Wednesday, 9 July 2014

TNA/WWE Analysed - What's been going on.


It's been quite some time since I last posted anything about the either TNA Wrestling or the WWE.  Both shows have been busy lately and seem to be going in very different directions with mixed results.

WWE launched it's version of Netflix in the form of the WWE Network, a subscription based on demand service that hosts thousands of hours of wrestling across several decades.  As it stands the system is still being updated on a weekly basis and is only available in North America.  To say it wasn't the success that they had hoped would be an understatement.  Investors were informed that the Network on launch would garner around or on a million subscribers, however they only managed to get around 600,000 in the first month or two.  This caused a massive financial ripple that has led to numerous issues for the company.

So long Brodus, we hardly knew ye
Firstly they fired a number of staff in both the office and show itself.  Wrestlers such as Brodus Clay, Yoshi Tatsu, Drew McIntrye and Jinder Mahal all went amongst others.  New series of shows such as Tough Enough and Legends house has been pushed back and the stock of the company has continued to fall or fluctuate since the launch.  Vince has stated that $20 million has to be cut from the budget to cover the losses so more staff will likely be cut from the show along with other money saving measures.  The network will likely make money when it finally does launch internationally with the untapped markets of Europe and Asia, until then though they will struggle to make the Network profitable.

Programme wise the show has been hit and miss really.  The Shield was split to cover Batista's recent departure to promote the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie, leaving the now solo members of the group running so-so matches but not yet getting the feuds they need to remain top performers.  Daniel Bryan who went from Indie star to WWE champ was injured, forcing the company to take the belt off of Bryan and give it to their default factory setting of John Cena until a new contender can be written to take it off him.  Daniel Bryan's situation was controversial anyway as he was chosen by the fans to be a number one guy, not the McMahons, so he was always booked to be an underdog and ridiculed by the authority figures in the story in a nod to their real dislike of "little guys".

I personally think they have dropped the ball where the Wyatt family are concerned with Bray losing several matches consecutively to Cena for no real benefit to the Wyatt storyline or helping the image of Cena who is already viewed as being death for any up and coming wrestler as he never puts them over.  The main heels of the show are Triple H in a part time wrestling role, Stephanie who is the corporate bitch with muscle in the form of Randy Orton, Kane and now Seth Rollins.  The problem is that Kane isn't a threat these days with how often he veers from monster to push over.  Orton is a competent performer but his character is as bland and forgettable as always and Rollins is a brilliant in ring talent, but I can't help but feel he will be marginalised and used as a jobber for the heels.  Rollins does have the money in the bank briefcase but now that WWE have set a precedent with Sandow failing to cash in, it's likely Rollins will fail to earn a title.

Yep this shit heel is top again
Outside of that the rest of the roster is running a gamut of bland or generally uninteresting stories.  Fandango is in a love triangle with Summer Rae and Layla.  Cesaro has joined Paul Heyman which should have increased his main event status, but has only resulted in him losing more matches and getting no opportunities.  If you put a wrestler with a guy like Paul Heyman then you should be ready to push him as a main event contender.  Heyman can be one of the most powerful personalities on a microphone in wrestling but he can only do so much when the writers backstage don't have any plans to book the wrestler as a credible threat or future main event guy.  Rusev the massive Bulgarian from NXT is running a late 80's/early 90's evil foreigner gimmick replete with pro Putin spokeswoman Lana.  Give it another six months and Rusev will be waving the American flag and professing his love for the US of A.

On the other end of the scale TNA have been trying to copy the WWE's success with Daniel Bryan by pushing their own hard working little guy in the form of Eric Young.  After a protracted feud with MVP who turned heel for no other reason than "evil authority figures are big right now so let's have our own".  MVP formed a heel group and promptly injured himself prior to a major pay per view forcing a change in the story.  Bobby Lashley became the new champion on free Television the night after the pay per view, causing collective facepalms all round. 

TNA has been suffering it's own woes with low attendance at live events and staff cuts to save money.  They have however been a little more successful with a round of tapings in New York that drew larger crowds for TNA domestically for an impact in recent years.  I do have to question their decision to host this years Bound for Glory in Japan since the company probably doesn't have a massive following in Japan.  Still since it's a cross promotion with Wrestle-1 in Japan it saves money for the company.  It does however put the message across that TNA can't host the show on their own as they lack the funds to do so or aren't confident enough in their own programme to make a popular show people would want to see.  Imagine if WWE announced they were hosting Wrestlemania in England in conjunction with All star wrestling it wouldn't exactly beam confidence to your fans.  Sure you get to see some new talent and probably good matches, but the exposure benefits your co-hosts more than you in the long term.

It's sad but true.
So the main plot revolves around MVP and Eric Young feuding over the title.  With TNA dropping the TV title this means the company now has no equivalent of a US or Intercontinental belt meaning the midcard has nothing to aim for.  It's true that these days the midcard belts have become less important but in a company as small as TNA they could do with some feuds running around titles outside of the heavyweight belt.  Dixie is still the evil owner but now mainly feuds with former ECW performers and seems less interested in getting control of her company back from MVP and now Kurt Angle.  Angle apparently somehow arranged to not only take MVP's job as head of wrestling operations but also negated MVP's shareholder status and can order him about.  This makes no sense, but whatever it's professional wrestling.

TNA have tried to get new gimmicks or talent over but seem incapable of pulling it off.  The Menagerie are a wet turd of a wrestling stable.  So far in their month or so of TV showings they have barely wrestled and achieved nothing of note.  Knux is the only one who could be counted as wrestling a match with Crazzy Steve the clown acting odd, The freak standing around and Rebel just being eye candy really.  Probably the dumbest idea they have had is running the Sam Shaw story which had Shaw being a creepy stalker type who obsessed over Christie Hemme.  Anderson beat him in a series of bouts to send him to the mental home.  However after this the booking team decided to have Gunner become his therapist essentially, based on the kayfabe idea that Gunner can treat mental illness because he had a friend who suffered PTSD.  Now the serious side of this is the rather horrible use of a real and debilitating condition as a story angle in a wrestling show that frankly shouldn't be used for entertainment with the recent conflict.  The other issue is the way the booking team just decide that all mental illness is treated in the same way, in this case playing cards, talking and getting said sufferer to simply open up.  Suffice to say this isn't how you treat someone with PTSD or any other mental illnesses.

Magnus was "reunited" with old friend from Blighty Bram.  Bram is for all intents and purposes a fucking psychopath who doesn't wrestle so much as stabs up his competition to end the match in a disqualification and homicide.  I understand heels being heels but why is he a wrestler when he never seems to want to win the matches.  Why not just accompany Magnus to matches and beat the shit out of whoever gets close to him while the ref is distracted.  All of this though is in aid of Willow who despite being a new character is just Jeff Hardy with a shit mask and bad makeup.  He thinks he is being deep and interesting with his odd tonal pitch and weird eye contacts, but continues to come across as a massive twat as always.  Even with the change in theme, costume and character he still uses all of his Jeff Hardy moves anyway so it's just Jeff in a post game completion unlockable costume.  Willow is feuding with Magnus over the whole world title thing but it's become lost in the shuffle and frankly no one cares what happens in this feud since it isn't getting anyone over.

Always the best part of Impact
The only highlight of TNA at the moment is the dynamic between Ethan Carter the third and Rockstar Spud who are always brilliant on screen.  Spud has some of the worst suits in the world which make it all the more fun as he plays the boot licking dogs body to Dixie Carter and Ethan.  Ethan however does a fine job as the jock heel type with his Aunt's money behind him to ensure he wins matches and gets what he wants.  Sadly it means neither of them will achieve major success title wise but for entertainment they are head and shoulders above the rest of the roster.

Yep it's been an interesting few months in both companies really.  However neither are really on fire with good ideas or excellent wrestling.  The two are just in a slump and neither of them seem to be trying hard to improve.  WWE are just running the status quo with no real competition to force them to change while TNA are desperately trying to be relevant with a fifth of the budget and fewer wrestlers compared to the McMahon juggernaut.

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