Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - Why "pulling back the curtain" is an idiotic philosophy, Turning Point contains a little too much hardcore and not enough purpose, and the end of the Aces & 8's
By Will Pruett
Most of all, Carter said that she wants to pull back the curtain in pro wrestling even more than it has in the past. "Fans want to see things they think they aren't supposed to be seeing," she said.
- The Sports Illustrated Dixie Carter article.
TNA believes fans want to see more of the "behind the scenes" aspect of wrestling. If this statement is to be taken at face value, they are saying they believe fans will invest more if they are shown wrestlers as real people, not characters. This is an interesting idea, but it is also a terrible one.
Think of your favorite scripted television show. I'm going to use Parenthood (which is excellent) as my own example. At no point, when watching this emotionally moving and compelling drama do I wish to see the "behind the scenes" aspect of it. I don't want to see an emotionally draining fight between two characters follow it up with them saying how great their emotionally draining fight was.
Wrestling is just like a scripted TV show. It is a fictional storytelling medium set in the world of a pseudo-professional sport. Why would I want to see the "behind the scenes" portion of it? Why would I want the curtain pulled back? To be completely honest, I want the curtain closed completely and I want a compelling drama to take place in front of it.
Pulling back the curtain is a cop-out. It is the TNA creative team and everyone else saying they cannot produce a good enough story in front of the curtain to excite people, so they are going to use cheap tricks to do so. I want to believe wrestling can be better than this. I want to believe there is still compelling drama in the scripted pseudo-sport I've grown to love.
The next big thing in wrestling is going to be when promotors stop arrogantly trying to make their day to day business a part of the show. I don't care about Dixie Carter running the promotion into the ground. Why make this a televised story? I don't care about contract negotiations. I don't care about what goes on behind the scenes and who is hugging who.
The whole idea of wrestling is to create a sport where one can tell the best stories. Most sports executives would kill for the ability to script a season. They could weave very interesting stories and feuds in and out of it. They could do so much without a ton of overwrought drama. The NFL is very compelling as it is, but with the ability to script their stories, it would be off the charts. Why does wrestling take this for granted? They have the power to script amazing stories and use the "sport" as a backdrop. It is not a difficult concept.
As a fan, I don't feel like my intelligence is insulted by wrestling presenting itself like it is real. On the contrary, it insults my intelligence when wrestling has to make sure I know it's fiction even while I'm watching the show. I choose to watch a fictionalized version of a sport. I know this going in. I enjoy it. Close the curtain and get back to making compelling stories people want to see.
Picking up the pieces:
- With the return to Orlando, I was curious to see what the production setup would be. The was quite small, but was shot in the standard TNA style, to make it seem bigger. The set was the same as their on the road set. It didn't look bad, but TNA is not exactly trying to reinvent themselves. They're a studio TV show and quite content with it.
- Why was there a different filter on the camera during backstage segments (like Joe and Dixie at the top of the show) than there was on the camera when Joe and Magnus began fighting backstage?
- Impact opened with a random bar fight between James Storm and Bobby Roode. Once again, I have to ask why this is allowed? Shouldn't their match be delayed until next week since Roode now has an unfair advantage?
- The weirdest thing on the show was the change to a "Florida Death Match" without an explanation of what it actually is until the match was in progress.
- There were three very similar hardcore style matches on this show. Why? Did all three of these fights need to be hardcore? Did all three of these matches need to happen on this show? There is no economy of gimmick use in TNA and by the end of the show, I was numb to almost everything in the main event.
- Samoa Joe and Magnus had a decent walk-and-brawl match. I did not love any portion of it and the finish was weak, but the match itself was entertaining.
- Joe vs. Magnus was the only match thus far in the TNA Championship tournament not to have a video package before it. Why not? They have some great history to play off of.
- This was the Turning Point pseudo-pay-per-view event. It made me question whether pseudo-pay-per-views were necessary. Why not just have these three big matches main event three episodes of Impact Wrestling? Instead of making one week the most important week of the month, start building towards weekly main events. The formula would make every Impact episode important.
- The biggest question to come out of the Bad Influence and Joe Park segment was where all the blood came from. I need to know.
- It was pretty cool to see indie standout Candice LaRae answer Gail Kim's open challenge. LaRae can work better than almost any woman I've seen. She is a great talent and TNA would be wise to sign her soon. I was hoping she would be the plucky babyface to finally knock Gail off in a month or two, but her appearance here was enough for me.
- As soon as Gunner promised to have Storm's back the whole world knew what was going to happen.
- Roode vs. Storm could have easily main evented an episode of Impact. It was another good hardcore brawl.
- Why was it not explained until halfway through the match that a "Florida Death Match" is basically a Last Man Standing match?
- Gunner or Storm will turn coming out of this angle to break up their team, which lasted less than a year. TNA really hates having tag teams on their roster, don't they?
- Touring Sam Shaw's apartment and seeing his "art book" (which I think most artists would call a sketchbook or a portfolio) were not the ideas I had in mind when I had high hopes for the "Impact 365" gimmick.
- EC3 continued his undefeated push by beating Shark Boy, who is still pretending to be Steve Austin. This was a basic squash. I'm getting ready to see more from EC3, including a little more character development.
- TNA's Survivor Series style match actually seems more compelling than Survivor Series itself does.
- Anderson vs. Bully Ray suffered from being the third hardcore match of the night and from taking lace about three months after the Aces and Eights had any impact. I understand why they kept the group on life support and I give TNA credit for pushing someone by ending the faction, but it wasn't as compelling as it could have been.
- Anderson has quite a nice leather vest collection.
There was no reason for the three big matches on this show to all take place here. There was no reason for this show to be called "Turning Point" or for it to be presented as any more than just an Impact episode. I understand the pseudo-pay-per-view concept for themed shows like Destination X, but it doesn't work here. This show suffered from having three hardcore matches.
TNA's storytelling philosophy is a weak one and I don't trust it to get better at this moment. It's a shame, because they have a chance to be so much better, but they refuse to take advantage of it.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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