Stealing TNA’s Lemonade and the Supremacy of Good Content
I read the following news story on Rajah.com and it made me chuckle:
WWE might say publicly that they do not view TNA as competition, but TNA’s recent announcement that they are taking Impact Wrestling on the road has already resulted in action from WWE. WWE has reportedly began contacting a number of mid-sized arenas to put holds on them for future dates, in order to keep TNA from running those venues.
In the event that TNA starts running shows every Thursday, WWE, there is even talk of WWE changing their touring schedule and running shows on Thursday nights as well in similar markets that TNA runs.
I have no idea if this is true, but it just sounds like something Vince would do, doesn’t it?
To me, this is sort of like if four year old Little Jimmy, filled with exuberant optimism and naivety, started selling store bought lemonade from a stand next to a corner store, but the 60 year old,crotchety owner of the store called the Tropicana Company and reminded them that he is the only licensed distributor of their product in the area, forcing them to prohibit Little Jimmy from selling their lemonade, crushing Little Jimmy’s dreams, and forcing him to break down his cheap cardboard stand, tears streaming down his face. It’s that sad. Especially since Little Jimmy is invisible.
I’m not pointing the finger at Vince McMahon, though. He didn’t make his fortune by being a nice guy. He’s a ruthless businessman who has made a living crushing his competition into dust. In the words of Paul Heyman:
“WWE has 90-95% market share. They’re not going to give up even 1%…you are going to have to fight for every inch of turf you get.”
Why should Vince change what’s worked for him for over three decades?
I almost feel bad for TNA, until I remember that they are their own worst enemy. I don’t even need to get into the specifics of why TNA is awful –I assume that most wrestling fans are in agreement with this reality (their ratings certainly are). I admit that the Impact Zone is a stale venue that isn’t doing their product any favors, but TNA hitching any hopes on the spark provided by road audiences is typically misguided. Chances are road audiences will be just as capable of sniffing out a shit product as fans in Orlando. TNA’s primary issue is not the location of their show. It’s the show’s content. Shoot TNA Impact in Orlando and it sucks. Shoot it in Austin, TX and it’ll still suck. You can shoot it in a box, you can shoot it with a fox, you can shoot it here or there, TNA will suck anywhere.
Call me a romantic, but I believe that if you put on a great show and are true to your vision, the location shouldn’t matter as much. ECW wasn’t made by the Asylum Arena. No, ECW made the Asylum Arena, turning it into ECW Arena.
One great illustration of this principle is the show South Park. Recently, in an excellent New York Times piece, Matt Stone was quoted as saying:
The success of “South Park” is a stark lesson in the fundamentals of entertainment: if you tell stories that people want to hear, the audience will find you.
I agree that pro-wrestling works best as a travelling circus, but only once you establish a product people want to pay for. TNA isn’t there yet.
Coincidentally, this new little web space, angrywrestlingguy.com, was inspired by the success of media giants like South Park Creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who have managed to maintain ownership rights of all their media products without selling out to networks and giant media conglomerates (a rare feat in this day and age). I believe that, in the long run, strong content wins the day over gimmicks and marketing tricks. This place will sink or swim by the merits of what it produces, not where it is produced. TNA adopting a similar attitude might do them some good. Lord knows, whatever creative philosophy drives them now isn’t working.
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