Be Careful What You Wish ForBy Drowgoddess · · 2 Comments
I wrote this last night, and really needed to wash the taste of reviewing “Impact” out of my mouth, so I’m posting it now.
Mocking and criticizing TNA is easy. It’s the wrestling equivalent of kicking an overweight midget down a flight of stairs. How can you not do it? Ultimately, the responsibility for the failure of TNA as a company will lie with Dixie Carter and Jeff Jarrett. Running a wrestling company is like directing a play or a movie. Overall responsibility for everything lies with the director. The director must have a clear vision of the end product and a plan to get there. The director must analyze the strengths and weaknesses of his cast and crew, both during the audition process and during the rehearsal process, and find the best way to showcase strengths while minimizing weaknesses. The director must know who his target audience is and what they want to see in order to ensure the highest possible ticket sales. The director must plan the most cost-effective ways to promote and advertise his production so that people view it as a “can’t-miss” event. Given that all this is true, we all know that as directors, Carter and Jarrett fall short.
Human beings rarely want to blame themselves. The brain is designed to support and defend the body encasing it, often to ridiculous lengths, and the majority of people will cast aspersions on everyone and everything but themselves when something goes wrong (Vince McMahon, I’m looking in YOUR direction). In that sense, Carter and Jarrett aren’t unusual. Wrestling fans, however, don’t seem to have considered that the current state of TNA is everything they wanted it to be. Seriously. Hop in Ye Olde Time Machine (DeLorean or otherwise), and see what so many of us “smark” fans were complaining about in 2004, 2005, and part of 2006 in regard to TNA. We got exactly what we asked for, and unlike Snitsky, it actually is to a small degree our fault. This is not to say that the powers-that-be of TNA scour websites and blogs and then jump to do the bidding of the anonymous masses. Rather, it’s simply a case of being careful what you ask for, because you just might get it.
Point #1: TNA needs big-name draws because nobody knows these guys that they have.
Whether you believe that Jeff Jarrett is a perpetual mid-carder with delusions of grandeur or not, he did and does have a recognizable name. Raven and Jeff Hardy did time with TNA. They weren’t horrifically misused, either. Now, though, they’ve gained and lost Christian Cage. Even without him, the list of current “big-name draws” is lengthy: Kurt Angle, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash, Sting, Team 3D, Rhino, Booker T. Even BG James and Cute Kip were brought in to parlay their New Age Outlaws shtick into something positive. Now, the only people in TNA who get significant tv time and match length ARE the “big-name draws.” They totally dominate everything, and we vociferously object to it. Pretend for a moment that every name listed above suddenly left TNA. What would we have left? Only some of the most talented guys in the business who have been shoved aside on their own show, the show that many of them helped create. Yes, casual fans of WWE wouldn’t have known who Austin Aries or Low Ki were when they were brought in, but the fact that TNA lost both of these very respected wrestlers, who could have played significant roles in presenting TNA as a viable alternative, is nothing short of absurd. Now we have Total Nonstop Angle. Hey, we asked for it, and we got it.
Point #2: The X-Division guys are just a bunch of interchangeable spot monkeys. They need characters.
Different types of matches requires different ring psychologies. That shouldn’t be so difficult to understand. A match doesn’t inherently lack psychology just because it doesn’t look like a WWE World title match. Watch “The Best of the X-Division” volumes 1 and 2 again. Some great stories were being told in those matches, and the wrestlers were actually getting really over on the strength of their athleticism and charisma. No, one doesn’t have to speak to have charisma and use it well. Sure, some of the guys in the X-Division aren’t that great on the mic, but once TNA went to the “shut up and memorize your lines” method so favored by the McMahons, any chance of someone actually finding his groove and exploding onto the scene as the next Rock or Jericho was lost. “Characters” apparently didn’t necessarily mean good or compelling characters. It can’t be argued that some of these guys really do stand out now. Petey Williams is still the mini-Steiner. Jay Lethal is still the Macho Man. Shark Boy was Stone Cold Steve Austin. Sonjay Dutt is still called “The Guru,” despite it making no sense at all anymore with his current look and persona. Eric Young has stopped being Super Eric. The match quality for all of these guys went down as the focus on character went up. Hey, we asked for it, and we got it.
Point #3: Those dueling chants are so stupid. The Impact Zone fans are moronic chantmonkeys, and they need to stop.
They did stop. Very few dueling chants are heard anymore compared to what used to be there. When they do pop up, the intensity is lacking, or they aren’t evenly split. That there isn’t all that much to cheer for, and fans have trouble really getting behind anyone may have something to do with it. Audiences that were once passionately engaged in the show now stand around as if they have nothing better to do than show up at an “Impact” taping. Hey, we asked for it, and we got it.
Point #4: TNA needs more storylines, like the WWE. They’re just having these matches. Where’s the entertainment?
Good wrestling matches just weren’t enough. There had to be more entertainment. When a two-hour wrestling show features between twenty and thirty minutes of actual wrestling, the rest of the time is technically devoted to storylines. Talk shows, interview segments, backstage scenes, and the like consume the majority of the show’s run time. The quality of the storylines was never part of the deal. Hey, we asked for it, and we got it.
By no means are Dixie Carter and Jeff Jarrett absolved of their responsibilities for preventing TNA from living up to its rightful glory. Not at all. The point is that complaining is easy and achieving is difficult. Many of the very fans that trash the current product (and rightfully so) are the same ones who insisted that the points mentioned above needed to be implemented because the TNA of 2004, 2005, and part of 2006 wasn’t good enough. It’s like the episode of the old “Twilight Zone” series, where the man who values his books more than people wants to be left alone with his books forever. He gets his wish, in a vaguely post-apocalyptic setting, but when his glasses are broken and he is rendered completely helpless with no one to help him, he (too late) regrets his desire as ill-conceived. Nobody is going to admit that they asked for TNA to transform into what it is today, but that the transformation occurred cannot be denied. That transformation is by no means permanent, however. There is hope for it to change back. That hope is what keeps many of us fans going.
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