25 March 2014

Does TNA Offer a Product for the Savvy Wrestling Fan?

I like to think of myself as a savvy pro wrestling enthusiast with a vast knowledge of a genre that I've followed for thirty years.  I'm by no means an expert but I pride myself on being a well-informed and knowledgeable fan who puts in several hours of research per week.  Please do not, however, misconstrue this.  My desire to educate myself on the genre is simply a way for me to enjoy the wrestling experience to its fullest, not to be used as a tool to second guess those who work in the industry.  That's simply not something I care to do.  However, there's still one aspect of being a wrestling fan that I find challenging, at times, and that's my ability to suspend my disbelief.

As pro wrestling fans today, we have so many resources at our disposal, due to the internet, so with the desire to learn comes the ability to discover tidbits of the industry that were previously unavailable to us. All of a sudden, fans are privy to the kind of industry secrets that were once exclusive to those in the know, and it has created an atmosphere in which pro wrestling in general feels a bit antiquated.  

As a fan of TNA, I feel the company incorporates several elements of old school traditions and they do so successfully.  I'm an old school fan so I appreciate the effort.  But do I feel like TNA have made the necessary adjustments to create a product that caters to the sophisticated wrestling fan?  The well-informed fan. For the most part, I think TNA does a good job with the tiny details that are needed for good storytelling and character development.  It's something that someone like me, who's a stickler for even the most trivial of facts, can appreciate.  This is one of the biggest reasons why I prefer the TNA product over the WWE's right now. It's the ability to script logical and well-thought out stories featuring fascinating and unique characters for the entire roster, minus a few exceptions.  Overall, I don't feel that TNA's product insults my intelligence.

The one aspect that I feel TNA can improve on, however, is their lazy booking.  For a writing staff which does such a wonderful job on storytelling and character development, I feel that they often opt for a contrived plot device in order to move the story forward as opposed to thinking outside the box.  Case in point, last week, Bully Ray walked into Dixie Carter's office and spoke to an empty chair.  In theory, it's a great concept - Bobby Roode luring him to a confined area in order to trap and attack him.  However, the small matter of the empty chair essentially rendered the entire segment ineffective for me.  As a result, it took me out of the moment, negatively affecting my experience as a viewer.  There's simply no room for such a blunder in TNA - a promotion that's still struggling to find its identity.

I think that will be one of TNA's challenges going forward.  In a world in which fans are expected to suspend their disbelief, can the writing staff avoid the pitfalls of lazy booking?  Wrestling fans have never been more educated about the genre than they are now.  We have evolved in the way we watch wrestling. Is it really too much to ask for wrestling promotions to evolve with us?  Is it too much to ask for TNA to put out a product that's sophisticated and thought-provoking?  I don't think it is. 

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