Which free-agent star would you go after if you had a wrestling company, a sizable bankroll and your initials weren’t WWE?

If you’re Dixie Carter, you’ve got to be thinking about that question. The TNA president recently made a potentially game-changing move with the acquisition of Hulk Hogan, and Spike TV appears more committed than ever to take the product to the next level.

So what next?

Carter has a great crew on her hands, but unfortunately much of that talent has been either poorly booked or received limited exposure, at least compared with their counterparts up north. The first problem can be fixed with some new cooks in the kitchen. The second is one of the reasons Carter brought Hogan in.

Jeff Hardy was one of the most “over” performers in WWE when he left that company a couple months ago. He commands a huge demographic that follows him wherever he goes. At 32 years old, he’s far from over the hill and, more importantly, he’s relevant in today’s changing wrestling industry.

Jeff HardyHardy is just the kind of performer who would give TNA another tremendous boost. How he would fit in with a Hogan-run promotion is anyone’s guess, but my bet is that the Hulkster’s smart enough to appreciate drawing power when he sees it.

Money alone probably won’t be enough to lure Hardy into the TNA fold. If that were true, he would have stayed in WWE. But Hardy is the rare type of wrestler who marches to his own drummer. He left WWE because he needed a break from the business. He wanted to pursue other creative interests, something he’s done in the past.

The drug charges filed against Hardy shortly after his WWE departure seem to carry less and less weight, although a final verdict has yet to be rendered.

 

Hardy, who was represented by his lawyer at a court date on Wednesday, didn’t show because a report from the drug lab has yet to come in. His next court appearance is scheduled Dec. 2 for a probable cause hearing regarding the drug trafficking case against him. There’s a good chance he could be vindicated.

If so it would be a no-brainer for Carter — or Hogan — to give Hardy a call. The Hulkster’s arrival in TNA gives that company a reach it didn’t have before. But Hulk Hogan is from the past. Jeff Hardy is now. He can elevate the likes of the talented A.J. Styles and Desmond Wolfe like no other in TNA.

There’s no question that TNA needs Jeff Hardy more than he needs them. But he may be just the man who takes TNA to that next level.

  • Another top star who could be joining the TNA fold is former WWE and ECW champion Rob Van Dam.

RVD told the Monday Night Mayhem show last week that he would consider the move because of Hogan’s commitment and the company’s upwardly mobile direction.

“It’s more appealing because they raised the stakes,” he said. “Hulk Hogan brings credibility and name recognition. A lot of people that don’t watch wrestling and many who haven’t watched wrestling in five or 10 years, they all know who Hulk Hogan is. He is a great representative of what wrestling can be. Should he have the book? I don’t know. Just because you have one talent in the business doesn’t mean you have something else.

“Can we get the wrestling business fun with Hulk Hogan in TNA? I don’t know, but here’s one thing, part of why it’s not interesting to watch anymore is because it’s so routine and mundane,” he said. “Every match, we have to see the babyface cry and sell, and the heel do his stuff, and the babyface make his big comeback. Every match? I don’t enjoy that.”

  • You gotta love the story where Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson recently made amends for snubbing an autograph hunter.

The former pro wrestling great tracked down the offended party and offered him a part in his new movie.

A security guard on the set of Johnson’s upcoming film “The Other Guys” had approached the star and asked for an autograph and a picture for his son. Johnson uncharacteristically refused, explaining he simply couldn’t sign autographs for everyone who asked.

His actions came under fire from the New York Post and, after reading the story in the newspaper, Johnson sought the unnamed fan out and handed him a personalized photograph and a walk-on part in the new Hollywood movie. “He was very apologetic,” a source told the newspaper.

  • Edge continues his slow recovery from a painful Achilles tendon injury, and he’s now able to walk without crutches.

The “Rated-R Superstar” hopes to be back in time for next year’s Wrestlemania.

  • Comedian Dennis Miller is scheduled to host a special three-hour episode of Raw on Dec. 14 featuring the 2009 Slammy Awards.

Reach Mike Mooneyham at (843) 937-5517 or moone[email protected].