Hey, you know what was a really cool movie? Le Pacte des Loups ... which my fellow Yanks often refer to as The Brotherhood of the Wolf, where that guy from Iron Chef chop-sockys his way across 18th century France while his blonde detective buddy hunts down a "monster."
What does that have to do with this week's meltdown?
Well, I like cool things that most people haven't watched, like IMPACT! Wrestling, which we still call TNA because we're slaves to the search engines. And if you're already feverishly typing "Bro, did you just compare TNA to BOTW?" -- don't bother -- because I didn't. I just said I thought they were both "cool."
A lot of people can't wrap their heads around IMPACT! Most of them are elitist pro wrestling fans who bitch and moan about everything WWE does wrong, despite staying glued to the boob tube every week for Monday Night RAW. We have them in mixed martial arts (MMA), as well.
I also think a majority of people who like WWE, don't like TNA.
My kid is obsessed with the squared circle. But when I flip on IMPACT!, she abandons me and goes to the computer to watch old WWE highlights on YouTube. Is she an elitist? No, I just think there are a good portion of casual marks who can't stomach what goes on when Hulk's in charge.
The proof is in the ratings, which are often times abysmal.
To summarize, most pro wrestling fans can't get into IMPACT!, the ratings are below average and based on Nolan Howell's weekly exercise in punishment, the storylines are laughable. I can even remember a time when Vince McMrosko contemplated abandoning its coverage altogether.
Ready for the punchline?
TNA doesn't care. In fact, they're probably laughing at the haters. The talent might despise themselves for being stuck in what's widely-perceived as the Vincent "twin" rather than Julius ("All the purity and strength went into WWE. All the crap that was left over went into what you see on Spike TV every Thursday"), but for the most part, everything at IMPACT! is peachy-keen.
It really is.
I hear a lot of fans talking about "TNA has to understand" and "It's never gonna become a legitimate contender" and yadda-yadda-yadda, but I was in the Spike TV corporate offices not too long ago talking turkey. Yes, I realize they aren't going to tell me business is in the toilet prior to whipping out their P&L reports, but they were refreshingly candid about their commitment to the world of pro wrestling.
They don't really have one.
Spike TV, which operates under Viacom, isn't interested in competing with WWE. Why would they be? Think about the awesome responsibility -- not including resources and manpower -- that comes with such a task. Who wants the headaches?
At the time of this writing, TNA is a pin on their lapel, another "guy show" with a steady audience that pretty much runs itself, without requiring the Spike TV brass to babysit. Low reward? Sure, but also low risk and more importantly, low maintenance.
Their words, not mine.
In fact, one top-level executive flat-out told me they just let Dixie Carter and her crew do their thing. And why not? Sure, ratings are nothing to write home about, but Spike TV is in the black. They have no issue securing advertisers for Thursday nights and their production costs?
C'mon people, we're talking about the IMPACT! Zone.
You might hate TNA. Everybody you know might hate TNA. But somewhere out there, enough people are interested to keep tuning in. It's not a potent formula, but it's a formula that works. And it sure beats spending 100 million dollars per annum and working 80 hours a week to try to stay on top.
Let Stamford worry about that.
But even as a self-contained ecosystem, TNA certainly has room to improve and I too, sometimes scratch my head at the booking; however, it will never have appeal when you compare it to something it isn't, or even worse, something it isn't even trying to be.
What you see is what you get.
IMPACT! will make a great addition to Bellator in early 2013, which despite operating in the shadow of a giant, will also be successful, for most of the same reasons TNA is. This isn't an attempt to take over the landscape, it's a way to get in the game and have fun, without having the pressure of bringing home a world championship.
It's just happy to be there, whether you watch it or not.