In 15 years, a lot of things can and should change.
Fifteen years ago, I wore my favorite Doors shirt underneath my trusty black and white flannel shirt to Chicago Ridge Mall in the vague hope of talking to girls by looking vaguely broody.
Of course I no longer do this. I would look ridiculous in my late 20s creeping around a mall in outdated clothes. If I can learn this lesson, why can't TNA?
See, back in 1995, this whole Monday Night Wars thing started in a mall as well. Let me situate the wrestling scene in 1995.
It was an era where the Internet was in its infancy and fans would call 900 numbers to hear the results of house shows and other juicy gossip (but only with their parents' permission, of course) and on Sept. 4, 1995, Eric Bischoff successfully began the Era of the Secret.
Bischoff fully admits that he wanted to create a brand of wrestling where fans had to tune in to see what would happen, and when Lex Luger interrupted a Sting/Ric Flair (pre-AARP card) match, wrestling fans got a taste of the unpredictability of Nitro.
This of course was emphasized even further with the signing of Scott Hall (before the drugs and face-bloating) and Kevin Nash (before the 38th knee operation).
How would fans know what would happen without tuning in? There were no dirtsheets and no “tweets” from the wrestlers to cryptically hint at rumors.
If grunge had never died and I had never aged (or learned anything about women) I could still go to the mall in my trusty flannel and try to talk to girls. If the Internet had not caught on, the era of the secret would still work.
In each case, we cannot undo what has already been done. Let us look at TNA's Impact from March 8, 2010 and see how Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan are still wearing flannel at the mall.
While I spend a lot of time criticizing the WWE product, they have adapted to the current climate of information speculation by emphasizing the era of the build-up as opposed to the era of the secret.
Every WWE feud has some kind of over-epic video package with editing effects and some song playing in the background meant to encapsulate the epicness of the situation (for examples, look on YouTube for literally any John Cena promo video from the past three years).
Eventually the payoff for WWE is that fans really want to see the match as the tension has been built to a meaningful level.
Look at nearly every match that has been announced for Wrestlemania. Instead of relying on what mystery guest will show up, WWE is attempting to build heat for each contest.
Let's flip over to TNA, which is what I personally did on Monday (I, like many of you, just watch “Raw” because it's wrestling on cable television). What was the only match being built? Hogan/Abyss vs. Flair/Styles.
This is where TNA put all of its eggs, on the bad knees, backs, and hips of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair and on the “secret” that everyone seemed to know about. The return of Rob Van Dam.
Here's where the difference becomes clear. TNA signed two excellent in-ring talents with Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam. Were they hyped? How were they used? They were used in a similar manner that Lex Luger was used at the mall 15 years ago.
Instead of using their in-ring abilities, TNA opted to attempt to use their star power in a similar manner to the age of the secret.
Without reading the dirtsheets, do you know what the main event for next week's “Impact” is? It's Jeff Hardy vs. A.J. Styles. There was no mention of it on the show and no possibility of hyping what should actually be a solid match.
And here, in this single example, can we see the difference between the age of the build-up and the age of the secret and why the age of the secret is largely obsolete.
The shock of seeing RVD wore off really quickly during that 10 minute Sting/baseball bat beat down. With the build up, wrestling can be the focus.
With the secret, it takes a backseat to behind the scenes politics and swerves in character that may or may not make sense.
What do you think? As always, I'll respond to comments and I enjoy the lively debates we have on here.