AS I SEE IT 2/19: TNA: It's Russo-rific...

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

So let's see...

The TNA cage dancers are back. Angles humiliating woman characters are back. The "Paparazzi Championship Series" and goofy characters are back.

Yup...TNA is now officially Russo-rific.

Wonder when we see the midget pleasuring himself in a garbage can?

By the way, with all the e-mails complaining that TNA is "protecting itself" and the related argument that we're "just marks who don't better", let's get a few things straight. There's an old line in politics (and any other debate, for that matter) that says if you allow the other side to define the terms of've already lost the debate.

TNA and its fans are making two assumptions:

1) Samoa Joe and other wrestlers are "their wrestlers" and TNA is "protecting itself".

TNA is not a full-time touring company. Ring of Honor isn't either, but they've run shows in far more cities than TNA has. So a safe assumption is to treat both like independent companies. The wrestlers are inherently no one's wrestlers.

2) TNA's paycheck gives TNA the right to restrict their bookings.

As far as someone suggesting that TNA has any right to compensate its workers adequately being a reason for allowing TNA to restrict dates its workers take, maybe they should ask Ron Killings, who blew his patella tendon at a booking TNA made for him. TNA will help....well, actually they'll front the cost for his operation...and will, according to last week's Wrestling taking the money out of his paychecks.

Or they can ask Konnan, who needs a kidney transplant. It took Georgianne Makropoulos and Anthony DiBlasi to raise $8,000 toward the cost of his transplant...not Panda Energy and not TNA. Neither Panda Energy or TNA made any offer that is known to help with the costs of his transplant.

Funny, but I seem to remember TNA bragging about being "the first promotion to provide its wrestlers with health insurance". It must be a REALLY great plan. Even my employer's plan does better than that.

So much for these people being independent contractors treated as employees...who might well have had these medical issues taken care of (at least in part) by insurance offered by their employer, or directly through their employer. Or even being treated like a national touring company with full-time independent contractors (that are being treated as employees) WWE does. Dr. James Andrews doesn't come cheap, folks.

So Killings and Konnan are apparently expected to have the responsibilies of independent contractors in taking care of their own health care independent contractors. Therefore, they should be allowed to have the benefit of selling their services anywhere not directly conflicting with a TNA PPV or taping independent contractors.

TNA runs two to three shows per month, same as some independent companies. They are not a national touring company with full-time independent contractors (that are being treated as employees) like WWE does. It's been estimated in the past that as much as 50-60% of TNA's live crowds are comped in. In short, without PPV and an investor that had heavily supported them over the last several years, TNA is no different than a hundred other independent promotions, even though it's now trying to act like a 900 pound gorilla... when in reality, it's just one more monkey.

For someone to suggest that TNA should have any right to restrict their wrestlers from taking bookings with other independent promotions that do not DIRECTLY conflict with their own PPV shows, failing to compensate them for any sort of restriction...and that the very people that are buying NWA-TNA PPVs should just be sheep and take whatever they get...sorry, but I don't buy it for a minute.

2) We're just fans and have no right to comment.

I'll say it now, as I have a million times before, the old-time carny mentalty doesn't work anymore. Wrestling fans are customers/consumers of a product. Despite the traditional carny mindset, fans offering our opinion on wrestling and making a business decision about which wrestling we will view and pay to view is no different than if we were buying a car, attending a movie, or going out to eat.

Would you tell a Philadelphia Inquirer restaurant reviewer that they have to be a winner of the Bocuse d'Or, or a New York Times reviewer that they have to own a restaurant rated among the top in Zagat's? Would you tell a Hollywood Reporter columnist that they have to have be an Academy Award director to offer an opinion on a movie? Would you tell a Consumer Reports reviewer that they have to be a line worker at General Motors to comment about cars?

For that matter, would you try to tell any other typical consumer of any other product that they can't spread the word about a good or bad company with whom they've done business? Any business school would tell you that word-of-mouth is the best advertising for any product or service.

Would you say that they shouldn't write to those concerning a product or service with which they're dissatisfied?

The answer to all the above is: of course not.... and the argument is as specious as when it's made about wrestling fans, newsletter/online writers, and their opinions. No fan with a brain considers themselves the equal of those who've been in the business (and yes, I know there are those fans that do).

But fans DO have the right from the perspective of those who ARE the "fans in the seats" to offer opinions about the product that they pay money to see. Wrestling promoters, just as much as any other business(wo)men, need to listen to their customers. When they don't, they pay the price. Just ask anyone from WCW.

As far as being the "number two major promotion", last Monday couldn't have given TNA much hope that they were moving in that direction; after TNA's much ballyhooed "This is TNA" Monday night special drew a disappointing 1.18 rating/1.5 million viewers. The number of viewers for the special, which ran unopposed in the traditional Monday Night RAW slot, had actually LESS viewers than the regular episode of Impact drew a week ago last Thursday.

By the way, if any of you think what TNA's doing is limited to Samoa Joe, it wasn't any coincidence that Homicide lost the Ring of Honor belt this past Saturday night to Takeshi Morishima. Gabe Sapolsky's being left with little choice but to get titles off of Homicide, Austin Aries, and Christopher anticipation for the next wrestler being pulled by TNA.

Now...your thoughts.

From Lonnie Walker:

"I think I'll agree with some of what you're saying.

TNA isn't necessarily a full time wrestling business as they don't tape 4 or more times a month. If the wrestlers aren't making enough to live on from them, they should be able to work for another promotion just to make ends meet and to keep their skills sharp. 3 hours a month doesn't necessarily keep wrestling skills sharp and risks everyone's heath and well being in the mean time. Wrestling isn't like riding a bike. If you don't execute a move correctly, someone gets hurt.

If you were to take the fan bases from TNA, CZW, and ROH, you could have a fairly good fan base maybe not comparable to what the WWE has. Then you could start working to take some of WWE's fan base away. Goes back to the old saying united we stand, divided we fall. I think the 3 of them need to get together and come up with solutions. It may mean that one organization has to take sole ownership of the talent and take a small portion of what the wrestlers make for appearances on other programs to make it work for each of them but they should at least have discussions. That cross talent utilization could probably help out their profits by exposing other fan
bases to their product.

I think the other TNA fans that are criticizing you should face the facts.

TNA isn't exactly a competitor right now and I can tell them why. Most fans love the option of going to their local facilities to watch wrestling live or at least have the chance once a year or so. Right now in TNA they can't do that. In order to see a TNA event live, they have to go to Orlando to see them. The WWE on the other hand is more of a International company. Once a year I can go to the Expo Center here in Abilene, TX and watch it live and get a chance to meet their talent. Fan access drives fan loyalty.

I'm retired from the Armed Forces. WWE has been doing stuff for the troops for a very long time. Back in 1986, the WWE broadcasted their pay per views to Okinawa Japan where I was stationed at. WCW didn't even allow us to watch their product through the Armed Forces Network but instead allowed the local TV stations to broadcast it while the Japanese commentators dubbed over the top of it. Although, I don't always agree on what they're doing, I overlook that because for 10 years while I was in overseas locations, I was able to see WWE programming. I'm sure Vince didn't get his billions from giving his pay per views to the Armed Forces Network....he probably got some
money but I don't think it was all that.

So as a result, I'm a die hard WWE fan. Even today the WWE has gone the distance in supporting the troops as far as giving them his pay per views and visiting Afghanistan and Iraq to perform live for them. Think of it, the WWE stars are willing to put themselves in harm's way to entertain the troops in areas of the world that are the most dangerous. That's the stuff that keeps the WWE with a loyal fan base."

That's the difference between a professional wrestling company and an independent promotion.

From William Hatfield:

"I just wanted to confirm that the TNA media interviews having to be cleared is indeed true and has been in effect for a few months. I actually started a little online radio show, but I ended up not being able to do it to the level I wanted to because of TNA. While I won't go into specifics, aside from Cassidy O'Reilly telling me I needed to call a certain individual at TNA who then told me I couldn't air my prerecorded interviews.

I will say that any dealings I've had with TNA have made me not want to support their product and also made me realize how minor league and inept at promotion and marketing their 'company' truly is. I'm not just speaking as a fan, I'm also the marketing director for a very large surveying firm in Florida, so I know what I'm talking about.

This is what I think about all of it regarding TNA and their not allowing wrestlers to do media interviews or work the shows of other companies; TNA will tell you they are trying to protect the individual wrestler or they are trying to protect their investment, I believe that to be totally false, what I believe is that TNA does not want to be outdone and outclassed by companies or individuals with far less resources than them.

For example, why would I pay PPV money to see 'Austin Starr' look and act ridiculous, when I could order a DVD and see Austin Aries tear the house down? and furthermore, why would I visit their horrible (which is easily one of the worst wrestling sites I've ever been to) to read generic Apter Magesque interviews when I could hear an actual good interview with 'their' talent on another website. They know they don't have the ability to do what they say they can do, so instead of trying to improve themselves, they want to mask as much of it as possible.

One last point, I was never a member of their streetteam, but I saw how hard their street team worked, even at other Florida indie shows, passing out flyers, etc. etc. and to see how TNA just kind of threw those people away, well, to be honest, it made me sick to my stomach. TNA is not the fan embracing love machine they want you to think they are, they are just as backstabbing and manipulative as Vince McMahon ever thought about being.

Here's something to think about, they say they would fine a wrestler one PPV payoff, and I would fully expect that to hold true say for someone like Shark Boy or Andy Douglas, but do you think for one single second that they would fine Kurt Angle a PPV payoff for an unauthorized media interview? Me neither. A stone house built on a foundation of sand will always fall. Eventually Panda Energy will tire of losing money, and TNA will join it's rightful place at the side of WCW as another company that knew more about what their fans wanted than the fans themselves did."

I can also tell readers about this nonsense, after seeing TNA attempt to restrict an interview done by a regular poster on my website. According to Alan Wojcik, TNA wanted him to pull a totally puff piece interview with Terry Taylor. I sent TNA's media person Steven Godfrey an e-mail reminding them how much free press he'd given TNA. Godfrey responded by saying he "told him to keep up the interview". Wojcik had a different recollection of the situation.

If that's not enough, TNA wanted Wojcik to cut down on the detailed spoilers Wojcik has done for some time. He was told by the TNA representative that he is "too good at [his] job".

Am I the only person who is beginning to wonder if TNA is operating from in "Alice in Wonderland"... rather than Orlando?

Since TNA hasn't responded to your fans as of yet...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.

It sounds like at least SOME people already gave up watching theirmuch-ballyhooed two hour Spike TV special given the 1.18 rating/1.5 million viewers. If that's not enough, The Wrestling Observer reported that last Thursday edition of TNA iMPACT! drew 0.6 cable rating. This ties TNA's lowest ratings for iMPACT! dating back to November 2005 and April 2006. Many regular TNA viewers were obviously watching RAW

To contact parties concerned:

Contact TNA to express your thoughts on this matter at Make clear to them that you will also be contacting Spike TV and Universal Studios.

Contact Spike TV at their feedback site at

* Debra Fazio/Spike TV - 212-767-8649

* Salil Gulati/Spike TV - 212-767-8705

* Steven Godfrey/TNA Wrestling - 615-244-5557

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 final Ring of Honor shows in the United States, Dayton, OH on February 23 and Chicago, IL on February 24. 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 a future TNA PPV. If you have to make that choice, let TNA know you are making that choice.

The fact that I've gotten contacted by 3 people within TNA over the last few weeks, 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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