Wrestling Perspectives By Dustin T Hull - Sept 15, 2014


TNA has a bad reputation and they will never live that down.” This was what I took away from a recent debate about if TNA deserved the hate they received. The debate included the massive span of the entire 12 year history of TNA and while there were many good points brought about, I feel that the time restraints didn’t offer a true value to the full history of TNA. We all know the handful of negatives that people point to – Sporadic booking, Hogan Era, abuse of nostalgia, pushing stars that weren’t “home grown”, ORLANDO JORDAN – in terms of what many feel has given TNA a negative reputation. I am here to convey a deeper prospective on the value I feel is often overlooked.


When TNA began, it had this new promotion smell to it. It seemed to be a blend of guys who we knew with a bunch of up and comers who were innovative and immensely talented. It grew from a small promotion with weekly pay per views, to getting on television with Fox Sports, and finally finding a home on Spike TV. Many know the origins of TNA, but I am here to provide you with the things that have established a positive reputation to this fan and the first thing I have to point towards is that it gives those who would be written off a chance to display their craft.


People like Bully Ray have been given the platform to exhibit more depth than what they were pigeonholed into. Christian Cage was able to revitalize his career within this alternative. AJ Styles was able to showcase his fluidity in the ring and carry the title as the “face of a company”. Austin Aries was able to be seen as a credible World Heavyweight Champion of a promotion airing weekly on National Television. Bobby Roode was given a chance to mature before the eyes of fans. EC3 is being allowed to prove that there is more to him than what was first thought. Bram has been given a second chance to establish his value as a member of a wrestling roster. While it’s speculation that the same wouldn’t have eventually happened elsewhere, I can only point to the fact that these events occurred inside a company who many label as being ex-WCW wrestlers or having been accused of “picking up WWE’s scraps”.


The next point of contention is the ability to allow creative input. I cannot tell you how many times I have watched a match on Impact and said “That’s something you don’t see every week.” Being a fan of Indy and Japanese wrestling, I get a chance to see innovative offense frequently, but I am not a typical wrestling fan. Not many have seen TJ Perkins’ Detonation Kick outside of Impact wrestling. It’s not often where you can see someone like Bram take an immense amount of punishment on a weekly television program. Matches like LowKi versus Samoa Joe or the Tag Series are not given the time to demonstrate just how enthralling they can be week in and week out unless they are presented on TNA television.


Creative input doesn’t stop at just the in ring craft. Christopher Daniels expressed that the majority of what he offered as a member of Bad Influence was of his own accord. The formulaic, paint by numbers standard that is seen on weekly wrestling is a lot less prominent in TNA. Talent such as Austin Aries can to put together promos that often have fans tipping their hat as the highlight of shows. Samuel Shaw is able to incorporate a more intricate character by adding personal elements such as his drawings. Jeff Hardy is able to utilize his creative outlets such as his music – not a fan personally – into his on screen character. James Storm can present a faction that is directed at a more adult oriented audience.


I am not trying to tell anyone that they are wrong for criticizing TNA when they do something that can be viewed as moronic. I have often been the most critical of what I perceive as their mistakes – The Hogan Era. But I give credit to both the positive sides as well as the negatives. For those who point towards dwindling house show numbers, I can point towards crowds like NYC or Dallas who are invested in the weekly television product. For those who tell me that TNA is dying, I refer them to posts from 2003 that claimed the same thing and then inform them on the growth they have seen on a GLOBAL standpoint. For anyone who claims they are WWE-lite, I can show them elements of a weekly Impact product and ask if they honestly feel WWE would allow this or that to happen. I feel if we dissect the hate that TNA gets, it boils down to one major point of contention; personal opinion and perspective.


I get it; TNA brought in Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff and it didn’t work the way many thought (although they did post their highest rating under this banner) from an on-screen product. But it did open the doors for a massive global expansion. I understand you think Dixie Carter is a mark. But the hatred for her as a character has put over Ethan Carter III in his current change from comedic to cold-blooded. I know why you feel like the company is dying. But ever since Bound for Glory 2013, the company has turned the direction of the ship to what I personally consider to be a much more beneficial direction. I often hear that TNA needs to stop living in the past with all their rehashes. I find this comically ironic as many of those who claim this are those saying that TNA is horrible based on things from TNA’s past; often giving no credence to this current version of TNA because “they’re just going to screw it up… It’s TNA.”


So my question is simple – Does TNA deserve the hate they get from those on the internet? In my humble opinion, I feel that fans are simply holding onto certain things from the past and placing more importance on those 5 or 6 moments in their minds with higher regard than the 12+ years of TNA history. It’s the perspective we as fans choose to view the product from. I personally choose to view things such as this past week’s episode and weigh things equally. I did not enjoy the Chris Melendez opener, but that one moment does not mean I didn’t enjoy the other 70+ minutes of Impact. Most importantly, am I the only one who can see this from a logical stand, or should I also allow the things from TNA’s past to determine my enjoyment of the current product?
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