Wednesday, May 16, 2007

AS I SEE IT 5/14: PPV and basic truths

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

There are some basic truths in life.

Wrestlers who use certain methods to get big and strong will have a lot of muscle tears.

Gas prices go up in the summer, regardless of the actual cost to Big Oil.

Teresa Earnhardt is an idiot. (If you're not a NASCAR fan, this won't mean much).

And there will always be wrestling trolls.

But more on them in a minute.

On Saturday night, Ring of Honor began its entry into the world of PPV with its initial PPV taping at the Manhattan Center. Since it was done more like a TV taping than a typical Ring of Honor show, some fans, especially those online, weren't sure what they thought of it. But they were sure what they thought of a certain company that aired a PPV last night. As Homicide came out at the PPV taping to say goodbye to the Ring of Honor fans, they let out with a loud "$#@% TNA" chant.

Wonder what the folks at the Manhattan-based Spike TV were thinking about that...or Homicide's comment to the live Manhattan Center crowd that "Ring of Honor is going to be the number one company in the world... That's right, I said it. I don't give a $#@k."


By the way, anyone have guesses how or if TNA bothers to explain on this week's IMPACT that the NWA withdrew recognition of its champions? Especially since back in those days when they were concerned about wrestling actually being important, that mentioned the heritage of the NWA titles?

Speaking of trolls, I really thought we were all done with these letters after last week. But to borrow a line from my favorite series of movies... in Godfather III: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."

> From Roman Gibson:

"Just who do you think you are? You constantly bad mouth TNA for no reason and sing about ROH. You make fun of people who don’t agree with you. I think you’re a complete idiot. Why don’t you e-mail storyline ideas for TNA? Do you think they’ll hire you as a head writer/booker? Do you think you’re better than Vince Russo or Dutch Mantell? What about Jeff Jarrett or Dusty Rhodes? Or Jerry Jarrett?

Yawn. Nice to see Ole Anderson has a pen name.

What's your point here? 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 (if there are any left in the US) 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.

The answer to all the above is: of course not.... and the argument is just as much nonsense as when it's made about wrestling. No fan with a brain, including me, considers themselves the equal of those who've been in the business. 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.

"What’s on your resume? You probably worked for McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Ardy’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts. You’re probably working for Pizza Hutt now. Wow, that qualifies you as a wrestling expert."

My resume has 25 years of experience in counseling, actually. I did once worked in a Roy Rogers (an old Philadelphia area fast-food chain) back in the 1970's when I was in high school, though... does that count?

"You never even give TNA a chance. What if somebody suggested a boycott of your column? I bet Wrestle View won’t be too happy with the language you use. Do you think you’re cool for using that colorful language.

I DID give them a chance...for years. Until they tried this crap with pulling talent from Ring of Honor the first time with the excuse that it was because of Rob Feinstein. Funny how they backed off then after fans raised hell. Seems as if there's no one with the sense in TNA to know they're pissing off their target audience this go-around. The Manhattan crowd Saturday night certainly let them know what they thought, though.

Oh, and just like last week...the Wrestleview staff has been forwarded some of the more amusing e-mails. Some of their staff find them funny.

"An hour of Impact is better than two hours and five minutes of Raw. Smack Down is where careers go to die. The new ECW sucks. All you do is complain all the time. Go file an application with KFC and shut up, you buffoon."

I agree that the new ECW sucks. I've said it before...than got whined at by WWE marks. But you haven't bothered to read those columns.

"FYI Jay Lethal has a good gimmick going. The Christopher Daniels storyline looks cool so far. Do us a favor and stop your garbage. Show respect to people, fool. You suck. Oh and another thing, nobody forced ROH wrestlers to go to TNA. No, that was their choices, moron.

The real Jay Lethal works well enough for me...and did for the fans in Orlando before someone in TNA creative (isn't that an oxymoron?) had delusions of turning TNA into SNL. By the way...that "Stone Cold" Shark Boy is a real killer gimmick. The DeLa Hoya-Mayweather buyrate is really at risk from the buyrate from last night's TNA Sacrifice.

As for independent, it wasn't their choice. Wrestlers signed these contracts with the understanding that they'd be allowed to work indy dates. it's not just about Ring of Honor anymore. It's about Pro Wrestling Guerrilla now and other indies soon...maybe even your favorite.

That is, if you've ever gone to an indy show...that didn't have TNA STARZ all through it.

"While you’re washing dishes at Applebee’s remember how far TNA has came along since 2002 until now. That’s impressive.

TNA's come a long way? They've come from the Dupps and midgets masturbating in trash cans to Shark Boy pretending to be Stone Cold Steve Austin and Jay Lethal pretending to be Randy Savage.

Losing millions is impressive? Then WCW was the most impressive wrestling promotion in history. Using your criteria, Paul Heyman was a better businessman than Paul Boesch. By the way, you do seem to have an unhealthy obsession with restaurants and my employment. I hear your favorite WCW executive, Jim Herd, was an executive at Pizza Hut. Maybe that's it.

"Also, Vince McMahon is an egotistical jerk. Jim Ross is not the best and Tony Schivone deserved more credit. That stupid Skittle plug that Ross has is not funny. The idiot WWE marks probably think it is. Any way, you don’t know what’s going on. TNA rules, WWE sucks.

Anyone questioning Jim Ross's credentials over the years proves their stupidity. Oh, and he says Tony Schiavone deserved more credit. "Roman Gibson" want to spell Schiavone's name correctly, if he's going to invoke him as a great announcing talent.

Even if he is burying TNA X-Division workers, I hear at least Kevin Nash is INTENTIONALLY funny.

"TNA rules, WWE sucks." (I swear to God I didn't insert this closing line myself, readers)


Someone actually sent me an e-mail posing the possibility that some of these letters were sock puppets for TNA staff who wanted to say things to me behind a fake name. I doubt that...I think. Especially since a TNA on-air personality sent me three under his own address. One other executive sent me fairly reasoned disagreements (from his perspective) under his own name.

Now, for a more sensible letter...from Kenny O'Regan:

"On, there was an article about everything happening in boxing recently. The article focused on how the passion has left boxing, and it has become all about the money.

The same thing is happening with wrestling right now, especially with TNA pulling talent from ROH and other indy shows. I think TNA and WWE, as a whole, have lost sight of the goal of wrestling: entertainment. We watch wrestling because it entertains us, we watch boxing because it entertains us, we watch (whatever) because it entertains us.

As fans, we want passion, we want fun, we want intrigue, and we want a good time. The mainstream is struggling to deliver that right now. The big promotions, as well as the rest of sports (MLB, NFL...) have become all about politics and moneymaking schemes...I can't take it much longer.

I don’t want to pay 50 dollars for a weak PPV, I don’t want to fork out 80 dollars every time I want to go to a Yankee game...the same thing is happening all around, its all about the money. I look at companies like ROH, and I see something promising. I plan to get most of their new PPVs. But I digress. I don't want to take any sides here; I don't want to bitch at you like some of your other readers have done recently. I don't want to watch RAW tonight; I'm going to read instead. Books don't bitchslap me and then ask me to pay them. They entertain me."

Absolutely agreed.

> From "MiGr8orWhat", who states (anonymously) that he has negotiated
contracts with WWE and TNA on behalf of wrestlers:

"If the job they take provides a profit to the contractor through the use of TNA's resources then they can prohibit them from working. If TNA talent decides to supplement their income by working as a greater at Wal-Mart, they can do that under the assumption that they are hired as an employee and not there as a promotional prop.

The reason that the TNA Talent has been removed from ROH and PWG is because of a simple term 'Conflict Of Interest'. The contract within TNA implies that the contractor is paid based on fees provided by the customer to view them exclusively on their product. Had TNA used resources to 'push' a talent and then that talent is set to appear on a competitors television program, it could be argued that the TNA would suffer financial pain from this action.

The double edged sword here is that it's been widely reported that the TNA contractors have only been promised a limited amount of dates. The standard is 26 dates. It's also common knowledge that the average TNA talent makes $500 per appearance.Doing the math, the standard TNA talent is worth $13,000 a year. This number does not include PPV bonuses if applicable. Given that figure, TNA talent is dependent on outside bookings in order to survive. Less we forget that the TNA talent now have to pay their own Hotel fees. With that said, in order to make any cash, the talent needs to be booked by dependable companies.

I don't need to tell you that a vast majority of bookers in the indy scene stiff their talent or pay them less than promised.Also...bear in mind that a few of the talent have signed a second deal with TNA that allows TNA to collect 15% of their booking fees in order for them to be allowed to work the future house shows promoted by TNA. Long and short of it, the talent, the fans and the up and coming promotions all get screwed in this TNA Circle Jerk.

Is there a tax lawyer who can give me information on this? My reading (and that of many others), and I freely admit it's an uneducated reading, is that these performers are independent contractors. Hell, Jim Ross said as much in one of his columns.

> From Tris Xavier of Singapore:

"Well, in 2003, this upstart promotion featuring, for the first time after WCW's death, great cruiserweight action, decent storylines and a real alternative to WWE began broadcasting. I didn't catch a lot of it when it first started, but I was blown away watching Amazing Red take on AJ Styles, Low-Ki against Jerry Lynn and even Ron Killings wrestling. (my last impression of him being K-Kwik) Sure, some decisions were dumb (Mortimer Plumtree? The Harris Brothers AGAIN?) but by and large it was enjoyable even if not much better.

I took pride when in 2005 it continued to grow and improve, Abyss becoming a real class act, AJ Styles becoming improbably better, Chris Daniels growing into the role of leader and ball-carrier of the company, and the X-Division continuing to add better talent like Alex Shelley, Jay Lethal and Sonjay Dutt. Hell, even the interminable Jarrett title reigns would not stop me from watching TNA and hoping he would drop the belt. When Raven won the belt at Slammiversary I could not stop smiling for days on end. It was a proud day.

2 years on, I don't even watch TNA anymore. I can't bear to see Christian Cage wrestle, even though I was making a lot of noise for him to be given the WWE title before he moved to TNA. I can't stand Abyss' new mask, or even watch Sting, a wrestler who I've always respected and watched and loved. Simply, I don't tune into Xplosion or Impact anymore, and this has nothing to do with JB, Don West, the titles or the short shows.

No, this has all to do with what TNA has become, and I know deep in your heart Bob, you want TNA to become a legitimate competitor and become great or at least a rival against ECW for the 1 hour small show slot, just like I do. But it's so hard to understand or appreciate or laud TNA when Senshi, who was giving great believable convincing performances defending the X Title in 2006, ends up doing sit-ups or jumping jacks or whatever have you.

When Tomko, one of the least talented workers in the world, returns to TNA and muffs everything up. When the matches have shrunk to improbably short 5 minute crash matches that allow NO ONE to show ANY talent or skill at all. What's happened to the X-Division? I don't know anymore, it being lost in ladder matches and gimmicks and pinatas or Viagras on poles or bamboo sticks that have no build up and no sense to them. I don't even care if Joe gets the title, he's no longer the main focus of TNA. TNA doesn't even do it for its fans anymore, giving them short shrift at every turn, with s**t matches, rubbish storylines and wrestler that no one cares about. TNA had a chance and was standing on the edge of a cliff that if they jumped right, would propel them to stardom.

They've been slipping downwards since Slammiversary 2006, and anyone who insists on seeing the few positives TNA has and ends up abusing you is just like a Republican supporting Bush before the Iraq War: Irrational, blind and ultimately injurious to all. I don't even watch wrestling anymore, when once I'd turn TNA on every Wednesday (we get a fortnight-delayed telecast over here) afternoon. Just like Abyss in the Last Rites match, my love for TNA and all my hopes for it are pretty dead and buried."

Hmmmm..."like a Republican supporting Bush before the Iraq War: Irrational, blind and ultimately injurious to all." Now a Democrat like me LIKES that analogy.

TNA has become, regardless of Dixie Carter's protests to the contrary about who's running things, Russo-style high-speed Crash TV. Short matches, lots of promos, interrupting main events to stikcin a three minute commercial break, then rejoining the match in progress.

> From Laura Lyne:
" I've given TNA a chance countless times, I even went to their Hard Justice 2006 PPV (the one with the fire). The show was highly entertaining, and I got to meet a lot of wrestlers and some brilliant fans, but that still doesn't justify what they're doing to their product right now. The ROH/PWG situation for one, is an absolute disgrace, and I agree with everything you say about it...

...As for TNA, they're constantly flogging wrestlers in their late 30's and early 40's over the true talent in the ring. The X-Division is now the Kevin Nash and Bob Backlund show. Jay Lethal is a self made promoter for Randy Savage. They're constantly making the X-Division guys live with ridiculous gimmicks (that Austin Starr stuff is bull...he's Austin friggin' Aries!). And now, these guys can't even promote their actual persona because they can't work for the promotions that made them who they are! It's utter bull%$#t. I watched TNA a couple of weeks ago, in what was supposedly one of their best editions of Impact. I'm sorry, I didn't see the brilliance.

It was the same old crap, just not as fast. Two of their titles are taken by WWE dropouts, and their third title is taken by a man who is over-shadowed by two men nearing their senior citizenship...Keep up the brilliant work, your points are totally valid, irregardless of what some immature idiots want to tell you. And I'm only 17...proving that a small group of us do actually understand how to spell and construct sentences. Oh, and actually know about wrestling too. You've managed to garner a new weekly reader."

> From William Toby Hampp:

"Your As I See It column has provided me with a great deal of laughter and snickering over the last several weeks. What I find to be one of the highlights of the weekly installments is the manner by which so many of your readers reveal themselves to be completely unable to make a cohesive argument. While I don't always agree with what you might be saying, I am still dismayed at how much invective is brought forth in response to your views. One thing that seems to be becoming abundantly clear is that TNA is poised to make themselves completely irrelevant. While I did purchase the most recent TNA PPV offering, I am nothing more than a casual fan. The gimmick matches, the lame build-ups to nothing feuds, and the illogical booking are all working to chip away at any audience that TNA can garner."

TNA is stuck at 1.0 TV ratings with PPV buyrates only 25% of WWE's buyrates. Those facts cannot be argued, no matter how many times I get profanity-filled troll mail questioning my heritage, employment, age, sexual preferences and everything with the exception of the facts at hand.

Until next time...

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