A rich and famous wrestling promoter once said that “controversy creates cash.” The idea was simple – if you’re able to generate discussion about your product, even if it’s edgy (or, ‘controversial’) the extra eyes on your product alone will create more revenue. Any publicity is good publicity.
While that’s not necessarily the best way to approach a business, there’s some merit in the idea. You give up a little credibility along the way. You might alienate a few fans, sure. The backlash is inevitable. However, your product reaches more people by simply resting on the lips of those willing to engage in the discussion.
This past week on the Between The Ropes flagship show, I threw down the gauntlet and proclaimed that TNA should hurry up and go out of business.
Was this a “controversy creates cash” moment? Maybe.
I personally find the internet wrestling community exhausting. I’ve said as much. Numerous times. It’s frustrating when our Smackdown spoilers do monster clicks here at Between the Ropes, while good old fashion journalism pieces (things that requires an authentic viewpoint and creative writing) go relatively unnoticed. It pains me that a headline like “CM Punk States He is Retired from WWE” (something we can post with almost zero accountability) generates huge traffic, even though it was untrue. Why are you feeding that monster? Think about all the hours you’ve spent reading about CM Punk since January 27th. Now, think about all the hours he’s spent in the ring, actively entertaining since then. Notice any disparity?
TNA is the exact same. It occupies an extraordinary amount of my time and energy, my blood sweat and tears as a wrestling fan. We rarely praise anything the company does. But we have to talk about it because there are TNA “fans” out there. We have to discuss the ins-and-outs of Dixie Carter’s crapshoot business acumen just because “fans” (i.e. those of you who only watch to make fun of the company/sound off about how terrible it is) will click on those reports. And I’m tired of it. I’m sick of the TNA death watch. Hurry up and go.
There are some real, hardcore, honest-to-God TNA proponents who genuinely want to see the company get better. I used to be one myself. And there are people who sacrifice for the company – wrestlers, creatives, and road crews who make their living putting together Impact Wrestling every week. I have no ill-will against these people, nor do I wish to see them in the unemployment line.
But right now, TNA is the daily newspaper of the wrestling industry. They exist only because they’ve existed for so long. Fans are either content with WWE, or they’ve moved on to Ring of Honor. TNA fills a niche that nobody has asked for. The company fails to innovate, fails to excite, yet still manages to keep a weekly tv spot.
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I know it’s easy for me to sit behind a keyboard, type my bold words, and throw stones at TNA from a distance. And so please understand that, my whole reason for wanting TNA gone is that I don’t have to do it anymore. I don’t enjoy criticizing just to be mean. I want to be part of the solution, not the angry mob.
The entire wrestling industry is at a crucial juncture. WWE is going out on a new media limb with mixed results. Ring of Honor continues to build something unique while reveling in obscurity. Ratings are down, and fans seem happy about it.
So where do we go from here?
It’s time to bid TNA adieu. Let the company die already. Then, as a wrestling community, we start engaging in the right kinds of discussions – discussions such as how can we help get the word out about Ring of Honor? We need to recognize when WWE does something right, like with NXT Takeover, and support the company for such great efforts instead of waiting to tear it apart again just because John Cena defeated Bray Wyatt.
I also think it’s time that professional wrestling fans embrace their own opinions. Just like I own my comments about TNA (and whatever backlash that ensues), fans need to understand how their words affect other people. Don’t just tell me I’m wrong. Don’t resort to name calling, or childish insults like “go play with your John Cena dolls” (a real YouTube comment). Actually break down your rationale, and maybe I’ll respect you for it.
The thing is, I’m always willing to ‘talk shop.’ I put my opinion out there, along with my name and Twitter account, and encourage that one-on-one or group discussion. Sometimes the results are fantastic. Others, my newsfeed breaks down into an argument about what Dave Meltzer said about Adam Rose, and how one of them turned water into wine.
I’ll stir the pot and create controversy, but not for cash. I do it because, at the end of the day, I’m a professional wrestling fan, and I simply want what is best for business. As we all should.