"You publicly admitted that you like TNA," read the e-mail from Adam, my longtime friend and fellow wrestling fan. "I don't think I can be your friend anymore,” he added. He was joking, of course. I think.
When I first met Adam, he was the only "TNA guy" I had ever known. He was always committed to the promotion, despite its many missteps, pratfalls, and foibles. But like a lot of folks, his faith has wavered a bit over time. I understand what it's like to be let down when expectations run high. These days, I only shell out for a handful of PPV events per year and I won’t go into detail here but some of them were … not very good. Then again, maybe I'm being too diplomatic; the TLC event was pretty awful in my book. So, I guess I can relate.
Nevertheless, despite what seems to be a fashionable trend of second-guessing and criticizing TNA booking, I feel like I have to step up and share a dissenting opinion, come what may. See, I like TNA. I like what they're doing (or, say, what they’re trying to do), I like where things are headed and I am going to proudly stick with it and expect the best from here on out.
What I see from TNA these days is a genuine effort to keep their talent visible and relevant. With so many performers and storylines in the mix, it can be a little hard to stay focused now and again, but the potential is there, for sure. Moreover, from week to week, Impact seems to consistently feature a decent range of wrestling style and skill level.
There’s an old-school vibe about this outfit that offers some of the stuff that we just aren’t seeing from WWE. It’s the “shoot style” promos that sound like they were conjured up in a locker room instead of a screenwriter’s office. It’s the evolution and development of alliances and factions that are laden with schemes and intrigue. It’s physicality and tenacity in every match, no matter how small or simple the stakes might be. That’s today’s TNA.
TNA also deserves credit for recognizing that wrestling fans are among the most nostalgic of fans on the planet. I can’t bring myself to think too badly of TNA for bringing so many of the all-time greats back to the ring. To me, EV 2.0 is exciting.I like seeing these guys stand side by side again as they fight for their legacy, both in the kayfabe sense and in reality. Watching the likes of Tommy Dreamer, Raven, Sabu, The Sandman, Stevie Richards, and Rhino as they stand side by side once again—these battered hardcore heroes who sacrificed the best years of their lives to entertain their fans—is a compelling sight in many respects.
EV 2.0’s rivalry with Flair’s Fortune seems to have great potential. There’s some real history between some of these guys. The ECW “Originals” didn’t always look upon Flair and his generation in the most favorable of respects, and they made it known to anyone and everyone who would listen back in the heyday of “The Extreme.” For his part, Flair reciprocated the disdain more than once in his distinguished career, slinging some mud in the direction of Mick Foley a time or two and publicly trashing The Sandman and others. Sometimes, real-life animosity and acrimony can make for some good stuff when the cameras are rolling. I have to admit that I cracked a broad grin when I saw Foley pounding on the “Nature Boy’s” noggin during the final melee of last week’s Impact show.
Everyone probably agrees on this particular point: TNA is far from perfect. But at the same time, the promotion is doing an admirable job of monitoring the pulse of pro wrestling and adjusting their approach every so often as they try to capture the attention and emotions of an opinionated community of fans. I’m giving credit where it’s due: TNA is pro wrestling, plain and simple.
My name is Mike Bessler and I am a TNA fan.