YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN
Monday Night Wars II? Don’t make me laugh.
A small part of me admires TNA for being brash enough to challenge WWE on its most storied turf, just like WCW did in 1995. But the differences are many, and that’s not good for TNA.
WCW had one of the biggest cable broadcasting conglomerates in North America on its side. TNA has Spike TV. The differences in promotion, perception and exposure are gargantuan.
WCW had a commitment from somebody with an impressive resume of broadcasting and business savvy. TNA has Dixie Carter. Ted Turner had a passionate commitment to wrestling. Dixie’s a mark. (The difference may be narrower than I’m letting on.)
WCW had Hulk Hogan then. TNA has Hulk Hogan now.
WCW had Ric Flair then. TNA has Ric Flair now.
WWE had Vince Russo then. TNA has Vince Russo now.
WCW had a core of up-and-coming young wrestlers that had not been overexposed. TNA doesn’t. A.J. Styles is 31, Robert Roode 33, Hernandez 37, Matt Morgan 33, Samoa Joe 30, D’Angelo Dinero 31 and the woefully underutilized James Storm 32. America’s wrestling audience has seen all of them for a long time, not always in a favorable light.
WCW provided more action than WWE. TNA has no intention of attempting to do that.
In 1996, WCW stumbled upon a concept that worked: The WWE invasion of WCW, with ex-WWE stars entering the promotion in the most transparent of guises, the nWo. If TNA has an influential concept in mind, I’ve neither seen nor heard any evidence thereof.
So, tell me where any legitimate comparison exists beyond both promotions happening to air TV on Monday nights?
The comparison mostly exists in the delusional minds of TNA power brokers who illogically expect lightning to strike twice, and in the minds of Internet marks, who want SO BADLY for something – please, God, ANYTHING! – interesting to happen in wrestling.
What happens when TNA fails on Mondays? It will, you know. There might be a marginal ratings increase, but if there’s any gain at all in pay-per-view buys, live attendance or merchandise sales, I’d be shocked. TNA will get a few people to flip back and forth. That will be the extent of TNA’s impact on Monday nights. What then? What happens when the considerable expense of semi-regular live TV isn’t covered by resulting additional revenue?
I give Eric Bischoff credit for believing he can again slay Goliath. Guts have always been Eric’s strong suit. But, given the openly chaotic nature of TNA’s administration, do you really believe they have anything truly gripping planned for this Monday, let alone anything compelling mapped out long-term?
WCW was chaotic, too. But WCW had Lex Luger appear out of nowhere on the first Nitro. WCW had the nWo invasion.
TNA will have a tag match featuring a 61-year-old and a 56-year-old. Both legends, to be sure. Is TNA playing the nostalgia card early out of desperation? Or will Flair and Hogan be too-frequently involved in actual wrestling? Neither thought is encouraging.
If there’s a plan, I can’t see it. Which means there is no plan, or TNA has a plan so subtle that we won’t see it take shape before it has already taken root, which is the best kind of plan to have.
Which one are you betting on?
TNA has just one clear-cut advantage in the so-called new Monday Night Wars: Lacey Von Erich. HOT!
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