Reality From Ringside #26
August 17, 2009
By: Doug Lackey of

TNA Chooses Company over Industry

Kurt Angle? Rhaka Khan’s car? a syringe of HGH? a previous DUI conviction? it is all just simply amazing. For those of you who were participating in the Wrestleview chat room while watching TNA’s ?Hard Justice? last night, you probably had the same feelings as I did. Instead of talking about professional wrestling inside the ring and reacting to the action to follow, we were responding to charges, accusations, and newswire reports reminiscent of a really bad movie on The Lifetime Channel.

For those of you who are not aware of this bit of news, I?m sorry but I?m not going to fill you in. It’s just way too long, way too bizarre? after listening to radio shows covering the topic, reading police reports, and watching both locally and nationally televised news organizations cover this, my nose started bleeding and my vision became quite blurred.

With TNA’s ?Hard Justice? come and gone, and Kurt Angle still its World Heavyweight Champion, loud and boisterous voices have been rising on how it is horrible that Angle is still a champion. There have been many decisions that professional wrestling organizations have made in the past that are first met with the typical reaction: Head cocking diagonally like a dog shown a card trick followed by a facial expression akin to realizing you stepped in dog feces. However, after a couple of weeks, you see the storylines pan out on television and realize that the decision might not have been such a bad one in the first place.

With TNA keeping Angle on their active roster, let alone their World Heavyweight Champion, there is nothing positive that can turn out from this. You read me right? Kurt Angle should have been either suspended or released from TNA as soon as the entire sordid situation crept onto the national airwaves. This is not a decision based on character development, in-ring work ethic, or the evolution of TNA as a whole? this is a decision based on public relations not just for TNA as a company, but for the entire industry of professional wrestling.

I can already hear the arguments against my decision as ?imaginary owner of TNA?? and it is time to combat them in full:

What would TNA do about the main event at ?Hard Justice?? Kurt was released from jail Sunday and his court date is?

Stop it. That answer is simple. Before the theme to your pay-per-view hits the speakers and the video package is rolling, have Dixie Carter or Jim Cornette or someone of legitimate authority standing in the ring. Microphone in hand, they explain that due to Kurt Angle’s inability to appear for tonight’s pay-per-view, he has forfeited his World heavyweight Title. How you fill that void is irrelevant with the topic at hand.

How do you explain to the audience what has happened to Kurt?

You don?t. You don?t say a thing about what has happened in Pittsburgh. The viewing public does not need to know anything except that Angle is not there and is no longer champion. State that he has been suspended due to his failure to participate in such a grand scale main event. This not only eliminates the ?Angle problem? but also bolsters your credibility as an organization? as a true competitor to WWE.

If you do choose to air these discrepancies over the airwaves, you are essentially telling your fans that there is even more drama outside of the arena; that there is even more sadistic and inhumane entertainment for them to soak in beyond television.

Letting Angle’s unimaginable real-life drama be known to the viewing public informs them of quite possibly the worst thing you could let out of the bag? that what happens outside of the ring and off-camera is more entertaining than the product you have been selling for the past seven years.

Kurt Angle hasn?t been convicted of anything yet. How can you suspend him?

Michael Vick wasn?t convicted of his dog-fighting ring, but the NFL suspended him. Hundreds of other athletes have been handed many charges ranging from illegal drugs to domestic abuse and have been suspended from their respective leagues as well. Professional wrestling is no different.

But those are professional sports! This is professional wrestling?

But both forms of entertainment deal with the same troubles. While we have always been told that ?Any publicity is good publicity?, this is not the kind of publicity any organization wants or needs, especially professional wrestling.

The amount of time it took for the public to forget the atrocities committed by Chris Benoit, some would contend, is still ongoing. The diabolical formula of performance enhancing drugs and painkillers coupled together with extreme head trauma and physical exhaustion resulting in cataclysmic decision-making is still fresh in the minds of many? whether you follow professional wrestling or not.

Again, this decision is based on the well-being of an entire industry and not just an organization.

TNA has built their entire company around Kurt Angle for the past 3 years. What are they supposed to do with the World Title? and the Main Event Mafia? and?

TNA made this bed, now they need to figure out how they are going to sleep soundly in it. There are ways they can get around it, that is why you have bookers and writing teams.

But they aren?t prepared for it!

It’s irrelevant whether they are prepared or not? it’s what they have!

I could sit here all day and come up with millions of ways how they could get around it. Holding a tournament for the vacant title? the Main Event Mafia in disarray with possible in-fighting to anoint their ?godfather? can make for great on-camera drama? you have other great talent that can main event your pay-per-views.

One performer cannot completely make or break an entire organization. WWE has survived without Hulk Hogan; TNA can survive without Kurt Angle.

It first started with local Pittsburgh news affiliates, the story then spread to ESPN and The Associated Press within 24 hours. The story needs to end now before it is talked about for another two weeks on the American cable news networks. TNA must disavow any association with Kurt Angle before Chris Benoit’s name and heinous acts are resurrected and compared to his own.

If those reasons for Kurt Angle’s suspension or release do not suit you, then consider this final point. This is a man’s life we are talking about; an admitted addiction to painkillers, an already publicly reported marital dispute between him, his wife, and members of the organization who employs him, and charges pending against him involving illegal performance enhancing medications and domestic abuse.

For his own safety and well-being, he must be suspended or released. Kurt Angle needs to be remembered for his Olympic gold medals and outstanding performances in professional wrestling? not as another Chris Benoit.

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