The hype and buzz around January 4th's Wrestle Kingdom 12 was unlike anything in the industry since a miniature earthquake caused by TNA exactly eight years earlier.
On that famous 2010 night, the Orlando outfit launched an ill-advised assault on a stale WWE product, flooding their talented roster with stars of old ostensibly employed to raise the company's profile underneath Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff's headline arrivals with the group. If the strategy didn't already mirror 'Easy E's Monday Nitro philosophy over a decade earlier, the company also went on air in direct competition with Monday Night Raw and kicked off an hour earlier to convince fans to stay put with a dynamic alternative.
Two things undermined the whole exercise. Perhaps most crucially, the product wasn't a dynamic alternative. It was a tired retread, offering little difference to the nostalgia WWE would often pepper into their broadcasts on birthdays or anniversaries. Problematic for the group was that McMahon bucked the usual trend of completely ignoring them to instead deliver the seismic return of Bret Hart on his show as a counter.
It highlighted how quickly Vince's default setting was still so sound. WWE is so often a frustrating beast, but few promotors have overseen as many globally recognised creative success stories as McMahon himself. If only those moments of audience satisfaction were scant succour for the man himself.
Square eyes on a square head, trained almost exclusively to Pro Wrestling, Sunderland AFC & Paul Rudd films. Responsible for 'Shocking Plans You Won't Believe Actually Happened', some of the words in our amazing Wrestling bookazines (both available at shop.whatculture.com), and probably every website list you read that praised Kevin Nash.