Reality From Ringside #7
March 23, 2009
By: Doug Lackey of WrestleView.com
SHOCK! A column regarding TNA!
You read right! I am actually going to roll up my sleeves, get my hands and forearms dirty, and wallow through the muck known as TNA this week. I figured I had been writing too much about WWE and it is time to give other promotions a chance to bask in the glow of my wit and criticism? my God am I full of myself today?
Before I go any further, I need to explain myself when it comes to my resources. Living in Charlotte, North Carolina, the only live and televised promotions I can enjoy are WWE, TNA, NWA-Charlotte, and Deep South Wrestling. Sure, I may have web access to ROH, OVW, FCW, and many others but I just don?t prefer watching my vice online. I want the best quality both live and on television so I can pick apart my viewing hobby like I was dissecting a frog in my ninth grade biology class.
I need to get something off of my chest very quickly for just a moment here. For too long, I have read on message boards and chat rooms how TNA stinks and that some people wouldn?t pick up their worst enemy's dog droppings with the scripts they come up with. Let's try not to be too critical of this promotion. After all, we are comparing it to a near-billion dollar giant with the resources capable of creating great live atmospheres and an enormously entertaining product on television.
Comparing TNA to WWE is like comparing *gulp*? the XFL to the NFL. Vincent's foray into professional football is just like Dixie's unknowing first step into the world of professional wrestling. Both wanted to try new things (pay-for-performance football players and a 6-sided ring foreign to U.S. audiences), both employed retreads for their respective entities (Tommy Maddox, Rod ?He Hate Me? Smart, Kevin Nash, and Booker T to name a few), and both had lofty aspirations (XFL tried to be the NFL substitute for the summer only to fail after one season, TNA still continues to broadcast monthly pay-per-views while maintaining a budget nearly a tenth that of their competitor's).
So again, don?t blame TNA for being a ?B? product, they are supposed to be. Don?t scoff at their television product; it is not supposed to be at the same level of quality as their competitor's. So what can we blame TNA for since we cannot compare them to the WWE dreadnought? One humungous reason: TNA has not improved their product.
In one month's time, TNA will be broadcasting their annual April pay-per-view ?Lockdown.? In this event, each match will be contested inside a steel cage, or their marketed 'six sides of steel?. Looking back at last year's ?Lockdown,? it is blindingly apparent that TNA has no intention of improving their product just by looking at their roster (then and current), the scheduled card of clusterf#$k matches, and rehashing of storylines that occurred the previous year.
Before I go into this already-angry retro/introspective on ?Lockdown ?08,? we need to go over the additions to TNA's roster since that time:
Abdul Bashir (Shawn Daivari): He is a welcome addition to TNA's X-Division; unfortunately I don?t particularly like how they had him attain the X-Title so quickly. They should have given him time to build and then become a solid name in the promotion.
The Governor (Daffney): *sigh*? I? um? I can?t really think of anything to say in regards to the gimmick? it's too easy; it's not worth the effort. I do miss Daffney, I miss her wild obnoxious antics at ringside at WCW circa 2000 but seeing this? it's like seeing an ex-girlfriend from high school who you thought was hot as all hell at your 10-year reunion finding she has now become a married housewife of three. Just sad.
Brutus Magnus (Nick Aldis): Who? I mean, I kind of dig the whole ?Gladiator? idea? and annihilating the tired and true British stereotype in professional wrestling? but weren?t the gladiators part of Greek history? Couldn?t they have him just coming out as a regular performer who has great microphone skills with the in-ring skills to back it up? Sometimes you just need to say ?no? to Halloween costumes when it's not October.
Kiyoshi (Akira Raijin): His rise to the TNA roster is one I like reading about. Mentored by Keiji Mutoh in Japan, traveled to the U.S. and began in the insanely horrible Juggalo-thing, and now in a ?major? promotion honoring his mentor in the ring. I would love to see more of him in the ring and I pray they treat this talent accordingly? make him the U.S. /New Millennium-version of The Great Muta? but it's always great to dream, right?
Mick Foley: I don?t need say anything about him other than? it's just sad seeing him like this. A speaking role with no merit or relevancy at all, just someone who sticks their nose into storylines? a legend in nothing except bloodletting. I know this sounds biased but please? I dare someone to e-mail me explaining why it is a good thing for Mick Foley to remain in this business.
The Doctor (Stevie Richards): Can?t say anything about him yet since he has not performed in the ring yet and has not even appeared in front of the camera. Sure, he has a beautiful head of hair from the back, but that's about all we have seen so far.
Um? uh? are there any others? No? Um? okay? heh. Four of these six additions were made within the span of four months. So, for eight months, they only added two new talents. I?m sorry, but that's just piss-poor. In order to be a successful promotion, you need to have a revolving door of talent, new faces for your audience to be intrigued and captivated by so they are encouraged to return week after week to see your product. Every talent does not need to be on display but they do need to keep the broadcast and the script fresh, thus the need for a revolving door.
This can all be accomplished by having a farm system like what WWE has. Can TNA do this? They could have if they had kept their contractual agreement with NWA. Another topic for another time. Right now, let's look back at the atrocity of a card known as ?Lockdown.?
Clusterf#$k Match #1 ? ?Xscape Match? for X-Division Title ? Jay Lethal defeats ?Curry Man? Christopher Daniels, Johnny Devine, Consequences Creed, Sonjay Dutt, and Shark Boy to retain. Try to understand these stipulations in this cage match. All six men in the ring, eliminations occur via pinfall or submission. When two men remain, the first one to escape the cage is declared the winner. So let me get this straight? you go through hell wrestling five other combatants and in the end, the champion is determined by a wall-climbing competition? This is what would have happened to WWE's Cruiserweight division if it had still remained active, clusterf#$k matches like these every pay-per-view rendering the title irrelevant and ridiculous.
What did we lose from this match? We lost Daniels wearing a red mask and now promoting TNA's video game that is now selling for only $15. We lost Devine due to budget cuts and Dutt was released because? um? maybe because they only had enough room in the company for one middle-eastern male representative. Heaven forbid professional wrestling look all-inclusive, order and balance needs to be maintained. So far, TNA is +4 in their margin of talent released/signed.
Clusterf#$k Match #2 ? ?Queen of the Cage? Match ? Roxxi Laveaux defeats Christy Hemme, Salinas, Jacqueline, Traci Brooks, Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, and Rhaka Khan. Did your mind explode from the stipulations of the first match? No? Well you better have some club soda ready to get the blood stains out of your carpet after you read the stipulations on this one. All eight women beat the holy hell out of each other trying to climb the cage and into the ring. Once two have made it inside the cage and in the ring, they compete. So it's like the Xscape clusterf#$k but in reverse? a wall-climbing contest THEN a wrestling match? amazing. Just because you have a ton of women on your roster does not mean you need to find a harebrained way of featuring all of them in action on your pay-per-view.
The only talent lost from this match was Salinas? who? Oh! The chick with the denim mega-ultra-super-duper-double-secret-miniskirt who accompanied LAX to the ring? yeah? wait; I don?t think I meant to call her talent in the beginning of this paragraph. Oh well, at least she has a new title to put on her resume now. The margin is now +3.
?Regular? Match #3 ? BG James defeats Kip James. Nothing to really say about this one except that they are both on TNA's roster but doing nothing but taking up space. Kip has been accompanying the women to the ring while BG has been sitting in room with a television watching old tapes of 1997 Raw episodes wondering where his life has gone. If anyone needs to have an announcing position, it is him. Kick Penzer out of the ring with his super-fast introductions that make it look like he wants the pain to end quickly.
Clusterf#$k Match #4 ? ?Cuffed in a Cage? Match ? Super Eric defeats Scott Steiner, Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, Petey Williams, LAX, Kaz, Jimmy Rave, Lance Hoyt, Rellik, and Black Reign. All done cleaning your carpet from the last clusterf#$k? Sorry, but you are going to need to break out the steam cleaner for this one. All twelve combatants go bonkers on each other inside the steel cage trying to handcuff their opponents to the walls of said cage; the last one remaining is the victor. Alright? *takes a deep breath*? does winning this contest have anything to do with professional wrestling at all?! Look? I read these stipulations to my 57-year-old mother who only watches professional wrestling when there is word that Ric Flair will be making an appearance. She said she could win this match! The sad thing is? I agreed with her!
So, apart from respect for TNA as a whole, what did we lose from this match? Petey Williams was released supposedly due to budget constraints, I personally think they are ex-communicating all Canadian talent from their company. Kazarian was promoting a $15 video game but now he's nursing an injury he attained promoting the $15 video game. Rellik (AKA Johnny Stamboli) wrote TNA a break-up note, passed it to the back of the classroom, and hasn?t done anything since. Dustin traded in his black face paint for good old-fashioned gold and is enjoying his cameo-filled existence. Oh? Jimmy Rave and Lance Hoyt were released too? I just noticed that. That shows you how important they were to the promotion. Five of the twelve performers are no longer with TNA; the loss/gain margin is now -2. Not good.
?Regular? Match #5 ? ODB and Gail Kim defeat Awesome Kong and Raisha Saeed. Just a typical tag-team match here involving nothing? no titles on the line. No relevancy at all except for the fact that TNA lost Gail Kim to WWE in what is quite possibly the most ridiculous decision made in their company's history. The margin is now -3.
?Regular? Match #6 ? Booker T and Sharmell defeat Robert Roode and Payton Banks. This was a typical mixed-tag match that should have been booked for a television taping instead of a pay-per-view event. How many mixed-tag matches can I see in one week from any promotion without having to pay $30 to see it? Granted this was inside a cage, but whoop-dee-damn-do, so were the other five matches we had seen this night. More to the point, this match was so important that it needed to be considered as one of the main events? Is a title involved? Was a wife-swap thrown into the mix? By the way, Payton Banks turned into a thunderhead, was released, and is now Rain in SHIMMER? I know it was a horrible pun but look at what I am writing about, it is almost a requirement.
Clusterf#$k Match #7 ? ?Lethal Lockdown? Match ? Team Cage (Christian Cage, Rhino, Kevin Nash, Matt Morgan, and Sting) defeats Team Tomko (AJ Styles, Team 3D, James Storm, and Tomko). Alright, the stipulations on this match are not as convoluted as the previous three but they are still insanely insipid. A member of each team starts in the ring. After five minutes, another combatant enters the cage/ring. Victory is not realized until someone is pinned or submits from the opposing team. Essentially a 10-man tag match without the tagging, a steel cage involved, and a ?Royal Rumble countdown? aspect to it. While my brain doesn?t sting as much from understanding this match, it does question the length of it. A match that lasted nearly an hour could have easily been ended in less than five minutes? instead of a bullet in the brain execution-style they waterboarded us.
We now see the two biggest losses to TNA's roster. Christian Cage is now living every mark's dream in WWE and will probably never sniff a World Title or WWE Title (column on this coming in the near future). Tomko was going to do the same thing until he didn?t notify WWE about an injury? sad now that I won?t be able to see his chicken legs in a major promotion. The final margin of releases and signings is -5, this is pathetic. In order to be a successful wrestling promotion, your roster consistently needs to be the same as it was the previous year or more. If it is not, you have nothing that intrigues the audience to return to see your product? it is the same as it was before which can also be said for the main event of this abysmal pay-per-view?
?Regular? Match #8 ? TNA World Title Match ? Samoa Joe defeats Kurt Angle to become the new champion. First, there was no point in watching this match since Joe had stated he would quit wrestling if he did not defeat Angle, so there goes your result right there. What's more is? I dare TNA to have consecutive pay-per-views where Kurt Angle is not in the main event. To consistently have the same performer in the main event on a monthly basis is insulting to rest of your roster and is condescending to the people who paid their hard-earned money to watch your promotion. Give someone else a chance to shine just for once.
I hope your head doesn?t hurt as much as mine does. Alright, so we have pointed out problems of TNA, so what are the solutions? I have been vigorously at work determining them, but they cannot be found right now. It is not as simple as the firing of one person and the hiring of another. It also cannot be achieved by throwing money at the problems. In due time, my friends. In due time.
Until then, remember, do not base your judgments of TNA on what you have seen from WWE. Find TNA at fault for what they themselves have and have not done. See you next week, mouth-breathers.
Feel like telling me how wrong, right, or how bland I am? Feel free to reply: firstname.lastname@example.org