I'm Just Sayin': A Dissenting View of TNA's Bash At the Beach 2010
The following is a public service announcement paid for by the Friends of the IWC:
TNA IS OFFICIALLY WCW V2.0.
Bleacher Report has already been flooded with pieces that wax poetically in one way or another about the events that occurred Sunday night during TNA's biggest pay-per-view of the year, Bound to Bash At the Beach for Glory.
Just in case you missed the memo, Jeff Hardy turned heel with the aid of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff.
With their assistance, Hardy was crowned the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion and was also revealed as a member of the infamous "They." At the conclusion of the match, he celebrated his dirty victory with Abyss, Jeff Jarrett, and the aforementioned men in the middle of the ring as the fans of Daytona Beach pelted them with trash.
In the spirit of integrity and objectivity, we must acknowledge the obvious and give TNA credit where it is justifiably due.
The pay-per-view last night accomplished several things for the company that cannot be denied:
- Jeff Hardy's Heel Turn has guaranteed that fans and perhaps some casual viewers are more on fire about the product than ever before. The interest and appeal of the company has blown through the roof with Hardy's heel turn, and we can all safely assume that (a) this Thursday's ratings for Impact will be higher than from previous weeks, and (b) a large number of fans will tune in just to see what happens next, giving TNA a great opportunity to showcase their product to an even larger body of fans.
- TNA Has Struck while their competition is at its weakest. The most pivitol point of the movie 300 was when King Leonidas caused Xerses, a self proclaimed god, to bleed. The two 2.7 ratings received by the WWE two weeks ago showed that Vince McMahon is capable of bleeding, and TNA has definitely taken advantage of that fact.
- TNA Beat the WWE to the punch in turning a beloved face into a heel. While the WWE continues to wring its hands on how to properly handle John Cena while he remains a top merchandise seller in the company, TNA has said "eff it" and decidedly made a decision that has guaranteed renewed interest and vigor in their product from the fans.
Overall, the pay-per-view was decent and the live crowd remained hot during most of the show. If anything, we all walked away from the show on fire about something, and that's a good thing for any company that is looking to get publicity by any means necessary.
The athletes also put on one hell of a show, as most of the matches included incredible maneuvers and action displayed by all of the performers. It should be stressed that everyone indeed put on one hell of a show.
To remain true to this spirit of integrity and objectivity, we must also acknowledge the painfully obvious aftermath of the pay-per-view last night.
TNA is literally the second coming of World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
I'll say it again for dramatic affect:
TNA is literally the second coming of World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
Now I'll say it in poorly translated German from Google Translator:
TNA ist buchstäblich das zweite Kommen des World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
Let's not sit here and palaver with one another about how great Jeff's turn was or how awesome the Lethal Lockdown match was. Instead, let's call out the pink elephant in the room and discuss what really happened Sunday night. If we assumed so before last night, we now know so for a fact now that TNA is attempting to redo everything that WCW couldn't do in its waning years.
There is no way, and I repeat no way, that anyone who witnessed that pay-per-view can sit comfortably today and believe deep within their hearts that what they saw wasn't rehashed from 13 years ago.
Remember those complaints about a certain company's product that was "stale and boring?"
It's as if someone in the company wanted to right the wrongs done by the incompetent suits that ran WCW right into Vince McMahon's sweaty palms. From my view, I don't know who thinks that it's a "revolutionary" idea to bring excitement to a stale and boring period of pro wrestling by reliving and rewriting dated story lines and gimmicks.
What's even MORE frustrating about the logic behind this move is the fact that there are fans that support it!
We can essentially agree that Sunday's WCW pay-per-view was pretty good. I don't know what you watched, but it sure as hell wasn't a TNA show.
The closing moments of the main event mimicked exactly the same well known Hulk Hogan heel turn at Bash of the Beach in 1996, even down to the fans throwing trash into the ring as if Jeff Hardy's descent to the dark side was that dramatic. Keep in mind that "unexpected" and "shocking" are two unrelated terms that, while often used interchangeably, can happen independently of one another.
Without going too deeply into nitpicking about particular matches and creative directions, it is worrisome that a company with so much talent and promise willfully chooses to rely on nostalgia to grow its fan base.
The logic is very straightforward and simple; angry fans miss the glory days of pro wrestling. By "glory days," I mean specifically the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars Era.
So how do we attract these fans to our company? Give them what they asked for!
The only problem with this is that TNA slowly becomes synonymous with those same dated story lines and eras. Here's the catch, and please don't miss it, but those companies are no longer in business.
The Monday Night Wars produced excitement among pro wrestling fans and the casual viewer because two well known companies were fighting for profits and ratings while a third company rebelled against everything those two companies stood for and created a loyal fan base in their own right.
The Monday Night Wars was not exciting because WCW consistently beat the WWE in the ratings race for almost two years. The Monday Night Wars was exciting because two companies were competing against each other, forcing them to put their best show on each and every night they performed.
As of today, the WWE's worst Monday night rating (2.7) still beats TNA's best rating (1.5). Our opinions can differ, and we can violently argue on the quality of the content presented to us weekly from either company.
The meat and potatoes of it is that numbers don't lie, and when you're a business out to make money, numbers and "the bottom line" means everything. As great as TNA's content may or may not be, it's not attracting the numbers and thus not attracting cold hard profits.
The Attitude Era gained a massive following because it spoke to the general mood of the pro wrestling population at the time. Story lines became more gritty, dramatic, and vulgar, which directly supplied the demands given by the post-pubescent youth and young adults that salivated at every wardrobe malfunction possible.
The Attitude Era was not successful because of the nudity, blood, vulgarity, and saucy writing that accompanied the in-ring action. The Attitude Era was successful because everything in the product was an extension of certain societal expectations from the consumers that supported the product.
This is one of the reasons why the WWE's current PG Era has started to show cracks in its seemingly unbreakable armor. This is why the UFC is gaining profits and fans at an exponential rate compared to most pro wrestling companies.
The one thing TNA (and the WWE for that matter) hasn't figured out is that fans are starting to prefer the feel of hardcore action and athleticism over the sugary sweet fluff of overly dramatic and complicated story lines.
Look at the fans' response to the Motor City Machine Guns' match against Generation ME last night. With barely a build other than a chase for the Tag Team Championships, the match was hands down the best thing on the card.
And to think, all they did was wrestle. What a novel concept.
Truthfully speaking, will bringing back antiquated eras provide fans with what the MCMG's and GenMe did last night?
GOD NO! The only thing it'll do will provide more fluff to mask the lack of actual in-ring action.
In fact, the two best things about the pay-per-view are also the last two things to really be reported on: the MCMG/GenME match and Robbie E's program with Jay Lethal. Both of these programs have/had potential to be the company's ratings grabbing feuds simply because of the matches these men could put on.
Please do not forget the fact that technically speaking, all of these men are "TNA Originals," in that they've been with the company for years OR they've really made names for themselves in TNA or ROH and not the WWE, WCW, or the original ECW.
Those things did not take center stage in the pay-per-view. The star of the night shone ever so brightly on TNA's version of Hulk Hogan's nWo heel turn. And that is the honest to God truth.
There is NOTHING TNA specific about an angle concocted by Vince Russo, Hulk Hogan, and Eric Bischoff that resembles exactly what happened 14 years ago in a company that no longer exists. It is not fresh, it is not different, it is not new, it is not groundbreaking.
It is the same sh*t in a different bag. If you despise the WWE for doing this, then you also must despise TNA for doing the exact same thing.
The final question remains to be asked; at what point will a uniquely TNA product be given time to shine?
When will the X-Division return to prominence (remember the World X Cup)?
When will the Knockouts consist of more than just The Beautiful People, Madison Rayne and Tara? Will they have enough stars to justify having a KO Tag Team Title and/or division?
Regardless of how you feel about Jeff Hardy's heel turn, or how you felt about the Bound for Glory pay-per-view, the bottom line is that TNA's product now resembles everything else except TNA.
And despite our personal feelings, it cannot be denied that this is worrisome for a company that after eight years in the business is still struggling to find its identity and solidify its place in the pro wrestling business.
TNA will never be able to do so as long as they rely on everything else except its own individuality to separate it from its competition and everything that has already been done.
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