; feud w/ Jarrett
     * First big name to leave WWE for TNA
     * "His destiny"
     * One of TNA's biggest feuds
- Feuds after
     * Shane Douglas
     * Jeff Hardy
     * Abyss
- 2005 ECW Nostalgia
     * won NWA championship
          - TNA wasn't on tv
- Lost title to Jarrett @ indie show days b4 spike show
     * never received match due to Larry Zybsko
     * quest to overcome Larry to get title back was compelling
          - dropped it
          - came back w/ Seretonin; Fizzled out; so did he

In the spring of 2003, TNA was less than a year old. The promotion was filled with older wrestlers from WCW - which had folded in 2001 - and unheralded young guys. Raven had joined WWE in 2000 and was released from his contract in - you guessed it - the spring of 2003. He made a surprise appearance in TNA a few days later, and the buzz was strong.

Jeff Jarrett was the champion and Raven was the biggest star in the promotion. They built it strongly. Jarrett was the good guy, the defending champion. Raven was technically the heel, but his intentions were noble: he wanted the championship because it was his "destiny."

It was a great match and was received well from an artistic and commercial standpoint. After that, Raven turned into a good guy and tried to get another shot, but always had issues in front of him. One of the biggest issues was his feud with Shane Douglas, which culminated in a hair vs hair match. Raven lost under dubious means, but took his punishment like a man. The hair shaving has been referred to as a "scalping," due to how badly Raven's head gets cut from the electric razor. Check it out below.

I was then going to write about Raven's 2005. That was a big year, as it was the official rebirth of Extreme Championship Wrestling nostalgia. WWE held a "One Night Stand" show and Shane Douglas organized his own version, albeit without using the letters "ecw" as WWE owns those rights.

TNA was looking to cash in on the nostalgia, so they threw one of ECW's biggest stars to the forefront of the promotion. Raven finally fulfilled his "destiny," winning the World Championship. He defended it throughout the summer, until losing it to Jeff Jarrett via shady tactics.

What was interesting about Raven's run as champion was that TNA wasn't on television. TNA's contract with Fox Sports Net had expired and they were negotiating with SpikeTV. There was a several-month gap between when one show ended and the other began. They still produced episodes of their show; it was just online only. Raven lost the belt a couple days before Impact Wrestling debuted on Spike.

Here's where the "Redemption" begins. Raven wanted the title back and to do that, he needed a rematch against Jarrett. Standing in the way was Larry Zbyszko. It was compelling television. Larry would usually put some wrestler in front of Raven and if Raven couldn't beat him, he didn't get a title shot in the future.

Here's where TNA made the mistake: they just stopped doing it for some reason. I think Zbyszko might have left the company. Raven could have gotten hurt. There are a lot of things that could have gone into this angle losing steam. 

As I mention in the note above, Raven does come back. He was famous for having stables. In ECW it was "The Nest" and in WCW it was "The Flock." In TNA, he organized a group known as Serotonin. He came back and nothing was said about him getting the title back. He just had this group. It went nowhere. It was basically the end of Raven's career; he still wrestled periodically in TNA, but after Serotonin fizzled out his career basically did too. 

And there's all of that. I just never got around to writing it back in 2012 and after a while it just seemed like too much time had passed to ever get around to finishing it. So, here it is in "Unfinished Works" format.

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