July 22, 2011

Do we look like a company with a plan?

If you've been watching iMPACT WRESTLING in recent weeks, you've seen their latest attempt to create a compelling story start with a genuinely intriguing angle in Hogan's office, and quickly devolve into a blatant and shameless ripoff of a much better story told by someone else.

This angle involved making up Sting like a Batman villain as they were portrayed in the Dark Knight and having him do a Joker imitation so hammy and over the top, that I'm left to wonder how it even made it on the air.

Skip to 2:13

Memo to Sting: Heath Ledger was an Oscar winning actor. You are not Heath Ledger.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Vince Russo, in just the latest example proving that he is completely out of original ideas, has begun, not only ripping off characters from the Dark Knight, but blatantly stealing actual scenes from the Dark Knight.

Skip to 10:35

Memo to Vince Russo: Christopher Nolan is a brilliant storyteller and filmmaker. You are not Christopher Nolan.

And by the way... the Dark Knight? That movie came out 3 years ago. Way to stay current, TNA.

Skip to 13:41

Skip to 3:24

Yes, the Dark Knight was a great movie. I should know; I saw it. Hell, everyone on the damn planet saw it. It's one of the biggest movies of all time. But that only makes TNA's act of lifting ideas directly from it all the more vexing. Did TNA creative honestly not think for one second that the audience wouldn't see right through this? An homage is one thing, but there's homage and then there's outright theft. Guess which one these people are doing...

Skip to 2:50

The more I try to understand this, the less sense it makes. This company seems to want to go in a more reality-based direction with most of their angles. Hogan himself says at every opportunity that TNA is, "All about shooting, brother." So why then are they doing an angle like this -- an angle directly and very sloppily stolen from a fictional movie the entire audience has seen -- an angle so damn silly it's impossible to even take it seriously?

Skip to 9:31

Is their intent to parody the Dark Knight? To mock it? If so, then why? For what purpose?

Is their intent to garner fan interest by acting out scenes from the movie? If so, they're a little late to the party. That might have worked if it were being executed by a competent writer back when there was still a buzz about the movie. You know, when it first came out. In 2008.

It's not like this is a minor storyline that doesn't receive a ton of attention like the Eric Young/TV title situation (and don't even get me started on that garbage). This is the MAIN EVENT angle, the story the entire show is built around. Which means that while the WWE is actually doing something interesting and compelling for a change with their CM Punk angle, TNA is presenting a very outdated, poorly written copy of a movie that most of the fans probably have a greater attachment to than TNA itself.

TNA, stuff like this is why people laugh at you. If you're going to steal story ideas from one of the most successful movies ever made, at least have the courtesy to do it well.

The really ironic thing here is that TNA and Vince Russo have been so busy taking things from this movie for their own use in this very contrived and frankly cheesy angle, that they've failed to realize that the answer to their seemingly never-ending creative dilemmas can be found, not only in the movie itself, but in the very character they've been ripping off.

That answer, my friends, is in one of the Joker's brilliant monologues -- the one from the hospital scene with Harvey Dent to be precise.

"Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it. I just do things."

I'm looking at you, Vince Russo! If this ill-conceived Immortal takeover angle has proven anything, it's that Vinnie Ru's time is long since up. He's done the exact same thing he tried (and failed) to do with the Main Event Mafia angle -- craft a story spanning an entire year -- and he's run into the exact same problems, plus a few more. Story developments make no sense (just listing them would take hours), characters' actions make no sense, mini-angles within the overarching story are started and then scrapped with no explanation, and it's gone off in so many different directions that it's become impossible to care what happens because ultimately very little of it actually matters.

"The mob has plans, the cops have plans, Gordon's got plans. They're schemers, schemers trying to control their little worlds. I'm not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are. It's the schemers that put you where you are. You were a schemer, you had plans, and look where that got you."

Again, he might as well be talking directly to Russo. I don't know what kind of story plans Russo made before attempting an angle as long as this, or if he even made them at all. But I'll tell you this: if he had a plan, then he needs to get a new plan, because his plan sucks. This entire angle from the very beginning has been so damn schizophrenic, I have no earthly clue how he could have possibly mapped all this out and had it make any coherent sense to anyone, because it sure as hell hasn't made any in hindsight.

Granted, certain things happened that they didn't expect, which caused them to change directions. They planned for the Main Event Mafia to return, and that didn't happen (THANK GOD). For reasons I will never understand if I live to be 100, they planned for Jeff Hardy to be their top heel, counting on him to NOT be an unreliable screw-up for a change, and that didn't happen (no surprises there). But you know what? That's why you have a Plan B.

Considering how long Russo has been doing this, you'd think he would have learned by now how quickly things can change, how stories sometimes have to be altered at the drop of a hat to account for unforeseen events, be it wrestlers getting injured, certain angles not getting over the way they were expected to, people with a verbal agreement to return to the company deciding to go to WWE instead because they only care about the money, or your world champion, who has a history of substance abuse and is on trial for drug trafficking, getting stoned in the bathroom just minutes before he's supposed to headline your damn PPV.

I'm sorry, but you do not plan for a group from the past to come back and feud with your top heel faction without getting those people locked into contracts first unless you know exactly what you're going to do creatively if that doesn't happen (the Fortune face turn was obviously an unplanned last minute decision). And you DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, put a flake like Jeff Hardy in ANY kind of critical position unless you have a Plan B in place, ready to be implemented at a moment's notice. And if Russo didn't come up with a Plan B the second after the decision was made to put the world title on Hardy last year, then he's a damn fool.

So either Russo never had any real plan for this Immortal storyline and he's just been winging it for the better part of a year now, or he did have a plan, but he couldn't stick to it because he has the attention span of a 4-year-old.

Tell us, Vince, which one is it?

"You know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan... even if the plan is horrifying."

In this case, the "plan" is the same one this company has had for years now: push the aging, past-his-prime, Sting like he's God's gift to everything, sacrificing the viability of numerous younger, more marketable, more relevant stars to do so.

So, TNA, how has this been working out for you? Sure, the segments Sting appears in tend to draw good viewership, but if THAT is all the push that would not end has amounted to, then it has been nothing but a colossal failure.

Has Sting increased the viewership of your show as a whole in any significant way? No. Typically, the people who tune in to see him don't stick around for anything else you're offering.

Have you used Sting to create any new stars? No. You've tried once or twice, but you've ruined it every time. No one even remembers now that Sting "passed the torch" to AJ Styles at Bound for Glory 2009, because Sting has since taken the torch back. No one really cares that Gunner pinned Sting on a recent episode of iMPACT WRESTLING because virtually no attention was payed to it, it wasn't played up in any kind of meaningful way, it was never followed up on and was quickly forgotten. Etc, etc...

Have you used Sting to build your company's future in any way? No. Countless opportunities to elevate your young talent have been cast aside in favor of going back to the well with this guy over and over and over again. If anything, the way you've been using him has been holding your company back, preventing it from moving forward, because you absolutely refuse to let go of the Sting security blanket.

"Introduce a little anarchy, upset the established order and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos. And you know the thing about chaos? It's fair."

Yeah. No need to explain this metaphor, is there? The established order doesn't work. Russo, Conway, Bischoff, Hogan, or whatever bloated amalgam of people is responsible for what gets on TV -- it does not work. The Immortal angle is a mess. An absolute mess. From day one it's been a mess and it only seems to be getting worse. There have been moments here and there that were entertaining, but overall, this whole thing amounts to an angle TNA should be embarrassed by, as I would be in their place.

This is a storyline that desperately needed to be executed by someone with a much greater eye for detail, story, character and simple common sense than this creative team possesses. And they need someone with a fresh perspective, someone who doesn't think in the way this company has become accustomed to thinking, or this is never going to change.

You think having Sting cosplay as the Joker and act out scenes from a movie that was last in theaters 3 years ago makes you a good writer? It doesn't. It makes you out of touch, unoriginal and lazy.

We've all seen the Dark Knight. Let us not forget that, yes, the Joker may have been batshit crazy, but underneath it all, there was indeed a method to his madness.

But there is no method to the Immortal takeover storyline or the Sting/Joker character. It's just a bunch of @#$%ing craziness.

No comments: