It was smiles this week in the TNA Impact Wrestling camp when it was announced that they had signed King Mo Lawal as part of a dual MMA and wrestling contract. Yet a closer look at the signing has me wondering whether Dixie Carter was suckered by Bellator and Spike TV.
I really don’t like to be a nitpicker when it comes to TNA Impact Wrestling but this one had me scratching my head. On the surface it looks like a good deal for the company. As part of the deal they get a recognized MMA fighter, dual promotion on Bellator, and in a favorable position with Spike TV. However, once I started taking a look at this deal in detail I started wondering if signing Mo was really a good idea after all.
It is one thing for Vince McMahon to secretly sign someone and come up with ideas but it is a whole other idea for Dixie to do it. In this case, Dixie is now pushing a guy on her creative team that they may not even want. Additionally, you now are disrupting whatever plans the creative team had over the next several weeks and months with King Mo. Can the creative team really get behind a guy they may not have even wanted or will they secretly sabotage his push to prove a point to Dixie? It sounds cynical but if you have been around the wrestling business, you will understand that what I am saying is not some kind of crazy conspiracy theory. That is going to be the first and biggest hurdle with King Mo.
Second, this man has very little pro wrestling experience. Who knows how well he will pick up pro wrestling? Maybe he gets it quick and pays off immediately but there is very little precedence that says he could. Even Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar had extensive training in OVW before they were brought up to the WWE. Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn both had pro wrestling experience before signing with the WWE. Dixie Carter is sitting around plotting angles for a guy that could get into the ring and become a big embarrassment. Let’s face it. TNA’s track record of taking non-wrestlers and putting them in the ring (Jenna Morasca, Jersey Shore kids) isn’t very good.
Three, you now look like a follower rather than a leader. King Mo and Brock Lesnar are completely different animals. However, to the casual eye you look like the company that is trying to imitate the WWE by putting an MMA guy in the ring. On top of that, you are putting an MMA guy in the ring that probably not even a quarter of your audience even heard of. Perception can sometimes be reality and while the situations are a lot different, some may see them the same.
Four, King Mo was not a big MMA star. He wasn’t even in the UFC. TNA had a bigger star in Bobby Lashley who was a dual MMA/pro wrestling star and he did nothing for them. If they couldn’t get it right with a pro wrestler who was fighting MMA how will they get it right with an MMA fighter doing pro wrestling? Mo has only headlined one MMA event in his career and that was on Showtime! This isn’t as if you are bringing over a known MMA quantity. Quite frankly TNA would have been better off bringing in an unknown pro wrestler and giving him an MMA gimmick. It is one thing for the WWE to bring in the biggest draw in MMA and it is another for TNA to bring in a guy that a very small audience is familiar with.
Five, there is baggage here with Mo. For one, he is under suspension right now for testing positive for anabolic steroids. Yes here we go again with another wrestler being signed coming off a drug suspension. Two, Mo was fired after calling a member of the Nevada State Athletic Commission a “racist b*tch” on Twitter. Everyone is entitled to meltdown once in a while but is the guy you want out there as one of the faces of your company? Heck with as much crap as Dana White has put up with from his fighter going over the line on Twitter even he wasn’t comfortable with that and fired Lawal.
Six, what happens if Mo goes into Bellator and loses his first fight? In the world of MMA strange things happen and unless you are fixing the fight, Mo has just as much a chance of losing as he does of winning. What happens after he has gone through a bunch of TNA wrestlers and he comes up short or even gets dominated in Bellator? You have spent the last several months telling your audience what a tough guy Mo has been, beaten several of your name wrestlers, and yet at the end of the day he is no tougher than half of your roster in the eyes of the TNA fans. What now? In the case of Brock, WWE fans have seen Brock kick some major butt in the UFC. Even more, Brock won’t be fighting while wrestling. Mo does have a great MMA record but who knows how healthy he is and where his head is at when he fights in Bellator. TNA can wind up looking like a big joke when this whole thing is said and done.
Seven, could this money be better spent elsewhere? There is a former WWE wrestler out there on the sidelines who was pretty darn good when he had the opportunity to shine and his name is John Morrison. I don’t know what the situation is between him and TNA but over the long run I can’t help but think an investment in Morrison would better benefit the company than investing in a part-time MMA fighter who has barely wrestled.
The only people this deal makes sense for is Spike TV and Bellator. Both companies will keep Mo on television weekly up until he gets cleared to fight. I think there is a much better chance of getting a pro wrestling fan who sees Mo to tune in to watch him fight in MMA than getting any MMA fan who doesn’t like pro wrestling to all of the sudden care about watching Mo wrestle in TNA. This deal keeps Mo busy in the interim keeping him away from signing with any other MMA company. For Spike and Bellator it is a win-win. When only two are benefiting in a three-way deal someone is getting suckered and in this case I think we know who that is.