Hello all, and welcome to the 2nd edition of I GOT TILL 5!
First of all, I would like to thank everyone for the overwhelming feedback I got for my debut column last week. It was bloody brilliant, and it made writing this weeks column much easier. Cheers lads.
Saying that, I am in a bit of a rush for this weeks column due to unforeseen events taking place, so I’ve decided that I won’t be answering any questions / commenting on previous comments from last weeks edition until the very last “State of Wrestling” issue where I take a look at everyone at once and try to sum up my feelings on Wrestling as a whole. This also means that this column won’t be as detailed as I’d like it to be and for that I apologise, but I encourage you to raise questions/topics for debate in the comments section.
We move swiftly on to todays topic of discussion, TNA Wrestling.
I honestly thought that I’d be ready to bash, blast and insult every single little thing about TNA. But thats not fair. I’m going to come right out and say it, TNA makes mistakes. TNA makes a LOT of mistakes. Some of these mistakes have been unforgivable, others have just been stupid. But TNA has done what everybody was begging them to do for years and years. They’ve improved.
There’s a lot of dark shadows in TNA of things simply labelled “But we don’t talk about that”. Yes, the reverse battle royale was a stupid fucking idea, but Bubba the Love Sponge was an even stupider idea. Allowing this moron to be part of the broadcast added nothing to the product, except for the fact that he was Hulk Hogan’s friend. Look at how well that turned out for him. It’s sad when so much attention is focused on non wrestlers in an effort to boost a smaller company. WWE can get away with it because they’re the fucking WWE. They are the biggest wrestling company in the world, bar none. TNA doesn’t have the “entertainment” source that WWE has, and needs to remember that they still need to grow in baby steps before they can think of tackling the giant. The only good thing to come from Love Sponge was Awesome Kong punching him in the face. Although this led to her firing and the (sadly) doomed Kharma story.
TNA is often criticised for bringing in Pacman Jones, an American football player with no previous wrestling experience, into their company and having him win their tag titles with Ron Killings. What’s up with that? (harharhar) Some have likened this to “WCW Booking”, which I think is slightly unfair. It wasn’t their world title. It does come off as a desperate attempt at boosting ratings, however, and whilst I wasn’t watching TNA around this time, hearing about this happening made me feel sad. For years I tried desperately not to be angry with TNA, but silly things like this and the never ending Booker T/Robert Roode feud and the Battle Royal/Cage Match/Ladder Match/Head Shave/Catch Fire/Swim with Sharks matches that were over booked, over complicated and stank of Vince Russo were just dragging the entire image of the company down.
Even now, with the signing of King Mo and most recently Rampage Jackson to the roster, it seems a bit desperate to some fans. However there is a small saving grace here in that TNA looks to actually be doing something pretty damn smart. First of all, Rampage is a huge wrestling fan (I know nothing about King Mo) so he will at least try his hardest not to make what he does suck balls. I have faith in the guy to actually be excited and care about what he does, not completely half ass it like most of the Raw Guest Hosts. Secondly, MMA is fucking huge right now. TNA are being very clever in buddy-buddying with the industry and have often made references to MMA in the past, with Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe especially in a series of amazing matches.
Yes, TNA has problems. Allowing Jeff Hardy to wrestle completely off his face and then barely punishing him was stupid as fuck. It’s a sad state of affairs when they reward someone who proved that he was a danger to everybody, but I can see where they’re coming from. It’s hard to let someone go off on their own when they’re in need of help. They did the right thing in my opinion in keeping Jeff on board so that they could get help for him. What they abso-fucking-lutely should NOT have done was have the guy go out there in front of an audience and try to WRESTLE a fucking match with Sting.
Before this turns into a laundry list of things that TNA has done to annoy me (there’s a lot of them) I will now turn to the good that TNA has done.
Okay that’s a bit harsh. TNA’s wrestlers are amazing. They have some of the finest talent to ever step foot in a wrestling ring. James Storm, Bobby Roode, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, Austin Aries, Chris Sabin, Tara, Mickie James, Gail Kim…
Two years ago if you told me that Bubba Ray fucking Dudley would be a world champion I would have laughed in your face and called you a cunt.
Bully Ray has become my favourite part of TNA Wrestling. I always enjoyed the Dudley’s. They were never the best wrestlers out there, sure, but they were entertaining. They made me laugh. And they introduced me to Tables. I was very happy when I learnt that they were in TNA, as it now only allowed people that bit of nostalgia, it also allowed younger fans to be introduced to them. All sunshine and roses, I thought.
But they got old.
They were much slower, much more predictable and frankly didn’t seem to be enjoying what they were doing as much as they used too. I’m not sure if this is true, or if it’s just my more adult state of mind, or whether or not it’s simply the size of the crowd that was in the Impact Zone, something just seemed off about them. When they split I groaned, fearing that they would end up directionless. When Brother Ray changed his name to Bully I sighed, and was ready to accept that he was done. D-Von’s stupid feud with The Pope (whatever happened to him?) and his kids didn’t help either.
And then Bully Ray just took off. He found his niche. He found his calling. It was wonderful. And this, in my opinion, symbolises one of the greatest things about TNA Wrestling.
They know how to evolve.
The product may be, at times, fucking ridiculous, but TNA always changes. It doesn’t stick to one mould constantly and always feels somewhat fresh. It may not always be right, it doesn’t always work, but TNA is always thinking ahead. The Aces & Eight’s storyline is very hit and miss. But it’s allowing a new breed of characters to be born, as well as letting already well known faces change who they are. And you have to commend them for that. They’re at least trying. And for once I finally feel like TNA are actually hitting runs instead of striking out.
I’d love to see TNA succeed. I would LOVE to see talent negotiate with rival companies the way they did in the 90’s. Not so much a Monday Night War version 2 (or 3 depending on whether or not you count TNA’s absolute flop into Monday Nights) but at least some real, honest to god competition. TNA has a much better grip on their divisions. The tag team and X-Division scene have been staples of what makes TNA so great. There have been ups and downs to both, and of course to the KO Division, but they have always done a much better job with these than the WWE has.
I will have to end this column fairly abruptly due to personal reasons, but I will leave this edition with this thought.
TNA consistently puts on better wrestling. TNA consistently puts on better live shows (from my experience). TNA consistently fucks up. You have to really look through all of TNA’s past mistakes and just try to enjoy the pure wrestling product that they have. WWE handles the overall package pretty damn well, TNA just needs to remember that it isn’t the WWE. It’s TN-fucking-A. And that isn’t a bad thing. Nor should it ever be.
I GOT TILL 5:
- Outstanding wrestling ability that surpasses WWE on a more consistent basis.
- The desire to grow and become better
- Characters who aren’t afraid to evolve
- A better live show experience
- Better handled divisions.
- Relying on non-wrestlers
- Relying on WWE “rejects”
- Trying to do too much too quickly
- Vince Russo. He may be gone but he did a lot of damage to the company.
- An almost defeatist attitude of “We’ll never be the WWE unless we try now”
Sadly, that is all I have time for today. I’d love to spend hours and hours writing about TNA but I can’t. Again I encourage you to leave feedback and discussion points in the comments which I will address at a later column.
Thank you all for reading!
Anybody else remember the Weekly PPV’s at their start?
I don’t have much knowledge of their weekly PPV’s at all, other than it happened. And even then I forget. I only really started noticing TNA around 2005/2006. Whenever Kurt Angle jumped ship. That was the first time I really took notice.
Weekly PPV’s were how TNA got off the ground, before they were on tv. They would have 10-15 dollar PPV’s every week. Jarrett, AJ Styles, Truth, Shamrock, and Steamboat were around then. They never did well, but there was enough of an audience for Spike to let them do Impact.
Great column, Eddie! Love this series.
You make great points, Eddie. I never thought TNA was ”that” bad, I just have trouble being interested in a lot of things they do. Like I was really enjoying their product up until Jeff Hardy won the title. Not that I dislike Hardy but Aries/Roode are TNA originals…give them the title and let them run with it.
I think the most significant point you made is them trying to make things happen too quickly. It’s so true. But they are a young promotion, they are improving and they are growing.
Thank you Ray 🙂
They are definitely doing much better than they were just two short years ago. Considering a lot of people expected them to be done by now, I think they’ve been remarkable.
Completely agree about the Hardy point. I do enjoy Jeff but my desire to see him has waned somewhat, particularly after “that incident”.
I do like how Jeff has gotten his life together; hope it sticks.
I view TNA as an overall success in that they’ve lasted for as long as they did.