Where would we be without Aces and Eights?
In 2012, TNA Wrestling was running at a high not seen since 2005. It was slowly being accepted once again in the professional wrestling community as a good mainstream product. Bobby Roode vs. Austin Aries was building up to be the feud of the year, with match of the year candidates in the main event of Destination X and Hardcore Justice. The X Division was receiving a boost with Kenny King added plus plenty of new faces. The Bound For Glory series was both making sense and adding a ton of intrigue with James Storm and Bully Ray making huge waves. AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels never ending feud took an interesting turn with the campy drama involving Claire Lynch. Even Hulk Hogan seemed to be a competent GM of Impact instead of an embarrassing, time stealing husk of a former legend.
Not everything was golden as Brooke Hogan was now the GM of the Knockouts Division for some bizarre reason and in June, three masked wrestlers attacked Sting. It took a month before we saw any explanation of the attack as Hulk Hogan received a letter including two black aces and two black eights, known as the Dead Man’s Hand in poker. One week later the masked men returned in greater numbers, beating down Hogan and Sting. Over the next few weeks they continued their beat downs. At Hardcore Justice, they decided to interfere in a four way tables match helping Bully Ray win.
After Hardcore Justice, everything seemed to fall off the rails for TNA. Even though Austin Aries was the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, he was now involving himself in matches against masked men nobody knew. The group still had no visible leader or anyone of importance for people to care. It seemed confusing more than anything. At No Surrender, the TNA World Champion fought a man known only as “The Armbreaker” in a disappointing match.
At Bound For Glory, a match was finally decided with Sting teaming with the often questioned Bully Ray to face Aces and Eights, with the stipulation that if Aces and Eights won they’d be granted entry into the Impact Zone. Aces and Eights won, but a member was unmasked in Devon. Devon had been released by TNA while TNA Television Champion. Devon was a welcome surprise but not the person who should be the face of an invading faction.
In the coming months, two more were unmasked as D.O.C. (formerly Luke Gallows and Festus of the WWE) and Mike Knox (who was a part of WWE’s version of ECW for a spell) while Ken Anderson, whose career had been in limbo due to consecutive injuries, willingly joined the bikers. Taz joined in comic fashion. It was revealed just last month that Wes Brisco and Garrett Bischoff, the blue chippers currently being trained by Kurt Angle were also members of Aces and Eights, despite the fact that pictures on the Internet surfaced showing they did a bad job of hiding it under masks. Garrett Bischoff, while an unexciting entry made perfect sense. He was Devon’s tag partner when the Aces and Eights first came in, both men shrugged off by Sting and Hogan as potential competitors to the faction. Of course he’d join the team that his mentor is a member of.
That’s the one thing about Aces and Eights you can give it credit for. The only member that didn’t make any sense was Taz, who spoiled Bully Ray’s wedding to Brooke Hogan. Only his connection to Devon is a possible theory. Devon’s contract was allowed to expire, he made sense. Garrett Bischoff was Devon’s protégée, he makes sense. D.O.C. and Knox were free agents and look like big burly bikers. Sure. Wes Brisco didn’t get a TNA contract until he beat Garrett Bischoff in a TNA Gut Check match, which seemed to be awarded to him in dubious means by D’Lo Brown. Ken Anderson’s career was lost so a good way to find it is joining this faction of invaders. There is only one final member to be unmasked, who was by Kurt Angle last Thursday but his face not shown on television.
What has hurt the angle is that it is still in “Who is the third man?” mode similar to the New World Order back in 1996. We’re still trying to figure out who is the leader and who are all of the members. This should have been solved back at No Surrender, when all of the evidence pointed to Bully Ray being the leader. It still could as he has had the most to gain with his sudden transformation as a babyface. He has married the bosses daughter and now faces Jeff Hardy at Lockdown all due to his perceived defiance of Aces and Eights. His former best friend Devon is a signature member and he hasn’t really wrestled him since Devon revealed himself. He lost to Hardy at No Surrender only to see Hardy become TNA World Champion at Bound For Glory. What better than to ask, “Do you know who I am” as the leader of Aces and Eights? However, this chicken has been on the grill and is now charred to black.
We’re almost nearing the one year anniversary, only three months away and this angle has gone nowhere. TNA Wrestling is a weaker company due to what seems to be Hogan’s dream of re-enacting the Sons of Anarchy in pro wrestling. Even the stable’s song sounds like the Sons of Anarchy theme. Lockdown is promoting a five on five Lethal Lockdown match but it doesn’t feel like an end. At Lockdown in 2012, the company seemed to be following its own tail when James Storm and Bobby Roode had a fantastic cage match which set the stage for Roode being a powerful champion which the company followed to a great era. The only way this could happen again is with the end of the Aces and Eights. Unfortunately, with one more member to unmask, that feels like the end of a chapter and not the end of a book.
Where would we be without Aces and Eights? Happy with TNA Wrestling.