If there were any situation to which Vince Russo could add perspective, it is with Jeff Jarrett and Dixie Carter, two of his top proponents.
Dissecting The Jarrett/TNA Angle
by VINCE RUSSO
Strictly from a philosophical point of view, in looking at the writing of this past Wednesday’s Jeff Jarrett/TNA angle, there was just so much left on the table by the TNA Creative team, that it just begs the question–“WHAT WERE YOU GUYS THINKING?!”The four major flaws of the story that I’m about to point out, can clearly be seen by any wrestling fan who understands the fundamentals of writing a solid, compelling, logical storyline. Seriously—I’m not pointing any of these things out because I’m Vince Russo, I’m pointing them out because they are BLINDING, and by the life of me I cannot understand how the entire TNA creative team missed them.
1. TNA KAY-FABED THEMSELVES ON JARRETT’S RETURN
When you are in a situation where your back is against the wall, and you must deliver ratings to the network IMMEDIATELY, why, in the name of Argentina Rocca, would you hold Jeff Jarrett’s return to TNA BACK AS A SECRET?! This makes absolutely zero sense in the big scheme of things. If you know Jarrett is going to be on your show, and you want to draw an audience because of it, you have to use every outlet available to you to let the audience know that if they tune into IMPACT at 9pm est.–THAT THEY ARE GOING TO SEE THE RETURN OF JEFF JARRETT!!!
Why—would you hold that back as a “surprise”, WHY? That doesn’t make sense to anybody. You need people to watch your show NOW, and the biggest bullet that you can possible put in your gun—-IS KEPT A SECRET? Seriously–are you kidding me?! Not only didn’t you tell your Heavyweight Champion, Kurt Angle, that Jarrett was going to be on the show—but you didn’t tell anyone else either! This is just about as elementary of a mistake that the company could have possibly made. Even if the Jarrett “surprise” was a last minute deal, you still had to think that it would have taken the Jarrett’s three hours to fly from Nashville to Orlando, which would have been plenty of time to get the word out through social media. Listen we all know how much Dixie Carter loves going on twitter, if she would have confirmed that Double J was going to be on the show, through the buzz alone she could have generated thousands of move viewers to the show. But—to tell NOBODY—again…WHY?
2. FAILURE TO THREAD JARRETT’S APPEARANCE THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE DURATION OF THE SHOW
The entire key to writing any wrestling show, is to “at least” attempt to hook your viewer from the beginning of the show to the end. It’s called the “thread” of the show. You take your “A-story” and weave it throughout the entire body of the show. How it’s usually done is this–
1. You intro the story at the top of the show.
2. At the half-way point of your show you “reinforce” that story with a major development.
3. You pay the story off at the end of the show.
In conjunction with that, you use backstage vignettes throughout the show, between the beginning, middle and end of your story. This is a BASIC formula used in writing any successful wrestling show. This formula was used by Ed Ferrara and myself, every week during the Attitude Era.
In Wednesday’s nights case, Jarrett showed up somewhere around the middle of the show, cut a promo, and left. That was it. A story that has been in the making for almostTHIRTEEN YEARS, was handled as just “another segment”, when it should have been the ENTIRE SHOW!!!
3. THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE STORY WAS MISSED IN LIEU OF SETTING UP A FAKE WRESTLING MATCH
Having been there for 10 years, I cannot even explain to you the turbulent relationship that Jeff Jarrett and Dixie Carter have had for over a decade. If you want to truly understand it in detail you can go to my website vincerussobrand.com. To give you a real condensed version–Jeff Jarrett started TNA. Dixie Carter’s family monetarily saved TNA from going out of business when Jeff lost his investor 2 weeks in. Dixie becomes Jeff Jarrett’s boss. They don’t get along. Jeff has a relationship with Kurt Angle’s wife, Karen. Dixie finds out–sends Jeff home. Jeff is allowed to return as a talent after the begging and pleading of Head Writer Vince Russo. Jeff returns. Vince Russo leaves. Jeff is eventually sent home a second time. Those are the facts.
The way it plays out on TV, TNA decides THAT THEY WANT JEFF TO WRESTLE IN A MATCH THAT HE CAN BE IDENTIFIED WITH. What? Are you even freaking kidding me? That is your story? After 13 years of perhaps one of the most tumultuous relationships in wrestling history—THAT’S THE ANGLE?
Honestly, I don’t know if this story could have been written any more poorly. That’s just about as weak a storyline as you could get. I can’t even imagine me sitting in that room and that idea being pitched. I swear I would have thought that they were playing a rib on me.
4. ABSOLUTELY NO HOOK WHATSOEVER TO MAKE VIEWERS WANT TO TUNE IN THE FOLLOWING WEEK TO “SEE WHAT HAPPENS”
Nothing . . . zero. For all we know Jeff Jarrett isn’t even going to BE on the show.
Look, man, I’m not doing this to knock and attack TNA, if you think I am—fine—but the truth is, I just can’t believe how much they missed the mark on this. With the combined numbers of the first play, and the replay, IMPACT only achieved 2,000 more viewers than last week, and yeah, of course they’ll say that viewers didn’t know that Jeff was going to be one the show—YEAH, THEY SURE AS HECK DIDN’T BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T TELL THEM. Add to that that you didn’t even bother to use Jeff as the thread to keep the audience, and build the audience, and you have a situation when you fumbled the ball ON THE HAND-OFF!!!
Guys, I’m sorry, but if it really is put up, or shut up time for the company—you’d better rip the duct tape from your mouth before next week rolls around.
You can follow Vince daily on the RELM NETWORK at vincerussobrand.com