If you wonder why TNA sucks – and there’s no debating that – check out what happened when lead babyface Jeff Jarrett got stretchered out at the end of his match with Kurt Angle Sunday. "Na na na na, na na na na, hey, hey, goodbye." That was what the 1,500 or so fans in Charlotte thought of Jarrett being rammed down their throats as a top guy.
This wasn’t half of a packed WWE TV taping booing John Cena. This was the nitty-gritty of TNA’s fan base, the true believers, those who really care (they care enough to show up, anyway), no casual observers, and they said, as one, "This guy blows."
There’s irony in the PPV being titled "Genesis." Jarrett as a top guy – often THE top guy – is the root of TNA’s problems. No one has ever bought Jarrett as being anything more than marginally above the mid-card. With him on top, you have zero chance.
Jarrett on top at TNA is a microcosm of two long-time booking flaws:
* The owner (in this case, co-owner) and/or booker pushing himself as the promotion’s main star. You can always trust yourself, but can you trust your own judgment?
* The booker thinking he’s smarter than the marks if they don’t buy what he’s selling and using that belief to perpetuate a losing formula. Russo/Jarrett/Mantel etc. may know more about wrestling than the citizens, but in wrestling – as in any entertainment industry – the customer is always right. Vanilla Ice sucked, but his debut CD sold 11 million copies. The Hardys aren’t Vince McMahon’s cup of tea, but he had the business sense to see how over they were and put them on top. Jarrett could combine the good points of Flair and Hogan and the booking could be a hybrid of nWo vs. WCW, Mid-South Wrestling in the early ’80’s and the Austin-Hart double turn, but if PPVs, tickets and merchandise aren’t sold and the TV ratings stay low, then the right thing isn’t being done.
The moment Jeff Jarrett has nothing to do with TNA, then TNA has a chance. Then again, TNA has floundered when Jarrett has been off TV, too. Maybe NOBODY in that company is good enough. Not that anyone should fear for their jobs.
MORE ON ‘THE WRESTLER’
Mickey Rourke’s Golden Globe as Best Actor was well-deserved. I’ve watched "The Wrestler" three times now, and his performance is still gripping upon repeat viewing.
Most wrestlers I’ve talked to don’t like "The Wrestler." They tend to pick on the movie’s flaws when it comes to portraying the business accurately. I think these flaws are very, very minor and can be written off to cinematic license. For instance, a legend from the ’80s would never do a gory garbage match with Necro Butcher. He wouldn’t need to, and he probably wouldn’t be asked to. But Randy the Ram’s participation in that match reflected his desperation and provided a good backdrop for his heart attack.
When wrestlers criticize "The Wrestler," I think it’s because the film hits a bit too close to home. Rock stars like Eddie Van Halen didn’t like "This is Spinal Tap," either.
I’ve heard some negativity about my review last week because I described wrestling as a business sans nobility. It’s been suggested to me that the love exchanged between Randy the Ram and his "family" of fans made him risking death to entertain them worthwhile. That’s nonsense. To the fans, wrestlers are totally disposable commodities. No wrestler was more beloved than Hulk Hogan. But when he retired, the business survived, and almost all those fans are still there. Hogan wouldn’t risk chipping a tooth for the marks. Hogan had it right. Randy the Ram didn’t.
I really enjoyed seeing my old WCW sparring partner Ernest "the Cat" Miller in the role of The Ayatollah. Ernie abused me like crazy on-camera, but I didn’t mind. It helped me get over (if you want to believe I ever got over). We got along great backstage, and I always liked him as a performer. My first PPV as part of the broadcast team was Feb. 20, 2000, SuperBrawl X in San Francisco: the Cat finally meets (and dances with) James Brown. It didn’t exactly build Ernie as a heel, but it was the best thing on the show.
When Randy the Ram wants to go over spots with The Ayatollah, and The Ayatollah says, "You be the face, and I’ll be the heel"…that was pure Ernest Miller. I popped big.
Well, the Bruno brigade responded exactly as I figured they would after my column two weeks back, lashing out with some malicious, deeply personal insults but ignoring my request for facts and figures regarding Bruno’s drawing power in Pittsburgh. If Bruno wants honored when Pittsburgh’s new arena gets built, the burden of proof is on him and his bobos. Those numbers are out there somewhere. I would think SMG, the company that runs Mellon Arena, has them. Why can’t the Bruno brigade deliver? Or…why WON"T the Bruno brigade deliver?
As for responding to the barbs, honestly…it’s beneath me.