Pruett's Blog: Sting and the TNA World Championship: How going back to the well is hurting TNA.
By Will Pruett
Thursday night's TNA Impact played out like an episode from anytime in the last five years. Sting returned and was crowned TNA World Heavyweight Champion. This experiment has been tried multiple times, specifically at Bound for Glory 2006, Bound for Gory 2007, Bound for Glory 2008 and most recent the 3-3-11 episode of TNA Impact.
In that span on time, TNA's growth has been stunted. They made in 2005 with publicity from the great series of matches between AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels. In 2006 Kurt Angle came to TNA and created a great buzz around the product. Since that time, TNA has been standing still. Even an attempted move to Monday nights and adding talent like Hulk Hogan, Jeff Hardy, Mr. Anderson, Eric Bischoff and Rob Van Dam did not raise their rating.
Every time Sting held the TNA Championship prior to Thursday, it ended anticlimactically. In 2006 Sting lost the belt to Abyss via disqualification a month after winning it (this was the NWA Championship). In 2007 he lost the belt to Kurt Angle after holding it for only two days (or two weeks if you count when the show aired). In 2008 he held the belt all the way through April 2009 when he finally lost the title to Mick Foley. There are no major TNA moments on this list.
This begs us to ask why TNA would put the title on him. Sting with the TNA Championship has been done far too many times. Is it for a temporary ratings boost? TNA did get that with their 1.4 rating this week. Was it for shock value? Sadly, if anyone was online in the week since this show was taped, they knew that Sting would be winning the championship. Is there a well crafted story that creative was just waiting for Sting to slide into? I hope this is the case, but given that Sting got a shot over another No. 1 Contender (Mr. Anderson) I fail to believe this could be true.
Next week, when the shock has worn off and this big surprise is no longer surprising, will TNA be able to sustain their momentum? Sting cannot deliver great matches or great promos. He works well as TNA's version of The Undertaker, but when push comes to shove, The Undertaker has done both of those things in the last few years. For a one time ratings kick, Thursday's surprise worked. As a permanent solution, TNA needs to think outside of what they have always done.
If TNA is judging this angle's success by this big rating, they need to look at what else they did to hype this show. Every word a wrestler has said on TV or pay-per-view for a few weeks has been focussed on March 3rd. We heard that date more often than a pay-per-view name or date. They built up a huge wedding angle to take place on this show, involving two of TNA's top stars. This show was hyped beyond belief before the World Championship match was announced. Without the Sting moment, the show may not have garnered TNA's highest ever Thursday rating, but it would have gotten close.
What does Sting as champion mean for TNA going forward? He's been champion for them so many times that there does not seem for there to be anything new for him to do. Will fans stayed tuned through his run and buy into the next man to hold that title? Will fans stay tuned through next week when there is no shocking surprise? Will they be motivated to buy pay-per-views based on what they saw on Thursday night?
If something did not work the first time, second time or third time you tried it, what would your motivation be for trying it the fourth time? If TNA is trying to prove that Sting as champion in 2011 works, why would it work better than Sting as champion in 2006, 2007 or 2008?
Please hit me up with thoughts or comments about this blog at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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