Today I am going to lay the body of TNA Wrestling to rest, because I have pronounced them DOA. Wait a minute, you might say, aren’t they still airing new episodes each week. This of course is true, so maybe my diagnosis might seem a bit premature to you. But like Eric Draven once said, “They’re all dead. They just don’t know it yet”. The real shame of it all is that it didn’t have to be this way.
Back in late 2009, the pro wrestling community was totally abuzz with the news that TNA Wrestling had entered into an agreement with Hulk Hogan and that they would be moving to Monday nights to reignite the Monday Night Wars. TNA Wrestling had been heating up over the last several months with A.J. Styles as World champion and was providing some high quality matches, so the move to Monday night was sure to provoke the WWE into some excellent counter programming to stay competitive. We, as wrestling fans, would all be the winners. The only fear was that Hulk Hogan and his cronies would turn TNA into WCW 2.0. Well consider those fears warranted.
To be fair, TNA wasn’t exactly a model company before Hogan arrived. They certainly had their share of issues and poorly booked angles. I for one was not a big fan of all the ex WWE talent being brought in. Kevin Nash, Booker T, Scott Steiner, and Mick Foley don’t really do it for me anymore. But one thing TNA did do well was promote from within. Using talent like A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, and Abyss and matching them up with established stars like Kurt Angle, Sting, and Christian worked for both old fans and new. Plus the X Division was red hot and producing some stellar matches.
Since Hogan took over, all that has changed. A.J. Styles has become a pathetic Ric Flair clone and all of his momentum has stalled as he is now just a prop to be used by Flair and Hogan. And speaking of those two, now we are treated to long drawn out monologues between Hogan and Flair. As bad as those are, it’s even worse once the two of them step into the ring to compete. Now we have storylines of Team Hogan against Team Flair. Who cares? I’d rather see Team Wolfe against Team Dinero. Once again we have young talent being overshadowed by Hogan’s ego because he doesn’t feel that the “young guys” can carry the show the way he can. Even though there is new blood on both teams, the names at the top of the marquee remain the same. So we end up with the same tired old headliners week after week.
What the hell is Bubba the Love Sponge doing on television? When everyone knows that you are Hogan’s boy, how in the world could anyone take you seriously that you belong. I recently heard Eric Gargiulo (ding ding) refer to Bubba as Mark Madden, and I could not agree more. The problem with this is not that he generates heat, that’s why he’s there. The problem is with the type of heat he generates. When a heel has “good” heat, people tune in to watch him get his butt kicked week after week (think Mr. McMahon against Stone Cold). But when a heel has “bad” heat, people just tune out because they can’t stand him. It actually has the opposite effect of what you want. In fact they even have a name for it when a heel is so despised that people begin to be turned off by them and lose interest, they call it “X-Pac Heat”. Cue the Band.
And finally I come to the events of this past weekend. At the Ring of Honor pay-per-view Big Bang, Pro Wrestling Radio alumni (ding ding) Christopher Daniels made a surprise appearance after having been released from TNA. Throughout 2009, Daniels had sensational matches in the X Division. In the latter half of 2009, Daniels was elevated to the main event and had several tremendous matches with A.J. Styles for the TNA World title. People noted how well the X Division style of both men worked on the big stage. I heard several people remark that maybe this was a changing of the guard, a chance to allow the less exposed and more athletic guys to finally have their chance to shine. Here we are less than six months later and Daniels is right back where he started, in Ring of Honor.
So dear friends, as we consecrate this promotion back to earth from wince it came let us look ahead to the future. Say one year from now, when TNA has either been purchased by Vince McMahon or simply has ceased to exist altogether. Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Eric Bischoff and company will be counting their money and laughing. Ric Flair will be fleecing another promotion for a payday to help pay his bills. And all that good young talent will be back where it belongs, where it has a home. In Ring of Honor. Don’t worry Young Bucks, we’ll leave the light on for you.
Vince DeHoratus lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two kids. He has been a life long wrestling fan and he has passed that love onto his son. Though not quite yet “middle aged and crazy”, he is fast approaching it.
Order TNA: Kurt Angle: Champion on DVD by clicking here.
Order the WWE Hulk Hogan’s Unreleased Collector’s Series DVD collection by clicking here.
Order Hulk Hogan’s autobiography, My Life Outside the Ring by clicking here.