Every Thursday night at 9 p.m. eastern, I sit in front of my TV. and watch two hours of professional wrestling, presented by TNA (Total Nonstop Action), a company founded six years ago by Memphis based promoter Jerry Jarrett and his son, veteran grappler Jeff Jarrett. I watch week after week as I have for years now and I wait, I wait for a ray of hope. TNA wrestling has all of the tools to threaten the mighty WWE, the world’s number one wrestling promotion. TNA has talent; they have a national cable TV. show, two hours of prime time every week, pay per view on a monthly basis, established industry superstars.
But every week, I am reminded in a most painful fashion, that all of the tools mean nothing, when you don’t know how to use them. You can sit me in front of a car, give me a toolbox, and tell me to fix your alternator, but I don’t know an alternator from a cup holder. In order to take advantage of the things that make something a success, those running the joint need to know what to do. Sadly for TNA, those in charge seemingly haven’t a single clue as how to run a wrestling show.
I’ll start by saying this: I am a fan of wrestling. I have followed wrestling for over ten years now. I’ve seen the height of its success in the mid 90’s, the Monday night war between WWE and WCW. I’ve also seen the lowest of the low, like the death of WCW in 2001 and its sale to Vince McMahon, chairman of WWE. I don’t presume to know the ins and outs of the wrestling business, but as a fan I can tell you what we like and what we despise. What we like is solid matches, compelling story lines and logical character development. What we have thus far seen from TNA in their six year history is illogical story lines, multiple storyline swerves for the sake of swerving, little character development and what we do see is makes very little sense.
Let’s talk talent to start with. TNA boasts some of the most talented grappler’s in the wrestling world today. A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, Jay Lethal, Robert Roode, Eric Young and the list goes on far too long to mention. Some of the aforementioned performers have been with TNA since day one, yet on a weekly basis they are humiliated, beaten, buried in interviews and generally castrated by the writing and booking of the promotion. TNA instead chooses to push the established talent, men who made their names in WWE and WCW. These performers in most cases, best years are far behind them.
For example, Kevin Nash is a multiple time world champion, he’s seen success in WWE and WCW, and he was an integral part of the most successful wrestling angle of all time, the nWo. Kevin, according to his bio on imdb.com, is forty nine years old! He has two bad knees and a bad back. At his very best he was moderately talented in the ring, and at this point, is largely unable to work a match. Yet he is pushed weekly as a main event superstar. Scott Steiner, former all American wrestler from the University of Michigan, held titles in WWE and WCW, he was one half of one of the most decorated tag teams of all time, the Steiner Brothers.
At present he’s forty seven years old, he suffers from drop foot syndrome, a condition that renders his foot almost totally numb. He suffers near debilitating back pain and is almost completely immobile because of it. Would you believe this man is part of the biggest angle in the company at this time? Men like this, if used at all, are best used to elevate the next generation of superstars to the next level. Pass the torch so that this company can have a future, because banking on a group of forty something’s to sustain your company in this business is madness!
Story lines in pro wrestling are what keep the fan interested in your show and your performers. Without the back story, there is no conflict and no reason for it to be settled in the ring. In this day of modern pro wrestling, writers are utilized like any other TV. or movie, to make the show make sense.
TNA’s head writer is man named Vince Russo; wrestling fans cringe at his name, for he is part of the reason that WCW a company with a near eighty year heritage is no more. Russo began his career in wrestling writing for WWE magazine in the early ’90s, he later became part of the creative team in charge of writing the WWE programming. Russo credits himself with making the careers of starts like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. At the peak of WWE’s popularity, Russo jumped ship to the WCW and proceeded over one of the fastest declines of a company in history. This man is now the major creative force behind TNA. That’s like hiring Gilbert Gottfried to narrate a PBS documentary about great orators in history. Under his direction, the company has produced gems like Richard and Rod Johnson, a tag team dressed like male genitals and incorporating the real life death from cancer of Jeff Jarrett’s wife into a storyline. I can’t even tell you how reprehensible that is.
It would take volumes to tell you all of the issues in Total Nonstop Action wrestling, but I’ll end for now with this confession. I want TNA to succeed. I tune in every Thursday with the hope that they finally get the picture, that this week will be better. TNA needs to succeed, if nothing else for the sake of the business. Competition breeds excellence. With no major competitor, WWE is subject to complacency and stagnation. As a fan I want to see TNA step up to the plate and realize their potential, the whole business will reap the benefit.