Baiamonte's Casa #41
November 23, 2009
By: Joe Baiamonte of WrestleView.com
So a week has passed since I highlighted the problems currently plaguing TNA Wrestling and it doesn?t seem as if anyone particularly disagreed with me. Really? No one in the IWC disagreed with the opinions of a columnist? Well there is a first time for everything.
As promised, I have configured a series of plans which I believe would benefit TNA and make them a more viable, believable and profitable company in the long run. I?m not saying that these ideas of mine would be 100% effective but they?d be severely less damaging than the way the company is currently being run.
For starters, Vince Russo? This guy still has a job at a wrestling company how exactly? No matter how much Russo wants you to believe it, he wasn?t responsible for the Attitude Era and all the frivolity that came along with it. He was being reigned in from all angles. Had he been the creative genius he claims to be, Vince Mcmahon would have moved Heaven and Earth to keep him on board and certainly wouldn?t have allowed him to move to his nearest rivals. His nearest rivals who he then bought out less than two years after Russo moved over there, putting their World Title not only on actor David Arquette, but also, himself.
Then what do you know? Russo is handed the book in TNA and reverse battle royals are becoming the norm, along with graveyard matches. Not to mention former two time triple crown Champion AJ Styles is being dressed up like a reindeer and fellow former World and X Division champ Samoa Joe is ?murdering? people on live PPV with some rather ?phallic? design adorning his face. Have I mentioned another former World Champ who was morphed from menacing monster heel to goofy, seal clapping retard? No? Well that sentence sums up Abyss? alarming fall from grace within the company. I could go on about the plethora of stipulation matches that have been thrown at every PPV and episode of Impact! But I?d exhaust myself attempting to figure out exactly what I was writing about in the first place. Bottom line, Russo needs to go, and soon.
Secondly, the X Division. The pride and joy of the company. An innovative, death defying division of wrestlers risking life and limb to entertain the crowds. Or, a group of young wrestlers who have no idea how to properly work a match, yet will happily kill themselves every week without ever developing as a worker and will henceforth be denied a long and prosperous career.
When I popped my TNA cherry back in 2005, I could honestly say I?d bore witness to anything like the X Division since the Cruiserweight days of 1990's WCW. At first I?ll admit I was impressed. These guys were practically inventing new moves on the spot and were as impressive a bunch of athletes as I?d seen in a wrestling ring. However, once the novelty wore off and I?d engulfed myself in TNA for a few months, I realised what I was watching was in fact High School Musical on speed. These guys weren?t wrestling, they were dancing with each other. They put a string of spots together for 10 ? 15 minutes which pops the largely papered crowd in the Impact Zone and then we?re told we?ve just seen a five star classic by the insufferable Don West.
If I wanted to watch mind numbing, MTV generation wrestling I?d invest in retrieving the first and only season of Wrestling Society X or I?d scour the internet for some independent, bingo hall ?wrestling?. My idea of entertainment isn?t watching the same half a dozen or so guys being thrown into a variety of multi man matches every month just so they can perform a TOWER OF DOOM or other such meticulous spots. Give me Rey Mysterio or Jushin Liger any day. Just not a bunch of kids who have no idea what they?re actually supposed to be doing.
And herein lies the problem with TNA's midcard. They hold the X Division up as a bastion of everything that is supposedly great about the company. Yet it's a directionless minefield. Their midcard is crying out for a Fit Finlay or William Regal who could come in and teach these kids the art of pacing a match, and how to sell properly, and when and how to use their big signature spots.
Just a few months ago the WWE released Val Venis. A veteran who knows how to work, is a great character and wouldn?t command a top dollar fee. In short, the perfect addition to the TNA midcard. Where did he end up? New Japan Pro Wrestling. Too Cold Scorpio is still plying his trade around the independent scene, why not pick him up? Hell, why not put a phonecall into Japan and have Liger flown over? One of the greatest juniors of all time wouldn?t be a bad thing to have in your juniors division would it? Nick Dinsmore is another recently released WWE talent who knows his way around a wrestling ring better than the entire X Division combined. So why aren?t TNA taking advantage of these opportunities?
Oh wait, because they?re not the marquee, legendary main event players they cream themselves over. They?re not Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash, Mick Foley, Sting or Hulk Hogan are they? You know, all these guys who TNA have brought in on disgustingly large contracts despite the fact that their not even on their last legs any more. The same group of guys who were last major draws when exactly? A decade ago? Hogan's last programme in the WWE back in ?06 with Randy Orton hardly set the world alight did it? So what is he going to bring to the TNA table exactly? If he couldn?t draw three years ago in the company that made him a star, how does anyone expect him to spike the ratings of a company which couldn?t even give away tickets to it's biggest event of the year?
Cut Nash and Steiner loose. Let Sting stay retired and keep Foley the hell away from a wrestling ring before his body implodes. These guys are on nothing more than an ego trip and a big paycheque. Yet they contribute nothing. They?ve not got the capabilities to give the younger guys the rub any more. They can barely walk without tearing something and haven?t been relevant in forever. They?ve not even increased the ratings in any significant way despite the ludicrous amount of airtime they?ve all been granted.
If I?m Dixie Carter, I?m cutting my losses and looking for actual talent which can steer my company in the right direction. I?m looking at guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Matt Morgan, Homicide, Hernandez and Desmond Wolfe and thinking I?ve got a pretty useful group of workers there, however, they need complementing. Immediately I?d be drawn to Eddie Fatu (Umaga), a versatile big guy who can work great matches with a variety of workers. He's still young and has a resume that can boast feuds with John Cena, HHH, Jeff Hardy and CM Punk. He can work the mid and upper mid card just as easily as the main event scene. Guys like that are invaluable to a company.
Likewise, Carter should be looking to recruit Gaijin superstar Giant Bernard (formerly A-Train) for the same reasons as Fatu. He's become ten times the worker he was in the States and has already worked some of the TNA/NJPW crossover shows so that's a foot in the door already. It's guys like these who could easily come in and put over the likes of AJ and Morgan etc effectively, but also have decent, credible runs with the main Titles themselves.
Talking about credible runs with the main Titles, AJ's current TNA Title reign is in serious danger of flopping before it's even got up and running. They?ve thrown the strap at him without having a main event scene built around him. Daniels is never going to be a bona fide challenger, as he's nothing more than a glorified X Division worker. Joe's regressed as a worker to the point where he's nowhere near the guy he was three ? four years ago. He needs to undergo some serious restoration before being flung back into the World Title scene.
Which leaves AJ with who exactly? Angle? Well he's occupied with Desmond for the time being but even then Angle/AJ has already been done to death and is hardly going to set the world on fire. Plus Angle needs to be kept well away from the belt for the time being. If a Bernard or Umaga was on board, they?d make for a fantastic two month feud to establish AJ as a credible World Champ. Nothing cements a guy like chopping down a giant. Morgan's not quite there yet and is suffering from a lack of strength in depth on the roster to help elevate him to that position. Which is a crying shame for a guy with as much potential as Morgan.
Simple pick ups like the ones mentioned above would do TNA the world of good. Ok they?re not huge names, but they?re still faces which are fresh in people's minds from their times spent in the WWE and they won?t just be in it for the money. Plus, they can actually work as well. Not a bad deal in my eyes.
I?d also ditch the six sided ring and throw Don West out with it. No explanation needed for either of those actions.
Finally, and this is what perhaps baffles me the most. STOP RUNNING SHOWS IN DIFFERENT AREAS WHEN YOU CAN?T EVEN SELL OUT A STUDIO IN YOUR OWN BACK YARD!
Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezus! Why run your largest PPV of the year on the other side of the country where you have little to no market? Talk about embarrassing. Stop trying to kid yourselves by booking out arenas you haven?t got a prayer of even half filling. Stop spending scary amounts of money on international tours as well! This isn?t my opinion, it's just common business sense.
TNA have recently bragged how Impact has received higher ratings than Raw here in the UK. That may very well be true, but given that Raw airs live on a Tuesday morning at 2am and is repeated numerous times during the week, giving people a number of chances to watch it, it's hardly surprising that Impact perhaps draws a larger number of viewers every now and again. However, ask a casual wrestling fan to name five WWE talents and five TNA talents and see which list they can give you quicker. Also, before TNA start blowing their own trumpets ratings wise, they might want to check out their gate receipts for their tour of the UK when compared to the WWE's. In November of last year, the ?E? ran Raw live from the M.E.N Arena in Manchester and garnered a crowd of 13,000+. TNA ran the same arena two months later and drew somewhere in the region of 4 ? 5,000.
Ok, it's nice to see the world, but stick with Orlando and the surrounding areas and build your base from there before you start your globetrotting. Stay away from California altogether and anywhere which isn?t roughly 200 miles either side of Orlando.
So what do you think? A sensible business plan or what? Sensible seems to be a foreign concept unfortunately in TNA, however, there's still time for them to turn things round. The wrestling world needs competition. The Monday Night Wars proved that.
I await your responses with baited breath. As always you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, arrivederci.
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