Still in the infancy of my writing career, I was charged with covering TNA and opining on the happenings and goings-on within the confines of the sometimes-six-sometimes-four-sided ring. The much ballyhooed arrival of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff in TNA quickly lost its novelty, and the interesting, exciting, and positive things I had at my disposal to write about were becoming rarer than an Akebono hurricanrana.
Two largely agonizing and frustrating years later, it seems TNA may have finally turned the corner by taking a big risk and putting Austin Aries at the TNApex. I really hope Dave Lagana and the rest of the powers-that-be in TNA can keep riding this wave of momentum, because as you’ll see by reading this article, TNA at its worst was downright excruciating.
The Devil’s Advocate: A Letter to TNA
Originally published by The Wrestling Daily, 09 February 2010
We need to talk. You owe me one monumental explanation. For the past few weeks, I’ve done nothing but defend you and put so much spin on your storylines and happenings, I’m putting Roger Federer to shame.
First, you made the decision to bring in Hulk Hogan. It was controversial, and very unpopular among the Internet Wrestling Community, but I defended you and said “Who has more name recognition than Hogan?” Then you brought all of Hogan’s no-talent buddies, and I said “Well, I guess you should make Hogan happy so he doesn’t get mad and go elsewhere.” Today, I read online that Hogan’s ego is allegedly already rearing its ugly head and he’s all but convinced that several TNA wrestlers who “don’t look like wrestlers” need to go.
I’m done TNA; I can’t defend you anymore. You’ve pushed me beyond my breaking point, and are apparently trying to make me look unbelievably naïve, if not downright stupid, in the process
I understand that rumors are just that, rumors. Just as many rumors are false as are true, If not more. You might point to the sudden re-emergence of Samoa Joe into the main event picture, but there are still far too many things that concern me for me to be able to continue to blindly support you and fight off the grumpy, basement-dwelling, live-action roleplaying, Mountain Dew guzzling, 10 sided die-hurling virgins known as the greater IWC.
Besides, even though Samoa Joe showed he still has some gas left in the tank, he did so while looking like a stunt double for Gabriel Iglesias. For crying out loud TNA, give me something to work with! You’ve basically all but eliminated the X Division, pushing has-beens and never-weres such as the Nasty Boys, Scott Hall, and Sean Waltman and forgetting about incredibly talented X Division wrestlers such as Amazing Red, Lethal Consequences, and the MCMG, among others.
Not so long ago, the X Division was your calling card! An X Division championship match was the main event on one of your pay-per-views, for crying out loud! Now, it’s about as highly regarded as the Cruiserweight championship was in WWE. That was one of the very few things that set you apart from WWE, and one of the few places where you held a very clear, very obvious advantage. Now, you’ve thrown it away to be more of a WWE clone, only with a much smaller fanbase and far less intelligent people at the controls.
Don’t you think it’s a problem when the person who gets the most face time on Impact is Eric Bischoff? The only worth he has is to be a weasel of a heel and to get heat with his mic work. Now, he’s even worse on the mic than he was in WCW. That’s right, Bischoff is WORSE than he was in a company that he himself had a significant part in driving into the ground, and he is one of, if not THE most featured performer on your show! How do you expect me to cover that up? How in the blue hell can I spin that? It would be easier to get five consecutive clean drug tests from Scott Hall.
Do you know what the most frustrating part of this all is, TNA? At very least, you’re right on par with WWE, as far as in-ring talent goes. Arguments could be made that you have more overall wrestling talent than the WWE behemoth. So what are you doing with all of that talent? Not a whole lot, as it turns out.
Starting at the top, AJ Styles is arguably the most talented wrestler in the company, and so I obviously have no problem with him being the champion. What about Christopher Daniels, a competitor who had some of the best matches in TNA history against AJ? He’s relegated to losing in the first round of a championship tournament to a tag-team wrestler.
The aforementioned Joe-push into title contention may not turn out to be much either, considering how seriously you take No. 1 contenders. (Remember the Turkey Day Tournament? Who won that? Did he ever get a title shot?) How about the most recent Impact main event, Nash vs. Foley? Those two have a combined age of almost 100 and they’re main-eventing! That’s akin to having Rick Sutcliffe and Oil Can Boyd face off against each other in Game 1 of the 2010 World Series.
Look, it’s not all bad. You have brought in some good young talent, such as Generation Me, who look quite promising. Just use them now! If you want me to continue to be the primary TNApologist on TWD, if not the whole IWC, start using the young talent! Give them experience, push them, have the older generation on their way out put them over and make them look good instead of just worrying about themselves.
It’s true that the older, less talented, less athletic competitors have more name recognition than the younger stars, but it’s not like you can’t change that! It’s quite easy, I promise. If you want the younger generation to become more recognizable, give them more exposure! Isn’t it obvious? On pure talent and wrestling skill alone, I refuse to believe that anyone would rather see the Nasty Boys than Generation Me.
I know Hogan has made waves, and that his debut scored the highest rating in Impact history, but what have his “buddies” that I’m sure he insisted be brought in done? Hall and Waltman have just ran around and randomly attacked people, the Nasty Boys have been mediocre in the ring at best (which is 10 times more than what I expected) and are getting pushed by feuding with Team 3D while infinitely more deserving teams such as MCMG and the British Invasion get relegated to curtain-jerking and other pointless things. And Bubba the Love Sponge? All he did was make a horrendously insensitive comment about Haiti and provoke Awesome Kong to assault him. But he’s been a very subpar backstage interviewer and personality, so it’s all worth it, right?
I get it, I really do. People already know who these guys are, and that can be a big help in trying to elevate a company to the next level. Haven’t you already used them to their maximum potential? Isn’t time to feature wrestlers who can actually wrestle? You brought Hogan in as essentially a publicity stunt, and I’m sure gained you some new viewers, but do you really think beating us over the head with the new old talent will continue to significantly increase your fanbase?
Your decision to keep pushing has-beens and forgetting about young, talented stars is so unbelievably illogical, I can’t help but think you value kissing Hulk Hogan’s backside and keeping him happy over delivering a quality product on a consistent basis. In the name of all that is good and pure in this world, do SOMETHING to show me that isn’t the case!
I’m sure you don’t believe me, and put about as much stock in my words as ODB does in her image consultant’s advice, but I’m deadly serious. This is it, TNA. I’m giving you exactly one month to turn things around. Until then, I will continue to sift through the dregs to get to the few gems that you actually put on TV. I will continue to go to war with the naysayers and the TNA haters. I will continue to tout the virtues of AJ Styles, Desmond Wolfe, The Pope, and others who you’ve actually shown some interest in pushing. But I only have so much tolerance.
One month, TNA. That’s it.
Don’t disappoint me.
Denim Millward was a contributor for The Wrestling Daily. All opinions expressed above are still his and not that of TWD as a whole.