Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic


Pro wrestling promoters have always felt more comfortable holding onto the past than looking to the future. They ride a well-known performer long after the poor guy has anything left to offer, decreasing the star’s inherent ability to build the next generation of mainstays for the business by putting them over and “making” the younger grapplers. Wrestling companies continually pad the top of the card with the equivalent of outdated technology, rather than taking a chance on a new “operating system”. And Total Nonstop Action Wrestling is no different.


TNA’s utilization of their roster is completely off the mark. The more experienced pros with what the creative team must perceive as “star power” hog every show while outstanding, talented young performers die on the vine week after week.

The most prevalent or pushed performers in TNA include Sting, Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, Team 3-D, the Steiner Brothers, VKM, Black Reign, and most likely Jeff Jarrett once again in the near future. To be most effective at creating another generation of big-name players, each of these more “seasoned” wrestlers should be paired up in meaningful angles with some of the younger guys in the company like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, LAX, MCMG, and Petey Williams (who is perhaps the most underappreciated talent on that roster – I’d love to see the Canadian Destroyer tearing it up in an ROH ring).

I’m not saying every veteran needs to put over every young gun in every feud, but just working a properly executed program with a more established star can be very important for the man who’s lower on the card, even if the veteran ultimately wins the series. In fact, losing a feud to a big name star could actually be the spark that ignites the more junior performer and helps him break through to the next level.

Rather than highlighting their very best young lions in the world title picture, the top of TNA’s card is dominated by Angle, Sting and Nash. What’s worse, the tag team division doesn’t even focus on the champions, Styles and Tomko, but instead highlights older teams like 3D, the Steiners, and VKM.

Even the infamous X Division, which was supposed to be the ultimate stage for the younger, more skilled wrestlers to show their stuff, has been hijacked by the likes of old-timers Kevin Nash and Team 3-D, who have no business in the “No Limits” realm of extreme action. There was a time when the X Division was what made TNA worth watching. Some of us have compared TNA of the recent past to WCW during their heyday. They had great under-card wrestling that made the shows exciting, while the big-name stars occupied the sportz entertainment-laden main events. This balance kept WCW shows captivating back then, and TNA used to be able to claim the same thing. But when was the last time the X Division stole the show? I can’t even recall.

TNA also has a few “middle-aged” wrestlers on the roster, like Christian Cage and Rhino. I’m not referring to their actual age of course, but to their experience, star power, and familiarity to common fans. Both Cage and Rhino could bridge gaps between the truly older talent and the young guys trying to climb the ladder. It wouldn’t be difficult to create a few factions combining older, middle-aged, and younger wrestlers, each benefiting their other stable-mates. But that isn’t how TNA must see things.

Rather than bury the up-and-comers when they square off against top-tier talent as they did to Samoa Joe against Kurt Angle, TNA needs to realize the established stars are already “there”, and thus can afford to drop an occasional match and even come out on the wrong end of a feud from time to time without losing credibility. Instead, they constantly protect the older guys who don’t need protection to remain “over” in the eyes of the fans. When Sting and Kurt Angle lose to each other, nobody benefits. But if Sting would have continued to feud with, and eventually lose to the Christopher Daniels, the Fallen Angel could have become a main event force in the blink of an eye. And if Joe were actually allowed to look strong against the former Olympian, both he and Angle would be impact players today.

TNA, like every other pro wrestling promotion before them, is unwilling to strike now while their “senior” stars still have enough gas left in the tank to work that epic feud with a young stud. It’s too bad, because two or three years from now, Sting may have nothing at all to offer the business. Team 3-D and VKM might not even last that long. The Steiners look to be about 15 years past their primes, if not more. Kevin Nash had no business in a wrestling ring back when he feuded with HHH in 2003, let alone today. Dustin Rhodes is good for a short-term program where he can act freaky, but he doesn’t really bring much to the table other than the fact that he’s willing to do just about any stupid crap an idiot like Vince Russo can dream up for him. And Jarrett might have a pretty good babyface run upon his return if booked properly, but the odds of solid booking in TNA are somewhere between slim and none.

Novelist and philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, and TNA ceratinly appears to be falling victim to his ominous prediction. So many companies have made this same mistake, and needlessly put their own backs against the wall until the decline in business became so steep that desperation set in. Unfortunately by the time things get that far, it’s often too late to utilize aged stars to help make the “next big thing”. So I say good luck to TNA. With their current mindset and Vince Russo at the creative helm, they might be in for some rough sailing from here on out.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.” – William Shakespeare

Master Sergeant, United States Air Force