I’ll cut to the chase. Last night’s much-talked about final segment on TNA Impact was one of the worst I’ve seen on any televised wrestling program ever.
Sad. Pathetic. Desperate. Absurd. All of those words could be used to describe TNA’s latest last ditch effort to turn around its sinking fortunes by promoting yet another ECW Reunion. It’s just difficult to fathom that TNA President Dixie Carter could think that the collection of washed up former WWE mid carders who occupied the ring last night could “change TNA forever” as she promised more than a month ago.
When Carter first announced that she had such a monumental surprise up her sleeve, fans and writers speculated that it could be anything from a booking change, to the addition of Jim Ross or Paul Heyman, to taking Impact on the road. Carter shot down all guesses and said the real surprise would top them all.
Really? That Carter could be that delusional tells you all you need to know about the problems plaguing TNA, and why it’s nearly inevitable that it will someday suffer a fate similar to WCW – perhaps some day sooner than you might think.
There’s just so, so much wrong with this angle. For one, not only is ECW passé in 2010, ECW reunions are passé as well. Countless independent promoters have done them time and again, as did WWE in its two original One Night Stand pay per views. (The original ECW One Night Stand was suitable final chapter for the original promotion.) The fact is that today’s wrestling fan is just not that interested in watching an out of shape Tommy Dreamer beat an equally out of shape Sabu with a Singapore cane in 2010.
ECW was revolutionary back in the mid 1990s because it came during a time when both national wrestling promotions were offering watered down, cartoonish entertainment to wrestling fans who hungered for something different. In 2010, so-called hardcore wrestling is just as tired, if not more so, than the brand of wrestling it was supposed to be an alternative to 15 years ago. If Dixie Carter wants to capture the same excitement that Paul Heyman did then, she needs to similarly revolutionize the sport - not go back to the same bag of tricks.
What’s more, although it’s been romanticized over the years, the reality is that, in its best days, ECW was no more than a small blip on the radar of mainstream wrestling fans – most of whom have never heard of The Eliminators or 911, and primarily know Dreamer as a WWE jobber. ECW simply does not have the fan base to significantly improve TNA’s fortunes, although it is true that TNA’s pay per view buy rates are so low that it wouldn’t take much to bump them a few percentage points.
It was just laughable to hear Tommy Dreamer, through his ridiculous crocodile tears, talk about how TNA is so much like the original ECW. He went as far as to say that, just like in ECW, TNA is where young wrestlers go to become legends.
So exactly how many “legends” has TNA created? I’ll give them AJ Styles and to a far lesser degree Samoa Joe, who really earned his reputation in Ring of Honor. But aside from that, TNA is, more accurately, where former legends go to collect a pay check when WWE is through with them.
Everytime I think TNA couldn't possibly get any worse, it finds a way to top itself. This latest debacle is especially frustrating because it comes just weeks after I witnessed how good TNA could be at its terrific live show in Brooklyn, and days after it was revealed that AJ Styles was ranked the number one wrestler in the world in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated PWI 500.
What do both achievements have in common? TNA's writers didn't have a hand in them.