So I covered the state of WWE in recent posts and a summary of that would be as follows. It’s typical late Summer and Autumn WWE fare, where they’re building on things and not shooting to the top with exciting PPV’s or feuds, but they are building well for Survivor Series and then they will ramp it up from Royal Rumble towards WrestleMania.
Outside WWE the wrestling alternative of choice of any note is TNA. I’m sure Ring of Honour fans would quibble with that – and only a few of those, but when you have names like Eric Bischoff, Sting, Kevin Nash, Jeff Jarrett, Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Ric Flair and of course Hulk Hogan, then you’re not small-small fry at all. And yet, despite this, they still find themselves way behind WWE with little in the way of giving any promise to making a big enough dent in ratings and popularity to mount a serious threat to them.
This is predominantly because their storylines fail to convince. A little spark, a brief flurry and it splutters into bizarre or purely inept endings to key feuds with no sense of establishing those who should be at the top of the company to give hope to others on the roster. It’s like a geriatric love-in sometimes to see Granddad Flair face off against Granddad Hogan with Poppa Nash intervening likewise in any given story. There are virtually three clear wrestling generations present in TNA – The Flair and Hogan generation which takes in at the younger end the likes of Nash and Jarrett. That segues in well with the likes of Angle and at the lower end Hardy which then goes onto the new breed of wrestlers like Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Ken Anderson and now at the lower end the likes of Robbie E or Jeremy Buck.
When you see the roster and consider some of the talent at their disposal, it is almost criminal that they are not doing better than they are. They have an ideal opportunity to let the old guys push the young guys into the top spot and act in a consultant capacity. Yet more often than not the chance isn’t handed to them to do so. It is as though they again revert to the ‘if they were in WWE they must be good’ policy that means the likes of Samoa Joe have to wait behind RVD and current champ Jeff Hardy.
What has made matters worse is the current cluster-heap of a mess of the New Regime. You had Abyss warning that in 10-10-10 ‘They’ would take over and there was much rumour in the air as to who the ‘they’ would be. The result – almost as if trying to relive the glories of that Bash at the Beach moment some 14 years ago (just swallow that!) it’s all about a Hulk Hogan turn. Although in his current condition, it’s not much of a turn and his appearances necessarily are limited. Yet get this for a party – Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Abyss and Jeff Jarrett form the foundation of yet another faction known as The Immortals and to cap it off they have the new World Champion in a ‘surprise’ heel turn by perpetual fan favourite Jeff Hardy.
Is that enough? Oh no, the next Impact Fortune join up with the Immortals and what was five now just gets silly and unwieldy. There are wrestler mixed up in the whole thing who as a result cannot etch out their own individual point for all the team work going on. So what do they do? Try and shake it up. Fortuitously Mr. Anderson – who was doing alright in his kinda face-turn, sadly gets injury problems and now they pass the contender deal to the Enforcer of Fortune, Matt Morgan.
Yet from a position where they could push up and coming talent like The Pope D’Angelo Dineiro, we’re kind of stuck in a funk again. They obviously won’t take the title off Hardy for a while, but in as much as he’s been doing OK with his promos, it will be interesting to see which faces can go toe-to-toe with him in the ring and be able to put a convincing story against someone whose style tends towards his mobbing delighted fans.
Sorting out what you do with the other immense egos is the task at hand and how to keep us interested and at present there seems to be a fudge going on that appears to be preventing break-outs of any kind. The whole ECW reboot doesn’t make sense any more, even if Fortune want to to carry it off that way. As you can see they look like older, fatter, washed up versions of the trend-setters of their yester-year. Why have them on air? Do they really have something to offer? Then underneath you have the deceptively thin tag team division. The Motor City Machine Guns are arguably the best tag team in the world of professional wrestling today and Beer Money have a tight routine as well, outside that? Generation Me will do well, but that’s roughly around it.
As for their women’s Knockout Division, don’t make me laugh. Even worse than their larger competitors, TNA just don’t seem to know what to do with them all. Beautiful People turn face and the crowd go mild. Mickie James comes in, but her set looks laboured, tired and slow, which is a pity for someone who I genuinely respect as a women wrestler. The farce of having Tara lay down for Madison to win the title, was so bad and does absolutely nothing for the integrity of the division. Once you get that out of the way, it’s all much of a muchness. Skilled in-ring technicians are insufficiently charismatic. The T&A element is pathetic and bland and horrible to watch in the ring. From a position where Tara, Gail Kim and Awesome Kong were making women’s wrestling worth watching, there is the situation now where mass brawls are an embarrassment to television wrestling.
TNA’s situation isn’t hopeless at all, but the approach to storylines and their wrestlers needs to be shifted even if it means a bit of streamlining so that talent will rise to the top and maybe their status as second-rate WWE wannabes rehashing WCW and older scenarios will be a thing of the past. I hope so, for the sake of quality wrestling.