Pro wrestling fans who openly share their dislike for TNA’s product are often labeled as TNA Haters, a phrase that immediately brands them as knuckle-dragging, IWC inbred hillbillies that blindly support Vince McMahon and his monstrous “sports entertainment” corporation.
These TNA Haters are regularly demeaned for their stance, their opinions disregarded as fluff and made invalid by default for their supposed support of the WWE. These fans are blasted for always harshly criticizing TNA without doing the same for the WWE. They’re made pro wrestling pariahs, cast out from the larger community simply because they’re vocal about not supporting TNA.
What I find hilarious about this entire situation is that the same thing is rarely ever said about the individuals who support TNA. From what I’ve personally observed, rarely have these fans been called out, ostracized, or ignored because they don’t like the WWE.
Ironically enough, no matter where you stand on the issue, you cannot point an accusatory finger at a hater—TNA or otherwise—without pointing three fingers right back at yourself. As the good people over at TNAsylum.com display day after day, it’s mind-bogglingly counterproductive to demean someone for not supporting TNA while openly spewing your hatred for the competition in the same sentence and/or paragraph.
Jeff Awesome’s recent article, on the other hand, posed this age old question regarding TNA hatred in a way deserving of a serious and respectful dialogue:
“Why all the hate on TNA Wrestling?”
Jeff’s stance was one that isn’t often seen from TNA’s most loyal supporters; his position is one that yearns for clarification, not confrontation. While most TNA fans write off detractors as being IWC know-nothings or ROH-bots, Jeff simply asked for some understanding about the rampant dislike for the company and its product.
Pro wrestling fans that dislike TNA will often bring to the table the same old tired list of issues that are by now as helpful as wet toilet paper. My argument is that this rehashed list is the exact reason why TNA Haters “hate” TNA; it’s the same mess over and over again!
There is such a thing as “objective truth,” something that is true simply because it is and not because we say so. To get to the root of this debate, we have to put all of our subjective feelings about the product aside to unearth the objective truth regarding TNA.
This means that while the story lines are “compelling” and “interesting” to some, they won’t be to others. While their pay per views may be “better” than the competition's, others will always say they’re not. Where some fans will love the fifty-two year old Sting as TNA’s champion, others will not.
All of these things and the like are all subject to each and every one of our personal tastes and opinions. Therefore, spending all of our time debating these things is pointless at best.
That’s like ranting about the WWE’s 50 Greatest Superstars of All Time DVD because “they didn’t put so-and-so at number one.” When you produce your own DVD, you can put whomever you please as number one, but I digress.
Let’s dig a little deeper beyond our subjective opinions to critically speak on and discuss why some folks don’t prefer TNA Wrestling as their guilty pleasure. In fact, that right there is the first reason.
1. “Hate” and “Dislike”: Misappropriation of Terms
When you really think about it, these terms are mishandled more than John Morrison’s push in the WWE. I believe that both terms, “hate” and “dislike,” are used to incorrectly label fans that actually watch TNA’s product, want the company to succeed, and talk about the company and its shows on a regular basis.
Trust me; I know people who hate and dislike TNA, and they don’t talk about the company at all. To drive the point home even further, they will criticize the “haters” for watching the product enough to complain about it.
What has happened is that we have this faulty idea that “supporting” a given company means to speak of its strengths while ignoring its weaknesses. If anyone harps on the negatives more than the positives, then they are automatically a “hater.”
Is that all it means to be a “supporter,” to speak lovingly of the product despite some very obvious flaws that have yet to really be resolved or answered? Denial is not just a river in Egypt, and if you believe so, then I’ve got some beach front property in Antarctica you might be interested in purchasing.
Think of it like this: If a TNA Hater can speak specifically about the company’s product, direction, etc., then that person MUST be knowledgeable of the product up to the given point in which they’re speaking about it.
“Knowledgeable” in this sense implies that the person is watching TNA enough to stay up-to-date on what the company is doing wrong (you can’t talk about why something is bad unless you’re watching to know why it’s bad).
If this same person is up-to-date with what’s going on in the company, then they’ve at least got to be watching Impact, the pay per views, or reading news posted on fan sites. In the case of Impact, every time this person watches the show, the ratings go up by some percentage. If the ratings go up TNA gets more money and exposure, plain and simple.
So can a TNA Hater really be a “hater” if by watching the product and complaining about it, the company gets better ratings and more money? In my experience, people who are not staunch supporters of TNA never say that they don’t watch the product; they just comment that the product is bad. What’s the issue with that?
The issue of balance then comes into play; if one can launch into a tirade about why TNA is so terrible, then one can do the same for their competition (namely, the WWE).
Should this prerequisite of sorts exist in the first place? When engaged in a conversation about TNA, why must one involve the WWE? Why can’t the discussion remain on TNA?
When speaking of the poor educational standards of my home state, Alabama, it’s easy to bring up how much more poorly the standards are in Georgia. Deflections as such are always used to draw attention away from the subject at hand, as if saying “at least we’re not as bad as them.”
Here is the bottom line, and please pay close attention to this, WE AIN’T TALKING ABOUT THEM! WE ARE TALKING ABOUT YOU! If a TNA Hater wanted to badmouth the competition (namely the WWE), then they would.
The fact that TNA stays on a “hater’s” lips and mind more than the WWE should say a lot about what McMahon isn’t doing to keep his company at the top.
Having said all of this, “hate” and “dislike” really don’t describe fans who are not all that gung-ho about TNA. Think of the fans as a unique herd of sheep and rams, with TNA serving as the shepherd to such an eclectic mix of minds and views.
The sheep and rams may follow the shepherd blindly, but the rams will always cause more headaches and tension when they get “disagreeable.” A quarter has two different sides, people, but it’s still worth twenty-five cents. Please don’t refer to someone as a “hater” simply because they don’t agree with you one hundred percent of the time.
2. TNA is a 9 Year Old Company in Its 2nd Year of Operation
If you had a thirty year old sibling who intentionally pooped himself/herself and expected you to clean them up, how would you feel?
This is what TNA asks of its fans every week, literally and figuratively speaking.
After nine years of being in business, some of TNA’s most vocal and loyal supporters beg the detractors to “give the company time.” These fans will lobby all day and all night for others to cease their belly-aching and allow TNA the time to “grow.”
Why? Nine years of being a pro wrestling company and we’re expected to give them time? How much more time does TNA need to be serious competition or to even be taken seriously?
TNA has grown by leaps and bounds since 2002, and that is something that should not be taken lightly. Seriously speaking, the company should have folded a long time ago. If not for Dixie Carter, who convinced her father to invest in the company, TNA wouldn’t even be a part of our conversation today.
Yet and still now, nine years later, we’ve gotten to a point where we talk, behave, and act like it’s still 2004 and TNA is on the verge of being something big. If anything, TNA has taken a step backwards instead of pushing forward…once again, literally and figuratively.
In more ways than one, TNA has stayed exactly where it has been while attempting to move ahead and become a dominating force in sports entertainment. This simply won’t work; the company can aspire all it wants to be the best in the business, but if it refuses to take chances to move forward then it can only be content with where it stands.
For the company or the supporter to insist and ask fans to do support this type of mediocrity is simply silly. If anything this mentality among some fans hurts the company more than it helps it.
For example: nine years into the business and the company just took Impact on the road to Fayetteville, North Carolina on March 3 and March 10. Why did it take so long for this to happen?
Even Eric Bischoff, the creative pro wrestling genius who was brought into the company to “help” it in many ambiguously vague areas, has commented that the company should take Impact on the road often. However, this is a huge expense for the company and they cannot afford to do so routinely at this point in time.
Recap that last paragraph: it took eight years and one additional year of hiring Eric Bischoff to take Impact on the road just for Eric Bischoff to say that the company can’t afford to do this even though they need to do it.
Mind you this is the same Eric Bischoff who ripped IWC recluse Mike Barton a new one when the latter suggested that TNA wasn’t turning a profit. The company may very well be turning a profit, but apparently it isn’t enough for them to pay for taking Impact on the road at least once a month.
*Contributor’s Note: The month of March isn’t over, so it still remains to be seen if TNA will do another Impact taping outside of Orlando in upcoming months. Let’s hope and pray they do so, as the Fayetteville crowd DEFINITELY helped the company.
Taking Impact to Fayetteville was a huge risk that paid off for TNA, and this is a momentum that they should (and probably are, honestly) ride hard until they can no more. Coddling the company and babying it will only keep it where it is—on a soundstage in Orlando, Florida with a fan base hovering around 1.4 million that won’t grow beyond that.
Fans cannot continue to breast feed TNA as it matures; change is a necessary part of life, and will not occur if it is not encouraged to do so. We applaud TNA for making 1.3 ratings as of late, but that’s done nothing to get them out of the cramped soundstage they’re renting from Universal Studios and are not allowed to charge gate for. And they tape pay per views from this place, too?
3. Face Facts: TNA IS WCW 2011, Circa 2000
Superstars and storylines aside, there are at least three key factors that make TNA the modern equivalent of WCW during its dying days:
B. The creative direction and booking of the product are exactly the same as was in WCW.
C. Individuals unfamiliar with pro wrestling are in charge of running the company.
This is why some TNA Haters rant about the similarities between WCW and TNA. It actually has very little to do with who gets what push or what group looks like the NWO. The reality is that the most important pieces of WCW’s death are in place in TNA.
Bischoff has a less than appealing view of Russo, while Russo’s new life and spirituality urge him to peacefully work with his former “arch-nemesis.” Both these men have written books in which they openly discuss their relationship with one another in WCW, and needless to say they both agree that it was hell.
This isn’t suggesting that people can’t change, but we also know and acknowledge that old habits die hard. Business is the foremost important thing to Eric Bischoff, and he’s stated several times before that he does not allow his personal feelings to get in the way of business.
Bischoff’s comments to Matt Hardy over two years ago easily come to mind as I reflect on his keen ability to work with someone just as long as they’re good for business, no matter how he feels about them.
It is no secret that Bischoff and Russo didn’t really “click,” and one can only wonder and/or speculate about that strained relationship now.
Again, Bishoff’s own words from his book Controversy Creates Cash:
“The more I worked with Russo, the less I liked him, and the less I trusted him. As I’ve said, it’s not important for me that I like someone. It’s nice when it happens, but it’s not a requisite. But when I start looking at people and start realizing that I can’t trust them, it has a serious impact on how I move forward.” (Bischoff, 340.)
That isn’t in play somehow right now?
I bring Hogan and Jarrett into this situation because all four men were involved in the infamous WCW Bash at the Beach 2000 pay per view championship match that many see today as the final nail in the company’s coffin. We all know how that fiasco turned out.
While speaking of it, Bischoff’s booking mindset from WCW is just as present now as it was eleven years ago. Bischoff is not ashamed to admit that he firmly believes that established stars bring fans to the product.
He’s absolutely right.
The issue comes, however, when these established stars are given an obscene amount of air time to dominate much of the product. Regardless of where you sit on the issue, the objective truth is that TNA’s “veterans,” and “former WWE stars” receive way more attention and screen time consistently in comparison to their homegrown talents.
This was the major problem that contributed to WCW’s demise. The company had become top heavy with established stars with huge contracts, dominating the show from top to bottom while the superstars of the undercard built the shows and company from the ground up.
Chris Jericho, Eddy (Eddie) Guerrero, Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit and the majority of the cruiserweight division was largely responsible for keeping fans engaged in the product, while the established stars brought the fans to the show.
One veteran turned into fifty, and fifty turned into one billion. When WCW began to take everyone that was released from the WWE, these men and women that built the undercard jumped ship and found better exposure elsewhere.
The same thing is happening again in TNA right this minute. The well-known stars have defined story lines, intricate feuds and major support from TNA while the wrestlers of the undercard flop around from here to there without any true direction at all.
Think about the intricacy of the story line Ken Anderson, Rob Van Dam, and Sting are involved in, then compare it to the intricacy of the story lines the members of Fortune are involved in; the differences are strikingly obvious.
So obvious, in fact, that it’s a wonder why people aren’t commenting more on the similarities between WCW and TNA. It’s not just about who’s getting the push, but why and how they’re getting the push. Those fans labeled as TNA Haters may be more focused on the method to the madness rather than the actual madness itself.
A method, mind you, that is inexplicably similar to the same thing that is occurring in TNA right now.
One more integral piece to this beautiful disaster is the presence of individuals running the company that have limited experience in pro wrestling.
Two of the three of the books I mention continuously here on B/R (Controversy Creates Cash by Eric Bischoff and Wrestlecrap and Figure Four Weekly Present: The Death of WCW by R.D. Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez) cite bad leadership as one of the main contributors to WCW’s demise.
While the company enjoyed its tons of success when Eric Bischoff was signing the checks with Ted Turner, a slew of corporate accountants and shills brought the company to its knees with their lack of understanding the pro wrestling product.
This is like asking a Hollywood writer to create story lines and character development for pro wrestlers, but what wrestling company in this country would do something that silly?
TNA is a privately owned company whose controlling interest is in the hands of Panda Energy International, Inc., a Texas based company that operates environmentally friendly power plants. Bob Carter is the head honcho of this company.
Dixie Carter, Bob Carter’s daughter, convinced her father to purchase the controlling interest of the company after a major financial backer (**ahem** HealthSouth) pulled out from supporting the company. At the time, Dixie Carter served as a publicist and marketing person for Jeff and Jerry Jarrett, TNA’s founders.
If you check out Dixie’s Wikipedia page, you’ll see that she has a background in business administration and has experience in marketing sports and music figures.
When Panda Energy invested in TNA, Dixie Carter was named President, with Jeff Jarrett serving as Vice President of the newly created limited-liability company, TNA Entertainment. Get ready for the next part because it’s pretty damn funny:
Several other key positions in TNA Entertainment’s management were filled by former employees of Panda Energy. In other words, the only “pro wrestling mind” that is in a leadership position in TNA is Jeff Jarrett, and he answers to Dixie Carter.
So you’ve got people who worked for a Texas-based environmentally friendly energy company running a pro wrestling business, and this bodes well for the company how?
A huge amount of TNA’s decisions are bottom-lined by Dixie Carter at the end of the day. For what it’s worth, she is the last link in the chain of responsibility at TNA, and decisions will either be signed or vetoed at her almighty whim.
The only one of her contemporaries with any type of inkling about running a pro wrestling company is Jeff Jarrett, and keep in mind he was running the company when its major financial backer dropped out of the deal four months into the company’s existence (not Jarrett’s fault, by the way).
What we end up with is an unequally yoked company that’s proficient in handling business affairs and severely lacking everything that’s necessary to make the pro wrestling product something worth taking seriously.
In fact, I would go as far as to say that’s the main reason why the company is still in operation right now; not because the product is “good,” but because the people in charge know how to maintain a business operation.
The Source magazine suffered for years under terrible leadership at the hands of someone who very much out of touch with the hip-hop community. Nevertheless, they still sold magazines despite being a God-awful publication under this particular man’s watch.
Same situation with TNA: the product can flounder somewhere between “good” and “bad,” and will stay afloat as long as (a) money keeps flowing in from somewhere, and (b) the people doling out the money do so wisely.
Our thoughts on whether the product is “good" or "bad” are subjective. We can, however, speak in concrete terms about a few areas of improvement the company should be excelling in right now.
After nine years, the company should be holding more Impact tapings outside of the Impact Zone. After nine years, the company should not be in a position where undercard talent have pay-as-used contracts while established stars skate off with guaranteed money and air time. After nine years, several of the company’s home grown talent (most notably AJ Styles) should be household names.
All of this stuff comes from the top down, but if the leadership is clueless about their product then everything will follow suit. If you think Hogan and Bischoff were brought in solely to raise the company’s profile and relevance among fans, then you’re sadly mistaken.
So there you have it; TNA Haters aren’t unjustified in their angst for TNA, but rather are pissed off at the fact that a company with so much promise continues to subscribe to the least common denominator of pro wrestling. To silence or disregard the views of these fans is the equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and repeating “La-la-la! I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you!” over and over again.
To truly experience any promotion there must be a balance between the good and the bad, both of which must be considered and discussed before coming to any conclusion that isn’t one sided or misguided. Just as a TNA detractor must be able to acknowledge the silver linings, so too must the TNA supporter admit that the dark clouds are necessary for the silver lining to even exist.
Again, the people who really hate TNA aren’t watching, aren’t talking about it, and for darn sure aren’t reading this piece.
Special Thanks to Jeff Awesome!!!
Total Nonstop Hatred: Why All the Hate on TNA Wrestling? by Jeff Awesome