By Jonathan Brown
TNA has not been taken seriously by many people on the Internet. Most casual fans have no idea that TNA even exists. However, one distinct characteristic about Total Non-stop Action Wrestling will give it a great chance of not only competing against the current behemoth of pro wrestling, the WWE, it may even steal all of the WWE’s best talent.
Many claim that the product of ECW was a true fans’ product. High flying matches, great story lines and hot crowds show after show. Even though this perfect formula to compete against the WWE existed, ECW will eventually be forgotten by casual fans and remembered by die hards as the little engine that almost could. The final nail in ECW’s coffin was when they lost their television home to the WWE and hence its main source of revenue. The lack of a home destroyed ECW and put the WWE one step closer to a monopoly of the business.
While TNA may go the same route as ECW, they have one distinct advantage, the WWE’s popularity. When the WWE made the switch from USA to The Nashville Network, it took this afterthought of a channel and made it matter. From ho downs and country music awards to what is now Spike TV, it can all be credited to the appeal of the WWE and the millions of fans drawn to a network that simply did not matter to anyone outside of Nashville. The WWE created for themselves a home that would eventually be a home to the fledgling TNA.
USA network did not offer more upfront money for WWE to switch networks, but it was the exposure that the USA/NBC allegiance offered to McMahon and Co. that made the switch appealing. If the WWE was not a real draw, USA would never have been interested. This interest and eventual Homecoming to USA allowed TNA to have a homecoming of its own. The brave adventure of televising weekly PPVs is over and now the following that the WWE created for Spike is now aware of the wrestling upstart that is gaining the attention of WWE’s fans. (This is sort of like Darth Vader creating his own murderer without even knowing it or the story in Macbeth’s odyssey).
With a new network deal and built in fans TNA has a chance to move from second rate business to top tier competitor, but there is one thing missing.
The WWE has long been a poor workplace. Long traveling schedules, lack of job security and asphalt demons have long hindered workers from living their dream and having a quality lifestyle. Kurt Angle has separated from his wife because of the demands of the business. Many wrestler have expresses similar stories. Drugs and alcohol have played a much larger role than necessary because of the inability for these outstanding performers to deal with their unique lifestyles. TNA offers a home-field advantage that the publicly traded WWE can and will never offer; a home field.
TNA’s decision to be based out of Orlando has already played a huge role in their ability to obtain talent. Christian of the WWE has already stated that the road life of WWE was too much. HE was willing to leave money on the table to be able to have a normal life and live and work in the same place. Do not think that Chris Jericho is joking with the TNA logos appearing on his website. With the disappointments he has faced in his career, I ma sure that he is less than eager about returning to a world tour where it is his job to put others over, again and again.
As TNA makes a push to get to legitimacy, the fact that they can offer wrestlers a chance to have a family, have a home that they actually see more than twice a year will prove to be a valuable chip in luring talent from the WWE to TNA.
The fact that Jericho and Christian have raised more conversations an awareness about TNA than anything TNA has one on their own proves an important element of the business; word of mouth is key. By having a cable network home and by providing one for their talent, TNA is more than on their way to being a threat to WWE, they may have taken the first step in creating a new war between brands.
When I pre planned this column I thought about the struggles that almost every wrestler has talked about with traveling on the road. Nearly every WWE produced DVD chronicles wrestlers’ struggles with drugs, alcohol and relationships because of the unnecessary demands of the road. I challenge the WWE to justify having house shows in arenas with 3-4,000 fans out in the middle of nowhere twice a week. With the passing of Eddie Guerrero and countless others recently, it is time to see that the road well traveled needs to come to a screeching halt. We do not know why Eddie has left us, but the ominous phrasing of the WWE.com news that “he was found dead this morning in his hotel room in Minneapolis” is all to wrong. We understand that everyone puts a price tag on human lives, but having seen too many deaths in my short life, it is time to put value on life and the quality of life as well. I am going to support TNA and their efforts for one major reason, they are currently providing the opportunity for wrestlers to have normal lives. The carnie traveling schedule of the WWE is disgusting, opportunistic and greed in its most obvious form. I hope that Eddie’s death and the lives of our torn and taterd legends are not in vain. Even retail workers are protected from inane demands. Let us hope that the WWE puts life in front of money an considers following TNA’a lead in creating a home field advantage for their workers.
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My “D” button is broken on the keyboard, please forgive and missused words as I have checked this column too many times over.