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Posted in: The Crow's Nest
The Crow's Nest - Why I Don't Hate TNA's Gut Check
By TheCrow
Nov 30, 2012 - 11:38:57 AM

1)Why I Don't Hate TNA's Gut Check (11/30/12)

Well I'll be damned if it hasn't been some time since I've been around these parts. That pesky old thing called "life" keeps getting in the way. The past couple of weeks have just been crazy hectic for yours truly, with school and a trip to the Dominican to see my best friend get married all thrown into the mix. But fear not, I have returned. My semester is almost over, and I plan to write quite a bit over the Christmas break.

But I sincerely doubt any of you clicked on this column to read an update on my personal life, so let's get down to business shall we? Fair warning in advance though, it's going to be a short one today. I've got to finish off a term paper, but I figured taking a break to write a column would help clear my head.


In case you didn't know, TNA has this monthly segment called "Gut Check" where one lucky wrestler gets the chance to wrestle a match with a TNA superstar in an effort to gain a TNA contract. The next week, 3 judges (Bruce Prichard, Al Snow, & Taz) each vote "yes" or "no", and if at least 2 of the judges say yes, a contract is awarded and that wrestler is sent to OVW for further training.

Now what a lot of you may not know, and I don't blame you for this, is that TNA has been holding "Gut Check" seminars since 2004, touring around the United States and Canada looking for "prospective wrestlers, announcers, managers, valets and referees". These weren't televised segments or anything, but they were designed for the company to scout out potential talents without having to commit to signing a contract.

In April of this year, TNA decided to make it a monthly thing, and that is how the Gut Check we now know came to be. Of the 8 people who have taken part, 5 have been signed to contracts, though Joey Ryan did later get a contract despite being unsuccessful in his Gut Check challenge.

A lot of people seem to hate on this idea, and I really don't understand why. I went through a brief phase where I was unsure what to make of it, but now I'm fully on board. Why? Well I'm glad you asked. In addition to reasons why I personally like it, I'll offer my thoughts on some of the opposing opinions I've heard tossed around.

It's an easy way to introduce new talent to the fans. TNA finally has an official developmental territory, but what use is it if the roster is full of people the fans don't know? Even though these segments only get them on TV for two weeks, it still puts that name into the minds of the fans. Just look at the reaction Taeler Hendrix got last week. She hasn't done anything of note since winning her contract, but the fans went ape shit for her. Sure, it helps that she's hot as hell, but that's not usually enough. Need more proof? Just look at Joey Ryan. He actually LOST his challenge, but instantly he had a loyal following, and when he did finally come to the main roster, he was already over with the fans before wrestling his first match. Just making the fans aware of who you are is a great first step, and Gut Check is a perfect way to do that.

"It's just such a waste of time." If TNA were holding these segments every week, I could get how people would grow tired of it. But in reality, they only occur on a monthly basis, and they usually don't take up a whole lot of time. The matches are generally short, and the "decision" segments are even shorter. This argument is just illogical.

It's something different. The concept of having new wrestlers compete for a contract isn't revolutionary by any means, but right now TNA is doing something that WWE is not. They don't usually bring in no-name local wrestlers for squash matches, so this Gut Check thing is a nice alternative. The participants are usually relatively unknown to the majority of the fans, but they are given a name and character right off the bat, not just left to get beat down in a minute or two. TNA used to be all about being "different", and while that didn't always work out for the better, I think this idea is a good one.

"The ones who win don't even do anything afterwards, what's the point?" I kind of addressed this earlier in my first point, so I won't bother repeating that same info in detail. It's true, the winners of these Gut Check segments haven't really gone on to do much in TNA, but what people need to remember is that the point of Gut Check isn't to find wrestlers who are already good enough to be in the main event. It's all about seeing potential, and helping that wrestler realize that potential through training, and also spending some time in developmental. By doing it this way, TNA is significantly increasing their chances of having a reliable roster of developmental wrestlers that can be called upon to join the main roster when the need arises. It's likely that not all of these winners will work out and become a force to be reckoned with, but who would really expect anything other than that? Does every wrestler WWE signs to developmental go on to win multiple World Championships? No.

It's a new tradition that TNA can market. TNA used to be known for things like having a 6-sided ring, having a solid female division, and of course their X-Division. Unique things like those helped to get them some brand awareness. Now, with all three of those things gone (or just less-good, in the case of the two wrestling divisions) TNA needs a new "thing". Gut Check, being as different as it is, could be the answer to that problem. If TNA decides to keep these segments going, they could become the new thing the company is known for.


So there we have it, a few of the reasons why I don't hate the TNA Gut Check segments. What do you fine folks think about them? Did I miss any positives or perhaps overlook a reason why they suck? You know the drill, let me know what's going on inside those heads of yours. I'll be back soon, but until then, thanks for stopping by.


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