This past Monday was supposedly the start of a new era in wrestling, the new Monday Night War. This was the supposed igniting of the next boom period for the business, the big thing that was going to help wrestling regain some its luster that has been lost over the last decade or so. The ratings for both shows would obviously indicate we are not off to that glorious start that we looked to be off to in September of 1995 when WCW Nitro aired for the first time to start the initial Monday Night War. I caught myself thinking over the past couple of weeks about that initial war and about some of the events that preceded it, and then I caught myself thinking about TNA and Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter holding that press conference a few weeks ago where they mentioned that competition is good for everyone. That may be true but is head to head competition good for anyone? You?re reading “Wrestling Rumblings.”
Contrary to what those in TNA think, to what wrestling fans think TNA does not need to be on Monday night. Thursday night was fine and there are some who may argue that it may have been a better night for them, after all Smackdown during the height of the Monday Night Wars was doing better ratings than Raw believe it or not with WCW Thunder going head to head with it and even afterwards when Thunder switched to Wednesdays, even WCW Thunder on Wednesdays was doing better ratings than most WWE shows are doing right now. WCW Saturday Night was around for years and was doing the best ratings on TBS before Nitro was ever conceived so I don?t believe that Monday was necessary for TNA. The truth of the matter is if you have a strong product everyone will watch it as long as it is reasonably placed. Sometimes as was the case with some of the markets that ECW Hardcore TV aired people will watch it even if it unreasonably placed. The key thing is to have a strong watchable product. In other words if you go out and wear three day old socks on Thursday they stink, just because you stand next to the guy wearing the better brand of socks on Monday does not make your three day old socks smell any better. You still have to wash your socks, TNA still has to clean up their product and fans can debate it till the cows come home but the truth is they could have done that without going head to head against WWE.
Let’s continue to assess the theories on head to head competition. I want to reiterate I am talking head to head competition because I do believe that competition in the wrestling business is a great thing but I strongly am against head to head competition. When Vince McMahon first went national and proceeded to declare war on the territories (I want everyone to stay paying attention to the word ?War? and the different instances it may come up in this column, I?ll make my point with it later) he of course went and bought out most companies TV time and that usually put them out but those that didn?t initially just go under he proceeded to go head to head with them, whether it was on TV or running arena shows and eventually that proceeded to take them out of business. How did head to head competition make either company better? You may make the argument that Vince became better for it because he was eliminating the competition but he was also eliminating people who were grooming his future talent although it would take him 20 years to realize that hence the creation of developmental territories which are quite honestly not the same as the dozen or so territories that were in existence before the move for head to head competition was made by Vince McMahon. There are some segments of fans that will laud this move as being one of the best ever made in the industry but you will still to this day have many old timers say that when Vince began his conquest he slowly started killing off the art of the business and thus began the decay of what we saw on our TV every week. I tend to go both sides on the situation myself, but just the fact that I can make an argument for the other side shows me that maybe, just maybe head to head competition might ultimately lead to more negative events that positive events overall for the wrestling business.
Let’s move ahead to the original Monday Night War. Make no mistake about it WCW was trying to put WWE out of business, why else would you run a show on WWE’s signature night when they were already content with their place amongst the industry as the number one promotion in the world. WCW was not seeking to supplant WWE as the number one company but to eliminate them altogether and monopolize the business themselves and in a Shakespearean twist of fate they themselves were put out of business and the WWE monopoly would begin. Wrestling fans point to the Monday Night Wars with fond remembrance but for the 2 or 3 years where wrestling was hot all that really happened was the business burned itself out in a way that is still being felt almost 10 years later. No more squash matches, marquee main event matches being given away on TV, wins and losses becoming devalued and not meaning anything anymore, an influx of meaningless championships and dozens and dozens of watered down PPV’s. What used to be good business acumen was thrown out the window in an attempting to pop a rating and win a quarter hour and when it was all said and done it was like the wrestling universe went Supernova and we were left with a burned out WWE product.
I always think back to the inception of TNA in 2002 and how WWE didn?t really blink at it, some people would say it was because WWE didn?t care about TNA because it didn?t see it as a threat. I disagree with that to some extent. TNA wasn?t a threat but WWE could have snuffed it out anyway at that point in time and didn?t because Vince McMahon realized after the original Monday Night War that he needs something else out there and that while head to head competition is bad for the business long term, competition in general is good for the business overall. While I believe Vince wanted to be the number one promotion in the world he realized that you can?t really boast about being number one without a number two worth saying your number one over. I?m sure many of you reading this are sports fans in one way, shape or fashion. Imagine if your team won its division but its division didn?t really have any worthy teams in it; better yet, imagine if that same team that won the division did it with a losing record. Sure maybe that team will make something off of the championship merchandise but imagine how much more they could make if that division was a competitive division worth winning. Vince in my opinion cares more about TNA than Jeff Jarrett, Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter put together and in some weird backward way he knows that he needs this little promotion that could to stick around but if they keep picking the fight with the big dog someone is going to have to go and it’s his job to keep his company afloat as long as possible even if it is at the expense of TNA.
I asked you all to keep track of the use of the word ?War?, it has appeared throughout this column and the reason I asked that is because I want all of you to really think about that word and what it means period. War is absolute and isn?t fought to a standstill or a draw, it has a winner and it has a loser and even when those distinctions are made it has collateral damage. If TNA wasn?t trying to put WWE out of business it wouldn?t have declared war and moved there show to Monday nights, it would have made all of the moves it made and just have done a better job with the night and timeslot they already had. They didn?t do that because they don?t just want to be number one but are hoping to hotshot another boom period in wrestling and are holding onto a glimpse of hope that when this firecracker burns out they will be the only promotion left standing, to that I say TNA is stupid because even if they are somehow successful what would make them believe that they would have any more luck than Vince McMahon did when he monopolized wrestling? One company ruling the wrestling universe is not good for the wrestlers, the writers and most importantly the fans, so I hope that everyone who is salivating over this new Monday Night War be prepared to deal with the aftermath because whether it is TNA or WWE that is left when it is all over how long are we going to have to wait for someone to take a chance and be willing to invest the money it would take to start another wrestling promotion? To close this subject I want to end with a line from the very classic Edwin Starr song which is ironically enough titled ?War? and say War?Huh?Yeah! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.
I am pretty sure I am going to get a lot of comments regarding this particular column since I know many of you stand on all sides of the fence. To those of you out there I say ?have at it? and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To the rest of you I think I enjoyed bringing back the nostalgia of ?Rumblings? columns old and giving you people something to do for the weekend so I am going to recommend that those of you in the Florida area check out the NWA Pro Wrestling Fusion charity event that is taking place this Saturday. All proceeds are going to benefit the American Cancer Society and tickets are $10 in advance and $15 dollars at the door. None of the names on the show other than the Dark City Fight Club are familiar to me but I hear a lot of great things about the Florida Independent wrestling scene and you can find out all the information you need on prowrestlingfusion.com. Of course fans here in the NYC Tri State area can check out the Evolve 2 show which will take place at the Rahway Rec Center in NJ and for more information on that you can go to evolvewrestling.com. In an added tit bit for those of you that go I do believe our very own Dave Stevens will be attending that show so if you see him and are nice to him I am sure he will let you buy him a drink or something (just kidding). That’s it for this week, next week I will try to do better and until then I am out.