The war between TNA and WWE was over, really before it started. While I watch and enjoy both, there is no question WWE is the winner and undisputed top wrestling company in the world.
This, however, does not mean TNA can't teach a thing—or in this case three—to WWE about effective programing.
The first thing TNA has on WWE is long title reigns by impressive champions.
WWE has done well to keep the strap on CM Punk for nine months, and CM Punk has gone through some pretty long odds cementing his reputation as a formidable champion.
But outside this singular occurrence, WWE has a history of playing championship hot potato or putting the belt on lackluster champions.
WWE has denigrated its United States and Tag Team Championships by having them be contested before a pay-per-view even begins.
The United States Championship had been held for a while, but it was held by Santino Marella. C'mon, I love Santino, but really? Really??
And speaking of which, only recently has the Intercontinental Championship begun a rehab stint by having it be held by three good champions: Cody Rhodes, Christian, and most recently the Miz, who had an impressive title defence against Rey Mysterio.
Current Heavyweight Champion Sheamus has had a decent title run, but he won it off Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds.
The folks at TNA have had several long, successful and impressive championship runs. The Heavyweight Strap had been held by Bobby Roode for about a year and looked daunting while there.
Current Heavyweight champion Austin Aries was the former X Division champion, a title he didn't lose—he gave it up in order to compete for the Heavyweight championship. As X Division Champion, he was similarly impressive by defeating pretty much every X Division player. He even beat Bully Ray in a very physical match.
The Television title—which TNA has done a great job revisiting—has been held by Devon, who himself has had numerous impressive title defences.
TNA Champs, in my opinion, look like champs and that's how it should be. Right now, the only Champion and Championship that WWE is truly doing a good job on is the WWE Championship with CM Punk.
The X Division title and TV title allow other great talents to be highlighted, and this is the second thing WWE could learn from TNA.
The X Division has historically been a division for acrobats and high flyers. It's also been primarily populated by those who would traditionally be considered Cruiser-weights.
I have been longing for a resurgence of the Cruiser-weight division for the longest time. Look at all the awesome talent that has been allowed to shine in the X Division that might have otherwise been Tatsuized (poor Yoshi...): AJ Styles, Austin Aries, Brian Kendrick, Sonjay Dutt, The Motor City Machine Guns and more.
Think of all the great wrestlers who can finally be seen in the proper light if a Cruiser-weight division was to be reinstated.
Daniel Bryan, Tyson Kidd, Rey Mysterio, all great Cruiser-weights—imagine the new talent that could have a place to shine.
The Television Title would be of similar use. The beauty of the Television Title is that it is multi-use title. It can be used as a stepping stone for wrestlers as they make their way to the top. It can even be used to put on those wrestlers who are very popular with the fans, but not so popular with management (can you say Zack Ryder or Santino Marella?).
The third thing that WWE could learn from TNA is the Bound For Glory Series.
The Bound For Glory series has given us some awesome matches and highlighted a variety of stars. But far more importantly, the BFGS has established a genuine right to the title of number one contender for whoever wins the the series. That wrestler had to go through a slew of matches and then an elimination round before winning the series and the shot at the title.
This not only enhances Challenger, but also the Champion and the Championship. It elevates the Championship by virtue of all that one had to go through to challenge for it. By extension, it elevates the Champion by virtue of holding the Championship.
In the WWE today, the only thing that comes close to the BFGS is Money in the Bank. A neat idea and gimmick, granted, but aside from one grueling match it's basically a guarantee title change. The only real suspense is when, not if.
Most of the time, a title shot is doled out almost arbitrarily—a fit of pique by a GM. Being a challenger should in and of itself mean something—"I had to kick a lot of a@# to get to this point."
I have been very happy with the many improvements WWE has been making to their product. While TNA may never be able to close the gap in terms of storytelling or production value, pound for pound they use their talented roster better and respect their championships more than WWE.
WWE is number one, but even number one can learn a few things from number two.
As always, I welcome your comments.
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