The TNA Problem: An Analysis of IWC Criticism to the TNA Product

Chris FreemanCorrespondent IFebruary 27, 2011

Let me just begin by saying that I am a big fan of the TNA locker room. They have some of the most talented individuals in the world and can put on great shows if given the chance.

AJ Styles, Beer Money, Motor City Machine Guns, Christopher Daniels, and Samoa Joe are among my favorite in-ring competitors today.

This is not an attack on TNA or its fans. It's a healthy debate about why certain fans don't like this small, yet impactful company.

It's common knowledge that a lot of people within the IWC do not like TNA. It's also well known that TNA has a pretty strong following within the IWC as well.

Needless to say, a war of words often breaks out among IWC members over TNA and its current product. Before we go any further, I would like to point out that I am not one of those supporters.

Lately, when I change the channel to Spike on Thursday nights, I often quickly change it back to whatever I was watching before (unless there is a good quality match going on).

Back to the matter at hand. Recently, there have been a few articles up discussing why WWE fans shouldn't bash TNA for how they handle certain matters, when WWE, in fact, handles these matters in a similar fashion.

These articles (which were both well-written) got me thinking as to why WWE fans like to bash TNA so much.

I mean, TNA does have an excellent roster and puts on quality matches more regularly than WWE does. Well, I have compiled a list of what I believe are the major problems with TNA right now:

  • They are not using their homegrown talent effectively.
  • The storylines and angles are ridiculous.
  • Trying too hard to be competition for WWE.
  • Over-reliance on former WWE stars/legends.
  • Too similar to WCW.

Considering how much WWE fans complain about TNA, this list seems to be small. But, every grievance about TNA can be traced to one of these five reasons and I'm going to thoroughly explain each of these reasons as best as I can.

The best place to start is from the beginning.

They are not using their homegrown talent effectively.

This is the No. 1 complaint I hear about from both WWE and TNA fans. A few years ago, guys like Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels were the major stars of TNA.

Guys like these were always in the hunt for the title, as well as a few well-established legends (such as Kurt Angle and Sting).

After Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and Eric Bischoff came in last year, all of the homegrown talent has been relegated to the midcard or to obscurity.

Heck, Christopher Daniels was even let go (though reports say that he is back and is portraying the role of Suicide).

Some of the brightest young stars in TNA were made to be Ric Flair's whipping boys in Fourtune and were basically overshadowed by the "Nature Boy" just because of who he is.

As Paul Heyman said in a shoot interview on TNA, "they were basically just 'Ric Flair's guys.'"

Samoa Joe is another big name brought up when talking about misuse of homegrown talent. With one of the more unique looks and styles in the wrestling world today, Samoa Joe was a major player in TNA for a long time.

Nowadays, he's spending his time losing to Jeff Jarrett and feuding with the Pope. That second item is not a bad thing, but considering how the Pope is just a midcarder, its not the best thing, either.

Considering the loyalty these guys have for TNA, even during this seemingly "dark" time, you'd think they'd be rewarded. But that doesn't seem to mean anything next to star power.

The storylines and angles are ridiculous

Okay, this complaint is a little hypocritical on the part of WWE fans. Yes, TNA has some pretty ridiculous storylines, but WWE does, too. Having said that, I feel I need to explain some of the hatred for specific storylines that are going on in TNA right now.

So, let's start with the biggest story in TNA at the moment: Immortal. This storyline has received a lot of grief from the IWC for being too similar to the nWo story in WCW.

A few TNA fans have retorted that the Nexus in WWE is similar to the nWo as well, due to their large numbers, uniform shirts, and spin-off factions (the Corre).

Of course, as one Bleacher stated a few days ago, almost every faction in history gets compared to the nWo, because the nWo is the most popular. Of course the Nexus is similar to the nWo, because the nWo was the prototypical stable.

But having said that, Immortal is a little too much like the nWo. Not only are they a large faction, but they also feature former nWo members Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, and Jeff Jarrett.

Not to mention the fact that right after their debut, they began a "hostile takeover" over TNA management and are using their influence to get what they want.

All of these common denominators make Immortal more similar to the nWo than any faction in history (besides maybe the other incarnations of the nWo, though I'll just count those in the same group).

Another storyline going on is the feud between Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett. As we all know, Karen Jarrett (or Karen Angle, if you want to refer to her as that) was added to the story and is basically a heel manager for Jarrett.

Soon, Angle will be forced to walk Karen down the aisle as her and Jeff renew their wedding vows. Of course, with this being professional wrestling, something is going to happen, but I digress.

To put it simply: this story is disgusting. Karen Angle cheated on Kurt Angle with Jeff Jarrett. After leaving Kurt, she ended up marrying Jeff, which more than likely made things awkward backstage.

Now, the real-life tension between the two parties is a storyline and a very aggravating one at that. Jeff has done nothing but get the upper hand on Kurt at every turn and is even acting like a control freak towards Angle's kids on national TV.

Considering how Kurt was the real-life victim in this situation, having Kurt lose in matches involving this angle are just, to put it simply, retarded.

I mean, I know he made the company, but does Jarrett really have to win so much and so easily against opponents who are vastly superior to him? And what purpose does adding Karen Jarrett to the mix going to serve if there isn't effective payoff?

No, instead we get to see the man who was wronged get even more wronged time and time again. I mean, I know wrestling angles do this sort of thing to achieve an effective climax to a feud, but this is just ridiculous.

Since his return, Kurt has been jobbing to Jarrett, and it's just getting old now.

Trying too hard to be competition with WWE

To quote Jim Cornette, "if everyone else in the world is selling hamburgers, then why would you want to sell hamburgers, when you can sell chicken?"

To sum up this excellent quote, Cornette is saying why try to be the same as everyone else when you can be different and stand out?

TNA used to be a more wrestling-oriented product. They would have their feuds and their promos, true, but it all came down to the matches.

Suddenly, things change and now, TNA is doing things in the exact same way as WWE. Unfortunately for TNA, WWE has been doing this type of wrestling show much longer and they are the biggest wrestling company in the world.

Anyone else who does things in a similar manner will just come off as a "second rate WWE."

That's not to say that WWE is the best wrestling company in the world or better than TNA. They're just bigger and you won't be able to compete with that by offering the same product.

Its more than just trying to copy WWE's style, though. If you've watched TNA at all in the past year, you more than likely heard a few shots at WWE from more than one source on Impact.

Whether it was Tommy Dreamer talking about how WWE didn't respect him, Mr. Anderson saying how he didn't get his shot in WWE, or the more recent "3-3-11" promo trying to mock WWE's "2-21-11" hype, TNA is often trying to spark a war with the WWE.

Now, dissing the competition is all well and good; if it was actually affecting the competition you were trying to bring down and if you were effectively competing with that same competition.

WWE gets anywhere from a 3 to a 3.5 rating on any given week. TNA gets between a 1 and a 1.3. Thats a pretty big difference in numbers.

Right now, TNA is far from being any threat to the WWE's position on the top. While, poking fun at another promotion can be an effective tactic, sometimes it can backfire (and badly). 

A classic example of effectively poking fun at the competition is Jerry Lawler claiming "We're gonna get to see all of this PPV, J.R." in regards to WCW's Halloween Havoc PPV going off the air early in 1998.

Let's change gears a little and see an ineffective promotion tactic to bring down the competition: Bischoff spoiling Mankind winning the WWF title, which caused thousands to change the channel to witness the event, then changing back to see what WCW had to offer in return, but were treated to the infamous "Fingerpoke of Doom."

Over-reliance on former WWE superstars/legends

Yes, every company uses well-established superstars to get more spotlight. The WWE has Undertaker and Triple H facing each other in order to increase buyrates.

They're inducting Shawn Michaels one year after his retirement to increase ticket sales of the Hall of Fame ceremony.

They're using the Rock as a guest host of Wrestlemania 27 to increase PPV buys and TV viewership.

And of course, TNA is using Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, RVD, Jeff Hardy, Mr. Anderson, and Kurt Angle.

Now that we've established that both WWE and TNA are using similar tactics involving legends, let's look at how TNA is doing this the wrong way. Like I said earlier, putting a younger, lesser-known talent with an established legend like Ric Flair completely overshadows that young talent.

AJ Styles was often considered "Ric Flair's protege," which in itself is not a bad title to have, but not a good one, either.

If Ric Flair decides that he's done with him, it'll potentially ruin that young star's career.

Not to mention the fact that Flair and Hogan are being used in the biggest story and that they are still stealing the spotlight from those who could use it more.

Yes, WWE is putting a lot of the spotlight on Triple H and the Undertaker, but I believe these two can still go, unlike Flair and Hogan.

Current in-ring ability aside, Triple H and Undertaker were given five minutes in the middle of the show this week, Hogan, Flair, and Bischoff are given most of the screen time every week.

Not to mention the over-pushed former WWE talent, like Jeff Hardy, Mr. Anderson, Kurt Angle, RVD, and now the Pope.

I mean, I don't blame them for pushing guys who are talented, but considering how these guys have been the only guys to have been involved in the title picture in the last five or six months, you realize how highly former WWE stars are placed above homegrown talent.

This form of booking is too similar to WCW, which brings us to our last complaint and my summarization of the biggest problem with TNA today.

Too similar to WCW

Where to begin? Let's see, reliance on pure star power over homegrown talent? Check.

Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo under one roof? Check.

Large faction led by Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff that is taking the power away from management? Check.

Often times poorly booked matches with messed up endings (such as DQs in cage matches)? Check.

Trying its hardest to demoralize their biggest competition through slander and shoot-style promos? Check.

No matter how you slice it, TNA just seems to mirror WCW all too well. And that's not a good thing.

Considering how TNA is overly relying on guys who made a name for themselves in WWE, they are failing in creating new stars.

They're forcing their fan base to love the guys who were big before TNA in place of guys who have been there from Day One.

This, in addition to poor booking and controversial decision-making, is ultimately how WCW ended up dying.

By the time WCW began listening to the fans and pushing new stars, it was already too late. Now, history seems to be repeating itself for Bischoff, Hogan and Russo.

So, there you have it. Like I said before, I'm a big fan of the TNA roster. I'm just not a fan of the decisions that are being made, which I believe will ultimately lead to their downfall.

Leave comments below, but please try to keep this civil and not turn this into a flame war.


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