The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

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The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Adam D on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 4:18 pm




http://v2wrestling.com/5/post/2015/03/the-dead-mans-hand-the-aces-8s-appreciation-clubhouse.html

When people look back over the last few years of TNA, a few names are thrown into the ring – namely Hulk Hogan, Bischoff and last but no means, least, Aces and 8s.


Most of the regular listeners to the v2 wrestling podcast will know that I am always positive about TNAs product as a whole. I always see the good in all but the very worst of angles. However, the one piece of evidence that keeps being used in my trial of wrestling respectability is my love of Aces and 8s.


Now the problem that I have with this being levelled at me is not about how good or bad the storyline was but how people look back at it with complete disdain. I am proclaiming now that the Aces and 8s were the best heel faction storyline in the last 5 years of any of the major promotions (and that includes the Bullet Club, Shield and whoever else you want to throw in there).


A pretty bold statement?


Let me explain why it was so good and I will start off by saying that as a collective, the Aces and 8s were as menacing on paper as the Bromans and the 3 man band combined.


To recap the roster for those with short memories, the Impact Zone was terrorised by an anonymous biker gang, simply known as the Aces and 8s. Masked henchman would beat down various face wrestlers and cause general mayhem around the arena. Mass brawls were the norm. The dirtsheets were running wild with who they thought was behind the Aces and 8s and for once no one knew. How long has it been since a proper secret like the cast was kept secret like that? Names that were bandied about were John Morrison (in the Brisco role), Hogan, Austin Aries….the list went on.


But then something went wrong with the buzz. The real cast was revealed….
 
Bah Gawd, its Devon! Its Devon!
 
The first of the names to be revealed was Devon Dudley. And it was in the weeks leading up to the biggest PPV of the year (in TNA terms). I doubt they could have come up with a less inspiring reveal. That is until they revealed Wes Briscoe, Garrett Bischoff, D’Lo Brown and Taz in quick succession. At least Knux and DOC were physically big, menacing guys. The roster of A&8 was fully cast and it was lacking in every single way. This story had hit rock bottom. But then something amazing happened. TNA management tried everything in their powers to make this even worse than it already was and suddenly it developed into the very faction that I feel is the greatest comeback since Lazarus picked up his bed and went for a stroll.
 
The Resurrection of the A&8s
 
Before I move on to the saviour of this storyline, I should point out that the reveal of Bully Ray was also underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong – he carried this story on his shoulders for a long time and was absolutely superb in the role as the president of the club, however, after each subsequent reveal, the leader needed to be a huge name. Bully Ray was a good heel/ babyface over the previous year but the role of president needed to have a bigger name. Ironically, Hogan would have fitted the role perfectly. Even Dixie would have been a good reveal. Anyway, back to the saviour of A&8s.
 
Creative has nothing for you
 
In this case, the bank manager has nothing for you and creative is the white knight on the horse. Thanks to an incredible change in personnel, creative had to pull late shifts to try and make sense of all of the members leaving TNA as the story played out. Firstly (and most criminally) DOC left. The Director of Chaos (how do you direct chaos exactly?) left due to contract demands. He left. The week before he was due to turn babyface and be the breakout star! So creative wrote him out and this led to Mr Anderson assuming the role of babyface to lead the fight. The same Mr Anderson who had done precisely nothing for the last 2 years of his career. Suddenly, he was relevant again and actually pretty goddamn entertaining.


But TNA hadn’t stopped aiming that gun at its feet because thanks to Brooke Hogan, once again they shot themselves in the foot. A Hogan broke the first rule of pro wrestling – stay in character.  To be fair, she did stay in character. Namely the blonde air head she portrayed in Sand Sharks, unfortunately. On twitter, despite being married to Bully Ray, she announced her real life engagement. So, another one had to be shown the door.
Once again, creative stepped up to the mark and managed to somehow rewrite it so that Brooke Tessmacher was Bully Rays squeeze despite never having previously been mentioned. And do you know what? It worked! Brooke [T] played the role perfectly and was a much more natural fit in the first place. Once again, the angle was somehow resurrected in to something much more than its sum parts.


And somehow, the storyline carried on for a few more months, even when it eventually only consisted of Garrett Bischoff and Briscoe! And this is why I loved the angle [and faction by default] so much. Despite all the setbacks. Despite the terrible casting of the stable. Despite the last minute rewrites to save the story in the light of poor talent management, every one of the people involved made it work and put there all in to it.


I cannot remember a time when a creative team put together such a long story that made sense. An example of how good and well written it was can be seen in the episode where Bully Ray explains the previous twelve months. Can you think of any other current storyline that can do that without having to omit plot holes?


From the entrance music and camera work of the entrance (still one of my favourites), to the performances by the members, this is one storyline that worked despite everything working against it.


It will never be eulogised as a great after that first reveal but for me, the miracle from creative to actually get it to a finish is something that deserves a lot more credit than it will ever get.
 
Jerrys final Thought
 
For those of you who have disagreed with my praise for this angle. Let me pose this one question to you. Would you really be so negative over the story had the cast been different? What if the president had been the Undertaker (American Badass)? What if the henchman would have been John Morrison, Batista, the Pope and whoever else you like?
 

The truth is that its not the actual faction that gets criticism but the people in it. And when you reconsider how each member in the A&8s has never performed better before or since, then surely you must see that as a whole, it really is a great piece of storytelling.

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Crimey on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 4:52 pm

I think if you can honestly say that the Aces and Eights is the best wrestling heel faction for the past five years, then nothing anybody can say will ever let you see TNA for what it truly is.

The storyline was awful for almost the entirety of its run. The only good thing about it was that Bully Ray was at the forefront of TNA, allowing him to show that he was more than just a 'Dudley' and their music. The actual use of the stable was typical TNA, whether its Immortal, Fortune, Sports Entertainment Extreme or now the Beat Down Clan (which is only a small percentage of heel stables TNa has had). It was booked weirdly, added members that were either underwhelming or unnecessary and petered out rather than peaked. 

In the end the Aces of Eights did nothing for nobody, as a viewer it was insulting, for the wrestlers they all came out of it worse and for TNA it was very much a part of the lead up to them being dropped from Spike.

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Adam D on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 4:56 pm

Crimey wrote:I think if you can honestly say that the Aces and Eights is the best wrestling heel faction for the past five years, then nothing anybody can say will ever let you see TNA for what it truly is.

The storyline was awful for almost the entirety of its run. The only good thing about it was that Bully Ray was at the forefront of TNA, allowing him to show that he was more than just a 'Dudley' and their music. The actual use of the stable was typical TNA, whether its Immortal, Fortune, Sports Entertainment Extreme or now the Beat Down Clan (which is only a small percentage of heel stables TNa has had). It was booked weirdly, added members that were either underwhelming or unnecessary and petered out rather than peaked. 

In the end the Aces of Eights did nothing for nobody, as a viewer it was insulting, for the wrestlers they all came out of it worse and for TNA it was very much a part of the lead up to them being dropped from Spike.
so you liked it then?  Laugh

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Samo on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 5:00 pm

A weird hybrid of Sons of Anarchy and the NWO that failed to capture any of the good from either, and last about 8 months too long.

Definitely put a fair few nails into TNAs coffin.

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Dolphin Ziggler on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 5:23 pm

CAN YOU STOP GOING ON ABOUT THE ACES & EIGHTS

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Adam D on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 6:08 pm

I will stop going on about them when they stop being awesome.

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Fernando on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 7:17 pm

I feel the urge to put a "Who wrote this crap" Meme.

Ah what the hell you deserve it Laugh


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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Adam D on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 7:44 pm

If it's crap, it's certainly an Adam original Laugh

Still waiting for articles from all those that said they wanted to write!

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by TwisT on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 9:39 pm

So you decided to step into the breach and give the V2 universe........this?

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Adam D on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 10:02 pm

Yep! I genuinely liked the aces of eights and I think that it gets a really hard time.

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by TwisT on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 10:08 pm

Ok, turn the question on its head.

If Aces & 8's as a concept was done on WWE, would it be getting the same sort of disdain?

Basically, the faction idea was a good one but TNA balls-ed it up.

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Adam D on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 10:18 pm

It was ballsed up in the casting and then the inability to keep the talent involved in TNA.

The fact that despite the casting, the talent and creative did a lot better than they should have.

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Crimey on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 10:23 pm

Adam D wrote:It was ballsed up in the casting and then the inability to keep the talent involved in TNA.

The fact that despite the casting, the talent and creative did a lot better than they should have.

I can agree with that. It was better in reality than it was on paper.

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Hero on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 10:24 pm

It's times like this that I like to read through here:

http://taimapedia.org/?title=LOLTNA_History

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Dolphin Ziggler on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 10:42 pm

The Johnsons is hilarious! In a bad way, but still hilarious!

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Prometheus on Wed 18 Mar 2015, 3:05 pm

Aces and Eights was one of the stories that I found interesting enough to watch TNA for a while.

Personally, I think some of the criticism it got was harsh. There were those who said that it was just piggy-backing the popularity of Sons of Anarchy. But why not? That was a really good show, wrestling has always borrowed from the outside world and I think a biker gang is one idea that should translate to wrestling relatively well.

But ultimately, the same thing that drew me in pushed me away. The reveal of Bully Ray as the leader was really uninspiring for me.

At the end of your post, you posit, 'what if it were the BikerTaker?' And that would have been awesome. It also was never going to happen. Bully Ray, I just found far too mid-card to care that he was in the role.

And they also made the mistake of NWO, in that they thought they could tease the idea of who will join next. But ultimately when it seems everyone is in a club, it is so diluted that it loses all impact. I think when Taz joined from commentary, I was already on my way out.
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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Adam D on Wed 18 Mar 2015, 3:57 pm

Thanks for the responses and I made this point on another comment on TNAsylum about this article. But, if the Shield members had been in A&8s, how do you think it would have been received?

It highlights that the problem wasnt the storyline or gimmick but the people in it.

Ambrose could have easily have played DOC/ Mr Anderson as the loose cannon of the group. Rollins could have been the Devon voice piece. Reigns could have been the Knux muscles. In fact, if they had debuted in WWE under the this very gimmick, it would have been a far better origin story than the Shield actually was.

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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Prometheus on Wed 18 Mar 2015, 4:12 pm

Isn't that a bit like saying that if Buff Bagwell had been Stone Cold Buff Bagwell he'd have been the best selling wrestler ever? Aren't you making too many changes to support the hypothesis?

I think the real problem with A&8s was that TNA had the kernel of a good idea, but then didn't know what to do with them. And that's when it broke down with the group growing and growing in size. As, I said above Taz joining was a shark jumping moment for me, just as I think it would have de-railed The Shield if JBL had suited up with them.

I mean its like saying that if Bully Ray had been revealed as the leader of The Ministry, that wouldn't have been the greatest faction in wrestling ever.... oh Rolling Eyes
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Re: The Dead Mans Hand - the Aces & 8s Appreciation Club[house]

Post by Crimey on Wed 18 Mar 2015, 9:59 pm

Adam D wrote:Thanks for the responses and I made this point on another comment on TNAsylum about this article. But, if the Shield members had been in A&8s, how do you think it would have been received?

It highlights that the problem wasnt the storyline or gimmick but the people in it.

Ambrose could have easily have played DOC/ Mr Anderson as the loose cannon of the group. Rollins could have been the Devon voice piece. Reigns could have been the Knux muscles. In fact, if they had debuted in WWE under the this very gimmick, it would have been a far better origin story than the Shield actually was.

I think it's both, it lasted too long, had too many swerves and not enough stable direction. That was on top of it being filled with mediocre talent.

Why The Shield was good it felt fresh, these guys were all new, all unknown and immediately felt like a big deal. It didn't swerve for the most part, from beginning to end The Shield was the same, it had the same three guys, it had the same general motivation and generally its direction was pretty good. By the end, people still wanted more, by the end of Aces and Eights people couldn't wait for it to end. The Shield having three really talented guys was a bonus, not the crux of their success.

A better comparison to Aces and Eights would be the Nexus, that had a lot of mediocre talent in it, poor booking decisions and ultimately an underwhelming end. However they would argue that the Nexus is still remembered as better than the Aces and Eights, it was a lot more exciting that's for sure, the Aces and Eights when you strip away the biker gimmick which in reality was irrelevant to their actual characters were just the NWO. The Nexus on their debut were totally unique, the closest to them being The Radicalz, who still had established guys in it, albeit from WCW.

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