Sunday, September 21, 2014

What is "Must See"?

One of the pitfalls of writing nearly on the daily is coming up with new things to write about and, as I've stated many times, it's very nice having other columnists on a great many websites at my fingertips to consult for inspiration. To that end, I find it profoundly interesting how some try and explain TNA's inability to compete on WWE's level from a talent marketing standpoint, stating that TNA hasn't had a unique "must see" performer on their roster or that they somehow haven't acquired any who fit that bill.....

So MY question to answer is whether of not I agree with that assessment and if NOT, why?

My answer is a loud and proud NO. I do NOT agree with the assessment and I have spent MANY long columns attempting to answer my answer why and I have concluded that it has EVERYTHING to do with TWO things:

TNA's current TV partner's utter and complete inability to market TNA to the masses. Had Spike bought commercial spots during Monday Night RAW or even time during Thursday's most watched shows on national television, you may have seen ratings rise. Just a theory that will never be proven to this day. Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Kurt Angle, even Sting and Hulk Hogan's presence on screen could have pulled ratings if Spike had given the kind of fanfare they would have for WWE. Fact is, during the time WWE was with Spike, PLENTY of money was spent to get the name out both for the weekly broadcast AND Pay-Per-Views. WWE is better for it to this day. TNA? Not so much.

The second factor is fans. I am not above this assessment. It was VERY difficult to let go of WWE completely. This is not to say I am looking to sway people out of WWE's camp entirely, but enough to give another company a try who is NOT on Vince's payroll. It is no secret that WWE fans are rabidly loyal, but they are also creatures of habit. This all boils down to brand loyalty, folks. Fans are used to one way of viewing wrestling, where the heroes are the strong characters and heels are the weak. This is general and mostly recent, but TNA's roster feeds from the heels. Bully Ray was established as a star as a heel, NOT a face. Bobby Roode was built into a star as a heel, not a face. Austin Aries was an anti-hero, not a face. Samoa Joe was at his best during his monster heel beginnings. See the point?

WWE thrives on heroes. John Cena began as a heel, but was quickly turned face and got over fully as a  face. There are some under WWE's employ who have thrived as heels, but by and large, the vast majority enjoyed the greatest success as faces. Kane, Undertaker, Batista, all did well enough as heels, but were cheered and did best as faces.

I make no apologies for being a TNA fan and as such I accept that there are mistakes and blemishes on their record, but they are still only a decade old and their television presence is one third of that of WWE's RAW. Progress takes time. Progress is a process and they've made progress, at least from my perspective. There was a time when TNA's biggest fault was not putting the world title on someone other than the founder, but now TNA is growing up talents into top tier talents, worthy of carrying the title and making said title legitimate.

In my view, "must see" translates to television when a program is given the chance to flourish and I don't see that right now from Spike, which leads me to question why.

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