James Storm’s return to TNA on Tuesday night’s Impact episode capped off a wild ride for the TNA Original.
Storm’s TNA contract expired around the time of TNA’s last TV tapings over the summer, he dipped his toe in WWE with a per-night NXT deal similar to Rhyno in the fall, and tried to negotiate a new deal with either WWE or TNA for 2016 and beyond.
The result was Storm ended up back in TNA. PWTorch has independently confirmed that Storm agreed to a contract with TNA upon his return. The specifics are a guaranteed two-year contract with a merchandise cut, as reported by former TMZ producer Ryan Satin.
From the WWE side of this story, it’s a completely new environment for WWE dealing with independent talent. Whereas in years past Storm would not have even stepped foot in a WWE ring unless there was a mutual commitment, Storm was able to raise his profile by appearing on NXT while trying to negotiate a deal with WWE, and also keep the door open for a TNA return.
In October, Storm talked to WWE’s website about his NXT debut, saying he was “free and clear of all contracts,” which was true for both WWE and TNA since he did not have a deal with either promotion and was working per-night at NXT.
Storm added in the October interview that his future in NXT was “the million dollar question” and “not really up to me,” implying that he was looking for the best deal from either WWE or TNA.
“My job is to go out and get myself over, as they say. And it’s up to what we call ‘the suits’ to make the decision of whether to bring me back to NXT or the WWE main roster,” Storm said.
“I get so many people all the time saying, ‘We want to see you and Bray Wyatt go at it on the microphone.’ I always say that you never know what’s going to happen in wrestling. And I just take one day at a time.”
Storm returning to TNA on Tuesday shows that he got the commitment he was looking for from his fall-back plan, TNA, not WWE. Otherwise, he would be in WWE to follow up on his career-boosting NXT debut.
Now, Storm will look to capitalize on his NXT run in TNA. Interestingly, the TV storyline basis for Storm’s TNA return – looking to “have fun again” and re-forming Beer Money – were the words Storm used in the WWE interview.
“To me, wrestling should always be fun. If it’s not, then that’s when you need to get out. At first, when I came out, I don’t think the NXT crowd at Full Sail really thought that it was me until the name flashed up on the screen, and then they recognized the hat and it was off to the races. It was unreal how they welcomed me to Full Sail. The NXT crowd was pretty rowdy and loud for me,” Storm said.
Now, Storm hopes to get a similar reaction in front of TNA crowds re-forming Beer Money after a less-than-stellar end to his 2015 TNA run as part of The Revolution group.