Non WWE/WCW wrestlers need not apply.
Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff have been running Dixie’s company for well over a year and a half now without creating a single breakout star, devoid of WWE or WCW experience. Though many able and willing talents like AJ Styles and Jay Lethal have come close, they were superseded by WWE veterans Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, and Mr. Anderson. TNA’s lack of original superstars, and a locker room filled with legends, have marked themselves as “WCW 2.0” because history has repeated itself. With its dependence on Vince’s cast offs, Bischoff and Hogan has ill afforded the growth of the company.
But then a funny thing happened on the way to Slammiversary IX: Gunner pinned the TNA World Heavyweight Champion Sting. After a year in Immortal’s shadow, the former NWA National and Anarchy Heavyweight Champion finally shed himself from the role of Immortal’s security thug. Gunner’s emergence as a credible threat to the World Champion is thanks in part to Bischoff’s stamp of approval.
Without Bischoff, Gunner would not have gotten the opportunity to challenge for the vacant Television Title, which he won in a Triple Threat against Murphy and Rob Terry, or have been able to take on the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion Mr. Anderson in a non-title match. But his true success lies in his ruthless intensity and his devastating fireman’s carry facebuster (Brock Lesnar’s F-5).
Better known on the independent level as Phill Shatter, Gunner currently holds the longest reign of the NWA National Heavyweight Title, a title held by the likes of Jack Briscoe, Paul Orndorff, and Dusty Rhodes. If not for signing a contract with TNA, Gunner could still be champion, or at least added onto his reign’s longevity.
While many Indy fans might argue that Shatter sold out, his actions as of late have proven that he made the right choice. Imposed by Mr. Anderson to weaken Sting in their tag team match, Gunner made a statement that night to himself and to his fans when he pinned Sting. And while in other circles that would prompt a future title shot, how does a promoter remedy the situation when a new champion is crowned? Gunner attempted to get his own title shot from Mr. Anderson, but the champion’s retort of smashing Gunner’s face with a pitcher of beer impelled Gunner to drive him through a table. His actions remarkably persuaded Bischoff to force Anderson into a non-title match up.
For a second straight week, Gunner pinned the World Champion proving that his victory over Sting was not a fluke. So what does this mean for Gunner? With Kurt Angle earning a World Title opportunity at Slammiversary, and Sting getting his rematch on July 14 (the Thursday after Destination X), when can Gunner expect to get his shot? For Bischoff’s sake, he better not make the same mistake of underestimating Gunner as Anderson did.
“It’s nothing personal against the World Champion. Nothing personal at all.” Gunner stated as he received stitches over his left eyebrow, “Just don’t take advantage of my kindness.”