It's Still Real to Me, Dammit!

Backlash: An Open Letter to Jason Blade of TNAsylum.com

DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for any reactions, positive or negative, caused by Mr. Blade’s article. Please direct all grievances or comments to http://www.tnasylum.com/2012/08/an-open-letter-to-bruce-prichard.html and concern yourselves mainly with my reaction to the piece. 

Dear Mr. Blade,

Let’s get this out of the way to begin with. It’s writers like you that consistently damage any slim credibility that comes from internet writers, especially those that choose to write about professional wrestling. The level of hypocrisy, bias, and truth twisting that comes from your site is appalling to me. As it stands,  you should understand that TNAsylum.com carries virtually no credibility outside of reporting on anything TNA related you can get your hands on and having an above-average web design. This is negated in almost every way by your inability to produce objective commentary. Though your site is almost 100% contaminated with subjective spin and fluff, I was once able to say that you folks at least twisted a majority of factual things. This open letter, that I have linked here in my piece, is completely beyond anything that I’ve read from your domain before.

This goes far beyond bias and fluff and approaches the dangerous territory of downright lies. For starters, I cannot abide by a writer who tries to stake a claim to writing on behalf of everyone, as this is completely impossible. You cannot in good conscience sir, tell me that you are somehow speaking for every single person who has followed TNA since last October. More ludicrous than this outstanding claim, however, is your declaration that everyone unanimously believes that TNA’s creative direction is far superior to anything that ever came before it.

I would typically write this off as your, albeit extraordinarily flawed, opinion. However, your insistence that you speak on behalf of all TNA viewers puts this normal categorization in supreme jeopardy. Your claim that matches are paced better, storylines are planned out better, characters are developed, alignment turns aren’t done on a dime and shows aren’t over-saturated is complete and utter B.S.

To analyze this logically and objectively, there is really no way to claim that the product is better, post-Russo. In fact, I think it’s a safe bet to say that it has actually gotten a whole lot worse. TNA’s offering following the end of the Russo regime has been an absolute train wreck.

To claim that the product in general is much better overall than any other time since Hogan and Bischoff came aboard is again, subjective, and you are indeed entitled to your opinion. I would say this point is arguable, at best.

The root of the problem lays in the overwhelming clash of styles that seems to be at the heart of Impact Wrestling every single week. While Russo is undeniably a dangerous car-crash style booker, he’s at least a familiar kind of evil. In small doses, with the proper leash on his collar, he can and has been effective before.

Indeed, at least with Russo at the helm, you knew what you were getting each week on Impact. Sometimes it was impressive, more often than not it was cringeworthy, but whether or not the ratings or the content reflected it, the style of writing was consistent. A large emphasis was placed on shock and awe booking, with frequent twists and turns that often gave people whiplash.

Now, however, the problem has been mutated. Perhaps the booking and the aforementioned problems that you claim don’t exist wouldn’t be so prevalent, if Bruce Prichard was the sole booker. Unfortunately, this is not the case. While I cannot speak for every TNA viewer, as I’m sure there are viewers out there that somehow enjoy being slammed into the walls of their cerebral cortex like the dryer from hell, I can objectively say that rather than the spitball style of booking being toned down Post-Russo, as I figured it would be, it has instead only become more prominent.

Each episode of Impact feels like it’s being written by a different member of the team. When you take into consideration the extraordinarily different styles that have been assimilated together, it’s not that surprising. Bruce Prichard, whose booking style is largely based on the “Play it Safe” WWE style, Dave Lagana, who has experience with the safe brand of McMahon writing as well as the ROH style which doesn’t feature much emphasis on character development, and Hogan and Bischoff seizing the third corner of this unholy triforce. While there may or may not be more powers at play on this team or surrounding this situation (I am fully willing to admit that my knowledge is based on speculation and educated guesses) there is simply no way that this combination should work, on paper or otherwise.

As a result, I can more or less take a guess at which booker has the heaviest handle on the steering wheel for the week each time I watch Impact.

For all the props you throw out, you willfully and purposefully ignore all of the glaring flaws that TNA continues to ignore. It’s this unacceptable collection of neglected flaws that ensures that TNA can’t and won’t grow to be anything more than it is right now. The undeniable default Number 2 promotion in the United States.

I’ve never met a person that grew up with the dream of being the Vice President of the United States. Nay, I have never met an athlete whose lifelong goal was to win a Silver Medal in the Olympics. I sure as heck have never met a politician whose sole aspiration was to ascend to the prominent position of Undersecretary to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The point is, TNA seems totally content on being the second banana forever, and it shows. Badly.

Perhaps the X-Division wouldn’t need re-energization if TNA hadn’t allowed it to die in the first place. In fact, anything that made TNA stand out in a sea of wrestling promotions has been thoroughly eviscerated from the company. The character development is still hotshotted, storylines are still abysmal, hell you need only look at the AJ/Dixie/Claire Lynch clusterbomb as an example of storylines in TNA. The only other big stories being told in the company at the moment involve 6-8 (undecided) guys (without contracts, roster spots or even consistent appearances under the masks) playing yet another hostile takeover angle and Abyss portraying his own brother and fighting with Bully Ray, a story being praised despite the appeal wearing out months ago and with no logical payoff in sight.

This is your idea of TNA’s vast improvement under Bruce Prichard’s watchful eye?

The six-sided ring and the X-Division stand out as the two places that TNA truly didn’t play shoe shiner to anyone because they were unique. Yet, now we’re fed X-Division centered PPVs with names that no casual fan has ever heard of, largely because almost all of the names that made this Division prominent are either gone or have moved on. Sonjay Dutt and Kid Kash stand out as the two real X staples left in the company. Now, the belt has become nothing more than a free title shot to be cashed in once a year for a chance to be World Champion. It gets hot-shotted onto a poorly trained wanna-be Super Saiyan like Zema Ion, for the sole purpose of him dropping it to Jesse Sorenson the moment he returns from injury.

Your claim about TNA having good women’s wrestling is also void. Having women in longer matches and thought-out storylines doesn’t automatically make them good. In truth, TNA definitely gave their women more freedom but what made them draw for the company was the sex appeal and the lack of idiotic booking decisions.

The KO’s were once praised for being the highest drawing segment on any given edition of Impact, but don’t fool yourself for a moment thinking it was because they were having stalwart wrestling matches because they weren’t. Your mentioning of Japanese promotions having serious female wrestling is true but that’s because the two promotions you listed, AJW and GAEA are both women’s only promotions. You can find the same thing stateside with SHIMMER or WWW or hell, even WrestleLicious.

Naturally, an all-women’s wrestling promotion is going to feature serious female wrestling. It’s their only flipping attraction!

For you to expect a traditionally formatted men and women’s wrestling company to emphasize primarily on female wrestling is foolish. This isn’t me being a male chauvinist, either. The point is, people that desire to see female wrestlers in the prime-time spotlight will watch any of those given companies listed above. The casual wrestling fans, however, don’t tune into companies like TNA or WWE to watch men have 4 minute matches over cologne and women grappling in one hour Iron Woman matches for the Lightweight Championship of the World.

Women’s wrestling is a niche market and is not a big draw in a standard wrestling promotion, any more than cruiserweight wrestling is. They are cogs in a bigger picture. Even TNA knows that, so why don’t you, Mr. Blade?

The most WWE would ever do is give Cruiserweights and Divas their own shows on the WWE Network, and even then, it’d be to fill timeslots and please the fans of those particular brands of wrestling. Neither show would or should be expected to bust out 7.0’s in the ratings.

While I understand that your cry was mainly to see good women’s wrestling, I am simply at a loss to figure out why you were wanting it from TNA. While Total Nonstop Anticipation has been known for putting on some classic women’s bouts in the past, the division is a shell of its former self.

I can agree that I’d like to see better women’s wrestling too, from both promotions. But you’re praising Bruce Prichard for non-existant things and criticizing him for following his instincts. WWE has never sported the most prominent Women’s Division in the world and that’s where the man did his booking. Should you not be directing your blame at people like Dixie Carter, who oftentimes has no clue what’s even going on in her own company?

For goodness sakes, the woman was apparently unaware that Velvet Sky had been released from her own company.

My issues with Dixie will be taken up with a letter that I’m currently drafting that will be sent directly to TNA headquarters in Nashville, TN but that’s another issue for another day.

Rather than expend all this energy with this foolish fluff, Mr. Blade, allow me to be constructive (Since people think that all I do is critique TNA without being fair) and offer several counterpoints.

  • The one legitimate point you made in your fluffy letter was a good one, Mr. Blade. Scott D’Amore should have been booking the Tag Team and KO Divisions ages ago. Unfortunately, this would require logic, patience, attention span, consistency, and trust in Mr. D’Amore’s ability enough that he be left alone and allowed to work. Naturally, these are the 5 things that TNA seems incapable of doing, largely due to the people calling the shots on the inside but if this scenario came to light, it would be beneficial to the company. 
  • TNA right now needs to seriously sit down and get organized. Going LIVE hasn’t done much for their overall product. The frenetic energy they had for their LIVE debut is long since gone and things are pretty much back to business as usual, except that TNA no longer has the advantage of TV editing to cover up their mistakes or correct things that come across badly. Performers, agents and everyone involved in producing the actual television show need to be prepped well for LIVE or the format will end up eating them alive. Ratings have failed to come anywhere close to the spikes achieved from the taped program and are struggling to even regularly reach where they were on the taped schedule. 
  • Someone please educate Dixie Carter on how to run this company. It may seem like less of a big deal but after nine years as TNA’s President, the woman still doesn’t know a wrist lock from a wrist watch. Every decision should ultimately be going through her and if that’s the case, the outlook is grim. How on Earth does Velvet Sky get released without Dixie knowing about it? Furthermore, who’s in Dixie’s ear telling her that storylines like this Claire Lynch fiasco are good investments? I don’t blame it all on her. She’s supposed to be surrounded by wrestling minds so this transition shouldn’t have been so rough and this definitely shouldn’t be an issue after nine years at the helm. Someone (probably more than one “someone”) with nice clothes and a lot of pull has an ulterior motive and things need to get on track. Dixie needs to either take the reigns or give the horse to someone who can steer it.
  • Fans like Jason Blade are a huge part of the reason that TNA continues to make minimal to no improvements in their product after a decade in existence. It’s hard to argue that TNA isn’t currently in a trend of booking for internet fans. Booking largely for smarks is a really bad idea. Hell, booking even partially for smarks is a bad idea. Fans like Jason Blade that will blatantly ignore glaring flaws, and baby TNA through all of the mistakes they will admit to are not helping the product, at all. In addition counseling, they’d refer to this as enabling. By patting TNA on the back and refusing to hold them accountable for foolish decision making, they are directly encouraging them to uphold this standard of mediocrity. Why should TNA improve when the fans they’re trying to cater to are telling them that it’s okay to put on unacceptably illogical and badly written shows? 

I can only hope that Jason Blade and his friends at TNAsylum realize just what a detrimental effect they’re having on the company they claim to love and respect so exuberantly. As for me, I let logic do my arguing for me. As they say on my ancestor’s home planet of Vulcan, “Live long and prosper.”

Or some such sh*t.

Regards,

Mr. Quinn Gammon

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