The following is the debut column from WrestleZone.com’s newest exclusive opinionist, Michael Sullivan. Send your thoughts and feedback on Sullivan (thumbs up, thumbs down) to HERE.
Last week’s episode of TNA Impact scored a 1.0 cable rating, per Nielsen Media Research. Monday Night Raw dominated them with a 3.4 rating, ensuring that we’ll spend another week reading slides about how males in the 25-39 year old demographic prefer WWE to the NBA. Vince McMahon’s organization seems to have all of the advantages right now: they employ the biggest names, garner more airtime, have their own film division and an upcoming cable channel, and even win the bulk of media attention (I haven’t seen any TNA performers on ESPN’s SportsCenter, for example).
While that gap in the ratings indicates a significant head start, it would be a mistake to declare this race over. TNA has amassed an impressive array of talent (both in the ring and behind the scenes), and they’re poised to make a hell of a run over the next couple of years.
Sure, there’s still plenty to criticize — Mark Madden ripped TNA pretty effectively just a couple of weeks ago. But Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan are in an incredible position to sling a couple of stones at Goliath. It’s easy to point out their inadequacies, but let’s take a few moments to consider some of TNA’s major advantages.
First, the talent is there. I know what you’re thinking: "But WWE has all the biggest names! John Cena and Undertaker and Degeneration X!" And while this is true, those same names are also the biggest albatross around Mr. McMahon’s neck. You see, John Cena does incredible things for your buy rates and your merchandise sales, but he’s a nightmare for continued creativity. You can’t plan a pay-per-view without factoring him into the main event in some way. And he swallows up mid-carders without even chewing. On last week’s Raw, he kicked out of pins after five separate finishing moves (including two from Jack Swagger alone).
TNA has the ability to truly be a meritocracy. There’s no room for an Undertaker to hold a belt for half a year while only wrestling once or twice each month. And there’s no single wrestler so popular and important that he can refuse to be pinned by anyone else. When you see a guy like Elijah Burke (who has always had talent) finally get the chance to develop a character and develop crowd support, you KNOW that other wrestlers on the roster have to see opportunity there.
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