With a rather shabby internet image which eventually serves as a catalyst and spotlight to the questionable decisions and other sub-par aspects of the company over the years, it's very safe to say that TNA's biggest hurdle (among many others) has in fact been overcoming a negative image. It's the largest enemy TNA faces - the ill-perceived perception that it has somehow done something so wrong to the wrestling fan that it deserves such poor treatment. As if it's wrong doings justify the wishes of an ending fate.
It's very much a perplexing thought and situation. It's almost like TNA's reputation, right down to the brand itself, regardless of content, product, or even overall status, is that of the child in the school yard during recess that no one likes because - well, just because! Despite every other child having their flaws, having made their mistakes, having done their wrongs, TNA is just that kid. On the outs. Always talked about. Always in the spotlight for negativity. Always being pointed at.
And of course, as a pro wrestling fan, you know all of this. You probably contribute to this knowingly, or unknowingly. And while there are many thoughts and theories - WWE brand-loyalty, internet babble, heightened expectations for TNA, mere fanboys - the truth remains, TNA's existence remains an absolute enigma (and I don't mean Jeff Hardy).
Lately, many have discussed the re-branding of TNA (to Impact Wrestling) as a possible solution among much of the redemption or resurrecting attempts for the company. It's certainly one that is a hot topic and is needed not just for image, appearances, and reputation, but just for the company's identity, who even to this long-time fan, it feels like TNA and Impact Wrestling are battling entities and not one - or one in one, or under one, or whatever it's supposed to be.
Yet, with all of that said, even with a name change, there is that thought that TNA, Impact Wrestling, or whatever this company should be called, will forever just be that child during recess. It's the natural black sheep of professional wrestling. There are some who aren't going to like it for the mere purpose that is simply not WWE. Or for the mere fact that it's TNA. Because again, ewww, TNA.
There are those fans who will continue to look down on every episode and occurrence within the brand no matter what. The classic skim of the spoilers and aggressive jump to outlandish conclusions, which again no matter what, will be terrible. Because again, eww, TNA. And the others who simply are just invested into TNA because they enjoy the news, the backstage happenings and gossip, and the hearsay revolved around the company.
Heck, maybe TNA should just somehow accept their fate as the bad guys in the industry! Completely just go rogue and troll the internet (The Davey M gimmick, anyone?), the "smarks", or those who claim they know anything and everything about a pro wrestling company without, you know, running a pro wrestling company?
I truly believe one of the worst mistakes in TNA's history was indeed the night Dixie Carter decided to do #AskDixie on Twitter, which opened a lot of the banter seen today. It was ill-timed, and just a terrible idea. It opened the floodgates on creating the negative image the company suffers from today.
Yet, while I still love pro wrestling (all companies, all wrestlers, all of it) - the entertainment it provides, the athleticism it displays, and the live events it produces - there is a small part of me that is giving into the notion that it's no longer about any of the previous stated reasons, or even when wrestling fans appreciated the output from the industry and independently thought for themselves.
Unfortunately, in some odd way, internet image, backstage rumors, and overall perception in-line with the "general" thinking, is what rules today. See: NXT. There are some who continuously hold praise for NXT without following it weekly. You know, the specials are cool, and the internet says NXT is pretty dope, so yeah, it gets the pass.
Even one of the most successful pro wrestling entities in history, ECW, would probably succumb to this new wrestling fandom culture. I can just imagine the stories: "Heyman is late on pay again." "Are they ever going to leave the ECW Arena?" They're losing more talent to WCW and WWE?!" "They lost their TNN TV deal". "How do they let Mike Awesome leave as Champ?" "LOLECW". And on and on, and on. See the parallels?
One thing is for sure, as much as fans attempt to dwell or continue in the defiling of TNA's reputation at every chance possible, they are aware. And that's still an important necessity and is the life blood that the company needs as it rebuilds from rough times. It's also something that those who engage in such negative activity, will never openly admit. But trust me the naysayers are just as intrigued by TNA. Even the ones who seek it out to bash it.
As perplexing as TNA's existence and reputation is right now, it only became more confusing when I watched NXT Takeover Dallas, and wrestling fans in attendance for the biggest event on the wrestling calendar that weekend were filled with excitement when Bobby Roode hit the screen. Yes, Bobby Roode of TNA notoriety. Only awareness, interest, and prior knowledge can give a foundation to react that way.
The same can be said for Samoa Joe. For Austin Aries. And yes, even for AJ Styles. As much as I love me some New Japan Pro Wrestling, let's be quite honest, the majority of those "AJ Styles" chants from WWE buildings are not from fans who hunch over over their laptops watching Wrestle Kingdom 10.
And then of course, there was the recent angle involving Drew Galloway and EC3 during an Evolve show. "EC3!, EC3!" filled the room, as he made his way into the ring. From the official Evolve YouTube video, you can easily sense it was the biggest moment of the night and that he was a "known" name. But again, you know, "no one watches TNA". It's quite awful, but I can tell you everyone on their roster who I would love to see in NXT or WWE.
The Evolve angle was truly an inspiration to this latest column as again, it leaves this fan super perplexed, especially if I I'm being partial, fair, and objective on the matter.
Whenever I read internet "journalism" (term used VERY lightly) or other various wrestling columns, I see that TNA "sucks", "no one" watches, and from the vibe of the content, I can conclude that it's a brand not many wrestling fans are into.
Yet, when I see the talent that was honed, displayed (and in some ways created) under their umbrella appear elsewhere receive a significant reaction, and that those same fans are overly excited, chanting their names, are aware of their characters, and ultimately attempt to downplay the question of previous knowledge, can you imagine what a casual wrestling fan must think?
So perplexing. Oh, so perplexing.
I'm not sure how or when TNA will rebound to becoming a full-fledged touring company that allows it's fans, and long time fans who have stuck through it all, to invest in and support the product again - a product that really has been my favorite among all the wrestling companies this year - but it does seem like it will absolutely need to involve somehow overturning a soiled and tarnished reputation.
How they do that? Well, strangely ironic (and perplexing), isn't that up to us?
Am I the only one that finds it funny when some fans freak out about there being no news for the week regarding TNA?
And considering it's history, wouldn't you say no news is good news for the company?
Isn't it nice to have consistency back to the TNA product?
And how about an actual pay-per-view to look forward to?
Wasn't it quite refreshing to hear the wrestlers refer to an actual event coming up?
Are you, like me, a believer that developing their own characters is a good reason for the intrigue and the positive product?
Anybody else have flashbacks to early 90's WCW with the Lashley vs. Galloway "TONIGHT" graphics and super cheesy sound?
Who else agrees with me that Mike Bennett has been TNA's MVP thus far this year? #YesWeDo
Are EC3 and Mike Bennett interactions your favorite thing in pro wrestling right now as well?
Do you internally follow up negative statements to other people with, "That is not an insult, that is just a fact of life!"
As always, feedback is welcomed below, and over in Twitterland at @DomePondering