Tuesday, March 20, 2012
The Fans Need To Demand Better From TNA
I know that when you read my posts, you must think I have a deep hate for TNA. You must think that I just get off on ripping them to shreds and dropping a nasty steamy wet deuce all of them and their product. Maybe you think I'm a WWE agent in disguise poisoning the minds of wrestling fans who follow and listen to me so that Vince McMahon can monopolize the business again. Let's make fun of the booking. Let's trash the talent. Let's ignore their programs and PPVs. And let's make them seem as inept and clueless as Forrest Gump on a shrimp boat. Well, they don't need me to that, because they're doing a perfectly good job doing it themselves.
Let's set the record straight - I do not HATE TNA. Never have. Never will. As a matter of fact, it's the absolute opposite. I want them to succeed. I want them to give the WWE a run for their money. I want Vince McMahon to have sleepless nights in fear that TNA will grow to be something bigger than he ever expected and come close to positioning themselves as a legit threat to his WWE Universe and empire. I want TNA to rise and grow and give independent workers around the world the opportunity to perform on an alternate stage. I want TNA to be a counterpart for the WWE. I want it to be an option for talent to work, make a living and support their families. I want TNA to lead the charge in rebuilding the local and regional territories so that it helps grow that talent, give them the needed experiences, and offer them the opportunity to travel the nation building their names in smaller markets who are equipped to give them the exposure needed.
If there is anything I hate in wrestling, it's that Vince has destroyed the business. He turned it into a circus and entertainment whore. He took away opportunity. He became the end all/be all. Workers will never have the chance to be stars in smaller territories, work different TV, get press from the "Apter Mags", and let them earn their stripes in the business. It pains me to see what this business has become. I got actively involved in the pro wrestling business in 1992. 20 years ago, I broke in the old school way. Today, the only way in is who you know and who will vouch for you. Today, there is only one road. Today, if you don't work for the WWE - then you're just a weekend warrior.
When TNA first opened its doors - I was excited yet skeptical. I love the notion of having another place. Especially one that had the mind of Jeff Jarrett. I have a great deal of respect for Jeff - as performer and as a man. My skepticism came from whether or not Jeff could afford to compete against Vince. But then I realized that was their magic. They DON'T need to compete. Doing so would be an automatic failure. It would be like going to war against a modern army while we are only equipped to fight with sling shots. Unfortunately, Vince wins the money game. But TNA could have easily won the passion game.
When TNA first started, it gambled on hungry no-names. AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian - to name a few. The product was innovative. It had a touch of entertainment, but it was more about wrestling. It wasn't just what wrestling fans craved, it was what they needed. There was a traditional sense to the product that made it a sport again.
When I was asked to be the booker of NWA Cyberspace in New Jersey, Billy Firehawk had already been bringing in TNA talent. But they were still unknowns. He knew there was opportunity to capitalize but didn't know how to capture it. I told him that the solution was not only to build ourselves as a strong northeast independent promotion - but for us to build the TNA brand so that we could help them grow in different markets. No one in New Jersey really knew who America's Most Wanted was, but once TNA got a TV deal - they'd remember that we were the promotion who brought them to you FIRST!
My plan was to help build TNA Wrestling so that fans around the country would demand it. My plan was to run the unofficial TNA house shows in New Jersey so that their wrestlers could become household names. I gave TNA Wrestling my unconditional support because it I could help them grow, having them on my roster would help me grow.
Sure, there's more to the story. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bishoff are there now. Most TNA originals like Chris Harris, Matt Bentley, Elix Skipper, Sharkboy and a host of others are nowhere to be found, while a host of failed WWE experiements and old timers have occupied their spot on the roster.. And I'm here talking to you instead of working with TNA or still running indy shows. We'll save that story for another time.
The point that I'm trying to make is that after signing Hogan and Bischoff, TNA immediately thought they were ready to go head to head with Vince McMahon on Monday nights. Needless to say, that was a train wreck and the product has been ever since. I can't pout all the heat on Hogan and Bischoff - even though I think they are the cause for the future death of the company. TNA forgot what made them different. They forgot what their mission statement was. They for got that "wrestling matters". You can't blame the workers. They have to play the hand they are dealt. What you do in the ring is what YOU do, but they story you tell is what THEY write.
Vince Russo was instrumental in the beginning of my career. He gave me advice and opportunities like no other. And I have always had the highest regard for him. I consider him a mentor and a friend. You can't judge Vince Russo until you met him and get to know him. Like myself, he marches to the beat of his own drum. But what he has in mid for the product in this era and what he has written, I can't say that I agree with. So when it was announced that he recently parted ways with TNA, half of me hurt for him as a friend - but the other half knew it might have been the best thing for the company right now. On the flip side of the coin, I think Eric Bishoff is a bigger cancer to the product than any other factor right now. I respect what Bishoff has accomplished int he business. I respect how he almost put WWE out of business while in WCW. But if look back at WCW's product after the nWo's effect had already worn off, it was absolutely TERRIBLE. And now, TNA has become a ressurection of what WCW was during it's dying days.
Bischoff thinks and operates like a business. You need that mentality for success. You need that shark to negotiate TV deals, merchandising, and more. Creatively, he's killing the business. Deep down inside, he wants to be Vince McMahon. He won't admit it, but Vince is his God. So while Bischoff runs though Dixie Carter's money, and Hulk Hogan still believes that in 2012 - he's still the hottest act in the business, TNA will continue to fail miserably. There are dozens of workers on the roster who have no clue where their careers are headed, how long they will last, or how they will pay their bills working for slave wages. Fans bleed from the eyeballs watching a product that logically makes no sense because the booking is piss poor and not thought out to accommodate the bigger picture. The business mentality is to strike fast, strike hard, and get out with whatever you can - rather than the traditional way of building the interest, getting fans emotionally involved and manipulating them to pay for the big reveals and answers
It pains me to watch TNA because I know how much it hurts the TNA originals who are there hoping it gets better and hoping that they are not wasting away the bestt years of their lives. How many times do you see kids playing in the street and them saying, "I'm AJ Styles... I'm Bobby Roode... I'm Samoa Joe!!!"? How many kids are dressing up as their favorite TNA wrestler for Halloween? How many kids are playing with their favorite TNA action figure and writing their own storylines?.... ZERO! Jay-Z said it best - "Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don't!"
But there is a silver-lining to this love letter. TNA is still alive. Yeah, it may be on life support, but it still has a fighting chance. TNA is still pumping money into the product. They still have a prime time show on Spike TV. They still run monthly PPVs. And they still have a roster full of talent who have the eye of the tiger and are ready to shake up the world. The only thing they need now is...YOU! ...Yeah, YOU! ...The fans!
It's up to YOU to demand better from TNA. It;s up to YOU to tell them that you don't want to see them die and get owned by Vince McMahon. It's up to YOU to get them to make their product stronger and invest more into their homegrown talent. It's up to YOU to push them, because in silence it all dies. In silence, they will think what they are doing is right and effective. In silence they will settle for being second best and then shift the blame on the talent. It's time for TNA to take responsibility and own up to their flaws. Reexamine what they have become and admit to their weaknesses. Michael Jackson infamously said, "I'm looking at the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to make a change."
It's your money. It's your passion. It's your time. All being wasted on a product that has stalled for years. DEMAND better from TNA. Tell them you believe in them and are disappointed in their effort. Tell them what you want, who you like, who the REAL stars are. You have to speak and sometimes scream. And when the voices are loud enough, they'll listen. They want your money! They want you to be fans! They need you to be successful. So in order to earn your hard cash and loyalty, they need to give YOU what YOU want. The social media networks give you direct access to them. It's time for wrestling fans to demand better from TNA Wrestling!