“All of a sudden you’re trying to do a program with someone like Bully Ray, and you’re right in the middle of his program and the contract runs out, and you can’t get an answer on whether he’s going to be signed tomorrow or not. And you need to know what to do. All of a sudden, you don’t know if Eric Young is going to be there. I mean, there is more to it than just building. If there were no worries, mate, and there were no other agendas, it’d be really easy to sit down and write and make the stories much easier. But every time you sit down to say oh, you don’t know how to build this guy or you’re getting ready to build somebody, all of sudden there’s what do we promise him two months out when his contract ends? Or, he works 30 days in his contract and he’s already worked 28. So, I don’t know if Bret Hart took all of that into consideration, ya know? Certain guys you may want to build for the next six months, they’ve only got three days left. There’s just so much more to it.” – Hulk Hogan for WrestleTalk TV
This is what Hulk Hogan had to say in response to Bret Hart’s recent comments regarding TNA’s inability to build stars. This particular part of The Hulkster’s interview was of significant interest to me, as it goes back to an issue I have previously discussed here and one that I think is the company’s biggest weakness – inconsistent booking. It has haunted an embarassingly big portion of the TNA roster, from the big names such as AJ Styles or Samoa Joe all the way to the likes of Gunner, whom we have not heard anything about in ages, and even Gut Check newcomers like Sam Shaw. Bret Hart has voiced the same displeasure that has been on the minds of wrestling fans in the last few years.
Hogan stated Hart has no idea how complex booking is. It seems odd that a bunch of “smarks” here on TNANews.com invest so much time and effort in voicing their opinions on wrestling programming if the implications of running a wrestling promotion are unclear to one of the biggest names in the business. The truth is, most wrestling fans have no idea how complicated booking is. Writers such as me, we are very opinionated about the industry, yet would any of us book the programs better? I doubt it.
With that said, Hogan’s analysis came off as a bit too simplistic and if anything, I thought it highlighted other areas in which TNA is misguided. Contractual planning and negotiations are as important of an aspect of running a wrestling company as the creative work. It is essential that these elements are synchronized in order to achieve the desired result. Simply put, TNA needs to focus on both retaining their top guys around for the long term and keeping them satisfied. In many ways, what Hogan has cited as a reason for inconsistent creative decisions really goes back to my piece on the need for hierarchy in the company. Such an environment should be created in which wrestlers feel priviliged to be on TV, yet they are constantly motivated to climb up the ladder. A TNA star should know his/her place in the company.
It is a common occurence in TNA that a worker gets neglected for months and just when his contract is about to run out, someone realizes his real value and grants him a massive push. It has happened to Eric Young on more than one occasion. When that push arrives out of nowhere, it is only natural that someone else on the roster has to take a step down. This cycle cannot be blamed merely on circumstance, but on the way TNA has handled certain pushes at the expense of others.
If Hogan truly believes that it is a matter of uncertainty rather than fickleness, I would like to ask the following questions:
What’s up with Rob Terry? After breaking away from The British Invasion and being heavily pushed as a babyface powerhouse, he joined Immortal as a heel only to turn face once again in June 2011. Three months later, he turned heel and sided with Robbie E and he has been performing as a face once again as of late. Three identical consecutive pushes here, each involving a sidekick position leading to a face turn.
What is happening with Gunner? Initially an important member of Immortal, he earned a Television Championship reign, as well as the catchy “Mr. Intensity” monicker. He went on to sign a new three-year contract with TNA, only to disappear from TV for three months, return for a brief run as Kid Kash’s tag team partner and then disappear once again.
Wasn’t Hogan preparing AJ Styles and Abyss to be the icons of the company? Also, where is Joey Ryan? And why has TNA made us completely forget about Crimson and his 470-day undefeated streak including victories over the likes of Samoa Joe and Rob Van Dam? As well as many more questions, which I am sure are not all a matter of unforeseen circumstances.
Maybe we are not familiar with how complex booking can be and the numerous factors which can get in the way. Maybe even Bret Hart isn’t. It does insult people’s intelligence, however, when Hulk Hogan pretends like the chaos on TNA programming is not rooted in creative decisions. When a wrestling promotion gets bashed for its inability to build stars, “It’s too complex.” is anything but a reasonable response.