So the “Monday Night War” is over. Was it really even a war? Maybe a small skirmish but it is over for now and I for one hope we never have to experience it again. I have maintained all along that it is not necessary to have competing shows and in my honest opinion it is really bad for the industry. Sure you may have a few excellent shows but at what cost? TNA may have potentially lost half of their fanbase in an effort to go head to head and for what? Because Spike TV wants to compete with the USA Network, because Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan want to take a stab at the glory days of the late 90’s. It just wasn’t worth it. Some fans will say how now that TNA is going back to Thursday that we should all start counting down the days until they go under. They may be right but I would respectfully disagree. Sure it’s a step back but sometimes you have to take a step back to take multiple steps forward and I guarantee you that if TNA was to do something big that would catch attention fans would forget real fast what an embarrassment the last few months were. So how does TNA go about that? What lessons have they learned or I would at least hope that they have learned? I am glad you asked, come and join me for another installment of “Wrestling Rumblings”.
As I stated TNA is now back on Thursdays and that is not the end of the world. If anything it was incredibly smart why stay on a night and be number 2? Better yet why stay on a night when you are not the only wrestling show around? In my honest opinion if WCW would have got off of Monday a lot sooner they might have somehow been able to slow down there product and prove their value to AOL/Time Warner and still be around today. It’s old hat but it is true that he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day. TNA may have done some damage but they will still see another day. How many days? Well that is another question. There was some positive that came out of all of this believe it or not and in the interest of keeping this piece as neutral as positive and not just another piece bashing TNA which people read every week I think I will start with the positive.
Positive Fact #1: Even though they were soundly defeated at one point TNA did expand their audience to never before seen heights
Now I know there are many of you who tend to be pessimistic who would instantly respond with “So what and they also lost a lot of their audience because they would rather watch Raw” and I agree that is true but the flip side is that there were people who believe it or not in 2010 8 years after the founding of the company who were still not aware of it who maybe didn’t like it compared to Raw but may not have a problem watching it on a separate night. Now the other argument may be that even with the replay there wasn’t much of a change in audience but that can also be attributed to it not being a first run show. Fact of the matter is at one point in time many fans cared what TNA was doing which means that if done right those same fans may come back and care what TNA is doing again. Sure it is an uphill battle but it can be done.
Positive Fact #2: Even though most of it is negative I do feel that after this little skirmish more people are talking about TNA than WWE
What’s that saying “Talk good about me, talk bad about me, just talk about me”. As stated most of it was negative but the fact is people are talking which means that for the next few weeks fans are going to be more curious than ever to see what TNA does to build interest in there promotion. Sure wrestling fans enjoy tearing something down but they also enjoy building it right back up and if TNA can learn from past mistakes and do something to elevate interest in their product they can not only regenerate there lost fans but create new ones in the process.
Positive Fact #3: After bottoming out at a .5 there is no other direction to go but up
Can it really get any worse? I would hope that the powers that be in TNA realize now that there is no such thing as a short term fix to give a lasting boost to ratings. Sure the Impact show where RVD won the TNA world title was a great show but if you’re not consistent what difference does it make? NBA, NFL and MLB teams with the worst records may play the game of their life against a world championship caliber team but that’s one game that doesn’t make them a contender it’s the same thing with wrestling. I think it is safe to say that if you have a longterm plan that maybe that kind of a rating will never happen again.
OK we did positive but there were some negative things too or this move probably wouldn’t be happening at all. I should still note that there is a lot that can learned from the negatives so maybe the negatives can be more positive than a positive believe it or not.
Negative Fact #1: New stars do not equal ratings
Sure some of the new acquisitions TNA has made in the past 4 or 5 months have made headlines and have generated some interest but I have never really felt there was a talent issue in TNA and as much as those in power may think otherwise starpower is really only as strong as the person with the pencil allows it to be. Think about it a show with RVD, Jeff Hardy, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett has been routinely creamed by a show with unknown people (NXT) sure there is something to be said about brand recognition in WWE but I also believe that if you write a good show people will want to see it. It doesn’t matter who is on it, stars don’t make themselves, wrestling companies make and for that matter maintain stars and TNA has yet to do either.
Negative Fact #2: How do you pay these guys?
I have had many people argue with me over the past few months that all TNA is concerned with is ratings which is why the shows have really been somewhat directionless and lead up to nothing and my reply has always been “Well how do you make money” TNA doesn’t have the rights to advertise commercial time on its show. Spike TV makes all the advertising revenue there and well with the TV show in the state it has been in you can bet your bottom dollar they are not breaking even in house show attendance, merchandise or PPV revenue. For those who would argue otherwise then why did they release Christopher Daniels even though they would like to have him on the roster and why won’t they give any of the women who are the highest rated segment on their show a raise? It’s cause they really can’t afford to and they are giving their money to guys like Hulk Hogan, Jeff Hardy and Ric Flair talent who don’t even make the house shows to really help TNA pay their salary and as much as people will shout they need to sell PPV’s they are not going to immediately start doing that tomorrow and I would sincerely doubt that Spike TV which has been helping them throughout the past few months monetarily is really interested in investing anymore money in what appears to be a damaged brand. TNA is going to have to consider new ways to generate revenue other than the ones that are already in place or they will be in a financial hole by this time next year.
Negative Fact #3: Nothing and no one has changed creatively
I hate to keep making sports analogies but when a sports team performs poorly usually someone in the office takes a hit for it. Sure teams add and trade guys but when they have the guys that they feel can bring them the brass ring and they wind up in last place the architects or the managers of the disaster usually are axed. TNA felt they had the pieces in place to deliver a winning product and well they were wrong. Someone has to be held accountable for this because as critical as we can be towards TNA what we can’t argue against is the talent that is in place. I would argue that TNA may have more talent than any brand of WWE and what’s really killing them is poor management. Say what you want about WWE but in WWE we all know that the buck stops with Vince McMahon but who does it stop with in TNA? Dixie Carter? Hulk Hogan? Eric Bischoff? Vince Russo? Jeff Jarrett? See what I mean? Too many chiefs for the tribe. Who is really running TNA right now? Hulk Hogan says he has nothing to do with creative and if that is the case than what does he really do besides contribute as an on air character? Jeff Jarrett would appear to be stripped of most power but I do believe there are some in the company that are still loyal to him. Dixie Carter doesn’t have a clue and well as much as I like Vince Russo the person he is just not the man to be at the helm of this company. Someone has to be held accountable and I think once and for all the talent in TNA need to have a clear understanding of who is in charge and that person needs to be given the ball and run with it. Are any of the people I mentioned the person to give the ball to? I don’t really know and if you pressed me for an answer I would say no but they are the ones that are there and while fans love to fantasize about Paul Heyman and Jim Ross that is more than likely not happening so we need to give someone, just one person the reigns and see where it takes us and hope that it is where this company needs to go.
I’m going to stop with the negativity here for the sake of keeping things equal but bear in mind I could keep going and going on this issue. It’s easy to be negative and mention what’s wrong what’s hard is fixing what’s wrong and the truth of the matter while we all think we know the answer most of us reading this haven’t booked a successful promotion so we have theories but no answers. So bear in mind I am not a booker but if you ask me a promotion is like a car on the road going on vacation. You have your itinerary and you have a destination. If you can make it through all the bumps in the road to your destination than well everyone is happy. Take for instance WWE’s build to this year’s Wrestlemania, the seeds were planted since December that the main event was going to be Shawn Micheals vs. The Undertaker and for the most part the other feuds that were developed going into the big show were sewn out months ahead of time and most fans saw it and grew interested and for the most part were looking forward to getting to the destination. Now take TNA a company that figuratively speaking just drives, they may have a destination at some point but then they take detours thinking that they know a shortcut and oftentimes drive themselves off the road. Sure initially the detour looks right but then when they eventually make their way back onto the road they find themselves to be farther away than ever and at times lost. A good example of this is the RVD world title win, it made for a great week of TV but now look at where we are at? Back on Thursday with no real direction. TNA needs to ask themselves how they can get people to watch their show in May 2011 as opposed to June 2010 because there are no quick fixes in life and definitely none in wrestling. If you can make a longterm plan and for the most part stick to it instead of hotshotting things and worrying about the competition than maybe, just maybe there can be a renewed and maybe even a never before seen interest in TNA. If TNA really wants to be competitive than focus on your house show attendance and your PPV buys and use your TV to help promote that. If they can do that successfully not only will ratings go up but dare I say they will turn a profit.
Let me just say in closing that I am not a booker, wrestler or anything of the sort. I am a fan who just so happens to also be a writer and I would like very much for all wrestling companies to succeed. It gives me more things to watch and write about. I hope that the move to Thursday for TNA can be a positive one and I think everyone who calls themselves a fan of wrestling should hope the same instead of being a Debbie downer towards TNA. I know it’s not easy but we all have to remember that momentum can be changed at really any moment. Now I am not saying for TNA to swing for homeruns but just as in baseball sometimes a hard single can get the rally going, batter up!!
OK time to wrap this week up but of course I have to give the people something to do. Of course for all you MMA junkies UFC 113 is this Saturday with a halfway decent fight card and for you cheapskate boxing fans Mayweather vs. Mosley will be replaying this weekend as well. Of course for wrestling fans DGUSA will try to recover from the bloodletting in Phoenix with some cards and a PPV taping in Canada. So for anyone who can make it go ahead and support pro wrestling and check it out. The Wrestlemania 26 DVD also came out earlier in the week with the entire never before seen Hall of Fame ceremony. I was at the Hall of Fame this year and enjoyed it very much so I recommend everyone check this out.
I’m going to wrap this week’s edition up but before I do I want to caution everyone who has written to me via email or otherwise concerning facebook. I do have a facebook page, I don’t give it out here because it is a personal page and honestly I see no reason for readers to see pictures or comments of me and my family and friends and well I honestly don’t have any wrestling stuff on my page so most of you would be bored by me on facebook anyway. Another reason I don’t give it out is because well some of you tend to get a bit carried away with vulgarity and I have people who are on my page who are really turned off by that kind of stuff. I forgot to fix my settings on my page to make it private and had some readers post things that well aren’t fit for family publication a few weeks ago and honestly my personal page is just not the place for that. I have been accommodating for readers who have found me on facebook and have accepted their friend requests but make no mistake I will not talk wrestling on my facebook page. That’s what my email is for, that includes personal messages and posting on my wall. That is why I give out my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) I think anyone who has ever sent me an email can say that I am pretty good with replies and I treat every email with the respect it is sent with. If there is enough interest I may create a facebook page for the column but to be honest I am not that vain about the column’s popularity and I honestly don’t know how much time I could make to post on a fan page as I struggle sometimes to just keep up with my personal page. So if anyone is interested in me creating a reader page (I hate calling readers fans) email me and let me know and if I feel there is enough interest and I can devote the time to it I just might do so. That’s it for this week ,next week I will try to do better, until then I am out.