TNA: Too Many Cooks?

The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
TNA: Too Many Cooks?
The Kingfish Arnie Katz takes a decidedly different, controversial look at TNA’s chronic booking problems.

When knowledgeable fans and pro wrestling insiders start discussing the problems of TNA, they inevitably point to the booking as the wellspring of the promotion’s problems.

What I’ve heard and read from fans and journalist usually boils down to the premise that TNA needs more comprehensive booking.

Lately, though, I’ve wondered if that was the wrong tack. In fact, I’m starting to think that what TNA needs is not more booking, but less.

The promotion has three very strong bookers, each of whom is used to being in charge and having his own way. I’m not privy to the TNA booking sessions, but I imagine that the angles and gimmicks that are rooted in southern wrestling come from Jeff Jarrett, the factions and their constantly changing membership originate with Dutch Mantell and the off-the-wall stuff, including the romances, is the brainchild of Vince Russo.

The problem might be that they try to do all of this simultaneously, each member of the booking committee pushing to get his version of wrestling in the driver’s seat in the promotion.

Instead of adding their viewpoints together to achieve a workable consensus, the committee seems to be in a perpetual tug-of-war that undercuts all the booking.

The handling of Samoa Joe is a case in point. First, they booked the Nation of Violence, which basically went no where, because fans couldn’t fathom Joe motivation.

Then they started to build him up as a hero, gain, by starting him on the vengeance trail against the Main Event Mafia. Samoa Joe began to rip through the heels, giving them hard payback with his brutal babyface style.

Then, just as Samoa Joe is getting back to where he should be, they switch him to the opposite faction! Telling us that his long and bloody campaign to destroy the MEM was “a plan” is a slap in the face of every fan.

Do they really think fans will accept the idea that all the matches they watched for a couple of months are meaningless? Just saying that there was a Big Plan doesn’t make the storyline believable, credible or satisfying.

It’s hard to say what TNA should do. It’s only possible to assert that, whatever they are doing, it sure doesn’t work. Every TNA card seems like a struggle between fine ring work and shoddy writing and plotting.

TNA is mired in an agonizingly slow-growth period. If management wants to get the promotion moving forward with good momentum, it is going to have to exert some control over the bookers and get across the idea that they all succeed or fail as a group

That’s all for now. I’ll be back Monday with a fresh installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising pro wrestling column. I hope you’ll join me then and, please, bring your friends. That includes you, Nic Farey.

— Arnie Katz
Executive Editor
[email protected]
(7/4/09)