I’m not a TNA ‘hater’. I’ll get that out of the way straight away. I always wanted TNA to become viable competition for WWE who, at times, are so complacent and take so few risks nowadays that sometimes the weekly shows of Raw and Smackdown can, on occasion, be boring and frustrating to watch.
This isn’t about taking sides. It isn’t about loyalty to a particular brand. It’s about entertainment. If I’m not entertained, I’ll switch off – simple as that.
The more good pro-wrestling there is on TV, the better – that’s my view. I always watch WWE and I watched WCW as much as I could – even when the shows aren’t/weren’t up to a high standard. I don’t stop watching my favourite football team, just because they might lose a game or two – and I don’t stop watching WWE when they have a couple of bad weeks. With TNA, I feel I’ve been beaten around the head with so much utter rubbish every single week and as a result, watching it was starting to feel like a punishment.
I believe that with some real competition for WWE, their overall product would be better. Since I’ve been a big WWE fan since 1991/92 – I’ve seen the evidence to reinforce this belief. WWE were struggling in the mid 1990s until WCW lit a fire under their asses. The ‘Monday Night Wars’ between WCW and WWE truly brought us some pro-wrestling TV that was nothing short of brilliant. Every week was a relentless war to beat the other company’s ratings score.
There was a time when I thought that TNA would soon be reaching this level – when Kurt Angle jumped ship from WWE to TNA. Not just because of Angle’s in-ring ability and star power, but for a number of reasons. TNA had their own crop of rising stars that were having great matches. AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, to name 3. They hired Christian and Booker T. They had experienced guys like Kevin Nash and the legendary icon, Sting. What could possibly go wrong?
The problem with TNA has always been the writing and the booking. No matter how many talented wrestlers enter the company, they all fall foul of the booking. Scott Steiner, RVD, Ken Anderson – there’s three more genuine superstars in the wrestling industry that have suffered while being in TNA. They tend to debut with a bang, you think things are going to change, and then all of a sudden, the new guy is lost in the shuffle with rest of the talent. It’s frustrating and deflating to see.
Some of the names I’ve mentioned are genuine favourites of mine. I’ve kept tuning in to see what’s happening with the like of Sting, Angle, Morgan, Anderson, RVD, Jeff Hardy, etc, all in the hope that I get to see some of my favourites in great matches, cutting great promos, and generally kicking ass like I know that they can. In the last few years it’s simply become too difficult to watch. I find myself scratching my head, confused, frustrated, bored, and annoyed whenever I watch Impact.
Week after week after week of the same old ‘Wrestler A comes out, gets angry about something, calls wrestler B out, who then gets interrupted by wrestler C’ formula that repeats itself time and time again has caused me to simply stop watching the show. Sometimes, this formula is repeated 2 or 3 times in the SAME SHOW, just with different wrestlers. I used to watch it on Sky Plus (delayed, so I could skip commercials). Then I started skipping more and more of the actual show. Then I started skipping 90% of the show and just watching snippets. It was at that point that I decided that it simply was not even worth bothering anymore.
I don’t want to see 3 or 4 ten minute promos on wrestlers and ‘knockouts’ in one 2 hour broadcast. I don’t want to see the same wrestlers ‘calling out’ their rivals every week. I don’t want to see one wrestler turn heel, then face, then heel again within a short period of time. I don’t want to see wrestlers over 50 years old (that can no longer perform at a professional level) fighting and bleeding, and shouting at each other every week. I don’t want to see a heel world champion (Bobby Roode, in this case) retain the title in screw-job finishes month after month after month on PPV. Fortunately, we don’t have to actually PAY for these events in the UK.
Speaking of Bobby Roode, I liked his ‘Off the Chain’ theme. It was one of the few TNA themes that I thought actually sounded good. Then they changed it to an instrumental version that just sounds crap. Just poor quality rubbish, like a ringtone version of the original theme. That’s a small thing, and you might even put it down to personal preference, but it is another thing that takes AWAY my enjoyment from the show. I can count on one hand the theme songs that I actually ENJOY hearing in TNA. They lack power and personality, and as a result, they are not an integral part of a complex and organic overall product, but merely peripherals that only exist to serve the most basic of purposes.
Nasty entrance themes, terrible writing, and bad booking aside, TNA’s roster has a wealth of talent. TNA’s office has masses of experience. Why on Earth can’t they figure out between them how to grab fans’ attention and keep it for two hours a week? Why can’t they hype a Pay-Per-View event well enough to make people want to actually watch it?
WWE at times will rely solely on their history, their reputation, and their huge fan base – and I understand that TNA just don’t have that luxury. But to copy WWE’s ideas, and use WWE’s matches without having the responsibility of explaining the rules to these bouts and to keep kicking any modicum of continuity and common sense in the head so consistently is just downright negligent.
They copied Undertaker’s return promo in 2011 with a near exact replica for Sting just weeks later. They dressed Amazing Red up in a Mexican outfit complete with a mask in a blatant rip-off of WWE’s new recruit, Sin Cara. They have even put an Undertaker-style bell at the beginning of Abyss’ music, who has ALREADY been accused of being a rip-off of Kane and Mankind. There’s too much of this ‘This is OUR VERSION of THAT’ in TNA. Whenever something like this happens, it shows that THEY are accepting that THEY are second best.
I’ve always made time for pro wrestling and I always will. As frustrated as I do get sometimes with WWE, there’s always something to keep me going back the next week. With TNA, as much as I’ve enjoyed it at times and at some points actually thought that things were really going to improve – I’ve given up. Tapped out. Or, been put to sleep. You decide.
I’m a life-long wrestling fan who has seen a lot of really bad wrestling shows, and it’s taken me a while to get to this point. I don’t think it would take long for a new viewer to change the channel.
I hope that one day I will tune into TNA TV again and see a huge improvement.
They’ve got a long way to go.