October 13, 2005
SLAM! Speaks - TNA talk in reader responses
By SLAM! Wrestling Staff
Is TNA more popular than WWE? If you go by the responses to our two latest SLAM! Speaks articles, you could draw that conclusion.
Over the last couple weeks, SLAM! has weighed in on the recent TV moves, both by WWE and TNA. Sufficed to say, we got a lot more reaction from our thoughts on Spike's broacast over USA's.
Here's what you had to say
I could care less about WWE moving to another network; just as long as I can still see all the action on TSN.
Well, I have been a TNA wrestling fan for a while now, and if things are done right and they put out an evening wrestling show promoting their federation, I think and know they will be a serious theat to WWE. So put the gloves on and let's get it on. Wwwwwoooooo.
Foremost, I think that to call TNA the WWE's competition is wrong altogether. I think you have two similar products, but the way they are presented is in completely different formats. TNA comes across as the way wrestling used to be presented, as a legitimate athletic contest. WWE is, and this is their own words, "Sports Entertainment". This all boils down to the age old theory of "suspension of disbelief". With TNA it is presented as not only an alternative, but also as something completely different. I know that in my circles of friends, TNA is able to make us forget that it isn't real, while WWE is constantly referring to itself as Sports Entertainment, and this subconsciously tells its viewers that what you are seeing is fake.
This is also a reflection of why fans were so excited about most of the matches on the ECW PPV. The ones that were WWE format (Benoit v. Guerrero, Mysterio v. Psychosis) were received poorly, while the ones in which you forgot were worked were something that fans have been clamouring for and still are. Personally, I feel that TNA delivers that much needed realism that WWE not only lacks, but perhaps unwittingly challenges with their own product description.
Is it then even fair to say that TNA is or is not competition for the WWE? TNA is competition in the same way that UFC will be competition or boxing or any other televised program that is on the air the same time WWE programming is. Wrestling encompasses so many variables of the North American pop culture experience, that one would be hard pressed not to find similarities between WWE shows and any other number of shows on television in the same time slot; but to say that Monday Night Football would be a number two to a higher rated Monday Night Raw would as much a folly as to call TNA the number two wrestling company. Remember Vince McMahon's WWE programming is consistently referred to as "Sports Entertainment", while TNA's are referred to as TNA Wrestling. It is very detrimental to the momentum of TNA for it to be referred to as number two, and when viewed in its proper context, one can see that it is indeed not a number two, but the number one at what it is being showcased as, which is a professional wrestling company, while WWE is the number one Sports Entertainment company. Of course WWE programs also contain wrestling, but when looking at the length of bouts in comparison with the amount of skits, vignettes, and other antics, the trend is that the wrestling is only half of what they are producing on their programs, while TNA is almost exclusively wrestling. Therein lies the huge differences.
I read with some interest your debate about TNA being a threat to WWE supremacy and I have to say right now I think it is more viable for TNA to position themselves as a credible number two. Although the WWE has a big thing to be concerned about with TNA coming to Spike.
The simple reality is a genuine threat to the WWE would have to two elements that the TNA does not currently possess: regular touring and premium television positioning. When you compare a Saturday at 11 p.m. timeslot to a Monday at 9 p.m. you cannot really say one show is even in competition yet with the other; and to that I say good. TNA should not worry about competing with WWE, but instead focus on stabilizing its position on Spike and creating a loyal fan base to its product. My advise to TNA: start touring whenever and in whatever fashion you can. The added exposure on Spike will surely ensure added interest in the promotion, so TNA needs to be on the road to secure a following.
But WWE should be concerned because the one thing that sells in wrestling is freshness. WCW took over the number one slot in the mid-90s because they brought a completely fresh product with well-known faces to television. The WWE reclaimed number one by pushing new stars with new angles on an established product. With former WWE and ECW talent on its roster, TNA already has the credibility issue taken care of with core wrestling fans. Combine that with fresh new talent and new gimmicks to attract attention, the potential is there for TNA to grow. Consider that Ric Flair in his 50's is the new Intercontinental Champion and the WWE has made it very easy for TNA to one day become the new, hype thing.
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-- compiled by Jon Waldman