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TNA In 2015: What Should We Expect?

The question has to be asked, considering everything that’s happened with “The Little Engine That Wanted To But Kept Driving In Reverse For 12 Years”.

What’s going to happen to TNA Wrestling in 2015? Will TNA even exist in 2015? Let’s hope not. Let’s all pray to the wrestling GODS that it isn’t.

Let’s get the ballyhoo out now, so I can continue:

“You want wrestlers to lose their jobs?!?!? You want WWE to have a monopoly??!?!?” “YOU WANT THERE TO BE NO ALTERNATIVE?!?!?!?”

No, I want their company to be put down like the dying dog that it is.

No, I want their company to be put down like the dying dog that it is.

Let me dispel that right away. I don’t want ANYONE to lose their job. I live in America. This is a tough time to be an American. Jobs are scarce. In the wrestling industry, very few people have any sort of job security, and that’s during a boom period, which this is definitely NOT.

But I’m also far past the point of supporting something like TNA. TNA Wrestling is the scourge of the pro wrestling industry. Many years ago, they operated under the self-appointed brand of being the “WWE alternative”. That was (very slightly) true a long time ago. If nothing else, TNA was where you could go to see some dudes you weren’t familiar with do stuff the WWE wasn’t showcasing.

Then Dixie Carter (being the enormous mark that she is) allowed some of her wrestlers to get in her ear and tell her they could rise up and defeat the WWE machine, or at the very least scuff their shoes enough to get them pissed off.

Anyone who watched the extraordinarily short-lived “New Monday Night Wars” between RAW and Impact can tell you, that didn’t happen. The consistent one million fans who can’t be counted on to buy TNA PPVs, follow them to different timeslots or tune in when ratings data is most crucial didn’t disappoint.

Now, TNA is a ghost. The “brand”, if TNA ever had one, is damaged so far beyond repair that it’s not even funny. If the wrestling equivalent of Jesus turning water into wine happened and TNA got ahold of Jim Ross or Paul Heyman, the only way to do ANYTHING with the brand would be to start over anyways. The letters “TNA” evoke sadness, pity and disappointment.

My L.E.W.D. Brother Rev. Showtime called them “Total Nonstop Anticipation”. I once said “There’s No Audience”. Both are equally more fitting monikers at this point than “Total Nonstop Action”.

TNA finds themselves sans TV deal at the end of the year. No network of any substance wants anything to do with them. Pro wrestling is a dirty genre in the world of television and entertainment right now, but that’s an entirely different rant.

Dixie Carter is busy promising more “major announcements” and another “shocking surprise”. It’s astonishing the level she has diluted those already overused phrases. Even the most ardent TNA fans (i.e not apologists) pay no attention to it anymore. A “major announcement” from Dixie Carter would be that Julio the Janitor has just received a pay increase. A “shocking surprise” would be the signing and push of Eric Escobar.

Dixie and TNA have failed to deliver so many times, for so many years, and it ceased to be funny years ago. I don’t support anyone losing their job but nay will I support a company so hellbent on its own destruction.

I’ve long since moved past the point of being able to tally all of the colossal mistakes they’ve made. For someone who apparently has a “degree” in business, Dixie Carter doesn’t known beans from bullshit about doing business.

TNA still clings to life, being funded by Daddy Warbucks Carter, who, as far as we know, hasn’t completely gotten tired of pumping his hard-earned corporate dollars into funding his daughter’s vanity project.

I hope TNA in 2015 doesn’t exist. Any other business in any other entertainment medium would have been six feet under years ago if they’d made 1/16th of the mistakes TNA has. Put it down. Get it out of the way and let a company that wants to succeed take the spot. If you want proof of how damaged the TNA brand is, look no further than their last few business partnerships.

They teamed up with Bellator to plug Bellator fights and names and to be the lead-in to the show. Bellator responded by occasionally running an (1) ad for Impact.

They teamed up with OVW in order to say they were working with a former WWE developmental territory. They then chose to feature unsigned indy talents and ex-WWE guys and occasionally using OVW as a bookshelf to put their dusty, injured or otherwise unwanted wrestlers before dropping the deal altogether.

They teamed up with the blacksheep of Japanese wrestling in Wrestle-1, which is more or less The Great Muta’s ego stroking machine, to put on “their” biggest PPV of the year in Japan, which involved none of their major Champions, a crap ton of Wrestle-1 performers and Muta himself in the Main Event (MAJOR SHOCKING CONSISTENT SOLID ASTOUNDING MONUMENTAL).

Notice how in every one of these scenarios, every party benefitted EXCEPT for TNA? That’s not going to change.

As long as Bob Carter wants to funnel money into the degrading disease that is TNA, they’ll continue to limp by on life support with about 12 IVs sticking out of their arms. TNA is hoping to get picked up by WGN America or Velocity in 2015 so there’s that.

To put that into perspective, that’s a network that roughly 40-50% of the country doesn’t receive that couldn’t hold onto WWE Superstars vs a network that features cars and shows about cars. Great potential homes for pro wrestling.

Of course, they could always make a play at Country Music Television. That’s long been a suggestion from the pro wrestling “experts”.

Unless we all get lucky and they die and someone else comes along to raise the bar (ROH, DGUSA, GFW, CZW, pretty much anyone at this point), you can expect much of the same in 2015 from TNA. More anticipation, more “major announcements”, more “shocking surprises”, more “good” wrestling, more “solid” Impacts, more “consistent” PPVs and the same 500,000 (one million if they ask their parents and friends really nicely) unreliable, finicky, WWE hating, spot loving fans.

/EndRant

Dean Ambrose Rises

Dean Ambrose is WWE’s dark knight. He is not the wrestler WWE wants, but he is the one WWE needs. I recently had a convo with my best friend about Roman Reigns and Ambrose, re: their characters and if you had to pick one to build your promotion around, which one do you pick? We both chose Ambrose. Because his character is so pronounced, you’d have to go out of your WAY to damage him. In that way, he reminds me of The Rock. He’s going to lose to John Cena at HIAC and “we” will complain, but then we’ll be entertained by him basically being involved in the Cena/Rollins match and costing Cena that match.

I have been very vocal about Seth Rollins not winning all his big matches because of interference, or it will make him look weak. It has been noticeable, how he has taken the high spots out of his work. He has been displaying little of the athleticism that made him stand out as the so-called architect of The Shield. His promo is ok. He can deliver the message but not necessarily heat. Which is why I feel he needs to be protected somewhat. Not so much that he doesn’t lose… heels lose most of the time, and even when they’re winning battles it’s just building towards them losing the war. I mean that the Seth Rollins character isn’t gonna be bulletproof like Dean Ambrose. No one CARES that he has lost all the matches they’ve had. Same way no one cares that The Rock lost often to Stone Cold, HHH and the Undertaker in main events on PPV and on TV. Character resonance.

The breakup of The Shield has been the kindest to Ambrose, as Rollins stood out as the high flyer and Reigns was the muscle and often, the finisher of their matches. You could tell, Reigns was future WWE champ and Rollins was maybe a great technician who would steal the show from the middle of the card more often than not. Ambrose was the talker of the group. His work is unspectacular as shit. Watch Reigns and how he has like three moves, but those three moves are over as shit. See crowd pop when Rollins flips over the top rope and lands on his feet. And there’s Ambrose… making weird facial expressions and doing odd gesticulations with his hands. Towards the end of their run together, I was starting to feel the hype that preceded him was overhype. I was wrong. That kid is special.

Wrestling has always needed a sense of “where are they going with this/where are they taking us next?” because of the nature of the business. Smart fans are well aware of the fact that what they are seeing is scripted as fuck. What keeps our interest is the moments where you feel like “That wasn’t supposed to happen!” or even better “That was a shoot!” aka “That was real!” The best way I can describe Dean Ambrose is “predictably unpredictable”. As in “we knew he was in that present to Hulk Hogan on his birthday” and “we knew he would get out of that room The Authority locked him in” and so on and so forth. In that way, he reminds me of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Wow. I have compared this guy to two of the biggest superstars in the history of the business.

I have often compared Reigns to Cena… in that I see him quickly becoming stale as WWE forces him down our throats and he doesn’t do things to keep himself fresh and interesting… Ambrose really is like Rock and Austin in that you really don’t know what he’s going to say or do. But you know it will be entertaining. And so, as an aside, I know WWE is going to go with Reigns for his looks and lineage as their top hand. I just hope they make us CARE about him. Why we care about Ambrose will be on display at the PPV when he does the job for Cena and then breaks into the Cell later that night to mess with both Cena and Rollins. As another aside I REALLY hope the rumor that the loser of that match btw Cena and Ambrose faces Orton is false because 1) no one needs see Cena/Orton even being potentially a thing any time soon and 2) Just NO.

This ‘storyline’ is a shining example of how NOT creative WWE Creative is. First… you gave us an inconclusive ending to the rematch to the biggest fight of the summer. Then… I’m tired of creative having nothing for Cena so they just feed him someone else’s story. I’m STILL pissed CM Punk never had a match with Johnny Ace, but Cena did. (As yet another aside hmmmmmmmm Nikki Bella weirdly got thrown in AJ and Paige’s match like she didn’t have a natural feud of her own) I can write a whole ass piece on how A) what was the point of the finish at NOC if you WEREN’T gonna blow it off at HIAC? and B) Brock Lesnar can’t be bothered to show up to your alleged fourth biggest show of the year, the week of Thanksgiving… called Survivor Series? …but I won’t. I said enough just in saying those two things. So… Cena has no feud… so just have him horn in on a lesser babyface’s feud. Smh.

Again… the saving grace is that losing to Cena and possibly Orton in one night can’t hurt the wrestler WWE doesn’t necessarily want, but needs.

Breaking Kayfabe Presents: “Back to Basics”

BKGraphicJohn stared at his cell phone as it sat on the glistening black marble tile of the kitchen counter. He hovered over it, his elbows pressed firmly against the cold marble surface, fretting about having to make the phone call once again. Despite having done this for the last six weeks, he always had trouble dialing the number; as the days passed it only got harder and harder for him to scroll through his contacts list and press the call send button when he ran across Adam’s profile picture. By now the image of the silhouetted women posing suggestively over a star was indelibly etched into John’s mind. He saw it in his dreams as he slept at night, when he saluted the American flag as a part of his morning ritual before brushing his teeth. He even found himself having convulsions while watching his favorite sitcoms from the 1980s when star wipes were used as transitions between scenes.

John had it bad and could barely endure any longer. He had to call Adam, and he refused to give up without convincing him to accept what was truly best for business.

He tilted the brim of his periwinkle blue fitted baseball cap backwards, lifting the inspirationally colorful beret off his freshly trimmed hair. He ran his hand over his head, starting from his moist brow and culminating at the scruff of the back of his neck, something he occasionally did when he needed more time to consider his options.

“You can do this, John…” he said to himself, remembering all the things he learned from his life coach in developmental. “You’ve done it a million times…never give up, never surrender.”

He replaced the cap on his head and leaned away from the counter. Taking a deep breath, he snatched up his iPhone 6 adorned with the words “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect” and a Hello Kitty sticker, and scrolled feverishly through his contacts. He hesitated when the silhouetted women appeared on his screen…

Sigh…” he exhaled, taking his next breaths in deliberately through his nose and releasing them carefully through his mouth. “Don’t chicken out now, John. Just dial the number…WE can do this.”

His finger quivered over the profile picture momentarily, and as if a surge of inspiration coursed through his veins, he pressed the call send button and placed the phone gingerly next to his ear.

Ring…ring…ring…

This part always made John nervous. The last few times he called, Adam seemed to be a bit on edge…a tad bit testy and irritated. John knew that the constant phone calls caused Adam all sorts of frustration, but having Adam mad at him was the fuel that needled beneath John’s skin, giving him the gumption to at least attempt to make the call each week.

Ring…ring…ring…click…

“Hello?” a familiar voice said tentatively on the other end.

“Hey! Adam!” John replied excitedly. “It’s John. How’s it going, bud?”

“Oh…John,” Adam replied. “Uhm hey…did you change your number again?”

“Yeah,” he replied with a slight chuckle. “You know me…always gotta have the best deal with the best coverage. Vintage Cena…hehehe.”

“Yeah…right,” Adam said. “Look, I’m kinda busy at the moment, so what is it you want this week?”

John relaxed a bit as the tenseness eased from his body. I’ve got him talking to me; at least he’s talking to me this week. This is going to be easy and sweet. “Oh, I just wanted to see how you were doing…the last time we talked you were busy filming a show or something.”

“Yeah.” Adam stated matter-of-factly. “Haven’s doing well and thank you for asking by the way. Look…if that’s what you wa…”

“Yeah yeah, I gotcha,” John stated. “You know Nikki Bella, my girlfriend? She’s on this show on the E! Network right now.” He backed away from the counter and turned towards the kitchen’s stained oak cabinets. “It’s called Total Divas, you might have heard…”

“I know the show, John.” Adam said.

“Right…I was on it a few times, but I try not to do it too much because it takes me away from the ring so much, you know?”

“This conversation is making my head hurt…”

“Okay, okay, I promise this won’t take long. Remember back when we had that feud?” John opened one of the cabinet doors, revealing a shelf chock-filled with a variety of spices and canned foods. His eyes became instantly transfixed on an unopened box of Celestial Seasonings Herbal Green Tea. A smile crept across his face.

“Yeah, I remember…that was back before I retired…” Adam said. “Look, I’ve really got to…”

“Those were great times, weren’t they Adam?” John asked. He removed the box of tea from the cabinet, opening it hastily and pulling out two tea bags. He brought the tea bags up to his nose and inhaled deeply, closing his eyes as he smiled gleefully. “We loved those days, right? Things were sooo cool.”

Adam groaned as the consternation in his voice grew with each labored sigh and completed sentence that rolled between his lips. “Look, this is ridiculous. You’ve called me for weeks now, John. I’m done; my in-ring career is over. I’m retired, why is that hard to understand?”

“Yeah, I know…” John said, now cradling the phone with his head and shoulder as he filled a bright orange metal tea kettle with water from the sink. “It’s just…it’s just that…”

What, John? It’s just what?

John placed the tea kettle on the electric stove top and set the dial to high, a bit too eager to have his nice cup of hot herbal green tea sooner rather than later. “I miss those days, Adam. I mean, we’ve got a bunch of guys—and don’t get me wrong, they’re all good guys—but they don’t have the fire that you have.”

“How is that my concern, John?” Adam asked. “I’m not a wrestler anymore.”

“Okay,” John said with a slight hint of defeat in his voice. “I’ll come clean. There are these two guys in a program…Seth and Dean. And they’re soooo good, almost like they hate each other in real life.” He cradled the phone between his ear head and shoulder again as he searched for a mug in the other cabinets. “You’re the first person I’ve said this to, but I think…I mean, I know… I’m a little jealous, you know?”

“John, you’re actually jealous of someone?” Adam said as he chuckled. “Say it ain’t so, champ; say it ain’t so.”

“That’s the thing, Adam…” John interjected.” “Nobody has had that type of chemistry with me since you! These two guys come up, and their program is solid all the way around, and before I knew it they had this instant Rhodes/Horsemen thing going, Adam. You and I made magic in the ring…our drama was irreplaceable. You were the perfect yang to my yin. I miss those days…I miss you, Adam.”

“…this is getting a little weird,” Adam said, his voice cracking slightly with a smidgen of fear mixed with a generous amount of confusion.

“No, nothing like that Adam” John said as he perused the cabinet for cups. He pushed a few colorful mugs to the side until he spied a simple white mug with “World’s Greatest Tag Team” stamped in large black letters across the front of it. “I’m just saying that your energy, your charisma, your way with words…that meshed well with my…well, with me.” He pulled the mug off of the cabinet shelf and placed it on the granite kitchen countertop.

“John, look; you think you know me,” Adam replied. “But that was just a character, an over exaggeration of parts of m…”

“Adam, I need you to come back.” John blurted out.

“…what?”

“I need you to come back,” John repeated as he carefully placed his tea bags into the mug he pulled from the cabinet. “I’m nothing without a guy like you, and you’re one of a kind.” The water in the tea kettle started to come to a boil.

“I really think you’ve got me confused with someone else.” Adam said. “And I’m flattered, really I am, but with my neck and Haven, I’m not getting back into a ring to wrestle ever again.”

John began to get flustered. He leaned on the countertop, hovering over his mug, and lifted his cap from his head as he rubbed his scalp again. “Adam, there’s so much we can do together that these guys just can’t accomplish with me or with each other. All I need is one more feud…one more feud between you and me…and we’d could have the world in our palms!”

“I could die if I got in the ring again. Everyone knows that, and I can’t believe you…have you really been calling me all this time for that?”

John hesitated before answering the question. “…maybe…”

“For Pete’s sake, John; this is my life you’re talking about here! NO, I can’t…I mean, what in the world got into your thick skull to convince you I’d consider getting in the ring again?”

“There was that one time you came back and threw a stiff punch.” John was now stooped over peering into one side of a black Maytag double-door refrigerator. “You looked pretty solid to me then; I figured you got a second opinion or something.” He closed the refrigerator door after pulling out a Ziploc bag of lemon wedges and a plastic bear-shaped bottle of honey.

“All I threw was a punch, a punch John,” Adam yelled. “That was one punch, one night…totally different from wrestling on a long term basis.”

John returned to the counter and removed two lemon wedges from the Ziploc bag. “C’mon Adam, that was one pretty stiff punch. We all saw it.” He dropped the wedges into his mug as steam began to spout from the kettle. “Your neck can’t be that bad to launch the punch you threw.” He pulled open a drawer under the counter and found a spoon.

I can’t do this…” Adam muttered over the phone. “I just can’t do this with him anymore. John, I’m hanging up the phone now. Lose this number an…”

“Adam, before you say anything else,” John said. “We’ve got some great doctors now, and it’ll be easy to get you cleared.” The kettle began to whistle. “We still got Andrews in Birmingham on speed dial, so you really don’t have much to worry about.” The whistling from the kettle grew louder. “Ooh, the water’s ready…” John said loudly to no one in particular.

There was an awkward silence over the phone. “John,” Adam asked. “What was that?”

“Oh that was the kettle. I’m making tea.” John removed the kettle from the stove top and slowly poured the hot water into his mug. He filled the mug with water close to the brim and began dipping his tea bags up and down.

“You’re making…that was the kettle…” Adam asked.

“Yep,” John said as he squeezed a healthy portion of honey into steaming hot water. “It’s Herbal Green Tea,” he said while stirring the steaming hot tea with the spoon he found. He switched the phone to his left hand and lifted the mug to his lips, taking a nice and careful sip of his concoction.

Ahhh,” he said sounding pleased and refreshed with a self-assuring nod to solidify his satisfaction. “That’s good.”

“Did you say ‘the kettle’?” Adam asked. “Wait…just wait a min…”

John placed the mug back on the countertop and leaned with his back against it. “Now Adam, I’ve talked to Vince and the guys, and all you have to do is sign the papers. I could even bring them to you. If you want, I could even sign them for you…”

Silence came from the other end of the phone.

“You still there,” John asked. “Adam? Adam? Stupid nationwide coverage my Aunt Fanny…” He stepped away from the counter and, pulling the phone away from his ear, began to wave it around in the air to search for a better signal. He took two baby steps to the left, two more to the right, stared at the phone and waved in front of his face.

“ADAM…CAN YOU HEAR ME?” he yelled at the phone, seemingly to no avail. He looked at the device once more and returned it to his ear.   “Adam, if you’re still there, say something…anything…”

“John…what the hell are you doing…?” Adam said.

“Oh, there you are!” John said with a sense of relief rushing over his body. “I thought I lost you for a sec. I was trying to see if I dropped you.”

“No, John…what the hell are you doing…in my house?

John’s eyes grew wide with shock. He quickly squeezed them closed, shrugged his shoulders and turned his head towards his left shoulder. He opened his eyes cautiously only to be confronted by Adam’s deadly accusatory and angry gaze.

“Adam!” John said nervously. “Hey bud! Want some tea, it’s really unbelievably awesome.”

“How the hell did you get into my house, John?!” Adam yelled.

“Now Adam, I know this looks weird, but I promise you I’m only here for us and I really think you should try this tea.”

“I don’t want any of the damn tea, John! Wait…is that from my brand new unopened box of tea?!?!”

“I get that you’re a bit frazzled, but we won’t be able to talk about your return if you stay narrow minded,” John said as he held his free hand towards Adam in a non-threatening way. “Just taste the tea and I promise you things will work out alright.”

I’m not wrestling aga…” Adam started to say, but stopped after realizing he was still talking into his phone. He snatched the phone from the side of his head and furiously pressed the call end button. “Get out of my house this instant, John!” he said while pointing indiscriminately towards an unseen exit.

John sheepishly looked at his phone and glanced back at Adam. “Well that wasn’t nice. I guess someone needs an attitude adjustment. You sure you don’t want to try the tea?”

“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE, JOHN!!!!”

“Okay okay okay, I can take a hint,” John said as he placed his phone in his pocket and picked up his mug of tea. “So I can just ask them to go ahead and send you the paperwork?”

“GET OUT!!!! GET OUT GET OUT GET…OUT!!!!!” Adam screamed furiously.

“Alright, I get it!” John retorted as he picked up the mug and took a brief sip. “You want some time to think about it, but they’ll be expecting the paperwork back soon so they can get going on your return. I’m thinking we do the Royal Rumble return-from-injury-surprise entry thing, although it’s a bit of a cliché now even if it does still work…”

Adam grabbed John by the collar of his t-shirt and the waist band of his camouflaged jorts, and dragged him out of the kitchen. Before he knew it John had been unceremoniously tossed out of Adam’s house, completely oblivious as he stared at front door slamming shut in his face.

“So we’ll be in touch, Adam! No worries, this is gonna be great!” He yelled at the door.

John smiled. He dusted himself off and straightened his clothes, turning from the front door to raise the mug to his lips, relishing the one long satisfying sip of his tea that served as his self-induced reward for a perceived job done well. It was at that moment he realized the fruits of his labors were finally starting to bloom and blossom. He managed to convince Adam to return to wrestling, so he thought, and Adam’s return was worth more to him than gold.

You did it, champ, he said to himself while taking another sip of tea from the WWGT-emblazoned mug. You wore him down good; I know he’s going to come around. Now we just wait. Never give up, never surrender. John could barely contain the huge grin that began to grow across his face. Perfectly satisfied with his efforts, he strolled away from the house with a new song in his heart and the tune of his entrance music whistling through his lips.

This is it, champ, he thought again once more. Your time is now.

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