Throughout the history of pro wrestling bookers and promoters have always tried to come up with new, creative and innovative ideas to generate interest in their product. Some ideas have not only succeeded but flourished. Others were DOA from the get go. Then there are those ideas which initially were innovative, but for various reasons faded away. Those are the focus of this latest series of posts titled ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Last’ and today we look at the TNA gang ‘The Aces & Eights’.
In 2012, TNA Impact wrestling was seemingly in a lull. After a failed bid to compete against the WWE’s Monday Night Raw program in 2010, TNA moved to a different night and tried different concepts to stand out. One idea, was to feature a faction of all masked wrestlers. Not only were their identities kept secret, they also wore leather, cut off shorts and rode motorcycles.
The faction was called “The Aces and Eights,” a reference to a poker hand also known as a “Dead Man’s Hand.” What initially made this heel group so intriguing was the fact that fans were left wondering who these outlaws were because their faces were hidden behind masks. Also, they didn’t discriminate who they attacked whether it be babyfaces or heels. The Aces and Eights made a quick impact by attacking the biggest names in the company which included Sting and Hulk Hogan.
The group started off very strong, but as time and the reveals began starting…this once interesting concept slowly became bland and stale. The first member to be unmasked was revealed to be none other than Devon aka D-Von Dudley. This first reveal was pretty well done considering all the news sites and dirt sheets had been reporting that Devon was done with TNA wrestling due to stalemate in contract re-negotiations. It showed that TNA management was playing all of the news outlets and made it feel that anyone could be a member of the group. The second reveal was still relatively strong when former WWE star Drew Hankinson aka Luke Gallows in the WWE was exposed.
Drew Hankinson was renamed D.O.C., short for ‘Director of Chaos.’ Considering D.O.C. was a former, and now current, WWE wrestler, it still gave the Aces and Eights a high level of intrigue as to who the other members of the group could be. While the Aces were booked extremely strong throughout the summer of 2012, it started to become very reminiscent of another former faction, the New World Order(nWo) The main difference was the level of star power was much lower.
Other members revealed to be members included former WWE wrestler Mike Knox (Now known as Knux) color commentator Taz, Wes Brisco and Eric Bischoff’s son Garrett Bischoff. While the reveals started coming in, the Aces and Eights began recruiting TNA wrestlers to join their club. Mr. Anderson soon became a “major momentum swing” for the Aces and Eights when he was being courted by the evil faction. While nothing personal against Anderson, many fans didn’t seem to believe he was a true major player.
Regardless, Anderson wound up joining the faction and but the biggest reveals were yet to come. D-Lo Brown a road agent with TNA was revealed as the Vice President (or second in command) in the Aces and Eights. Not exactly a shocking cataclysmic reveal if at all. While all these less than stellar reveals were going on, a few other less than appealing storylines were taking place. For instance, there was the dual personalities of Abyss who became a comedic caricature with his Joseph Park gimmick. We saw a love story develop between Bull Ray and Hulk Hogan’s daughter Brooke, a reformation of the Main Event Mafia and a very similar angle with AJ Styles walking away from TNA during its time of need and becoming more of a loner.
The AJ Styles angle was basically a rip off of Sting’s angle back in his WCW days against the nWo. The biggest reveal, however, was perhaps the most disappointing simply because most fans had already figured it out. It was the reveal to see who was the ring leader or “President” of the Aces and Eights faction. It turned out to be…drum roll please…Bully Ray. (Groan)
Not exactly Hulk Hogan joining Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to form the nWo. It had become so anti-climatic at that point. While Bully Ray did have a strong singles run as TNA world champion, it was hardly due to the overall success of this once intriguing faction. The wheels really started coming off this group once MMA fighter Tito Ortiz joined. It was nothing more than an advertisement for a Bellator fight between Ortiz and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson (who, by the way, joined the Main Event Mafia) a fight that to my knowledge never even took place.
Clearly the group had quickly jumped the shark and soon were kicking out members left and right. The last two remaining members Bully Ray and Mr. Anderson feuded to put a merciful end to this gimmick. What once had such immense promise was soon to be considered by many fans as one of the worst factions in the history of TNA if not all of wrestling.
You can read all previous ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Last’ pieces here.