AS I SEE IT
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
First, when a resignation is not a resignation…
Recently the public story was put out on TNA’s website and on certain select websites that Terry Taylor, TNA Director of Talent Relations, had “decided to leave TNA”.
One problem with that…he didn’t resign. TNA’s parent, Panda Energy, was fed up with what they apparently saw as a lack of worker safety concern and fired him. Taylor as head of Talent Relations had been named in several wrestler lawsuits against TNA, most notably Shannon “Daffney” Spruill, who did not have medical bills paid for, despite injuries that occurred in the ring; and finally sued TNA. Panda Energy got tired of the bad publicity and pulled the trigger.
The unwillingness of some websites to note this is intriguing to say the least. It’s no secret that some, if not most, wrestling websites have people within promotions that feed them information from within the promotion. They’re called sources.
In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with that, as its the only way for them to get information on what is still somewhat of a closed business. The problem is when that relationship determines content, then it becomes favoritism.
Speaking of TNA, in “the more things chance, the more they stay the same” department…remember this story in a August 2007 AS I SEE IT?
Alan Wojcik gave TNA free publicity for 5 years on dozens of websites ranging in size from PWBTS.com to Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer.com, and got treated like crap as a result.
Wojcik had an agreement with TNA’s media relations department where he would cover the product like I was a sportswriter or beat writer for a sports team.
Then issues started coming up this past February phone call Media Department head Steven Godfrey, first in telling Wojcik not to post an interviews that was so fluffy, ‘I felt like I was inside a bottle of Downy’. Then, eventually Godfrey got to the real issue, telling Wojcik he was “too good at your review work.”
After that fact was made public by this column, Wojcik got him the go-ahead to continue doing what he had been doing…ALLOWING him to give them free publicity far in excess of what they had been generating themselves to that point.
So fast forward to two weeks ago, where Ross Forman called and let Wojcik know his laptop was not going to be allowed in due to a “new policy”. Wojcik went to the show, figuring that he could straighten out things as he had before. Meanwhile, the websites that use Wojcik’s reports reported this all over the place. Wojick went to the show, only to see three mainstream reporters who were there to cover Pacman’s debut, using laptops with wireless cards….using the same arrangement he had with TNA. Later that same evening, Wojcik got the same statement from Forman, although Forman wouldn’t tell Wojcik who was responsible.
I’ll say now what I said back in February: if I were an independent wrestling company that has illusions of being number two to WWE…. if I were a company that has pissed away millions upon millions of dollars…and who brought in football’s second most favorite felon, yet still drew some of their lowest ratings ever for the Pacman “debut” on IMPACT; along with continuing PPV buyrates that are two-tenths of WWE’s; I would get on my knees in the middle of Times Square, and kiss the ass of everyone that wanted to help me get out the word about my company wearing mint-flavored Chapstick if they wanted me to.
I damned sure would be pissing off someone like Alan, to the point that he’s pulled his reports from all his sites. Way to go, TNA…you’ve just lost coverage for your TV tapings on every website except Richard Trionfo’s PWinsider.com reports…even on Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer.com website.
Well, four years later, now its been reported that Universal Studios has ostensibly demanded that TNA, Impact Wrestling, (or whatever Panda Energy’s tax writeoff is being called this week) about limiting the leaking of spoilers from TNA/Impact tapings, and to ban anyone who uses a cellphone to provide live TV taping spoilers from the Impact Zone, with a system featuring a warning for first offenses, 30 day ban for second, 60 day ban for third, 90 day ban for fourth and for a fifth offense, a lifetime ban.
News bulletin: just TRY and police this, folks. Does TNA want to monitor all cell phone use? Bet the FCC might have something to say about that if they tried to jam cellphones. More practically, there are tons of smart phones out there, and even dumbphones like my own, with web and texting capability, which can send live results anywhere in milliseconds.
Are TNA and Universal going to make people check in their cellphones?
Rrrrrrright. Good luck with that one. The ECW Arena tried to do that to limit the rampant bootlegging of Ring of Honor, CZW, and other shows held inside the venue, and found that it was basically impossible, because they’d lose half their crowds, with people refusing to give up their cellphones or “put them back in the car”, since the ability to be contacted 24-7 is why they have cellphones in the first place (especially since its the actions of one or two that are the problem). It won’t work any better in Orlando.
There’s also a crucial difference between the two actions. It’s illegal to bootleg copyrighted content, even if an admirable idea is impossible to enforce so globally at the ECW Arena. As far as Orlando is concerned…it’s not illegal, last I looked, to post spoilers of a wrestling show, no matter what the Univeral and/or TNA and/or Panda Energy executives think. Are TNA/Universal executives actually going so far as try to tell us match results are copyrighted?
Do Universal and TNA plan to install cameras around the “Impact Zone”? In bathrooms? Outside the Universal property? Are they going to have monitors walking around the crowd?
Not to mention the fact that telling wrestling fans that they can’t do something is essentially daring them to do it…or having them poast the spoilers under pseudonyms
With the recent sale of Ring of Honor to Sinclair Broadcasting (more on that in a minute)…TNA/Impact is about to become number three, four or lower…not the number two promotion, or even the “number one” promotion they try to market themselfves as. They need every bit of viral marketing that they can get….just to stay where they are. Their buy rates and rating are dropping.
Finally, a few thoughts on Randy Savage. There’s little to add that probably hasn’t already been said. He seemed a very complicated person who had an interesting and incredible career (read Dave Meltzer’s bio in this past weekend’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter to get a real retrospective), and who had finally found happiness after marrying an old flame…they’d been married just a year at the time of his passing.
Many people still remember Randy Savage-Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III as one of the more remarkable matches they ever saw. Even with all the incredible Japan, Mexico, and North American matches I’ve gotten to see over the years…there are few that were as perfect a balance to the cartoon show main event of Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant for the largest indoor crowd in North American professional wrestling history.
A testimony to how many wrestling fans there were at the time can be found in all the mainstream reporting Savege’s death received. EVERY mainstream news source had it as a major story within an hour that day. That weekend. the ESPN report on it was the single most viewed story on ESPN.com all weekend (and this includes a weekend with NHL and NBA playoffs).
Given Savage’s real life baseball background, he’d have probably gotten a smile out of thr news that a Washington Nationals seventh inning “presidential mascot run” this past weekend featured a non-Presidential figure for the first time in history…a figure of Randy “Macho Man” Savage.
Here’s hoping he, Elizabeth, and Sherri Martel were together throwing down a few cold ones in Heaven before the Devil even knew he was dead.
PWBTS’s news feed is now also available at Wrestle World, which can be found at Pro-wrestling.com.
Until next time…
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