Earlier this month, our Rumor Round-up included a tidbit that has been making the rounds - that Alberto El Patron turned down a big money offer from TNA because the promotion is a "sinking ship". Dave Meltzer has reported the same, posting on the F4WOnline 'The Board' that the industry perceives Dixie Carter's company as a "career killer".
Viewers and ratings are down for Impact Wrestling, as expected with the lower money offer they took from Destination America to stay on national cable television. But one contracted wrestler says that his move from the independents to TNA has been anything but a career killer. Here's what former X-Division champ TJ Perkins, who has worked for the company as a masked wrestler named Suicide and Manik has blogged about from a Q & A with fans via Twitter:
Because of TNA I bought a brand new 3 story house, 2 nice cars, and boatloads of shoes, and put a bunch in my savings, and I just signed a 2 year extension and got a raise....4 years ago I was homeless.
Forget saving my career, being here has saved my life and helped me take care of my extended family who was struggling as well.
But it's not trendy to some ppl so I guess none of that stuff counts right?
What ppl REALLY mean is whether or not they like something then that should be the only measure of success. I'll give you an example.
Eddy Guerrero at 30 was a cruiserweight in WCW. Wrestling since his teens his resume looked like this: Regional promotions, CMLL, Triple A, ECW, WCW.
We would consider that successful.
I just turned 30 and i'm an X Division guy in TNA. Wrestling since I was 13 my resume looks like this: Regional promotions, CMLL, Triple A, ROH, TNA, WWE, Europe, Canada.
Pretty much identical.
It's just that we live in an age of elitism and entitlement and ppl don't want their opinions overruled. If they like something it can't be argued against and if they dislike something it can't be argued for.
Basically what ppl WANT is for success to be measured by favoritism.
But ppl are missing the point. These are careers and lives. Success is measured by prosperity which is measured by quality of life and almost directly linked to finance and family.
Even if it is measured by sentimental things, then I'm still a good measure because I did 99% of everything before I even turned 21, including going to TNA.
The bottom line is it's not about trendiness or relevance.
Ask yourself, what's important?
Eating at the cool kids table?
Or simply eating at all?
The issue is that if TNA can not become trendy, relevant or cool, they won't be able to continue to pay Perkins. And if paying enough to afford him homes, cars and shoes is taking precedent over things that will help them grow their business, that's not a sustainable model (I don't know TNA's financials - AT ALL - so I can't speak to them; I'm simply presenting a hypothetical counter argument ).
He goes further to defend his definition of career success, and indirectly respond to Daniel Bryan's recent statements about younger generations not being motivated by material rewards:
Money isn't everything, but quality of life is. Many of my heroes have less than me now, I wouldn't trade my life or career for theirs. I'm willing to bet they would trade "relevance" or "trendiness" for more tangible things for them and their family.
There is some sentimental goals in success. Bucket lists so to speak.
My bucket list when I started back in 1998 was this:
New Japan, WWF, WCW, ECW, CMLL, Triple A
By my 21st birthday my resume looked like this:
New Japan, WWE, TNA, ROH, CMLL, Triple A, Europe, Canada, Domestic Indys...
I had some other goals too like wrestling in famous venues like Tokyo Dome, Korakuen Hall, Sumo Hall, Arena Mexico, Arena Coliseo, Grand Olympic Auditorium, Cow Palace, etc...I also did all that before I turned 21 as well and set a few age records that still stand I believe.
I even wrestled in a Super Jr tournament and a couple IWGP jr title matches which were impossible goals to me when I was 13 and just breaking in.
I've met all my heroes, Tiger mask, Shawn Michaels, The Guerrero's etc and they've all thought the world of my work and my wrestling IQ which is the highest compliment I could be so lucky to ever have.
However, at a certain point you learn what's most important. I made awesome money when I was younger. Getting handed 1k in cash and a first class plane ticket to Tokyo at 18? That's still crazy to me.
But I thought the same as others. I didn't care about the money and just wanted to keep doing new things and eventually that lead to me not prioritizing my career like an adult and I ended up homeless.
It's not like I wasn't already successful and making good money, I was. But I was a kid mentally and didn't understand what a career was.
Now, it's better. I'm smarter, wiser. I could go back to any of those places. No bridges were burned and I moved on by choice. So I picked a place I really liked and I love my job. I don't care who irrationally loves it or who irrationally hates it...I like it. I can take care of myself and my loved ones. That's what matters.
You can't take bucket list stuff with you, you can't take 5 star matches with you. Someday when my future kid needs a car or something do you think the fact that I was New Japan's youngest gaijin ever will help me get better credit or a loan? Do you think a grocery store accepts Super jr matches and 5 star Arena Mexico sellouts as currency?
In 2009 my parents split up and went bankrupt and I was homeless in Florida and collecting coins in Walmart parking lot at midnight so I could eat. So I know from experience that stuff doesn't matter.
It's all about perspective.
It is certainly true that it's much easier to focus on subjective goals like being the best when you're not worrying where you next meal comes from. And Perkins' statements are a reminder, to me at least, that it's not just a matter of LOLTNA and speculating about if the industry would be better off without them, because there are men and women who rely on their continued existence to take care of themselves and provide for their families.
But I still think "well, they take care of me" is a limited perspective, and one that probably isn't sustainable for Impact or it's contracted employees without some significant changes in other areas of the business strategy.
It's not a question of if TNA is a career killer so much as whether or not TNA is in the process of committing corporate suicide.