This is in reference to and support of Karen Belcher’s letter to TNA.
My name is Brad Dykens, and while you may or may not have heard my name before, I am the founder / Editor-In-Chief of the popular website known as Online World of Wrestling. I have been a fan of professional wrestling since 1984 when Vince McMahon took over the wrestling world. Since then I found great pleasure in discovering other “types” of wrestling around the world like Japanese Puroresu, Mexican Lucha Libre, tapes of kayfabe era wrestling, various independents such as Ring of Honor, and of course the little engine that could – Total Nonstop Action. I consider myself a student and historian, taking many steps towards preserving the history of all professional wrestling through my website, while helping to promote the numerous products that I enjoy.
I first jumped on the TNA bandwagon from day one, checking out the initial 2-hour weekly PPV’s from Nashville. I considered it an alternative to the crap WWE was producing at the time. TNA was clearly small time, but fans got behind it hoping it could some day compete with WWE. Now 7 years later, TNA is closer to doing just that than ever before. There are several road blocks standing in the way of jumping to the next level. Let’s look at the facts. How much have ratings changed since the signings of Kurt Angle, Sting, Booker T, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash, Mick Foley, Bobby Lashley, and Taz? Maybe a couple points on the scale over three years, but is that really reason to celebrate? What about PPV buys? I don’t even pay attention to those so I wouldn’t know the numbers, but I’m guessing it’s not substantial, otherwise the company would shout it from the mountains. All of those guys I mentioned are big name stars and should be pulling super ratings. So why aren’t they? Something has to be wrong with the product, right?
Over the past year, it has become increasingly frustrating for me to write my recaps for TNA iMPACT on SpikeTV due to the constant ignorance towards all that is obviously wrong with the production of the show. Even the biggest jabroni mark on the planet can see what is wrong with TNA right now. It’s the 5000 pound pink elephant with diamond ear-rings in the room. Does anybody in TNA read what people write about iMPACT? Do they realize that when somebody like myself, Dave Meltzer, Bryan Alverez, Karen Belcher, Bob Magee, or various other journalists write something negative about the product, we are influencing the opinions of thousands of fans around the world? I would obviously rather be positively influencing their opinions, and that is why I have decided to write this letter. TNA’s stubborn refusal to change with the times has resulted in some widespread displeasure amongst the TNA fan base.
TNA has all the right ingredients for a great product. The stars I named above are amazing in name value and in some cases, skill and ability. Plus there is a crew of TNA originals who can spice up the show and be groomed as the next generation. Samoa Joe, A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels, Eric Young, Robert Roode, James Storm, and even the British Invasion guys have tremendous potential if they can stay out of the bigger star’s shadows. That is something that is hindering Samoa Joe and something that, I predict, will some day drive him to the WWE.
I’ll come right out and say it; there’s something wrong with creative. In TNA’s defense, as bad as iMPACT has gotten over the years, they almost always delivered the goods when it came to PPVs. That is, until recently, when the quality of the PPV product took a severe plunge and began to feel like an extended version of iMPACT. Now it is time to complain, when the overall product is a disappointment. I care about TNA enough to take this step, despite the risk that it might distort your opinion of me, my work, or my website. Enough is enough.
For a while, TNA had the unique opportunity to capitalize on the WWE’s bonehead booking, by pushing the things that WWE was doing a poor job at promoting. I’m talking about the Cruiserweight (X-Division) and Women’s divisions. Since then, the WWE has elevated their Women’s division, but there is virtually no Cruiserweight division left in the company. So there is only one place you can see that style of wrestling on TV these days and that is on Thursday night. Your X-Division single-handedly kept the promotion afloat during the early days. Without guys like A.J. Styles, Jerry Lynn, Christopher Daniels, Low-Ki, Chris Sabin, Michael Shane, Frankie Kazarian, and others – TNA could possibly have sunk into the ground by now. So if it was good enough back then, why is it being buried now. Sure, TNA still presents a lot of X-Division matches, but do they really PUSH X-Division matches. Currently, the title is a prop to get Samoa Joe over. It should be a separate division, with a separate style, and separate priorities.
Okay next the Knockout division – because this is a no-brainer. The WWE is taking models and turning them into wrestlers. That’s their thing. TNA has Knockouts – real wrestlers – and as an added bonus, many of them look really good at the end of Lee South’s camera lens. It was going so well for a while there, but it all came to a crashing halt last month when the Sharmell vs. Jenna match was given priority over the real Knockout’s on a PPV. Everyone knew it was going to be terrible, yet they went ahead with it anyway – forcing the paying audience to sit and develop buyers remorse (was that the desired intent?). I think 99% of the viewers would have rather seen Sarita vs. Alissa Flash again. Then the company followed up by giving a male wrestler, who is cool but not yet over with the fans, the Knockout’s title at Hard Justice. It’s embarrassing and certainly NOT entertaining. Ladies and gentleman, I present the evidence to support Gail Kim’s decision to leave TNA.
People got on TNA’s bandwagon because a long time ago they started doing things the right way. TNA used to honor legends, so what happened to that? They gave us a REAL women’s division, something women fans can be proud of. Where did that go? They gave us a thrilling X-Division, based on NO LIMITS. What happened there? A tag team division with real tag teams not just two wrestlers thrown together. Hello? What was wrong with being different?
Okay so next on my agenda is the horrendous state of TNA iMPACT. A lot of people criticize TNA for booking things that make no sense, and I have to admit that if an individual steps back and takes a look at the whole picture, a lot of this crazy stuff tends to make a little sense in the long run. The only problem is that wrestling fans don’t have that kind of attention span so it’s pointless and anti-productive to book a storyline like that. If I’m watching something on TNA today, I’m not going to remember how it relates to a seemingly insignificant comment one wrestler made in one of the many interviews conducted three months earlier.
The biggest problem about TNA iMPACT is the one thing that causes me to pull my hair out week after week, and that is the ridiculous ratio between wrestling and non-wrestling. You do realize there are people out there who time the amount of in-ring action during a 2- hour broadcast? The number usually falls between 15 and 25 minutes, which means there is over one hour’s worth of filler (assuming commercials take up 30 minutes). TNA needs to go back to the way it used to be and learn how to tell a story in the ring during a match as opposed to pushing 10 interviews or backstage segments in a row. If you start your show with an in-ring talk segment, then for the love of God go to commercial, and when you come back go straight to the ring for a match – preferably something fast like the X-Division. Every week TNA presents talk segments to open the show, and then immediately cuts to five or more pointless backstage segments. Why do Mick Foley or Kurt Angle get to do three or four talking segments during the span of one show? Oh, and if you open the show with a talk segment, please DO NOT end the show with a talk segment. These are simple rules and are not difficult to comprehend. The question everybody is asking themselves, “is TNA truly worthy of the name “Total Nonstop Action?” I’m truly sick and tired of it, and if someone like me, who has professed publicly to be “obsessed” with professional wrestling for the last eight years, is getting fed up then there is no way that I am alone.
Kurt Angle on deck. You are promoting him as the “greatest professional wrestler of all time,” and I honestly cannot disagree with you there. However, everybody has heard about his recently problems with the law. He screwed up. I realize you just put all your eggs in Kurt’s basket when you sent Jeff Jarrett home last month, but don’t you think it would be a good idea to discipline Angle in some way. What’s going to happen if Angle ever does what 2/3 of the wrestling community thinks he’s gonna do some day? People are going to look back at this moment in time and say “Wow, his employer knew about this behavior and did nothing about it.” You’re taking a pretty huge business risk there, folks.
There’s a reason your ratings don’t move, and it’s NOT because of the wrestlers. You have a roster full of talented people. With the exception of maybe Jesse Neal and Kip James, every one of your on-air talent has the potential to help the promotion grow. Your video packages are world class and well produced, it’s just the production of the television show that stinks. I write this in the hopes that I can make a difference. I want to be a fan of TNA again. I want to support TNA and feel good about pushing a product that I sincerely hope kicks Vince McMahon’s ass some day. TNA’s persistent refusal to take constructive criticism from the few unconditional fans you have left is making it hard to stick with it.
TIME TO CHANGE.
If you would like to write your own letter to TNA, you can do so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org