Who should be the next GFW champion?

When Dixie Carter’s vanity project crumbled around her, it was clear that Total Nonstop Action had no direction and no future as a productive entity. Anthem Entertainment, parent company of Canada’s Fight Network, bought the organization and eventually rebranded it as Global Force Wrestling, the group that TNA founder Jeff Jarrett launched after his rocky exit from the Carter regime. The name change should’ve taken place years earlier, but the point is, GFW gave the company that started on weekly pay-per-view a truly fresh start.

However, since Anthem took over, there are some concerning similarities to the Carter era. Of course, there were the legal claims about the “Broken” gimmick, a grudge GFW president, Ed Nordholm started from spite because the Hardys declined to resign another contract, opting to instead return to the WWE. As I said before, fans will not be sympathetic for a multi-million dollar company when it involves limiting the use of a character of an independent contractor. The audience will, and did support the wrestlers that entertained them. And, not to take anything away from what I’m sure are countless hours of work the public doesn’t see, but it’s not as though Nordholm crashed through tables to help get the gimmick over. Plus, even if GFW eventually gets the rights to the persona, it’s not as though they can realistically get other performers to portray themselves as “broken.” Anyone remember how well fake Razor and Diesel got over in 1996?

Basically, that whole debacle translated to negative PR, similar much of the fan reaction to some of the silly things Dixie Carter did, such as playing TV star while her company imploded.

Yesterday, GFW announced that they stripped Alberto El Patron, a former WWE world champion, of the Global Force title. The decision was made after an investigation of an incident between Alberto and Paige at an Orlando airport last month. At the time of the disturbance, police were called, but Patron was cleared. A few days after that, the audio of an augment between Alberto and Paige from the airport was released online, and he was eventually suspended. While Alberto was legally cleared, it still doesn’t speak well of GFW that their champion was involved in an incident that made TMZ headlines. It would be unfair to make any direct assumptions, but Alberto and Paige were involved in more than one incident within the past year so at some point, GFW had to make a precautionary decision to avoid more negative press. Obviously, it didn’t create a sense of optimism for the future of the company when they suspended their champion. Again, Patron was legally cleared, but the position as a top star for a company has added responsibility.

Ultimately, GFW made the right decision to strip Patron of the title because keeping the title on him could be risky if another incident occurs. Granted, Alberto could’ve dropped the title at the TV tapings later this week, but it’s possible the promotion wanted a clean slate for an angle that will take place over the next few months of TV. While no decision was made public about if he will return to the roster, the tapings this week will film episodes that run through November as a lead to the Bound For Glory pay-per-view so it doesn’t seem as though a return will happen anytime soon. All things considered, especially the fact that Alberto also stepped down as president of a Hispanic MMA group after the airport incident, it might be a wise decision for him to take the proper time to deal with any personal problems and avoid public appearances.

As an athlete, Patron was a wise investment, he has the charisma and in-ring ability to be a main event star, particularly to capitalize on the Latino fan base and lucha market, a demographic that provided proven successful with the buzz around Lucha Underground the past few years. However, much more serious real-life situations prevented Alberto from realistically becoming the top star for Global Force.

So, who should be the next GFW champion?

Obviously, the majority of that decision will depend on the storylines that are used at the taping later this week, but there might be a specific star that could provide a good replacement.

Rey Mysterio Jr., an athlete that was at the top of the Cruiser weight division when it was prominently featured during the Monday night wars of the 90s, transcended weight classes to eventually become the WWE champion and one of the most popular stars in the history of the industry. His amazing aerial skills, charisma, and versatility in the ring made him one of the biggest lucha stars in the United States of his generation. However, he paid a price for his risky style and spent an extensive amount of time on the sidelines before his WWE contract expired. More recently, he decided to work a lighter schedule with Lucha Underground and various shows in Mexico, which allowed him to heal from injuries and limit risks.

Rey could make a noticeable difference in the GFW numbers because of his popularity, and now would be the time to sign him to a deal, as he’s undoubtedly toward the the conclusion of his in-ring career. Signing Rey while he can still contribute in the ring will give Global Force something positive to use to built toward the Bound For Glory pay-per-view. Even though Mysterio isn’t “the future of the company” so to speak, he brings more star power to the table than anyone else currently on the roster, which is something they need if they are going to truly “sell” the next pay-per-view. It’s well known that Konnan and Mysterio are close friends. Since Konnan currently works as the manager of the LAX stable, it seems possible he could help facilitate a deal between the company and Mysterio.

The direction of the GFW title remains to be seen, but it’s certainly important for the company to have a definitive direction. Bobby Lashley could potentially be booked as the champion again, but it didn’t move the numbers before so it appears that a new approach should be used. The bottom line is, GFW needs more legitimate stars and Mysterio brings the star power to the company.

-Jim LaMotta