Hello and welcome once again to The Trademark Rants. After several weeks of discussing other promotions and sharing personal stories about my experiences over the past couple years, I’m finally back in a place where I can do what supposedly few other columnists do on the ‘Net – discuss TNA. That’s right, I’m going to FINALLY talk a bout a promotion you might actually be aware of. Enjoy it while it lasts, folks, I might get distracted again and start telling more Indy stories next week. Either that, or I might just declare an undying love for the Lollipop Girl (or just simply “Lollipop”, depending on who’s booking her at the time) and find a whole NEW way to waste column space talking about things only remotely associated with wrestling. Oh, and for the two or three million of you who don’t know who Lollipop is, she used to be one of the TNA cage dancers and a former women’s champion for some promotion in the Nashville area whose name I can’t think of at the moment… And she just happens to be one of the most beautiful women on the planet, but that’s purely my opinion. But, since the only reason any of you read this column is to listen to me rant about wrestling, I guess I’ll just have to save my musings about Lollipop for another venue…
TNA Wrestling has a Pay Per View coming up, and I hope many of you are planning on getting it because it looks like it’s going to be a good show. Okay, actually, if you are buying it, you’re buying it for one reason – AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels in an Iron Man Match. For the few of you who’ve seen them work in 3PW, JAPW, RoH, or even as far back as the NWA 53rd Anniversary Show in 2001, you know what’s in store for you, and you’re likely waiting for something to happen so you can say TNA botched up. Why? Because I know how you fans think, and you’re always waiting for someone to slip up or something to go wrong so you can jump onto your computers and start whining the moment you see something you don’t like. It’s the one thing I really hate about the hardcore Indy Fans sometimes is their ability to jump on a national promotion when they seemingly “screw up” a program that has been widely successful on the Indy Circuit. In fact, I’m surprised that you guys haven’t already jumped on TNA because the Iron Man Match at Against All Odds is only going to be 30 minutes instead of the more traditional 60 minute time limit giving in other promotions, most notably WWE. But then again, such complaints would just go to show how little many of you understand about the business aspects of wrestling, and just how hard it is to sell an hour-long match to a public whose attention span is just under 30 seconds on average.
The truth is, long matches, especially long matches that you KNOW are going to be long, such as the hour-long Iron Man match, is an extremely difficult sell in the modern wrestling market. The only people actually interested and intrigued by these matches are, unfortunately, the 5 or 6 people reading my column right now. That’s right. It’s really just you guys, and I know that 99.9% of the few people reading this hate it when I tell you this, but you’re NOT the majority of the wrestling fan population. This is one of the biggest reasons why none of us get any respect from anyone. We’re a minority, just like Democrats and people who actually believe that there’s been more than one Ultimate Warrior. The rest of the wrestling fan populous couldn’t care less about Iron Man Matches.
It should be obvious to all of us WHY casual fans don’t get into Iron Man Matches the way we do, but for the sake of extending the length of this column to more than a mere three paragraphs, I’ll explain it to you. Casual Fans watch wrestling for the action and the storylines, not for the actual “wrestling”. They want to see highspots, blood, boobs, and drama. That’s it! Now, if you think about it, WE used to watch wrestling for the same reasons. We used to watch wrestling because of the highspots, blood, boobs, and drama, too. Nowadays, though, many of you reading this complain about the frequency of highspots, or how blood is only used to spice up otherwise dull matches, or that boobs are the reason women “can’t” wrestle (you’d be surprised how many times “silicone” boobs are blamed for the so-called “shortcomings” of female wrestlers), or that there’s too much drama in wrestling. This ought to go a long way in explaining why so many wrestlers speak ill of the ‘Net Marks, but anyway, back to my point… Casual Fans don’t care about arm drags or rest holds or time limit draws or hour-long technical wrestling clinics. In fact, these things tend to annoy casual fans just as much, if not more, than seeing a woman protecting herself while taking a front bump BECAUSE SHE’D SERIOUSLY HURT HERSELF IF SHE DIDN’T annoys many of YOU reading this column now. So, the idea of selling a pure technical wrestling match on pay Per View has its setbacks. It brings a wrestling credibility back to the “sport” of professional wrestling while making a minority of the audience happy, but ultimately, such a match is a hard sell, and historically, doesn’t draw the way shorter, more supposedly “exciting” matches have. Ultimately, making money is the determining factor of a wrestling show, not bringing credibility to a sport we all know is a work. So, unless casual fans all of a sudden want to see arm drags and rest holds again (which isn’t very likely), we’re going to have matches geared more towards highspots, blood, boobs, and drama
The OTHER reason you don’t see many hour-long matches being booked these days is because of the wrestlers themselves. The athletic aspect of an hour-long match is, at best, intimidating. Given, the veterans of yesteryear, the Rhodes, the Funks, the Flairs, the Races, etc., are likely to say, “well, we used to do 60 minutes all the time,” but you never do hear them boast about how easy it was, do you? There’s a reason for that. Even the best athletes are not going to be able to go at full speed for an hour without taking a rest. And, of course, thanks to a small sect of Internet Marks and the nearly non-existent attention span of the general public, “rest holds” seem to be magnets for “boring” chants and lower star-ratings for matches, simply because a guy needed to take 5 seconds to catch his breath. So, not only is an hour-long match a physically intimidating ordeal, but nowadays especially, it’s become even more of a psychological hassle because of unappreciative fans and short attention spans.
My only gripe with the Styles/Daniels Iron Man Match this coming Sunday is the idea that, because of the 30 minute time limit, Styles and Daniels may face criticism from fans who will compare this to the WWE standard and say, “Oh, they can’t go an hour?” To that person, I offer this column as a rebuttal to what is, in my opinion, ignorance on your part. This isn’t about Styles and Daniels “not being able to go an hour”, because they probably could, nor is it about the idea that the X Division Title’s status as either a midcard title or a secondary main event title that continues to be disputed even among the folks within TNA (as it appears by TNA’s booking of the division). This is about what makes money, and what doesn’t. Iron Man Matches do not draw the kind of money or attention that a match without a pre-determined length tends to. That’s a fact. Why is it that in the past 10 years, WWE has only booked 3 Iron Man Matches? That’s right, only three. Bret vs. Shawn at WrestleMania 12, The Rock vs. HHH in 2000, and Benoit vs. HHH last year on RAW. Supposedly there may have been a fourth one between Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle, but I wouldn’t know about that. Nothing I’ve looked up so far has confirmed that, although some swaer up and down that it took place. I wouldn’t know, and I honestly don’t care either way.
So why have there been so few of these matches? It’s because these matches don’t tend to draw very well. It’s the same reason why you rarely see a babyface vs. babyface match booked on big cards. Ultimately, it’s about what is going to make money and what isn’t. Styles vs. Daniels may, in fact, close the show (as TNA tends to book the best match at the end, not necessarily the biggest draw. Case and Point – AMW vs. Triple X at Turning Point), but they aren’t the draw. The draw is Kevin Nash. And yes, it may not be a popular idea among the folks reading this column, but it’s true. Nash is the one in the drawing position for Against All Odds, and while many TNA fans are going to buy this pay per view for Styles and Daniels, the majority of wrestling fans may only get this show because they know who Kevin Nash is.
Anyway, that’s it for this week. If you have any comments, questions, or anything else you’d like to share, feel free to write me at TheMaverickMJ@yahoo.com. Thanks for reading, and feel free to come back again for another installment of The Trademark Rants!