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For Queen and Country #8 - Wrestleview.com

For Queen and Country #8

For Queen and Country #8
March 29, 2008
By: Daniel Browne of WrestleView.com


Total Nonstop Uncertainty, Part 03.

Greetings to all. The close, looming proximity of "Wrestlemania weekend" brings into sharp relief the scope of the task facing those who choose to assume the mantle of opposition alongside the WWE juggernaut. The sheer scale of Wrestlemania: From the intricacies of construction and assemblage of the thousand-seat arena, through to the pseudo-mania of Kevin Dunn's production and pyrotechnics, all the way to the shiny ring outfits and the amassed throng of humanity paying whatever it takes to participate in the festivities, Wrestlemania is a beast of epic, million-dollar proportions. It is the epoch of Vince McMahon's personal vision: A glistening, effects laden, celebrity incorporating mega-spectacle of lights and excess that stands alongside the likes of the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Stanley Cup in American sporting lore. It is everything WWE, from the moment Vinny Mac got hammered in New York in 1983 through to now, stands for. Conversely, it is everything the impersonators of King Cnut fear and aspire to; the dream being one day an event of such magnitude will be theirs to behold. Alas, the sad truth is this is unlikely in the extreme...

As always, the fundamental truth of the matter comes in a delightful shade of green, and is what separates the achievers from the aspirational folk. Money talks. WWE spends millions promoting Wrestlemania through ubiquitous advertising, blitzkrieg angles and pushes designed to culminate at the show, and of course the odd celebrity tie-in. It's big (make that colossal) business. The TNA hierarchy can only look on with envy as WWE seizes the limelight in a style they will likely never have the chance to emulate.

Putting aside any pithy notions of spoiler tactics, the only course of action for TNA is acceptance and consistency. Immediate problem, then. When your head booker is a gentleman doubtless under the impression he deserves some measure of credit for creating Wrestlemania (Vince Russo) the urge to indulgently acknowledge this perception on a program ostensibly in opposition becomes difficult to resist. I'll never forget the sight and sound of Russo and Dustin "Goldust" Rhodes squabbling in front of a WCW camera about the inception and execution of the Goldust character (a WWE creation) Their moronic skit wasted WCW pay-per-view time on a WWE character, and occurred just so Russo could tell the world he was taking credit for one of the most polarizing wrestling characters in history. How that crap assisted WCW, I guess some one will have to email me the answer.

TNA cannot dream of engaging the idea of Wrestlemania on any level that doesn't make them look like the tenacious minnows they are. So they should just leave it be. Scripting dumb, overt and altogether petulant "attacks" on the opposition only works if they genuinely enhance your standing and inflict damage on your competitor. Short of signing Christian (now a moot point) and possibly Booker T, TNA has done nothing to merit such arrogant assumption. I will say for the record, the "future endeavors" remark after Curry Man was fired made me laugh heartily, but in the grand scheme if only insiders, dweebs and marks are laughing, you're wasting yours and everyone else's time...

He may be a Nimrod of galactic proportions, but Kurt Angle is truly a physical marvel. An absolute magician before his problems mounted, the drug and pain-addled Angle still tears the house down with absolutely everyone. Alongside Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair, Kurt Angle is unquestionably the finest all-round performer wrestling has ever seen. I dread to imagine how severely diminished the TNA main event scene would be without Angle as it's rock, and there in lies a major concern. TNA has sacrificed much to sustain Angle as it's main man, irrevocably diminishing the star auras of Samoa Joe and AJ Styles (who have inevitably played second fiddle to him.) Another problem is the man himself. To be brutally honest, Kurt Angle is a desperately unlikeable chap who's both a delusional lunatic and destined to spend the rest of his natural life in a wheelchair. Angle (in particular) and TNA (to a lesser extent) consistently play down the long term damage Angle incurs every time he steps foot in a wrestling ring. Make no bones about it, the man is in agony after every match. I'm quite certain there are more than a couple of smart marks who believe Angle is actually fine and dandy. To them I ask the question: If he's really okay, why did the WWE fire him and, in three years, why have they made no concrete overtures with a view to re-signing him? They know he's a ticking time bomb, liable to pop at any conceivable moment. Not a fun thought...

I must confess, I'm not the biggest fan of Steve ?Sting? Borden. I find him to be a po-faced hypocrite who too readily forgets the thing that enabled him to enjoy wealth and prominence is the thing he all to often threatens to damage with his moral rhetoric and selfish attitude. Granted, his commitment between the ropes and his veteran aura have proven useful in the short-term. Building an entire promotion around a man who doesn't care for wrestling, and couldn't tell you a single thing about the day-to-day flow of the product he's supposedly the centerpiece of paints a worrying picture. What should have been an extremely interesting moral dilemma vis-a-vie Sting's growing lack of comfort with the openly aggressive agenda of the Main Event Mafia, has been undermined repeatedly by Steve Borden's pious refusal to portray his character as something other than vaguely misguided. The best villains are affective because they truly believe they are right and thus commit heinous and unconscionable acts safe in this conviction. The seed of uncertainty grows and eventually comes realisation and either self-destruction or redemption. Sting comes across as less morally torn and more emotionally inconvenienced. With the exception of his exchanges with Mick Foley, Sting has talked the talk and nothing else. When he has his ?What have I done moment?, he'll have to pause for a moment and answer that one himself, as I for one don't know. All things considered, not much of a reality play...

There's a lot that's good in TNA, such as Joe and AJ, the Motor City Machine Guns, Beer Money inc. and a fair percentage of the TNA Knockouts (especially The Beautiful People). Letting Gail Kim leave for the sake of peanuts and a song was folly in the extreme for both TNA and Ms Kim herself. TNA should be fighting for and securing such assets, not pandering to the likes of the frighteningly fat Team 3-D and the ex-Mr Ass, or persisting with failed experiments like Matt Morgan. It concerns me greatly that an idea like the M.E.M, which could and should have galvanized the whole roster, has instead shifted the focus onto a civil war between it's two veteran leaders. With Russo around, the focus will always be on shock value, big tits and ex-WWE everything. There's genuine endeavor and full-blown enthusiasm, and the continued growth of the product both financially and in popularity (the recent UK tour was a massive success) fills me with hope. Alas, I fear the rise of TNA has as much to do with the creative malaise of WWE as it does the strong brand infiltration of TNA. People want an alternative. Right now, TNA (and at a stretch Ring of Honor) is all they have, and thanks to the energetic efforts of the aforementioned, that option is at least palatable. I hope. I really do. For the moment however, I'm going to have splinters in my arse from sitting on the fence. Until next time.

Daniel R. Browne.