Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Why Raven's best run was at TNA

Many fans know Raven for his career at ECW, WCW, and the WWF/WWE but i have heard few fans talk about his time in TNA from 2003 to around 2010. I've enjoyed almost all of his runs but if i had to pick at least one company where he excelled most at, it would have to be TNA for several reasons.

* His character developed - From his promos and backstage segments, his character became more ruthless than ever before. Before, he was depressed and focused more on his traumatic past. In TNA,there was a mix of emotions and qualities - anger, ambition, arrogance, ruthlessness, aggression, sorrow, and so on. He set his sights on becoming the NWA world heavyweight champion and ensured that no one would stand in his way. His gimmick also looked darker and he didn't always wear the same outfit as he did in ECW.

* He invented his own hardcore match types - Raven introduced the Hangman's horror match where you have to hang your opponent from the ropes with a chain around his or her neck until he or she passes out. The other is the Clockwork Orange House of Fun match where weapons hang from a chain link wall for wrestlers to use until one gets pinned in a falls count anywhere rule. They were brutal during his time at TNA and continued to be used in other promotions.

* Hardcore wrestling evolved - During his time at ECW, fans were allowed to participate by tossing in weapons which was innovative especially during Raven's feud with Tommy Dreamer and the Sandman. In TNA however, Raven participated in the most brutal, darkest, and bloodiest hardcore matches of different types. He also used his signature moves far more creatively than ever before such as the drop toehold with a chair.

* The NWA World Heavyweight Championship - While it's true that there is no comparing the ECW Championship to the NWA Championship because of different eras, i thought the "Destiny" storyline was far more interesting than it was in ECW. He had so many obstacles to overcome such as Jeff Jarrett, AJ Styles, Larry Zbyszko, Monty Brown, Vince Russo, the list goes on. The way TNA created the storyline made the title meaningful and worth more. Raven himself has also said that the NWA World Heavyweight title was personally worth more and more important in an interview by SLAM! Wrestling (1).

* TNA gave him the freedom to use ring psychology - Raven is a hardcore legend because he is a master of ring psychology. Sadly, he didn't get the chance to use it to it's fullest potential as he did in TNA. This is what he said in an interview with the Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling podcast:

Raven: "What ECW did was show clips so you didn't see the whole thing. You didn't get all the over the top or the too much or lack of psychology because you didn't see it. Even a lot of the mat wrestling in ECW had really piss-poor psychology but Paul E. hid it. In the WWE you see everything because Vince doesn't show clips, he shows full matches. With that being said a lot of guys were over doing it but they never pushed it either. How can anything get over if it's not pushed. No matter how well it's performed if it's not pushed it is not getting over." (2)

Neither WCW or WWF/WWE pushed Raven to a higher card no matter how well he performed. TNA was the only company aside from ECW in my eyes that pushed Raven to a higher card in main events as he used ring psychology.

* Raven engaged in many quality feuds at TNA - While no one can deny that the storyline feuds with Tommy Dreamer and the Sandman were very memorable, he had the chance to feud with both old school wrestlers and the newer generation of wrestlers. For the first time in history, Sabu and Raven wrestled each other at TNA whereas before the idea never came up. He also feuded with Jeff Jarrett, AJ Styles, DDP, Abyss, James Mitchell, the list goes on while keeping some ECW overtones.

* Raven expressed his sense of accomplishment in the company - In an interview with SLAM! Wrestling, Raven had this to say after he won the NWA title:

Raven: "I have been in this business so long I am jaded and cynical, and this is validation that the company has that kind of belief and faith in me...I think if I am not wearing the belt it needs to be on Jeff or AJ Styles. I don't think anyone has stepped up to the plate to be the kind of performer that will be in the main event picture. I think someday Monty Brown will. Just because you feel like you deserve something doesn't mean you will get it. I and a lot of people felt I was misused in WWF but that doesn’t negate the fact that I never proved that I was as good as I thought I was. This is a validation..."Honestly, I am probably happiest in TNA because I am happiest with me as a person. I have faced most of my demons, financially I am making more money then I ever was, I am happier as a person and my life is more together."

* Tag team stables - Raven formed his own tag team stables, the most notable one was "the Gathering" consisting of Julio Dinero and CM Punk.

Overall, Raven is a very underrated pro-wrestler but the only company that saw potential in him and pushed him as one of the top heels of their company was TNA.



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