In his bestselling book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes the phenomenon as the one dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything can change all at once. The moment of critical mass; the boiling point; a place where the unexpected becomes expected; the time when radical change is more than a possibility -- it is a certainty. This concept can be applied to many areas of life, business or psychology. It can also be applied to pro wrestling.
The question before us is whether TNA is approaching the tipping point in terms of its future. Its pay-per-view, oddly enough titled Turning Point, was the first step in what may be a turnaround for the company.
Widely touted as the show of the year, Turning Point was followed recently with another strong TNA effort.
So strong, in fact, that both pay-per-views blew away what the WWE is currently producing.
The saving grace for WWE has been the brand loyalty it still has, which is more than enough to ensure profitable pay-per-views. This is not to say that WWE could not fall victim to its own tipping point, if it consistently produces subpar products in comparison to a hot new product on the other side.
TNA has undertaken several moves in the past months that have positioned it to be more competitive.
Tapings for Fox Sports Net in Orlando, Fla., have been scaled back to every two weeks, which along with some talent moves has drastically cut operating expenses.
This, coupled with strong monthly pay-per-views that have delivered better than expected buy rates (moving to one big pay-per-view a month was a great move), has improved the company financially in the short term. This is very important to its parent company, Panda Energy, which would like to start seeing a return on its investment.
Much of the credit for the cost cuts can likely be attributed to Jerry Jarrett, the legendary Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., promoter who knows a thing or two about running a profitable company.
Dusty Rhodes was brought in as booker, which has freed up an incredibly overworked Jeff Jarrett to concentrate on being the great worker he is, and carry the ball as world champion.
Dusty has hotshotted the territory with names like Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Randy Savage and DDP, which is exactly what he needs to do to create a buzz, generate buys and contribute to the tipping point. Other talent such as AMW, Triple X, AJ Styles, Monty Brown, Team Canada and others have carried the pay-per-views from a work-rate perspective, as the older big-name talent provides some sizzle.
What is missing now is a TV deal, with a major cable network in a hot time-slot, so that casual fans can experience the TNA product. If that were to happen, in conjunction with one of its stars really catching fire (perhaps AJ), along with WWE once again being seen in the same light it was in the mid-'90s (i.e. too established and comfortable), then TNA could very well do what WCW did at the start of the Monday Night Wars: change the whole game, and get in the establishment's face.
The two issues in terms of WWE's perception are the aforementioned brand loyalty and the red-hot push of Dave Batista, who looks to be on his way to becoming a huge deal.
Whether TNA continues on a path of slow and steady growth, or whether it makes a real run at WWE will all be a question of timing. Epidemics often are.
After advertising Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels for several weeks in Winnipeg, WWE came to town and changed the match to a tag. By all accounts it was a great show, but still a lame move, as fans could have seen a truly historic singles match ... Batista was critical in an interview recently of the Smackdown product in general ... Tony Condello's wrestling school is now open. You can contact Tony at 204-229-9173 for details.