22 February 2014

The Loyalty of TNA Fans

It's safe to say that TNA has some of the most loyal fans that exist.  Not just in the realm of pro-wrestling or sports, but even in comparison to all forms of entertainment.  In the U.S., it's true that we are a fairly niche group of supporters (still well over a million however) but I find it redundant when I see some of the haters on social media using something like the "reported" TNA house show attendance as the only indicator of how many TNA fans exist out there.  They ignore the amazing U.K. crowds that have been displayed on SPIKE TV recently and instead wait with baited breath (and slobber dripping from their mouths) to tweet about a house show in DeKalb, Illinois.  Do they not realize that TNA is a growing company that hasn't even reached its 12th year of existence yet?  Do they realize how pathetic it is to troll a pro-wrestling company that they claim to not even like?  Do they realize how big of a juggernaut the WWE is in comparison and that it's a completely unfair correlation?  It's a puzzling phenomena to me that so many people out there are obsessed with seeing IMPACT Wrestling fail and die off.  That being said, I don't want to focus on all the foolish and negative propaganda.  Instead I want to dissect the TNA loyalists like you and me.   

Let me introduce myself.  My name is Reece and I love TNA.  Now why in the blue hell do I feel like I have to introduce myself like I'm attending a frickin' AA meeting?  I understand that it's not very acceptable in mainstream culture to like professional wrestling.  The usual reaction I get from most people that I admit my past-time/hobby to is something like, "That fake shit?" or "I used to watch that when I was a little kid" or "You mean that stuff where guys in their underwear yell at each other?".  It gets old explaining why I enjoy it, and I'm sure a lot of you have had a similar experience.  Like most things in life, people end up spending their time doing the things that they want to do and eventually become less and less apologetic about it.  I'm at that point in life where I don't give a rat's ass what people think about my likes, dislikes and lifestyle.  Then that old familiar conversation I referred to usually goes somewhere like, "So you watch the WWF?"  You explain that it's actually the WWE now I mostly watch a company called TNA.  Then you have to explain what TNA is with some people amusedly assuming it stands for "Tits N Ass".  How many times have you gone through some of these similar conversations?

Unless you keep your affinity for Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling a complete secret then you understand what I'm saying here.  Hardcore TNA fans like us are the best form of promotion that the company currently has, and that's not exaggerating.  We ARE a part of the equation when it comes to why TNA has survived to this point and why it will continue to well into the future.  How many Pay-Per-Views have you bought?  How many T-shirts?  Live events? How much time have you spent watching the show on T.V. or the net?  How much time have you spent tweeting about TNA or talking about it on Facebook?  We honestly all deserve a big pat on the back.  The question is, WHY do we do it?  The answer may vary slightly from one person to the next, but the general consensus would be "because we love TNA and want it to succeed."  But again why TNA and why so much loyalty?  Tell me in the comment section below why you are loyal to TNA.

Some fans in recent months have seen that loyalty diminish.  There are some that watched the product primarily to see AJ Styles and Sting.  Both men might now be permanently gone from the company.  Have those fans completely left along with their departed heroes?  I suppose a few perhaps did give a middle finger to TNA, but I think a good chunk of them have stuck it out.  Have they stayed purely out of habit?  Do they merely hate the WWE (and other promotions) so much that they simply feel "stuck with TNA"?  Ideally, I like to believe that part of their loyalty has remained due to the product actually getting better post-AJ and Sting.  I know that sounds like a "what have you done for me lately" attitude but most objective people would agree that it's indeed true.  The focus on a young, new crop of lions like EC3, Magnus, Gunner, Samuel Shaw, The Wolves, The BroMans and more has been refreshing and just what the doctor ordered.  That Youth Movement coupled with the long-awaited pushes for guys like Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, James Storm, Bad Influence, Austin Aries, etc. has proven to be a winning formula. 

Is the show perfect?  No, and it probably never will be because that's unrealistic.  Something that would be considered a "perfect show" to one person may seem like a "sub-par show" to the next.  The 2 areas where there is agreement about TNA having room for improvement are the KnockOuts Division and X-Division. Both have been in need of a true resurgence for many months, and I'm not sure how long those respective resurgences will take, but I'm fairly confident that both will achieve previous heights in the big-picture aspect of things.  The T.V. Title went "into the abyss" last summer and has barely been mentioned again.  Despite those few areas of concern, the general product is going in the right direction.  There is much to be excited about for TNA fans.  On the flip side, there is the unavoidable fact that they will be taping a significant amount of shows in the Impact Zone for a few months, but I implore you to just enjoy the ride and eventually (when the time is right) they will start incorporating more road tapings into the mix again. 

I have been accused of being a "fanboy" or a "mark" or a "blind optimist" or "cheerleader" time and time again.  Fine.  Call me whatever.  I couldn't care less.  My only concern when it comes to TNA is if I can see that the company heading in a positive direction.  I have always loved a good underdog and Impact Wrestling has fit the classic definition of underdog since 2002.  The synergy between the wrestlers and fans is tangible and unique (and somewhat unheard of).  The prevailing energy that emanates from the organization is one of caring, family and hard work.  There is a heartbeat that exists within TNA that is real and indomitable.  They are "the little train that could".  These are some of the reasons why I am so loyal to TNA.  When you allow yourself to really give the overall product a legit chance, it becomes an easy choice to support them (although I realize it's not for everyone).  When a loud "TNA! TNA! TNA!" chant blares through my home audio system, it gets me fired up every single time.  20 years from now when the company has reached a level most now find to be inconceivable, we can sit back and take solace that we were there from the early days.  These "early days" may be some of the best ever so enjoy these moments and ignore the naysayers.        

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