NWA:TNA is a very small company. Combining the two most important PPV companies together, the buys surely average below 20,000 people weekly. They also have many issues (I’ve discussed them in past columns of mine) and they don’t have a TV deal yet. So why does TNA deserve coverage on this website, especially within it’s own news section? Many of you also consider it a glorified indy. I respect that opinion and it’s a good question.
My mindset, which was supported by the management of this website, is that such coverage that is given to WWE is required to a lesser degree with TNA. Of any non-WWE wrestling promotion, they receive the most notice by people in the world of wrestling and their national platform on PPV is about 100% of that being the case. Where TNA goes in the future, as I opined in my two-part column about TNA (see my archives) is strictly there choice. It is not as destined to fail as the World Wrestling Allstars, for example because they had no consistent publicity in between shows, or Women of Wrestling, the short-lived promotion that worked by buying TV time and then running PPV shows, that idea has never worked. While TNA is around, our plan is to give them the coverage that a promotion their size deserves. Perhaps they’ll be a 100th edition of this column, but maybe not and in a year or two the Figure Four Leglock will look at missed opportunity. However, the same could be said about WWE. They just have the money and history of longevity to offset such pessimistic belief.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Trevor Hunnicutt and I write a column on this site called the Figure Four Leglock. Give it a look and email with all your feedback. The same goes for this report. I also do TNA news on the headlines board. I plan to give similar coverage to TNA that my friend Eddie gives over in News and Analysis, which covers WWE. The plan is to do one column a week, but that may go up or down depending on how the news warrants it. I will look at the TNA PPV of the week and give my thoughts on it as well as look at the news of the week as I see fit. Enemy #1 is Jeremy Borash, you’ll read about him every week. While this is a professional news report, that doesn’t include any or all references to Jeremy Borash and his “Rash” Report will not be. Sue me. Enemy #2 is Vince Russo, but chances are you’ll figure that out on your own before this is all over. Rule #1 is Norman Smiley is old. Rule #2 is AJ Styles is a wonderful, wonderful person. For future reference, the cynicism comes for free. Thank you for reading.
This past Wednesday’s TNA show was a disappointment but it wasn’t bad. Wade Keller made a fabulous suggestion the day of the show, saying simply that they should dedicate at least 20 minutes each to the big matches: A.J. Styles vs. D-Lo Brown, AMW vs. Simon Diamond & Johnny Swinger, and Chris Sabin vs. Frankie Kazarian. The respective times of those matches were 11:14; 6:15; and 10:17. As a student of the business, I can say two things: (1) great matches need at least 20 minutes to develop properly and (2) TNA tries to do so much in each show, they end up doing less. They made some sacrifices here. For the first match it was cutting it short to allow everything in the show to run, the same mistake for the last. For the second match, it was the same thing they did with Justin Credible and Jerry Lynn, and that’s cutting it down for the sake of an angle. People want to get their money’s worth. The show still ended up running late and they cut the show off as Russo was trying to cut a promo. The cage match needs to come first like last time, as well, because the way they did it, it took 30 minutes to set the cage up, so that meant 30 minutes of talking, promos, and vignettes. That’s a crime. I’m not saying that TNA needs to blow it out every week with three blow away matches but they have no excuse for not having at least one. It’s PPV, and the idea is making fans think it’s worth a $10 investment each week. TNA needs to make a statement with each show and it is “this isn’t WWE Raw or SmackDown (after all you can watch that for free), TNA provides, weekly, the bang for your buck.” They’re halfway there.
Let’s talk about Erik Watts and Don Callis. I don’t have as much a problem with authority figures on TV as many other people do, if they have a rhyme and reason for being there. Is it just me not following the storylines, or is their no logical reason for Watts and Callis to be in their positions based on the storyline. I think that Watts is OK in his role and Callis is very good in his role, but TNA has a real problem with bringing people in and taking people out without care or the slightest bit of adroitness. Continuity is necessary to credibility and TNA needs all of that they can get. So Callis kicks Jerry Lynn out of the building, well since Iceberg (see the news) is no longer with the company, I don’t know what they’re trying to build to or if there is going to be a faction that Callis will manage. With Watts, that doesn’t seem to be the case, maybe he just can’t wrestle, in which case, it’d be nice to see Shane Douglas gone from TV in a wrestling capacity.
The X-Division number 1 contenders match was a poor spotfest. Michael Shane, who is Shawn Michaels cousin is getting a push, Sweet Chin Music routine and all, as he won a match over Joey Matthews, Danny Doring, and Shark Boy (who’s new black friend is Norman Smiley who did the big wiggle). They all had a promo spot before the match and none were really good but that was forgivable because they are still learning. They really shouldn’t play up the relation to Shawn Michaels, considering his position in WWE but it should be mentioned in passing. The X-Division has been a lot worse in terms of quality for the last few months and I think that’s because TNA has decided to put less care into it. The X-Division, from the beginning, has been a huge part of TNA’s marginal success but now they’ve decided that the heavyweight title is more important. In practice, it’s been proven for this group that the best thing to do is make all three titles equal in terms of worth, unlike WWE, and promote them up separately. Therefore you can have 3 guaranteed well-hyped shows that will get buys (eg. Raven/Jarrett) and another can be a hot feud of another kind. It’s pretty simple when you think about it. I’m not saying not to use your dedicated young Matt Sydals, but the indy market is full of people who are better. Make Sydal and whomever else better but have the better talent compete for the title.
The Raven as a babyface angles continue. Unfortunately, Shane Douglas wasn’t put in a coma by an angry attacker after watching one of his matches this week, so he’s still the heel. He’s gonna franchise Raven’s ass apparently. This week Raven was cast as a kind babyface who gets frustrated when he doesn’t get his way. He didn’t become popular by being that face. James Mitchell came on the screen where he and the New Church were going to burn Julio and Alexis alive. Instead of focusing on Douglas, he goes back to not find them there because they are in the ring. I probably wouldn’t have booked it that way. They got the best of him and put him in a pleather body bag.
Mikey is still Mad and Mikey is still a jobber, apparently. The Three Live Krew segment was really stupid this week with B.G. James, Ron Killings, and Konnan going to a trailer park and making fairly esoteric jokes that weren’t funny in an incredibly weird segment.
TNA brought in Larry Zbyszko for a match with Kid Kash with Zbyszko doing the job. Zbyszko isn’t in the best shape, but he isn’t much worse than his prime. The match was probably the worst on the show but it was brief. Zbyszko and recent WWE terminee Terry Taylor have been asked again about forming a legend’s tag team. Before, negotiations fell through. I imagine at this point that Zbyszko would say yes but I don’t think that Taylor has the desire or wherewithall to compete in such fashion. The highlight of the match was where Zbyszko grabbed Kash’s crotch and held on tightly.
Chris Daniels cut a long promo from the crowd with some really funny crowd shots. They weren’t going to work with him tonight apparently. He attacked a plant. He said, in many, many more words, that tradition sucks and that he’s thinking about siding with Vince Russo, which I guess explains why he attacked Jarrett on last week’s program. Jarrett came out and pitched a hissy fit in the ring as they set the cage up. What a revealing segment. I’m serious. The redshirts and the blackshirts made sure that the hissy fit ended in time for the main event. Daniels got in the cage and attacked Jarrett. I’m about to ask a question, if you know the answer email me. Why are their still two separate feuding security teams if the SEX vs. tradition feud ended?
Before the main event, they aired an interesting taped interview with Mike Tenay and Vince Russo and champ Aj Styles. Styles didn’t really contribute much other than it’s about winning and Russo helped him accomplish that and about how he’s his mentor and whatnot. Russo asked Styles to leave and got in Tenay’s face. Tenay challenged him and said he’s trying to control Styles and the title. He already does. He said Russo’s out only for himself. True. Russo said that the next time Tenay disrespects him or Styles he’d be “held responsible.” Tenay didn’t know what that meant and Russo said he wouldn’t want to know. I guess Goldy knows, right? D’Lo did an interview with Scott Hudson. The match itself was good for what it was but Brown and Styles didn’t click as well as they should have. Russo tried to cut a promo but they cut him off, that’s a real shame.
Show value: $6.00
TNA announced they are doing the one-cent PPV on September 10th, the first of a two-week break they are taking from PPV so they can hold the fair in the Fairgrounds. Basically it’s going to be a highlights show, probably edited by Jeremy Borash. If you have DirecTV, you’re out of luck because they’re selling it for the normal $10 price.
The idea of doing the PPV at one cent is not new. Well it is a new concept, but TNA isn’t the first to do it. In fact, the only other one I can remember was earlier this year K-1 did a one-cent show on DirecTV on April 4th this year. Nobody bought it. Considering the fact that TNA is doing nothing the weeks of the 10th and the 17th, it’s a good decision, especially considering the fact that they desperately need new viewers to make this thing work. New DirecTV estimates have them drawing an average 2,000 a week on that system and at last word, iNDemand had them at 7,500 weekly. Live they are down to 800, with about 500 paying but the live business isn’t their key revenue source at this point so the tough debate is to whether it’s OK to let the building sellout at 1,300 with most not paying, but making it come off better on TV or forcing people to pay (or not). The second thing they need to make the weekly PPV idea work is consistent booking. I know that Eddie, from this site, is buying the show, and he never watches TNA. Whether other people will is a huge question mark. Only advertising will make that difference. But if in the end the idea of promoting weekly on PPV is a concept that won’t work, then all of that is for naught. I’ll be publishing a special edition of this report on the September 12th with thoughts on the show.
Rash news and notes. Jeremy starts out by hyping the AJ Styles/D’Lo Brown cage match from this past week, which was probably beforehand, the best use of D’Lo in a while, if ever. He also plugged the return of Christopher Daniels, who for the first time in his career is getting a big push. I remember him from Roland Alexander’s APW where he was probably what Chris Jericho is now on RAW minus the Triple H effect. I still don’t see a Jeff Jarrett putting him over at this point. Legend debuted in TNA doing the same kind of angle and it didn’t do him any favors. Daniels is more talented, but I don’t see how that makes much of a difference. Chris Benoit, for example is very talented, and he’s never done terrific in WWE. “I think the next six months will be the biggest in his career,” writes Borash. Well I guess now that you’ve heard it from him it’s set in stone. Here’s where the lying really starts: “Representatives of a major video game company were in attendance last Wednesday night and were said to be very impressed with the program. Nearly every week, we seem to be entertaining potential business partners at our events, which is a clear indicator on how good the future looks for our company.” If you believe him, raise your hand. (Cricket). If you aren’t familiar with Borash, he has something like this every week. Like how Shaq loves TNA and Donna Summers came to see a show live. If the company was so good that every week people loved it, then the buys would go up or at least more people would pay to see the show every week. They are putting Xplosion on the net soon. That’s good, but sounds like a pointless exercise to me. People don’t stumble upon nwatna.com and then start watching the product. The people who go to the TNA website are mostly the same people who watch and cover TNA right now. According to Borash, Xplosion may be adding TV in the 60th biggest market in the country, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. On the subject of national exposure, it may be advantageous to be a touring promotion, which from the begging was a good idea. SMW did the whole local thing before and it worked to a degree but TNA is not a Nashville local territory, they just happen to run one show their every week. There is a difference. But again, for any of this to work they need a national TV deal like WWE has.
Mike Sanders seems to be done with the company, and at this point I’m basing this on rumors and from words from his own mouth. Knowing this is TNA, it could be a work, but considering the matches we’ve seen from Sanders over the past three months as well as the usual attitude, I’m going to say that’s doubtful at this point. Will he be brought to WWE out of a favor for Nash, who’s been getting a lot of favors of late? That’s not for me to say, but based on what they think of him (which is similar to what they think of Buff Bagwell, and both have worked for the company) probably not. His value for indys will still exist despite his lack of talent, because he’s been with WWE, WCW, and NWA:TNA and that for now, will mean work for him. Mad Mikey, for example, who was only a prelim guy with little to offer in WWE, is making a lot of money on the indy and Japanese circuts (he now works for Pro Wrestling Noah, of all places). Sanders was trained to be a wrestler at the WCW Powerplant and was a part of a big faction nearing the time of WCW’s demise. He made good friends with higher-ups, the two most important being Kevin Nash and Vince Russo, while alienating others. His match with “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan two months ago is in the running for worst of the year. In similar news, Edward Chastain, who was billed as 530 pounds, and was brought into storylines by Don Callis (ECW’s Cyrus) has been looked upon poorly by management. His debut (and last) match for the company was in a match with Sandman.
Paul London made some very interesting comments on NWA:TNA in a recent interview with No Holds Barred Wrestling Radio. London, who now is under contract with WWE, which I view as surprising for a multitude of reasons, said he began work with NWA:TNA when Bob Ryder contacted him after the ROH 1-year anniversary show. He said that he was very nervous working for TNA for some reason and had a string of bad matches with the company until he found his footing towards the end. The company loved him anyway. It obviously didn’t come off that way because it’s more likely that people from WWE saw him first in TNA and made a recommendation to the Talent Relations Dept. He also said that while many people were happy with working for TNA, he viewed it only as a stepping stone to a “bigger level” than TNA and that he was never comfortable there. I’m not sure I would be either, but it probably did more for him than he gives it credit for.
Until my next update, this has been Headlines and Scrutiny. I thank you for reading. Send me thoughts and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matchmaker: Trevor Hunnicutt
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