Hustle Is Posting Right Now - My Current Issue With TNA
Aug 10, 2013 - 6:58:11 PM
You rock, Maricel.
"Get up out my business.."
We've all shared and read opinions on TNA bringing in Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Tito Ortiz, to go along with Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, who was already on the roster. We've seen the side of the argument that features the "good move for TNA because of the crossover appeal" line of thinking. We've seen the side of the argument that features the "bad move for TNA because they now have has-been MMA fighters getting paid a lot of money even though they don't know how to wrestle" line of thinking. Personally, I'm not a fan of the move, but I don't blame TNA one bit. As I've been telling people on Facebook and Twitter, I don't think the signings of Jackson and Ortiz were moves thought up and executed by Dixie Carter and TNA management. I fully believe these are moves pushed on TNA by Spike and Viacom (Spike's owners). A lot of money was spent to bring Bellator to Spike, and Bellator's ratings haven't always been anything to get excited for. With Impact being Spike's highest-rated regular show (according to reports), the "corporate synergy" makes sense. Bring Bellator guys onto Impact, so that pro wrestling fans see them and hopefully say "these guys are badass, and I want to see more of them", causing them to also tune in to watch Bellator. I can't knock them for giving it a shot, but I do feel bad for TNA. They aren't really gaining anything out of it. The ratings aren't getting a spike (no pun intended), and in the end, they're left with those high-paid names who aren't trained pro wrestlers. If you don't think that's important, watch Rampage in any group brawl segment he's been in since signing with TNA. He has no idea how to take his "real" fighting background and translate it to this "fake" fighting world, and he holds his strikes back to such a ridiculous extent that he looks like your average kid play-wrestling in the living room, pretending to hit his friend with forearm shots and a chair that looks suspiciously like a couch cushion. I like Rampage. I always have, but come on.. if the man isn't ready to handle the kind of physical activities required in the world of pro wrestling, he shouldn't be getting physical in the world of pro wrestling.
Anyway, that isn't what I want to discuss in today's column. Well, it kind of is, but more on that later. What I want to discuss now is the one thing I have really disliked during this entire "bring MMA guys to TNA" storyline we're in the middle of.
Pro wrestlers, in the pro wrestling world, should not be afraid of MMA fighters. "Real" fighters of any kind, as a matter of fact.
They just shouldn't.
Think back to 1998, when "Iron" Mike Tyson was brought into the WWF. He was billed as "The Baddest Man On The Planet", and he had a legitimate right to that title, even though he was coming off of back-to-back losses to Evander Holyfield. He still had some of the fastest hands in all of boxing, and his knockout power was something to be feared. When "Stone Cold" Steve Austin went face-to-face with Tyson, how did Austin react? Was he afraid of Tyson? Was he cowering in the corner, not wanting to get punched in the face? No. Not only was he not afraid, he was the aggressor, telling Tyson that he would whoop his ass if he needed to. He put Tyson over, mentioning that Tyson was, indeed, "The Baddest Man On The Planet", but that he (Austin) was "The World's Toughest Son Of A Bitch", and that Tyson was in his (Austin) world now. That was the perfect way to handle the segment. Tyson was put over as a badass, but Austin put himself over as a badass, as well. It made people wonder who would win if those two ever tangled.
With Rampage and Tito Ortiz showing up, we've seen TNA wrestlers handle things a bit differently. They look like they've shit themselves at the mere presence of these men. I get that they're legendary MMA fighters. That's fine. However, how does that put wrestlers over in the world of wrestling? That makes them look second-rate. It makes them look like "lesser" fighters. Please don't start with the "real VS fake" argument. I get that a trained MMA fighter will probably hand a pro wrestler's ass to him in a shoot fight, but we aren't talking about a shoot fight here.
Jumping back to WWE for a bit, there's one interesting twist to this entire scenario, and that twist is Brock Lesnar. Some people have shown fear in the presence of Lesnar, but two things make this a different scenario..
1. He's a proven commodity in pro wrestling, as a former Royal Rumble winner, a former King Of The Ring, and a three-time WWE Champion. That isn't even counting his success in Japan with New Japan Pro Wrestling.
2. Look at him. He's 6'3" and pushing 300 pounds, with muscles on top of muscles. Compare that to the trio of MMA guys in TNA. Rampage is 6'1" and is lucky if he's 200 pounds. Tito is pretty much the same as Rampage, only an inch taller. King Mo is pretty much the same as the other two, only an inch shorter than Rampage. We're talking three guys who are X-Division size, while Brock is bigger than most names on the WWE roster.
However, even with that said, watch CM Punk during his interactions with Brock. He doesn't look afraid, and he takes the fight to Brock. Even though he has come out on the short end in those fights twice now, he still isn't showing fear. He knows what Brock has accomplished in the world of MMA, but he also feels that he (Punk) is the "Best In The World", and he isn't going to back down.
When Tito Ortiz showed up on Impact last week, the looks on the faces of the men in the ring were priceless. The Main Event Mafia and Aces & 8's, all standing there, staring at him, as if they were contemplating a career change right there on the spot. Again, what does this do for the wrestlers? This doesn't put them over at all, especially when most of them are physically larger than Tito is. I don't think it's asking for too much to have wrestlers look at the MMA fighters and want to fight them, instead of acting like children about to get a beating from daddy when he comes home from work and hears about the "F" they got on their report card. Don't even get me started on how piss-poor Chris Sabin has been with his facial expressions since winning the TNA World Title, but that's a different topic for a different day.
If I'm right about Spike and Viacom having their fingerprints all over things, it wouldn't surprise me if TNA was "ordered" to have their wrestlers react that way, in an attempt to make the MMA fighters look like huge deals to the fans who don't know of their MMA history. You know.. "I don't know who that is, but he has guys like Sting and Bully Ray looking worried, so he must be a big deal".. that kind of thing. Again, I feel bad for TNA, if that's the case. That doesn't do anything for them, and only advances Bellator, if it advances anything at all. People can make all of the anti-TNA jokes they want, and Lord knows they are, but I can't point the gun at the promotion for this. This is too much like when ECW was on TNN (and as I've told people before, Spike used to be TNN, and many of the same people in charge of Spike were running things when it was TNN), where the promotion had virtually no "say" in anything, and had to do what the network wanted, when the network wanted. This is also like various times in WCW, when most of the people in charge were non-wrestling people working with Turner and Time Warner, and they would constantly meddle in the promotion's business.
What do ECW and WCW have in common?
TNA might need to be careful. I'm not going to pretend to know anything about contracts with networks and what TNA's options are. I've seen people say that TNA should get out of the Spike deal if they can find a new home for Impact. That would be fine and all, but I have no idea how plausible it is. TNA might be in an iron-clad contract with Spike that runs until 2030 for all we know. Eric Young did a radio interview at the start of the year and said that TNA had signed for another five years with the network, but no word on whether or not that was official. In my opinion, it would probably behoove TNA to find a network that would let them do their own thing without too much interference, but again, I don't know how these contracts work. I'm sure Spike wouldn't just let TNA walk away, though. Not with them being the big draw on the network. They would need something else in place that would take over, like when TNN wanted ECW gone because they had WWE programming on its way. WWE isn't heading to Spike anytime soon. Ring Of Honor isn't "big" enough for Spike to be comfortable in letting TNA go. UFC is too busy airing on 400 different Fox networks to be on Spike. There just aren't any real options out there that would make Spike be alright with TNA walking away. Unfortunately, I think TNA might very well be stuck in a situation where they have to bow down and do what they're told, no matter how many wrestling fans cop a squat and take a steamy dump all over the decisions.
That's unfortunate, because I don't think TNA can ever truly grow as a promotion under these circumstances. Too many chefs in the kitchen, as the saying goes, only this time, most of those chefs are simply doctors wearing chef hats and not actual chefs.
Writer's Note: Many of you have taken the time to listen to Storytime With Uncle Hustle on LoP Radio, and have been giving me feedback on the show. I appreciate it. However, the show was a bit of a "social experiment", leading to the most recent LoP Radio show I was on, "Counted Out", where I was joined by De and Repo to discuss the controversial topics of homosexuality in wrestling, and whether or not there is a blatant layer of homophobia in wrestling fans (or wrestling promoters themselves) that would ever allow an active male wrestler in mainstream wrestling to come out of the closet and be successful. This wasn't your average LoP Radio show, as we put our "big boy pants" on and had a serious discussion. Check it out here, if you haven't already done so..
The Rant's End: Counted Out
If you haven't checked Storytime out yet, do so here, but probably do that first, just to get the full gist of the experiment..
Storytime With Uncle Hustle
Writer's Note Part Deux: Keep your peepers peeping for the return of "FACT or FICTION" here on the LoP main page very soon. This one will be a SummerSlam-themed edition, featuring myself and five other MP writers.
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