The Marshall Report: From American Gladiators to ECW & An Interactive Discussion

TMR.jpg The Marshall Report picture by pamarshall

In this issue, I discuss Mike Adamle’s potential as a broadcaster for sports entertainment and I host a roundtable discussion featuring other Pulse Wrestling writers. We talk about John Cena, what TNA needs to do to increase ratings & what ROH needs to do to increase exposure. It’s a fun ride, I promise.

Edition 4

Welcome back to the one column that makes Mike Adamle look like a genius! Well, not really. This is The Marshall Report. The name isn’t sticking like it should, but its better than calling it something that it isn’t on a regular basis. For those looking for the first time, let me explain how this column works.

It’s hardcore, 24/7, no holds barred. I take anything that’s interesting and I make a spin on it. If it sticks, great…if not, feel free to say so in the comments. I won’t be offended either way. I’m not the best writer there is and I don’t believe in half the things that the IWC believes in. Cena rules, Adamle doesn’t suck, and most importantly…no matter how bad a show is, you’ll still watch it. Try to prove me wrong.

Last time on TMR

TNA was my main focus in the last edition. I admit that some of my points weren’t solid and that I was over-analyzing some things that shouldn’t have been over-analyzed. Lesson learned. One could say I was unprepared in the last edition. Time moves on, and so do we. Let’s focus on the present.

Mike Adamle – Like him or hate him, he isn’t going anywhere.

The huge story this week is the ECW announce team “walking off” the set. Most of the IWC believed that Mike Adamle was fired on the spot for sucking too much. That’s what happens when you inadvertently give Vince McMahon ideas. Plain and simple, you got served. Tazz also left the scene, most likely to check on Adamle. If everyone didn’t care about Adamle that badly, then Tazz would had solo-commentated the main event match. Upon watching the match without the commentary, it made the feel of the match look bad. It’s a unique experience, just like watching TNA Impact with the mute button on the entire show. However, without the commentary for ECW’s main event, it lacked flow. No fault to Kane, Chavo, and Bam Neely – they worked very hard, but it wasn’t there for me.

Going back to Mike Adamle, I watched him during the classic series of American Gladiators and he didn’t suck back then. In fact, I secretly hoped that he would have gotten on for the new edition with Hulk Hogan. It wasn’t meant to be, as WWE hired him to be a backstage correspondent. When it surfaced that he was making $300K a year, I had a feeling that he wasn’t just there to replace Todd Grisham. When it was said that Adamle was going to replace Joey Styles as play-by-play on ECW, everyone jumped on the anti-Adamle bandwagon.

However, did anyone ask Joey Styles himself just why he left the ECW booth to do what he actually wanted to do? Sure, he’s the best announcer, but that isn’t the only thing he can do very well. He was a webmaster for a very popular wrestling website and WWE needed someone of Style’s expertise to make WWE.com more appealing to those that visit it daily. The Michael Cole experiment didn’t work as well, so the WWE got someone that is proven to achieve results.

What about Todd Grisham or Josh Matthews? Why weren’t they considered for the spot? An easy answer could easily lie into availability issues. Maybe Todd Grisham has a life – shocking, I know. Maybe Josh Matthews wants to better himself in the ring and not be an announcer. This made it easy for Vince to hand the headset to Mike Adamle because he has broadcasting experience, and most importantly, experience from being the main commentator on American Gladiators. Does anyone remember Michael Cole’s first few months in the WWE? Michael Cole had his experience as a news reporter. It takes time to learn how to commentate, so why are people so quick to cast him off as a reject? I can’t answer this for anyone else. Just think if someone like me who has zero broadcasting experience was asked by Vince McMahon to take the headset for Monday Night RAW. I would be worse than Don West or Mike Tenay! I don’t have the voice for it and it isn’t my calling. With that said, the Mike Adamle experiment is doing what it is designed to do.

To sum it up, Vince knows you hate Mike Adamle with a passion, that’s why he decided to do an announcer angle. He wanted you all to believe that he fired Mike Adamle and in the end, more people will watch ECW next week to see if Mike Adamle got replaced. Everyone got served.

Link-Happy

Matthew Michaels jumps on the 10 Thoughts bandwagon, giving his insight on ECW this week.
Bambi Weavil gives a warning to the WWE in light to what they pulled on RAW this week.
ML Kennedy experiences the world of lucha libre.
Mark Allen covers the other big story in the WWE.

Interactive Discussion

Two weeks ago, I promised some sort of interactivity for this edition of TMR. Right now, I have three questions and this isn’t to be confused with VS. or the Hot Seat, two other features that we have at the Pulse. This is something where correct answer doesn’t matter, because there are no wrong answers. Participating with me for this discussion are Pulse Glazer, Danny Wallace, and David Brashear. Without delay, let’s get started.

1) You’ve heard all the chit-chat around the web where most people are highly critical of John Cena. My question to you is, what can the WWE do to John Cena to make him better than he is now?

Danny Wallace: Better in what way? In terms of wrestling ability, having a few hours with Triple H, The Undertaker, Regal and Finlay would be a good way to tighten up his already impressive brawling and psychological skills. Cena is a brawler, so making him try and be anything else (a technical wrestler, for example) would be idiotic.

Or do you mean better received? I’d say he is by the younger audience. The older audience need to sit up and realise that he’s leading the next generation of wrestling fans (or should that be WWE fans?), much like Hulk Hogan did a good 20 years or so ago. They don’t really need to make him better, he’s doing a fine job as he is now. He’s a good brawler, more often than not has the audience in the palm of his hand, and flogs a shitload of merchandise. The WWE is business first, don’t forget.

So to answer your question, nothing that a month’s worth of matches around the horn with the four men mentioned above wouldn’t fix, purely for selfish reasons though (as I’d like to see him stiffen up his game slightly).

David Brashear: I’m going to shock everybody with my response here – nothing. We hear a lot of complaints from the IWC about Cena, but the thing to remember is that the IWC’s just a small portion of the overall viewing audience. To the overall audience, Cena’s exactly what the WWE needs. He draws in the kids. He draws in the girls. He’s well-spoken so he helps a great deal on the PR standpoint. And, at a point when steroids are the hot topic, he’s got a career behind him as an all-natural bodybuilder (so the WWE can point to him and say “Well, he’s not on steroids and he’s succeeded”). At this point in time, Cena’s exactly what they need, even though saying that will mean that I have to burn my IWC membership card.

Pulse Glazer: This is actually ripped from Kyle and Ivan. Either can explain better, so I’ll be brief. Basically, major wrestling heroes operate symbolically. Hogan was a symbol for our belief; the Rock and Austin were more proletariat vs. the ruling class. Cena attempts the appeal of both, with superhuman feats, but acting as if he’s an underdog everyman, and thus gets the appeal of neither. How do you fix this? Pick a role and run with it.

Paul Marshall: While I can understand the cries about Cena being stale, Cena being gay, Cena being “insert whatever makes you happy here”, or Cena being Cena. Cena has qualities that very few people in this industry have. He’s natural – doesn’t do steroids, drugs, or anything like that. He’s a company man, much like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson USED to be until be decided that movies better suited him.

John Cena impressed me his very first day in the WWE. He took Kurt Angle to the limit in his debut match and won the respect of many superstars. Sure, Angle made him look like a million bucks, but that is not the point. The point is that Cena was a very damned good investment on Vince’s part and the only way Cena can go is up.

To answer this question, the WWE doesn’t need to do a damned thing to make John Cena better than he is now. Turning him heel would undo years of progress and would turn those that cheer him away (the women and children) from the product.

2) TNA can’t seem to increase their ratings for their weekly episode of Impact. They put the belt on Samoa Joe and the ratings stayed consistent. While it is a good thing that they have not lost viewers, what does TNA need to do in order to make their product stand out?

Danny Wallace: They need to stop trying to rehash the 1990’s formula (which doesn’t work in today’s market), stop the crappy gimmicks and pointless match stipulations, trim the roster slightly and stop solely targeting the “smart” fans.

The key audience for TNA to grow is the kiddie market, plain and simple. If they expand their mindset and target some of their marketing to the younger generation, they’ll have a whole new opportunity to increase revenue – snag them while they’re young and keep them (assuming that TNA have a couple of kid-friendly characters to hook the kids with).

Samoa Joe is an internet darling, however it’s proven that Internet fans don’t draw big numbers for TV shows (probably because they download them), so why bother marketing towards them?

For TNA to grow, they need to expand their horizons and focus part of their product and a portion of their marketing to children.

David Brashear: TNA needs to start touring more regularly. Right now their core TV audience is the crowd in the Impact Zone. They need to work on expanding that audience by exposing more cities to a live TNA show.

However, saying that, let me add that TNA needs to do some booking work as well. First and foremost, they need to determine their own identity – not WWE-lite – and work toward that. They’re already taking steps to do that by reportedly looking to start getting more serious, which is good. For the most part, they have the roster. I feel that with more mainstream exposure and stronger booking, they’ll see the ratings gradually rise. The thing to remember is that there is no instant fix.

Pulse Glazer: TNA needs consistency. I recently, and no, I will not say why, asked about 30 passionate wrestling fans if they watched Impact as it aired. I got one yes. Everyone else answered either “no” or “why would I do that.” Many of these included people in wrestling schools. None of their friends watched live either.

We’re all aware of Impact. We don’t watch because it lacks internal consistency. If it gains that via putting on a good, fun show that makes sense, we’d all watch. Impact would gain exposure and we’d all be merry. Whether you watch Impact or not, check back every Thursday night for my Impact “Live Thoughts” as I shill to the max!

Paul Marshall: To put it in two words…”Fire Russo”. But if it was that easy, then I’d be saying the same thing about our current President. But this is not supposed to be easy…so let’s brainstorm.

What TNA does wrong is that they try to reinvent the wheel. Each Pay-Per-View they have, there has to be one match that involves gimmicks. They sling crap to the wall. If it sticks, good. If not, so be it. They also need to be careful when giving away a World Title match on free television, especially if it has the chance of being better than what people paid for. A good suggestion is to hire Paul Heyman and give him six months. That would be all the time Heyman would need to turn things around.

3) Ring of Honor has stepped up the Pay-Per-View scene, following TNA in its footsteps in getting their promotion noticed. What more can Ring of Honor do to gain additional exposure and draw a new audience that may also watch other wrestling programs?

Danny Wallace: Ring of Honor is a niche promotion targeting mostly internet fans. If they want to make big money (which involves gaining new audiences), they’ll have to shy away slightly from what they currently offer and focus towards other demographics and introduce more “sports entertainment” characters/wrestlers and angles.

From an advertising standpoint, at a grassroots level they would do well to advertise outside every WWE show they can, and also possibly try to gain a weekly TV deal. I wouldn’t suggest ROH having a weekly show like WWE or TNA does (as that would mean an increase in production costs, live event costs and that would also mean a drop in sales for attendance at shows and also a drop in DVD sales). What I’d suggest is kind of similar to the video-wire thing that they do currently. A weekly “highlight” show that would maybe feature a match (matches which could be taped at a DVD Taping/PPV Taping, but not feature on either DVD or PPV), a couple of sit down interviews, merchandise plugs, live event plugs and more. Hell, they could even burn these to DVD’s and hand them out outside WWE shows.

David Brashear: Again, one thing I feel would help would be to expand their touring outside their traditional territory. Even if they’re just putting on house shows, the more fans who are exposed to the ROH product can only help to build their fanbase.

Once that’s done, it may be time to start thinking about a weekly show (even if it’s one hour). Again, I think fans would be more willing to tune in for a free show than to pay $9.95 (admittedly, a great price for a wrestling PPV these days) to gain their first exposure to a promotion.

The best thing ROH can continue doing is building their own identity. They say they’re an alternative – prove it. Keep focusing on the athletic aspect of wrestling as opposed to “sports entertainment.” Put on good matches that fans will remember. Give them wrestlers who put on jaw-dropping performances that keep fans coming back.

Just please don’t hire Dustin Runnels and put him in another Goldust-inspired persona. After all, TNA’s got Black Reign. We don’t need Silver Snow or Purple Hail or anything like that.

Pulse Glazer: ROH needs to figure out how to advertise. Whereas people have heard of TNA and don’t care, damn near no one has even heard of ROH. Sampler DVDs handed out at WWE shows, radio spots, and getting established ‘stars’ to mention the product far more often would all help, as would a simple street team, though ROH, for some reason, seems averse to that. Check out ROH Weekly every Friday ya’ll to find out what’s good and help the little engine that could.

Paul Marshall: When $9.95 every three months gives you more quality wrestling than spending a combined $70 a month watching WWE and TNA, you wonder if ROH will ever amount to anything. I think I can agree with the ROH fan base that ROH needs their own television show. I’m not specifically saying that they need to create programming each week. What ROH does that the other companies don’t do much of; they create DVD’s of matches that are seen at non-PPV events. You can give them one hour on virtually any network and they can run it like WWE did with Superstars or Confidential. Right now, they lack exposure because when you run into a website reading ROH based comments, most of the responses come along the lines of who, what, or where? Also, by having ROH utilizing a group that would show up at WWE or TNA live events, handing out sample DVDs, flyers, anything that would possibly draw interest, you’d be getting the word out. If you were to ask a WWE or TNA fan this question: “Did you know that CM Punk and Samoa Joe wrestled for Ring of Honor?” I’d almost guarantee you that they would not know the answer.

Besides, if we could get a #3 promotion that is about wrestling and not sports entertainment, maybe TNA and WWE would get the picture that wrestling isn’t about trying to be a male soap opera. I can dream, right?

Thank you Danny, David, & Aaron for sharing your thoughts to the random questions I had. How about you, readers? How would you answer these questions? Shoot a comment and in the next edition, I’ll pick a sampling from those who respond. It’s an open forum, so join in and enjoy yourself!

Wrap Up

Thursday night, Pulse Wrestling will have your TNA mix from Pulse Glazer and a special guest. Friday night, the CrackDown and the SmackDown Report will give you your fix from the land of the Blue and Proud. Finally, I’ll be back on Monday to do it all over again with Monday Night RAW. In between those, keep your eyes on the wrestling news, because it only takes one story to possibly be made into a topic for TMR. Until next time, have a great upcoming weekend!

Tags: , ,