Check Out Alex’s Column, The Fan’s Perspective at www.TheBalrogsLair.com!
Hello and welcome once again to The Trademark Rants. In case you didn’t already know, my name is Mike Johns, and I’m an Internet Wrestling Columnist. Along with me this week is my Special Guest, Alex Wipper. For those who are not familiar with Alex, he is the author of The Fan’s Perspective over at www.TheBalrogsLair.com. Through the course of the past couple months, Alex and I have both become fans of one another’s work, and we have grown to respect one another as writers and columnists. Last week, Alex approached me about possibly doing a joint column together. The rest, as they say, is history. Which leads us to today’s column. Last Friday, Alex and I got together via AOL Instant Messenger to put together this very special joint production, just for you, the wrestling fan. Both Alex and I had fun putting this column together and we hope that you will enjoy this week’s column, as well.
Mike Johns: So Alex, Destination X is coming up, and it looks like it’s going to be Jarrett vs. DDP for the NWA title. What do you think about that?
Alex Wipper: DDP vs. Jeff Jarrett has the potential to be an exciting match that could be even better than the Nash vs. Jarrett match at Against All Odds. If Jarrett is banned from using any weapons and DDP steps it up a notch then the match could be a great PPV Main Event for TNA. And if promoted properly it could be a huge moneymaker for the promotion.
Mike: I believe Jarrett has been a good champion for TNA, but it’s really time to consider having him drop the belt. I like DDP as a contender, but in all actuality, I feel and have felt for a while now that it should be AJ Styles holding that title and defending it against the likes of Nash and DDP. AJ best represents what TNA is about, and he would go a long way to further the value of TNA as a brand name in Wrestling. I understand AJ is the X Division champion, but he’s too dominant there. Fans know AJ is going to beat guys like Sabin and Primetime before the match even takes place. As a World Champion, there isn’t as much certainty about AJ’s ability to overcome the odds, and therefore, creates a more dramatic atmosphere and increases fan interest.
Alex: In my personal opinion, I believe that Jeff Jarrett was at the peak of his title reign right after he beat Styles back in October of 2003 and started the feud with Hulk Hogan. He then lost it back to Styles who would only then lose it to The Truth who then lost it back to Jeff Jarrett. I think Jeff Jarrett is not well received by the fans because of his character in TNA. He does nothing admirable for the company inside the ring, even though he is a superb talent, and he has better ability to be on the cusp of the main event using his cemented TNA superstar status to help younger and potential superstars to become main event players for TNA. The focus needs to be put back on the likes of Ron Killings, Chris Harris, Jeff Hardy, Monty Brown, and Abyss. The stars of yesterday can still have their place in wrestling but it should not be in the NWA World Title picture. DDP, Nash, Jarrett, Hall, Raven, Dustin Rhodes, and Billy Gunn can be on the roster but need to stop being at the top of the card. As far as AJ Styles goes, he is already the NWA World Heavyweight Champion because of what he has done for the X-division and previously the NWA Heavyweight division. In the eyes of most TNA fans AJ can win that title back on any given night from Jeff Jarrett and it will only be a matter of time before Jarrett runs out of new contenders and AJ steps back up to the Heavyweight playing field and, like you said, furthers the TNA brand name in wrestling.
Mike: So we definitely agree that Jarrett’s run as Champ should end.
Mike: I don’t know about backing off of the name-value stars, though. TNA doesn’t have a lot of name-brand value right now, so at least having guys like Nash and DDP in contention for the NWA Title is ultimately good for TNA. They shouldn’t hold the title, but I don’t think they should be completely removed from the title picture. As great as the in-house talent in TNA is, they aren’t strong draws right now. Guys like Nash and DDP, if they are willing, could help improve these guys’ ability to draw by working with them and ultimately putting them over. The thing is, they actually have to put them over. That’s the problem…
Alex: Exactly, Killings is a main event player and for some odd reason has been reduced to having limited roles on Impact and TNA PPVs. Monty Brown is so over with the diehard fans that all he needs is a solid win over DDP, Nash, and Jarrett for him to become a huge draw. Hardy has the name value and really brings in the younger viewers for TNA already, and his feud with Abyss in the coming month will, in my opinion, put them over tremendously with new TNA viewers. AJ needs that one special win over any one of Jarrett, Nash, DDP, and Hall before he becomes a huge moneymaker for TNA in terms of live attendance. The veterans need to be placing the future of wrestling, TNA, in the hands of the future of the company, TNA, before it can be successful and turn a profit and become a contender to WWE’s throne. TNA in the second context meaning Total Nonstop Action not old school wrestling…
Mike: Okay… Monty Brown. You seem to have a lot of high hopes for the guy, as do I. Do you see him being the NWA World Heavyweight Champion in the near future?
Alex: I see him being the NWA World Heavyweight champion as soon as mid-summer.
Alex: I really believe that. By the sounds of things TNA has interest in going on the road by then and they are going to have to showcase a star like Monty before they can impress new fans.
Mike: I don’t know about early summer, but I do see him holding the belt at some point within the next year. You’re definitely right about Monty being needed to attract fans, though. Wrestling is driven by two major elements – talent and personality. TNA has put over tons of talent. AJ Styles, Ron Killings, AMW and so on. But as far as personalities are concerned, TNA only really has two – Monty Brown and Raven. And Raven was created in ECW. Personality, especially among casual fans, is the main selling point of a wrestling organization. Talent is great, but talent isn’t going to put a casual fan’s butt in a seat. They want to see that the person they’re spending their money on has a heart and a personality that they can get behind (or outright hate), so they can feel like their part of the experience, rather than just watching one from a distance.
Alex: I will have to agree with you on the point you just said but about the personalities I think you have overlooked a few “personalities”. Scott D’Amore is one that is obviously going to generate a lot of heat by his antics and the way that he has been a breakout manager in the days where tits and ass rule the ringside area. Ron Killings, Konnan, and BG James are the most entertaining trio I have ever seen in a wrestling promotion. Kid Kash also is one of the personalities that people can love to hate. Raven, as you mentioned, has enormous potential to bring in new fans because he is so recognizable. He would have been a huge asset to TNA if WWE hadn’t run his career into the ground a couple of years ago. But I think with the right mix of great personalities and superb in ring wrestlers TNA has all the right tools to make it big in the wrestling industry.
Mike: Good point. I did overlook Kash and D’Amore. Kash might be the only heel in the X Division right now that’s over as something other than an amazing wrestling with an annoying manager. Unless, of course, Chris Candidio is officially in the X Division. I don’t know why they’d put him in there, but anyway, moving on… 3LK is great, but TNA isn’t able to give 3LK the time needed to really get themselves the recognition they deserve, though. I wish TNA had two hours a week, just so I could see them attempt to push 3LK on TV more and give all the John Cena fans something to watch on TNA… Actually, I just thought of this after the fact, but TNA has made a solid effort to try to get Christopher Daniels over as a personality as well. We both know that the talent is there. He went 30 minutes with AJ Styles in an Iron Man Match that could very well be in the running for Match of the Year, after all. But what about Daniels as a personality? Has he made an impression on you?
Alex: The Fallen Angel persona is a unique personality and has the potential to be something remembered for decades and… copied by many.
Mike: Like Raven?
Alex: We’ll just have to wait and see about that!
Mike: I don’t know… I see a lot of Raven and Sandman wanna-be’s out there on the Indy Circuit these days. It’s weird, really.
Alex: Raven is a tremendous talent with an amazing character…hard to say if anyone can come close to what he has done.
Mike: Did you happen to hear about Kazarian leaving TNA, by any chance?
Alex: Yes I did and I thought it was a very unfortunate loss for TNA. I’m sure he’ll be missed by TNA diehards and by future viewers who never had the chance to see him wrestle.
Mike: Apparently, from what I understand, he was offered a Developmental Deal from the WWE.
Alex: Well I didn’t hear that and if this happens to be true I am very angry about it. I don’t like the fact that WWE needs to steal talent from TNA just to prove its dominance.
Mike: I definitely understand. I know we weren’t really going to talk about WWE much, but since I kinda brought it up, and for some reason, just happen to be attending No Way Out live this Sunday, what do you think is going to come of this Barbed Wire Cage Match that’s going down?
Alex: First of all, umm…wow
Mike: I honestly think it’s going to be worse than the Kennel from Hell. And, for the record, I’m not paying for this.
Alex: I had no idea that there was even a Barbed Wire cage match at the PPV.
Mike: Oh. Nevermind then.
Alex: (Laughs) I should have mentioned I don’t watch the WWE product.
Mike: I do when I need to clear my sinuses.
Alex: I don’t even know what’s going on besides all the stupid things that make headlines and who the World champs are.
Mike: Okay. Then I won’t burden you with Kennel From Hell 2: Electric Boogaloo, then.
Alex: I watch NBC’s Passions to clear my sinuses.
Alex: So I could understand why you would watch WWE. (Laughs) Not a whole lot of difference.
Mike: No. Not at all.
Alex: I think if soap operas included more violence they could be the next sports entertainment phenomenon and if WWE took out the little bit of ring action they offer they could get many daytime TV time slots.
Mike: They used to. Ever see “Dallas”?
Alex: I have heard of Dallas but have not seen it actually.
Mike: They had catfights and explosions galore. Then again, it was about Oil Tycoons, their wives, and mistresses, so that’s to be expected.
Alex: Dallas or WWE?
Mike: Um… can I get back to you on that one?
Alex: Sure take all the time you can.
Mike: Okay… In the meantime, back to something we might actually care about – The X Division. This has been a question I’ve been asking random people for quite a while… What do you see the X Division as in TNA? Is it a midcard attraction, the main event, a signature? What do you see the X Division being in TNA?
Alex: Well what’s great about the X Division is its ability to be so versatile. So to answer your question properly then yes it can and will be a midcard attraction while at the same time being a main event attraction. And it will always be a signature of TNA because no one quite does total nonstop action wrestling like TNA’s X Division. The name of the company goes with the X Division. The X Division goes with TNA. They are the perfect couple!
Mike: Okay. Nice answer. Probably the best answer I’ve ever gotten to that question.
Mike: Obviously, the wrestling world is gearing towards a faster-paced, higher-risk style. So many times, though, we’ve both heard cries that people need to slow down and whatnot. Do you feel that wrestling may be evolving to a point where it may become too fast and too dangerous?
Alex: Not at all! Because the wrestlers know when to use the faster-paced style. But there will always be a place at the table for the traditional heavyweight style of wrestling. And with the more dangerous style being implemented by so many talents, in TNA especially, it seems that the heavyweight wrestlers have stepped it up a few notches and have brought back power moves of the 90’s, technical mat based moves of the 80’s, and more brawler like styles of the 70’s. So the product is actually being enhanced due to the style of the X-Division. So if wrestling is indeed evolving then it really is evolving with the good qualities of its past and introducing new techniques and styles of today. And if there is one company that can wholly define what I just said it would be TNA Wrestling.
Mike: Diversity of style is the key, at least in my mind, that will keep wrestling in balance. I do worry that some of the people just coming into the business may be trying to do too much right away in order to get attention, though. A lot of people on the Indy Circuit, who have just come into the business over the past year or two, really overdo the highspots. Some people blame it on the X Division. Personally, I blame it on being young and wanting attention. Highspots are great when used in the proper context, but if you’re jumping off of stuff just to jump off of stuff, it’s not worth it.
Alex: I would have to agree that the cause is trying to gain attention without showing much effort and also having no patience to get something big out of the wrestling industry. They want something good now instead of having something great later.
Mike: I just don’t want someone getting hurt and see their career end because they’re trying to do too much too fast too soon. Beyond that, though, I see the evolving style as a good thing. Every generation brings something new into wrestling. Hopefully, this ever-evolving style showcased by the X Division is going to inspire a whole new generation of wrestlers to come into the business and add to the innovative atmosphere that we’re seeing now.
Alex: I don’t want anyone getting hurt either and I hope people are smart enough to realize that there is only so much wrestlers can give on an athletic level before they are endangering their own lives (severely) as well as their opponents’. But I would have to agree that the X style of wrestling is a positive change.
Mike: Okay… so, before we wrap this up, there’s one more person I want to bring up and see if I can get your thoughts on – Chris Candido.
Alex: I would place him in the same category as I place Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes, DDP, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Jeff Hardy, Johnny B. Badd, and The New Age Outlaw a.k.a. Billy Gunn. And that category is that these wrestlers owe TNA so much for revitalizing their careers and making wrestling fun for them again. Chris Candido and the rest of the bunch have hopefully found a permanent home in TNA and one that they can forever better and benefit from.
Mike: I’ll admit that prior to about a month ago, I did not think very highly of Chris Candido. I have seen him work before, but I was never really impressed. Then came all the rumors of his drug problems and personal problems, which only seemed to make him worse. But over the last couple weeks, seeing him work with the TNA wrestlers, I finally understand why so many people in the wrestling world thought so highly of him prior to his personal problems. The truth of the matter is that Chris is an amazing mental talent once he’s in the ring. His ring psychology is downright uncanny.
Alex: I’ll have to agree with you on that 100 percent!
Mike: He seems to have cleaned up, straightened out his life, and now, he’s probably better than he’s ever been. Hopefully he can make the best of this run in TNA.
Alex: I hope he does. It’ll be interesting to watch!
Mike: So, with that… do you have any last words for the readers today, Alex?
Alex: I appreciate all the readers for continuing to support all of us who try and better wrestling by voicing our opinions on-line and in magazines. I would like to encourage everyone to check out my column, The Fan’s Perspective, over at www.TheBalrogsLair.com and certainly after reading this you must have some thoughts for me so e-mail me at AlexWipper@yahoo.com! Thank you all for your time and keep reading this man’s column because it is awesome!
Mike: Hey, this was your idea, Alex. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. And an extra special thanks for letting me get away with only writing half a column this week!
Alex: It was no problem at all taking the time to talk with you because quite frankly I have more than enough time to spare. But I must say that this is the first time in a long time that I haven’t felt that there was something better to do…like watch paint dry! But in all seriousness next week write a full-length column and stop riding my coattails. (Laughs) Thanks for agreeing to do this and hopefully we can do it again soon!
That’s all for this week, folks. If you have any comments, questions, or anything else you’d like to share, feel free to write me at TheMaverickMJ@yahoo.com or my special guest Alex Wipper at AlexWipper@yahoo.com. Also, don’t forget to check out Alex’s column, The Fan’s Perspective at www.TheBalrogsLair.com. I really think you’ll enjoy it. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to come back again for another installment of The Trademark Rants!