Happy New Year, everybody!
Much like Yogi Bear on Opening Day at
National Park, I’m back and I’m looking to swipe picnic baskets! There is a lot of stuff to talk about today, but I feel like I absolutely need to get something off my chest.
It’s something I noticed while I was on my holiday hibernation.
Now, I know everybody hates wake-up calls. You’re at a hotel, just sleeping, not a care in the world, and then suddenly…your phone rings. “Good morning. This is the front desk with your wake-up call. Time is now 6 o’clock.” And at that point, your morning begins and you’re pissed, because it’s not like you can go back to sleep at that point.
At the same time, anybody that reads my columns on a regular basis already knows by now that I am a wrestling fan in general. I’m not a strictly WWE guy or a strictly TNA guy. I’ll watch both products just the same, and I’ll even order a ROH PPV once in a while. But unfortunately, at the same time that I’m seeing an incline on ROH’s part, I’m also seeing a decline on TNA’s part. So, with that said, as much as everybody hates wake-up calls, I feel the need to dish one out today.
Memo to Dixie Carter, head of TNA management: this is Raul Smith, on behalf of all the frustrated and tired TNA and wrestling fans, with your wake-up call. The time is now January 2008 and you, my friend, are way behind schedule.
See, the problem here, Ms. Carter, is not that the fans aren’t embracing your product. The problem lies within your product. But, I know that there are about twenty-thousand wrestling fans that can write a paragraph about how your product sucks and you’ll never beat WWE in anything. So that’s not where I’m going with this. Instead, I am going to give you some pointers regarding exactly what the issues are with your company, and how you, along with your team, can correct these issues.
Now I know what you’re saying.
“Oh, he’s just another negative internet fan who’s just looking to tear us down.” Therein lays your first problem. Much like Michael Vick has somehow convinced half of
Atlanta into thinking everybody’s out to get him just because he’s a successful black athlete, you’ve somehow convinced yourself and the dozens of TNA fans in
Nashville that the only reason you’re not succeeding is because of the internet fans that are looking to tear you down. First of all, you can pull any of my columns that I’ve done in the past and I’ve done more than my fair share of praising the things that your company has done. So tearing you down now would be pretty damn hypocritical on my part unless I felt there was a reason for it, and the reason is that you’re not doing your part to improve. (And no, signing Booker T. does not count.) Because as it stands now, you were just barely able to beat ECW in head-to-head ratings, and the only reason you did that was because Vince McMahon thought it’d be a good idea to put Mark Henry and/or Big Daddy V in the main event. If you were to go head-to-head with either Raw or SmackDown! as it is right now, you wouldn’t last a month.
Hell, you’d be lucky to still be alive after two weeks.
Instead of trying to lie to yourself and everybody else that it’s the internet fans’ fault that your product isn’t doing too good, try looking within the company for your problems. And instead of blaming the internet fans and trying to alienate them, you should embrace them and listen to them. Vince McMahon, in his own unique way, listens and embraces all fans because he knows it’s good business to do so. He didn’t put WCW and ECW out of commission because he blamed and alienated fans for his shortcomings.
He knew what had to be done, and he did it. And if you’re not careful, Ms. Carter, you could be next.
Now, with all of that said, I’ll give you an example of where to start with your problems. You can start at the very top of the chain, meaning yourself. Now, I’m not saying you should step down or resign. I am saying, however, that you cannot be serious when you say that Sting is the guy that’s going to get you over the top, the guy that’s going to put TNA on the map. With all due respect…you have got to be freaking kidding me! Sting?!? No offense there, Ms. Carter, because I’ve watched Sting over the past decade-plus and have admired his work, but if Sting was going to be the guy to put your company in the same category as WWE, wouldn’t he have done so by now? Instead of opening the bank vault and backing up the Brinks truck to guys that actually still matter in the business and are under the age of 40, you’re opening the bank vault and backing up the Brinks truck to Sting and Kurt Angle. Good luck with that.
If the NFL can do this, so can you. Pull Sting and Kurt Angle both aside and tell them that while their services have been very much appreciated, the company needs to bring in more big names.
However, in order to do so, you need to restructure their contracts and, in turn, they need to take a pay cut.
If both of them refuse, then as difficult as this may sound because they are top marquee names in the business, you have to let them go. You already lost out on a golden opportunity to sign Chris Jericho (good luck EEEEEVER living that one down) and may have already lost a gigantic opportunity to sign Rob Van Dam. If you really do want to be categorized as a main-stream wrestling promotion, it’s time to start acting like one. Make more sound business decisions regarding talent acquisitions. And again, Booker T. is also over 40, so he doesn’t count, either.
Kurt Angle is getting way too much TV time, when that TV time could be more appropriately used to showcase the wrestlers that almost never get to wrestle anymore for TNA. In short, Triple H thinks Kurt Angle is on TV too much.
Instead of Kurt Angle beating up high school kids or bad-mouthing Eric Young, you could actually…oh I don’t know…show the world why TNA is wrestling. That is your catchphrase, right?
“TNA…We Are Wrestling.” Am I correct in assuming this?
Maybe even extend the length of a couple of matches in the program. I’ve found that if the match is right and if the competitors have a great chemistry to them, then long matches aren’t exactly bad for the program, but rather great for the program. As an example, I will pull a match that took place in
England back in April last year between John Cena and Shawn Michaels. Although it was a non-title match, the match lasted for almost an hour, if not an hour. And you know what? Every fan attending that show that night was into the match the whole way, not to mention it pulled in huge ratings for WWE. If you had something like that on your program, think of how many viewers you could gain as a result.
Just give it some thought and let me and the rest of us “negative internet fans” know why something like that would never work.
Listening to TNA iMPACT! shows nowadays is like trying to listen to Jillian Hall sing.
It’s almost like you need a mute button for your TV for the full two hours.
I mentioned this in passing in the first of my three 2007 WRES-PY awards columns, but it’s worth mentioning again: get Don West off the announce table. Hermie Sadler actually sounded good by comparison. But then again, I think TNA management already knows that Don West needs to go if they’re giving Sadler tryouts. Remember all the Tony Schiavonne bashing I’ve been doing? Well, I would now like to officially apologize to Mr. Schiavonne and retract my nickname for him “The Worst Announcer in Wrestling History”.
Don West just ripped that title from him. And again, I’m not advocating you fire the man; he can still do his “insane deals” on your website.
There are way too many stupid skits and segments in the program that almost insult the intelligence of the fans that are attending the shows live, as well as the fans that are watching on TV. One example of this would be the Christmas party recently.
There’s only one area to blame for skits and segments that make absolutely no sense whatsoever, and that is the creative team. I said it when it went down that bringing back Vince Russo was a questionable call at best on your part. I think now would be a good time to admit that mistake by cutting Russo loose. Ever since he left WWE back in 1999, he has contributed absolutely nothing positive to the business.
He was a part of the reason why WCW went south fast, and now he may be doing the same in TNA. Fire Vince Russo. Plus, it sounds to me a lot like you guys are trying to out-WWE WWE, when in all reality, that is realistically impossible. Stop trying to be somebody you’re not and just be yourselves. That’s how you landed that huge television contract with Spike TV in the first place.
All in all, I could go on for another five pages with lists of complaints from the fans about TNA, but I’ll just sum it all up to this: there needs to be a change, a huge change, in the infrastructure of the company. Again, I’m not calling for your head on a platter, Ms. Carter. But, what I will be willing to do is suggest you perhaps hire somebody known as a Scouting/Creative Consultant. This guy could help point you in the direction of scouting as well as take over as the head of the creative team, side-by-side with Jeff Jarrett.Obviously, Jarrett would still be in charge, but this guy would be right underneath him in the TNA food chain, so to speak. In terms of the overall food chain, this guy would answer to only two people in all of TNA: Jeff Jarrett and yourself. Now, I know what you’re thinking…”Okay, Mr. Thinks-He-Knows-Everything-About-the-Business, I suppose you already have somebody in mind.” As a matter of fact, I do.
The man that I am vouching for the position of the new Scouting/Creative Consultant to both Ms. Dixie Carter and Jeff Jarrett is a man whose fingerprints (although fading) are still found on every wrestling show there is today.
He’s a man who is used to taking promotions that were supposedly on life support and turning them into major powers, simply because he’s done it before. He took over a flailing NWA subsidiary in 1994 and transformed it into one of the three superpowers of the 90s. He’s a man that has, arguably, revolutionized the business in more ways than one by himself. He has an eye for scouting unknown talent, and the résumé shows just how well his eye can scout talent. Amongst his greatest discoveries are Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Steve Austin, Team 3D, Raven, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, CM Punk, Rob Van Dam, and so many others. He’s a man that took the “bingo hall” promotion and made it the three most often chanted letters amongst wrestling fans today…E-C-W!
The man that I am vouching for the position of the new Scouting/Creative Consultant to both Ms. Dixie Carter and Jeff Jarrett is none other than Paul Heyman! Think about it for a minute. If Paul Heyman can turn NWA-Eastern Championship Wrestling into ECW, the most violent, hardcore, but yet recognized and beloved red-headed stepchild in wrestling history, imagine what he could do for TNA. Plus, I’m sure there are a few skeptics that will say that because of Paul Heyman, ECW went out of business. Actually, to be fair, Heyman never had the financial resources that TNA currently possesses.
So I doubt
Samoa Joe is going to have to worry about his check bouncing.
As far as the skeptics that talk about how well Heyman will coexist with the other employees, the only person that I see an issue with as far as coexisting with Heyman is Jim Cornette, because of the history the two of them have back in OVW. However, after realizing how much it’ll mean to TNA for Heyman to wave his magic wand and chant “Bibidi-Babidi-F***ing-Boo”, Cornette will probably learn to coexist. Hell, he somewhat patched things up with Vince Russo, so I’m sure Heyman’s not really an unreasonable guy to get along with. And if for some reason that doesn’t happen, hey, it’s not like Cornette’s doing anything positive for TNA anyway, right? Kurt Angle, Team 3D, Raven, Rhino, and others that have had their fair share of issues in the past with Heyman will quickly forget how badly they hated the guy once morale in the locker room goes up. As far as Russo coexisting with Heyman, well, you can tell Russo that he has to learn to coexist with Heyman, otherwise, nice knowing ya!
And for those skeptics that are going to argue that Heyman wasn’t able to take ECW under the WWE umbrella and blossom it into a ratings powerhouse, the only reason that didn’t happen was because Vince McMahon’s ego got in the way of that. He wanted all the glory for himself, and pushed Heyman over to the side. In short, I’ll sum up my counter to that argument in three simple words: December to Dismember.
Paul Heyman, if given the opportunity to have as much creative control in TNA as he did in the old ECW, will turn TNA into the superpower you want it to be, Ms. Carter, and at the same time, will turn heads towards TNA. Even though you don’t have the big free-agent signings of Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam, Heyman can make the next generation’s version of Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam (only without the inexplicable addiction to marijuana…allegedly). All he has to do is scour the independent scene as well as
Mexico, and he should be able to find some new stars for TNA sooner or later. At the same time, the man is a creative genius.
He is arguably the most brilliant creative mind in modern wrestling history, perhaps even more brilliant than both Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon.
Oh, and by the way, Heyman is a free agent, has no intentions of going back to WWE, has some bad blood boiling between himself and Vince McMahon, and wants to come work for TNA. Sounds like the perfect fit to me.
The time is now January 2008, Dixie Carter. Are you ready for your wake-up call?
To the many that have fallen before this day, God Bless you all, and may you be in a much better place today than you were here. Your memories will live on, though you are gone.