Despite the fact that everything we will ever do gets compared to Stamford, this is a topic I jumped on because it evokes an immediate reaction. Today was another cost cutting measure from up North, that saw quite a few workers get cut. The question posed was, who of those fired today should be scouted by the Nashville front office. And then comes the label of “WWE Rejects”. My question is, why would we need them? As always, the opinions expressed herein are mine alone, and may not represent TNANews.com.
Wrasslin Wramblins – WWE Rejects
Black Thursday happens almost every year, and not always on a Thursday. The ‘E releases a number of Superstars, and everyone turns to TNA to see who they’ll scoop up. So I ask, why? Now face value is important. A superstar is still a Superstar, because that’s who such talents are branded as. They aren’t necessarily good in one aspect. They’re among the elite in all aspects. This is why they are sought after. Not only are they good politicians, but good to great wrestlers. Ones who have familiarity with angles, calling matches, getting specific crowd reactions, working varied gimmicks, playing face and heel, and being good at being enhancement talent. While most of the WWE’s workers are interchangeable, all of them either meet or exceed these metrics and that’s why quite a few former talents have found great success in TNA.
Much like WWE, TNA is also a production slash sports entertainment company. Yet they don’t really know how to build athletes into performers that can do all the above. Their best wrestlers usually can’t play heel and face. They cannot work a five-star match, and incorporate emotion and plot developing finishes without resorting to a ton of special maneuvers and next to no selling. Not on a regular basis. Every criticism of indie spot monkeys applies to TNA’s stars. They’re great wrestlers, but have yet to draw a real, emotional connection with entire audiences on a massive level. You can blame the Impact Zone – but only so much.
People don’t want athletes in wrestling. They want performers. They don’t want basic wrestling stars. The average rating of Raw is 3.5 to 3.0. Impact, 0.9 to 1.2. The in-ring product speaks volumes as to why. It is not the only reason, by far, as the marketing and advertising departments should have been fired years ago, the creative team should avoid evil heel stables for the next decade, and there should be a branded mission statement every TNA fan should know by heart.
The lack of this falls on the shoulders of TNA’s talent to make up, which is why Superstars can excel. Simply put, ordinary pro wrestlers cannot do this. No. You need sports entertainers to be not only road agents, but charismatic enough to appeal to the entire audience, and business savvy enough to insulate their careers as long as possible. The ones who are gone that everyone loved utterly failed in one or more of these areas. So who can do these things? Tried and true veterans of the game itself, those recently released from up North.
Fortunately or otherwise, this mantra also applies to TNA executives, who have brought in ex-WWE exec after ex-exec. Eric Bischoff, Vince Russo, Ed Ferrara, Bruce Pritchard, Terry Taylor, John Gaburick, Dave Lagana and more, who were all hailed as that secret weapon, that magic bullet that will turn everything around. You know, that magic bullet that just doesn’t exist. And who do they hire?
Other former WWE employees. Now will be no different. And that’s because TNA cannot build Superstars of their own. They chose to put Kurt Angle over Samoa Joe. They chose to make AJ Styles into little Naitch. They chose to make Abyss into another Hulk Hogan. There are no long-term pushes for anyone. This may change with Eric Young, but if anyone thinks he got the belt for any other reason than he fit the mold of Daniel Bryan, you’ve got waterfront property in Egypt.
It takes the rare performer to have all the tools, backstage and in-ring, to be a true Superstar. Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, James Storm, Kenny King, Samoa Joe, The Beautiful People, and Eric Young, these are talents who are as close to homegrown Superstars as you can get- and in many cases, it’s in spite of, not because of TNA’s best efforts. I am damn glad to have them, and also damn glad to finally see them beginning to rise to the top where they belong.
TNA can do this. We can get this done. With “Rejects” or without. If they were less concerned about a short-term ratings bump, less worried about the next big thing and more worried about who they see main eventing the fed in five to ten years, making sure to build their stars with patience, direction and focus, that would be all that is needed. Start with the guys they signed to three year deals, and say, how do we do this? How can we work to make our next great Superstar? It’s just time, and investment. And everything will be just fine, regardless of who gets released up North.
But if you still want a pick …ummmm.
That’s it for this week, thanks for reading, and as always sound off in the comments. This is Wrasslin Wramblins wishing you the best in all your future endeavors. Enjoy the show.