Is it just me or is World Championship Wrestling jumping on the current reunion bandwagon? Because I swear over the past few months I?ve slowly seen more and more of their old roster turning up on TNA programming.
However, this isn?t the WCW roster of the late eighties and early nineties which could boast a talent pool containing Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Sting, Terry Funk, Vader, the Steiner Brothers, Mick Foley and Barry Windham. It’s the WCW roster which waved goodbye to it’s loyal fans in Panama City back in March 2001.
Have no lessons been learned? Is Dixie Carter blissfully unaware of what happened to WCW and why it happened? The old boys stayed on top whilst the potential in the lower card floundered, wondering who’s back they had to rub to earn an extra couple of minutes air time a week. Prodigious young talent was sacrificed so Vince Russo could not only put the company’s World Title on himself, but around the waist of thespian David Arquette. Now the same Vince Russo is intimately involved in the day to day booking of TNA, despite his abysmal track record.
When did Sting, Kevin Nash, Mick Foley or Hulk Hogan last walk or wake up without feeling a good decade and a half past anything like their best? Yet they?re all loving life on the TNA roster, winning Titles and cashing substantial pay checks. Are they contributing anything to the company that marquee names such as their’s apparently should? Higher ratings perhaps? Increased merchandise sales? Sell out crowds wherever they go? Try none of the above. They?re not even carrying the torch to pass it to any of the younger generation in TNA, and haven?t carried it since the 90’s.
Take the Bound For Glory PPV last month for example. TNA’s Wrestlemania. Headlined by the legendary Sting defending his TNA World Title against TNA original AJ Styles, a superstar who has already won all the Titles in the company several times over, but what with TNA being unable to effectively book ANYONE, he finds himself fighting a guy with no knees for a Title he’s won twice before, but now it’s supposed to be this big deal because it’s Sting and it’s the main event of their biggest PPV. So the arena’s going to be packed to the rafters and the crowd are going to be uncontrollable come bell time.
Wrong again. TNA had to heavily paper the event with free tickets and still couldn?t give a large amount of them away. Ouch. But then again, when you?re running an event in Irvine, California where you have little to no market, what do you expect to happen? Obviously sticking to Florida and the surrounding areas where the company has a decent following and building from there is too easy an option. When a company’s powers that be can?t even make the simple decisions properly, you?ve got to worry about the product as a whole.
I?m not trying to be ?that guy? and just bad mouth TNA because it’s the cool thing to do. I wish it could compete on a higher level than it currently is doing. I wish the X Division was treated properly and injected with some veterans who actually know how to pace and work a match. I wish the likes of Scott Steiner and Kevin Nash would massage their ego’s at home and be comfortable in the knowledge that they have made their mark on the wrestling business. I wish Kurt Angle wasn?t crazy. I wish Samoa Joe hadn?t regressed over the past three years and also I really wish I?d never been subjected to a reverse battle royal or a Graveyard match.
Competition is healthy, especially in the world of Professional Wrestling. The Monday Night Wars brought out the best in both the WCW and WWF, and for a brief period in 2006 it looked as if TNA was turning a corner and making a bid to become a legitimately well respected and exciting wrestling promotion capable of making Mr. Mcmahon look over his shoulder. Christian was well established in the main event, the X Division had not yet become a boring repetition of the same six guys dancing with each other, Joe was undefeated and wasn?t stabbing people in the face, LAX were taking off and becoming the most exciting tag team on the continent and Abyss wasn?t the stupid loveable retard he is now.
So from being in a position of such promise three years ago, TNA has somehow gone backwards, and fast. Styles, Joe and Abyss should now be the faces of the company but instead have had to suffer through embarrassing sideshow storylines which set any progress they had made back roughly two years to the point where they?ve basically had to rebuild themselves from scratch, and now Styles is once again World Champ with the same disastrous creative team booking his reign. Feel confident TNA fans?
Where does Styles go from here? The talent isn?t there for his reign to be anywhere near as successful as it should be. That’s not AJ’s fault or even the fault of Daniels, Joe or Sting. Sting, as much as I love him should have called it a career with WCW in 2001. He can barely move and just isn?t a draw any more, as sad as it is to say. Daniels is the same ?throw a million moves at a match and see what sticks? style worker as AJ and Joe’s been a mess for about two years unfortunately (if only he?d gone to Japan or to Vince). So who challenged AJ? This is where employing useless ego trips such as Steiner and Nash really bites you in the arse.
Neither of these guys can contribute anything to AJ’s reign. Neither can a practically immobile Mick Foley. Yet the homegrown talent within the company isn?t much to brag about either. Abyss should be there. Jarrett should be too but as is often the case with TNA these days, off screen issues have dictated that he can?t (thankyou Karen Angle). So that leaves Kurt Angle and erm, who else? The same Kurt Angle who may have all the technical ability in the world yet is mentally unstable and historically has always needed a talented opponent to hide his shortcomings (see Austin, The Rock, ?Taker, HHH, HBK, Benoit, Guerrero, Jericho) and to reign him in, otherwise poor old Kurt looks a bit clueless as to how to work a match effectively. Poor old AJ, his reign doesn?t stand a chance.
The sad thing is with TNA, is that the talent is there. It may be raw and unpolished, but it’s there. But the counterproductive nature of TNA’s management is stifling everything that could be great about the company. The product is over gimmicked, even for a wrestling show, and storylines are unnecessarily complicated. The six sided ring may seem ?innovative? but it’s not bringing in any new fans is it? It’s just an obstacle for them to try and wrap their head around. Even the set looks like an amateur effort from an ancient sci fi series. It’s the basic wrestling promotion 101 that’s tragically being overlooked and what we?re left with is a promotion that has spent three years heading backwards and looks set to spend the next three years doing the exact same thing.
Next week I?ll expand upon the problems plaguing TNA and give a more in depth analysis of how to begin curing these problems. No fantasy booking or ?I could run this promotion? IWC type guff, just an honest attempt to highlight how simply TNA could be turned around.
Until next time, arrivederci.