Tito Ortiz is the newest member of team TNA Wrestling which is starting to look like a retirement home for former UFC stars of the 1990s. The August 1 warning reveal has been mocked on social media ever since questioning whether this was a shrewd signing or a colossal miscalculation.
Signing Tito Ortiz isn’t necessarily a bad move. Tito has been in TNA before and has a history with the company. Tito is a big MMA star no matter how you slice it. You can mock him but the man was on Celebrity Apprentice and is a name that most casual MMA fans and even wrestling fans recognize. In terms of MMA he is one of the biggest draws in UFC history so signing Tito isn’t all that bad.
The miscalculation here was the timing. Tito’s signing comes weeks after you just brought out Rampage Jackson who has been a huge disappointment thus far, practically muzzled compared to his days in Pride FC and the UFC. It also comes months after King Mo and the company made such a big deal about a guy that was KO’d several weeks later. Unfortunately for Tito the waters have been so muddied that even a big UFC star like him won’t make a difference.
The other problem here is that TNA Wrestling bought what are essentially broken down, used cars. According to several MMA reporters Tito’s spine is in rough shape and physically he is hurting. Tito retired from MMA because he physically couldn’t do it anymore. Pro wrestling may be a work but it is very physical and for a guy that has a badly beaten back, he can only be a disappointment inside of the wrestling ring.
I am not sure what the approach is here with TNA. Obviously this is a company with serious financial issues. The company has recently cut a bunch of talent and were reportedly late on making payments to its talents. In other words this is a desperate company right now that needs something to turn this company around. Is bringing in washed up MMA fighters who are badly damaged going to do anything for their pro wrestling audience?
There is a reason that pro wrestling fans watch TNA and not Bellator. Pro wrestling fans want their pro wrestling. Remember when TNA went on a marketing blitz to let the world know that “wrestling matters”? This is not the pro wrestling that your fans signed up for. TNA have been losing fans all summer and I can’t imagine they are going to come back because all of the sudden Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz are in the company. I just don’t see it.
I’ll give TNA the benefit of the doubt here and assume that someone else is paying Tito and Rampage’s tabs. TNA is getting free talent so why not use them right? I think it’s pretty clear that Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff aren’t fans nor understand MMA. Free or not at some point you either have to take a pass or just stand up to Viacom altogether if you are being bullied. For all we know Viacom owns a part of TNA. I don’t know that but I am starting to think that because the program has turned into a promotional vehicle at the expense of TNA storylines.
I also have to think that this could greatly backfire on Bellator. The idea of getting this free promotion for an upcoming fight is nice. Yet what if fans start misinterpreting your company as pro wrestling? What if the Rampage vs. Tito fight gets the perception that it was worked between two pro wrestlers? MMA fans don’t want to be played like fools and they certainly don’t want to buy a fight they think is fixed. Let’s not even get into the possible repercussions that Bellator could face from commissions if they think something is up.
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