The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of WrestlingINC.com or its staff.
Even if you were to watch an episode of Impact Wrestling for just a few minutes, you would undeniably hear of Aces & 8s. It is inescapable to the viewer, and it is by far the largest storyline going on in wrestling today (with the possible exception of CHIKARA shutting its whole company down for the sake of a storyline, but that is for another column). It is all-consuming, and for the past year, it is really the only storyline in TNA that has any legs.
Unfortunately for TNA, a lot of fans have felt that Aces & 8s has run its course, and at this point the storyline is more likely doing more harm than good for TNA. Instead of peaking the interests levels of fans, Aces & 8s has the led the charge in TNA's worst ratings skid in years and perhaps even into financial instability.
In case you don't know, Aces & 8s is an invading gang of bikers who have pledged to lay waste to TNA. The group consists of Bully Ray, Devon, Mr. Anderson, Garrett Bischoff, Wes Brisco, Knux (Mike Knox) and until very recently, D.O.C. (Luke Gallows). Why they are bikers is something that TNA never got around to explaining, but the gist of it is that they are a motor cycle gang (think Sons of Anarchy) that wanted to end TNA or something.
See, for a long time we never really knew what Aces & 8s agenda was, and neither did TNA. Nobody knew who was in the group, as TNA would routinely throw random masks on people to record promos and film beat downs. It wasn't until Lockdown that we found out that Aces & 8s real reason for invading TNA was to make sure that Bully Ray would become World Champion, something that they accomplished when Bully turned heel and won the TNA World Title. Of course, they had been around for almost 10 months at this point, but only then did they spring into action.
Since Lockdown, Aces & 8's has been feuding with Sting and Hulk Hogan, two men in their mid-to-late 50s, over control of TNA. During that time span, Bully Ray had married Hogan's daughter, beat down Sting with an actual hammer, and then defeated Sting at Slammiversary, with the stipulation being that if Sting lost, he could never contend for the TNA World Title again.
Aces & 8s has been going strong for 13 months now, and although it is nice to see a stretched out storyline that spans months, continuity and logic have been completely tossed by the wayside for the sake of limping the storyline along. In addition to some poor creative decisions, roster moves and match booking have also had a hand in reducing Aces & 8s into one of the most unbearable storylines in wrestling history.
If you were to go back to Lockdown, the trademark "Lethal Lockdown" match featured Sting leading a specially assembled squad to take on Aces & 8s (minus Bully Ray). The match was a complete and total annihilation of Aces & 8s, as Sting entered the match last, carrying a Litany of weapons, and the beat down was on. Aces & 8s barely got in an offensive move and Team TNA won after an Eric Young elbow drop from the top of the cage. For all intents and purposes, it seemed that Aces & 8s was disposed of. However, Aces & 8s would interfere in the World Title match and give Bully Ray the championship. So on one night, TNA had made Aces & 8s look tremendously strong, as they held the TNA World Championship, but they had also made them look terribly weak, as when push came to shove, they didn't stand a chance against the TNA roster.
For the next few months, we were led to believe that Aces & 8s were a dominant faction, even though outside of Bully Ray title defenses, they lost almost every single match. At Slammiversary, Bischoff, Anderson and Brisco were beaten soundly by Magnus, Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe. In addition, Devon lost his TV Title to Abyss. Bully Ray once again defended his title after an incredibly predictable run-in by Aces & 8s. Once again, Bully retained in hopes of looking strong, but he was undermined by the fact that his cronies had all lost their matches.
The next confusing step in the storyline would see Sting once again try to take down Aces & 8s, even though it seemed like his loss at Slammiversary would eliminate him from the storyline. Sting decided that since no-one from the back helped him at Slammiversary, he would assemble a team (sound familiar?) of guys who he can trust (presumably ones that were not in "the back"). Sting would then promptly assemble a team of guys who were in the back: Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe and Magnus, with Rampage Jackson also being on his team.
For the record, Sting's team (dubbed the **NEW** Main Event Mafia) consists of a man in his 50s, a man in his 40s, the worst booked wrestler in wrestling, a guy who has never wrestled a match in his life, and Magnus. Sting will more or less assemble this squad to take down Aces at Bound For Glory, which may put an end to the storyline, or maybe not, since Aces & 8s is already scheduled to appear on pre-taped ppvs which will run through the end of the year.
One last disappointment is the guys that were chosen to be in Aces & 8s. Bully Ray was a fine choice to lead, and Devon and Anderson are serviceable, but the others are weak. Bischoff and Brisco were chosen for their last names, not because of their abilities in the ring, as both are extremely green. TNA recently released Doug Williams and Kid Kash, both who were doing nothing in the company. Like Aces & 8s wouldn't be 100x better with Kash and Williams instead of Brisco and Bischoff? Knox and Gallows were chosen over accomplished TNA guys like Gunner, Matt Morgan and others. I know they wanted to use outside talent for the invasion storyline, but that didn't stop them from making the Dudley's or Anderson the ones in charge?
Lastly, it isn't like Aces & 8s is leading TNA to any great glory. TNA's numbers are way down compared to years past and a rash of recent releases of some thinking that TNA is in serious financial peril. If TNA was bright, they should end Aces & 8s ASAP, so that maybe they can salvage what they currently have, because it sure as hell isn't adding any new viewers.