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TNA Wrestling Respond To Reports Of Destination America Cancellation

May 22, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

TNA Wrestling are fighting back against reports that Impact Wrestling has been cancelled effective this September by Destination America. Unfortunately TNA are spending more time attacking and threatening the source as opposed to commenting on the actual story reported.

Dave Meltzer earlier this week reported in the current issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Destination America has exercised its option to cancel all TNA programming effective in September. While the word “cancel” is subjective, the essence of Dave’s report is that TNA is not being renewed.

TNA loyalists (fans) immediately shot back accusing Dave of being a “hater” and the report being another of Meltzer’s continuous “lies” about TNA Wrestling. As a subscriber of Dave’s since about 1988, the irony of those statements have not been lost. For starters, Dave’s reviews of Impact have been extremely positive since TNA went to Destination America. Thus the accusations of Dave being a hater are obviously being made by those who don’t read Dave nor listen to his podcasts. Furthermore, I am unfamiliar with these countless “lies” Dave has made about TNA. Would it be the lie Dave was accused of when he reported Impact was not being renewed by Spike? Would it be the lie that Dave was accused of when TNA waved the white flag on the Monday night venture? Was it the lie Dave was accused of when he reported that Vince Russo was still working for TNA? Was it a lie when Dave reported that TNA were in negotiations to sell the company to Toby Keith? Right, point being I don’t recall one report Dave has made about TNA in the last several years (or ever) that wasn’t eventually confirmed. Yet these TNA supporters (and boy are they completely oblivious to reality) continue to call Dave a liar yet continue to lie about Dave’s credibility. Ironic isn’t it?

This brings me back to TNA. TNA released a very short statement to ProWrestling.net somewhat denying Dave’s report with threats of legal action.

It has come to our attention that several internet news sources have falsely attributed statements to TNA, its executives and broadcasting partner. These false statements constitute defamation and if necessary we will seek all legal remedies available to us.

Let’s read into that for a second. For starters, TNA are not denying the reports of Destination America cancelling or not renewing TNA programming. Nowhere in this statement does TNA say that those reports are false. The only thing TNA is accusing the reporters of is attributing statements to TNA, executives, and broadcasting partner. Number two, the threat of legal action is an interesting bullying tactic. The problem here is that if TNA does seek legal action against Dave, Dave may have to reveal his sources and it could get extremely embarrassing for the company. Dave has been doing this for a long time and my hunch is that Dave is not reporting anything he can’t back up. Now as for other sites, that could be a problem depending upon the way they “report” the story.

Dave responding to a fan asking him on Twitter about TNA filing a defamation suit against him responded with the tweet…”@KevinGedert2 Why haven’t they threatened me is the question. Why haven’t they addressed one thing written?” This could turn into a very embarrassing game of chicken for TNA if they continue to make those threats towards Dave.

Ironically Dixie Carter has remained mum on the report. Dixie, who is very active on Twitter continues to tweet yet has ignored commenting on the story that her company’s television deal may be cancelled or not renewed.

New TNA booker Billy Corgan (who joins an esteemed creative team featuring Christy Hemme and John Gaburik among others) has questioned Dave’s credibility in a tweet. Meltzer responded on Twitter, “Sort of sad about Corgan, his words are almost identical to Russo about Mike Johnson when he did that story last year.”

I have to admit that I am enjoying this game of chicken. If the reactions from those within TNA and the company weren’t almost identical to reactions when reports of Spike dropping Impact I may be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately the biggest victims here are the talent. I don’t know what talent are being told but the company owes it to the talent to address this report with honesty and integrity. Anything less could damage the company’s integrity internally beyond repair.

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Destination America Reportedly Cancels TNA Wrestling Programming

May 20, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

TNA Wrestling is facing a familiar crisis. A new report suggests that Impact Wrestling may be homeless come this fall as Destination America has reportedly exercised its option to cancel Impact Wrestling programming by the end of September 2015.

Dave Meltzer is the first to break the story in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Meltzer’s story is somewhat cryptic in that he reports Destination America has cancelled the show yet closes his article by saying that the decision is not definite. Definite or not, the point here is that TNA Wrestling is in big trouble.

“Destination America made the decision to cancel TNA Wrestling, with the time frame given at the end of the third quarter (roughly the last week of September, when the current television season ends). Key people at the Discovery Channel network were informed of the decision at that point.
The word internally was that while they considered the ratings good, the ratings were not good enough to justify the cost of the programming. The other problem was that so many regular station advertisers specifically did not want to advertise on the show.

It should be noted that when the word was sent out, it was stated specifically that TNA would remain on Friday nights, with original episodes, until that point, and informing people for the fall season plans for Friday nights. Just days later, they were moved to Wednesday.”
Again, Meltzer ends the article suggesting that this news may not be definite.

“In the television industry, being canceled two straight years, which is still not a definite although those at the station have not been told anything new since official word was given of the cancellation, is not a good sign.”

Meltzer says the decision came down to ratings. According to the report the ratings just weren’t good enough to justify the costs to carry Impact Wrestling. Meltzer also reports that Destination America struggled to find advertisers for the program.

I, like many questioned the move to Friday nights when it was announced. While the idea to capture the SmackDown audience is nice, the reality is that Friday is a terrible night for a pro wrestling show. Several reports suggested that the decision to put the show on Fridays was Destination America’s when it happened.

No matter how you slice it, TNA is in dangerous territory right now. Dixie Carter and other TNA officials claimed they had multiple suitors for Impact last year although many were skeptical of those claims. TNA has scaled down a great deal over the last year, cutting many high-priced contracts and scaling back production. That could be looked at as a positive and a negative for a company searching for a new television deal.

I think it is fair to say that nothing is certain at this point, which could make running this company a total nightmare. Booking a pro wrestling in a lame duck situation won’t be easy for anyone in TNA. Dixie Carter will have a lot of fires to put out over the next several months and unfortunately for her, she is running out of water fast.

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Can TNA Wrestling Survive?

May 01, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

They have defied the odds.

When they first started, no one gave TNA Wrestling (then known as NWA TNA) much of a chance to compete with WWE. They started out as a weekly show on pay-per view, which had never really been done before. They brought in Toby Keith, and pro football players to try and increase interest. They brought in legends like Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka and Jim Duggan to try and keep old school fans interested. And, they also had some great performers like AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels that could keep fans of actual good technical wrestling captivated.

Some of the best matches I had the privilege to watch during the 2000’s usually involved Samoa Joe, Frankie Kazarian, Jay Lethal, AJ Styles and CM Punk applying their trade in the six sided ring. TNA even brought some of my favorite WWE and WCW stars into the promotion like Booker T, Kevin Nash and Sting to give them a fresh new run in Impact Wrestling.

It’s been a rough decade, but TNA Wrestling finally seems to have really hit their stride in terms of putting on a good wrestling product. They have some really good talent, like Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley, MVP, Eric Young, The Hardys, Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, The Wolves, and EC3. I believe their move to Destination America has made their product more watchable than their stint on Spike TV.

Just as they experience upwards movement in terms of their quality, reports have surfaced that the company has been paying their employees late, and is experiencing financial trouble. TNA announcer Taz recently departed the company, and admitted he had been paid late several times. He left on good terms with the company, but his admission about getting his checks late was very telling.

These reports seem similar to the ones that plagued ECW in the late 90’s and right up to the company’s fall in 2001.

The difference between the two is that TNA seems to be better funded. They are owned by Panda Energy, and seem to be getting support from its parent network, Destination America. ECW, on the other hand, was run by Paul Heyman. Although he is one of the greatest wrestling minds ever, and is a creative Einstein when it came to booking, his business acumen was less than stellar. He ran his territory like a mom and pop shop, and eventually the train that was WWE proved to be much too strong to run from, and in 2001, the company went under.

Usually, when a company can’t pay its wrestlers on time, the prospects of the promotion staying afloat aren’t good. And its not like they have huge overhead on their roster. They have cut their payroll considerably, and seem to be trying to right the ship fiscally.

If TNA goes out of business, it would be a real shame. This company has excellent potential, and some nice pieces that could make them a force to be reckoned with in the future.

The best thing for TNA to do is look for a new buyer. One guy who could possibly bring energy and excitement to the company is Mark Cuban.

He basically turned the Dallas Mavericks from one of the NBA’s worst teams to one of the perennial contenders in basketball every year. You can see the passion in how he operates the team. He’s their biggest cheerleader, and roots them on every game. Plus, he has the cash, and it’s a real labor of love for him.

TNA needs an owner like Mark Cuban.

Another key move would be to bring in an experienced creative guy who knows what works and what doesn’t work. I’m a huge fan of Jerry Jarrett, but he’s in his early 70’s, and who knows if he even still watches wrestling today. What he and Jerry Lawler did as co-owners and co-bookers in Memphis in the 1970’s was just phenomenal.

Perhaps one thing TNA could look into is merging their promotion with another wrestling organization. I always thought it would be a good idea for them to join forces with Ring of Honor. I think you could get some really great matches out of that, and develop a talent roster that is solid and rival that of WWE someday.

It probably wouldn’t hurt to take TNA from being somewhat of a national promotion, and just mainly become a regional company. Maybe base them in Nashville, and have them tour just the main cities in the South like Memphis, Charlotte, Birmingham and Atlanta. Have a music or entertainment heavy hitter like Toby Keith or Garth Brooks put some money into their organization.

Personally, I think it’s a great time to be a wrestling fan, because there is a lot of choices out there, in terms of different promotions and styles. Losing TNA Wrestling would not be a positive thing for the industry, because then, federations like Lucha Underground and Global Force would be ions behind Vince McMahon, who doesn’t view them as competition anyway.

Come someone please get Mark Cuban on the phone?

WWE: It’s good to be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story

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TNA Impact Wrestling Paycheck Troubles and WWE Thoughts

April 16, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The cracks in the TNA armor are starting to show again.

Even with solid numbers and a fan base that are more cult-like than the rise and fall of fan support for the WWE, TNA’s Impact Wrestling is dealing with its own issues of late. One issue in particular has re-invented itself to a point that the smoke it is causing could lead to a real fire if not put out soon.

Wrestlers aren’t being paid in a timely fashion, according to a story by Mike Johnson of pwinsider.com.

TNA is well behind on pay to their wrestlers, according to many talents who reached out to PWInsider.com under the agreement of anonymity over the past several weeks.  One wrestler claimed the company is behind two pay periods while others have claimed they are still owed money dating back to February.  With no TNA dates scheduled until the live Impact broadcast on 5/8, it has been a growing source of aggravation for TNA wrestlers as they are working the Indy scene to supplement their TNA income.

In asking sources within the TNA office in Nashville, I am told that the pay issues are legitimate and have been a source of great frustration within Nashville over the last several weeks as well.  While one source I spoke to denied talents were behind two pay periods, they did concede they have been behind on checks being cut to talents and that it was something TNA was trying to get a handle on over the last week.

One of the factors involved is that TNA’s checks are not cut in Nashville by the company but are outsourced to Dallas, Texas where TNA’s parent company Panda Energy is headquartered.  This alone adds another step to the process.

TNA had these issues before when it was struggling to stay afloat on Spike TV and the fledgling promotion had to scale back its production of shows, cut back its pay-per-view events and even release talent to remain the niche outfit it has been since its creation by Jeff Jarrett.

For everything TNA is – with better technical wrestlers as a whole (Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, Eric Young) and stronger talent in the Knockouts division and in the tag team scene, these issues should be a constant habit that the talent has to deal with.

The Death of the Divas in WWE

With the sudden retirement of AJ Lee and the need for more talent and promotional angles, have we final witnessed the beginning of the end of the Divas in the WWE?

The current champion, Nikki Bella, who is sided by her sister, Brie, cannot carry a division that has Paige as its main “face” attraction and a couple other stars (Naomi and Natalya) on its current roster. There is not enough interest in the division, which of late has shown more wrestling and less glam. Still, with the loss of its main attraction – the cute girl with the killer abs who just happens to be married to WWE’s biggest enemy in CM Punk – it looks as though not even a shot of epinephrine can save the group that appears to be on life support.

It would be in Stephanie McMahon’s best interest to watch Gail Kim and Awesome Kong go at it and see how women’s wrestling is really done.

Life After Rusev

Now that the table is set for the third installment of Rusev and the current United States Champion, John Cena, what happens to Cena once the dance with the Russian ends? Is there life after defensing America for the 15-time world champion?

I would think, the WWE may take Sheamus and his Red Rooster wannabe look and work a program with these two stars.

The WWE has put Sheamus back in the same position he once was when he came to the WWE – a brutal force with the Irish accent – who runs through his opponents with ease. The only person who should be able to stop the immovable object is the irresistible force that Cena has with the company.

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Kurt Angle Dishes On Why He Did Not Return to the WWE

April 10, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

In 1985, Hulk Hogan graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as the craze of professional wrestling had exploded on the mainstream consciousness of sports readers and in entertainment circles. There was something about a man who had a receding hair line, was bigger than most football players and preached to the masses to “train, say your prayers and eat your vitamins.” Hulk Hogan did his best to bring some legitimacy to the business at a time when Kayfabe walls were being torn down and the last bastion of a “sport” shrouded in secrecy was starting to crumble in each promotion amongst the NWA, AWA and WCCW.

If not for the heavy promotion of Vince McMahon, and his vision of taking the business to another level, there would never be this constant see-saw of emotion between what is real and what is scripted and in the simplest terms “fake”.

In 1998, Kurt Angle, a decorated Olympic wrestling hero and champion walked into the then WWE as a new hope to add more “reality” to the business. What Angle delivered was “wrestling” to a business that moved further away from the days of Bruno Sammartino, Buddy Rogers and Pedro Morales. It was another attempt at showcasing the business as entertainment. It was also a move back toward the roots of what McMahon’s father and grandfather had built over the years before the wide-eyed promoter came in always wanting more, preaching bigger is better and living on the concept that professional wrestling is a production, not just a show.

For those reasons alone, it still shocks me that Angle did not re-sign with the WWE when his contract with TNA Wrestling was about to expire. And to show you how wrestling has come full circle, the man who went from grappling on a mat to performing super-human feats in a ring for thousands every night, was candid as he could be in an article in Sport Illustrated.

Angle spoke on many topics ranging from his out of the ring feud with Brock Lesnar, another decorated college wrestler, to his desire to wrestle other performers, to his desire to come back to the company where it all started and was stopped short of the front door. In this business, there may be times when wrestlers go off script and voice their opinions (whether it is a work or not) and then there are times when they are just plain real.

This is one of those times.

As read in the article in the “Extra Mustard” section of SI.com, by Justin Barasso

Instead of wrestling every Friday night on Destination America, the 46-year-old Angle’s original plan was to finish up his TNA contract last September and re-sign with the WWE to finish out his career.

“I haven’t spoke openly about this,” said Angle, “but I opened up my options and was going to decide between TNA and WWE. I wasn’t going to leave TNA unless WWE was offering a fair deal.”

Angle, who lost his father when he was only 16 years old, developed a close friendship with Vince McMahon during his eight year run with WWE from 1998-2006. Yet, when Angle called McMahon, he was informed that a different man now runs the day-to-day operations.

“Paul [Levesque] is in charge,” said Angle. “I found that out when I contacted Vince. I’ve always had a good relationship with Paul, so I didn’t consider that a problem. But he decided they had enough talent.

“For the Vince McMahon who I knew, enough was never enough. He always wanted more. I don’t know what was going on over there, but they even canceled our meeting. I never went to see them. They didn’t even sit me down and talk to me.”

The experience was extremely humbling for Angle.

I consider Kurt Angle to be one of the best wrestlers of all time in this business. A throwback to the days when Ed “Strangler” Lewis was winning world titles and Vern Gagne was using his wrestling skills to promote his new creation call the AWA. A man who came to the business at the right time, to show there were “real” wrestlers out there who could excite and entice viewers and create a new genre of fans. For those reasons alone, finishing where he started was simple a formality in my mind. Guess I was wrong just like Angle. It also shows the fan of today just how different the WWE is from just a few years ago. There are return engagements for The New Age Outlaws, Lesnar (who Angle talks about in the first part of the interview) and guest appearances by Hogan and Ric Flair, DX and The Outsiders. But Angle is stopped before he reached the door of the WWE’s corporate offices. I find that to be one of the unkindest cuts of all.

The credentials of his career speak for themselves. Angle is the only wrestler in history to be a Triple Crown winner in both WWE and TNA, as well as the only one to have held the WWE, WCW, TNA, IWGP, and World Heavyweight Championships in his career. Angle is also a two-time King of the Mountain winner, winning at the 2007 and 2009 Slammiversary pay-per-view event, making him the only wrestler to have been both King of the Ring (WWE) and King of the Mountain (TNA). Between WWE, TNA, and Japan, Angle has won 13 world championships and 21 total championships. In 2010, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter named Angle the Wrestler of the Decade of the 2000s, and in 2013 he was the second inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame. It does not get much better.

The man Angle is now is certainly not the man he used to be. His body is beaten. His demons have affected him. His personal life has changed over the years. But when he is in the ring, Kurt Angle is still golden and in terms of the business, he is money.

Oh, It’s True. It’s Damn True. And the WWE, in its desire for change cannot see what it is missing or will miss once Angle finally decides enough is enough.

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TNA Wrestling, WWE Royal Rumble and Other Wrestling Thoughts

January 19, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

There are two things that TNA and Impact Wrestling do better than the WWE and it isn’t even close – they promote both their tag team division and the Knockouts better than their rival company and use both divisions as main event programming to keep its fan base interested.

The niche promotion that has more lives than a cat on steroids found a home on Destination America and gave an uneven performance for its first venture in the new year. The fact there are two heel stables and no real “face” faction other than Bobby Roode, Austin Aries and Kurt Angle to fight the good fight is concerning. But the match between the Hardy’s and The Wolves proved that extreme tag team wrestling is still alive and well. Here’s hoping TNA develops more tag team talent to challenge The Revolution and can bring in more X-Division style talent to build tag teams as a way to continue the high-paced style this company is known for.

The spot that may have been the best of the opening show Friday night was the confrontation between Havoc and Awesome Kong. If this is what TNA gives us on a weekly basis, then there will be no shortage of enthusiasm from its fan base. When is the last time two behemoth women got in a ring and beat the hell out of each other? This isn’t Lita and Trish Stratus – this is more hell, fire and brimstone than anything else. Can both deliver and more importantly, can both keep the Knockout’s Division running at such a high level? TNA has grown plenty of talent with Madison Rayne, Velvet ISky, OBD, Taryn Terrell and Angelina Love. A match between Havoc and Awesome Kong could be the main event attraction of the Year, should it live up to the hype the company will throw at the rivalry.

DO NOT GIVE THE RUMBLE TO DANIEL BRYAN

The “Yes” movement is back, alive and well as of last week when Daniel Bryan made his triumphant return to the ring in a match against Kane and then in a six man tag team match (I hate the impromptu matches like that, by the way). What worries me is the WWE will try to capitalize on the momentum of Bryan again and give him the Royal Rumble victory.

 realize the momentum the WWE hoped Roman Reigns would get from the WWE Universe on his way to the Royal Rumble is not the response they had hoped for. As Eric Gargiulo pointed out last week, the injury Reigns suffered last year may have something to do with that. The other reason may be that the fans do not want Reigns shoved down their throat. The “Yes” movement and Bryan came naturally, as it evolved – fans identify with the underdog, which was a huge win for the company. I am not saying a Royal Rumble win for Bryan is a bad thing, but not giving someone else a chance to shine at WrestleMania may not be what is best for business.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAT PATTERSON

We celebrate the birthday on Monday of one of the greatest champions of all time in the WWE.

The 74-year-old creative consultant for the company was the first Intercontinental Champion in the company.

In 1979, Patterson debuted in the then World Wide Wrestling Federation, working as a heel, under the tutelage of manager The Grand Wizard. As a villain, Patterson’s primary feuds were with WWF North American Champion Ted DiBiase and WWF World Champion Bob Backlund.

During a television taping on June 19 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Patterson defeated DiBiase for the WWF North American Championship by using a pair of brass knuckles to knock out DiBiase. Patterson was unsuccessful, however, in winning the WWF World Championship from Backlund.

In September 1979, the WWF North American Championship and the (fictional) South American Championships were unified to create the WWF Intercontinental Championship. Patterson was crowned the company’s first Intercontinental champion after an alleged tournament held in Rio de Janeiro. While Patterson’s tournament “victory” is widely listed in wrestling title and match histories, the tournament itself never actually took place.

Patterson held the Intercontinental Championship until April 21, 1980 when he was defeated by Ken Patera in New York City, New York. The match ended in controversial fashion after Patterson placed his right leg on the ropes just before the three count was made.

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TNA Impact Wrestling’s Destination America Debut: The Good and the Bad

January 08, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s on a third-tier American cable channel that half of the country doesn’t get. They’re coming off a six-week fresh program layoff, and hadn’t recorded new material in nearly four months (not counting Bound For Glory, which is still three months old). By the estimates of anyone who knows Impact Wrestling inside and out (read: anyone with a Twitter account, not to mention fingers), the company should be dead by now.
Yet TNA managed to secure a new cable home, Discovery offshoot Destination America, just before Thanksgiving, and has re-signed pretty much every performer of relevance save for Bully Ray. Tapings continued this week, beginning with a live broadcast Wednesday night from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.
If you like omens, the literal ECW held its final pay-per-view, Guilty as Charged, on January 7, 2001, precisely fourteen years earlier in the same building. It’s worth noting that the ECW influence that TNA appropriated over the summer was completely absent. For once, the default number two promotion in North America stood mostly on its own two feet.
There was plenty of good to be had from the Destination America premiere of Impact, and a share of bad as well. Here’s a primer on where the company sits after one show on its new home.
GOOD: Things were happening in the opening, and they were good things!
For once, TNA felt like a happening place to be! A stylized intro saw the entire roster making their way toward the venue, mentally preparing themselves for the night ahead. That’s a nice touch, given how often TNA has devalued its own product to kneel at the altar of someone like Hulk Hogan or Kurt Angle or Sting or whatever aging former World Champion shows up this month. Bobby Roode, the reigning champion, drew the most focus along with the Hardy Boyz, Gail Kim, and MVP’s crew. Not a bad start, especially from a production standpoint. The video was on par with anything WWE or UFC would do for hype, and probably emptied Dixie’s pocket a bit. Worth the coins, I think.
To conclude the video, both sides of the roster erupted in a brawl just outside the Ballroom and then, in real time, the fight spilled into the actual arena! Samoa Joe pounded DJ Zema in the front row while a host of other wrestlers battled in the Ballroom’s balcony. Even the Knockouts were involved in the skirmish. Why were they fighting? Who cares? I’d rather a horde of endorphin-spiking wrestlers brawl at the drop of a hat than see a handful of top babyfaces get fired by the evil boss and just stand there like a sad mannequin. If the criticism against Raw is the lack of action, then Impact at least delivered in that regard. A tremendous ten minutes to open the night.
BAD: Richard Dreyfus should help the censor find the beat
Someone should clue in the censors at Destination America, who are apparently more hyper-sensitive than an eyeball to a chisel lodged in it, that sometimes wrestling crowds will chant naughty, naughty things. In the opening bit, a chant of “SHUT THE F–K UP” directed at MVP was partially censored by some lifeless drone timing the mutes with the F-bombs. The mutes were excessive to the point that MVP’s promo sounded like an airing of Pulp Fiction on ABC Family. Tell em to relax their asses a tad.
GOOD: New life in the booth
I figured even Michael Cole with a mouthful of Good-n-Plentys would be an upgrade over Mike Tenay, who for twelve years ranged from “trying to parlay the wrestling historian shtick unsuccessfully into a lead role” to “poor man’s Jim Ross” to “disinterested to the point where Taz could probably draw on him with a Sharpie during most broadcasts.” Tenay needed to be removed from the booth, I opined, and I figured Taz as well.
Replacing Tenay is Josh Mathews, a man 26 years younger, with over a decade experience in WWE on headset (mostly B-shows). Mathews appeared earnest in his first TNA outing, and never grated on the ears. Sometimes his enthusiasm didn’t exactly sell the magnitude of what was happening (a criticism of most announcers, really), but at least he was focused on the action at hand. That’s another criticism against WWE that TNA, at least for one night, avoided falling into.
While I didn’t get my wish of Matt Striker to upgrade the color commentator’s chair, Taz was a pleasant surprise. It seems like it’s been forever since I heard the “Human Suplex Machine” so lively, on-point, and knowledgeable in his call. Either the time off sharpened his focus, or Mathews is his ideal partner, or both. Whatever the case is, I found the call to be enjoyable.
BAD: Quick, onto something else!
While the change in announcing will go a little ways in extinguishing the mustiness of TNA’s worst days, the TV production needs to break some old habits. Austin Aries had barely celebrated with the X Division Title before the cameras cut to the next bit TNA wanted to get across. One thing WWE has infinitely done better is let moments sink in before going to commercial or fading to black. Tenay’s scream of “TO THE BACK” was like a twist and a turn on a roller coaster you don’t remember getting on. I realize TNA has some limitations on time (we’ll get to that later), but if they feel what they’re presenting is important, they need to let the dust settle before moving on.
BAD: Everything you remember, minus disembodied Jason Hervey
The great production piece to open the show, as I said, probably was a hit to TNA’s wallet. To off-set that a smidge, the low-quality backstage vignettes still exist. Here’s MVP and Kenny King conspiring with the graininess of a 1992 America’s Funniest Videos entry. Whatever happened to a good-old-fashioned one-question interview in front of a set-piece?
GOOD: Inquiring professor
Mike Tenay, as I mentioned, was ill-equipped to try and be TNA’s Jim Ross, given the highness of his voice and lack of authorative gravitas. In spite of the qualities the he, not to mention you and I and billions of others, lack, he’s still a well-schooled historian in the art and history of wrestling.
Tenay vacated the commentary chair to take a new role, a bit of an invesigative journalist for a secondary program called Impact Wrestling: Unlocked that will air on Saturdays on Destination America. In a preview, we got Tenay interviewing James “Bray? Who’s Bray?” Storm in a character-building piece. I’m okay with all this; as I mentioned, a big TNA knock from two points ago is that nothing sinks in. Needing a weekend show to explain everything that should be sinking in during prime time might be excessive, but it’s a leap forward, and a suitable role for Tenay.
As a side note, I think Tenay would be fine as the one-question interviewer from the last point, since Tenay’s skeptical grimace is hard to duplicate. Wouldn’t you wanna see Tenay scrunch his face up while Robbie E claims he’s the one that dumped Brooke? I know, me too.
BAD: Watermarking out
The Destination America logo bug on the right hand of the screen could double as a to-scale replica of Comiskey Park. If it were any more distracting to the viewer, the viewer would be oblivious to any and all outside interference behind him. Get a trimmer and shave that thing down.
GOOD: Keep the screwjobs simple, stupid
If you don’t count Jessie Godderz jumping on the apron in the Knockouts battle royal, then three of the five matches Wednesday night went without interference. That’s a 60 percent clean rate! Are we sure this is TNA?
Of the two matches that *did* feature screwy outcomes, one was pretty excessive (more on this later), while the other was in the Tag Team Title match. James “Why yes, I guess I am a little Husky” Storm and Abyss defended against The Wolves in a decent little match that ended with a Storm pin on Eddie Edwards, following a miscue from Jeff Hardy. Hardy was at ringside with brother Matt, and headed off interference from Storm’s other lackeys Sanada and Manik.
At least it wasn’t convoluted, right? The Wolves and Hardys (Hardyz? Is the extreme-Z still a thing?) face off on next week’s Impact, so the plan is either just a simple feud with the two teams, or a three-way rivalry for the belts. The ending didn’t make anyone look pitifully stupid and given TNA’s track record, this counts as progress.
BAD: An unfortunate lull
Ethan Carter III has come a long way from being secondary-show chum in WWE as Derrick Bateman. The character is wonderfully self-absorbed and smarmy, and is one of the better examples of TNA taking a WWE write-off and actually getting good mileage out of him. Paired with bodyguard Tyrus (a non-dancing Brodus Clay) and the act is a sustainable heel bit.
EC3’s use on Wednesday was to beat down diminutive former toady Rockstar Spud, and then go after Jeremy Borash (conducting the in-ring bit) for intervening. Carter shaved off part of Borash’s hair to punctuate the angle. A feud between Carter and Borash has no desirable payoff, unless the idea is to have Carter continuously bully ‘little’ people until someone puts him in his place. Then alright.
Beyond that, Carter struggled a bit with his live promo, and it ended up one of the lower points of the night. He’s done far better, but judging the angle as a standalone, it didn’t click.
GOOD: This IS Awesome
The January 4, 2010 Impact was derided for the debut/return of a million has-beens. Five years later, there was only one notable return on the Impact reboot: Awesome Kong, well removed from her blink-and-you-missed-it WWE stay as Kharma. The New York fans freaked out as the monstrous former Knockouts Champion stared down Havok, with the lure of Monster Female vs. Monster Female looking rather enticing.
BAD: Commercial break, or infomercial break?
One major gripe against Destination America, aside from the aforementioned lot: commercials feel like they’re WAY too long. If the breaks are shorter than four minutes, I’d be surprised. I’ve seen enough “Kate Plus Eight” and “Treehouse Masters” commercials in two hours hate everyone involved. Now I know how John Gosselin feels.
GOOD: Austin Aries as X-Division Champion
Aries regained the X Division Title over Low Ki in a fairly brisk (seven or eight minute) match that hit all of the important notes, and gives us a fresh champion for the reboot. To my way of thinking, Aries is one of the closest things in wrestling to CM Punk: a credible performer capable of working various styles and match-types, with an authentic swagger, and he carries himself like a main eventer.
If any TNA performer could be air-lifted and dropped into WWE’s upper card scene today, without being unwelcome or looking out of place, it’s Aries. He was the right man three years ago to halt Bobby Roode’s endless run as TNA World Champion (in a near five-star match to boot), and he’s a great keystone for rebuilding the company. He’s not a WWE reject, he’s not an aging has-been, and his body of work speaks for itself. Aries is the best they have.
BAD: Same old ending
The World Title match, hyped throughout the night as Bobby Roode vs. Bobby Lashley, Part III, ends with runs ins from a heel brigade of MVP, Kenny King, Samoa Joe (who initially interfered in disguise), Low Ki (ditto), and a heel-turning Eric Young. It’s a lot to digest in the 60-second span that this all happened in.
Heel stables and sudden turns have been played out by the company, one that’s had difficulty establishing who their faces and heels actually are. I suppose with a reboot, it’s a bit more permissible to re-establish everyone, but just don’t overdo the specialness of turns and groups as you’ve done in the past. The phrase, “the match was great until the ending” is a staple of TNA’s troubled history, and it emphatically ended the first show in the new home. It’s also ammo for the fans that want to ignore anything good that TNA does, with one glaringly bad/annoying instance to rip apart.
GOOD: The energy was there
While most Raws these days feel like vacant-stared death marches into oblivion, Impact actually brough feistiness and and excitement to the table, with as noted a lot of good and a lot of bad. At this point, given a choice, I’ll check out the show that actually tries.
They may be pulling out of the same old worn bag of tricks, but eh, at least they’re fumbling for the gimmicks with actual vigor.

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Dixie Carter Talks TNA Criticism, Vince McMahon, and Impact

January 05, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

TNA Wrestling president Dixie Carter is aghast at recent comments made by Vince McMahon. Dixie couldn’t comprehend the idea that Vince feels that his roster has no ambition. According to Carter, that isn’t a problem in TNA Wrestling.

Dixie continues to give plenty of fodder to bloggers and critics with her media appearances. A seasoned public relations veteran, Dixie continues to paint herself as a disillusioned pro wrestling promoter that is either completely out of touch or afraid to come to terms with the reality of her company. A recent interview with the Mirror was no exception.

Carter gave the Mirror an incredibly lengthy interview. I’d recommend checking out the entire article because it is certainly more of a glimpse into her mentality than anything else you’ll get from her or a podcast. One of the highlights was when asked about recent comments Vince made about his roster lacking ambition on the Stone Cold podcast.

“I can’t even comprehend that statement. It doesn’t sit with our group.

“My own roster’s completely different than that. I don’t have a complaint about anybody on my roster.

“The young guys are just as hungry … the young guys from 10 years ago are now the Bobby Roodes, Samoa Joes, James Storms. My main eventers, who were brand new young talent from 10 to 12 years ago, I’m proud of how far they’ve come.

“This young group of talent we have right now, they’re the hardest working, most positive team players around.”

I will say this about Carter. I would probably prefer to work for an owner who comes out and publicly supports her roster as opposed to an owner who shows no faith publicly or privately in his own. I am sure the TNA roster was happy to read their fearless leader talk so proudly about her group.

Unfortunately Dixie had her usual disillusions during the interview. Carter was asked about the criticism by some that TNA continue to promote WWE cast-offs. Her answer is well, probably not that well thought out.

“For so many years, I’ve caught so much negative flack, people saying that all we do is hire WWE people. The truth of the matter is, if you look at the WWE roster of late, they’re full of TNA talent even if that means a Sting, Hulk Hogan or a Rob Van Dam, Ric Flair. That’s a passé complaint.
“When you only have two leagues there’s only so many talent that you can find that are on a worldwide level. I think the tide has turned and WWE is taking our talent of late, not the reverse of that. It’s just the way it’s been.”

What a dumb comment. For starters, none of those people mentioned are even wrestling in the WWE. Number two, none of these guys walked into the WWE and were immediately given main-event spots. As a matter of a fact, all of those names are simply bit players at this point. It’s a ridiculous comparison, especially considering that none of these talents originated in TNA.

Carter continues to insist that the move to Destination America is not only positive, but it was their call. That conflicts with numerous reports that indicated Spike TV felt that TNA had peaked and passed on the product. However, in the world of Dixie it was TNA who thought it was a better move to go to Friday nights on Destination America as opposed to staying on Spike TV.

“Any time there’s change, you get outside your comfort zone and I think that’s where TNA needs to be – outside its comfort zone,” she says confidently. “We needed to make changes and that’s what Kevin Kay at Spike and I talked about at the beginning of the year; I did not want status quo, I wanted change.

“When you see where we’re going today [with Destination America], we’ve already announced repeats and different versions of our show, that’s what we needed and that’s what I would not settle for less than in these negotiations.”

The idea that she drove this train is simply ridiculous. Reports indicate that the budget has been cut, plus TNA will be seen in less homes on a worse night. Dixie continues to insist that they will be a flagship program, yet no network has their flagship program on Friday nights. It is pure madness to believe anything else.

I’d recommend reading the whole interview to get more perspective from Dixie on her new television home as well as some interesting thoughts on the Knockouts division. Regardless of whether the B.S. meter is running high in the red.

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TNA Wrestling Make A Big Run At Former WWE Champion

December 18, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

TNA Wrestling are making moves. A couple of days after announcing a new day and time for their TV show, the company is aggressively pursuing the hottest free agent in pro wrestling and he could be coming to Impact in 2015.

Dave Meltzer in the newest Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that TNA are making a hard run at the former Alberto Del Rio, now known as El Patron. According to Meltzer, the company reportedly offered Patron $400,000 a year to come to TNA. Former WWE producer and now head writer over at TNA, John Gaburik is pushing hard to get him in. The deal on the table is for one-year.

Meltzer also reports that Patron has not signed the deal. According to Meltzer, the hold ups are money and exclusivity. TNA would either have to pony up more money or drop their exclusivity clause in order to sign Patron. The negotiations could move in either direction before the end of the year, although that is yet to be determined.

Patron just recently announced a series of dates with Ring of Honor wrestling. Patron also has a big guaranteed money deal on the table from El Rey according to Meltzer. There is a strong demand in pro wrestling for a Latin superstar. That is why the WWE paid so highly to bring Patron over several years ago and give him the big Alberto Del Rio push.

One interesting aspect of this story is that Patron has been getting offers from MMA groups. Bellator reportedly has made Patron a big offer to come fight for their organization. This is much different than CM Punk in that Patron has a strong amateur wrestling pedigree and has fought in MMA before. Patron has reportedly received offers from other companies and is weighing his options.

What is most interesting to me about this story is that TNA has $400,000 to play with. We have heard countless stories about reduced budgets and impending cuts with the Destination America deal. While that may be true, this is certainly an indication of something much different. I am curious as to whether their television partner would be helping with these negotiations because it seems odd that a company rumored to be in financial distress could afford such a high-ticket free agent.

Patron is probably worth the investment. If TNA can use Patron to break through the Latino market and bring more eyes from that fan base to the product, well then he is worth every penny. I am real curious as to whether the WWE tries to make a big play to bring him back. We all know how his last run went down, but money talks. With CM Punk in the headlines signing with the UFC and rumors of Brock Lesnar leaving, the WWE may have to suck it up here and cut off its competition by bringing Patron back. Patron doesn’t sound like a guy with any interest in going back yet again, money talks and it is pro wrestling.

It’s a good time to be Elllllllllllllllllllllllll Patron!

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Pro Wrestling’s Five Most Memorable Events of 2014

December 10, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s hard to believe that another year has been and gone already. 2014 came and went in blur, bringing it with more than its fair share of memorable moments.

It was the year of the WWE Network and the year of Batista’s brief return. It was the year The Shield broke up and Bray Wyatt was, for what feels like a fleeting moment now, the coolest thing in pro wrestling.

Though as memorable as these stories were, they didn’t get us talking quite as much as these five memorable events from 2014.

5) The end of TNA?
With the announcement that Spike TV would not be renewing the company’s flagship show once their current deal ended, it seemed the writing was firmly on the wall for TNA, and there was a while back there when we were all drafting eulogies and contemplating the future of mainstays like Bobby Roode and James Storm.

Yes, it seemed that for a while, the predictions of pessimistic (you may say realistic) wrestling fans everywhere was about to come true: The end was nigh for Dixie Carter’s little wrestling company.

As we all know now, TNA lived to fight another day, but it was looking pretty close back there.

4) Daniel Bryan shines at Wrestlemania
Daniel Bryan’s rise from the doldrums of WWE to the headline act at Wrestlemania was big news this year. As fans, we gave ourselves a pat on the back for making our voices heard both online and at the arenas, demanding our man Bryan be given a starring role at the biggest show of the year.

Then, we gave WWE bigwigs a bigger pat on the back when, for once, they actually came through for us.

Though subsequent injuries meant this one finished on less than the perfect ending, for a while, this was the sure fire feel-good story of 2014.

3) Sting arrives in WWE
In this writer’s mind, you’d be perfectly justified switching this one with our number two entry, and to be honest, this one only misses out on the number two spot because, well, we all saw it coming.

Still, even if it wasn’t the most surprising event of the year, the sight of the WCW icon between the ropes of a WWE is one many long-term fans never actually thought we’d see.

Whether the Stinger’s run as a WWE performer turns out as well as we’re all hoping it does remains to be seen, though it’s fair to say him being there in the first place was by far one of the biggest things that happened in 2014.

2) 21-1
The silence said it all. There wasn’t a single person watching Wrestlemania 30 who really believed, in their heart of hearts, that Brock Lesnar would emerge victorious against The Undertaker.

Even this writer, who penned an article for another website outlining why Lesnar was the perfect choice to end The Streak- didn’t really believe he would.

Then it happened. The Dead Man went down. Brock made the cover. A three count later, and The Undertaker was 21-1 at Wrestlemania.

1) CM Punk quits
Though talk about most of the stories on this list eventually simmered, ready to be replaced by the next big shocking turn of events, the news of CM Punk walking out of the WWE never really went away.

Punk left after his appearance at the 2014 Royal Rumble, and we all spent pretty much the rest of that year talking about it. For some, it was ripping into Punk for ‘taking his ball and going home,’ for others, it was plotting his huge, apparently inevitable, return in any number of fantasy booking scenarios.

Either way, Punk remained hot news for months after his last appearance inside a wrestling ring.

The Straight Edge Superstar’s recent appearances on Colt Cabana’s podcasts have only fanned the flames of this one, making it by far the most memorable events of 2014.

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