When I look at Matt Morgan, I see a strong character in WWE. I see a consistent main-event talent within TNA.
He has a good look and decent athletic ability and charisma. Is he John Cena? No. Could he be snooping around that upper-mid card region and be able to occasionally compete in the main event? I think so.
Morgan is a solid athlete. If he is allowed to be himself, that's where he seems to be at his best. His ability to be a real person makes him effective.
Lately, Morgan has spent most of his time off of TV. He only recently has re-emerged into an on-screen role, challenging Hogan's mistakes in dealing with Aces and Eights and the company in general. He offered to be the man to take the fight to Aces if Hogan would reward him with a title shot.
Sting returned last week though. Hogan opened the show last night by saying he was going to award a title shot. Morgan objected initially, but found out that he would have to contest for that shot against Sting. Let's repeat Slammiversary 2009.
There was so much wrong with this main event last night.
Let's focus on the use of Matt Morgan first. Morgan has stood out in a world of big men because of his athleticism. Last night though, he entered wearing Hogan's gold cape, spent time spiking his hair, and left the calm athletic demeanor behind for "angry." I don't think this is the best way to utilize Morgan. Rather than being an athlete, Morgan felt much like a cartoon character.
Do I think Morgan should have gone over last night? I'm going to say no. They are trying to tell a story with him. I think telling that story may have gotten convoluted by him winning and so I think they took the right path in this regard. I do think there is an alternate plan they should have though, and I'll get into that.
As much as I think Morgan should not have won, my bigger problem is that Sting won.
I admit that I am still a bit of a Sting mark. This is a guy I watched during my teenage years when he was getting his start in WCW. When TNA goes on the road, fans react to him and he gets a big pop. There is something special about seeing him in person. There is NOTHING special about watching him main event pay per views where he is challenging for the title.
This is 2013. Sting has been in the ring, to my knowledge, for at least 25 years. Seeing him compete for the title sends this message that "nothing has changed" at TNA. It's also not something that treats him with respect, as most fans respect the length of his career and really WANT to like him when he's properly utilized.
For comparison's sake, look how WWE utilizes The Undertaker. The fans love seeing him. They pop for his entrance and his signature spots. And at times, Taker actually feels bigger than the WWE Championship. But we see him only a handful of times a year, not every week.
If Undertaker were working a full-time schedule and was handed countless opportunities to fight for the title, fans would begin to feel the same way we do about Sting. The calls for "something new" would start, and it would tarnish the legacy that Taker has built through the years. TNA is doing the right thing in calling Sting an "icon," but they just don't know how to book him and make it work.
Ultimately, the problem circles back to the reliance on aging talent because of name recognition. Most people know who Hulk Hogan is. Many know who Sting is. A fair number of people are familiar with Bully Ray and Devon. All of these guys have been in wrestling for a lot of years. And your main event program right now circles around these men in some form.
What TNA does not have right now is that well-positioned babyface talent that seems to be a contender to the championship. Why has James Storm been dropped down to being a special referee in a tag-team match? Why could Matt Morgan not have been positioned sooner into a place where it'd be believable for him to be the contender?
Right now, there are a number of young talents that are being under-utilized and mismanaged within TNA. They've ended up routing the most meaningful story of the company at the moment through two men who together are 110 years old. I just don't get it.
There is a place for Sting in the business still. I view him being the TNA version of Undertaker in that he comes back for big moments to give someone a rub and goes away for a while. There's a place for Hulk Hogan in the business still.
That place, however, is not dominating the main event storyline.