The Smarkdown Hotel – Hot Forum Topic of the Week: What Is TNA and Should I Watch It?

Michael Sullivan

Allow me to channel WrestleZone editorialist Mark Madden for a moment: the single biggest difference between WWE and TNA is that the former makes money.  Because the WWE is in stronger financial shape, their programs have an undeniably better presentation.  The pyro is better, the crowds are hotter, and the shows can run live pretty much anywhere in the country without encountering any problems.  But this difference in fortunes really manifests itself in two areas that, on the surface, may not seem important at first: the music and the recap packages.

There was a separate thread on the forum this week discussing whether Jim Johnston, the man who composes the entrance themes for most WWE characters, should be in the Hall of Fame.  I’d have tackled this subject at length, but there was no controversy here at all: it was nearly unanimous that he deserved enshrinement.  ESPN’s Bill Simmons once write an essay about WWE theme music, and he pointed out that wrestling themes are most effective if you can recognize them within the first 1.75 seconds.  He was being flippant with that figure, but the idea stands.  Johnston and the WWE Music Group are absolute masters at prompting recognition and excitement with just a few notes.  It’s chilling to be in a stadium with tens of thousands of people, all of whom recognize the Stone Cold glass smash, or the first words of Randy Orton’s “Voices” theme, with everyone instantaneously recognizing what’s about to happen.  Meanwhile, TNA uses music that is not necessarily bad… just not iconic.  Take AJ Styles’ new theme, for instance.  That’s actually a pretty good song, but it’s difficult to pick up immediately, it isn’t indelibly linked to AJ Styles’ personality, and it certainly is in no danger of becoming an international phenomenon.  In short, there’s a difference between a great song and a great wrestling theme, and only WWE has mastered that distinction.

The video recaps are a similar story.  Watch this video advertising the CM Punk/Brock Lesnar match from last week’s WWE SummerSlam PPV (beginning at the 6:48 mark).  That is four minutes of promotional perfection.  The characters involved, the nature of the conflict, the motivations – everything is laid out in an easy-to-digest format, building in a way that compelled me to watch the end of it.  TNA promos are different.  They look like promos for any other product on television.  This Impact promo, for instance, is exceptionally well produced.  But I would bet that it was edited by someone who doesn’t actually watch wrestling.

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