FIVE YEARS LATER – FLEA vs. NWA: TNA

HAVE YOU HEARD?
Originally Posted as part of FLEA’s column on July 22, 2002

Have you been watching the NWA – TNA PPVs? Why not? No seriously why not? Does your area not offer this program? Is $10 too much for you to spend every week? Not enough “name” talent for you to even consider wasting your time or money upon? Is it because you are just too cool for the room and just want to trash the program and make wise ass remarks about how they are not going to succeed? Why am I asking so many questions? Well, I’m just trying to convey in cybersapce a few of the many thoughts that may be going through Jerry Jarrett’s brain at the moment. Of course I have absolutley no basis for being able to read his thoughts, but knowing a thing or two about business practice and making some dough-rey me, those are the questions I would be asking. Apparently, I am not too far off the mark. According to numerous sources, The Real Real Double J posted a recent message stating that he may have “overestimated the viability of his product in today’s market”. Well, he didn’t say those exact words but what he did say disturbed me more than any “by the numbers” analogy that can be heard by anyone not making money these days. After only a month or so of programming, The RRDJ seems to be throwing in the towel, if not literally, then creatively. It seems that he know feels that the modern fan does not want an alternative to the WWE. This, of course, comes on the heels of Vince’s Russo’s hiring to write and produce the PPV shows.

So it appears we are back to square one. NWA-TNA had a relatively good thing going, although it is debatable how large their audience actually is. One thing I do know for sure – the recent programming (up until last week, that is) featuring innovative wrestling (from the X Division), comical interludes (anything having to do with a midget), a smidge of TNA without going over the top (as opposed to every segment featuring an unveiled attempt to stray into “double entendre land”), not to mention some of the best FREE publicity that they could have got – half the goddamn Tennesse Titans football team jumped the rail and forgot that this is a fake sport. They went to a-clubberin the top of Jeff Jarrett head until he smartened them up with a potato and a side order of chair. And you know what? That was fun to watch! And as mentioned, the incident made the news from coast to coast. But instead of building on that momentum and continuing to stick with the more basic, physical style and simple “old school” angles, right away Russo comes in and we do a 180 degree turn back to 1998 when a shoot was still a shoot and we still wanted to believe every stretcher job or possible “nipple slip” we saw.

That’s not necessarily damning Vince Russo. One thing that bothers me as much as anything I read online is the term “draw money”. Draw money draw money draw money draw money. What the f*ck does draw money mean? Oh, I know what it means, and it should only be used by people IN the business as a measuring stick to who stays gainfully employed and paid and who does not. It should NOT be used by supposed on line journalists who take that measuring stick, turn it sideways and reinvent history with the term “draw money” as in he/she did/didn’t draw money, therefore they should be worshipped/despised depending on if they “drew money”. But Flea?, you say, That’s how we now who is “over” and who should be “pushed” based on whether or not they “draw money”. But Flea?, you persist, Why the hell do we want to see and angle that (insert name here) wrote/booked when it will never “draw money”? But Flea?, (ok now you are starting to get on my nerves with all these questions) If a person’s ideas do not “draw money” why should anyone, much less people “in the business” give them the time of day, much less hire them?

Those are all very good questions and I am going to ignore every one of them because it makes no difference if I think that someone “draws money” or if anyone outside of the business thinks that any wrestler or any writer can “draw money”. What matters in what the wrestlers can actually DO and not what it is perceived that they do. Case in point – The Raw Brand of WWE had to cancel a recent house show in Michigan, scheduled to take place in a town called Battle Creek, home of WWE Superstar Rob Van Dam. Now then, if you listen to the current opinion/vibe on the street, RVD should be one of the top stars to carry us into the future with the Undisputed Championship around his waist and the WWE on his back. Yet, this hometown hero can’t get enough fans to come to the arena to support him and the show gets cancelled. But is he to blame? Or the bookers who did not get him “over” enough? Or the writers, who have not crafted enough story lines overall to fill arenas at house shows and tv tapings? Who is to blame for this? This is not a knock on RVD, I like the guy. I’m just using him as the most recent example. You could say the same for Hogan (MSG non-sellout), Austin/ UT / HBK (non full houses in Texas) etc, etc. Go back and re-read that list of names I just rattled off. Those four over the last 20 years have “drawn” more than that freak Van Gogh. And if I remember correctly, two of those names owe a majority of the success to the man who is now in charge of the next generation of superstars. Maybe The RRDJ wasn’t out of his mind when he made this decision. Maybe he realized the updated insider term “draw money” will now be changed to “makes them press that order button on their remote.”

Did any of the above make sense? I’m not sure. But that seems to be the constant theme of non-sensible explanations to why the business is “in the toilet”. Which brings back full circle as to why so many “hot shot angles” are taking place; too much thought is going into what will be perceived as “drawing money” as opposed to what needs to be presented as a solid, coherent product that will eventually put “asses in the seats”. Can’t go about to “drawing money” till them there asses have but put in those seats.

I wonder whom coined/made popular the phrase “putting asses in the seats”? I LOVE that phrase!

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