It’s been a few years since the company has truly entertained too.
Even with a live show for the summer, a rag-tag collection of WWE washouts, developing indie stars and their homegrown talent, TNA has yet to make themselves worthy of sharing a piece of the professional wrestling “pie” with the McMahon family.
Sure, they’ve had a few surprising moments. There were times when they appeared ready to turn the corner, but for the most part, TNA has been nothing but a failed attempt at professional wrestling greatness.
But why? Regardless of what TNA says in press releases or on TV about satisfying their fanbase, they still haven’t learned much. Wrestling doesn’t matter as much as politics. If it did, the company’s heavyweight champion would fight people he could have a decent match with.
A company founded by an overrated upper mid-carder in Jeff Jarrett, TNA got through those lean years thanks to former WCW and ECW guys like Jarrett and Raven putting over young stars such as A.J. Styles and Chris Harris and James Storm- that is until they could stand up by themselves. But rather than continue that course, one that served ECW fine before Paul Heyman forgot basic math and did “Rollerball,” they’ve forgotten what they were. TNA, at its best, is less pure wrestling than Ring of Honor, but with stomach-able storylines- perfect for fringe fans sick of a WWE product yearning for more in-ring “attitude.” A place where youngsters develop, middle of the road guys come to revive something and of course, where Sting wrestles every few months.
But now it’s almost impossible to know what TNA really is. With some of their employees pulling double duty in India with Ring Ka King and those terrible car insurance commercials, the company’s descent has been disgusting to watch. How do you go from Canadian Destroyers and some of the best wrestling in the world to Ric Flair cutting promos on Hulk Hogan, 10 years after they’ve been able to adequately perform?
The biggest problem with TNA is that every person they bring in has said they’ve been responsible for a company’s success during some point in their career- when in fact, they were only a small reason for the success. First it was Vince Russo, then it was Dusty Rhodes. Two years ago it was Hogan and Bischoff and now its Tom Pritchard. This company needs a new booker worse than Heidi Montag needs to put on 10 pounds. They also need to let guys wrestle. While storyline is pivotal, WCW, ECW and even the WWE prospered thanks to a hearty combination of great wrestling and storyline, not one or the either. ROH has proven alongside TNA that great wrestling isn’t enough.
It’s too bad that TNA doesn’t get that yet.
TNA has plenty of what Kevin Nash calls “vanilla midgets,” but in TNA, they’re barely rainbow sprinkles. They’re not even given a chance and when they are, they’re given terrible gimmicks. Robbie E is a perfect example of this. The guy can flat-out work, but instead, he’s given a Jersey Shore gimmick and relegated to the mid-card. It’s been roughly two years since E made his TNA debut. Does anyone know what his finisher is?
While Eric Young and Austin Aries aren’t nearly as bad victims as E, Young needs to be in the TV title picture again and allowed to wrestle as well as entertain. He’s one of the few wrestlers on the roster that can do both. As far as Aries goes, the guy is a fantastic X-Division champion, but if given an opportunity, he could be a World Champion. When he has a suit on and cuts promo, he’s got that Tully Blanchard way about him, but unlike the former Horseman, he’s a better athlete and would work a fine program with much bigger opponents. If a cartoon character like Rey Mysterio can 619 his way to the WWE Championship, there’s no way a guy like Aries, with a much better moveset and mic skills, can’t have a heck of a program with Robert Roode.
If “Wrestling Matters” as much as this company says it does, there’s no reason why guys like E, Young and Aries aren’t given more of an opportunity.
In the end, Slammiversary basically marked the company’s elementary school graduation of sorts. There’s no hair on their chins yet. They still don’t know what the fans want. And even if they did, they wouldn’t be able to give it to them.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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