Thursday, 9 September 2010
TNA is not DOA By Sam Dent
One of a wrestling fan's favorite things to do is to talk about the state of each perspective company. Can WWE stop making John Cena look like Superman or worse yet, Hulk Hogan. Can ROH ever become a national power? Will the Hogan/Bischoff/Russo era finally get things right in TNA? And the most popular question as of late; When will TNA go out of business?
I might be one of the last TNA supporters around the wrestling blogsphere. I have been to house shows, bought the DVD's and just generally mark out whenever I run across one of the guys in my travels all over the country. TNA,when started,was a saving grace in what had become a skit driven wrestling society. No longer did we have to accept the WWE style of force feeding us Jim Ross anal surgery jokes, Triple H necrophilia storylines, and the constant barrage of telling us what a great worker Batista is. TNA become the home to great wrestling driven storylines where the fans appreciated the in ring work and not who could give you the best tag line.
Then a funny thing happened along the way. TNA decided to turn into 1998 WCW. We were subjected to penis jokes and horrible gimmicks. Wrestling became secondary to the comical musings of a sophomoric minded creative team. Storylines would be started and stopped on a weekly basis and heel turns and face turns were ignored almost immediately after they started. It was A.D.D. wrestling at it's finest. Ideas that failed miserably in the late 90's were brought out of the storage closets and tried to pass for fresh, new innovative ideas. True talents like AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels were relegated to comic relief in favor of the older,more established stars like Jeff Jarret and Kevin Nash. Established stars yes, but no longer the in ring presence they once were.
Now we stand here in the middle of the Hogan-Bischoff era of TNA. TNA started with a flourish with their one hour live Monday Night special, garnering national media attention with Hogan's debut with the company. The little train that could decided to take on the mega company that is the WWE and people were hoping for a revival of the old Monday Night Wars between WCW and WWE. For as much blame and criticism that Hogan has received over the years, the man does have a mind and a love for this business that many workers do not have. Eric Bischoff, for all his detractors, does know how to generate intrest and money. Hell, the guy made Scott Baio relevant and watchable. So, it was with high hopes that the regime took control of the company. The problem was that Hogan and Bischoff did not know most of the talent on the roster. They knew their guys like Sting, Nash, Jarrett, Angle but the rest of the roster was almost completely foreign to them.
So 9 months later and where does TNA stand now? Many people are upset with the direction of the company. From poor signings to the constant swinging of heel and face turns, TNA still has its drawbacks and is still stuck in 2nd place.But I want to focus on some of the areas that TNA has succeeded.
The Knockout division of TNA is still the best women's wrestling in the country. True, TNA did lose probably the most dominant force in women's wrestling when Awesome Kong left, but they have managed to overcome that with compelling characters. The Beautiful People's rise to power and the subsequent dismantling and now rebirth has dominated the TNA scene for almost a year. When Angelina Love and Velvet Sky debuted in TNA I thought that they were going to be no more than nice looking jobbers for the rest of the division. But they have become decent workers and their charisma and mic work has really taken hold of the division. Madison Rayne has come on from comic sidekick to the best heel in the division and now alongside Tara form a nice duo. You still have the underrated women around like Taylor Wilde, Hamada, Daffney, and Sarita. And if you ever want a good laugh, there is always Lacey Von Erich trying to wrestle. From top to bottom, TNA has the best depth of any women's division in wrestling.
I also feel that the men's roster of TNA is the deepest in wrestling. Now with having a deep roster, you do have your drawbacks. With only having one show, not all the talent can be showcased. But TNA has worked on finding out which guys the fans do care about and which ones don't. AJ STyles had a rough transition at first going from the comic heel, to face of the company, to now being the top heel. But as with any challenge he has faced, AJ has accepted it and grown into that role of being the top heel. His mic work gets better every year and the pairing with Flair has really helped him. The Fortune Faction as a whole is a great collection of talent also. Beer Money, for my money (pun intended), is the best tag team in wrestling today. Matt Morgan is a young Mark Callaway. Doug Williams is a great technician in the mold of William Regal. Kaz has really come on since being moved into the group and Ric Flair still cuts the best promo in the industry. You also still have the young talents that have elevated their game like Jay Lethal, Brian Kendrick and The Motor City Machine Guns.
On top of the young talent you still have the veteran stars that can still go. Jeff hardy and Kurt Angle just had one of the best matches I have ever seen at No surrender that I have seen in years. Both men busting their tails for over 30 mins. Classic mat wrestling, high flying, crazy bumps and blood all in one match. Then you have the surprisingly solid Mr. Anderson, who seemingly has put all his negative WWE work behind him. DeAngelo Dinero, for some crazy reason, is still one of the best faces in the company. Samoa Joe, who never knows what TNA is going to do with him, still comes out and puts on a great in ring performance night after night after night. Even to my chagrin, the EV 2.0 group has looked good in the ring. Rhyno is maybe the most under appreciated heavyweight in the last 10 years. Tommy Dreamer can still make you want to follow him into the depths of hell with his apssion for wrestling. Sabu look even crazier than ever.Even a couple of the old WCW guys, Kevin Nash and Sting can still be compelling when used in the right situation. And the founder, Jeff Jarrett, has looked good in recent months in the ring.
TNA has the roster depth and the athletes to become a solid number 2 company. The only thing holding them back is themselves. If TNA can straighten out the booking situation and return to more of the wrestling style that they were founded on, I see nothing but success for the company.