October 20, 2005
Veterans relishing time in TNA
By BOB KAPUR - SLAM! Wrestling
ORLANDO, Fl. -- Though TNA is often associated with showcasing the talents of younger wrestlers, there are plenty of veteran superstars who are also making significant contributions to the company's success. SLAM! Wrestling had a chance to catch up with some of them -- Kevin Nash, Jerry Lynn, Larry Zybysko, and Konnan -- to discuss their thoughts about their role in a company that some are calling a younger man's playground.
Kevin Nash is perhaps the most visible of the four, having made his return to the ring on the Spike TV debut of Impact, where he returned to the main event scene by challenging Jeff Jarrett to an NWA Heavyweight championship title match at this Sunday's pay-per-view, Bound For Glory. Putting him in a high-profile spot is a deliberate move by the company, as they see Nash as a familiar name that will lure in many fans in to watch, whereupon they will discover the talents of some of the less-established stars and become fans of them as well.
"It's exciting for me," Nash said about his involvement. "I'm here as an established talent to work some storylines so we can get some of the younger guys' characters developed. This company has a lot of the intangibles (to be competition for WWE): really young talent, really good workrate. It seems to me that we have the nucleus here to be a really strong company."
The former WWE and WCW champion seems very comfortable in his new role, and doesn't seem too concerned about taking on a position where he would wield a great deal of creative power and influence -- a position that he has held in the past, and some would say, used to the detriment of the company that he was in at the time.
"I've always been a locker room lawyer, not a locker room leader," Nash reflected. "But here, I'm pretty much here on a part-time basis, I'm (signed to participate in) four pay-per-views. And (during that time), I'm going to do what I can do to help make this company successful."
Whereas Nash's role seems to be limited to in-ring performances, Jerry Lynn is diversifying himself, by both wrestling for the company and acting as a road agent. On the day of the Impact taping, Lynn was looking on with great interest backstage, watching the matches he helped the wrestlers put together.
"TNA giving me this road agent position is a great opportunity. I enjoy being able to pass on to the younger guys what I've learned over the years," said Lynn.
Lynn has always been known for his outstanding in-ring abilities, as opposed to other wrestlers who have achieved success based on a flashy gimmick or funny promos. So it's no surprise that he is a strong advocate of TNA stressing the sports part of 'sports entertainment.' "We don't focus too much on the soap opera. We deliver more action and more wrestling, which is what's on the marquee."
Larry Zybysko, who appears on TNA programming as the Director of Authority, agrees with Lynn, noting that the athleticism demonstrated by TNA wrestlers will easily outshine that of the WWE roster.
"The wrestlers here have really raised the bar," said wrestling's 'Living Legend.' "They are the future of wrestling. I'm excited to be spending what will probably be the last part of my career helping them turn wrestling into something that will be one of the most exciting things on TV."
Zybysko's predicition is a pretty bold one, especially since it seems, as evidenced by the stacked Raw Homecoming show, that WWE is prepared to defend its status as TV's wrestling staple. But protecting the crown might not be as easy as they may think, he counters.
"(I can see McMahon's reaction being) one of two things. Either he's going to have to be smart enough to get to the bar that we've played -- and with his product, that's going to be hard to do. Or he's going to go the other way and get stupider and raunchier than he is now -- which is also hard to do," concluded Zybysko.
Konnan, on the other hand, doesn't see the company as necessarily having to compete head-to-head with WWE. Rather, he believes that the different styles put forth by the two companies make them different enough that they can co-exist, each one catering to their own fan base.
"We're trying to offer the fans something different (from WWE)," Konnan (Charles Ashenoff) explained. "Here, people are going to see a good mixture of talent: people who they have seen before and are familiar with, and people who they might not have seen before, but have just as much talent. Yes, we're in the underdog position right now, but that doesn't mean that we can't keep a lot of people entertained."
As part of the active roster, Konnan sees himself as being particularly helpful to the company in reaching out to new and different markets than they have traditionally been targeting. Over the years, Konnan has involved in numerous promotions including CMLL, AAA, Canada's Stampede Wrestling, and most recently WCW, and he's hoping a lot of his fan base from those promotions will find him and follow him in TNA.
"TNA really wants to capture the Hispanic market, which I think everybody knows is a very important demographic. (My continuing popularity there makes me) a good spokesman for the company in Mexico," Konnan said. "Recently, I went back to Mexico, and even after a six-year absence, I was able to sell out arenas in Mexico City and Guadalajara."
As TNA's schedule is fairly light (TV tapings every two weeks, and monthly pay-per-views), veterans like Konnan are free to take on other wrestling gigs and other side projects. This, of course, helps TNA as well, since it gets their name out there every time a star associated with the company gets the spotlight elsewhere.
In that light, Nash seems to be a good wagon upon which the company can hitch its star. He has appeared in a number of movies, including the remake of The Longest Yard, and its recent release on DVD could be an opportunity for the company to engage in some mutual cross-promotion (eg: by airing clips of the DVD on their show). Or, perhaps Nash will give them the opportunity in the future; he was filming a movie over the summer, and he hopes to do even more in the future.
Similarly, Zybysko has been making a name for himself on the professional golf scene, as he's trying to get into the seniors Champions tour of the PGA. In addition, he's in the middle of writing a book about his storied career.
"About a year ago, I wrote the first five or six chapters of a book about my life and career. I've been so damn busy to actually sit down and finish the rest," Zybysko said. "Maybe in another six or seven months, we'll finish it up. I'm writing it myself, not like some of the other guys who have been having people write it with them. It's a lot longer to do it that way, but it's a lot cooler, too."
Lynn, meanwhile, is content to concentrate on his wrestling career, both backstage at TNA and in the ring. As to his continued participation, even at 41 years of age and after multiple injuries, he credits "(my) love and passion for it ... and sheer stupidity."
Along with these men, there are plenty of other veteran stars working with TNA, both on and off the screen. Jerry Jarrett, Raven, Terry Taylor, Dutch Mantel, the list goes on and on. Each one trying to do whatever they can to help the company continue the momentum started with their Spike TV debut, with the common goal of keeping the company viable until the next generation can pick up where they leave off.
"Bloodthirsty" Bob Kapur is still trying to catch up on the shows he taped while attending TNA's initial Impact tapings for Spike TV a month ago. He's almost up to the season premiere of Alias.