AS I SEE IT 2/5: TNA, ROH, and Samoa Joe, continued

AS I SEE IT
Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
PWBTS.com

Well, over the last few days, I've been called a ROHbot. I've been called a WWE mark. I've been told to grow up (news bulletin: I turn 50 in May...nice try, though). I've also been called names I can't print on this or most other sites.

Oh, and to the person who confused me with Bob Barnett, and later apologized for doing so...nah...no law degree, I don't sell DVDs, no wild escapades with Vampiro, and I don't live in California. I do like to vacation in northern California, though.

I could spend time re-printing the e-mails, but I'd bore you and bore me with the 20 or 30 basically just telling me I suck. So, instead, let's go through the main (and intelligent) points people made in disagreement.

1) I'm interfering with the only alternative to WWE.

For anyone who is under a delusion that (like it or not) that TNA is a competitor to WWE, here's reality:

WWE is a full-time touring company. TNA runs three shows per month, including their PPVs.

WWE (no matter how much some of their product pisses us off) is a profitable company with stock sold on the New York Stock Exchange. TNA is living off of Dixie Carter and her corporate interests. That's not a bad thing, mind you...just a statement of fact.

TNA's TV ratings are a quarter to a third of what WWE's ratings are. Hell, even Wrestling Society X's debut show on MTV drew a 1.0...pretty much equal to TNA's weekly ratings...and that's with TNA getting heavy advertising on SpikeTV. Even with the expensive additions of Sting, Christian (Cage), and Kurt Angle...TNA's TV ratings haven't significantly changed for the better.

2) TNA has an inherent right to exclusivity for talent.

In my opinion, they're no more entitled to exclusivity than any other independent. Let me say it again TNA.... is just an independent. Contrary to what they and some of their more rabid fans think, they're just one more independent that lives off of an investor.

But it seems, from Meltzer's report that one of the other reasons TNA pulled Samoa Joe is ego. According to Meltzer, TNA is pissed off that fans think of Samoa Joe as a ROH wrestler, not a TNA wrestler. In other words, Ring of Honor fans will be deprived of seeing this talent because Gabe Sapolsky's a better booker than Vince Russo et. al.

Maybe TNA ought to ask themselves why their bad booking of Joe in recent months has made fans think that.

How about not putting the NWA...er...TNA title on him when they had the opportunity? How about ending his winning streak via putting over Kurt Angle? How about that booking classic where killer Samoa Joe gives Kurt Angle a match because "Samoa Joe's girlfriend" (a character never named and never seen before that date) gets put in an ankle lock? The message that's sent is that the killer isn't really such a killer.

Think I'm the only one questioning their booking? How about Lance Storm who wrote this week on his website: "How a company with such an amazingly talented locker room can produce such an unwatchable show is beyond me. Actually, it isnít beyond me... I watched Vince Russo do it in WCW. There is an old expression: 'Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.' Someone needs to explain the history of WCW to Dixie Carter." Storm went on to say he wouldn't watch another TNA show until Russo and his bookingwas gone.

Gabe Sapolsky's booking, on the other hand, has allowed fans to see Joe in memorable matches. How about three examples: Samoa Joe-Austin Aries at Final Battle 2004, Samoa Joe-CM Punk, or the matches with Samoa Joe-Kenta Kobashi in late 2005 to name just three examples?

Now ask me again why fans think of him as a Ring of Honor wrestler.

Next, tell me why the promotion with the lesser booking muscling a talent away from the company with the better booking should make a wrestler's most loyal fanbase suddenly support the company that's taking him away from said fanbase as a fulltime worker.

In terms of how independents act with one another, the Ring of Honor-CZW program of last year ought to be required viewing for each and every wrestling promoter. It showed what can happen when promotions (whose promoters probably don't trade Christmas and Hanukkah cards) work together, and don't work against one another, playing games with talent. It showed that two businessmen, even on a smaller scale, learned a lesson...one that TNA ought to learn.

3) The "ROHbot" comments.

Well, let's see...to some ROH fans, I'm a CZW bloodmark, especially during the ROH-CZW program.

When I defended WWE against the despicable actions of the Parents Television Council, some thought I was on WWE's payroll.

When I questioned why XPW was allowed to get away with promoting without a license, I was on the payroll of CZW.

As for CZW, there are some CZW fans that seem to think I hate CZW because I want them to promote their product more aggressively.

The truth is with all those sterotypes... like 99.9% of stereotypes, they're all wrong.

4) The last one...that I was speculating about Samoa Joe.

Well, for those who think I'm just speculating...

Dave Meltzer reported in this week's Wrestling Observer, that TNA made the decision to pull Joe from Ring of Honor several weeks ago, and had initially talked about keeping it quiet until his last date. Hmmmm...wonder why?

The reasoning Meltzer reported for the move is that TNA didn't want Joe doing programs in ROH or angles they weren't in control of. So much for the comments that have been made by various parties over the last years suggesting that TNA wasn't trying to control Ring of Honor booking.

One of the e-mails I mentioned above from the last few days (several e-mails from this person, actually) was from a person involved with TNA. The e-mail flat out stated that Samoa Joe won't be the only TNA talent pulled from Ring of Honor as a fulltime worker. If that's true, that would mean goodbye to Ring Of Honor's Heavyweight Champion, Homicide... to current Ring Of Honor Tag Team Champion Christopher Daniels...and to Austin Aries.

Dave Meltzer reported this week that Ring of Honor would be "allowed to use" Homicide, Daniels, and Aries. Given the e-mail I received, though, the question in my mind and of any reasonable person would be how long they'll be "allowed" to wotk for Ring of Honor.

So much for speculation.

For those who suggested on one message board that I'm on "another crusade", I'll say it again: I believe that being a wrestling fan doesn't just mean you sit on your ass in front of your TV or computer...or in the stands at a show. It means that you raise hell when people screw with your favorite form of entertainment.

Think of it this way: If you get a crappy burger, you complain about it to the manager of the burger stand, don't you? If your car doesn't work, you go to the car dealer and demand it be fixed, right? If your computer or cable service is screwed up, you raise a stink, don't you? Of course you do, and so do I.

Accordingly, If you're a Ring of Honor fan, don't limit yourself into namecalling contests on message boards about TNA. That reinforces the stereotypical notion of all too many wrestling promoters (all the way up to the good folks up in Stamford) that you and I are no more than brainless marks.

Ring of Honor fans should act like a good consumer would, instead....by hitting them in their pocket book.

If you're a Ring of Honor fan, TNA is telling you they're going to pull talent from ROH so they can work TNA shows and (notably) independent shows that TNA is going to book them on, either sooner or later. In other words, they're taking away your opportunity to see talent so they can make money off of that talent themselves.

So let me say it again, as a Ring of Honor fan... and as a consumer, ask why you should spend your money on Russorific TNA PPVs. Ask yourself why you should spend two hours of your time watching their prime-time special. Ask why you should spend an hour of your week watching their regular TV show.

If you feel that TNA is acting in a manner contrary to what you want them to do...just like any other company...with any other product... let TNA know that you'll no longer be spending the money you used to spend on TNA products; and will now be spending that money on Ring of Honor DVDs, live shows, and other revenue sources for that company; and may well decide to even give up watching their free TV program on Spike TV...starting with their much-ballyhooed two hour special against the Westminster Dog Show.

To contact parties concerned:

Contact TNA to express your thoughts on this matter at http://www.tnawrestling.com/contact/index.html. Make clear to them that you will also be contacting Spike TV and Universal Studios.

* Debra Fazio/Spike TV - 212-767-8649 debra.fazio@spiketv.com

* Salil Gulati/Spike TV - 212-767-8705 salil.gulati@spiketv.com

* Steven Godfrey/TNA Wrestling - 615-244-5557 sgodfrey@tnawrestling.com

Point out to them, as has been said before, that NWA-TNA needs Ring Of Honor's fan base to survive. and that those online and smart mark fans that have kept them alive until they were supported by their current backers. Without that fan base, they might well not survive.

You can also contact NWA-TNA via snail mail at TNA Wrestling, 209 10th Avenue South - Suite 302 Nashville, TN 37203.

If you use the snail mail method, send TNA copies of your recent cable bills that show you are now ordering their PPVs. Remind them that they will be losing a customer starting with their February 11 PPV.

Samoa Joe will be at two further Ring of Honor shows in the United States, in Manhattan on February 16 and Philadelphia on February 17. Let him and others know what you think of what TNA is doing in whatever way you deem appropriate...and by buying tickets to these two Ring of Honor shows. Perhaps that would mean, if you have a limited budget, that you'd choose to go to the Ring of Honor shows instead of buying the February 11 TNA PPV. If you have to make that choice, let TNA know you are.

The fact that I've gotten contacted by 2 people within TNA over the last few days, suggests that I'm not just some loudmouthed mark who happens to have a website. Someone's contacting them, and evidently they don't like the heat. If you're moved to respond, act in support of a company you say you support, put your money where your mouth is, and tell a company that's made a business decision that you in turn have made a business decision of sorts; and you'll no longer support them as long as they continue with the "business decision" they've made.

Until next time...

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