It is a special time right now for TNA. Thursday, November 16th is TNA's primetime debut and it's a two-hour super show packed with action. It's funny but so many people doubted that TNA would ever reach that milestone. Four years ago when TNA got started with weekly pay per views it was only given a short time to live by the industry experts and "insiders." How is it then, in their undeniable wisdom, that these pundits were wrong? Why has TNA lasted and grown in leaps and bounds in four years? One word: Heart.
Four years ago TNA was the brainchild of Jeff Jarrett and his father Jerry. They started with an idea of never before done weekly pay per views at "reasonable" prices, in an effort to grow a steady fan base and move to network television. In 2002 Panda Energy bought a majority share of the company and brought in Dixie Carter to oversee the project.
Jump ahead to 2004 and TNA gets some time on the Sunshine network and Fox Sports Net. Impact tapings are moved to Universal Studios in Orlando and monthly PPVs are started.
During this time period TNA is on a consistent basis "losing" money and insiders and critics are "sure" its going to fold within months.
And yet here we are, November 2006, having just had Bound For Glory, the Super Bowl of TNA PPVs, in Detroit, Michigan, and about to start a regular spot in primetime on Thursday nights on Spike TV. Wow, do a lot of people have egg on their faces.
And why is this? Again I say heart. The heart and perseverance that Jeff and Dixie and Panda have shown is immeasurable. Of course people will jump here and say, "but Johnny, what about the talent?" To this question I say if you can't see the heart of the TNA talent each week you watch then you haven't watched a show. That the talent is 100% behind the product is obvious. We all want to succeed. But for Panda and Jarrett to keep in it until now, slowly starting to turn a profit, takes balls as big as grapefruits and the heart of an elephant.
About now the "wow, is Johnny ever sucking up" grumbling should be starting. But I ask you, would you rather only have the one choice in wrestling programming? Would you only like to drink Coke for the rest of your life because Pepsi and 7up and all the rest of the soft drinks were not available? I certainly wouldn't. And as a fan of wrestling for 28 years (yeah I'm that old), I hope I can always have choices, be they WWE, TNA, ROH, CZW, JAPW, Stampede, Japan, Mexico, England, Puerto Rico, etc. Choice is good and variety the spice of life. And I, as a fan and an employee, am thankful for people like the Jarretts, and Carters and, yes, the McMahons, for providing me with places to be entertained and employed with something I truly love with all my heart.
There it is again, heart. You'll find a lot of people say they love something, this or that, him or her, and aren't really truthful in the saying. Sure a lot of people REALLY like wrestling, or a band, or a show, or a person. But love is very special and goes beyond normal parameters. The fan that travels thousands of miles, for example, to see a show or performer and waits patiently for an autograph or second of time with a special performer, these people are the lovers of wrestling or what have you.
And these are the people I, and the rest of my profession, go out there night after night to entertain, because as much as some of you love to come and see us perform, we love just as much to perform for you and earn your gratitude.
That said, I urge you all to tune in to Spike TV this coming Thursday for TNA's primetime debut at 9 p.m. eastern. For it is with the love of an entire company and all our hearts that we have made it this far and could not have done it without you.
And on a personal note it is my great pleasure to also announce that my good friend and one of the future greats of the business TJ Wilson, has (FINALLY) signed a developmental deal with WWE and will be reporting to Deep South in 2007. Congratulations TJ, I knew it was inevitable and you deserve it more than anyone I know.
As always questions and comments, booking inquiries or what ever else can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or to myspace at www.myspace.com/canadiandevine.
In the mean time and in between time, that's it. Another edition of Devine Intervention. Bye Now.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: "Hotshot" Johnny Devine's column will run on Saturdays (or whenever he delivers) on SLAM! Wrestling. Be sure to visit each week!
For more on Devine's career, see his biography in our Canadian Hall of Fame.