WWE/TNA Roster Cuts: An Evaluation of Our Hypocrisy as Fans
In the wake of the WWE’s 2011 “Black Friday” talent purge, fans of sports entertainment across the world have managed to survive yet another polarizing series of roster cuts.
WWE Superstars David Hart Smith, Vladimir Kozlov, Chris Masters and Melina were all future endeavored this past Friday, August 5. Fan favorite and pro wrestling athlete extraordinaire Gail Kim reportedly quit the WWE.
However, standing quietly in the shadows of these roster cuts are three TNA wrestlers who were also released from their contracts at least two weeks prior to the aforementioned Superstars.
Matt and Nick Jackson, known as Max and Jeremy Buck of the tag team Generation Me, asked for their release from TNA, as well as the high-flying X-Division star, Amazing Red.
While these eight men and women work for two different companies, their releases should not have been all that surprising. Each one of these individuals was barely used in their respective companies and the writing was on the wall for their futures in said companies.
What is surprising, however, is the way fans have responded to these releases.
The fans’ response to four of these releases in particular causes us to pause and really consider not only how we view the future endeavored, but also our own obvious biases towards the WWE and TNA.
By looking at the releases of Gail Kim, Amazing Red and Matt and Nick Jackson, the ugly truth is revealed that most fans are unequally yoked in their “unbiased” favoritism towards one company over the other.
The Initial Question
There exists a warm spot in the hearts of some TNA fans that blankets the young promotion in an impenetrable quilt of comfort, shielding and protecting them from all dissenting barbs aimed in their general direction.
The WWE, on the other hand, with almost 30 years of history under Vince McMahon’s maniacal influence, is perennially despised and spat upon for its questionable business decisions in lieu of the fans' expectations and demands.
Both companies have received their fair share of compliments and criticisms, and TNA continues to amass negative responses despite their best efforts, while the WWE’s sins are virtually dismissed until a major event occurs (such as a firing or the mishandling of a major storyline).
Occasionally an interesting phenomenon occurs where both the WWE and TNA will do the exact same thing, yet our responses to those events will take two completely different tones based on our personal preferences.
To say that this is confusing and hypocritical would be an understatement.
The truth is the truth and a lie is a lie; it is mind-bogglingly ignorant to praise either company for dropping the ball while defaming the other for the exact same thing.
This not only exposes our lack of understanding of the business behind “the business,” but it also gives pro wrestling detractors more ammunition for regarding us as “stupid, backwoods hicks.”
Thousands of fans have already voiced their displeasure at Gail Kim’s departure from the WWE. The commentary surrounding her departure hovers around a few simple observations:
“They” (the WWE) never used her properly;"
"She was incredibly talented and 'deserved' a main-event push;"
"She should return to TNA because women’s wrestling 'there' (in TNA) is appreciated and valued."
All three of these perspectives, as true as they may be, are mired in so much speculative and subjective opinion that you’d need a hemi-powered dogsled team to pull you through the argument.
At any rate, the WWE has been and will continued to be bad-mouthed for (a) not using Kim the way she “should have been used,” and (b) letting her go altogether.
Take one second to think about Kim’s overall career in TNA and the WWE. Think about her first run in the WWE when she won the Women’s Championship in her debut match (a fact a lot of fans fail to mention today).
Think about Kim’s legendary feud in TNA against Awesome Kong, and her run as TNA’s first Knockout champion.
Consider the reason why Kim left TNA to return to the WWE in the first place. Now think about her asking for her release from the WWE and the speculated reason why they granted it.
In all of that, what was Kim known for? Was she lauded for her skills on the microphone? Was she praised for her charisma? Was she remembered for eliciting a huge pop from the thousands of fans in attendance at a given show?
No—Gail Kim is known for and will be remembered as being a great female wrestler, not to mention the fact that she’s absolutely gorgeous as well. But in the annals of sports entertainment and pro wrestling history, Kim will be renowned for being an exceptional athlete.
Most fans are pissed off for this reason solely. They could not care any less about the other four released WWE talents, which is sad within itself. But in Kim’s case, we’ve all wagged our fingers at the WWE for misusing Kim because of her in-ring talent.
Other than being an awesome talent, what has Kim done to generate serious and consistent fan support of her character? Compare Kim to Kelly Kelly in this current WWE Divas Division climate; what does Kim really have to offer?
When the WWE’s goal is to push beauty more so than athleticism, especially given the stereotypical American standard of “beauty,” what did Kim offer the WWE outside of her wrestling abilities?
That’s the point exactly. While Kim is definitely a beautiful woman gifted with incredible wrestling ability, she did not fit into the WWE’s scheme of things for the Divas Division at this time. Please keep in mind that she apparently asked for her release, as opposed to the company giving her the pink slip first.
Kim asking for her release is justifiable; much like her fans, she probably grew absolutely weary of being trapped in a company that wasn’t utilizing her the way she could have been utilized.
If this is truly the case, then in a sense fans are also justified in their disdain of the WWE for her release.
Let’s take a stroll through TNA for a moment of clarity.
Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson and Amazing Red also asked for their releases from TNA for similar reasons. The company had no solid plans for all three of these gentlemen, plus it seemingly fit in with the company’s roster-cutting plan that also saw the release of Orlando Jordan.
What’s noticeable about their releases is the fact that TNA wasn’t widely panned or degraded for allowing these wrestlers to opt out of their contracts. In fact, some commentary seemed to blame those three stars for not being able to get over with the fans.
Think of the careers of these men in TNA and prior to them joining the company. Think of where they wrestled and who they wrestled against.
Think of the memorable matches that Generation Me had with the Motor City Machine Guns.
Think of the gravity-defying things Amazing Red did in the X-Division.
In all of that stuff, what were these men known for? Were they known for their game-changing promos? Did they ooze charisma that electrified the fans in the arenas? Are they remembered for their championship reigns and epic feuds with other well-known wrestlers?
No—Generation Me and Amazing Red are and will be known as being great wrestlers.
Yet and still, not too many fans find themselves pissed off at TNA, let alone pissed off at all. Three amazing talents were let go by a company, a company that even they said didn’t use them to their fullest potential, and fans blame the wrestlers and not the company? All three men fit in exactly with what TNA promotes as “wrestling matters.”
TNA is the company that is praised for having the “best” tag team division in sports entertainment/pro wrestling today, and they allow this promising tag team to leave because there was nothing for them?
TNA is the company that was recently praised for the stellar Destination X pay-per-view, and is receiving tons of accolades from fans for their “adding” more depth to the beleaguered division. Yet they allow one of the X-Division’s founding athletes to leave the company because he wasn’t being used often?
Here’s one that’s even more confusing: It was speculated that Gail Kim left TNA because what they were paying her didn’t equal the amount of work she put in for the company or the recognition she and the other ladies were bringing the company with their matches.
Would you believe that there are fans who actually want to see her return to that?
In the midst of all this, TNA hasn’t received much backlash from the fans and they have not received the same amount of negative feedback regarding these wrestlers’ releases and the WWE did with Kim.
If anything, fans are happy that TNA has purged their “bloated” roster of these talents to make way for more wrestlers to be brought into the company (which makes absolutely little sense as well).
The Bottom Line
The main point is that both the WWE and TNA will occasionally sift through their rosters and trim the fat to cut costs and utilize what they have more efficiently to make way for much-needed improvements.
Most of us can identify with being fired from a job due to cost-cutting measures. If our employers view our positions as counterproductive to the goals of the company, then they have a right to release us from our duties.
On that same hand, if we’ve been working for our employers for several years with no sign of advancement in sight, then we have a right to put in our two weeks notice in order to search for greener pastures elsewhere.
Gail Kim, Amazing Red and Matt and Nick Jackson all fall under this category.
For us as fans, however, to vilify the WWE and glorify TNA for allowing the same thing to happen is absolutely ridiculous. All four athletes worked for sports entertainment companies that are focused primarily on the entertainment rather than the sport.
We can’t praise TNA for trimming their roster of three talented stars without praising the WWE for doing the same with Kim, Hart, Kozlov, Masters and Melina.
If we are hell-bent on sacrificing the WWE to our subjective opinions on Kim, then we must do the same to TNA for the equally talented Amazing Red and the team of Generation Me.
The fact of the matter is that all of these stars could have been utilized differently and probably should have had a more prominent role in their respective company’s product.
The only way we can fittingly maintain these dueling opinions is if we collectively admit to the fact that we don’t really support any of them.
If we truly, absolutely believed that Gail Kim was Divas Championship material, what have we done to show the company this opinion of ours?
Zack “Long Island Iced Z” Ryder gained a cult following via YouTube and fans responded week in week out with signs and chants galore. How has Kim galvanized us to do the same for her?
When Daniel Bryan was initially “fired” from the WWE, a petition was started and signed by hundreds of thousands of fans. John Cena even supplied his vote of support for Bryan’s reinstatement. Has the same occurred for Kim?
Has Kim given the WWE a reason to allow her to have the freedom to cut a scathing promo like CM Punk? Or has Kim reached a glass ceiling in the WWE where she’s useful in the same sense as Chavo Guerrero, Primo Colon and Tyson Kidd?
Can we really self-righteously stand by our principles and view of the WWE if all Kim really offers is exceptional athleticism?
The same applies to Amazing Red and Generation Me; what have these three stars done with the opportunities given to them by TNA? Why hasn’t our support of either one caused the company to spend some serious money and time on marketing them properly?
Did we become caught up in the pomp and circumstance of Matt and Jeff Hardy’s rise and fall in the company that we conveniently missed the second coming of their revolutionary tag team prowess in Generation Me?
Did we really see Amazing Red as TNA’s version of Rey Mysterio, a small underdog character with unmatched heart and athleticism? Or did we see him as a fancy jobber with no hope of being anything more than that?
Can we really profess loudly that “wrestling matters” and be perfectly fine when TNA lets go of three outstanding wrestlers?
How can we consider ourselves fans of either company when four of the most exciting young stars have been allowed to leave the company because the “genius” creative staff can’t find anything substantial for them?
With our subjective feelings aside, we can understand and know that these releases where simply business. People are fired and hired all the time, and the world of sports entertainment is no different than the institutions you and I work for in that regard.
The hurtful part always comes when our emotions cloud our senses and alter our outlooks on the situation. We never realize how much we appreciated or didn’t appreciate someone until they’re no longer around in the way we’ve grown accustomed to seeing them.
We cannot allow these extremes to devalue the work of these wrestlers, nor can we allow them to create an imaginary world where one company is always ostensibly “better” for doing something the same thing their competition is doing “poorly.”
If you truly believe the WWE misused Gail Kim, then not only are you upset at the WWE for allowing the injustice to happen, you should also be upset with TNA for creating the opportunity for Kim to return to the WWE in the first place, which is the same reason why Amazing Red and Nick and Matt Jackson left the company.
If you truly believe TNA is better off by trimming Amazing Red and Generation Me from their already “bloated” roster, you should also believe that the WWE’s roster can now breathe easily without Kim as well.
If you honestly believe that all four of these wrestlers are extremely gifted and talented, then you’ll readily agree that all four of them should probably avoid TNA and the WWE altogether and opt for substantial runs in ROH, DragonGate USA, EVOLVE, SHIMMER and WSU.
But if you don’t believe any of that, if you’re thoroughly convinced that Vince McMahon is Satan himself and TNA is indestructible like John Cena, then by all means disregard everything you’ve read here.
For the sake of sports entertainment and pro wrestling all over the world, I sincerely hope you don't find the remains of Gilligan and the Skipper on that lonely island you’re soon to inhabit.
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