This weeks Impact was went down exactly how I thought it would (although I’m a spoiler geek). Sabin and Aries put on the best match I’ve seen on TNA television in weeks, Joseph Park went ‘Abyss’ on the ref during his match with Jeff Hardy, Chavo proved he can still “cheat to win,” there was no Bobby Roode, and the introduction of Team Bromance embarrassed me.
To be honest, after WCW was purchased by Vince McMahon in 2001, I stopped watching professional wrestling, with the exception of throwback videos from the 80’s. I figured that the sport was now watered down, with no viable competition to the growing empire that is the WWE. The territory days are long gone, and most of the independent promotions of that time focused more on brutality than on the wrestling and the compelling storylines that I grew up loving.
I did not take notice of TNA Wrestling until I came across an image of the six-sided ring. I went to the website to find the old NWA Championship belt. Flooded with memories of Ric Flair, Kerry Von Erich, Harley Race and Jack Brisco, I now see the belt strapped to none other than Jeff Jarrett, the man Vince fired on national television. The website was packed with videos where I got my first look at Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Monty Brown and Abyss. Originally my hopes for TNA were not high, however I was able to see a company expand, make changes, fail and make more changes, something that is expected in most American companies. Bringing in Kurt Angle, Sting and pushing future phenoms such as Chris Sabin, James Storm and Eric Young has kept TNA afloat, and the future looks brighter and brighter for the brave company that seeks to take on Vince and the struggling WWE.
The success of TNA Wrestling will simply come down to what I will refer to as the Five P’s.
Like a noted, a selling point for me was when I saw the NWA World Title around the waist of Jeff Jarrett, a man whose family arguably knows the meaning of the word ‘tradition’ when it comes to professional wrestling. While some people in the industry and IWC believe that Jarrett’s father Jerry was the man responsible for the demise of Dallas-based World Class promotion in the late 80’s, the father and son duo knows what it takes to run a successful company. Although the belt has been used by ECW, Ring Of Honor and even WWE, TNA utilized the prestige of the NWA Title and the right talent and took off in the right direction, before crowning their first TNA World Champion when Kurt Angle defeated Sting and Christian Cage in a tremendous triple-threat match. Using Angle as their first world champion would steer them in the direction with a credible champion.
It wasn’t likely in the beginning that the company was going to be an overnight success, and the road traveled has proven to be harder than the Carters, the Jarretts and other investors had hoped. WWE success didn’t come overnight. In fact, Vince jumped over hurdle after hurdle to get where the company is today. TNA getting out of Universal Studios was an idea that was long overdue and will prove to be a factor in TNA’s success, though they have to be careful not to over-promote by challenging the WWE, which is where I believe WCW went wrong. Take your time, TNA, and grow your talent without relying on washed-up, self-serving former main eventers.
The Aces & Eights storyline progressed quite nicely, in my opinion. It was a tad drawn-out, but it did keep me watching every week. Continuing to build strong storylines with their talented roster will pay dividends for this company in the future. Talent like AJ Styles, Austin Aries and Bobby Roode, who in my humble opinion are TNA’s top three workers, will thrive on consistent build-ups and epic matches. Keep doing what you’re doing, TNA and don’t let it slip. Sloppy storytelling and ridiculous characters will only lead to diminished viewers. Let the WWE focus on cartoonish theatrics, TNA. Let your talent do the talking.
Yes, I said predictability, and I mean it on the smallest scale possible. While a lot of people would disagree with me on this one, I believe that a slight degree of predictability is important in professional wrestling. Outlandish stunts and constant face/heel turns will leave the average fan unsure of what they’re seeing. It makes the storytelling buffoonish and can make a viewer ashamed that they are watching in the first place. Being honest WWE and WCW have made me feel that way, more often than I would like to admit. However, Paul Heyman’s ECW never did, because I knew what to expect while being surprised each time.
Take pride in your product, TNA, because it’s pretty damn good. Do you know what makes it good? It’s not your sponsors, your TV deal, it’s not picking the brain of Eric Bischoff and it’s not the marketable name of Hulk Hogan. It’s your talent. It’s James Storm, Magnus, Chris Sabin and Hernandez. It’s your experienced talent like Chavo, Devon, Jeff Hardy and Sting that make the other workers look great. It’s the experience and the knowledge brought by Hulk Hogan, who has stepped back and supported all the talent. No longer taking the spotlight, it’s clear Hogan is committed to the young talent in TNA, and they will only benefit from his guidance.
TNA shouldn’t look at what the WWE is doing. TNA has a great roster. Their champion right now is one of the best heels in the business in Bully Ray, who combines his talent in the ring with his talent on the mic to create the best heel character in wrestling right now. Now things are interesting again with Chris Sabin as the X-Division Champ and the #1 contender to the World Title. As long as TNA shows a little pride, stays slightly predictable, perseveres, show patience and honor the prestige that is the sport of professional wrestling, the sky is the limit.