Grantland Article on TNA


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    Post by Stroke on Tue Sep 16, 2014 2:52 pm

    Talks with Dixie, Jarrett, Russo, Cornette and others about the company

    Grantland Article on TNA NXTTO_RIV_Photo_46-1173930849

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    Post by dragondragon on Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:11 pm

    I thought this was really well done, and I always enjoy Grantland, so it's a win win as far as i was concerned

    I'm a male.. Just saying. LGBTQA advocate.

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    Post by Spudz on Fri Sep 19, 2014 1:28 pm

    Meltzer thoughts on the article

    The web site had an interesting story on TNA by Thomas Golianopoulos, questioning if this is the end of the company and will pro wrestling ever support two major promotions again.

    Of course the reality is that pro wrestling hasn’t supported two major promotions since WCW fell off a cliff in 1999 and 2000. Perhaps if TNA had a better battle plan, things would have been different. There were definitely times TNA showed signs of life. The company was profitable at one point, although never competitive. And no matter what, they were never able to turn the corner. For all the excuses people want to say, it may simply be nothing more than the reality of supply and demand. The casual audience, the masses, are only going to devote so many hours per week to pro wrestling. With WWE having four, five, up to seven hours per week, there’s not a big market for something else. In the WCW days, you could say you had a similar dynamic and WCW flourished, but Smackdown wasn’t around in those days. WCW also had a different fan base that had been run off.

    Dixie Carter is someone who in person, is very charming, and always has an answer. The company is always profitable, even when they are behind on paying people and it’s very clear they’re not. TNA is always growing, slowly, but growing, even when the numbers indicate the opposite. And there’s always the excuse. There’s video games, or computers, or DVRs, or some reason why the audience was declining and people wouldn’t buy tickets. It was never the product. Except, in the end, it largely was.

    Even though the TNA office has been described as a skeleton crew, since so many people have left in recent months, Carter described it that they were overstaffed.

    The story was largely good, well, except for the total lack of understanding the business with the description of Bruce Prichard, Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan and Vince Russo as all “men with historically successful track records.”

    Prichard had a couple of long runs as a key management figure in WWE, but he was never a guy steering the ship. Bischoff was, in the terms of being a wrestling promoter, the ultimate hotshot flash in the pan. He had three good years, 1996 to 1998, and it collapsed from there. Hogan absolutely had an incredible long-term track record as one of the biggest drawing stars in history, but his days as the guy who could count on the build around were over in 1998. As a special attraction who could come off the bench, sure, you could use him as long as his body held up. In theory, you could use him as a commissioner, except you couldn’t. There are lessons about making top guys, and you can’t make them easily when you’ve got the overriding personality there every week. If Bruno Sammartino was on TV regularly, Bob Backlund would have likely always been considered secondary, belt or not. Steve Austin would have had trouble as a top babyface with an incumbent Hogan still there all the time. John Cena would have never had a chance with Austin as a weekly character, even as a General Manager.

    But the story had a number of quotes that need closer examination.

    From Carter: “TMZ asked me, `Hey, is this story real, should we run with it?’ I was watching a movie and didn’t see it until some little wrestling site ran it. Then I gave TMZ a quote which said we’re still negotiating. That never made it to print.”

    As it turned out, I’ve had a long discussion with the TMZ writer, at a party a few weeks later. I knew what I knew and I know what they knew. They knew. They had the story from the Spike side that it wasn’t being renewed. I knew from the TNA side that Spike told Dixie Carter they weren’t being renewed, that they’d probably be extended with a little breathing room to allow them to make a deal, and Carter had told people in the company that she didn’t want to stay on the station anyway. Both sides, for the public, gave the “we’re still negotiating,” story, but they both knew the relationship was ending. Hey, even to this day, if you ask either side, they’ll still give the same line publicly. But no, TMZ didn’t ask Dixie if the story was real. I didn’t either. I wrote her that night and said the story was going to break and did she have a comment. She did get back to me and her quote was put in the story.

    The story all but said that TNA was losing its TV deal and said the industry was slumping. Actually, WWE is pretty stable as far as popularity goes. Business-wise, yeah, WWE is losing money like crazy, but that’s due to changing the way it does its business. The jury is still out on if it’ll pay off, but as far as popularity levels go, WWE is pretty much where it has been for the last several years. WWE has also had to make cuts, but if the network were to hit it big, WWE will be more profitable than it was during the Austin/Rock heyday.

    Still, Carter admitted something she’s never said before:

    “We will die a slow death on the vine if we just stay as one two-hour show in the U.S. I have big decisions to make. I want this to be a big play. I don’t want this to be a status quo play.”

    In a wrestling environment with so many hours of WWE television, is there a market for TNA adding a second show when the first show is declining and many weeks, people don’t even stick with it through the main event.

    Carter talked about her pep talk at the Manhattan Center in August, saying, “I may have let a cuss word or two slip. A couple of guys came up to me afterward and said, `We believe in you. We believe in this company.’”

    One person there said that in fact, she didn’t curse at the meeting, and the person said he didn’t believe anyone went to her and said what she said. Aside from the producers or Bully Ray (who doubles as an agent), they didn’t think anyone would talk to her at that level. That quote was the one talked about backstage at the tapings.

    The biggest issue with the article is the description of Russo. Russo in his own mind believes hardcore fans only want to see four-star matches and the casual fan wants something else. He’s right. It’s all about storylines and dynamic personalities. It always has been. Great matches don’t build business unless framed with great storylines. That’s true of wrestling, boxing, MMA, or tennis for that matter. Russo’s problem, and it’s been the case for 15 years, is that his storylines don’t resonate and his personalities don’t connect.

    “The Internet wrestling community thinks in-ring wrestling action should take up every minute of every show,” said Russo. “That’s what they believe the business is. That’s what they are fans of. I mean, they rate fake wrestling matches on a star system. The matches are fake. They are not real.”

    Carter, on Russo, said, “He’s a lighting rod. People hate him. But sometimes people love what he does but they don’t realize he does it. He’s a really talented guy.”

    I don’t want to say nobody hates Russo. Some people do. But in reality that’s a crutch. He’s never been good with the big picture. The fan base doesn’t care about Russo with very few exceptions. They just want to be entertained. Russo, and whoever was in charge of TNA creative, failed because they did not grow the television audience, and worse, could not convert that audience into being customers. Those are facts. Russo does have some talent for scripting certain characters, but certainly not women characters because his verbiage and stories have made them turnoffs when at one point they were the closest thing TNA had to ratings deliverers.

    I hate to say this, but there are certain terms that whenever I read them, 95 times out of 100 they are going to follow with ignorance. Among those are Internet Wrestling Community, a laughable term which gives the impression there is some kind of a unanimity of opinion that is different from the masses. And in every entertainment form, the hardcore base is very different from what appeals to the masses. But there is always such a great divergence of opinion than any kind of blanket statement about an IWC is always going to lead you to a conclusion that puts you out to lunch. The job of the writers is to reach and grab the masses, and the numbers don’t lie. It’s right up there with people who use terms like mark and smark, when everyone gets it and everyone knows what it is, people just have divergent opinions of what they like. The key is, it doesn’t matter what any one individual likes. Some people have good instincts about what will and won’t work, but everyone is wrong a lot, and the numbers tell you the truth if you look at them objectively. The idea is to do what grows the business. There are certain principles and things that work that are somewhat timeless, and many others that change based on a varying and changing world, ones ability to sell their concepts to the public. Coming up with excuses as to why people are tuning out, nor not buying tickets or PPVs, is an attitude that will kill you, especially in a quickly changing world and industry where it’s so easy to be left behind.

    Seriously, who has ever insinuated that in-ring wrestling should take up every minute of a show. The idea that in-ring wrestling should even always be a certain percentage of a show is silly. It’s all about entertainment and what the public wants and what you need to correctly tell your big stories. There have been one hour shows that featured one match that were great shows that people talked about for years and drew ratings. There have been very rare one hour shows that had no matches and all talking and were every bit if not more effective. But you can only do either of them on very rare occasions, and with two and three hour shows, you simply can’t do either.

    Right now, for WWE and TNA, matches generally do stronger in garnering an audience than talking, but you need both. But far more than match vs. talking is appealing personality and star quality, whether they are wrestling or talking, that is going to generally do better.

    The key is you want good matches and good talking, as opposed to bad matches and good talking, or bad talking and good matches. The idea is that it all works together to build characters. Talking does better than wrestling at making you want to see a match. But unless you’ve got really awesome talkers, long talking segments burn people out, and too many talking segments on a show usually weaken the effectiveness of the talking segments you need people to remember when the show is over.

    Perhaps there are people who believe that it should all be wrestling, but they’d be such a tiny percentage that even bringing it up is a strawman argument. And the silliness of the idea that it’s weird to rate fake matches on a star system would only be valid if the same wasn’t done for music, movies, plays, television shows and even food on a daily basis. Just as there is more to marketing movies than their star ratings, and more to marketing a restaurant than star ratings on food and the service, there is far more to producing wrestling than just good matches. But there is no victim card. If the creative is clicking, everyone will know because the numbers are there. When it’s not, the answers are there as well.

    WWF did turn around when Russo was on the creative team. Jim Cornette was there at the same time, and neither was really fully responsible for the turnaround, because when Cornette was gone, and Russo was gone, business continued to build. You could say Vince McMahon, and of course the buck stopped with him before they were there and long after they were gone, but Vince was in charge when the company was struggling and when it was kicking ass.

    When it turned around, it was Steve Austin, The Rock, Mick Foley, DX, and to a degree Sable, and everyone else that made up the part of the show that carried things. It slowed down when Austin went heel, and eventually his body betrayed him, and Rock went Hollywood. Vince and the rest of the roster were still there.

    Russo claimed the secrecy about hiring him wasn’t about Spike TV. The panic about the Mike Johnson story getting out was completely about Spike TV, there would have been no panic in TNA otherwise. The word from Spike that they weren’t renewing came days later. It wasn’t the prime reason, but two people very close to the situation confirmed that it was a reason. But realistically, the reasons for the decision were about Spike wanting to add new original programming in prime time that they are developing, hoping that such programming could draw better ad dollars and more female viewers. If TNA was drawing what it used to be drawing, Russo or not, the likelihood is there would have been a renewal. The moving of Bellator to Friday also hurt, because TNA did help drive viewers to Bellator on Thursday and that was a great reason to keep the programming. On Friday, Bellator proved it could draw without TNA’s lead-in. It doesn’t draw as well as it did on Thursday, but with the NFL on Thursday, Bellator wasn’t staying there.

    The story also didn’t understand the business as it was in 2002, saying TNA’s business plan at the start was , “Instead of banking on cable rights fees, the largest revenue stream for most national wrestling promotions then and now, TNA sidestepped a television deal in favor of weekly PPVs.”

    While cable rights were TNA’s main revenue stream, and are WWE’s largest today, the largest revenue stream in 2002 was PPV revenue, by leaps and bounds. The TNA business model was to avoid the costs of producing television, and go right to PPV. It was completely flawed, because without television exposure, you can’t draw people to your product to get them to buy your PPVs. Weekly PPV was a risk. Weekly PPV with no television was insanity. That version of TNA was about to go down, and land Jeff and Jerry Jarrett into bankruptcy, until Carter bailed them out and saved the company.

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    Post by SBR on Sat Sep 20, 2014 1:27 am

    I like that someone paragraphed what he wrote. Because he didn't. And it hurt my head.

    Grantland Article on TNA 3o7ZengdPO7wOQNck0

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