I say this because denial is a coping mechanism, a way a person can deal with a truth or reality they can’t, for whatever reason, readily accept. The thing that makes denial so debilitating is the fact that it can take many forms; refusing to admit that a problem exists, deflecting attention and directing one’s focus towards a less significant problem or issue, casually dismissing the severity of the problem and overemphasizing the pros or “bright sides” of the topic at hand, or even jumping to a completely different and (sometimes slightly) unrelated problem that exist outside of the topic at hand are a few of the ways denial rears its categorically repugnant visage.
Denial affects everyone, and all people have at one point in time denied someone or something as a way of approaching or handling a problem or issue. It’s natural for humans to deny that certain things are happening and that certain things will happen; it’s how we cope with change, it’s how we defend our way of experiencing life as we know it, and it’s how we avoid acknowledging the fact that the longer we live the more things will not stay the same. Change is inevitable, and no matter how we defend ourselves against it to protect our way of life and how we see it, change cannot and will not be denied.
All this talk about denial comes about after the rumored news that Spike TV has chosen not to renew TNA Entertainment, LLC’s television deal after its expiration in October of this year. Needless to say the internet sharks jumped at the smell of TNA’s blood in the water, with fans and insiders alike ruthlessly launching their opinions on the rumor into the world wide interwebs. What’s interesting about these opinions is not the prevailing thought that TNA’s rumored loss of a television deal is a “good” thing for pro wrestling, but the rebuttal of and arguments against said prevailing thoughts. This is where the concept and expression of “denial” gets pretty damn intriguing.
For every hundred or so celebratory remark made at the rumored demise of TNA’s television deal with Spike TV, there has been at least one well-respected proponent or sound perspective supporting the promotion and its employees. The proponents and perspectives highlight the fact that if the rumors are true, tons of individuals will be affected financially and the pro wrestling business will suffer as a result of a lack of diverse televised products. Because of this very real situation for a substantial number of women and men, these same proponents and perspectives also wag an accusatory finger at naysayers for even reveling in the rumored news. In fact, the exact word used by some to describe this particular glorification of negativity was “sad,” as in it’s sad that some people would have the unmitigated gall to play the fiddle while TNA is seemingly mere moments away from merrily gallivanting into heavy traffic on Crash and Burn Avenue.
Ironically enough while we shouldn’t deny the blatantly obvious truth that preemptively reviling in TNA’s supposed misfortune is a tad bit devious, we should also be wary of focusing too much on such a grand exposition of schadenfreude as a means of deflecting attention from a very serious issue facing the promotion and its ramifications, assuming at some point the news will be verified or disavowed. The problem isn’t that some pro wrestling fans wallow in the muck of TNA’s failures; the problem is that TNA might have lost a television deal with one of the few notable North American television networks willing to broadcast pro wrestling.
Damn whether or not somebody’s laughing at this whole situation; what in the blue hell does this mean for TNA and for the business on the whole??? THAT’S the issue at hand, not how we feel about a few folks here and there pointing at a photo of Dixie Carter in their best Nelson Muntz impersonation.
I don’t feel it’s “sad” that some have chosen to speak favorably of this rumor, as this type of response to bad news is typical of people in this country and perhaps even around the world (see: Bad News Barrett, the heel, as he’s cheered by fans). To speak of some pro wrestling fans as the only type of human being that glorifies the demise of a particular promotion or institution is misleading and only furthers the deluded notion that wrestling fans are some sort of sub-human mythical creature living under bridges, surviving off of Doritos and small woodland creatures. We’ve all been conditioned to celebrate bad things at the expense of denying the truth behind those incidents and occurrences.
Just as most wrestling fans don’t consider the talent and employees that could be affected by the potential loss of TNA’s television deal with Spike TV, most people don’t think far ahead enough to consider anything beyond their own noses. As North Americans we’ll celebrate our war victories in a given country without truly considering exactly why thousands or millions of people were killed on both sides of the skirmish. We’ll talk about our academic exceptionalism even though the average reading and comprehension level of our citizens is on a 4th grade level. I had someone call me just to say that they would lobby against the existence of my job, while in the same breath, acknowledged that rising unemployment was a serious issue in our country. For whatever reason, we all enjoy tap dancing over dead bodies just as much as we like birthday cake with ice cream or a nice frankfurter at a baseball game; that’s something that will not change anytime soon in the human experience, especially as we burn rubber down the road to rampant and unrestricted individualism.
While this rumor hangs precariously over TNA’s promotion and its product, should we really be more concerned with catcalls and heckling?
Following the buzzards in this regard is a futile attempt to direct our collective attention away from the real issue. We’re denying the reality that TNA has been thrashing against the tide of S**t’s Creek without a paddle for quite some time, and this recent rumor is just one more in a string of questionably (in)accurate rumors that point to much larger issues that in almost twelve years have yet to be truly rectified. It’s easy to acknowledge that “fans” have always “hated” TNA for indescribable reasons, and it’s easier to deny that there’s something that gives weight and credibility to some of those reasons. The longer we focus on promoting the insanity of commending negativity, the longer we deny ourselves the opportunity to really talk about what TNA has experienced and is experiencing.
If Spike TV has chosen not to renew TNA’s contract, it’s not solely because the suits at Spike TV “hate” TNA; rather it has something to do with all the internal dealings we are not (and should not be) privy to. One could assume that the ever steady ratings of TNA (which declined slightly upon Vince Russo’s exit from the company) were an issue, or that TNA’s inability to expand its audience beyond an average of 1.4 million people (when several of Spike TV’s home grown shows can provide similar or slightly lower numbers) might have made execs a little hesitant about moving forward with another deal.
Clearly that’s not an issue that’s more important than fans speaking poorly about TNA.
While we bring up the point that several hard-working wrestlers and TNA employees could be without steady paychecks from living their dreams and passions, why not bring up the fact that the promotion — which is believed to be (without any proof either way) making a “profit” — lowballed most, if not all, of its well-known stars on contract renewals, forcing them to make the decision to leave and wrestle elsewhere? If memory serves correctly, tons of fans were actually glad that stars like AJ Styles, Frankie Kazarian, and Chris Daniels were lowballed and blamed them for not kowtowing to the promotion’s brazenly apparent cost cutting measures.
Clearly that’s not an issue that’s more important than fans speaking poorly about TNA.
Let’s ignore the fact that after 12 years TNA is still attempting to solidify its identity, continues to rely on the popularity of defunct promotions or popular wrestlers from other promotions to keep the product relevant, and moves rather slowly when it comes to hiring and promoting hot free agents and talent that don’t reek of the indelible fragrance of other promotions in one way or another.
Let’s completely dismiss the fact that by her own admission, Dixie Carter’s reasoning for investing in TNA had more to do with revenue streams that it does the “art” of wrestling that so many fans wax poetically about. Taken directly from the SI.com article on Dixie Carter and TNA Wrestling, LLC:
When TNA was recommended to her as a client, her father encouraged her to take on the fledgling wrestling company. “Wrestling is big business,” Bob told his daughter. A few months later, with the company floundering and weeks away from shuttering its doors, Dixie would use her father’s own words to get him to invest in TNA.
“I remember calling my dad,” she said. “They’d never invested in anything that was non-strategic, much less this non-strategic, but I definitely had inherited my dad’s sale skills. I knew there was a reason there’s a Lowes across the street from every Home Depot or a McDonalds and a Burger King or an Avis and a Hertz. I saw how passionate this fanbase was. You had this one monster with over a billion-dollar cap and worldwide appeal with tons of potential revenue streams. Even if you just pick up 10 percent, you become a 100 million dollar company. From a business perspective, I just saw the potential.“
Let’s shamelessly refuse to consider the threat of Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling (GFW) promotion, which is currently seeking a television deal conveniently at the same time as Spike TV supposedly opted not to renew TNA’s television contract. Let’s renounce the evidence that even if Spike TV has dropped TNA and its programming, the network and its earlier incarnations (TNN – The Nashville Network; TNN – The National Network; and The NEW TNN – The NEW National Network) has broadcast pro wrestling for almost 15 years and could very well continue to do so with GFW and without TNA:
- ECW on TNN from August 1999 – October 2000
- WWE RAW is WAR from September 2000 – September 2005
- TNA iMPACT! from October 2005 – May 2011; TNA Impact Wrestling from May 2011 – October 2014 (???)
Let’s feed into the delusion that WWE and TNA are the only places wrestlers can go as we tacitly imply that wrestlers can’t find good work in indy promotions or fast growing companies like GFW or Ring of Honor Wrestling (ROH).
Of course none of these talking points are more important than dogging out fans who speak poorly about TNA.
I personally don’t want to see TNA fail, but discussing its misadventures and setbacks should not be seen as equivalent to succumbing to the addictive euphoria of watching as things appear to fall apart. That, however, is something completely different from doing a hat dance around a Dixie Carter effigy. While ultimately classless and downright tacky, the end of the world as TNA and its fans know it isn’t coming from the smarmy and snarky comments of keyboard warriors and armchair quarterbacks. The grand revelation of all of the promotion’s issues, TNA’s apocalypse if you will, is coming from the lips of Kevin Kay and Spike TV’s board of directors. Why not focus on that reality instead of woefully shaking our heads at “zOMGs and LOLs” here and there on the internet?
Those that do find some sort of ecstasy and climax in the rumors of Impact Wrestling’s Spike TV cancellation are merely doing what people have done since the beginning of time. Nero reportedly fiddled while Rome burned to the ground, and entire families took pictures around the “strange fruit” of lynched bodies hanging from trees. People even talk of WWE’s recent financial troubles almost as if they’re giddy that the massive company has once again stared down the twin barrels of bankruptcy and financial ruin, and some fans pretend like TNA is the only wrestling promotion that receives an inordinate amount of the IWC’s fiery ire (TNA fans who despise WWE, ROH, and take no notice whatsoever of GFW…we’re looking towards your direction…). Human beings will always talk s**t and find any reason under the sun to gloat when someone or something opposing their own interests faces adversity and difficulty.
When it comes to this situation between Spike TV and TNA Wrestling, LLC, our energy and attention would be better suited towards hoping that in the next three months more than just a television deal can be renewed. TNA as a company has the potential to be something greater than what it currently is; unfortunately, this unrealized or untapped potential is nothing more than wasted energy, and a new television deal to showcase the same old stuff they’ve been doing for years is a major concern that, in the long run, should be the second most important thing.
To TNA, it should be more important to grow the product beyond the safe confines of its steady and consistent demographic. To TNA, it should be more important develop more home grown talent instead of coasting off the fumes of other’s successes and experiences. To TNA, it should be more important to spend more time on developing and promoting their brand and less time catering to the MMA desires of its athletes or other promotions. To TNA, it should be more important to give fans a quality, well-rounded and expertly presented product than it is to allow fans to dictate what type of ring your employees will perform in because “it looks different” as if the identity of the promotion lies solely in what the damn ring looks like. To TNA, it should be more important to find and promote sponsors like Takis, Totino’s Bold, Diet Mountain Dew, Juicy Drop Pop, and Jackson Hewitt instead of relying on 5 Hour Energy and Spike TV’s financial support to fill in the gaps when necessary. To TNA, it should be WAY more important to figure out their taping schedule for the rest of the year now that Universal Studies is no longer their home, particularly since they also couldn’t afford to tour and tape over the long haul as they did last summer.
All of these things are way more important than whether or not someone is filled with joy over the rumors of Impact Wrestling’s cancellation.
We can’t allow the demon of denial to cloud our vision on what’s really happening here. When TNA gets its affairs in order, the same nagging problems, the same awesome action, and the same hyper-cynical critics will exist under the same sun and stars. There’s not much we can do to change the opinion of people on either side of the fence who are themselves unwilling to change, but at least we can collectively raise one another’s consciousness on what’s really important. Without a television deal, without even the hint of viable options outside of Spike TV, TNA would literally have to pull a rabbit out of its ass to remain a fixture in the business. There aren’t enough snarky comments in the world that can make that reality any less real, significant, or relevant than it already is on its own.
There ain’t no denying that reality at all.