Katz Files: September TNA Report Card!

The Katz Files – Arnie Katz

The September TNA Report Card

The Kingfish Arnie Katz files his September 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.

Now that the pay per view is past, let’s take a close look at how the promotion is doing in key areas:

Talent Pool

The promotions penchant for cluster schmazz gimmick matches compromises its ability to get the most out of its roster. They allow strong performers like Rhino and Tomko to languish for weeks at a time, when they could be used to enrich both matches and storylines.

After a lot of comings and going during the early summer, things have settled down somewhat. With some key contracts coming up for renewal, that state of affairs will likely change within the last two months.

The major recent additions are the return of Sting and Jeff Jarrett. Neither has done much wrestling yet, but they are heavily involved in the storylines. Rhino is back, but he hasn’t yet moved into a program.

Heading the minus column are Gail Kim and Kaz. Both are major losses. Kim, as the lead female babyface, leaves a hole in the show that TNA will try to fill with Taylor Wilde.

Grade: B- (B)

Star Power

Building stars remains a TNA problem. They’re not great at maintaining the star power of the ones they have, either.

Booker T is one whose star has dimmed, adding him to a list that already includes Awesome Kong, ODB, Rhino and Eric Young.

The return of Abyss and the development of Matt Morgan are positive signs. Both are still mid-carders, but Morgan in particular looks to have headliner potential.

Beer Money is now a marquee tandem. For some reason, TNA does better building tag team stars than singles stars. Beer Money is the biggest team they’ve created since America’s Most Wanted.

Grade: C+ (C)

In-Ring Action

The action is always fast and furious in TNA, except when they pretend to be some kind of MMA promotion. The Styles-Trigg match was terrible.

The Women’s Division isn’t delivering the same level of in-ring thrills as when Awesome Kong was having meaningful matches. On the other hand, TNA continues to steer clear, mostly, of matches between women who can’t work.

Grade: B+ (B+)

Booking & Dramatics

Too many TNA stories burst full-blown with little motivation and lack of consistency doesn’t help.

The Love Triangle, Prince Justice Brotherhood and Old vs. Young have basically all tanked. Bad writing and horrid plotting get the blame. The Nash-Samoa Joe and angle-Styles stories have had their moments, but they have also unraveled at times, due to inconsistency and murky motivation.

The last compelling storyline was LAX versus Beer Money, mostly due to incredible work in and out of the ring by all concerned. That plot has probably ended, so TNA needs to concoct something strong to replace it.

The Abyss storyline is a welcome exception, even if a lot of the arena fans don’t seem to get it. His struggle to control his wild rages is sure to end with him “overcoming” that inhibition, but it has gone well to this point.

TNA needs to make big changes in this area – and sooner rather than later. Great mat5ches area key to success, but they also have to have a meaningful context.

Grade>: C- (C)

Announcing

No big changes to measure this time. Lauren has settled into the interviewer role and Don West hasn’t slipped back into bad habits too much. Tenay is, of course, golden, though I look forward to the day when he can revert to color man. Calling Joey styles….

Jeremy Borash generally does very good work, both as an interviewer and as the ring announcer for ppv main events. I think a note of caution has to be sounded, though, about JB’s occasional mic-hogging. The interviews are better if he doesn’t talk more than the wrestler, though it would be a loss if he lapsed into being a human mic stand.

Grade: B (B)

Overall

TNA will never get its TV ratings and buy-rates up if they don’t make some changes. It is vital for the promotion to stop confusing the hype they dish out to the marks with the company’s real situation.

TNA is approaching some tough contract decisions. A couple of wrong moves here could reduce TNA’s ability to deliver a hot show and compete with WWE.

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]
(9/17/08)