Last week on Twitter, TNA President Dixie Carter tweeted about how TNA signed a big time "free agent" that will join their roster soon. On Tuesday we found out that former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was the man that Dixie was talking about.
Spike TV announced today it had signed a multi-year contract with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson for both MMA and pro wrestling, similar to the deal they had signed with King Mo Lawal. The signing was part of a joint announcement with Kevin Kay of Spike, Bjorn Rebney of Bellator and Dixie Carter of TNA.
They noted that Jackson's match with Dan Henderson on Spike was one of the most-viewed cable TV MMA matches of all-time, and that his season coaching Ultimate Fighter against Rashad Evans was the top rated season in the history of the show (largely due to the presence of Kimbo Slice).
A press conference is being scheduled tomorrow (Wednesday) morning in Los Angeles.
Jackson will star in a Spike TV reality series and do other projects with the network. The reality series will build to his Bellator debut. He will also be used in some fashion on Impact Wrestling.
I don't think it's a bad move for him. The big question is what will his role be in TNA? I'm not sure yet. Just because he might have a role doesn't mean he'll wrestle. He could be a guest ref or an enforcer. We don't know yet if he'll have a match. Apparently he's a big pro wrestling fan, so he might want to wrestle some matches in his career. We'll find out more during the press conference later on Wednesday.
Rampage was a huge draw in UFC in the late 2000s. I can remember when he beat Chuck Liddell for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title in 2007. That was when mainstream media started to take notice of UFC too. He's always been a great talker who did an awesome job of building up his fights. You might also know him from the recent A Team movie, which also meant an appearance on WWE Monday Night Raw too. I think after the movie came out he lost interest in fighting and he stuck around in UFC because he had a contract he had to fulfill.
Does he count as a big name? I think so. He's a big name that turns 35 years old in a few weeks, but he's still a guy that fought on UFC events that drew over 1 million buys. There are not too many guys that can say that.
I wanted to get another perspective on this news, so I turned to my friend John Villarreal (who writes about UFC for TJRSports) because he's a wrestling fan that doesn't really watch TNA much. However, he's involved in MMA as his career, so I wanted to find out what he thought about this:
John Villarreal: As someone who manages a gym, pro and amateur fighters and has been a part of the MMA world for 8 years now, Rampage will draw me to sit through two hours of TNA's nonsense just to see what he does. He's quite a polarizing figure. I love listening to him talk no matter what capacity. This story is a little more personal for me, being such a fan of Professional Wrestling and having had dealings with the national MMA industry for many years. I like it, I don't know if it does anything for TNA from a major ratings boon, but it has potential to move the dial a few notches for people not unlike myself, switching over just to see Page do what he does. He's a wild card, known for going off-script and shooting from the hip. I'd love to see him in a heel capacity running down wrestling and its fans as far less superior. Just give this guy the stick, let him talk, then get him a feud with someone that can make him look good. He's a breath of fresh air to many, to others, he's a pain in the ass. Either way, he's drawing some kind of emotion, and that's what it's all about. I'm almost certain that TNA will not execute this character correctly, but the hope and potential is there nevertheless.
This is not King Mo, ladies and gentlemen. He's just a guy, he's not important in MMA, he's not important in wrestling. Page is a performer. He may have lost a step or five in the cage, but I guarantee his mouth still works fine. And restholds are allowed? Give me a break, Page could be in TNA's Hall of Fame one day if he thinks about wrestling full time. I've seen what he can do, and I hope the best for all parties involved. My advice to TNA...PLEASE...PLEASE, don't screw this up. For me...c'mon TNA, be a pal. Make your money work for you, for once.
Thanks for that, JV.
I agree about the King Mo part. Rampage is a former UFC main eventer. King Mo hasn't had nearly that much success. He also got destroyed in a recent Bellator fight. Rampage has much more name value. He's also not Mike Tyson, who is arguably the biggest box office draw in boxing history. Rampage is still a name of importance and significance.
TNA President Dixie Carter said that Rampage will be at TNA Impact this Thursday in Atlanta, so we could find out his role in TNA in the near future. I don't think their ratings are going to bounce back after last week's awful performance because they're going up against game 1 of the NBA Finals this week. At least they're trying, though.
I know I complain about some things in TNA Wrestling, but I don't think this is a bad move. I guess it depends on his contract. However, with a reality show and a Bellator contract I would expect that those are his main priorities rather than TNA Wrestling. That's just me making an educated guess.
I'm intrigued by what might happen with him. I hope it works out for him as well as TNA Wrestling. Consider me cautiously optimistic about this one.
Here's a clip of Rampage talking about his experience on Raw mixed in with highlights from when he was on the show in June of 2010.
If you want more on Rampage to TNA check out the news item on ImpactWrestling.com as well.
IN OTHER NEWS
- In some very good news, WWE's World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler passed his concussion testing meaning he should be back in a wrestling ring very soon. (F4WOnline.com) He's been out of action for about one month now. It's likely that he'll defend the World Title against Alberto Del Rio at Payback on June 16.
Meanwhile, in Jack Swagger news…well there is none. He's off TV again.
- Over on WWE.com they have an article about WWE teaming up with Kmart to produce an exclusive John Cena apparel line. Why? Because he needs more cars. I think that's the reason.
I think the most shocking news about this is that Kmart still exists. Congrats to them.
- Are you a listener of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's podcasts? I am. If you're not you should be. They're very entertaining and he's had a number of interesting guests from wrestling such as Terry Funk, Kevin Nash and Jim Ross to name a few. In the near future he'll have shows with Kurt Angle, Bret Hart and Trish Stratus too. Check it out at PodcastOne or look for it on iTunes.
The best part of the show might be when Austin reads advertisements for products ranging from testosterone pills to building a website. Most radio ads are polite and energetic. When Austin does it it's as if he's ordering you to get this stuff.
- TNA fired their main play by play announcer Todd Keneley. I liked him and thought he was a fresh voice. They only brought him onboard in October. (F4WOnline) They'll keep Mike Tenay (who is 59 years old this year) onboard as the main play by play guy just like he's been for the 11 year history of TNA. They'll also keep Taz, who sounds like he wishes he didn't work for TNA.
In other words, those two are like everybody in TNA in that they are either old or they wish they didn't work there.
That's all for me. This was my fifth post in five days although it was the shortest of them. Next column from me will be posted on Friday or Saturday. Thanks for reading.
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