Smark Business

Smark Business #1: TNA = Totally Not A (Success)

First things first, a quick introduction. My name is Mitchell, I am a 19-year-old wrestling fan of 17 years and I like John Cena. Comprehend? Good, we can now begin.

Yes, it really is that simple to me. I am an intelligent wrestling viewer – a smark, if you will. Yet, for what probably boils down to nothing more than arrogance, I feel that I possess a more well-rounded and unbiased view of the wrestling world than most, and therefore am able to see the good and bad in things that are slotted into a select category as part of the “smark mentality”. This is that set list of guidelines that read:

  • John Cena is a bad wrestler and you must hate him passionately
  • CM Punk is a God amongst men who should be 27-time WWF heavyweight champion by now
  • Anyone fat who isn’t Samoa Joe obviously can’t work a match and must be disliked
  • TNA rules. WWE sucks.

The first and last points are the most important to me, because they epitomise everything wrong with professional wrestling in the United States today. I will touch upon The Doctor of Thugonomics at a later date and focus my attention on the giant bowl of William SHATner that is Total Nonstop Action.
For the purposes of this blog, I have decided to raise some of the regularly brought-up defensive points for the average TNA apologist. For each point, I will attempt to shed some much needed light and put things into a better perspective. Draw your own opinions as to what you wish to believe and agree with.

TNA is about the wrestling, not “sports-entertainment”.

Anyone who truly believes this hasn’t watched the product whatsoever since the Bound 4 Glory pay-per-view last year. The TNA product has been based more on entertainment, skits and humour than WWE has, and they originated the concept of sports-entertainment in the first place. Joe with a girlfriend, Kurt divorcing his wife, Abyss becoming a back-stabber (literally), Big Fat Oily Guy, Christy Hemme and the rise of the sexist Impact Zone, Eric Young’s bikini contest, Black Machismo, and so on and so forth. The wrestling argument is a poor one. Just admit it: TNA is trying to be the WWE. Not just trying to be like them, either. They’re trying to actually BECOME the WWE. They mock the boys up North for their wacky DX skits, yet introduce their big fat oily guy as a recurring character. Their parody becomes the actual product. TNA in essence is self-parody right now. And yet the lifeblood of the company is getting shafted because, although they’d never tell you, they have some fantastic talent such as Samoa Joe, Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin who aren’t getting the chances they deserve to shine because of the restrictive creative process in place. TNA isn’t a wrestling company in the pure format anymore. It’s WWE-lite, and anyone who tries to defend TNA because it isn’t the WWE is an idiot. Why? Because by ridiculing WWE, they’re ridiculing TNA who are making either the same mistakes, or far worse ones. Not just “lose a bit of cash” mistakes either. We’re talking 2000 WCW “Sinking Titanic” mistakes.

TNA might be bad, but it isn’t WWE

Whilst we’re on the subject of this, another thing that does TNA no favours is its fans. Whether it’s because they try to hard or they just haven’t got a clue about pro wrestling, they can’t defend their product for the life of them. Dave7g on the TWO forums (sister site to W101) is the best example of this because no matter how hard he tries, his argument for TNA being a good show is pathetic. To the point that a 4 year old could tear him apart in minutes. I can usually rip his argument to shreds with minimal effort. Not his fault; no one can defend the TNA product. When the best reason you can give for TNA being a promotion to watch is “well at least they haven’t got The Great Khali”, you’re in big trouble because you’re conceding that TNA can’t be accepted on its own merits so instead you have to nitpick the very worst points of the opposition in order to make the best bits of your company of choice look better than they actually are. This is code for “you’re right, I’m clutching to straws, but I’ll be damned if I won’t continue until everyone else gives up.”

The X-division is more exciting than the Cruiserweight division

Not much of a claim to fame, is it? Let’s face it: Chris Masters is more exciting than the Cruiserweight division on the best of days. Although the recent turn of events with Hoggswoggle have done far more for the credibility of the Cruiserweight title than what TNA has doen for the X-D belt. It’s a shame to see how far the X-Division title has fallen. During the era of the first weekly TNA pay-per-view events, the X-D title often headlined the shows. It was fast-paced, innovative and different. If nothing else, it was the very factor that made TNA worth a damn in the first place. People cared about the matches, the characters and the competition. Guys like Jerry Lynn, Psychosis and Samoa Joe all took the belt into a new league as far as an entire division meaning something special. AJ Styles made his name pioneering the movement. Yet now, the title is being defending in a “Winner Take All” match and quite honestly, it means less than the other belts, one of which isn’t even a TNA title. There is an abundance of talent such as Jay Lethal, Chris Daniels, Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin who are being thrown to the wayside so that Dixie Carter can get her rocks off to Andrew ‘Test’ Martin. The matches get 5 minutes of spot after spot with no time for character development or to get the characters, matches, wins and titles over. What was once the unique selling point of the company now means diddly-squat in the long or short run. Not a good sign at all.

TNA has been alive for 5 years and has prime time national TV. It is a success

Is it? I can appreciate that it has a TV deal and has lasted a relatively long time in todays climate. But surely the true measure of success is in the growth of viewers and an influx of money, right? TNA have neither. Ratings have never risen above a 1.3 despite every trick in the book to spike (no pun intended) the audience figures. PPV buyrates went up once: for the Kurt Angle/Samoa Joe-headlined Genesis. A month later, they halved. The following month, they lost even more buyers and fell below their average. No coincidence, really. Running house shows and selling DVDs will help their cause, but people have to face the facts. As of this moment, TNA is a financial failure. They aren’t challenging the WWE in any significant way. The only reason they are so close to hitting ECW’s rating is because the ECW rating is falling, not the TNA figure rising. Their profits are non-existent. They’ve been in the red since the very beginning and it’s a wonder that the Carters have continued to plough money into the venture. Even more concerning is that Dixie Carter is clearly a money mark with no idea as to how a wrestling promotion is properly run. She seems like a nice woman, but her interviews in the mainstream press have been utterly embarrassing. She disgraced the company in the UK when she said that TNA fans were stupid for blaming Vince Russo for TNA’s problems when it wasn’t his fault. Her argument was akin to “Don’t blame him, it was someone else”. Newsflash: TNA fans don’t care whose fault it is. They want someone held accountable and Dixie, as lovely as she probably is, should never have tried to pass the buck. A smart business woman would say “OK, the fans aren’t responding well, so there’s obviously a problem and we’re gonna fix it”. She instead implied that until TNA fans blame the right person, nothing will change. Great job there, Dixie. That’s why, for all his faults, Vince McMahon is unarguably the greatest wrestling promoter in history, and you are not.

There are far more things that I can throw towards the TNA camp. Maybe in the next instalment, I will finish this piece off and await the backlash from the TNA supporters, God bless their hearts for trying.

Still, at least they aren’t Ring Of Honor 😉

2 replies on “Smark Business #1: TNA = Totally Not A (Success)”

Before you get completely swamped with the inane chirping of TNA marks, let me be the first to just completely and whole heartedly agree with you.
I watch TNA every now and again and I think that, to date, it”™s the first wrestling based event (since I was about 11 and saw Mick Foley get “fired” for the first time) to get me genuinely angry. To me, TNA have constantly been snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Wrestling fans (let alone casual fans) seem to be slowly but surely turning on WWE, yet TNA refuse to offer us an alternative despite the potential. I could have quite happily beaten Russo to death with one of his own infernal poles after watching a potentially show stealing LAX VS Murder City Machine Guns (possibly the two best tag teams around right now) being brushed to one side so The New Age Outlaws (minus charisma, plus the Boogey-woman), The Dudleys (minus burning tables and any sort of heat, plus about 400lbs) and The Steiners argue about who was good LAST DECADE. I”™ll give it to them, mid-90”™s, the Steiners ruled, in ECW, the Dudleys were a high light and Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie against The Outlaws in early ”˜98 was a truly amazing feud. However, it”™s over, it happened, it was awesome, move on. It should be a three way argument between LAX, The Machine Guns and XXX about who”™s the best NOW.
TNA just has so much talent both on the mic and in the ring. The Paparazzi Productions stuff was amazing with Nash and Shelley and now Cage has really come into his own. Meanwhile, in the ring you”™ve got Joe (a man who could and should have been this generation BIG name), Homicide, XXX, the Machine Guns, Styles and Cage. Hell, even a fat lad like Abyss is cool just from the insane bumps he”™s willing to take. But none of that is what TNA are showing us. No, we get a mind-numbing pre-Attitude era wife-stealing story line, Angle in his pants (as funny as it was), one guy with every single belt (or we will have by tomorrow morning) and a bizarre collection of mid-carders and has beens lining up to main event like one of those really depressing indy shows you see on YouTube that make you go “Wow, that”™s Scott Hall! Man, he doesn”™t look too good. That”™s a shame.”
Anyway, I went of topic. Just a big thanks for the post really. It”™s to read things you agree with.
I”™m a huge TWO fan too, but can never figure out how to join, so I watch like a stalker in a garden.
(I”™m a huge Punk fan by the way. I”™m just finding it harder and harder to justify these days though)

You can join TWO by clicking this link, and following the prompts and instructions:

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