WWE | Pro Wrestling

TNA: Choice of a Tired, Old Generation

Dixie CarterImagine for a moment that you’re a cola company. You’re relatively new in the market, after seeing one of the big-name cola companies go out of business and be purchased by the market leader. That business failure left a huge hole in the market. They made the kind of cola that Pepsi makes: crisp, clean, lighter in flavor but still sweet. The market leader is like Coke: very sweet, very heavy because of the syrup. So what would you do? You’d obviously go for the Pepsi-styled cola at the very least if you wanted to be successful, right? Or you’d try for something else, maybe a cola with a higher caffeine content, or one with different flavor notes in it like a Dr. Pepper-styled cola. You’d probably also stock the staff with guys with proven track records of prolonged success, and you’d certainly stay away from the people that were responsible for that previous Pepsi-styled company going under, right?

Not if you’re Dixie Carter.

If you’re Dixie Carter, you hire any “name” wrestling personality, no matter how terrible their track record, no matter how much of a retread they are, no matter how much the fanbase she has despises that person. If you’re Carter, you piss your daddy’s money away in trying to create another Coke-styled company in a market that is already dominated by something similar. It’s almost like she’s trying to compete with Vince McMahon while taking his advice on what he thinks the masses want to see.

See, McMahon doesn’t think that people want to watch wrestling anymore. He thinks that “sports entertainment” is what everyone wants to see. Of course, he’s dead wrong, but he’s got the lion’s share of the market right now, so he can look right for the wrong reasons. Rather than go out and produce a Southern-styled ‘rasslin program, which is how WCW emerged as a major player in the early ‘90s out of the ashes of Jim Crockett Promotions, Carter would rather try to emulate that formula and succeed by trying to do what her competitor does to a T, but only trying to do it “better”. Well, even if she and her staff were doing it better, it would take an uphill climb for them to gain an audience since they’d be competing for the same people the WWE is going for.

The sad thing is, there is an audience out there that just wants to watch wrestling, or at least, there was in 2003, before UFC and MMA started absorbing the combat sports crowd. Still, a nouveau-WCW or Southern-styled wrestling promotion might have legs today. ROH’s audience isn’t huge, but it’s a good base to start. The current TNA audience clearly doesn’t watch because they’re fans of Orlando Jordan squirting “lotion” on himself, as my colleague Justin Henry pointed out from his Sacrifice review that they were chanting “End this match!” at him and Rob Terry.

Yeah, about that, Sacrifice. You know I didn’t even realize there was a TNA PPV this weekend until some TNA fans started a thread about it at one of the message boards I frequent? That’s pretty sad. Even sadder is this little tidbit that was originally reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter about how the Outsiders… err, sorry, I mean The Band, won the TNA Tag Team Championships. Apparently, they were looking for a way to get the titles off Matt Morgan, who’d been carrying them by himself since he took his tag partner Hernandez out. It was an interesting angle, albeit one wasted on one of the worst wrestlers in the mainstream today in Morgan (seriously, the guy makes Drew McIntyre look like The Rock). They were all set to do an angle where Samoa Joe (Remember when he used to be relevant? Yeah, feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it?) was chosen as his partner and then cost themselves the titles at Sacrifice. Well, rather than go on with that angle that they’ve seemingly done to death, someone in the writing staff remembered that, hey, Kevin Nash won a banked Tag Team Championship shot during Feast or Fired. It seems everyone on the booking team forgot that little tidbit. Eric Bischoff didn’t know about it because it happened before he came aboard. Okay, he should know everything about the company’s happenings at least in the short term, both past and future, but hey, it’s somewhat excusable. You know who else forgot that tidbit though? Vince Russo. Guess who was the guy who booked Kevin Nash to win the Tag Title shot at Feast or Fired.

Yep, Vince Russo.

And right there, that’s your biggest problem. Vince Russo is emblematic of Dixie Carter’s shortcomings as a financier and wrestling company CEO. She’s more enamored with names than she is with a vision. After WCW went under and after the world saw what Russo was, or more aptly wasn’t, capable of without someone like McMahon or any of the other WWE agents and creative minds keeping him in check, why would anyone even entertain the thought of bringing this guy in? He can’t even remember what he booked six months ago, and she wanted him to direct the long-term future of her company? Granted, he’s not the head writer anymore, but he’s still involved with the company. She didn’t fire him; he resigned because he was burnt out. Amazing.

I used to think that TNA would be fine no matter how bad creatively it got, because they had Panda Energy, Carter’s father’s company, backing it with huge amounts of money, and that their ad rates and merchandising would help offset the awful buyrates. However, from what I’m hearing, about how the company is taking cost-cutting measures by firing guys like ring announcer David Penzer or about how they only reimburse hotel and travel costs for the biggest stars or about how Traci Brooks, before she got released, had to fake an injury to cover up her inability to afford showing up to certain events, the more I think that TNA may not last year. It’s a shame, because Dixie Carter had the means to put out a product to compete with the WWE’s seeming monopoly over professional wrestling, err, I’m sorry, “sports entertainment”. She just pissed it away by hiring retreads and not caring about the product that she was putting out. She’d rather have her face plastered on the screen during matches to pimp out her Twitter account than do work to hire competent creative staff.

I’m glad that Dixie Carter didn’t try to start up a cola company though. Because if she were in charge of Pepsi, then hell, we’d only have Coke to drink. Variety is the spice of life, people. Why people who could make good on proving that don’t want to believe that is beyond me.

Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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