EXCLUSIVE: The TNA Challenge

Mark Madden


There’s a report circulating that when Jim Ross talked to TNA money mark Dixie Carter about the possibility of running TNA, she was unable to answer several basic questions, such as: “What’s your budget?” “I don’t know.” “What’s the process when I want to fire somebody?” “I don’t know.” “How about when I want to hire somebody?” “I don’t know.”

No wonder Ross didn’t take the gig. The occasional humiliation he endures at WWE has to be better than the absolute chaos that rules TNA. Was the big surprise Tommy Dreamer? Hope not. Will it be TNA converting to 3-D TV? Wow. That would be a revolutionary new way to NOT watch wrestling. What a product sucks, there’s no good way to watch it.

TNA in a nutshell: The christening of the Hardy-Anderson tag team as “The Enigmatic A**holes.” Can’t market it. Spike TV ill-advisedly allows "a**hole" to be said on TV, but to what gain? Total lunacy.

TNA is the same company it was before the big takeover, done in exactly the same style, with the end result being the same unimaginative, incoherent product, the same crap TV ratings, and the same non-existent PPV buy rates. TNA took on Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff (and their salaries), but didn’t improve. Not one bit. As one TNA talent (who didn’t work for WCW under Bischoff) asked me, “Did Bischoff EVER know what he was doing?”

Sure he did. Still does. Eric knows he’s getting paid. He knows his meal ticket Hogan is getting paid. Until that path leads to a dead-end, why deviate?

Dixie is dumb beyond description. She can’t see through Bischoff and Hogan. She doesn’t realize how bad the booking is. She doesn’t even know the basic policies of her own company. And she can’t even bring herself to fire anybody. At a time when TNA should try to balance its books by cutting payroll, she’s actually adding payroll. Tommy Dreamer? No one has turned on a television set specifically to see Dreamer since ECW’s glory days and even then, the result sure wasn’t a profit. TNA is lousy with dead weight to ditch. If Dixie thinks her employees appreciate her loyalty and largesse, she should wise up. This is wrestling. Behind her back, they’re laughing at her for being a mark.

When Dixie said TNA had an idea that would change the face of the business, adding that Spike TV was enthusiastic about it, I figured she had decided to shut the company down. Spike TV would have to be enthusiastic about that, right? That’s the only thing left: Shut this abortion down. It’s getting worse, not better. Dixie’s too dumb to see that. Or maybe other agendas are being served.

This column, of course, will cue another barrage of e-mails and forum posts saying that I’m too negative, and repetitive, and blah, blah, blah. So I issue the following challenge: Tell me something positive about TNA. RSVP to wzmarkmadden@hotmail.com. It needs to be something fairly tangible, not just the way Shannon Moore’s tights outline his crotch. (Not that I’ve noticed. I’m too busy wondering when the Misfits will reform.) Tell me what is WORKING. Outside of the continued excellence of Kurt Angle and Ric Flair – both so good they can’t help excelling, even against a backdrop metaphorically splattered with diarrhea – I don’t see much good. Correct me if I’m wrong. If you can’t, shut up.

WWE isn’t nearly as incompetent, or as bad. But it leads the league in hypocrisy.

The NXT beatdown was one of RAW’s best angles in quite some time, and it was brutal. So bruising it didn’t need blood. John Cena got folded, spindled and mutilated. It worked perfectly.

But to fire Daniel Bryan by way of singling him out for strangling the ring announcer with his own necktie is absurd. That wasn’t a TV-PG angle. So don’t punish one guy for a single act that wasn’t TV-PG. Fire Bryan? What about the producer who allowed what he did to air?

One of three things is going on:

*A sponsor didn’t like the graphic nature of the NXT angle, and Bryan was a convenient scapegoat.

*WWE has tried to minimize Bryan since his arrival. Management didn’t like his “best wrestler in the world” persona in ROH, so they’re proving he’s not.

*It’s an angle within the angle, one of those stupid “worked shoots” that hasn’t worked since Brian Pillman died. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bryan ultimately returned, or if Michael Cole (who powdered during the NXT beatdown) turned out to be the NXT gang’s (ahem) mastermind.

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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