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WWE & TNA: Random Wrestling Recap

By John Pitroff

Recently, I did a new type of column which overviewed the bigger pieces of wrestling news. I thought it worked well because it covered a wide variety of subjects that I otherwise might miss in some of my longer, essay type articles that I also enjoy writing. These are all opinion pieces, and with the new RSR site and the ability for you, the reader, to make comments, I feel as though this will work well as an interactive piece for those who both agree and disagree with what I have to say. So, I decided to do it again. Comments, suggestions, agreements, disagreements, complaints, and random opinions are always welcome…

TNA’s Ring Pt. 2: TNA went through and decided to change their six sided ring back to the four sided ring, something I mentioned in a previous column that they should do. It didn’t come without some trouble, however. The TNA fans at the Genesis PPV chanted “We want six sides” while Hogan and Bischoff gave their promo. Hogan gave his response, to a lot of boos from the fans. I still agree with Hogan on this one. I don’t see it as TNA not giving the fans what they want, because you can’t please all the fans, all the time. And, honestly, the TNA audience in the Impact Zone, especially the night of PPVs are the biggest TNA marks in the world. They are a small minority of people that don’t really represent that landscape of the wrestling audience. I understand that fans got used to the six sides, but TNA fans seem to forget that they had the normal four sided ring for years before that.

The six sides got stale, it was quite meaningless, and it made the product look extremely minor league. This is pro wrestling, not a jungle gym or play ground. Those few fans who did like it were loud and voiced their opinion, and a lot of internet wrestling fans were quick to say that TNA wasn’t listening to their fans, or turning their back on those that made them. I don’t see it like that. As I said, that small, loud minority of fans screaming for six sides are most likely the same fans who think that X division wrestlers with no character or depth to who they are can sell PPV matches. These are the same fans who think spotfests are five star classics.

Perhaps Hogan & Bischoff could have went about announcing it in a different way better explaining their reasoning. Fans that went to the show that night didn’t expect anything any different but they showed up to a totally new ring. A sit down interview stating all the great reasons for changing the ring, meaning no disrespect to fans, would have helped tremendously. I’m not surprised at the backlash the first few weeks of changing the ring back. I have read online at a number of online sources where people were complaining about the move, but it will die down and perhaps people will smarten up and realize that if TNA wants to become a top wrestling company and remain there, their ring is one of the smaller issues that needed tending to. That is out of the way, now, onto making AJ Styles heel turn wore…more on that later.

TNA’s Live Events Change: Hulk Hogan said in a radio interview that he was looking to end house shows until the television aspect of the company was worked out first. In addition, Hogan & Bischoff want to hold only two PPVs outside of the Impact Zone this year. These are both smart decisions. Many wondered what the big changes were that Hogan kept mentioning in interviews leading up to his debut. He made it sound like not only creatively, but as a business venture, he was going to change the way things had been done before. Here are a few of the business decisions he was mentioning.

These are two great examples of him stepping in and using his prior wrestling knowledge to do what needs to be done at the time. I have been to TNA house shows, they were a lot of fun, and I had a blast. However, the audience is just not there yet to be touring doing house shows. All the arenas I went to were not even close to full. More empty than full, actually. I’m sure a lot of the diehard, hardcore fans won’t be happy with this move, but for the time being, it is the right move.

How can you expect to hold house shows when people don’t know your company exists yet? Once they work out a better television deal where they gain more viewers through that medium and have more people watching week after week, then it will be the time to implement house shows into the mix. The money TNA will save from booking arenas, travel, ring crew, and whatever else goes into putting on a house show will allow Hulk Hogan to sign more of his washed up friends to the TNA roster.

Holding all the PPVs besides two at the Impact Zone is great for many of the same reasons. It will save a lot of money until the time is right to go elsewhere. It was also mentioned that holding all the shows at the Impact Zone will allow them to seem major league, even if they aren’t quite there yet. The Impact Zone is their home, and the way it is set up now makes the product look state of the art. Even though the Impact Zone is not very big, it is hard to tell watching it on TV. Every seat is full, the audience is usually hot, the set up is perfect, the production quality is good, and they have the home court advantage. Once they reach a higher level through their television, that will be the time to spend the extra money to go to other places more often to spread the word of TNA that way.

Paying To Get Into Show: This actually isn’t a piece of news, but it should be. TNA should start charging fans to get into their Impact tapings, and especially PPVs. Seriously, why not have the people pay? A lot of people will pay, knowing the show is broadcast on TV. And, how much sense does it make that you have to pay 35 bucks to watch a show on PPV, but you can watch it for free live? I realize that the Impact Zone is inside of a theme park that people already have to pay to get into, but why shouldn’t they have to pay now? Too many free shows have been given away too many times now. TNA can’t really afford to miss out on this source of income. Now TNA actually has the star power to validate charging people to get into shows.

TNA doesn’t have to charge much. Five, ten, fifteen bucks. I have seen people drop 20s for independent shows with no one of any star power on the card. If TNA starts charging people to get into their shows, they would be making a lot more money every week that right now is lost for no good reason. There are no excuses anymore not to charge. Charge one general admission price and see how it works. There might be an initial backlash just like there was about the four sided ring, but fans can stop whining and deal with the fact that they should have to pay for their entertainment, especially now that TNA is having well known wrestlers and stars on the show every week. If TNA is turning away fans, as they did at the live Impact taping, I don’t see why people wouldn’t be willing to pay.

No Mention of Jeff Hardy: I haven’t heard much from TNA about Jeff Hardy. I haven’t heard much on TV, I haven’t seen anything on their website, and I have barely read any information on the dirt sheet websites. The column I wrote about TNA dropping the ball over the whole Jeff Hardy deal has grown into something even worse. I thought it was bad he wasn‘t a focal point of that Impact, and now, he isn’t even mentioned on any of their shows! Perhaps they didn’t sign him to a long term deal, perhaps they didn’t sign him to a deal at all. Either way, it is pretty stupid of them. Why have him debut if you aren’t going to have him on the shows in the following weeks, and especially if you aren’t even going to mention him at all? TNA’s biggest star, greatest “get,” and wrestler with the most potential for building TNAs future…and they act like he doesn’t exist after being on the opening of their biggest show ever? What happened here?

Edge Return: The date for Edge’s in ring return was supposedly not until after WrestleMania. However, he is recovering ahead of schedule and might be ready for a match at WrestleMania. Awesome. I have always been a huge fan of Edge and his work, and would love to see him get a spot at WM this year. It is never a cool when WrestleMania rolls around and some of the top talent are injured and can’t compete. WrestleMania should always showcase the top talent of the year and have the biggest pay off matches, so it is a downer when someone happens to be injured at the wrong time of the year.

The idea is that he will return to feud and have a match with Chris Jericho at the biggest show of the year. Another good thing. Edge and Jericho could have an interesting feud, as the back story is already set in place due to them being tag champs before Edge’s injury. And, they are both great wrestlers who always seem to have good matches. My only complaint is that Edge would have to come back as a face. I always thought Edge played the heel better. He was always an original heel character; sneaky, sly, backstabbing, and just an overall jerk. The problem is that Jericho is also a great heel, and he has been amazing over the last few years since his return. It doesn’t really work turning him face either. A heel Edge vs. a heel Jericho would really work that well.

Character aside, it would still be nice to see Edge and Jericho work their magic at Mania. Let’s hope that he still stays ahead of schedule on his recovery and is back to in-ring shape come the end of March. This will give both Edge, and more importantly, Jericho, something significant to do at WrestleMania (as of right now he isn’t in any real WrestleMania worthy feud).

AJ Styles Heel Turn: I like the idea of AJ Styles as a heel, as it keeps him fresh and actually gives him some sort of character, which he never seemed to have as a face. Actually, I have never thought of AJ Styles as a can’t miss performer just because he never came across as a “star.” Great, you can do amazing moves, but why should anyone care?

He gave an in ring promo on Impact with Ric Flair following his heel turn at Genesis in which he showed more character than he had ever before. That is what you need to do as champion. He showed emotion, albeit seeming a bit contrived. He has never been that strong on the mic, and the southern accent sort of knocks him down a few points in the eyes of those watching at home, but if he delivers promos with as much intensity, ingenuity and originality as he does in his matches, he will definitely bring prestige to being TNA Champion. I hope he continues to improve his mic skills so that he can be the total package that TNA needs him to be if they are going to push him as a true face of TNA.

Styles’ alignment with Ric Flair is nice because it gives him that aura of class. He is wearing a suit and tie to the ring, he has women by his side, he is giving promos full of energy, and he just brings respect to the TNA title. This was a great step in the direction of the character of AJ Styles, as well as a great way to show how much the TNA title means to the wrestlers, something totally lacking in WWE.

The growth of the AJ Styles character is one of the more interesting wrestling sagas to follow. When Hulk Hogan came to TNA, I knew the best part was the fact that Hogan knew that it doesn’t just take great moves in a ring to make people care, it takes a lot of charisma, mic skills, and an overall definition of character to get over with the fans. TNA redefining the AJ Styles character is a big piece of wrestling news to pay attention to, because it will show if TNA is able to build a “superstar” out of a “wrestler.” If TNA can do it with AJ Styles, then the sky is the limit for other X Division type talent who have the drive and desire, but perhaps have never had the character necessary to make the audience care enough.

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