Katz Files: February TNA Report Card!

The Katz Files – Arnie Katz

The February TNA Report Card

The Kingfish Arnie Katz files his February report card for the good folks at TNA.

About the Report Cards

Each month, I issue a report card for TNA. I examine and grade the promotion in all the vital areas. I discuss strengths and weaknesses and chart the ups and downs. The grades in parentheses are for the previous report card. The grades in parentheses represent the previous report card.

Against All Odds has trudged into pro wrestling history, albeit it as a very minor footnote, so it’s time to evaluate the Total Non-stop Action promotion.

Talent Pool

Two opposing forces are working on the TNA talent pool. The need to trim the operation to reduce overhead and improve the bottom line has led to cuts, including Petey Williams. The need to inject fresh talent is pushing TNA to sign people to replace workers like Gail Kim and Christian Cage.

Brutus Magnus, his name aside, is already becoming part of the show, as has referee-turned-wrestler Shane Sewell. Neither is outstanding, though both have promise. The Modern Day Gladiator seems destined to team with former American Gladiator Matt Morgan.

TNA has already benefited from the return of Brother Ray and will shortly have both Samoa Joe and AJ Styles back in action. Kevin Nash remains sidelined, but his role has more talking than wrestling in it, anyway. Sting reportedly has an injury, but he is continuing to work at this time.

The ranks of the Knockout Division are a bit thin. The Kong-tourage gimmick accentuates this, because it ties up spots needed for women who can work a singles match. TNA needs a lead face who can be programmed against Kong.

Grade: B (B-)

Star Power

As usual, TNA is having trouble maintaining the status (and drawing power) of some of its stars. With Joe, Styles and Nash all sidelined, the overall star power has been a little dimmer than usual for the last month. Their return us sure to help.

Booker T got a lot of air-time with the Black Snow gimmick on the Main Event Mafia takeover episode of iMPACT and he has resorted to that accent a lot less of late. Apart from the “King Booker” angle, jettisoned when he came to TNA, Booker’s act still works without such bewildering eccentricities.

Suicide is not going to have any Star Power if he isn’t used consistently.

Grade: C (C)

In-Ring Action

Against All Odds was weak in the ring compared to what TNA presents at its best. The main event was pretty good, as were the tag team championship and the Abyss-Matt Morgan matches, but most of the rest fell short of the usual “B+/A-“ range. The number of people gutting it through injuries hasn’t helped the matches, though it has been invaluable to the promotion from the standpoint of it being able to fulfill its commitments.

The coming month will see more emphasis on the X Division, which could help overall ring performance in time to show up on the next performance.

Grade: B (B)

Booking & Dramatics

The booking for the “War for Respect” has certainly had its ups and downs. Part of the reason is all the injuries, but the problem runs deeper than that. Too much of the plotting and, especially, the writing, is just not that good – and some of it doesn’t make much sense.

On the other hand, Sting has done a very good job in building up to his defection from the Main Event Mafia, which presumably is coming fairly soon. His facials and short, pointed speeches have mostly been on target. He is getting his worry and ambivalence across without looking weak.

Now that the nonsensical Pseudo Palin plot is finished, perhaps they can figure out some the Beautiful People can do that isn’t boring and repetitive. Having another tag team for them to fight wouldn’t be a bad start.

The booking for Suicide is just plain awful. He should have played some role at Against All Odds to lead up to the Ultimate X match at the March Destination X.

TNA’s tendency to “forget” guys for weeks at a time sabotages just about any plot.

Grade>: C+ (C)

Announcing

The status quo continues. The same announcers and interviewers filled those slot.

The MEM takeover have us Booker T as a play-by-play man and Kevin Hash as the color commentator. The performances suggest that Mike Tenay and Don West have some job security. Nash has been better than this in the past; it’s likely his surgery left him feeling less than ebullient. I thought Booker had his moments, but I don’t think the wrestling world could survive two hours of him in that character.

Grade: B (B)

Overall

TNA is going through some rough times, both in front and behind the cameras. The basic problem, bad booking, goes unaddressed, which is the biggest barrier preventing TNA from moving to the next level.

Too often, the stories don’t make sense. The characters shift attitude and motivation so often that it always feels like the viewer has missed an episode or two, even though they haven’t.

Grade: B- (B-)

That’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily pro wrestling column. And I’d deeply appreciate it if you brought some of your friends with you..

— Arnie Katz
[email protected]
(2/12/09)