Reality From Ringside #42
December 7, 2009
By: Doug Lackey of

TNA’s Training Wheels

It was a long day last Saturday (12/5/09); I put in a grueling 12-hour day at my store, getting dry-mouth from talking with every single customer that would walk through the door.

The joys of a successful close and the smiles of the satisfied patron would easily be countered by the haggling consumer and looks of disbelief when I lower the boom of how there is no way they are going to find a 52? LCD TV of my high quality for less than $1400.

Eh? such is the life of a salesman. You know who to concentrate on and who to just cast aside knowing your time would be wasted. Though it does sound crass and impolite, I?m not being paid hourly. I work on commission.

Why do I bring my typical workday into the forefront of this week’s ?Reality??

After reading one of Wrestleview’s headlines when I propped my feet up from Saturday’s tiring day, my eyes sparkled and I licked my chops like a rich couple had walked through my door. Ascot-wrapped, gray-haired husband with yachting-trophy quality wife alongside while carrying her beloved ?Foo Foo? terrier in her free hand.

?TNA going head to head with WWE Raw?

Of all the criticisms I get about my views of professional wrestling, the most vocal seem to be about how many think I have something against TNA. Ever since predicting their folding in five years time last June, many believe I?m wishing them to fail.

Far from it. I want TNA to succeed but not necessarily become an equal competitor with WWE. It’s sort of like how you prefer a nationally-known chain restaurant on a regular basis, but every once in a while you go to a smaller chain because you just need a change is all. You still go to the nationwide chain because it’s what you grew up on, but you also want to be open-minded? you never know what you may stumble upon.

After reading the headline and glancing through the snapshot paragraph-length report about Hogan, Carter, and Bischoff making PR-induced cameo appearances on Spike TV’s ?UFC Ultimate Fighter?, I felt as if The Impact Zone were regular listeners of Wrestleview’s own ?Friday Fishbowl?.

Adam Martin and I have been stating that TNA’s biggest problems seem to revolve more around marketing and campaigning when it comes to bringing up ratings. One of my suggestions: Appear on television shows from the same network you appear on. So it shall be said, so it shall be done? I guess?

Below are my gut reactions to reading the quick blurb of a report about TNA’s potential head-to-head competition on Monday with WWE:

1) This is probably a one-time thing, not going to be permanent at all. Since it is Hogan’s debut, why not have something that monumental for that company try to take away from Vince’s ?flagship?.

2) Just because TNA is competing directly on WWE’s timeslot doesn?t necessarily mean that one is going to gain/lose ratings while the other does the opposite. When one goes to commercial, what’s going to keep me from changing the channel to the other show? If I don?t like one segment, one quick flip to the other will give them the opportunity to convince me.

3) This is a great way to entice people to watch your Thursday night shows and try to turn Thursdays into just as big of a ?wrestling night? as Mondays have been for over twenty years. Use the return of Hogan mixed in with ways to re-introduce your characters and brand of wrestling to new viewers. Now is the time to concentrate on audience growth, not maintaining the audience you have now.

That expensive couple walked through my doors. I showed them our glorious 55? 1080p LED television with built-in content library and wireless networking capabilities. The two country club members are genuinely excited, even the toupee-sized mongrel in the wife’s hand is smiling with enthusiasm.

As any salesman knows, there is one question that the customer can ask that immediately destroys any kind of joy in the sale? like someone defecating in the front yard you spent all day tend to.

?What’s the best price you can give me on that??

Money has now become an issue; the price is too high for what they want and now I have to dumb them down to a product that is within their price range and convince them that they don?t need the biggest and best for what they would like.

Foo Foo is snarling, the wife has turned her head, and the husband is disgusted that the price he gave only qualifies him for a 32? 720p LCD from a no-name brand. The sale has been lost and all my time used building a great product to potential buyers was wasted.

TNA’s equivalent of this atrocious and buzzkill of a question came from their press release regarding the Monday night show. All I really need to do are highlight the ?best price? lines? you can sense how my nods of enthusiasm were replaced by a disappointed ?Aaaawwwww??

1) This ?iMPACT!? special will broadcast live from the TNA iMPACT! Zone at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fl.

What this means is that the same Cool Ranch Doritos-gnawing, Mountain Dew-laced audience members of every TNA taping for the past three years will be in attendance. Rows and rows of twenty-something men who have never touched a woman or a bar of deodorant, dictating the mood and tempo.

It will be the same as any other TNA TV taping or PPV event? chants of agreement on anything that happens in the ring athletically, but no reaction to characters or personalities.

2) ?TNA iMPACT!? will resume its normal timeslot on Thursday, January 7th at 9:00 PM ET/PT with an encore viewing of the live ?iMPACT!? special.

You have built this great product and organization full of performers and reintroduced them to a ready and willing audience on Monday night competing against whom you regard as ?the evil empire?. After this program? you next ?brand new? episode won?t be for another ten days?

If there’s one constant about professional wrestling fans and their inherent traits, it’s their horribly short attention span. Does TNA really think that whatever they have planned on January 4th will be so groundbreaking that people will be enthused for ten straight days, with possible reinforcement needed three days later on a Thursday encore?

More to the point? what is the point of watching the Monday night show anyway when it will be re-aired on Thursday? Why should I stray away from the product that I know will entertain me and give TNA a chance to take it away when I can just watch it on Thursday?

It’s a mild sunny day on a January in Orlando. My seven-year-old son TNA wants to try to ride his bicycle without the training wheels. He wants to ride with the big kids on his street. I fold my New York Times and place it on the end table, moving my glass of scotch on the rocks so the condensation does not wet my liberal literature.

Slipping on my red velvet robe and stepping outside, I see TNA eagerly sitting on his bicycle. His two string bean legs dangling from the sides, the tips of his toes barely touching the driveway below him. A dry smile runs across my face as I walk into the garage and grab my socket wrench.

With each twist of the wrench as I take off the wheels, I can feel TNA’s little body bounce up and down on the seat. His first taste of freedom of transportation? his chance to become just like the big kids.

Training wheels off, I clutch on the back seat. I tell him to start pedaling. TNA begins to slowly pedal with my firm grip balancing him up. After 40 feet of strolling down the sidewalk, I slowly release my grip from TNA’s backseat.

It’s truly a genuine moment. ?You?re doing it, son!? TNA looks behind him, a light chuckle slowly emerging from his tiny lungs. His legs try to pedal faster and the speed intensifies. As he increases velocity, his front wheel begins to wobble. TNA’s mind is telling him too many things at once. Grip the handlebars! Balance! Slow down!


TNA’s frail underage body lies motionless on Mr. McKenzie’s lawn. Losing balance, TNA’s body wanted to pedal faster instead of slow down, causing him to fall over to his right side. While TNA planned on introducing himself to the big kids of the neighborhood, he introduced his face to Mr. McKenzie’s new steel-reinforced mailbox.

?Oh well,? I say to myself as I light a cigarette. ?I guess we?ll try again Thursday.?

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