Before I begin, I want to warn TNA fans everywhere that this will probably come off as bashing TNA. Well, yeah. I like TNA. But TNA continues to screw itself.
By now, you may have seen the poster for the November TNA PPV, Turning Point. The first thing I said when I saw the poster: how TNA of you, TNA. You practically gave away the result of one of your matches at Bound for Glory a week from Sunday. The second thing I thought is that 20th Century Fox is about to get all litigious on TNA. That poster looks an awful lot like this one.
Just a hunch, I don't think 20th Century Fox will appreciate the damn near blatant act of plagiarism. But I digress.
For the unaware (or those who don't pay attention to TNA), one of the matches for TNA's version of Wrestlemania is a tag team match between two members of the Aces and Eights group and two people selected by Hulk Hogan and Sting. If Aces and Eights win, they're free to roam the Impact Zone any time they want. If they lose, they're off the island, and the tribe has spoken.
Why would you advertise Aces and Eights on a poster for a PPV if they're not gonna be around in a month? That would seem like a waste of money, yes?
It's things like this that give TNA its sometimes unfair, but very justified "one step forward, three steps back" stigma. Don't get me wrong; TNA has done a lot of great things in the ten years it's been around: the X-Division, the Bound for Glory Series; it's an alternative to WWE, even if it's nothing more than a token alternative these days.
But then you have moments that just say, "how TNA of you" and make you facepalm. This column is dedicated to those moments. After the jump, ten memorable "How TNA of You" moments in TNA history.
*NOTE: NOT A COUNTDOWN. JUST A LIST.
- 10/10/10: They are here. They, of course, are Immortal, the company’s heel stable for the 2011 season. If you could follow the storyline after the first few weeks, then my hats off to you. It became as convoluted as the WWE’s handling of the "Summer of Punk" last year. Eighteen members of the TNA roster claimed membership at one point or another. That’s a lot of people. That’s nWo big. Speaking of which, didn’t the nWo ruin it for everybody? The takeover storyline that dragged on for far too long? Oh, and Hulk Hogan never truly got his comeuppance? The Immortal faction was exactly the same thing. Foolkiller99, one of my favorite TNA reviewers, dedicated an entire video last year to the many plot holes in the Immortal storyline. If you look at it objectively, you’ll probably nod your head and agree as he breaks down Immortal and rips it a new one. By the way, the "they" was nearly the reunited Main Event Mafia, but they forgot to lock up Kevin Nash and Booker T to contracts first. Oops. Speaking of nodding your head and agreeing…
- The 88-second debacle of 2011. If you’re one of the around 14,000 people that spent $35 for TNA’s March 2011 PPV offering, Victory Road, you felt cheated, angry, disappointed, or all of the above when it ended. I’m pretty sure the fans did in the Impact Zone in Orlando, and those folks got in for free. (Imagine, for a moment, if that match took place anywhere else on the planet. Anywhere, doesn’t matter. Remember when the nWo first formed? People threw trash in the ring. I can imagine it would be something like that.) Though there is more than one match on any given PPV card, the main event is the selling point, fair or not. This is true of any combat sport, whether it’s boxing, wrestling, or mixed martial arts. And if you’re the champion of an organization, you owe it to yourself to represent said company to the best of your ability. You know, not like the high and/or drunk Jeff Hardy. He looked all sorts of out of it for his match against Sting. Forget the fact that he was forcibly jobbed out of the title in less than two minutes (and deservedly so) to a fifty-two year old Sting. The fact that TNA sent him out there in that condition was just plain stupid. He had to have been in that state for HOURS. He was a danger to himself and his fellow employees. It was bush league to send Hardy out there like that, especially with all the legal troubles that surrounded him in recent months before the match. And yet, TNA still put the world title on him. How TNA of you.
- Sharmell Sullivan vs. Jenna Morasca. Minus...five…stars (though Wrestling Observer Newsletter rated it -4 stars). That is all.
- The aborted pushes of Monty Brown, Chris Harris, and Bobby Roode. The lifeblood of any organization depends on building the future, not just relying on the present and past. At various points in the history of the company, "The Alpha Male" Monty Brown, "Wildcat" Chris Harris, and "Cowboy" James Storm could have all been big deals in TNA. I mean HUGE DEALS. Not John Cena or Hulk Hogan or Stone Cold Steve Austin huge, but you see where I’m going. All three could have taken the next step to superstardom. And all three had the rug pulled from under them. Monty Brown won a #1 contender’s match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, only to lose said title match to Jeff Jarrett in controversial fashion. Within a month, HE JOINS JARRETT’S STABLE. WHAT? That makes NO SENSE. His career never recovered. Chris Harris was a last-minute replacement for the 2007 King of the Mountain match, once a signature match on one of TNA’s signature PPVs, Slammiversary. Then he ended up in a feud with Dustin "Black Reign" Rhodes. Needless to say, his career never recovered. Bobby Roode won the first Bound for Glory series and the right to challenge Kurt Angle for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, but backstage politics (i.e. Hulk Hogan) pulled the plug on the title change at their signature show, saying he wasn’t ready…yet, James Storm beats Kurt Angle in less than three minutes on the first Impact after Bound for Glory…only for him to lose the title to Roode one week later. Look, I get that not many people order TNA’s PPVs, but you could have pocketed a few hundred grand because people probably would have plopped down $35 to see Storm and Roode win the title. On PPV. Just saying.
- Lockbox. Sorry, I needed an excuse to put that Saturday Night Live bit in. It’s the April 5, 2010 edition of Impact, the first episode to air at 8pm after quickly flaming out with a 9pm start. I’ll try and explain it as simply as possible: it was a 4 vs. 4 Knockouts match, with four winners. When a Knockout gets a pin or submission, she gets a key opening one of four boxes: Tara’s spider, the Knockouts title, an open contract for any match, and a striptease. After about ten minutes, Angelina Love, Tara, Daffney, and Velvet Sky win the four keys. We had to wait about an hour to find out which key opened which box. When it got all sorted out, Velvet Sky got the open contract, Tara, the Knockouts Champion at the time, got her spider, Angelina Love got the belt, and Daffney got to strip. Yes, a title change occurred on sheer luck. Let that one soak in for a moment. Oh, speaking of Daffney, she suffered a concussion, severe stinger, and a deeply bruised sternum later in the month in a dark match. She’s sporadically used over the next year before being released the following March, when it is revealed that Daffney’s wages were garnished…to pay for the broken arm she suffered at the hands of Abyss at Bound for Glory 2010. You can’t make this stuff up. By the way, Daffney’s fighting for said wages in court.
- Why so nervous? If 20th Century Fox doesn’t get litigious over the Sons of Anarchy ripoff poster, then Warner Bros. and DC Comics probably will over Sting’s Joker gimmick. Look, at first, it was cute. Then TNA practically reenacted scenes from The Dark Knight to the point where it’s damn near plagiarism. There’s parody, and there’s just plain copying, and I’m not sure if TNA knows the difference.
- The return of the Monday Night Wars. Don’t worry if you missed it; you didn’t miss much. It began on the first Monday of 2010, January 4 (now, if that isn’t an omen, I don’t know what is). TNA had the debuts of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff, Bubba the Love Sponge, X-Pac, and the Nasty Boys, along with returns of Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Jeff Hardy. WWE countered with the first live appearance of Bret Hart on their programming since WCW was around. TNA got their biggest audience ever (though they were crushed by WWE), giving Spike the green light to give them a slot on Monday night beginning in March. The beginning of the resurgence of TNA, right? Not exactly. Two months later, they were back on Thursday. Silly TNA thought they could compete with RAW. I mean, they were getting beat by ECW on the regular. And not the good ECW, either.
- AJ, you are NOT the father. Well, it wasn’t Maury Povich, but Jeremy Borash that read the confession that ended the Claire Lynch impregnated by AJ Styles storyline, which may have set a new bar for awfulness. Depending on your point of view, this storyline was either awesomely bad (i.e. The Room or Showgirls) or just plain bad (Gigli or… The Room). Either way, it mercifully came to an end weeks—or perhaps months—before its intended finish, and how the end came about was unbelievable than the storyline itself: an Internet wrestling message board found out that the woman playing Claire Lynch (Julia Reilly) worked at Universal Orlando. Yup, rather than spending a little bit of scratch to get a somewhat competent actress, they got Olive Oyl from the Popeye ride. Within days of the revelation, Reilly’s online presence (her Youtube page, her website, her Facebook) disappeared, and rather than have the stigma with being associated with a wrestling program, Julia quit. You can run from it all you want, but the Internet is in ink. And that’s unfortunate. For all of us. Because we’ve had to watch this bad actress with a hideous tooth-to-gum ratio. Terrell Suggs thinks you should take that down a notch.
- Hogan vs. Flair… in 2010. Story time. Bare with me, as I’ll need a moment to lay it out so you can get the full context. In the late 1980s and early 1990s (younger wrestling fans will just have to go with me on this, though any fan around my age—33, if you’re wondering—will tell you the same thing), people around the world what would happen if Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair ever got together in a wrestling match. Of course, this wasn’t possible with Hogan in the WWF and Flair with the NWA. But if the promoters could cooperate, then maybe, just maybe we’ll see it one day. Well, the WWF had that chance in 1991 and 1992. They could have made millions on PPV with a Hogan vs. Flair match. But as the story goes, Hogan vs. Flair underwhelmed in the house show circuit, so they never got together for a major televised match. That is why when WCW finally put it together in the summer of 1994, it was a BIG DEAL. Hogan won to the surprise of just about no one, but that was immaterial. This could be argued as the beginning of the rise of WCW to prominence: they put together wrestling’s version of Ali-Frazier. Then WCW put the two together. Again. And again. And again. A lot. By the time they met when they were both back in the WWF in 2002, we barely cared. Then Hogan went away and Flair retired. And then, like post-apocalyptic cockroaches, they came back. With money and ego driving the bus, Hogan and Flair, both in their 60s, BOTH wrestled in a match on March 8, 2010. Yes, it was a tag match, but that’s not the point. Their best days were long behind them, and TNA only did this to pop a rating. Did it work? 0.98 rating, a 15% drop from the previous week. Negative, Ghost Rider. Two legacies and a retirement bastardized in one night. Hope it was worth it.
- The X Division. Say what you will about all the things TNA has done wrong (and there have been plenty). One of the few things it’s gotten right is the X Division. You know the X Division, don’t you? It’s not about weight limits, it’s about no limits. It was basically TNA’s version of the cruiserweight title, except that it wasn’t limited to cruiserweights. Pretty much, if one could move like said cruiserweight, he would qualify for the division (i.e. Samoa Joe, who’s closer to super heavyweight than cruiserweight). But the X Division’s best days are long gone, and that’s sad. It’s been de-emphasized in recent years, despite the fact that in the past two years, it’s gotten its own PPV. But two things killed the X Division besides its awful booking, and Eric Bischoff’s behind both of them. First, in 2010, TNA switched back to a four-sided ring after using a hexagonal ring for six years. Second, he instituted a weight limit: 225 pounds. Doesn’t this totally contradict the X Division tagline?
While TNA (or Impact Wrestling, whichever you prefer to call it) has (nearly all) the tools to be a viable alternative to the WWE, TNA’s biggest detriment is that it cannot get out of its own way. Haphazard booking, questionable spending, confusing storylines with gaping plot holes, and now giving away turning points in storylines. These things and more are the reason why TNA has the reputation it has, whether it is deserved or not. When an organization does things of this nature on a consistent basis, it’s no wonder why the one at the top of the mountain doesn’t see them as a threat.
I know I left a BUNCH of "how TNA of them" moments. Got any you remember?