Devil's Advocate: Five Common TNA Criticisms from WWE Fans That Should Stop
I'm not a TNA fan and doubt I will be anytime soon, but that does not mean that I feel TNA should be on the receiving end of hypocritical and unwarranted bashing at every turn.
Unfortunately, when wrestling brand loyalists collide, the result is usually a series of poorly thought-out debates. What normally highlights these exchanges is a selective memory along with a blind support for WWE, TNA, ROH, or whatever.
There's nothing wrong with brand loyalty, but there IS something wrong with hypocrisy, short-sightedness, and utter unfairness.
One must be cautious in debate not to fall into these traps, and that means that once in a while the devil gets his due and the critic has to recognize what is or isn't a fair shot to take.
So in the interest of establishing a reputation for fair and even-handed commentary, I put together a list of five common TNA criticisms from the IWC, WWE fans in particular, that make little sense and need to stop.
Only by getting past these baseless points of bickering can a better debate materialize.
1. Pushing Older Stars Like Hogan, Flair, Foley, Whoever...
It ain't pretty, but names have value.
I'm not saying I like what TNA does with veteran talent, but I can hardly blame the company for utilizing well-known names.
TNA is trying to capture market share and increase its audience. Attempting to make it in the world of sports entertainment in this day and age is almost suicidal.
Any advantage a company can get should be used. If I were in charge of a promotion and had the cash reserves to bring in dated but very recognizable names, I would.
Until performers like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Mick Foley, Kevin Nash, or any other well-established personality loses value in every demographic sector, it is difficult to argue with the logic that using these talents brings sustained interest in the brand.
It may not always draw major money or ratings right away, but people (like me right now) keep talking and TNA stays in the conversation.
Also, WWE pushes its fair share of veteran talent when the time is right and is convenient for business, so it certainly comes off as hypocritical when TNA is hauled across coals for the same thing.
Sure, there's a difference in context, but let's argue the context rather than the subject.
2. Using WWE-Style Pyro, Stage, Screen, and Other Production Elements
The standard is set and TNA is doing the right thing by trying to live up to it.
WWE is the ONLY successful business model for professional wrestling in the modern era.
Vince McMahon has raised the standards for production and with them, the expectations of the audience.
One of the steps TNA had to take in order to be taken seriously as a major player is to meet those high expectations for what a sports entertainment show should look and feel like.
Not adapting the elements of WWE production that work is just a denial of where the business is and what the audience expects.
TNA should never be lambasted for "imitating" what is now a standard expectation for a major league wrestling show.
Even if the rest of the product isn't clicking, at least there is effort to add the bells and whistles that are synonymous with wrestling success.
3. Underutilzing Homegrown Talent: Maybe It's for the Best
Great performers for sure, but do guys like A.J. Styles have the ability to break a company through to the next level?
It might be a stretch to say that performers like A.J. Styles or Samoa Joe are "homegrown." After all, they really made a name for themselves in ROH.
But TNA represented the next stage for them. Their exposure and relative stardom is ultimately TNA's doing.
Does this entitle them to constant monster pushes? Hardly.
TNA is looking for an opportunity to break through to another level. Creating stars and finding those rare talents that can put a company on their shoulders and head to the Promised Land isn't easy and certainly isn't common.
It makes little sense for a company without the financial stability of WWE to gamble an entire enterprise on unproven wrestlers just for some misguided principle that young and homegrown is better.
Yes, these performers need opportunities.
Yes, veteran talent should help get them over.
Yes, the future needs them.
But attendance figures, merchandise sales, PPV buy rates, advertising dollars, and a meddlesome network all have to be considered in the the here and now.
Basically, build for the future but not at the expense of the very real, very expensive, and very fragile present.
Only a company that can coast for a while can afford to put the burden onto untested shoulders. TNA has no such luxury.
4. Goofy Storytelling and Angles
Its all temporary.
No promotion in the history of wrestling has been immune from the silliness of bad, or at least disagreeable, angles.
I am a lifelong WWE fan and I can say that beyond a shadow of a doubt, there are some angles Vince and company have done that have been ridiculously lame and probably didn't appeal to any demographic anywhere on the planet.
Therefore, I could never mock TNA for occasional silliness in their own storytelling.
One of the things that IWC fans seem to forget is that no matter the company and no matter the era, all story-lines are temporary. The good, the bad, and the ugly all come and go in relatively equal proportion depending on your tastes.
Sure, we can make fun of them as they happen, but we can easily forget them or laugh about them in hindsight down the road once the shows have moved on to something new.
None of us have anything to gain, and we certainly have no ground to stand on, by pointing the finger at a promotion we dislike and degrade its angles as silly, childish, unrealistic, or whatever insult suits our needs.
There is plenty of silliness to go around, and part of what makes pro wrestling the greatest show on Earth is the constant attempt at balancing the beautiful and the absurd.
So when you are tempted to poke fun at other fans for defending something questionable, make sure you take a look at your favorite show and then take a look in a mirror for good measure.
5. Dixie Carter
She's an easy target, but let's get real for a minute.
Dixie Carter has done an awful lot to try and bring TNA to the dance. It hasn't been a completely successful run as boss, but it would be naive and narrow-minded to say that it's been a failure.
Two things come to mind when I think of Dixie Cater.
1) In a male-dominated industry, her sincere desire to build the company and see the industry grow through renewed competition has made her the first relevant female wrestling executive whose last name isn't McMahon. That alone deserves a round of applause.
Even if TNA ended tomorrow, she has done more good for the business than a lot of fans may want to admit.
2) Come on, guys, admit it. She's kinda sexy.
Anything I Forgot?
It is not always easy to come up with ways that a product you don't much care for is unfairly maligned, but fair is fair.
These five commonly criticized aspects of TNA have never really sat very well with me, and at times I too have felt tempted to hurl insults at perfectly understandable situations or business decisions.
I hope I have provoked some thought with these observations, and I'm sure not all will agree, but if there's something I left out that you feel is unfairly criticized or think that I'm wrong, feel free to comment below.
I just ask that you be respectful of each other and try to be even-handed. Thanks for reading.