The ill wind blowing these days behind the scenes at TNA carries on it the sound of a locker room fracturing into bickering; isolationist camps stemming from the reportedly ongoing power struggle between Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett. The crux of their conflict centers on each man attempting to acquire favor with Dixie Carter in order to influence storyline and talent issues as he sees fit. Needless to say, there are MANY variables in this scenario, and while speculation on the eventual outcome is premature, a critical examination of this showdown is definitely in order.
Angle has begun advocating changes in the way TNA presents itself, endorsing a more traditional wrestling approach, and logically nominates Jim Cornette as the one who can produce those results. Not surprisingly, Jarrett is steadfast in his support of Dutch Mantel and Vince Russo. One can argue for and against either choice. Many fans have had it with what they see as Russo & Mantel's six-sided circus and would overwhelmingly approve of the sort of touch Cornette brought to the NWA/WCW in the late 80s, not to mention OVW and his own Smokey Mountain promotion. On the other hand, TNA may lose a portion of its already dwindling audience during the necessary process of "re-educating" the fans. Moreover, Jarrett and company can point to things like steady ratings and buy rates, the integration of a women's title, and the expansion of Impact to two hours as indicators of their merit.
At this point, it's difficult to tell who may have an advantage. What will most likely tip the balance in favor of one or the other is how well each man can campaign for support among those on the roster and in the front office. Jarrett, being a founder of the company and all, naturally has many allies in all departments of TNA. Subsequently, many of the rank-and-file are loathe to side against Jarrett publicly for fear of reprisal should he ultimately prevail. Angle's illustrious career speaks for itself. Reaching benchmarks such as winning an Olympic Gold Medal and headlining WrestleMania awards him a standing in the industry that Jarrett can't ever hope to achieve. Kevin Nash has apparently signed a new contract and is scheduled to return to in-ring action against Angle at the next PPV, but it seems doubtful that behind the curtain the two of them will be on the same page philosophically. Rumors have started to swirl regarding Sting retiring possibly as soon as the end of the year. How heavily will the result of this struggle affect his decision-making process? It would be fair to anticipate guys like Christian, Joe, and Rhino to be firmly in the Angle camp, but how the X-Division wrestlers will factor in is another question without any obvious answers. Once again they appear to find themselves on the outside looking in like a bunch of Dickensian orphans waiting to see who adopts them.
The potential ramifications of this matter could have far-reaching effects as to whether or not the promotion is seen by other workers to be a viable opportunity. A prime example would be someone like Nick Dinsmore, who has already voiced interest in TNA. It is well know how Dinsmore thrived under the tutelage of the Louisville Lip in OVW. History tells us that Cornette's modus operandi would be to book him as the excellent technical wrestler he can be while finding a way to maximize his obvious charisma. I shudder to think what sort of asinine ideas Russo would have for someone like the former Eugene. His track record suggests they would involve some third-rate rip off of his old gimmick (Black Reign anyone?). Then you have men like Sabu, Sandman and RVD. Both Sabu and Sandman have worked in TNA before, but are they eager to return? What if this issue is enough to inspire Van Dam to choose Japan and/or Ring of Honor (think about that for a minute) over Orlando?
I'd wager I'm not the only one's who's been waiting for the inevitable moment when Vince Russo would once again face his own personal Waterloo. In the wrestling business it is "change or die" and Russo's approach doesn't appear to have changed much at all in the past decade. From the day Cornette first arrived in TNA, the pleas for him to be given the pencil have become increasingly urgent. Personally, I'd like nothing more than to see Cornette and his preferred methods be allowed the chance to flourish once more (except perhaps for Paul Heyman to be given the same opportunity, but that won't be happening anytime soon). It could very well be the thing to provoke Vince McMahon into re-examining his own product, and possibly even kick-start the business as a whole yet again. Now that TNA has by all rights everything they need to reach that mythical next level - from personnel to a favorable TV contract to a capable corporate structure - they sit on a precipice. The actions the company takes in response to these concerns could determine its continued growth, or else its imminent demise. Here's hoping that whatever happens, it is in the best interests of the workers, their families, and most importantly, the fans.
by Aaron Hurt (View/Submit your feedback here)..