Sunday, May 12, 2013

Survival Tactix: Wiping the Slate? Really?!

On a TNA fan site on Facebook just yesterday, I found a column of sorts about what TNA can do to improve. One admin gives his take on the current state of the company and I, at first, was going to address his grievances on the site in the comments box, but it then occurred to me that this topic might have more space right here. SO, in the spirit of debate, I offer my rebuttal to his assessment of the problems.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I'm sure you're curious about his statements. Without adjusting anything more than a potential spelling or punctuation error, this is the post.....

"I mentioned this before, and here it is: What I would do if I ran TNA Wrestling, in no order. Except the first thing.

*First thing I'd do is look at my development (OVW). Fire talent and search the Indies for new young wrestlers who could make an... Impact in a couple years or less.

*I'd fire a lot of talent who are one the main roster right now. Guys/girls who don't bring much, are getting old, and just need to go already.
I'd fire:

*Bring in new talent for the Indies. Guys who are ready for the big time now. Look at ROH talent, DGUSA Talent, etc. Fresh faces. Guys/girls who could be a champion right away if needed. Like how Kenny King, Austin Aries, and others were.

*Drop the Knockout's Tag Team and TV Titles. Retire those titles and create a new Mid-Card championship title. Hardcore Title, bring back the Global Title, or maybe even create a new name for a championship. The TV title could stay, but you'd need to build it 1,000x better then they are now.

*Stop the triple threat X-Division thing. Yes, the division is finally being showcased more, but really? 3-ways ALL THE TIME?! No, you can build the division better without that. 3-ways are good here and there, but not every week. That's just lazy booking.

*Speaking of booking... In all honesty, I'd hire an all new writing staff. Put TNA under new management. Make it fresh. Fresh writers with brand new ideas/storylines.

*Find ways to hire less WWE guys in any fashion. Wrestlers, writers, management, etc. Yes, bringing in some can be good. Kurt Angle is a perfect person to say worked out a million times better then anyone else, but enough is enough.

*Bring back certain match types that the fans loved. King of the mountain, more Ultimate X matches, etc etc etc.

*Get rid of Hulk Hogan and hire a fresh face manager who could fill the General Manager roll perfectly.

*Hire a new announcer. Taz should go. Enough said. Replace him with someone else who could swap with Mike here and there.

*Make GutCheck it's own online show. Like WWE's Tough Enough. Just better.

*Demand that SpikeTV advertises Impact more throughout the week. Try getting advertisements on other channels too.

*Stop making it seem like the company name is Impact Wrestling. That's the show. Say TNA more!!!

That's all I'm gonna list today. Let me know ALL your opinions in a comment below. {Eric}"

A lot to take in, I'll admit, but when I look at this laundry list of things that "Eric" has in mind it seems like gutting the organization and starting over. With due respect to his position, THIS is the kind of thing Paul Heyman would have suggested and I have stated before here, it would kill the organization as a whole. How? 

You're replacing announcers, talent, writers, formats, managers, and divisions. Unless I'm leaving anything out, that covers EVERYTHING. The fans asked for a new announcer to replace Don West because he wasn't bringing enough to the table as a foil to Mike Tenay, making the product drab and mundane. TNA listens and they see that WWE has an announcer who is tired in his role and is feeling unappreciated so they bring him in and, for a time, people are happy with Taz. When he starts sounding old to some, they decide to try bringing in another play by play to try and establish a more fresh voice in the booth. A revolving door of announcing talents every time they get stale would have seen Jerry Lawler go out to pasture YEARS ago if WWE had that philosophy. 

Replacing talents is such a touchy idea, from my perspective, because there are variables that MUST be considered. What roles do these talents serve in the program? Guys like Chavo, Gallows, Knox, Ray, Devon, Angle, Hardy, and Sting are all in their places to serve as vehicles to bring new talents up. In the time before he was relieved of his place in ring, Desmond Wolfe was one of the premier rising talents and that was due, in no small part, to Kurt Angle. Chavo was brought in as a vehicle to help Hernandez, who TNA has had difficulties inspiring to improve, to do just that. Gallows and Knox were brought in to combine with Devon and Ray to bring up Brisco and Bischoff and help give them a platform to work off of. Jeff Hardy has been used to get Austin Aries AND Bobby Roode into the top tier as well as helping to establish a new top heel in the company. IF veterans are on the list of those to put the axe to, you're missing the entire point of why they were there in the first place.

While I will echo TNA's need to retire the Knockouts Tag Team Titles, I'm FAR less apt to agree with exiling the TV Title. Granted, it hasn't been defended on a consistent basis, but a second tier title is something TNA COULD breathe life into. For a while, when Devon demanded a shot at Samoa Joe for the title he never lost, it seemed as if that title was going to rise to prominence once again, but a lack of consistent enforcing of even storyline rules has made mockery of the belt. Apparently, defending the title every week is too much effort. THAT should never have been a rule in the first place. A 30 day rule seems sufficient to accomplish that goal. My point is this instance is that it need not be retired, only tweaked in format to make the title worth fighting over again.

TNA has a quarter of their staff from WWE. 25%. Seriously, that's all. I'll never understand why so many people complain about it. Okay, I get that most of these people hold high positions in the television landscape, but asking the question of why isn't so hard to answer. Why is Ray the top guy right now? Because TNA builds best by emphasizing their heel characters. That's their strong suit. They can do magical things with people in a heel role. It worked for Anderson in his feud with Angle. It worked for Desmond Wolfe. It worked for Bobby Roode and Austin Aries and Samoa Joe and Daniels and a HOST of other performers. Questing back into TNA past will PROVE that some of the most memorable face victories came from MONTHS of a reign by a HEEL champion. Jeff Jarrett is my favorite example. His reigns made Christian and AJ Styles look GREAT as face champions. THIS is where WWE fails MISERABLY these days. Their heels are forgettable and THAT, in my opinion, is a true shame.

The writing staff. This issue is one that makes me scratch my head. In TNA's history, there has NEVER been a more stable group writing the shows. There was a time when the shows were having difficulties maintaining a sense of continuity, but NOW, storylines are being planned out MONTHS in advance in order to make sure things are following a set structure. This is something MUCH needed in TNA right now and I wouldn't change their staff at all. So you don't like Aces and Eights? Fine. Wait until the story gets over and see where things go before recasting roles. 

I get the idea of putting the hammer down on the 3 Way match stipulation with the X Division, but in respect to history, most of TNA's best matches WERE multiple man events. Ultimate X, Terrordome, Xscape, King of the Mountain, and the World X Cup were ALL multiple talent match formats and no one ever complained. For the record, the single highest rated match EVER in TNA history was a Triple Threat Match. Joe vs. Daniels vs. Styles at Unbreakable 2005. Do I agree with all 3 ways? Not particularly, but it IS a step in the right direction and, if it eventually leads to a more flexible way of putting talents into the division in one on one action, I say let it play out.

I saved OVW for last because THIS is where TNA has a good sense of vision. WWE has done a good thing in trying to establish new ground by putting more energy into their NXT developmental show. I think this was a grand gesture and one TNA could do more to establish. TNA did a good thing in putting together the Gut Check format because it sends the right kind of message to talents out there. I view Gut Check as NXT scaled back. Because of the financial constraints, Gut Check was destined to be a smaller event, but in retrospect, NXT was very much the same thing in its beginnings. Why do I put Gut Check into the same conversation as OVW? Because that's where those with less experience under their belt went once the Gut Check Challenge was over for them on television. Taeler Hendrix, Sam Shaw, Alex Silva....they all went to OVW to train for their eventual return to the TV roster.

So what's the solution? Without going to further length here, I believe the changes are minimal. A little more emphasis here, a little less there, but nothing drastic, at least not in the forefront. There MAY come a time when a more visible adjustment is made, but the current format is gaining TNA attendance numbers for live shows that couldn't have been foreseen a year ago. This is a good thing, people. Just appreciate that and work with what's there and don't try to shellshock new fans from a misguided sense of nostalgia.

1 comment:

  1. I follow that fb, to me that admin you're talking about doesn't know what he's speaking of and never battles any counter points I make. Actually no one ever does. Lol I like that page but some of the people running it (mainly and only eric actually) and following it don't seem to even watch or keep up with TNA on a daily/weekly basis! But hey thats just one guy I'm referring to. Your column on the other hand is awesome! Keep up the good work