The Future of the TNA Television Title - Is there one?

As many of Devon's Twitter followers may have noticed today, the veteran has parted ways with TNA after his contract negotiations failed to reach an agreement, leaving his Television Championship up for grabs. While I thought his title reign was misplaced and hurt the division more often than not, I'm glad he had this run at "the top" as a singles star. He deserves our respect and I applaud his hard work. However, the big question is - what comes next?

The Television Title has long been neglected by TNA. They occasionally make noise about it being defended weekly on Impact Wrestling and even stick to their guns for a couple of months at a time. But due to whatever reason, they miss a week. That leads to missing another week. And another. Until we haven't seen our Television Champion for just as many weeks as he was defending it. There was a quiet mention of the weekly defense being suspended during the Bound for Glory series, but this put the division right back where it was at the start of the year - showing up solely on pay-per-view against an unannounced opponent. This makes the Championship a chore, not a sought-after accomplishment.

With the news of Devon failing to re-sign and return to defend his title, I suggest a short period of reflection for TNA. The easy way out would be for them to hot-shot a match tonight on Impact Wrestling, making people aware of the situation and putting the title belt onto another indistinguishable midcarder. However, I would implore them to wait a few weeks and think about their next move. As far as the average viewer is concerned, the Television Title is off-air at the moment for a reason. As long as the Bound for Glory series is running, this is a moot situation. Take the two weeks before No Surrender to formulate an honest to god plan for the division and that first show back after the pay-per-view we can begin in earnest.

As for who could possibly take up the mantle of Television Champion, the task is daunting to say the least. Anyone selected for the challenge must be worth putting on television each and every week, guaranteed. Another Devon or Robbie E and the Championship may as well not come back. We'll be right back to where we are now, with the title MIA and treated like dirt when it finally reappears.Whoever steps up has to anchor the division and show the viewers it's worth a damn.

My first candidate would be our current World Heavyweight Champion, Austin Aries. After the events of last week's Impact Wrestling, I have no doubt in my mind that TNA are in the process of stripping Aries of the World Title. It's the exact same play they used back in 2010, when they needed to take the belt off Rob Van Dam. But instead of an outright loss, they came up with some bull about Abyss butchering him with a nailed board. TNA clearly value Austin Aries to a similar degree, but he doesn't fit into their plans for the big pay-per-view coming up, enter Aces & Eight's brutal attack leaving A Double with a "broken arm". Obviously, this angle would require Aries to spend a little while off the air to sell the severity. However, when he returns, I could seriously see the Greatest Man Who Ever Lived holding down the Television Championship for months on end, giving the division the respect it deserves. Aries got where he is today by letting his skill in the ring speak for itself, so what better showcase than guaranteeing him a high profile title match on each and every Impact Wrestling. He became the star of the show doing much the same thing for the X Division, why not the Television Championship.

My second candidate would be, ironically enough, Devon's former tag team partner, Bully Ray. Assuming that Ray hasn't left TNA in the same contract dispute that cost us our current Television Champion, the Bully from Hell's Kitchen would be an obvious choice. For well over a year now, Ray has been producing the best work of his career. It's not a particularly high-brow act, but he's become the quintessential heel of the wrestling business and his effort deserves a reward. Whether he's working with Austin Aries, AJ Styles, Bobby Roode or Abyss, there's little the man can't do. In working as stiff as he does, he seems to bring the best out of every opponent, as they're immediately forced to raise their game and bring the intensity to match. Now imagine that each and every week, as he reigns over an entire division, all to himself. It'd add a whole new air of self-rightiousness to a man that opens every promo with "Do you know who I am?". If the Television Title is suitable for the lesser Dudley, it sure as hell couldn't hurt on the superior.

These are two shining examples of just how easily the division could be turned around under the right man, and it doesn't end there. I could come up with equally plausible reasoning behind Kurt Angle, Ken Anderson, Jeff Hardy, etc. Even if TNA were determined to keep it lower down the proverbial ladder, shock the wrestling world by bringing in Joey Ryan. Have him get the Title on a technicality, all the agents backstage wanting to get rid of him and yet the 87% prevailing in the end. It's that easy. So why aren't TNA making more of this Championship?

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