Former WWE writer Dave Lagana told me the other day “Write everyday, write what no one else is writing, build an audience around who you are and never change.” 3 days later, I am brought in as the newest contributing writer for Inside Pulse’s Wrestling division. Many of you might not have ever heard of me or have read a word I’ve written and that’s entirely understandable. In 2005, I was hired by the WWE as a lowly intern with the promise I would transition to a production assistant within a few months. A couple of months into 2006, I achieved that goal and by August of that same year I was fired. It wasn’t too much of a surprise as the turnover in WWE’s production studio is mind-boggling and it was just my time to go. Since then I’ve continued to work in television while also having stints as a columnist on various wrestling websites as well as recently opening my own blog at CreativelyEndeavored.wordpress.com. Pro-wrestling has been a passion of mine since I was five years old and I’ve been writing about it in one way or another for as long as I can remember. When the offer came up for a weekly article on Inside Pulse, I absolutely jumped at the chance. Interacting with other fans is one of the best parts of the sport we all love and this site allows me to do that with more people on a daily basis. I look forward to working with a site that covers “wrestling” as a FORM of entertainment and doesn’t lump it all together in a gray, confusing mess. I’m excited to work with a company where wrestling matters. Wait… where have I heard that before?
I’ve followed TNA Wrestling since the beginning. Thank you for your sympathy. Even though the booking of the company (more often then not) leaves me with a migraine, I’ve always enjoyed watching young athletes perform in the sport that I’ve loved for 25 years. Guys like AMW, Triple X and AJ Styles compelled me to hold out hope for the then NWA-TNA to eventually find a way to click with the audience and a new pro-wrestling alternative would emerge as a to rival the WWE. I’ve hung on and bought into all of the rally cries TNA have tried to endorse over the years. I’ve “Made The Change” and “Crossed The Line” to believe that “We Are Wrestling.” I’ve lauded the signings of “Captain Charisma”, the “Samoan Submission Machine” and the “Immortal”. I even purchased the first 3 PPVs of the Olympian’s TNA career to see if it really was “damn real.” TNA is a frustrating and overall bad product but I am a fan and I defended them. Now, “Wrestling Matters” and honestly, I’m not sure I believe them.
While writing this article, I popped in an old TNA DVD, a Turning Point PPV to be exact. Now I didn’t pick this particular event for any specific reason but the card offered on this show was rather interesting. The opening promo video hyped how TNA is the “new face of professional wrestling” and then focused on how the heel team in the main event was holding down the babyface young guns that were their opponents. What were those two teams? The Kings of Wrestling (Jeff Jarrett, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) vs AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy and… “The Macho Man” Randy Savage. So while TNA was using the marketing campaign of “the new face of professional wrestling”, their PPV main event still featured 4 guys who made their names in the WWE and were over 40. I don’t know if there’s a single definition of the word “new” that would apply to any of those men. And the hardest part to stomach was that this PPV took place in 2004… 7 years ago. But the strange similarities didn’t end there. Other stars featured on the show consisted of BG James (Road Dogg), Diamond Dallas Page, Raven, Johnny B. Badd, Glenn Gilbertti (Disco Inferno), Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Obviously these wrestlers aren’t at the level of the stars that were featured on this past year’s edition (Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Mick Foley and Ric Flair among others) but I also think it’s safe to say that these four were paid as much, if not more, than all of the stars in 2004 combined. In seven years, TNA is still banking on the name value of the pro wrestlers that haven’t been in their prime for at least a decade.
Another point that I believe deserves mentioning is that a lot of the guys on that card in 2004 are still toiling away in TNA today. Besides Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles who’ve pretty much hung around the main event all of that time, the undercard of the show reads like a who’s who of the undercard of a TNA show in 2011. Men like Kazarian, Robert Roode, Eric Young, Abyss, Christopher Daniels, James Storm and Chris Sabin find themselves in very similar situations as in 2004 and few have ever even glimpsed the main event. For these TNA originals, their loyalty has never truly been rewarded and yet they still keep supporting whatever new marketing ploy the company can come up with today. Long-term fans of TNA Wrestling are beginning to become numb to their false advertising so I can only imagine how these men feel when they break their bodies for a company that doesn’t appreciate them.
7 years and at least four rebrandings later, TNA’s “Wrestling Matters” campaign holds little weight among their core audience. For too long, we’ve watched an emphasis on pro wrestlers living on the tail ends of their 20+ year old careers. For too long, we’ve sat through episodes of iMPACT or a PPV filled with false finishes, “Dusty” finishes or no finishes at all. For too long, we’ve sat through the mentality of “crash TV” with little to no commitment to meaningful stories. And for too long we’ve had to count on TNA Wrestling as the only national alternative to the WWE and have let them get away with things like this because at least it was something “different”. Now once again the company wants us to believe they going to give the wrestling fan what they want. The problem is, I’m not entirely sure TNA knows what that is.