Between The Ropes | Justin Credible – July 22, 2013

justin_credibleJustin Credible talks about how tough the past few years have been for him, his addiction to drugs and his recovery, how healthy he is now, what he thinks his reputation is, getting back his passion for the wrestling business, his YouTube video series “Pro Wrestling 101″, how Colt Cabana has influenced him, independents these days and how tough they are, the current TNA product, being around Triple H in his early days in the business, what he likes in wrestling right now and more.

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Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast – July 22, 2013

Brian and Steve talk about the current cuts in TNA Wrestling including both Bruce Pritchard and D’Lo Brown being let go, the current position of TNA, the issues with the house show over the weekend, a preview of tonight’s edition of WWE Raw, talk of Steve Austin returning at WrestleMania 30, the role of WrestleMania for the company and more.

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TNA Knockout Tara Released From Company

TaraTNA Wrestling is continuing its latest round of cost-cutting as Knockout Tara was given her release today.  Here is the official statement from ImpactWrestling.com:

IMPACT Wrestling has released Tara. We thank Tara for all her contributions and wish her the best of success in the future.

While she is now 42 years old Tara (Lisa Marie Varon) was still a very good in-ring performer for the company.  However, she was not wrestling that often in the last few months and her role had been downsized which led to the decision to release her.

It will be interested to see what her future in wrestling holds and if she would return to the WWE, work independents or simply not wrestle anymore after a very good, long career.

She does own The Squared Circle restaurant in Chicago and frequently has various wrestlers dropping by.

TNA News: Taz Re-Signs with the Company

With all of the news of cuts and late payments with TNA Wrestling comes news that Taz has re-signed with the company.  He confirmed the news today on his Twitter account.

This comes on the heels that Taz could be leaving the company and returning to the WWE once his contract had expired.  Instead, he will remain as an announcer with TNA.

TNA News: Company Reportedly Behind on Paying Workers

On the heels of the cuts made today in TNA Wrestling comes a report that the company is also behind on paying some of its workers.

Jason Powell of ProWrestling.net is reporting that TNA talent is behind in pay at least a month.  This is not just with mid or lower level talent as Powell has heard that one former TNA Champion has told co-workers that he is six weeks behind on payment.

This is not a problem with everyone on the roster and is affecting some of the talent.  However, this is not the first time that we have heard rumblings of this occurring with TNA.

However, talent is not alone with late payments as Between The Ropes had spoken with people within the company that this is also happening to several members of the behind the scenes staff with TNA as well.

While this has happened in the past, it paints a bit of a troubling picture within TNA while the cost-cutting measures taking place earlier in the day.

TNA Makes Cuts to Talent Roster and Office Staff

Word began leaking out earlier today that TNA was making cuts to its talent roster.  Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com had the news that TNA was releasing several wrestlers in a cost cutting measure.

Christian York, Crimson and Joey Ryan were given their release while Taeler Hendrix, the only female winner of the TNA Gut Check, confirmed on Twitter that she is no longer with the company and asked for her release.

Joey Ryan also confirmed his departure from the company on his Twitter account.

 

Madison Rayne has also confirmed on Twitter that her contract has expired and she is no longer with TNA. That is not surprising because she is pregnant and hopes to return to the company when she can.

 

Between The Ropes has also learned that William Goertel, who worked behind the scenes handling graphics for the video department, was also released from the company.  He was let go last week on the same day as executive producer Kevin Sullivan who has been replaced by former WWE producer John Gaburick.

Several weeks ago, TNA parting ways with long time marketing director Michael Weber who held that position with the company since 2008.

TNA Hires Former WWE Production Executive John Gaburick

Former WWE Vice President of Television Production has been hired by TNA Wrestling to oversee their television.  Gaburick parted ways with the WWE earlier this year after working with the company for 13 years.

Many fans know his best as “Big” John Gaburick from his appearances on the original Tough Enough reality series on MTV.

Here is the press release that TNA sent out:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

JOHN GABURICK NAMED EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT TELEVISION PRODUCTION TNA ENTERTAINMENT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 27, 2013) – John Gaburick has been named Executive Vice President of Television Production for TNA Entertainment effective immediately. Gaburick is an accomplished production executive who joins TNA from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) where he served as Vice President of Television Production. The announcement was made today by President Dixie Carter, to whom he will report.  In his new role, Gaburick will oversee management and production of TNA Entertainment television including LIVE IMPACT Wrestling, marketing and advertising production, special projects and digital assets.

“As TNA evolves, John’s award-winning creative vision and production expertise coupled with his sports and entertainment industry business savvy make him the perfect person to push us in new directions,” said Carter. “He is a gifted and innovative storyteller, and we are thrilled to have him on board.”

“I’ve always admired Dixie Carter and TNA as a uniquely dynamic and growing organization,” said Gaburick. “This opportunity marks an exciting new challenge for me, and I am honored to join the team.”

Prior to joining TNA Entertainment, Gaburick spent the past 13 years in production at WWE. While there, he was awarded the PROMAX/BDA Brandbuilder of the Year Award and guided all image and brand-building media campaigns, as well as network documentary programming. Additionally, he spent 10 years as Operations Manager for National Business Archives in Jessup, Maryland. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Towson University in Towson, Maryland and is a proud member of The Towson University Athletic Hall of Fame. He will be relocating to Nashville with his wife and two young children.

Between The Ropes | Jason Powell – June 25, 2013

prowrestlingnetBrian talks with Jason Powell of ProWrestling.net about a ton of stuff including the youth movement in the WWE, if this will be a growing trend there, what guys TNA could have possibly had, using The Shield going forward, the Daniel Bryan storyline as we as plenty of non-wrestling stuff including the NHL playoffs and his Bruins losing to Brian’s Blackhawks, the upcoming Anchorman movie, the skywalk and their favorite TV shows.

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Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast Talking WWE Raw, Daniel Bryan – June 5, 2013

btrlogoBrian and Steve talks about the Rampage Jackson conference call and thoughts of him getting in the ring for TNA Wrestling, Raw from Monday night including the awesomeness of Daniel Bryan and his future there, Triple H vs. the McMahons, John Cena against Curtis Axel, the Payback PPV coming up in less than two weeks, show ratings and much more.

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Rampage Jackson Conference Call – June 5, 2013

rampage-jacksonQuinton “Rampage” Jackson talks to the media about his partnership with Spike TV, Bellator and TNA Wrestling, why he is so excited about this new deal, leaving the UFC and why this will be different and better for him, when he will be able to fight next, if he likes the tournament style in Bellator, being a wrestling fan growing up, actually getting in the ring and wrestling for TNA, his goals in fighting now, how much longer he would like to fight for, upcoming movie roles and more.  Also on the conference call are Bjorn Rebney of Bellator and TNA Wrestling President Dixie Carter.

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Between The Ropes MMA Podcast – June 4, 2013

rampagebellatorBrian and Steve discuss ‘Rampage’ Jackson signing with Bellator and TNA Wrestling, what kind of an impact he could have for both companies, whether or not he will be wrestling and what his role could be for TNA, what he has left as a fighter, Bellator switching to Wednesday nights on Spike TV, MMA contracts and more.

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Report: Todd Keneley Dropped from TNA Broadcast Team

toddkeneleyTNA is making a change to its broadcast team with Todd Keneley being removed from the three man booth according to Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com.

According to the report, Keneley was told of the news at this past Sunday’s TNA Slammiversary pay-per-view which was his last assignment with the company.

Keneley joined the company in October of 2012 with the decision to make expand the announcer booth and have him join Mike Tenay and Taz.

Impact Wrestling will now revert back to the two-man booth of Tenay and Taz.  Keneley could be invited back to the company for future projects.

‘Rampage’ Jackson Signs Deal with Bellator, TNA

rampage-jacksonBellator MMA along with TNA Wrestling announced today that Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson has signed a “multi-year, monumental partnership” that includes both MMA and pro wrestling.

As part of the deal, Jackson will also star in a reality TV show on Spike TV leading up to his MMA debut for Bellator.

“Rampage is a true superstar both inside and outside the MMA cage” Bellator CEO & Chairman Bjorn Rebney said. “The partnership that we’ve created with Quinton is unlike anything that’s ever been done in the sports & entertainment arena and Rampage is the perfect athlete/entertainer to carry it off.”

This deal is similar to one that Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal signed with the companies involved last year.  More details on this deal will be announced during a press conference on Wednesday in Los Angeles followed by a conference call with media.

“Rampage is one of the best known MMA fighters competing today,” said TNA President Dixie Carter. “He is a true cross-over star and his talent, big personality and popularity among a wide range of fans make him an extraordinary fit for our company.”

Jackson (32-11), a former UFC light heavyweight champion and Pride champion, left the UFC earlier this year following loses to Jon Jones, Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira.  At that point, his relationship with the UFC and President Dana White had gone south to the point where both parties decided a split was necessary.

Spike TV is hoping that Jackson and his personality will help provide a ratings boost to both Bellator and TNA Wrestling.  It is not known yet what role Jackson will have with the wrestling company.

“We are thrilled to create this opportunity for one of the greatest athletes and personalities in MMA,” said Kevin Kay, Spike TV President. “Rampage is a proven ratings driver who brings incredible star power to both Bellator and TNA.”

Kurt Angle is Great But Could Have Been Greater

On Sunday night at the TNA Slammiversary pay-per-view, Kurt Angle was introduced as the second inductee to the TNA Hall of Fame.  There’s no doubt that Angle deserves the honor and is,  quite honestly, one of the all-time greatest in-ring performers in the history of professional wrestling.

But I couldn’t help thinking about something when it comes to his career: how much greater would it be if he never left the WWE?

While Angle signed with the WWE in October 1998, he didn’t make his official debut until November 14, 1999 when he defeated Shawn Stasiak at the Survivor Series PPV.  He left the company on August 25, 2006 after working out his release.  So, his time there was roughly 6 years and 9 months, filled with great memories of him having matches against the likes of Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Steve Austin and even Shane McMahon among many others.

Several weeks after his time with WWE, he signed on with TNA and made his debut on October 9, 2006 when he confronted Samoa Joe in the middle of the ring on Impact.  So, Angle has now been with the company for 6 years and 8 months.

That’s right – Kurt Angle has almost been with TNA for as long as his entire career with WWE.

I still remember being in the Impact Zone at the No Surrender PPV back in 2006 when everyone was waiting for the big announcement TNA was going to make.  This one was sealed up tight with only a handful of people in on what it would be.  (I even knew someone who was in the know and tried every trick I knew all night long to get out of him but he wouldn’t budge.)

Right before the show went off the air, the video played showing that the former WWE World Champion had jumped ship, making him the biggest signing in TNA history at the time.

The building exploded.  The online wrestling community went berserk.

TNA got a bonafide blue chipper even though he was already beaten and battered, going through the grind of the WWE for the past six years and was physically and emotionally beaten down.

Who cares because he was Kurt Angle, one of the biggest stars in all of wrestling at the time as he was leaving the big pond to make a splash in TNA.

How big has that splash been though?  Sure, he’s been a big deal in TNA.  He’s had plenty of very good matches in the company especially with AJ Styles.

But how many great matches can you point out at a moments notice?  How many memorable moments had he truly has with TNA?

Of course, his debut was fantastic, confronting Samoa Joe and giving him a head butt right between the eyes.

And their match at the 2006 Lockdown PPV was incredible with them meshing an amazing mixture of wrestling and MMA moves in a match that some thought may bring about a stylistic  change to wrestling.

In TNA, Angle has been very good but not overly memorable.  And it’s not because he isn’t good because he has been.  Part of that is because the company hasn’t blown up since his arrival or anyone else’s for that matter.

It seems like every week the company does the same rating as it always does or in the same ballpark.  Some shows are fine, some are not but nothing that really sticks out in the long run.

And Angle has been caught up in this.  He’s in TNA and they’re the #2 wrestling company.  There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s just a fact.

But with WWE – the #1 wrestling company in the world – Angle was a big deal.

A really big deal.

He has classic matches like at WrestleMania 21 – a beautiful symphony of wrestling – of WrestleMania 19 where he and Brock Lesnar almost killed themselves in an incredible athletic display.  And there’s others.

Most wrestling fans ever remember the funny Kurt Angle on television and his back and forth with Edge and Christian, Commissioner Mick Foley and even wearing a cowboy hat in conversations with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.  And there are plenty more moments.

Moments that easily come to mind, all from his WWE days.  Mind you, that was at the beginning and peak of his career (which came about very quickly) and was on wrestling biggest stage in the WWE.  So, yes, there is an advantage there.

But with TNA, you don’t have that many specific moments that stand out involving Angle.  Some of that is because it is TNA, a smaller stage than WWE.  Some of that is because Angle – while still very good – has been past his prime and really beaten up.  That’s fair.  You can also make the argument that TNA hasn’t done a good enough job of creating those type of moments for Angle.

Which leads me back to the original question: what if Kurt Angle had never left the WWE?  What if he was just given a break and allowed to freshen the batteries and continue to be a part of the machine?

Like I said, no one disputes how good, even great, Angle has been during his career.  But he would be even greater if he had never left WWE.  There would be more discussion of him being one of the greatest of all-time, a sure-fire WWE Hall of Famer.

He would be on a different level, one of the elite in the pantheon of wrestling greats.

It just wasn’t meant to be.

TNA News: Impact Wrestling Moving Timeslot on Spike TV

Impact Wrestling is once again moving timeslots on Spike TV with TNA President Dixie Carter making the announcement on Twitter.

 

It was just over a year ago when Impact moved up to the 8:00p start time.  But since then, the first hour of the show has struggled in the ratings.

Part of the move up to the earlier time slot was to create a four-hour block between Impact Wrestling and Bellator Fighting Championships.  But the move can be made now with Bellator not running every week until at least the fall.

There is no word on if Bellator is being moved to a different night although that would seem likely with Impact Wrestling going back to the 9:00-11:00p ET time slot.

TNA President Dixie Carter Talks Plans for 2013

Recently, TNA President Dixie Carter sat down with Jeremy Borash to discuss where the company is right now and the plans for the upcoming year.

 

 

In the first video, Carter that 2012 was a big year going live with the ‘Impact’ television show and that the locker room is working well together and she is happy with the leadership there right now.  This has been a problem in the past with talent not confident in the direction of the company and upset with the creative direction.

 

She goes on to say that 2013 “will be the tipping point for this company where we really take it to another level”.  As for what that next level is remains to be seen.  TNA would like to go on the road more often with the remaining three pay-per-views this year all being outside of Orlando.  There is a thought that they would like to take ‘Impact’ on the road as well but that would be a costly endeavor.

 

Carter also discusses the X Division and says there will be a greater emphasis on it in the coming year and that injuries have been a problem lately for the division and its growth.

 

In the second part of the interview, Carter addresses about the Knockouts division and says there are big plans in the works there.  As for the division itself, she says that the women should be portrayed in a certain way and not be gratuitous.  That is an interesting comment because in the past with a different creative head (Vince Russo), this was not the case and the argument could be made of how poorly the women of TNA were treated creatively.

 

Speaking of the creative direction, Carter says that the company has never been as good creatively as it is right now and that anyone who stopped watching should come back.  She goes on to talk about the upcoming year and hopes to have more programming in the United States.

 

That is all well and good and I hope TNA can improve and stay around for a long time to come.  But I do have skepticism, especially when it comes to the creative direction of the company.  I think that has improved but I want to see more.  The biggest thing that TNA has to do is make stars, bigger than life figures that stand out and are important to the viewer.  They have plenty of talented performers but no one person stands out as being must-see or special above the others.