Sunday, February 21, 2010

Complacency leads to insanity

Apparently, Vince McMahon never took courses in philosophy while at East Carolina University in the 60's. Otherwise, he wouldn't have made the decision on February 11 to make some changes with his Pay Per View (PPV) events.

They say that if it isn't broken, you don't fix it. However, citing a decrease in consumer buys from 2008 to 2009, McMahon decided at a quarterly shareholders meeting that he was discontinuing the Survivor Series after 23 years (1987-2009), but he as of press time hadn't decided what the new title for the November PPV would be. Survivor Series has its place in WWE history, both good and bad, and the decision to end it may have more to do with erasing the black mark attached to it, dating back to 1997 and the infamous "Montreal Screwjob". Coincincidentally, McMahon is currently feuding with the victim of that screwjob, Bret "Hitman" Hart, on Monday Night Raw, with the goal of closing that chapter in company history once and for all.

But that's not all. Consider the following:

Extreme Rules (formerly One Night Stand) moves from early June to late April, replacing Backlash as a post-Wrestlemania PPV. Money in the Bank, built around a showcase specialty match at Wrestlemania from 2004-09, now is a PPV itself, replacing Night of Champions in July. The late June PPV, which was The Bash last year, will be renamed Fatal 4-way (tenatively), meaning all the title matches would conceivably have 4 contestants each. They're also renaming the September PPV for the 2nd straight year, going from Unforgiven to Breaking Point to something else that escapes me at the moment.

In each case, the PPV's affected had all lost money. McMahon, remember, has to answer to shareholders despite his selfish inability to make more necessary changes in the company, refusing to step outside the myopic bubble-world he's created for himself. On screen, he occasionally has the gall to suggest he possesses a God complex, but the truth is, the raving maniac he plays on TV may be closer to what he's become away from the cameras. The only realistic solution that is there would be for McMahon to swallow his pride, embrace reality, and walk away with what little dignity he has left intact. Unfortunately, getting him to do that just got a little bit harder.

Total Non-stop Action (TNA), taking the initiative of its latest so-called saviors, Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff, are moving Impact to Mondays, starting March 8. While the very idea of competition would be good for both TNA & WWE, TNA's product comes across, as it has throughout its 7 1/2 years of existence, as stale, moldy bread because of the familiar talent signed off the WWE waiver wires (most recently Orlando Jordan, Ken Anderson, and Brian Kendrick) or associated with, specifically, Hogan (Nasty Boys & Jimmy Hart). The "homegrown" talent that TNA has cultivated over the years keeps getting pushed to the side because of the misguided belief that the old faces still draw ratings. Not all of them do. If Hogan's looking to piggyback his "Hulkamania" tours of Australia (he may do that again later this year, for all we know, depending on how well they drew in November) onto TNA, it would surprise absolutely no one. Hart is also involved in a start-up promotion, Wrestlicious, which is meant to be this generation's GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), due to launch next month, so there will be some cross-promotional ties there, too.

Hogan & Bischoff, seeing how TNA has failed to completely replicate WCW (World Championship Wrestling)'s final years (1999-2001), think going a little further back (1996-98) may do the trick, hence the aggressive fast-tracking in shifting Impact from Thursday to Monday. They want to stick it to Vince McMahon, but they keep tripping over their own shadows. Head scribbler Vince Russo has them thinking the ratings are more important than company revenue, and he couldn't be more wrong. TNA has to start turning a profit on their PPV's before they can actually think they can be on the same plane with WWE. It simply isn't going to happen, because they keep insulting and underestimating the intelligence of their audience. McMahon does it, too, but he at least is willing to give younger wrestlers a chance to shine. TNA won't, but should.

Right about now, if someone decided that a pro wrestling league built around Greco Roman or freestyle amateur wrestling might work, they'd actually succeed. And wouldn't that give McMahon sleepless nights? You bet. TNA is being written off by McMahon as a poser promotion, which might not be the smartest thing, but in the long run, it may prove to be true. However, Vince being around to see TNA's demise is open to debate.

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