Well, it happened. After being able to watch 4 NWA-TNA shows, I've finally seen the alternative to the WWE that everyone has been talking about. And what can I say… I'd forgotten what it was like to enjoy watching a wrestling show. So this time round I'm looking at the alternative to the WWE, NWA-TNA. If you're a TNA sceptic, I urge you to read on...
It was like something out of the 'Matrix'. Only replace the evil computer system with the WWE's current product, Morpheus with SiMania and TNA as the 'truth' (I guess that makes me 'the one' trying to free everyones mind… or simply trying to get people to watch TNA!). Now I've been a WWE fan for a long time, and bar ECW no other company has ever got me hooked on their product. That's probably because, like so many wrestling fans of today, I'm attracted to wrestling with that extra added entertainment value. Call me a moron if you must, but we all have our own tastes.
Don't get me wrong, obviously I appreciate 2 outstanding wrestlers going at it and putting on a technical spectacle, but without background behind the feud, and I suppose some point to it or even some storyline of some sort behind it, it just doesn't get me hooked.
Reason I'm mentioning this is because a lot of people will probably hear TNA being mentioned and imagine it as either being a match based, or a wrestling orientated product to the extent that it won't appeal to the storyline based fans that are the majority of WWE followers, or perhaps imagine it as a poor mans WCW. They couldn't be further from the truth.
I personally always thought 'TNA? Too much hassle to see it, plus it's just for bitter WCW fans, I'll just put up with the WWE's mediocrity right now… it'll get better'. Then I happened to win 2 NWA-TNA tapes, that's 4 TNA shows in total (2 per tape) as a result of the Talkwrestlingonline.com Writers Competition, thanks to SiMania sponsoring the competition and supplying the tapes. I'll mention more about the tapes later. First, the product itself.
While D-Lo Brown main eventing in a company might have the average wrestling fan go 'agh' (personally I'm fine with it), don't let that blur your judgment. The TNA roster is full of outstanding talent, guys like Amazing Red, Christopher Daniels, Raven, Kid Kash, AJ Styles, Chris Sabin, Jeff Jarrett, Trinity, Sonny Siaki and Glen Gilberti just to name a few. Depending on your tastes, chances are there won't actually be many on the roster that you will consider not talented. When you compare that with the WWE, the number of useless workers who end up on the roster of a no.1 company… its quite shocking really. In my personal opinion even someone on the TNA roster like the MASTER OF THE SPINEBUSTER David Young is more talented than a lot of the WWE crap. And thanks to TNA I've found a new wrestler to mark out for, Kid Kash.
Another thing that might put you off is Vince Russo. Now personally I hate the guy as well, everything I've ever heard about him has just put me off the guy, but I'll be honest, I would bet a lot on his contributions being one of the reasons that the product is so entertaining. Since he's apparently been kept in check, it will hopefully stop him from doing anything major (which would end up being a disaster no doubt) and whilst the 'Sports Entertainment Xtreme' (S.E.X sells and all that) is typical sleazy Russo, the actual faction itself is great to watch. Just have to add as well that I would bet a lot on the dirty cage dancers being an idea of Russo's as well. Not a great one at that. A tad too sleazy and it's too close to the Nitro girls for my liking, another reason why I hated WCW so much. You don't watch wrestling for that type of thing.
Anyway, let me get to the point. TNA is an outstanding show. The shows I saw involved the most anticipated match in TNA history - Raven v Jeff Jarrett, another involved 'Anarchy in the Asylum' (A Royal Rumble type match, 16 men, over the top and falls count anywhere), and the others involved the S.E.X. stable trying to take over the NWA. All very entertaining stuff. Infact it was the first time in a long time that I'd actually come off a show actually caring about what will happen next. After a Smackdown or Raw these days, there are no emotions to be felt… after a WWE show these days you're left to hear the dedicated fans flapping their gums 'It wasn't as bad as it could have been' or 'It was ok I suppose'. Everyone's in denial of how bad the WWE is just now from an entertainment standpoint. And don't dare criticise it… cause then you'll be a smart mark who's just criticising it so you can look clever…. Obviously.
So why watch NWA-TNA? If you're just your average wrestling fan, and not just a casual fan who doesn't really follow wrestling that much (if you're reading this you aren't a casual fan in my eyes) then TNA could well appeal to you. Here's some answers to the questions that anyone who hasn't watched TNA before might want to know.
Q: Why should I watch TNA? All the best stars are in the WWE…
A: Not exactly. Lots of talent that isn't built like some steroided freak from the 80s is on the TNA roster, and whilst guys like Rey Mysterio and Kurt Angle may be the cream of the crop, the TNA roster is extremely talented, and most would fit into the WWE easily (barring any Vince McMahon interference because of their size). Lets not forget AJ Styles turned down a WWE contract after all. Although I have to admit, I do prefer Benjamin and Haas to America's Most Wanted, and do believe that Haas and Benjamin have somehow become the best tag team in the business right now. Still… did I mention AJ Styles?
Plus, TNA, even though it has far less money than the WWE achieves what should be impossible by only having 2 commentators, Don West and Mike Tenay, and having them producing far better commentary than any of the crap coming out of JR, Jerry Lawler, Johnathan Coachman and company. Only Tazz and Cole are worth comparing to the TNA commentary team, who do an outstanding job. To not hear JR or Coachman calling a show really does make an event far more enjoyable. Really, it does.
Q: Isn't it just low budget crap though?
A: Surprisingly not at all… I expected it to be personally, but it ended up looking like ECW with a decent budget. There might not be much fancy stuff, but every guy still has a theme and an entrance video, and whilst the arenas are obviously nowhere near as big as WWE ones, the crowds always seem great. The only thing that might make it seem low budget is the fact that the shows are taped off an American PPV channel, but unless you are extremely picky this isn't a problem. Once they get a TV deal over here then hopefully that'll solve everything!
Q: If I didn't like WCW why would I like TNA though?
A: TNA in my personal opinion has all the good things about ECW, WCW and WWE mixed into one. It has ECW's extreme tendencies, though not to the ridiculous levels of ECW itself. It has the WCW love for cruiserweights, and it has the typical sports entertainment aspect of the WWE, though not to the level that the WWE has it. If you loved wrestling during the 97-99 period, you will love TNA.
Q: So how often do they do shows? How does it work out?
A: Most people know, but just incase you don't, TNA does a PPV show every week. That doesn't mean some gimmicked to the eyeballs title match every week though. If you are fortunate enough to be in the US then the PPVs are definitely worth purchasing, otherwise you'll probably find your only means of seeing TNA for the time being buying tapes of TNA shows. Every show is like an episode of Smackdown/Raw with three times the entertainment. Trust me, if this was on another channel on Sky and you were flicking between shows, you'd stay on the channel with TNA.
Q: How do I go about getting tapes then?
A: As far as I know, every tape has 2 TNA shows on it, and you can get the tapes from any site that sells wrestling tapes. My personal recommendation would be SiMania.co.uk, where it's £6 for one tape, and £20 if you order 4 tapes. That's 8 shows for £20… almost 8 times the value of a WWE PPV… and no doubt you'll come away far more satisfied. If you have the money, then there is no excuse for not even trying TNA.
Q: So what are the down sides?
A: Well... it might not appeal to moronic marks, although nobody reading this is going to be one. But don't take that the wrong way. If you cringe at the prospect of Goldberg v HHH then there is hope for you, TNA may be your medicine. Otherwise, you might not like it. If you can't handle a show without fancy computer graphics, or lots of backstage sketches then it certainly won't be for you. Instead TNA, with their EXCELLENT interviewer Goldy (extremely talented, picture Terri Runnels, but talented and better looking, you won't believe how good she is at the job) concentrates on actually letting the workers cut promos (although for some of them… it'd be better if they didn't) and doesn't treat the fans like total idiots. Instead of cameras just happening to be somewhere backstage, the TNA actually gives a reason for a camera being backstage if theres a sketch going on. All in all, if you like the WWE's 'sports entertainment' style of promotion, then there really is no reason for you not to like TNA. Like I said earlier, you might also be put off by guys like Glen Gilberti (Disco Inferno) and D-Lo Brown being main eventers there… although trust me they don't look out of place at all.
Should also add that theres a very cheap tactic applied in TNA, there's a guy (look out for him if you haven't seen him) with a microphone who at times gestures to the crowd to chant 'TNA'… pretty poor effort I thought. Plus Russo has apparently banned any wrestler from swearing on the shows… not a good sign in my opinion. At the end of the day, at least they don't add fake fan noises ala Smackdown in the WWE.
They have the hardcore aspect that the WWE decided to get rid of simply because their hardcore matches were about as hardcore as an old woman. They have the gimmick matches that the WWE have overused thus making them ineffective. They have the fact that they don't treat the fans like goddamn idiots, whilst not getting too smart. And they have the fact that their show isn't dominated by goddamn backstage politics. A job in TNA is a job. There is nothing more to it. And it's very, very refreshing.
After watching the 4 shows I got (just for the record it was 43, 44, 45 and 46) I have to say I'm looking to watch more. As far as I'm concerned if Summerslam doesn't entertain me (I can't see it doing so) then I'm going to switch over to watching TNA as often as I can instead of the WWE. The WWE has become WCW, with all the big guys defending their spots rather than concentrating on entertaining the fans, and its time they paid for it. The sooner NWA-TNA gets a TV deal, the sooner Vince McMahon will be forced to change the WWE product again. The key is just getting more people to realise how much better the TNA product is.
So PLEASE… Do yourself a favour, get a TNA tape. For £6, it's a fair price to pay to remember what it was like to be a wrestling fan again.
Ciao for now,