EXCLUSIVE: You Can’t Spell Tenay Without T-N-A

Mark Madden


Perhaps I’m misreading the signals.

Certainly, logic is an unlikely destination when it comes to TNA.

But it seems like TNA booking is setting up the dismissal of Mike Tenay as Impact! play-by-play announcer.

Tenay lambasted Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff during the Jarrett/Samoa Joe angle. He continued during the next match, accusing Tazz of sucking up to management.

Forget that such babble violates the cardinal rule of play-by-play, which is to tell stories at the expense of all else, including personal character development. We’re in the Michael Cole era, after all.

Tenay is presumably saying what he is for a reason. There’s got to be a confrontation between Tenay and management. Management has to win that confrontation. TNA’s main theme is the “Immortals” putting a stranglehold on the company.

Did you ever consider the lack of logic when it comes to a heel faction “owning” the company? DOMINATING is different. The Horsemen got all the belts, baby! WE’RE YOUR CHAMPIONS! But what comes from “owning” the company? Does Abyss beat up unhappy stockholders? Is Janice on the (ahem) board? Why aren’t the babyfaces fired? Why do the refs still call it straight? The whole concept just seems so ill-conceived.

Remember when the nWo “took over” Nitro? That was a major hiccup in the angle. Rebels shouldn’t become establishment. What’s the point?

Anyway, back to Tenay. Vince Russo has never been a Tenay fan. That dates back to WCW. Doesn’t like Tenay’s look. Doesn’t like Tenay’s facials. Maybe Russo has a point. Appearance-wise, Tenay is Count Chocula. His expressions are a non-stop series of vaudevillian double-takes.

Tenay is very good and overrated at the same time. (You can be both.) He’s excellent at straight play-by-play. He has trouble putting shine on a subpar product. (Jim Ross is best at that.) Tenay has little personality, so any injection thereof is detrimental.

Tenay may have peaked in 1994 when he did When Worlds Collide, the lucha PPV. He’s been pushed up the totem pole ever since via his friendship with Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, a king-maker in many cases and certainly with Tenay. Tenay has won five WON announcer of the year awards, a laughably high figure considering Ross was still active. But Meltzer preaches. The marks follow.

Tony Schiavone in his prime was MUCH BETTER than Tenay. But Schiavone’s credibility and reputation were damaged by often sounding ridiculous when he tried to prop up a terrible product. But isn’t that what Tenay has done since 2002?

Dixie Carter doesn’t fire anybody. Would Tenay be kicked backstage? That could benefit TNA. If Tenay would be allowed to (and have the guts to) speak his mind, few know more about the mechanics of successful booking. That knowledge could have been (and should have been) helping TNA a long time ago. WCW, too.

Who would replace Tenay? That’s a tough one.

Scott Hudson would probably do it for free. Solid announcer. Total mark. Hudson has a high-paying government job. He was making a mere thousand per week when he was Nitro co-host. Gene Okerlund once chewed out Hudson for working so cheap, because management used it to leverage down the salaries of other announcers.

I like Jeremy Borash. Borash is a real talent, solid on play-by-play, and has no ego beyond getting occasional manual relief from an decent-looking rat. (So I hear.) Borash does things right. TNA would be well-served by Borash at play-by-play.

TNA would also be well-served by leaving Tenay right where he is. Signs point to his departure. It might be just idle chatter, an ill-advised attempt to develop personality.

TNA too often does stuff just for the sake of doing it. Like when Tazz confronted Jarrett after he beat down Angle. Tazz CAN’T have a match. So what’s the point? Where’s the payoff? And my God, when do we conclusively pull the plug on trying to elevate Jarrett beyond filler? Why is Dixie Carter still beholden to Jarrett’s ambition?

Oh, wait…I think I know why. Never mind.

1.15? Yuck.

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh. Check out the Mark Madden page at WXDX.com. Contact Mark via wzmarkmadden@hotmail.com.

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