December 16, 2010
Out With the Old...
It's no secret that TNA has a bloated talent roster. Hell, bloated is being kind -- it's damn near morbidly obese. It seems like everywhere you look in the IWC there's always some pundit or fan screaming to anyone who will listen that this company needs to make roster cuts, but for some reason this never seems to happen.
I'll be damned if I can figure out why this is, but Dixie Carter just seems to have an absolutely enormous aversion to firing people. She hates doing it and most of the time she flat out refuses to do it even when a blind man can see that it needs to be done. The list of people this company has employed over the years long after they outlived their usefulness and should have been let go is as long as my arm, if not longer. I'm not even going to bother giving examples; we all know the people I'm talking about here.
These people were employed by TNA in the past, and unfortunately, many of them are still employed to this day. It was only recently, due to cost-cutting measures reportedly forced on the company by her mother, Janice, that Dixie has relented and lightened the load slightly. But that doesn't mean there aren't still a LOT of people in the locker room who just aren't worth the money and really shouldn't be there. Consider this column a big, fat, steaming helping of X-Pac-style "GO AWAY!" heat to those people.
I'm going to divide TNA's talent roster into 3 separate groups. The 1st one is the easiest.
WHO SHOULD STAY
Abyss, AJ Styles, Alex Shelley, Amazing Red, Angelina Love, Brian Kendrick, Chris Sabin, D'Angelo Dinero, Daffney, Desmond Wolfe, Douglas Williams, James Storm, Jay Lethal, Jeff Hardy, Jeremy Borash, Jeremy Buck, Jesse Neal, Kazarian, Ken Anderson, Kurt Angle, Madison Rayne, Magnus, Matt Morgan, Max Buck, Mickie James, Ric Flair, Rob Van Dam, Robert Roode, Samoa Joe, Sarita, Shannon Moore, SoCal Val, Tara, Taz, Velvet Sky
These are the people who deserve to stay, the people who are good in an on-screen role, the people who, when you see them, you don't immediately start wondering what the hell they're doing on television. Please excuse me for breezing through this part, but I really don't think this group needs to be explained.
Group #2 however...
WHO SHOULD GO
The people who need to join the Future Endeavored club. If TNA were really serious about cutting costs, these are the people who, by all rights, they should get rid of. I'm not saying every single person on this list is 100% worthless (though some of them are), just that they're not worth the money they're being paid.
-Chelsea- Chelsea is gorgeous, she looks good with Desmond Wolfe and she's been good on the mic whenever she's gotten the chance to use it, but what purpose does she really serve? She doesn't wrestle, she doesn't get involved in matches very often. Most of the time, I'm left scratching my head, wondering why she's still hanging around Wolfe & Magnus when she obviously can't stand them anymore. Maybe this will have changed since London Brawling's hiatus due to Wolfe's injury, but they still don't strike me as a team that need a valet as both men are good talkers. I actually like Chelsea, but they'd have to do more with her to justify keeping her around.
-Christy Hemme- Reportedly, she makes significantly more money than any of the home-grown women on the roster due to her status as a former WWE star, but does being a former WWE star mean you have star power? Not necessarily. Hemme was never a huge deal in WWE, was never a particularly good worker, and I don't know if this has escaped TNA's notice, but SHE DOESN'T WRESTLE ANYMORE! She's an interviewer now. And with the production team's new style of filming backstage segments, they've essentially made interviewers completely irrelevant since the wrestlers just talk into the camera now. This means TNA is paying Hemme quite a lot of money to... do what exactly? We hardly ever see her on iMPACT anymore. She does 1 or 2 interviews on Xplosion, maybe 2 or 3 on PPVs, but does Hemme really do anything that couldn't be done by JB or SoCal Val? Not that I can see. Newsflash, Dixie: No WWE fans are watching TNA because Christy Hemme is a backstage interviewer.
-Cookie- She has shown she can be an entertaining personality on the indies and maybe she could be in TNA if she weren't stuck with an over the top, stupid as hell gimmick and a cartoon character for an on-screen boyfriend. But the fact remains that she can't wrestle, which limits her usefulness unless she can be a really entertaining personality, which her current gimmick kind of prevents as far as I'm concerned. I'd be willing to give her a shot in some other type of role, but her current character does nothing for me and if they have no intention of changing it, then just get rid of her.
-Eric Young- That's right, EY. You resigned with TNA for significantly less money just so they could do their God damnedest to kill your wrestling career by putting you in a tag team with Orlando Jordan. Still think you made the right decision? Let's be frank here -- Eric Young is a good talent. He's a solid wrestler, a good talker and he always seems to be able to get over (though I find his shtick really annoying these days), but honestly, what else can you possibly do with him at this point? This man has had every gimmick under the son. He's been repackaged so many times that I just don't believe or care about anything he does anymore. He's never going to be a top star; that should be obvious by now. Management has inexplicably tried to make him one countless times over the years and every single attempt has failed. Every single time he's fallen right back to where he was before the second the push was over. And if his current 'brain damage' gimmick is the best thing they can come up with for him now, it's a sign that they're really scraping the bottom of the barrel with him at this point. Eric Young is a comedy character and career midcarder -- that's it. Nothing more, nothing else. So why does TNA keep him around? Why not cut him loose and make room for someone new who could fill his role, but could also have the potential to become something more, like Colt Cobana? I just don't get it...
-Gunner & Murphy- Last week, the Motor City Machine Guns couldn't carry these guys to a good match. I repeat... THE MOTOR CITY MACHINE GUNS could not carry them to a good match! I think that says it all right there.
-Hernandez- Working in a tag team with Homicide hid SuperMex's in-ring weaknesses so well that it seems management didn't realize he had any. So after his singles run didn't really work, they sent him to compete in Mexico for a while. Now it turns out he likes working in Mexico and wants to stay there. D'oh! TNA, you've got egg on your face here. Even if you can convince him to come back, Hernandez will never be as over or as marketable as a singles wrestler as he was as one half of LAX. And since any chance of an LAX reunion is history with Homicide gone, I think it's time to cut your losses on this one.
-Kevin Nash- Supposedly, he's left the company. Dixie wants to resign him for some ungodly reason, but Janice doesn't think he's worth the money. Listen to your mother, Dixie.
-Kiyoshi- Yes, you read that right. Kiyoshi is still on the roster. I believe he's been playing the Suicide character for a while. But when was the last time Suicide OR Kiyoshi did anything worth talking about? It's been some time, hasn't it? And even when Kiyoshi DID get a spot on iMPACT occasionally, it's not like they actually did anything with him. This guy might be able to wrestle, but management obviously have nothing for him to do, so why keep him around?
-Mick Foley- He's talking about leaving the company when his contract expires, he doesn't have anything going on on the show right now with the dissolution of EV2, plus, he's recently spoken out about having brain damage from all the bumps he's taken over the years. If Foley has brain damage, I DO NOT want him wrestling anymore. Ever. The last thing pro wrestling needs is another Chris Benoit tragedy. And if Mick's not wrestling, then what is he really there for? He's had his relevant programs with Sting, Jarret and Flair, the EV2 thing is done, Foley's time in TNA has simply run its course. Go be a writer, Mick. You don't need to be taking bumps anymore.
-Orlando Jordan- Every time Orlando Jordan appears on television a starving third world child dies of malaria. This has been scientifically proven. Don't believe me? You want more proof? FUCK YOU! This guy sucks! Sucks! S-U-C-K-S! His matches are lousy, he half-asses it every single time he's in the ring, his gimmick plays up offensive stereotypes, he's a proven ratings-killer, he's nearly 40, he's never drawn a dime in his whole career and so on and so on. No one in their right mind should employ this loser. He has no upside. He's a complete waste of money. He's horrible. He's worthless. He's crap. End of story.
-Rhino- If the only thing the writers have for you is feuding with other EV2 guys in a storyline very few people, if anyone, cares about after you were off TV for months, you should take it as a sign. Like, Foley, Rhino's time in TNA has just run its course. Supposedly, his contract has expired and he's working on a per-night deal. He was already fired in kayfabe. He's a reliable hand in the ring, but I really don't see any need for Rhino to be there anymore.
-Rob Terry- No explanation necessary.
-Robbie E- He has a cartoon character gimmick, he hasn't delivered in the ring, the only heat he gets is X-Pac heat and the only purpose he seemed to have was a publicity stunt with Jwoww that never went anywhere and failed to deliver ratings. What's more, judging by the taping results, it looks like management has already lost confidence in him as his push seems to have mercifully died a quick death. Remind me again, why did TNA sign this guy?
-Sharkboy- Really? Sharkboy's still there? Wow. He showed up at Final Resolution from out of nowhere when we haven't seen him in well over a year. Apparently, he's been with the company this whole time. And why? I'm not sure. I heard he was working as a referee at live events. But again I have to ask... why? Given the timing of his return, is it possible that TNA kept him on the payroll all this time because he would eventually have an action figure to promote? Possibly. If that's what happened, did it make financial sense? I guess it depends if you think a Sharkboy action figure is going to sell. I've always liked Sharkboy, he makes me laugh, he's a fun novelty character, but I just don't see how you can justify this one.
-Sting- You're nearly 50, your matches are horrible, you're out of shape, you're not a draw anymore and it's clear as day that you just don't give a shit at this point. You should have retired after you put over AJ at Bound For Glory 2009 because absolutely NOTHING you've done in the last year has even come close to being worth what TNA pays you. When you're the most overpaid person on the roster and you barely even show up, that is something I do not respect. Somehow, someway, Dixie always manages to convince you to resign for "one more year." Sting, do us all a big favor and stay gone this time.
-Suicide- TNA created the Suicide character to promote a video game. Said video game is now collecting dust in the bargain bin at Wallmart. I can't even remember the last time Suicide appeared on iMPACT. Why does this gimmick still exist? I have no earthly clue. Get rid of it.
-Team 3D- Let me get this straight... Team 3D's contracts had expired and despite numerous people agreeing that it was time for them to go, Dixie resigned them... so they could break up and feud with each other? Seriously? What does that do for TNA's future? Does Brother Ray vs. Brother Devon help build any new stars? Does it do anything for anyone except give 3D a reason to be on television? Was there something wrong with these guys taking on backstage roles?
Speaking of which...
WHO SHOULD STAY (IN A BACKSTAGE ROLE ONLY)
These are the people who might have something to contribute to the company, but there's no need for them to be on television in order to do it.
-Eric Bischoff- As I understand it, Bischoff is the one responsible for TNA's production upgrade. Cool. He's also the mind behind ReAction. Nice; ReAction is a good show. Does he need to be on television to do either of these things? No. But he IS on television. And when he's on the show, maybe it's my imagination, but it seems like he gets an awful lot of screen time, so much so that he ends up overshadowing the wrestlers in his own faction, including the world champion. When you have Eric Bischoff overshadowing the world champion, a guy who happens to be one of the most popular wrestlers in the world, there's something very wrong. I'm not saying Bischoff isn't good in an on-screen role, I'm saying he shouldn't be on-screen because he constantly overshadows people who should be in the spotlight, and when these people are overshadowed they don't get put over. Sure, Bischoff can cut a promo saying how great the wrestlers in Immortal are, but if his promo goes on for 20 minutes straight while those same guys just stand in the background and never say a word, all that's being done is stroking Bischoff's ego. And what about the wrestlers he feuds with? Off the top of my head, I can't recall a single person on the roster who has feuded with Bischoff and came out of the program looking better than they did when they went in. This guy is constantly protected and that's not the way it should be. Go backstage and be a production guru, Bischoff. The spotlight should be on the wrestlers.
-Hulk Hogan- Hogan was hired to raise awareness of TNA, was he not? That means making media appearances, talking up TNA in interviews, acting as an ambassador for the company, stuff like that. Does he have to be on iMPACT to do any of this? Arguably. But if the 60+ Hogan is on the TV show, taking screen time away from the young talent, it damn well better pay dividends when the ratings come out. Has that happened? No. Outside of a few isolated cases, the iMPACT ratings haven't been any higher than what they were before. In fact, according to gerweck.net, iMPACT's average rating for 2009 was a 1.14, while at the time of this writing, the average rating for 2010 was a 1.06. This means that since Hogan started appearing on iMPACT, the ratings have actually gone DOWN. So let me ask you a question, Hulkster: If you being on iMPACT takes time away from the young talent, has not lead to the creation of any new stars and has not increased the ratings, then why in the world are you still there?
-Jeff Jarret- Let me see if I'm clear on this. These writers in their infinite wisdom (cough), had Jeff Jarret make Samoa Joe look like a fool at Bound For Glory, embarrass him at Turning Point and bury him at Final Resolution... just to build up to a match between Jarret & Kurt Angle? Sure, that should be a great match as long as they don't gimmick the piss out of it, but WE'VE SEEN IT BEFORE! These guys already had a program together, so why do it again when there's any number of great young stars on the roster they can and should be feuding with? The answer is simple: Jeff Jarret doesn't like to put over young stars. He's made that abundantly clear over the last 8 years. And why? Beats the hell out of me. Maybe he thinks they're a threat to his position or something. But whatever the reason for it, this is why Jarret shouldn't be on television. I've already explained in previous columns that Jarret is not a draw and has never been a believable top star despite what he seems to think. So if you're not a draw in your own right and don't want to put over the young talent, please do me a favor and stay off my TV screen. Nothing says "WCW on life support" more than Jeff Jarret, especially if he's bringing that damn guitar with him. Both Jarret AND his guitar need to stay backstage.
-Mike Tenay- Am I alone in thinking that Tenay has virtually no chemistry with Taz? I'm sorry, but I've never felt that these 2 play off each other nearly as well as Tenay & Don West did. From watching Xplosion, I think it's quite clear that JB has a lot more chemistry with Taz than Tenay does. What's more, I've just never bought Tenay as a lead announcer. There are certainly much worse people for the job out there, but Tenay has zero personality, he can't act to save his life and perhaps worst of all, he's never learned when to shut up. Yes, being a good talker is crucial for an announcer, but just as important is knowing when NOT to talk. I can't even count how many promos and special moments have been ruined over the years by Tenay talking over them or speaking up at the wrong time or interjecting his comments when the right thing to do was to just shut up, let it happen and allow the moment to speak for itself. I'm not saying Tenay doesn't have a lot of wrestling knowledge; he does. That's why I didn't put him in group 2. He's been in the business for ages and I'm sure he could be an asset backstage as a producer or something, but as lead announcer, he just doesn't cut for me.
-Stevie Richards- Stevie almost made it into group 2, but I'm being generous here. Much like all his EV2 buddies, there's no real reason for him to be on TV anymore, but I've heard talk about him being used as the 'dark match tryout guy' going forward and also him possibly taking a job working on the company website (and that website does need work). I would be fine with either one.
-Tommy Dreamer- Recently, Tommy has supposedly been asking for a bigger role backstage because he wants job security when he's done wrestling. That's pretty smart of him. Maybe he feels his time in the ring is coming to an end soon. That's definitely for the best IMO. I respect Tommy for being a classy guy and putting a lot of young stars over, but I don't know if I can take any more promos with him talking about ECW and friendship while trying not to cry. Like Mick Foley, Tommy has had his relevant programs in TNA. He might be useful as a character from time to time, but wrestling-wise there's really not much left for him to do.
I'm pretty sure I've covered the whole roster here. Needless to say, if TNA are in cost-cutting mode, they're not taking it very seriously. If they were, or if they were a little smarter, we'd be seeing a lot more action on their part. Were I in their shoes, I think you can see what I'd do.