Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hardcore Survival Tactix: ECW Revisited....

Well, I've been asked to respond to TFC's assessment of ECW. What's more, I'm being asked in a very public forum to comment about a conversation where two views of ECW come barreling towards one another and though TFC was heavily invested in the short-lived eastern promotion, I was not. I was introduced to the wrestling scene in the early 90's and was transfixed by the leaders of the WWF and WCW of the day. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and The Undertaker were running strong and taking names in the process.

Though my attentions were rather focused, it turns out that SOME kids (me) tend to try out the moves to see how they hurt or don't as the case may be, on their brothers. SO, my parents put me in the penalty box for a good portion of my childhood. NOW, once I WAS able to get back into the swing of things, a few years had passed, leading me into some of wrestling's finest moments; Jericho's debut in WWF, Hogan's heel turn in WCW, and the like. Now that we've got some of MY history behind us, we can move on to my assessment of the 9 year incarnation known as ECW.......

I would like to speak to TFC's statements that ECW's 9 year run was "one of wrestling's most important eras in wrestling history." When ECW's first World Heavyweight Champion, Shane Douglas, helped make the Paul Heyman and Tod Gordon led Extreme Championship Wrestling a separate entity from the NWA of the day, and forcefully so I might add, they set the tone for what ECW would eventually become....a break from what tradition had been up until that point. NOW, that having been said, it was Douglas' words on the day of ECW's inception that IMMEDIATELY turned me off to the product. Even now, the promo burns me in a bad way.

He insults Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, the Briscoes, Lou Thesz, and a long list of legends beyond, using them to introduce Extreme Championship Wrestling's new belt. From the business end of things, ECW was running on the red line from shortly after Tod and Paul began their independent venture until they filed for bankruptcy in 2001. Granted, they managed to garner some mainstream attention by sideline promoting off of WWF's already established air time, but to call them a real contender to even a second place spot would be foolhardy at best.

While men like Steve Austin, Terry Funk, Mick Foley, RVD, the Radicals, and others passed through ECW, to think they either hadn't been discovered OR offered work elsewhere would be COMPLETELY inaccurate. Some owe everything they have to the ECW product for whatever notoriety they still have, but by and large, the talents the major two wrestling companies wanted, they ended up with anyway. So what do I give ECW credit for?

I've got a couple of things in mind to thank ECW with. First is talent. Without ECW, the Dudleys, Steve Austin, and a host of others wouldn't have hit pay dirt. Second is a story. Paul Heyman made no bones about the fact that HIS agenda was to put Eric Bischoff out of business. Irony of ironies was that Bischoff wanted to do the same to Vince McMahon and NEITHER one succeeded in their plans. In fact, BOTH were bought out by Vince. And the last thing I credit ECW with is a short term escape from normal. The hardcore format may not have been one that could last long term on its own, but there is something to be said for a flash in the bucket.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Survival Tactix: Arrow....

I suppose you're wondering why I give this column the name belonging to a DC Comics' inspired vigilante crime drama. I would be too, if I'd never seen the show, but the fact of the matter is that some monumental things happening in that show have some very interesting parallels to what's happening in TNA. Wrap it all up with a little twist of WCW to involve a bit of wrestling history and you've got a neat little appetizer for what will become the main course.

Now before I go into parallels, let me give you just the CURRENT plot points relevant to this post.....

Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) is now a lone wolf after being abandoned by his childhood best friend AND his most recent cohort in cleaning up the city......

Roy Harper, a young man from the wrong side of the law, has been saved from death and believes he owes the Green Arrow for a second chance to do things right....but has been betrayed by the law for doing right.

This is all I need to build a case, folks.

Let's start with point one.....Sting was abandoned by Hogan and was TURNED on by his most recent "friend", Bully Ray. When the lights went out in the traveling Impact Zone and the Icon was holding the bat to Hogan's face, it was clear to me that this Sting has no allegiances....yet. While I realize the parallels might SEEM completely happenstance and even a stretch for some, to me, all the details are simply fringe. The primary story still holds.

In a way, I would compare AJ Styles to Harper. I get that he began his journey into darkness as the shining knight of TNA's white bread heaven, but what it all boils down to is that he was "betrayed" as much as a wrestling character can be done the disservice, by the "law" or TNA management. Keep in mind this is all just surface level stuff here and the details won't line up perfectly due to other character interactions, developments and weave of story, etc.

Matt Morgan has been pushed in one of two directions...into the cut the faction offered AJ OR into the CAMP of AJ, which is what I've been predicting for the better part of a week now. Hulk Hogan is burning bridges faster than he can build new ones and it will all come down to the final scene of the story when we'll see some kind of cohesion in the face and "tweener" characters, which is more than I can say for now.

According to, TNA's treatment of the Joseph Park character is a long term deal, which WILL play out this year. This can mean that ANOTHER prediction of mine could potentially come about, namely the return of the "Monster". He, too, has been dealt a bad hand by the powers that be, or at least a case can be made for it, no pun intended. As for the actual timeline? That's entirely up for debate, but my opinion? TNA is going to want to ride this thing out for as long as they can to try and cultivate some interest in Park and invest in his plight. It will, I fear, seem like things aren't moving, just as things didn't seem like they were in the weeks leading up to Lockdown, but if TNA stays the course, I believe the actual RETURN of Abyss will take place AT or shortly after Bound for Glory. When you look at Hogan as the symbol of the "law", perhaps Joseph Park fits that bill even better than AJ, but I digress.

I've got this feeling that all of the things we're watching right now are in locked position for a major plot building drive come August or even earlier. This means that MY timeline would tend to ramp up with the shadowy meetings between AJ and Sting, an eventual confrontation between Sting, AJ, Matt Morgan, and Joseph Park and Hogan and his Army AND Bully Ray's Aces and Eights. Sowing the seeds for this could start even as soon as next week with the return of Chris Sabin. SO, next week will be an interesting one and things will continue to be interesting leading up to Slammiversary. I'm excited for what could potentially come of the developments.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rants From Ringside: What If? ECW Edition

What if? So, the other day while I was writing my blog about Mick Foley I was talking to Tactix about what he thought about ECW. Now our backgrounds are a little different. I basically have not stopped watching wrestling since I was 2 or 3 years old, whereas Tactix missed a good part of the 90’s professional wrestling. This is one of the few topics where he and I greatly disagree. I believe that ECW, the original ECW, not the Vince McMahon ECW, was one of the most important eras, if you want to call it that, which has ever happened to modern professional wrestling.

To start things off, I want of course am going to acknowledge the yes, the hardcore movement definitely started in Asia. Now that we have that out of the way, my argument is that it was really ECW that brought that more hardcore style of wrestling to the United States. If it were not for guys like Mick Foley, Terry Funk, Tommy Dreamer, Rob Van Dam, Sandman, and so many more, the business would not be the same today.

During our discussion the other day, the one thing that Tactix kept bringing up as being the most important contributions to the world of professional wrestling that ECW ever gave was the talent. Yes, guys like Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and a whole host of others came out of ECW, just like a whole bunch of the guys wrestling today came out of Ohio Valley Wrestling or Ring of Honor. These two companies, I believe are also major, game changing parts of professional wrestling, so it’s not like I am discrediting them while holding ECW on a pedestal.

Our conversation then morphed into what would the business look like now had Vince not bought ECW out? Tactix brought up a good point; it was eventually going to go out of business anyway. Frankly it was almost there when McMahon had bought it out. Paul Heyman was a terrible businessman who was in financial trouble. His talent wasn’t getting paid, so they were leaving the company to find a steady stream of money. All of this I totally agreed with Tactix about.
I guess my point during this whole conversation is that they were really the first to bring the hardcore style of wrestling into the mainstream. I would almost venture to say that without ECW there might not have been an Attitude Era. I don’t know if maybe we have a different outlook on things because I was there through the rise and fall of ECW and I was such a huge fan of the product that they were putting out, or if there is a little bit of wishful thinking. But I guess there is always this little part of me that hopes for a new company that give me the excitement that I got when I was watching the ECW guys push the boundaries of what they could show on television.

Since I haven’t talked to Tactix in a day or two, I don’t want you to worry bud, my love for TNA is not fading in the least. I still feel that TNA is putting out the best product in the business today. I still have a major distrust in the way WWE is being run and I don’t think they are ever going to get back to the heights that they once were. I just wish there was a more gritty, hardcore, passionate style of wrestling out there today. If I could take the Heymans love for the business, mix it with Dusty Rhoads’ creative mind and Vince McMahon’s business sense into one body. That would be the guy I would want running the company.
That last sentence was also for you Tactix. I know we greatly disagree on the creative end of professional wrestling so I really do hope I can get some kind of feedback from you buddy.
As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Survival Tactix: Battlefield 2....TNA's Reckoning

In news to perk interest, Dixie Carter refers to a GM "War Room Draft". What could this mean? Well, if you subscribe to a military application to the current climate of the show, it could mean that Hogan is going to mandate a group of guys to serve as moderators surrounding the ring as Bully Ray and he have their little face to face we've been waiting to see for some time. I covered some options in another column, but this little something poses something I hadn't thought of, which is a refreshing thought. Imagine that, a pro wrestling company pushing me to think outside the box!

There is simply no good way to transition from TNA's high point to WWE, so I'll just use the best words I can to explain it. I TOLD YOU SO! I'm sure you're wanting to know why I'm gloating and with good reason. In the week following Wrestlemania, The Rock was inexplicably absent from television. The WWE Universe was told Rocky had sustained an injury at Wrestlemania and may require surgery. If that weren't enough, a story began to emerge that Mr. Johnson was at a movie premiere just 5 days after the event, smiling grandly.

Varying reports still swirl around that The Rock has had surgery and even posted pics, which I would rather NOT see, but now something new has begun to surface.....The Rock apparently wants out. It was reported by that when Rocky first decided to make a return, Vince was the orchestrator and man in charge and as such gave The Rock everything he asked for, from another title run all the way to working with John Cena. What began to turn everything south was a personal distaste for Vince's son-in-law, Triple H, who was been given even more control over backstage decisions and had become involved in the talks The Rock had been having with WWE. As stories vary here as well, it IS clear that the two don't see eye to eye and when talk of working a program with Brock Lesnar once more began, Rock said he wasn't interested and, as a result, talks began falling apart, leading to COMPLETE uncertainty as to whether or not he's actually done wrestling for good. Truth be told, if he ISN'T done, there is THAT reason to think that one old friend may be able to sway his allegiances elsewhere. Who? Jeff Jarrett. I'll let that sink in.....

Two other stories from within WWE came to me that make me believe the entire thing is just waiting to come off the rails....first up? Cody Rhodes. In the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania, it was communicated to him that he'd be wrestling on the card, but at the last minute, things changed and he was pulled. Rhodes was said to be furious and has been upset with WWE Creative for some time now over his role in the company as he was led to believe he was going to be a major player in the days to come. His Twitter account is no longer active and he's gone somewhat underground in terms of his demeanor towards upper management.

Lastly is the WWE Title situation. Ryback and Mark Henry are also on the fast track to furious over their treatment at the "Grandest Stage on Earth". Ryback was another who was given the bait and switch when he was told that he'd be given the title and then was thrown off the trail. Granted, he's being primed as the man to challenge Cena and may even come out of Extreme Rules champion, but his demeanor hasn't changed. Related to that, Mark Henry also voiced concerns with his return to television going so far as to tell the execs that if he wasn't going to be a major player in the coming months, he wouldn't return at all.

Maybe my title isn't as appropriate as it might be if it were to read "WWE's Reckoning", but what all of this is to show is that WWE isn't without bald spots in their armor. TNA is doing well and needs to continue keeping their product fresh as it is beginning to show signs of life after the punctuation of Bully Rays promos segments explaining the agenda of the Aces and Eights, but if things continue to play out as they have been, with little movement on the major fronts, we'll see even more viewership losses as we're already beginning to see right now. So maybe my title IS appropriate after all....interesting....

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rants from Ringside: A Tribute to Mick Foley

Recently, Mick Foley officially announced what we already knew; he is done as an in ring talent. I am very conflicted when it comes to this news. Mick Foley is by far my favorite performers of all time. I catch a lot of flack for that because he is not athletically gifted, but hey, look at Hulk Hogan. Now, don’t go all crazy thinking I am saying Mick is on the same level as Hogan. But I am saying that if it were not for Foley, the attitude era may not have existed and it sure as heck wouldn’t have been the same had it occurred without him. On the other hand, I am glad he got out of the wrestling aspect of the business when he did. His body was beginning to break down pretty quickly and because of the time off he has had when was inducted in to the HOF the night before Wrestlemania, he looked good. He was walking tall and his back was straight, which was something fans had not seen from him in quite some time. I loved watching him “pin” Jericho for the 1,2,3 that night.
But with this announcement I started to look back at the impact that Mick Foley has made on the business. You know, they call Tommy Dreamer the “Innovator of Violence” and that might be true that he is the man who helped bring the hardcore style to the popular scene, but the funny thing to me is that Mick had the idea of how violent pro wrestling could be back in the days when he was simulating suicide for a home movie. He talks about it in his first book, “Have A Nice Day,” that he knew the moment he saw the shock on people’s face that pro wrestling was what he wanted to do for a living. In my mind, the real “Innovators of Violence” for America anyway, is definitely Mick Foley and Terry Funk. Don’t get me wrong if it weren’t for guys like Dreamer, Sabu, Sandman, Rhino, The Dudleys, etc. etc. the hardcore movement might not have made its way to the US and there sure as heck wouldn’t have been an ECW. Now, a very close friend of mine does not agree that ECW is such an important part of the history of professional wrestling. I feel like in the short few years that ECW was given, it was growing a nice fan base of people who knew what they were talking about when it came to the business. The problem came when the top guys started to leave and things went down the crapper. I guess what I am trying to say is that Mick Foley was one of a handful of guys who took what was going on in Asia and brought it to America. It can be debated why the hardcore scene is not still around like it was in the day of ECW.
But Mick’s impact does not stop with the hardcore movement. He was also one of the first guys that I can remember stepping up and saying, “you know, I may not be the most athletically gifted performers out there, but I am going to make the fans love me by showing them the passion I have for this business.” It had been done before by guys like Hogan and Jake Roberts and countless others, but Foley is by far the most vocal about it. He has found fans through his humor using characters like Dude Love and having gimmicks like Mr. Socko. I was so happy when I heard that Foley was being inducted into this year’s HOF and I was even happier when I heard that Terry Funk was going to be his inductor.
In closing, I want to thank Mr. Mick Foley for putting your body on the line for the business that you love. I want to thank you for being a performer for the fans. I also want to thank you for just generally being the major impact on professional wrestling that you have. I don’t see you leaving the business altogether, but if you do think about it, please think twice. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Survival Tactix: Face to Face....

Thursday, TNA is advertising a possible face off between Bully Ray and Hulk Hogan. We now have the potential for some closure.....or something else....The way I see it, we have any number of ways this whole event could go down.

1. Bully Ray and Hogan have the face off and Hogan is beaten down, which brings out Hogan's heroes in Angle, Joe, Magnus, and James Storm, with a bandaged but resolute Jeff Hardy in tow. This, in turn, brings out the rest of the Aces and Eights, leading to a rather brutal beatdown on the heroes, but then the lights go out and when they come on again, there stands Sting, AJ, and Matt Morgan with equalizers in hand and they work on the Aces and Eights and just when it appears that they're the heroes, they turn on Hogan's Army and dispatch them as well to end the show.

2. There IS no face to face and instead we have another beatdown of Joseph Park, drawing him into his character story, possibly leading to a return of Abyss.

3. Hogan and Bully Ray face off and we get promo-mania leading to a possible in-ring return in some sort of street fight rules confrontation.

In the interest of seeing TNA getting to the peak of public awareness, for my money I say the first is best. It allows for a greater length and more weaves and turns, including the return of Abyss, the influx of some of the old Gut Check guys, and even the potential of a female ambassador. If all things were equal, I'd pick Sofia Cortez to side with the Aces, Lei'd Tapa to side with TNA, and Taeler Hendrix to side with Sting's Squad.

The point is, right now is prime real estate in terms of TNA's path of growth. The Gut Check tourney challengers are looking pretty good. So long as Lufisto, Chase Stevens, and Shanna get in, I'll be happy. In the meantime, I patiently await TNA's announcement that the Televised Tournament begins soon. It'll be something special and you can take that to the bank.

Survival Tactix: Solutions and Problems.....

In a report just this week, Bruno Sammartino had the chance to meet with Vince McMahon Wrestlemania weekend in the hours before the Hall of Fame ceremony. In that meeting, Bruno complimented Vince on his new product. This shows that SOME enjoy the product now, but there IS news that shows it might be coming off the rails.....

CM Punk is said to be having some SERIOUS problems with WWE's Creative Team. In fact, some reports are going so far as to say Punk went to ask for his release after a disagreement. As a way to diffuse the situation AND allow him time to heal, WWE upper management made the call to take him off TV for a time. Rumors abound, however, about how long he'll be away. Some believe he's worked up enough to insist on being away until SummerSlam, while others believe he'll be back much sooner. Only waiting and watching will show which is which.

Moving over the line into TNA, attendance numbers are remaining strong and members of the management team are happy with them moving more tickets at their live events. Now, officials are looking at how they are going to rein in new viewers to catch their show at home. Taking the show HAS helped, make no mistake about it....and I've covered my take on the problems more than what I would like to do is delve into a few performers on the roster who could make a good addition to the TV utilized bunch.

1. Taeler Hendrix.....I've spoken my disgust at TNA's lack of forward movement for their newly acquired talents via Gut Check, but no opinions are quite as strong as those for Miss Hendrix, the first female Gut Check winner. She earned her place last year and has yet to be brought to the surface for a proper showing in ring. We're talking about a match that lasted less than 5 minutes for an Open Fight Night challenge with Tara and, with all due respect for those in high rank, THAT'S NOT ENOUGH!

2. Joseph Park.....I want to see some movement here. Mr. Park is Abyss. We all know it to be true and, unless the man is sincerely wanting to be done with the Hardcore Rules character, I'm thinking it needs to come to a head sooner than later where Bully Ray has to answer for his deeds at the hands of the monster. I've got my own ideas as to how this meeting could come about, but however it's done, it needs to come soon.

3. Matt Morgan.....So far, his promise to clean up all of Hogan's messes isn't materializing. I do hope there's movement on THAT front VERY soon. The question I'm asking is if he joins up with AJ and Sting to battle the Aces and Eights without having to join Team TNA. I certainly hope so...

4. Jay Bradley.......Since Bradley isn't a member of the Aces and Eights final roster, he SHOULD be a member of the shadowy team that's responsible for taking them out. Matt Morgan, Sting, AJ Styles, Jay Bradley, Abyss, and a couple more......

5. RVD......Why him? Let me put it another way.....I said that TNA doesn't need his expertise anymore, but if the powers that be are set on bringing him back, THIS is where I'd put him.....

6. Sam Shaw......He's been waiting patiently for revenge and has been denied. When the call comes, he'll be ready. He hasn't forgotten the beatdown he got upon his debut.

If TNA decided to go full bore with a three team-three way dance type of match, it'd bring the house down, make no mistake. The teams......

Matt Morgan, RVD, Sam Shaw, AJ Styles, Jay Bradley, Abyss, and Sting

Devon, D-Lo Brown, Wes Brisco, Garett Bischoff, Anderson, Knux, and DOC

Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy, James Storm, Magnus, Bad Influence

I realize that Bad Influence hasn't been featured as a face team as yet, but with AJ driving a spike between them and them not being a part of the Aces and Eights, it makes sense to turn them closer to the face side of things. Like it or not, this is a HUGE list of performers and having them ALL featured on TV on a near weekly basis is quite the feat. That's 21 people, for those of you Math majors out there. 21 people on a single storyline and, when you take into account 2 to 4 Knockouts per week, 3 or 4 X Division performers, and 2 or 3 Tag Teams, that's 29 to 32 members of the roster each week on TV. Out of a nearly 42 member active roster, that's HUGE! I dare WWE to come close with all the shows they've got running right now.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rants from Ringside: What is goin on with WWE?

First of all, I want to apologize for my absence from this site for a couple weeks. I am currently staying at a friend’s house and all my efforts are going into finding a job and an apartment. Plus he lives out in the boondocks and his internet is crap. But I will continue to blog whenever possible.

The fallout from Wrestlemania has been about as uneventful as you would have expected. So, I really am not going to talk about that all that much. What I will talk about is some of the mistakes that I noticed on the April 15th episode of Raw. Now I know that I go after WWE a ton, but that is simply because they make it so easy. This was never more evident than on this week’s Raw. The show started off pretty smoothly, boring, but smooth. The first mistake that really jumped out at me was during the final moments of the R-Truth vs. Wade Barrett match. The whole match had been mediocre at best but the interesting part came when Truth went in for the pin. The 1, 2, 3 was counted and all three men, Truth, Barrett and the ref looked at each other like, what the hell just happened. Truth’s music started pretty much instantly and it was swept under the rug. Now WWE will never admit this, but I am pretty sure that they did not want one of their champions to be beat by a lower mid card talents. Now, I am sure they are scurrying about trying to decide how they are going to play it. In my eyes only one of two things can happen from here. Either Truth gets his 500th push or Barrett is going to get buried. Now I know some of you are going to be asking how Truth can get a push and Barrett not get buried at the same time and you would be right, that is a third plausible option. So let me lay it out for you how I think each of those options would work out.

Option #1: Truth gets a push and Barrett does not get buried.

Truth starts coming out talking about how he beat the Intercontinental champion yet he is not carrying the belt and he wants to rectify that. Then he is thrown a few of the top contenders at him beating each and every one while Barrett is also thrown some of the top guys beating them in convincing fashion. This storyline culminating in a Championship match at some PPV and they have a knock down drag out war. Truth wins this and Barrett does not look terrible because of all the fight he put up.

Option #2: Truth gets a push and Barrett does get buried.

This one is pretty simple, Truth beats every one of the top contenders that they throw at him while Barrett loses in non-championship matches that are thrown his way culminating with Truth finally getting his title shot and beating him at some PPV.

Option #3: Truth does not get a push and Barrett still gets buried.

This is the road that I believe WWE creative is going to take. They are not even going to pay any attention to the fact that Truth beat Barrett by not giving him any kind of push but I do think they are going to punish Barrett for not kicking out like he should have by letting him get beat some more by lower mid card guys. How long this will last, I don’t know, but I do think that he will keep the belt for a while maybe even long enough to get him out of the “funk” that he is in and he will return to being the deserving champion that he is now. The key here is that he will be buried for a while as punishment for his screw up on RAW.

This was not the only screw up on RAW that I caught. During the showdown between Cena and  Ryback, there was a 5 to 10 second cut away of The Shield backstage. Basically giving everyone the knowledge that this showdown was going to end with them coming out. I don’t know what the cause of the massive mistakes were this week on RAW but I am not getting my hopes up that they are going to get any better. I mean, we are talking about WWE here.

As always, thanks for reading and I would love to hear your feedback on anything WWE.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Survival Tactix: Grieving Losses.....

Today is a hard day. In fact, this entire week has been full of heartache and woe, beginning with the attack on the Boston Marathon and continuing with the explosion in the area near Waco, TX, but punctuated by the poison laced parcel sent to the capital. For those affected by these tragedies, I send out my personal condolences, prayers, and best wishes for recovery from any injuries sustained in any of the events this week.

So with this post, I would like to simply make a plea to those who read this column to pray and keep those afflicted by the week's events in your hearts today. This short post will be my moment of silence in memory of those lost and in honor of those still coping with the aftermath......

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Survival Tactix: Selling....

What is TNA's biggest obstacle right now? Divisions? Talent pool? How about TV time? I offer that TNA's largest hurdle right now is selling their product to an increasingly fickle casual wrestling fan. I would like to qualify that before we move on.....these are a few qualities I would suggest would be parts of the makeup of today's casual wrestling fan:

- Strong face booking
- Short term storylines
- Monthly episodic PPVs
- Glint and glam (Production, lights, cameras, etc.)

To go any further with my assessment would do a disservice to those who are loyal to the WWE brand and that isn't my intention here. To go a bit further into it, TNA's product is grittier, darker, more edgy, and has a FAR more over the top heel character development and deeper characters in general. Since the reduction of PPVs TNA is putting out in the episodic style, the emphasis on long term booking has been in full swing and, in most critics' minds, successfully so.

What DOESN'T help is something I have to concede to those same critics. Hulk and Brooke Hogan being squarely in the middle of the biggest storyline on camera. Quite frankly, it makes Hulk look larger than the stars of the show he claims to support. NOW, if he were to be relegated to the background somehow as he was during the tenure of Sting as the acting General Manager, things might look a bit differently. To the credit of the doubters, Immortal was a black spot. Couple that with the Victory Road debacle and you have an alienating factor that is hard to overlook. History can be amazingly unforgiving and, to put an even finer point on it, so can fans.

Time hasn't helped. Despite the many readers of columns just like this one, and there are a few out there.....the numbers haven't changed here in the United States. So how do you sell the current run of programming to a new generation of fans looking for something to sink their teeth into? The first thing is consistency. TNA MUST continue to put on a respectable show each week for their own sake. If there's a more perfect side by side pairing than time, I'm not sure what it is. Simply having a consistently great show isn't must hold the course. And lastly, there must be balance. I'm referring to balance in divisions, storyline, character development, pacing, and everything in between.

If fans are having trouble with the one show they CAN watch right now, a second show isn't going to help one bit and those sitting on the sidelines are just going to have to wait their turn. You can coax; you can offer great deals on merch; you can even meet them where they are, but if you can't convince the old school fans that there IS something out there worth getting a look at, the entire enterprise is a fool's errand, and nothing can change that.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Survival Tactix: Business Strategy 101

Okay, we've gotten out of the Impact Zone and into the open water...the question is "what now?" Over the past couple of years, I've touched on a few business side items that would help (i.e. second show, etc.) and also been keeping track of TNA's progress in terms of numbers. For starters, TNA has never enjoyed such success, putting up 3-5,000 fans at each event to date SINCE Lockdown. Does this mean they've made it? Not by a long shot, but with Vince making even more sweeping changes to further tone down the WWE product, I can only believe this to mean good things for companies like Ring of Honor, CHIKARA, Dragon Gate, and TNA. Wrestling fans love wrestling. Simple as that. When the top dog isn't willing to provide that, some will simply fall away, which is truly a shame, but others will look around to find there ARE other promotions that will offer a great show for only a portion of what they already sacrifice to see.

I've said it many times before, but TNA is now what WWE WAS shortly following the Attitude Era. I could site examples and turn this into a column about comparison/ contrast, but that isn't what I want to talk about here. The question I ask you all.....WHAT NOW? What comes next in TNA's growth path? What are they ready for? What do they need to hold off on?

I said nearly two years ago that once TNA could gain a more secured following, they'd be able to travel the road with their show. As it turns out, they decided to go this thing on faith a bit earlier than I expected, but in their current state, they've turned out some pretty impressive crowds, for TNA standards, anyway. SO, now that they've begun making new friends by going to THEM, the next question on THAT front is.....can they make the jump LIVE week to week or do they keep things as they are for a time? If I were a business planner, I would tell them to stay the course. They've already given the product a facelift from a production quality standpoint, taken the show on the road with a semi-live broadcast schedule, brought in a new format for choosing new talents that involves the ever changing fanbase, and built a more stable roster. This might be a good time to sit back and rest in the success for a season.....for the real work is to come.

TNA NEEDS more TV time and they need it within the next couple of years, otherwise they run the risk of losing some of the talents and acquisitions they've worked so hard to secure contracts for and fans won't get to see them shine on the bigger spotlight they've scored. Spike TV is a good home for TNA and I don't think that needs to change. Why? Because anyone who believes that the network makes any difference at all has a very inaccurate rearview of history. WWE held nearly the EXACT same time slot on Spike on Monday nights for about 5 years and they outperformed their current ratings on a consistent basis. In fact, some would call their stint on Spike an even harder situation as this was during the retooling of the network from TNN to their current incarnation. Often times there is a ratings recession during a network reformatting. There was when G4 and TECH TV merged. There also was when the Sci Fi Channel went to their current SYFY format. What's the point of all this? There are some out there who claim that TNA needs to leave behind Spike TV in favor of a "more visible" channel, but this is, quite simply, in error for just some of the reasons stated.

I believe I've said enough for THIS column, but there is plenty more to be said for business strategy and I will elaborate on where TNA can afford to expand. Until then, I will keep saying what I always the patterns.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Survival Tactix: Glancing Sideways.....

From an interested fan of stats as they relate to Wrestlemania this year......

Just an observation.....nearly HALF of the card's matches were over by 7:57, when I began following the event. On another note, there was no Diva's Title Match, Intercontinental Title Match, or US Title Match on the show itself and, aside from the normal inflated opinions of The Undertaker's performance,  the card seemed like a lame duck. Since I've only seen a few highlights and have little interest in filling in the gaps, I'll simply state that Wrestlemania season isn't what it used to be. If you feel like disputing that fact, watch Wrestlemania X8 and then go back and watch Wrestlemania'll see the difference.

I'm of the opinion that TNA is STILL the company to watch right now due to the magnificent leaps forward they've made into the year. This is a company that WILL compete with the big dog soon enough. If anyone has any impression that Full Metal Mayhem coming out of Wrestlemania week was coincidence, put that thought aside. TNA knew full well that there would be a lot of disappointed fans with the card WWE put together. SO, they pulled together a strong card to try and upstage the "granddaddy of them all".

Tag Team Title Match-2 of 3 Falls (If Chavo and Hernandez lose, they disband)
World Title Match- Full Metal Mayhem
Gut Check Decision
AJ Styles gives his decision

Bet on something unexpected to come of all the secrecy, because TNA is keeping their lips sealed. No news has come out of Nashville since Dixie Carter met Stephanie McMahon for the first time last week. Usually, no news is good news. I still hold that this will hold true again.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Survival Tactix: The Numbers.....

There has been some discussion as to the end. The finish. Where it all goes to die. You won't get any denial from me. I've been wondering too. Where does the Aces and Eights storyline finish? Is the World Title all there is? If the World Title is the final stop, then the end is nearer than anyone can possibly imagine. IF, however, it isn't the World Title, but rather the entire COLLECTION of titles, THEN we have something to talk about. Bear in mind that if TNA has a full blown roster war in mind, which would be AMAZING, if done properly, there are THREE parties involved. Face, heel, and loner; representing elements of both.

Another key element here is knowing who's in charge. Since Eric Bischoff became the Executive Producer for TNA, some of his fingerprints have been on this story. Part of the appeal is that some things that worked 20 years ago still work today. Mystery factions, mysterious intentions, and a loner who doesn't speak.....sound familiar? Hulk Hogan wants us to remember. So where is the twist? How about the one he's been referring to? Sting.

TNA already has a lone gunman in AJ Styles. The question Sting the beginning of a new stable and if so, to what end? I've made overtures towards a roster war for a while now, and it makes me stop and consider exactly what the implications are. Do we have another look at history and the splintered nWo factions? Do we look at both vs. WCW, which was the exception to the WarGames format in the first place? Where do we find some answers?

I'd like to ask a few more questions, if I may. Last year, Devon was "released" from his contract and then returned as the Sergeant at Arms for the Aces and Eights. Rob Van Dam's contract "supposedly" ended at the end of March. In a recent interview, he told the reporter he'd be returning to television soon, but wouldn't go further into explaining where he'd be working. Is he joining up? Is he defecting? Or is he another member of a faction? Are there OTHER X Factors? Crimson? Sam Shaw? Alex Silva? How about Jay Bradley?

The point to all of this is simple. TNA has been planning the end of this for the past two months. Does anyone really think they don't know where they're going? Looking at the promos Bully Ray cut explaining the precision of the Aces and Eights gambit, you'd be a fool to think otherwise. Now, consider all the excess people sitting on the bench right at this moment. THIS is the best way to use as many people as possible without having to create a storyline for each one. AND, as a bonus, it allows for this third dark cowl faction to be integrated into the current setting, making room for even more people to find their way onto the television screen. Any MORE questions?

Survival Tactix: Let No Man Separate....

Bully isn't divorcing Brooke....which means we're all stuck with her until only the Almighty knows when. *sigh* It's not that she COULDN'T do the job, but her execution of some of the simplest things has seemed so labored and foreign that she may as well have not tried. She's NOT a "natural", as her father has put it, on more than one occasion.

So how would I do things differently? Now HERE'S the fun part.....

First, I would force this whole bad husband thing into a place where SHE provides the divorce papers and puts a restraining order on him. This provides her with a way out, since Hulk isn't going to "fire" Bully Ray. Exit Brooke from my TV screen.

Who replaces her? NOW we're getting to a place I really would rather talk about. See, the wrestling landscape, in my eyes is teeming with former champions who could fit the bill. Let's explore.....

Lita- As much as this would be a fun idea, her current relationship with a certain former WWE Champion *cough* CM Punk *cough* would put a conflict of interest into a potential working relationship that she might otherwise have had.

Trish Stratus.....This one couldn't be more obvious, but stranger things HAVE happened. Tara went so far as to "retire" from the big E just to get out from under her contract. HOWEVER, since she's under contract to WWE for even a Legends deal, this one is also out of the question.

Ivory.....NOW we're getting into a possibility. Provided she has any kind of interest at all in putting her feet back into the business, even if only a rudimentary way, she'd DEFINITELY be a candidate. She's a former champion on the big stage, she's got a look that could be workable. She can DO those simple things I mentioned that Brooke cannot.

I'm doing my best to put possibilities behind someone who could STILL mix it up if she had to, in order to get the job done. SO, that narrows my field of interest to a few people.

Nikki Roxx.....This might come as a shock to some, but IF she were to be confronted with the prospect of not having to worry about job security, being treated more fairly than she was in the past, AND being featured in a more prominent way, she'd be ONE of few who could do the work demanded and then some.

Molly Holly.....If ANY of you remember a column from a long time back, she was my pick to replace Karen Jarrett. That opinion hasn't changed. Her name might have to, but with trademarks only lasting maybe 10 years, she may not have to, provided TNA picks up the name before WWE gets the chance to renew. In any case, she's my first choice yet again as she still has name value AND the credibility to be able to earn some much needed respect for the Knockouts Division as a renowned worker during her wrestling career.

Traci Brooks......This one is ALSO possible. Why she was never considered, I'll never know. They DID have the chance to make use of her shortly following the Karen Jarrett saga, but they didn't. It made little sense to me at the time, but it makes more sense now.....they wanted to give someone from OUTSIDE a chance to do the work. Now that Brooke hasn't fit the bill, I think Traci would ALSO make a good VP.

Madison Rayne.....WAIT!! WHAT!??!?! Yep, you read that right. See, here's the thing. She's pregnant. She can't get back into the ring for a while. I say why not? Could they still write her back into the division once she's able to compete at her normal pace? Absolutely, but this would be a way for the public who have been fans, like myself, to not forget about her actually being a part of the division.

Whatever the case, Brooke's time as the Knockouts VP needs to come to an end. The storyline almost demands it. If they had to, TNA could simply close that title and rank down and just not have replacement at all, but since they HAVE had a VP for as long as they have, it may not take, but I digress.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Survival Tactix: To Do List.....

Well, if you're reading this, today is a red letter day for you. Why? Because there is a great deal of stuff that you can do to put TNA, and yourself in a better place than you were before. You want to know what I'm talking about....good. I was hoping you'd ask. Lemme give you the rundown.

1. Join the loyalty program. If you haven't logged into TNA's website, you'd have no way of knowing what I'm talking about, but then, you also probably wouldn't be reading this blog either. In any case, the loyalty program, humoring those who DON'T know, is TNA's way of giving back to those who visit their website. Each time you visit, you get loyalty points, which you can then redeem for options in their catalog. Fair warning, if you go to TNA's FACEBOOK page, you'll have a much better chance of seeing the thing in its entirety. For whatever reason, if I try to access the catalog on their website, I can't see the whole thing. Go figure. In ANY case, you can pick up all kinds of free stuff. Free shipping on orders, 10% off coupons, action figures, even a Brown Bag Special, if you've got the fortitude to powerhouse in everyday and earn 30,000 points. If you haven't been, you should.

2. Vote. If you haven't been to TNA's website, go for THIS reason above all others today, even if it's just to have a long hard look at what TNA has for their selections. You might be pleasantly surprised as to who's on the radar. Keep in mind that this is only the beginning. Most of the people on the list show enough promise to be ON the list, but not enough to move further than that.....hence the selection process to be aided by YOU. This is something WWE would NEVER do. Why? Because THEY want to pick who you like. Not the other way around.

3. Watch. Tonight is the return of Petey Williams, people. If you have no idea who that is, you haven't been watching long enough and should simply go to YouTube and get yourself an education. By the way, on a sidenote: Those who have no idea who he is, you probably believed the Spear or the F5 were the greatest thing since sliced bread, but until you get a view of the Canadian Destroyer, you had no idea how wrong you were.

ALSO, tonight marks the debut match of Taryn Tarrell. If you haven't seen her perform in ring, give HER a look on YouTube as well. She isn't polished as of yet, but she has more skill than just about anything Vince is giving a shot these days. I like to put it to people like this....if Taryn puts her mind and effort into her ring performance the way Tess did, the Knockouts Division will be FINALLY getting back on track.

For one last reason to watch, we've seen how Bully Ray did is the face-to-face between he and his bride. For the first time since Lockdown, Brooke and Ray have it out. Even if this is nothing more than story advancement, I'm all in. Why? Because in spite of all the seemingly wasted time, Bully Ray's promos tightened the storyline back up, making things look FAR better NOW than they looked when they were happening, or NOT happening, as the case certainly looked.

Before I go any further, I'd like to ask those at TNA's Creative Control if they have any news about what will come of the Knockouts Tag Team Titles. Anything? Here's a newsflash to you guys, you've still got Eric Young on TV! He IS one of the Co-Holders of said DO realize that, yes? Just saying, it MIGHT behoove you to retire the belts or DO SOMETHING WITH THEM! Okay, I've stopped the "hulking" rant. Returning to normal.

Here's the point to all of this.....if you've been away, come on back. If you already watch, don't break the trend. If you have no clue what to watch tonight, give TNA a shot. With so much on tap for Impact tonight, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Survival Tactix: One in the Gut.....CHECK.....

For those of you who remember the DISASTER that was the Gut Check Voting bracket system, you're in for a 1 day, TNA restarts the WHOLE thing. As for those who will qualify? This is where it gets interesting.....Each bracket is only open for 2 days. This beats the last system, where the whole system would have taken FOREVER just to get the brackets narrowed down.

NOW, I want to stress that some of the performers on the last set of ballots aren't there on this round, but this isn't saying all is for naught. For the record, I'm not all that excited with SOME of the selections in the first few rounds of voting. I AM, however excited about a few that, in my opinion NEED to be picked up ultimately.

Lufisto......I don't care who gets passed up by voting for her. She NEEDS to be HIGH priority on TNA's list of definitives.

Sugar Dunkerton....He's got charisma, a stand out persona, and a desire to be added to TNA. From MY perspective, these are MUST haves. Add to that a natural talent in ring, and you've got a versatile character.

Facade......He's one part Amazing Red, one part Sabu, one part Christian York and THAT equals 100% worth watching.

Shanna....."Portugal's Perfect Athlete" makes ME think twice about how things in the brackets can be shifted. The fact that she's in Dunkerton's bracket makes me take two sides of the roster building coin. On one side, she'd be amazing on a bigger stage AND perfect for the Knockouts Division as a standout pick up. On the OTHER hand, Dunkerton would make a strong contender in the mid-card, to start, just to see where it could go.

Chase Stevens....What can I say? He's a "Natural". What's NOT to like? His mic skills are untested, but he's an undeniable contender in ring, he can be flexible in terms of his position divisionally, and he's got the size to be a menacing foil to Matt Morgan or any other big man, for that matter.

Keep in mind these are just a FEW from over 150 on the list. Tomorrow the first bracket choice is Holly Rocamura. On the first set of listings, her name was Holly Davis. Why her? She has a unique look AND she could play the psycho part to offset the likes of Gail Kim OR Tara, provided she can hang in ring.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Survival Tactix: Ask for More.....

TNA is bringing Full Metal Mayhem back. TNA is bringing Petey Williams back. TNA has left the Impact Zone behind. TNA is making new champions. TNA is recruiting OUTSIDE of WWE. TNA is saving their fans money each month in favor of bringing a solid, well built card that is steeped in lasting feuds that have been building for months...all to make the hard earned dollar well spent. Here's my challenge.....ask for more....

In 6 months' time, TNA has done something spectacular....they've come to look like a contender in the face of Wrestlemania's glint and glam. Do I think TNA has the momentum to put up numbers in Boston like they did in Texas? Absolutely. In fact, with the explanation of Bully Ray of how his plan came about, which was genius, by the way, they swayed some serious critics. As I've stated before, I DO read the analysis of some of the major players in the IWC and even THEY have admitted to have been skeptical, at first, but were won over by the explanation of how everything was played out.

My question right now is very simple......what more could we, as fans of TNA ask for?

King of the Mountain?
House of Fun?
Last Rites?

These are only match types, but performers are beginning to see how much TNA is growing as a company and that there is much more room available within the company as they take on new challenges. I have to believe that there's a way to bring about a second show that hasn't been utilized thus far. If THAT were to happen, the sky is truly the limit for those who have had to ride the bench for as long as they have. If I were running the roost, I would probably use the house show during the week as the taping for the second show INSTEAD of holding a true house show. Whether this would work or not would depend entirely upon how well the storylines are constructed AND when they would choose to air said show.

Keep in mind, these are just me thinking out loud, so to speak.

Survival Tactix: AJ's Next Venture.....

The question of what AJ's ultimate agenda is has been in my ears as of recent. While I haven't heard any scuttle from the top as of yet, I DO have a bit of news that perked my ears and made me question how possible it could be.....

Petey Williams HAS been signed by TNA once again to a full time commitment. Why is this important? For one, spoilers are reporting a win in his return match, making him a part of the next championship match for the X Title. Does this mean a permanent return to the division? Some would say yes, but I happen to believe it doesn't. In fact, I get this feeling there's more to his return to TNA than just an X Division throwback. Does anyone remember this?

The return of Petey Williams makes me think that a possible tandem could be on the horizon, pairing Styles with Williams, Sting, and Matt Morgan eventually. What does THIS mean? Well, about two years ago, I posted a column about a custom faction war featuring four teams in an elimination style match up. NOW, I realize this only is TWO factions, but with Hogan's heroes (Angle, Joe, Magnus, and Eric Young), the Aces and Eights (Devon, Knux, D.O.C, and Anderson), and a spot for a brand new faction to rival both, my question is why not? Sting, Styles, Williams, and Morgan is a good bet and Sting convincing AJ to join up wouldn't be a stretch. 

WarGames, anyone?

Now that TNA is in a leading position to move forward, THIS is the time to capitalize on something WWE will NEVER do.....put forth a gimmick match that WCW invented. Yeah, Lethal Lockdown was nice, but it wasn't WarGames, no matter how close Sting gave the impression it would be when he brought the idea to TV. When would I debut said match? One of TWO places......Slammiversary or Bound for Glory. You want to roster war? THAT'S how it's done.....put them all into a multiple ring situation and let them pound out their frustrations and, when the dust settles, we sort out the pieces.

Rants from Ringside: Weekly MMA Update Edition

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know my roots. You know that I come from another blog that was mainly about MMA. Well, I kind of got out of watching Mixed Martial Arts for a while, but lately I have gotten back into it and things are as exciting as ever so I was talking to Tactix the other night and I asked him if he was cool with me starting a weekly column about what is going on in the world of MMA. This is not simply going to be a UFC news column. I am also going to cover Bellator and any other smaller organizations. Basically if it is important to the sport I am going to cover it. So let me jump right in to what I have found interesting the past couple weeks.

On March 16 at UFC 158 Georges St-Pierre took on and destroyed Nick Diaz in a unanimous decision. While this was one of the most anticipated fights to hit the UFC for a very long time, the fight itself ended up not being the biggest story out of that night. GSP came to the cage wearing his Gi like always but the difference from every other fight was what was on his martial arts uniform. It included the rising sun symbol. This caught the eye of what some call an up and coming young fighter named Chan Sung Jung. Now the reason I discredit the “up and coming young fighter” title is because the “Korean Zombie” as he is known has been around and popular for a few years now. He is not up and coming he is just newer to UFC. Well, Jung saw the Rising Sun symbol and was understandably offended. For those of you who don’t know why he would be offended by something that you see quite often in America, please allow me to give you a short history lesson. Under Japanese Militarism many horrible things have been done to many Asian countries. People have been wrongfully imprisoned, tortured, even killed and it is something that is almost swept under the rug by most people. In an open letter written by Jung to GSP he explained that the Rising Sun symbol is much like the German Hakenkreuzflagge (Swastika flag of the Third Reich). GSP and Hyabusa Fightwear, the makers of the Gi, have since apologized for the use of the symbol and have vowed not to use it again in upcoming fights. As of right now the controversy is laid to rest.

The other bit of interesting news that has come out of the MMA world over the past two weeks happened March 23rd when the World Series of Fighting took place in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Again the prime story of the night came from the main event of the night, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson vs. Andre “The Pitbull” Arlovski. The New Jersey State Athletic Commission went on and on about the WSOF getting a new canvas and corner pads, so much so that they almost canceled the show if they didn’t get new ones. That little issue was fixed and the fight was given the go ahead to continue. Most of the night went great, no big deal. The first round of the main event is where things took a turn for the worse. At 5:03 of the first round “Rumble” hit “The Pitbull” with a punch that would not only drop him, but would break his jaw as well. But let’s back up a few steps. Why was the round still going at 5:03? A normal MMA round in America is 5 minutes long. This round ended up going 5:08. That extra 8 seconds gave Johnson the opportunity to land that blow and change the way the fight could have continued. “The Pitbull” was left having to fight the following 2 rounds with a broken jaw. The New Jersey State Athletic Commission needs to pay a little less attention to the mat and corner pads and more attention to the PEOPLE WHO COULD IMPACT THE FIGHT! Sorry about that, I get a little heated when it comes to athletic commissions making stupid mistakes like this. How hard is it to hire someone who knows how to keep time?

I didn’t want this post to be this long, but those two stories were what really interested me over the past few weeks in MMA. The following MMA Update posts are going to be similar but sometimes they will have predictions, recaps of events, or just random stories like this one. Thanks everyone for reading and let me know in the comments what you think about this. If I get good feedback,  you never know, maybe I will make it more than a weekly thing.