With major sports competition on television like Stanford vs. Oregon, Baylor vs. Oklahoma, the Rockets vs. the Lakers, and the Vikings vs. the Redskins, it’s getting tougher each Thursday night for TNA to maintain a steady grip on their Spike TV ratings. Throw in the departure of Eric Bischoff and the Dixie Train has decided to go on a slight re-boot. Emphasis on slight.
Remember two months ago when Viacom was plugging Bellator guys Tito Ortiz & Rampage Jackson by having them on opposite sides of the coin with Aces & 8’s versus the Main Event Mafia? Now that Bischoff’s gone, the group stable thing appears to be going to the way of the do-do bird.
Without much fanfare, the Main Event Mafia got written into extinction. Sting just decided that all the members needed to go their own separate ways after the program with Magnus flopped because it came across as forced and not organic. Remember, it was only a few months ago when the Mafia re-formed because Aces & 8’s couldn’t be stopped. If you had told me that MEM would fold before Aces & 8’s, I wouldn’t have believed it. Well, maybe I would given that it’s TNA, but I still try to apply logic to wrestling booking in 2013.
And before you knew it, TNA was teasing the break-up of Aces & 8’s. Garret Bischoff & Knux teased quitting. Ken Anderson, looking like the goofy mark that he is, was at ringside drawing little heat as a babyface. Then came the irony of all TNA ironies — Taz pretended to quit and got the loudest reaction to any angle that Aces & 8’s has ever been involved in. Taz was getting louder chants than anyone else on the roster. There’s a reason why the TV announcers today draw more heat than 95% of the wrestlers in either TNA or WWE. I’m sure you have a firm grasp as to why this is but the powers-that-be do not. It looked like Aces & 8’s were going to split but it was all a work, cleverly executed, to attack Anderson to promote his match two weeks from now in Orlando against Bully Ray. A wrestling clinic it will not be. Bowling shoe ugly, in the words of Jim Ross. Ray even name dropped Steve Austin, which got the second biggest pop of the night.
One of the big problems TNA has right now with the every-other-week-is-taped format is that they go very angle-heavy on the live shows and save the wrestling matches for the taped shows. There isn’t a lot of balance.
Speaking of imbalance, TNA went all-in heavy this week with focus on the Bobby Roode/Kurt Angle program. Both guys can work and are decent promos, so it’s hard to complain about this… except for the fact that Angle “hurt” himself last week seriously and needed medical attention. It was barely mentioned and brushed aside this week. Austin Aries got put in a submission match against Kurt Angle for the Dixie Carter title tournament. It’ll be a good match but Angle/Roode is the focus right now.
It’s clear that the Jeff Jarrett influence is coming back to TNA programming. Guys screaming “ass” a hundred times in a promo. Better wrestling, more conflict, swerves, but still a lot of yo-yo diet booking with too many guys who don’t deserve TV time getting exposure while those on the roster who can work are marginalized. There is still awful booking on the show like that appletini finish involving Chris Daniels & Joseph Park in which Daniels distracted the horrific Earl Hebner by throwing the timekeeper’s hammer to the floor on the outside.
TNA would be better off at this point simply booking matches, getting out of the way, and become the “action” alternative that is desperately needed to counter-balance WWE’s current creative direction. Going action-first would also help keep the attention of fans who are getting more and more sporting choices on television each week to bail on TNA programming. I’m starting to wonder if a move from Thursday nights to Tuesday nights wouldn’t benefit both TNA & Spike TV at this point. It’s getting difficult to run a wrestling show on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
No matter what day of the week TNA television is on, we now know that everyone is mad at each other and that Dixie Carter will get television exposure by hell or high water. Also, if you steal the company’s title belt and claim that you’re leaving, you’ll still get television time with promos plugging what a worldwide sensation you are. AJ Styles was right — TNA is the place where wrestlers go to for a paid working vacation. He’ll be defending his version of the TNA title against Seiya Sanada on November 16th in Tokyo at Korakuen Hall.