Hulk Hogan and the Dumbest Reasons People Use to Hate TNA
It amazes me that TNA Impact gets as much hate as it does.
I totally understand not liking the company because it's just not your thing. It's a free country after all. My issue is with the people who hate TNA, which is an entirely different thing.
The company has grown exponentially in recent years, has exploded in popularity internationally and is slowly creeping up the relevancy scale to a place where McMahon and Co. at the WWE should feel, at least, slightly uneasy. The promotion has not only trimmed the fat of a bloated 12 pay-per-view yearly schedule, but has also cast aside its sedentary past and hit the road.
However, despite these advancements and despite providing quality wrestling on a weekly basis, the company seems to be unable to win over their many detractors. You know them. They're the guys and gals that log onto Bleacher Report and click the TNA tab simply to complain about the product many of us enjoy as a healthy alternative to the WWE's near monopoly.
But here's the thing: some of the reasons for their dislike aren't even close to valid, and some are just all-around stupid.
TNA's Talent Is Too Old
Last year, I found myself in a discussion with a reader about TNA's "youth problem."
It was his belief that, unlike WWE, TNA's roster is filled with over-the-hill talent and that the company has a problem finding and promoting younger wrestlers. He believed that it is because of this inability to introduce younger and fresher faces that TNA remains stale.
Now I would never call a reader of this fine publication stupid, but I would like to point out the inherent flaw and danger of that type of thinking.
First, TNA's main event talent, with the exception of a few, all have ages that hover around the mid-30s. This is no different than WWE. James Storm, Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, CM Punk, John Cena, and Daniel Bryan are all around the same age, give or take.
There are a few exceptions, such as Kane, Bully Ray and Devon who are all in their 40s, but for the most part, the mid-30s is the age of a wrestler in his or her "prime."
So, no, TNA does not have a "youth problem." This brings me to my second point and that is wrestlers any younger tend to be sloppy workers. TNA takes care to season their wrestlers before really putting them out there. According to a March 21, 2013, interview with Fox News Latino, Chavo Guerrero believes this is the way it used to be and should still be:
In the wrestling business, you know, you really don’t know what you’re doing ‘til about seven, eight years in. You look back to the way wrestling used to be — you didn’t even make it to the big time until you were ten years in minimum. Now you’re in the business for six months or a year and they come in the ring and they’re getting shots at the big time. And if you see the wrestling, especially at the other place, you can tell. I won’t even watch that program because it’s bad. The wrestling is so bad.
Young wrestlers are dangerous wrestlers. So it stands to reason that TNA, with its limited television time, would want to ensure its roster is filled with as many seasoned and thus safe workers as possible. We've all seen tragedies in the ring I'm sure, the fewer the better.
The only exceptions I can see to this are Garett Bischoff and Wes Brisco. But TNA won't even let them in the ring unless Kurt Angle's with them to carry the match and keep them safe. They're the youngest guys I can think of on the roster, and they're 30. TNA does not trust green wrestlers, and to me that's just plain smart.
The only reason I can imagine for the misconception of TNA's "youth problem" is because of its previous use of older and more widely known wrestlers. But after releasing Scott Steiner and Ric Flair from the company, and after relegating Sting and Hogan to smaller authority roles, TNA doesn't deserve this criticism.
Now WWE on the other hand...did you see WrestleMania 29?
They Ruin Angles and Storylines
TNA has long been accused of either ruining promising storylines or creating crazy and incoherent ones. Look no further than last year's Claire Lynch debacle or the convoluted Immortal storyline for proof.
The promotion's dissenters argue that TNA and its history of bad storytelling keeps people from watching.
This criticism is pretty prevalent, especially among members of the Internet Wrestling Community. Everyone has an opinion on TNA's inability to write compelling stories and for the life of me, I can't figure out where this particular gripe comes from.
The Abyss/Joseph Park story, whether you like the wrestler's newest incarnation or not, is very compelling; the AJ Styles storyline is also very compelling; the Aces & Eights storyline, although relatively rocky in the beginning, is now moving with a full head of steam and making for some great television.
Even the "bad" storylines have had saving graces. The Immortal storyline had one of TNA's greatest moments as a payoff when Hogan turned face and saved Sting at 2011 Bound for Glory.
Similarly, who can forget Eric Bischoff's unceremonious storyline departure from the company. Even the Claire Lynch story was salvaged to form the basis of a great AJ Styles story. I say all of this to bring up two problems I've always had with the criticism of TNA's storylines.
One, if a storyline is bad, TNA will change it. The amount of care TNA gives to working with their fans is commendable. The Claire Lynch and Immortal storylines are great examples of this.
Rather than ram an idea down the audience's throat to the point of induced vomiting, TNA has showed that they will readily alter stories if they're not working. TNA dropped the Lynch angle mid-storyline because of fan backlash. Similarly, Eric Bischoff's induction into the "Shed of Shame" wasn't just some idea, it was an overt response to fans becoming plain sick of Bischoff's character.
Honestly, this is professional wrestling, we're not watching Shakespeare here.
Neither WWE or Ring of Honor are producing anything remotely literary with their angles. So it all comes down to what you prefer: Aces & Eights running amok on TNA television, or Super Cena triumphing over all. To me, it's all the same.
They Mishandle or Waste Talent
This gripe gets a lot of mileage as well.
Samoa Joe needs to go to WWE; he'll be used better there. Matt Morgan should've gone back to WWE; TNA doesn't know how to use him. Austin Aries would be great in WWE; TNA is squandering him. I have heard this criticism time and time again and yes, it is one of the top three dumbest issues one can have with TNA.
For one, in no way has the WWE shown it is better at creating and pushing new stars. Aside from Ryback and perhaps Damian Sandow, who can really be called a success story for the company? Tensai, Brodus Clay, The Prime Time Players? Does anyone really believe Daniel Bryan is being used to the best of his abilities? What about Zack Ryder, remember him?
To me this is far more unacceptable considering WWE has four television shows per week: Raw, Main Event, Smackdown and Slam. TNA only has the one.
Say what you want about TNA, but when they feel a wrestler is ready, they will find a way to use him or her. Now, the wrestler may not be on television 24/7 because having one weekly show limits that type of exposure, but the wrestler will be used.
Zema Ion, Kenny King, Jesse Godderz, Joey Ryan and Christian York have all been used as regularly as can be expected when your main-event roster is as deep as it is.
But for the sake of argument, let's look at Samoa Joe, since we started with him. When someone says TNA doesn't know how to use him, I go to the stats.
Samoa Joe is a former TNA Television Champion, a former TNA World Heavyweight Champion, he's a former TNA Tag Team Champion and a 4-time TNA X-Division Champion. He is the third TNA Triple Crown Champion and the third TNA Grand Slam Champion. There are few wrestlers on the roster as decorated as Samoa Joe.
This usually ends the conversation.
Hulk Hogan, Hulk Hogan, Hulk Hogan
Recently, in a WrestleTalk TV interview, Bret Hart was quoted as saying:
I’ve got no faith in either one of them. ...If anything, they’re going to lose a lot of ground. They’re spending a fortune on a guy who’s worthless. And Bischoff’s as worthless as Hogan, the two of them have zero to offer the business.
This is perhaps the most tired and most obliviously ignorant gripe people have with TNA: Too much Hulk Hogan doing nothing but helping Hulk Hogan.
This complaint about TNA is obnoxiously dumb because to believe it means you have to almost entirely ignore a huge swath of wrestling history as well as some parts of wrestling present.
First things first, Hogan is not the head of TNA creative, that's Bruce Prichard. Hogan is an advisor at best, or, at worst, a glorified marketing tool.
Second, as I've mentioned before, Hulk Hogan and Sting are marketing necessities for getting TNA in the consciousness of the wrestling-watching television audience. If one does not understand this, he or she is either lying to themselves or delusional. It is a huge boon to be able to put Hogan's likeness on a poster or his name on a marquee. So to say he has "zero" worth is ridiculous.
But maybe you're looking for something more substantial. In an exclusive interview with Bleacher Report, Dixie Carter admitted that having the star power of Hulk Hogan has helped open marketing doors for TNA that weren't available previously.
Since his acquisition TNA has grown internationally. In some ways, in the United Kingdom, they are bigger than the WWE. A great example of this is the company's UK show British Boot Camp, which aired in 2012 and has become a massive hit.
Also, as of 2013, the company has finally moved out of the Impact Zone and began touring nationally (an idea for which Hogan consistently lobbied). Now, do I think Hogan can take credit for all of this? No, but if you're going to blame him for all of the problems, you should also be able to give him credit when the company succeeds.
However, the best example of what Hogan brings to the table is the creation of "The IT Factor" Bobby Roode. If it were up to TNA creative at the time, Bobby Roode would've won his 2011 Bound for Glory match against Kurt Angle and become a face champion.
But like Hogan said at the time, who would Roode have fought then? There were no head heels big enough to match him at the time. Hogan pushed to have Roode drop the match and turn heel, which is what creative ultimately agreed to do. As a result, TNA has given us one of the best heels in professional wrestling today.