Damien Sandow is no more. The former WWE talent, now known as Aron Rex, made his debut for TNA on Thursday night. He cut a shoot-ish promo, in which he took very subtle, but not over-the-top jabs at his former employer. Rex would then go on to discuss his future with TNA, which culminated with him showing up at the end of the episode to stare down Bobby Lashley.
Forget about the immediate impact for a second. Remove what will happen next week or the week after. This signing has the potential to have bigger picture ramifications for TNA down the road.
Unlike previous WWE talent who make their way to TNA, Rex isn’t washed up or carrying around some personal demons. He is a guy who simply didn’t get a fair shake in the WWE despite most of the audience in agreement that the company could have done far more with him.
Rex is that rare combination of having nearly everything one could want in a pro wrestler. He is solid in the ring, gifted verbally and capable of turning whatever a company wants him to do into pure gold.
As for TNA, the company is getting Rex while he is still in his prime. This isn’t some washed-up name from WWE or a guy who got kicked out due to drugs or a bad rep. It is the first time, really, TNA has landed such a former WWE talent in this way.
Thing is, a lot of pressure is going to be on TNA to do things with Rex it has previously been unable to do. It is something that the wrestler himself referenced in his debut promo. That he needs to be allowed to talk on the microphone without restriction. Moreover, that he can’t be held back by some idea that he needs a gimmick attached to him other than the one he wants.
That being said, TNA and Rex both have to be careful here. He can’t simply rely on being the scorned WWE talent for too long. While it was interesting on Thursday night, if all Rex does is talk about his days as Damien Sandow it will grow tiresome quickly.
The good news here is that Rex is too talented of a performer to rely on the same shtick over and over. He might cut another promo with similar vibes next week or the week after, but he’s smart enough to realize that if he wants to reach some next-level sort of success that “shoot promos” can only go so far in helping him.
TNA should not move forward with kids’ gloves, though. Whatever ideas they have for Rex, the company needs to start putting them in motion now, as it already seemingly started to do so on Thursday night. There’s no need to use him as a sideshow “look at this former WWE guy” spectacle if there’s a plan in place to utilize his talents.
Rex can be the sort of performer who can help TNA get over this second-tier hump it has forever been battling on. No, it won’t come near the WWE in terms of anything, but a five-tool player like Rex can help TNA not only find a better niche in the wrestling market, but increase its growth.
Using Rex properly can be parlayed into landing other former WWE talent who still have gas left in the tank. Not that TNA should go WWE-heavy, but there would be nothing wrong if guys like Wade Barrett or someone presumed to be released soon like Alberto Del Rio came over to help the company as each guy helps themselves.
Rex represents what TNA was hoping for when it first began plucking WWE leftovers. The difference between him and nearly every other former WWE Superstar is obvious, however, as Rex has plenty of original work left to give.
TNA, and its fan base, should be – rightfully – thrilled. Without being too hyperbolic, Rex can turn out to be the biggest signing the company has ever made.